Archive for the ‘Spiritual warfare’ Category

Lovers of the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge want to snuff out Christmas for the majority of Americans. Sure, you’re allowed to sing about Rudolf and Frosty, you can make it all about Santa and presents, jingle some bells or roast chestnuts by an open fire, but don’t you dare mention Jesus Christ and the real meaning of Christmas! 

It should be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the season that atheists and activists feverishly push the agenda to blot out God. 

Their hearts are so hardened, they not only refuse to believe in Jesus and Christmas, but since misery loves company, they don’t want anyone else to believe it either! They don’t mind the commercialism and greed around the holiday; they just insist you to say ‘happy holidays’ instead of Merry Christmas.

This joyful season began because God so loved the world, but they want to censor the celebration and eradicate Christ from Christmas. But is that even possible?

You cannot divorce the true, historical event of the Child born in Bethlehem from the God of creation and the reason we celebrate Christmas. But that doesn’t mean the atheists and God-haters won’t try.

After all, they were successful removing Christianity from public schools so they figure, why not ban Christmas as well?

More news stories are on the way, I’m sure. But here are a few to consider.

  • A middle school in Virginia recently decided not to allow any holiday songs that mention the name of Jesus.
  • In Newaygo, Michigan, secularists demand the elementary school remove three wise men displayed on the top of the school building.
  • A principal at a Nebraska school has banned Christmas carols, the colors red and green, candy canes, and Jesus.

This next one may be hard to believe,

  • Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer is being called “seriously problematic” for bullying, racism, sexism, and homophobia. 
  • Just one more: the Huffington Post and other far-left outlets are telling people that saying “Merry Christmas” excludes people, so teach children to say “Happy Holidays” instead. I agree with Paul Bois at the Daily Wire who says it’s hypocritical for business owners and managers to decorate their stores or websites in red, green and all the rest, play Christmas music and then say “Happy Holidays.” He adds:

Christmas is the national holiday; the reason for the season. The ornaments, the lights, the music, the food, the shopping even, all reflect that; …If it looks like Christmas, smells like Christmas, sounds like Christmas, then just say Christmas.

But the annual war on Christmas is here, like it or not, and we need to decide how to respond.

First, remember that these people are lost and are far from God. They hate Christmas and often Christians as well, and need our patience and prayers because they have no real hope or peace. They’ve not yet experienced the love God has for them if they’d just turn to Him and confess their sins. That’s why Jesus was born – “the Word became flesh…(John 1:14)” and preached, “Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 3:2).”

Second, make no mistake: this is a war on Jesus Christ. Those who are trying to blot out reminders of God by removing Christmas traditions like manger scenes and joy filled greetings simply don’t want to answer to the One who Scripture refers to as “Mighty God.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus nearly 700 years before He was born:

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no lasting peace in this world. Know Jesus, know peace. What did Isaiah mean by referring to Him as Everlasting Father? Jesus is Lord and eternal, along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. There was never a time when Jesus did not exist. He continues from generation to generation, and His kingdom will never end.

The meaning of Christmas is based on true, actual events including angels appearing to shepherds (Luke 2) and a baby born at just the right time in history in order to redeem mankind (Galatians 4:4). Wishing someone a Merry Christmas is saying we desire for them to know the love, joy, and forgiveness of God as we do.

President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins said:

Why is something as simple as saying “Merry Christmas” so important? It reminds a hurting world of the greatest gift we can receive in Jesus Christ, and it symbolizes the freedom to celebrate that gift.

Don’t just remember the reason for the season; that Christ was born to save mankind by His sacrifice on the cross. Share the good news of salvation and let your light shine by loving others and wishing them a heartfelt, “Merry Christmas!” And make sure to have one yourself!

Advertisements

If Jesus rebuked many of the early churches for straying, leaving their first love, putting up with false doctrine, or for being lukewarm, how could we, American Christians, think He wouldn’t harshly rebuke many of our seeker-sensitive, shallow, lukewarm churches today?

Some might claim the Church is thriving here in the United States of Entertainment. I would ask them why then doesn’t it translate out into society. Who is driving culture today, Christians or atheists and secular progressives? Biblical morality or godlessness?

The truth is too many professing believers have generally conformed to the world and have failed to defend and preserve culture through Judeo-Christian values. We are to be salt in society: to not only flavor and enhance culture but to influence it as well. Salt is a preservative, but it can also irritate, especially if it touches an exposed wound. Paul told believers at Ephesus to walk as children of light and,

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11)

Too many in American churches do just the opposite! We accommodate popular sins (abortion and homosexuality). Why? Because the Supreme Court ruled they are legal, of course. But just because something is legal does not make it moral. Has the Supreme Ruler and Judge changed His mind on certain sins? Not at all!

We have watered down the Word of God and have lost our saltiness and power to transform society for good. Some larger churches have a reputation for being alive, but their discipleship and doctrine is rather ineffective. I attended a megachurch for several years and kept running into unregenerate and unconverted people, many of whom thought they were saved. 

God woke me up at 3 AM recently and this message is the result. My heart was heavy; we were wrapping up our Bible study on the book of Colossians – a church Paul commended for their faith and love, by the way – and we were examining the geography of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and many cities that had Christian churches in the first several centuries.

*The following is a partial transcript to the sermon from video:

In Revelation chapter two and three, Jesus harshly rebuked five out the seven churches within the same area. I couldn’t help but wonder what He would think of churches in America today. It’s a sobering thought.

Would Jesus rebuke us, Christians in the United States of Entertainment, the way He did several churches in Asia Minor? 

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Revelation 3:2-3

This quote has been attributed to several people, one of whom is Dwight L. Moody:

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

We will all stand before the Lord one day and be judged for how we spent our time. Your husband or wife won’t be there, neither will your children, coworkers, or friends on social media. It will be you alone before Jesus. And that should sober up every one of us in this room.

Here are some important QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

  1. Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ? JN 15:8
  2. Are we passionate about eternal and spiritual things? COL 3:2
  3. Who or what is our first love? What’s our main focus? 6:33
  4. Have you conformed to our culture – or to Christ? ROM 12:2
  5. Do we love this world more than we love God, His Word? 1 JN 2:15-17
  6. Are you prepared for persecution when it comes? 5:11-12

Are we, individual believers in Jesus who make up the church in America, succeeding at what’s most important? Are we loving the Lord God, loving our neighbors, preaching the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, making disciples, raising godly children, impacting culture, and encouraging the faith of other believers?

Or are we just giving God lip service?

American churches, especially many of the larger, higher profile mega-churches, often have a good reputation simply due to their popularity, numbers or size (quantity). But this is often a very inaccurate picture of the overall health, discipleship, and maturity (quality) of a church. Is the body of Christ being built up in faith and equipped for ministry? (Eph. 4:11-12)

According to Barna research and several other studies and surveys, it appears American Christianity is producing the most biblically illiterate church members in history, confused about what the Bible teaches, unable to fully understand let alone explain and defend the essentials of the faith. What ever happened to discipleship? We can learn from the earliest Christian churches that it doesn’t take long to stray from truth.

Revelation 3:1  “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Wake-up! Repent! Notice what Jesus also says to the church in Sardis:

5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

*We all have ears – but – are we listening? What is Jesus saying to the churches in America who have grown comfortable and complacent? What is He saying to individual believers? Do YOU have ears to hear from God?

Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ?

We just finished the book of Colossians in our weekly Bible study and looking at the geography at that time, we talked about the many early Christian churches in Asia Minor which is modern day Turkey.

…The Colossian church was just 12 miles from the church of Laodicea and about 95 miles from Ephesus, a booming city at the time. Laodicea was also prospering and growing, located next to a new trade route, they had it made.

But that’s what lots of people would say about America, which is why we’re making this comparison today. We are prosperous, proud, and self-sufficient. Look at our big and many churches!

May we take to heart the warnings to the early churches:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; …19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

READ FULL POST, SERMON TEXT & SHARE!

Relentless attacks on religious liberties are increasing across America. A Senate confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is one of the few things that could help protect our most basic freedoms.

There’s a problem when Pro football players can kneel on the field in protest of the National Anthem, but high school football players are not allowed to kneel and pray for a little girl with a life-threatening illness.

We can now add the description “heartless” to the Left and the agenda of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Their end goal is to force into silence hundreds of millions of Americans who believe in prayer to never utter a word of it in public. Keep your religion to yourself and behind church walls.

Their end goal is to force into silence hundreds of millions of Americans who believe in prayer to never utter a word of it in public. Keep your religion to yourself and behind church walls.

The most recent story comes from Lake City, Michigan where they’ve been holding “family circles” after games for over a decade. Coaches recognize players, and prayer is typically not part of it; but last month the players and others gathered on the field at midnight to pray for the coach’s sick child.

It was a special moment of strength and unity. The video was proudly shared on the school Facebook page, and that’s what triggered the radicals from Madison, Wisconsin, who immediately sent a threatening letter to the school district:

“It is unlawful, [and] the school district must not schedule, promote, or endorse prayer of any kind at any school-sponsored events, including football games.”

The bullies took it a step further saying that not only must coaches refrain from encouraging students to pray, they must not even be involved while students are praying.

Remember, the prayer was for the coach’s daughter. On the advice of legal counsel however, the school reluctantly removed the offending video from Facebook. The superintendent was rightly concerned about being fined or sued because the Left uses intimidation by singling out small schools and towns that don’t have the financial resources to fight back.

They say Christians are hateful, but the FFRF is bullying another small community, this time because they prayed for a very sick little girl.

Next, you’ve heard of Coach Joe Kennedy from Bremerton, WA. For seven years he had been saying a prayer of thanks at midfield following high school football games after most people had left. He would often be joined by players from both schools.

But even though the school district knew it was a voluntary prayer, it claimed the activity fell under the establishing of a religion! Kennedy then asked if he could simply kneel for fifteen seconds in silence after players all left the field. Rather than allow this simple request, the school district refused to renew his contract.

He filed a claim of religious discrimination, and then filed a federal lawsuit – which was dismissed. Sadly, it’s quite common for Christians in the public school system to have to check their beliefs at the door.

Why is this important? This week, the Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to hear the case of Coach Kennedy’s appeal. Each year, the Court holds a long conference in late September and they choose cases for the upcoming term. Hopefully, this case will be heard.

The nomination of Supreme Court Justices has major implications that echo throughout our culture for generations. Though abortion is front and center in the Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearings, cases will also be decided on whether it is legal for us to pray, acknowledge God, and share the gospel.

Extremists should not be allowed to silence anyone, but this is what’s happening. The freedom of speech and religious expression are basic liberties granted to Americans under the Constitution. That’s IF the Constitution is upheld.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Is it too late for Christians to be more discerning? Satan has deployed enemies of truth into our culture and sadly, we have allowed them to influence us. The agenda had been gradual and subtle decades ago, but today the deception is out in the open for all to see – or ignore.

“If you really want to know the truth, it is revealed through Scripture because God is truth. He is the final authority. As you see people’s bad behavior and sin, including open adultery and sexual perversion, being promoted in our culture, remember they need Christ. Even the loud, proud activists. They are not necessarily bad people; they’re just wrong, and the Lord gives each of us the freedom to accept the truth or pay the consequences.

If we are lovers of God and followers of Jesus Christ, we should not approve of and love things of this world more than Him (Romans 12:2, Gal. 1:10). We certainly should not be celebrating what is evil or sinful, and, as we take a stand for what is right, attacks will come.

We must understand the Enemy’s tactics and how Satan, the Father of Lies, suppresses the truth, twisting words and meanings using everyday people to advance his agenda. I’d probably do the same thing if I were him.

Millions of Americans have apparently disregarded the faith they once held dear or have fallen away from the Judeo-Christian values which previously permeated this nation. Many in the church have been duped by the cult of liberalism and political correctness that basically says anything is permissible except biblical Christianity. We have stopped standing against evil and speaking up in defense of the gospel for fear of offending someone, and when Christians are silent, light is squelched and darkness wins.

According to the Bible, Satan’s power over us is already broken, death has been defeated, and the war has been won, thanks to the victory we have in Jesus through His sacrifice, death, and resurrection. The battle and warfare, however, continue – and they will intensify – until the Lord returns.

The cunning schemes of the devil are carried out all around us in this world system over which he has free reign. How does the Enemy work and advance his agenda of lawlessness, chaos, destruction, and unrighteousness? He uses people.

From a rainbow-colored White House to Hollywood hype over the latest perversion, from media selling sexual confusion to corporations proudly promoting political correctness, it is difficult to deny the moral and spiritual decline in America. If there’s any hope of slowing the decaying culture, hypocrisy must be called out, lies must be refuted, and truth must be told.

It is virtually impossible to correct and improve the direction of a country if people, especially Christians, are not convinced there are major problems and that we are way off course. Apathy is another issue killing America, but since we cannot make people care, we need to reach those who may be in the busy, unconvinced, or uninformed categories.

But as we try raising awareness in an intolerant culture that is redefining truth, opposition is guaranteed. The Left is shrewd at using words as weapons to silence those who do not agree with them. Enemies of Christ will not relax or ease up on their agenda, and one of the greatest battles in the country today is being waged by the LGBTQ movement. Author and teacher Peter Heck stated,

“They know the success of their cause depends upon the total abolishment of the Judeo-Christian ethic and the Moral Authority it teaches. That is why any belief that the homosexual lobby is merely a passive group of individuals wanting to peacefully coexist with others who have different beliefs and values is naively absurd.”

The Enemy advances when Christians relax. Though Christianity is growing, particularly in underground churches in persecuted nations around the world, who do you think is having more influence on America today?

The marketers of evil claim they are fighting because of discrimination, oppression, injustice, and inequality. They say they fight for love, acceptance, diversity, equal rights, and freedom. We’re onto their schemes and the tedious talking points trumpeted by the liberal media, the Left, Hollywood, and many within the government education system.

But it is not just those whose new religion is sex, and it’s not just those who claim they just want to “live and let live.” It’s also those who devalue human life and promote moral relativism. Planned Parenthood and advocates of murder cry out, “freedom,” “choice,” “it’s my body, not yours, not the government’s and not God’s.”

The Left is using atheists, communists, socialists, and LGBTQ proponents to blot out God, normalize homosexuality, lie about life in the womb, undermine natural marriage, tear apart the traditional family, create as much chaos as possible, and, well, promote lies instead of truth.

Since we’re talking about methods and people Satan uses to do his work, we should also take a sober look at how our perceptions have changed regarding morality and what has become acceptable or permissible to professing Christians. We must recognize the sin in our own camp and call out hypocrisy in the church when necessary.

We must pursue Christ, invest time in the Word, have accountability and fellowship with true believers, be disciplined, and work harder to build others up while we strengthen our faith and especially our marriages. Jesus told His disciples, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15). Looking at just two of the Ten Commandments, we must acknowledge the epidemic of idolatry and adultery within Christian circles.

We don’t talk often enough about adultery, which is now pretty much accepted by a majority of Americans, including many who claim to be Christians.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)

Years before the Supreme Court gave its tyrannical opinion ruling against God-ordained natural marriage in 2015, the agenda was well underway to remove America’s moral anchors. What was most disappointing, however, was to observe the influence secularism was and is having on the American church. Today we can see the undeniable fruit of lacking a solid foundation, with increasing numbers of gay ministers and pastors in several churches and denominations.

The rise of apostasy is a sign of the times as more churches and leadership preach accommodation rather than conviction of sin leading to repentance and salvation. If we are not much different from the world, there’s a problem.

The Enemy is advancing through our country, our culture, and even many of our churches because we have surrendered much ground and have not defended the truth. Though there is always hope for a revival – and I have no idea what it might take for this to happen – the light is dimming in and on America, and the clock is ticking.

Many have already been deceived as the Enemy has had success defining the terms of battle, and in many cases, redefining words. The Left has been promoting sin as normal, natural, and healthy, and when Christians speak up, it leads to charges of intolerance. If we do nothing, even more people will call evil good.”

If most Christians continue to avoid these battles, if we are not established in His truth, and if we refuse to defend the faith, society will rapidly deteriorate. If we do not pray to the only living God to give us wisdom, strength, and guidance, we won’t be able to effectively share the gospel, influence culture for Christ and bear good fruit for Him.

*Book excerpt from Redefining Truth: Delusions of Replacing God and Calling Evil Good by author, David Fiorazo

spiritual warfareHe said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:15-18
 
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Why does it seem Christians are almost always on the defensive rather than preaching the gospel, influencing culture, and standing up for Christ and His truth? Jesus Christ enlisted us in active service, and we are to make it our goal to obey and please Him (2 Corinthians 5:9). As soldiers of an eternal army, we cannot afford to be indifferent or ignorant about the intensifying battle all around us. When we are silent and fail to engage in warfare, we become ineffective for God’s kingdom including the important work of making disciples.

Here’s an excerpt from The Cost of Our Silence (chapter 14).

This epic battle between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of darkness is real whether you believe the Bible or not. Jesus came to earth to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and when He returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to help us fight (John 14:12).

The leaders of the armies are Jesus Christ whom God has exalted forever far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:21); and Satan, the temporary ruler of this world (John 12:31) whose time is short (Revelation 12:12).

God allows us to choose what part we will play in advancing His kingdom. We can choose to do nothing or we can respond to His call and fight the good fight of faith (2 Tim. 4:7). Yes, it is risky, certainly unpopular, and potentially dangerous, but without risk, we experience little reward and we often suffer repercussions for not taking action.

Lord of the Rings’ fans will remember the scene in The Two Towers in which the massive, evil army of Mordor was on the move toward Gondor in their quest to wipe mankind off the face of the earth. After being warned about the enemy advancing, Aragorn encouraged the king to ride out and face the enemy. Théoden, King of Rohan, declared, “I will not risk open war.”

Aragorn replied with truth,

“Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.”

Instead, the king ordered the city to evacuate and retreat to Helm’s Deep, a fortress that had kept them safe in the past… As a result of not staying to fight, many more lives were lost.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor 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 (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Do we avoid conflict and run away when life gets difficult or when we are faced with opposition?
For some, their security is money; for others, that security comes from family, a job, a relationship, the Internet, or even church activity. Some escape to entertainment; others to whatever provides immediate gratification. Our culture will only get worse if we continue to seek comfort, worldly things, or our own happiness while avoiding the battle for souls and ignoring our mission in Christ.

…And what if people in our own church say the Bible is not inerrant, there are no moral absolutes, and we are taking our faith too seriously? Press on!

We’re not to be overcome by evil; we are supposed to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Today’s remnant of committed believers must not follow the pattern of the [lukewarm] church in the last hundred years.

I agree with Charles Spurgeon and others who believe we are foolish to expect to serve God without opposition. In fact, Spurgeon stated, “the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed …” But he always kept the victory in sight:

Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and forever destroyed, while Jesus and they who are with him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords tonight, and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict. Never battle so important, never crown so glorious. Every man to his post, ye warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!

…Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). Think about what gates are used for. Christians will overpower the enemy’s gates in the end. Did you get that? Though Satan constantly attacks believers, the Bible never refers to the enemy storming the gates of heaven!

One of the keys to our success in spiritual warfare is this pearl of truth: Gates are defensive!

All hell should be on guard, and a strong, armor-wearing, battle-tested church should be on offense, attacking the enemy with God’s Word. Preaching the gospel is one way to stay on offense and help rescue people from the camp of the enemy.

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Too many of us leave our swords at home on a dusty shelf. We forget Satan is a defeated foe…

Read the entire book excerpt: