To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘The Devil’ Category

Facing up to issues

One critical call of leadership is to face up to issues. It is one that I find most daunting personally. Let me then muse upon the events in Acts 6:1-7. The key matter that I want to note here is that the leaders, the apostles, face up to the problem at hand.

The problem is set before us in Acts 6:1: “the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.” There was a problem; the Hellenistic Jews were not happy and everyone knew it. It appears as well that their grievance was justified; for there does not seem to be any disputing what had developed.

However, the leaders were up to the situation. They did not just “sweep it under the carpet” and engender ongoing disgruntlement in part of the fellowship. The key words are: “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said…” (6:2a). The leaders took action. By this act, they had set in motion a process which would lead to action being taken to resolve the issue.

The critical thing, though, was that they took action. So many leaders fail, and I feel the immense challenge of this as I write, by failing to face up to an issue.

I was reading something by Sir Steve Redgrave who was saying that “bad decisions are better than no decisions. Being willing to take action and make decisions on pressing issues reveals an organisation which is moving on. An Inability to rise up to the challenge reveals an organisation which is not drifting.”

Admirably, the leaders in Acts 6 acted for the good of the church.

  • They analysed the situation; they determined that they should focus on prayer and the Word of God, so that the Word could continue to flow into the church.
  • They proposed a strategy. Men were to be appointed of suitable character and gifting to sort out the problem.
  • The church decided on these men and they were recognized.

Finally there is a great outcome. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

Underneath all this are deep spiritual realities. Satan had sought to hinder the Word of God by splitting the church. The God-ordained leaders rose to the challenge and thwarted this. May there be many leaders among our churches who would emulate the apostles.

Oh Lord, be my helper in these things. I feel completely inadequate.

War Zones

I have sometimes wondered what it is to live in a war zone. I have pondered upon the perpetual uncertainty there must be about whether or not you are going to be swept up in the conflict.

And yet if you are in the place where the Lord wants you to be and you are seeking to serve the Lord diligently, then you are in a war zone. The enemy of our souls hates the people of God serving the Lord and making progress in grace. It is unsurprising then to see that one of the ways our dealings with the devil is presented is that of being armed against our enemy. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:11-17:

Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Let us ponder then on some issues of being in a war zone:

  • Shrapnel: Sometimes you can get hit with material which does not specifically concern you, but can cause you a lot of damage. Shrapnel can hurt and wound.
  • Shield of faith: We need this shield. We need this trust in God. Satan has many flaming arrows which come our way. In and of ourselves, we are powerless to prevent those arrows penetrating and causing harm. We need the shield of faith. Oh how glorious it is to pick up the shield when you feel like your soul is about to be incinerated by a fiery dart. The shield is raised up and we can see a God who is in control of all things.
  • Vicious tactics: Satan is in a win-at-all-costs game. He does not play by the rules. If we apply the boxing analogy, the Queensbury rules are jettisoned in order that he might destroy his enemies. We must not expect Satan to be fair.
  • Unexpected Attack: Satan is the master of the unexpected attack. When we are feeling that all is easy and we can relax, he is prone to launch an assault.
  • Think on Salvation: Our thoughts are protected when we are continually thinking of the goodness of God in saving us through Christ.
  • The Word of God: This is the only offensive weapon in the armory. We must use the Word against Satan. The Lord used the Word in the temptations in the wilderness. There is power in the Word – let us never forget that. Let us wield the Word wisely, and let us therefore pray.
  • Leaders: Satan particularly wants to take out leaders. He wants pastors, elders and evangelists to fall. We must therefore pray particularly for them.
  • The Most Effective: This reminds me that those who are the most effective in serving God are the most effected by his attacks. See this post here for further details.
  • Satan is defeated: A sister in the church here in Feltham sometimes speaks in prayer of telling Satan to pack his bags and be-gone. And truly this is right. Satan has no victory over us because Christ has defeated him. Hebrews 2;14 reads:  Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil.

One day, we will be taken out of this war zone. In heaven we will know all peace. We look forward, but we are not in glory yet. Now, we must fight.

Are our churches satanic?

In Matthew 16:21-23 we read,

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’”

The key issue I want to draw attention to here is how our Saviour rebuked Peter as Satan, because Peter had in mind human concerns and not the concerns of God. To have merely human concerns when we should have godly concerns is satanic.

This raises the question as to whether in our churches we can be satanic in our approach to our community life. Picking up from the words of our Lord to Peter, we are satanic when we are minding the ways of man, when we should be minding the ways of God. When we come to deal with matters in the church, and our approach is according to business reasoning or pure expediency, then we are minding the ways of man; we are being Satanic.

Why is it Satanic? It is Satanic because it harmonizes with the way of the adversary. The word “Satan” is derived from a word meaning adversary.

How do we make sure that we are being godly and not Satanic? We do so by making sure that we stick to the Word of God. This is because the Word of God reveals the mind of God. And we use the Word of God in a godly way. We do this by being faithful to scripture and relentlessly seeking the Lord’s Spirit to illuminate the Word.

So when we face issues, we keep ourselves from being satanic by always saying, ‘Consult God’s instruction  and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to the Word, they have no light of dawn.’ (Is. 8:10).

Satan’s Attack

The choicest, most useful servants of the LORD are the ones who get hit most by Satan. That is the testimony of Scripture, church history and personal observation.

Satan hates to see people making an impact for the Kingdom of God. So in whatever way he can, he seeks to oppose the workers for the LORD. Paul, one of the choicest servants of the LORD, knew this. He knew it:

  • In his ministry. So in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 we read:  For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul, did, again and again – but Satan blocked our way. He wanted to get to Thessalonica to serve the believers there, but Satan stopped it.
  • In his personal life. So we read Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Cor. 12:7b)

Let us learn two things here though:

  • If you are being attacked, it means that you are an effective servant of the Lord. Satan does not bother with those Christians who are of no consequence for the kingdom of God. He is happy to leave them on one side.
  • God is in control of all things. He is over-ruling and uses the wiles of the devil to bring forth that which is for His glory. So the Lord used the Satan messenger to bring about humility in Paul.

So fellow believer, if you are feeling beset by Satan’s opposition, whether it be through battles in your heart or through your circumstances, remember that God is using these and working these for His glory and for your benefit.

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