Thoughts to Ponder

Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?
Ecclesiastes 8:7

Where is your focus?

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

While I was a Deputy Sheriff something happened that I want to quickly explain. I rolled as a backup for another Deputy on a domestic dispute with a gun involved. I was quite a ways away when the call came in so the other Deputy arrived some time before I did.

I arrived, got out of my patrol car and carefully approached the front door which was standing open. When I got to the door I looked in and did not see anyone, but I could hear the Deputy talking to a male in another part of the house. I listened and it appeared that they were discussing what would happen next. The male asked what would happen to him and the Deputy was telling him that depended on his girlfriend, etc... I had drawn my weapon when approaching the residence since I had received the call as involving a gun. Now I felt that everything was okay so I put my weapon back in its holster.

I entered the residence quietly, so that I did not disturb what was going on. I entered a living room. There were two exits to the rest of the house, one on my right and one on my left. I approached the one on my right. I got to the doorway and saw a male standing in the kitchen with his back to me. I could not see his hands but the Deputy was facing me at the other end of the kitchen. I noticed that he did not look directly at me but did not think anything about it.

I stood there for a couple of minutes not interrupting because they were still talking. I shifted my weight and the floor creaked. The male turned quickly and in his right hand was a .45 caliber automatic pistol. He pointed it at my face with his arm stretched out. The barrel of the weapon was within 4 inches of my face. He told me not to move or he would kill me.

What does this have to do with being a Christian? Well I almost lost my life that night because I first lost my focus and that can happen in our Christian life too. From the moment I saw that pistol my universe narrowed down to a six inch square straight in front of my eyes. My life did not flash before my eyes, I did not think of my family, I thought only about the 3 and ½ pounds of trigger finger pressure that stood between me and eternity. My mind was crystal clear, the way it should have been all the time, but I had let my guard down.

You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 NIV)

Don't for a moment think that Satan does not have you in his sights. If you are living for God, attempting to do His will and reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ, then you are an enemy of the evil one - Satan. If on the other hand you are not willing to totally commit your life to Christ and do God's will then you are already a P.O.W.! Worse than that, Satan will use you to further his objective. He can't take your salvation away from you but he sure can take your joy, and your witness to others.

This is a war. A war between God and Satan, the final outcome has already been decided by Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, however there are battles which we can influence for good or for bad. Does God really need our help to defeat Satan? Of course not, but in His wisdom He has chosen to use us in this war. His holy angels are also in this fight. First and foremost they are on God's side, but in a very real sense they fight for us too.

Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (Daniel 10:12-13 NIV) God answered Daniel's prayer at the very moment Daniel prayed it but the answer did not get to Daniel for 21 days. The battle was only won when the Archangel Michael was sent as a reinforcement. I will not say that I know what God would have done if Daniel had not continued to pray but I have to wonder if that battle might have taken a lot longer.

This brings me to another point, how you do view God's angels? Do you picture them as beautiful young women in flowing silk gowns? Or maybe you think of them as chubby little children? Satan would love for you to think of them that way, after all how much help do you think one of those angels would be in an all out battle? If you think of angels like that then it is natural for you to underestimate the spiritual battle around you. Score a direct hit for the enemy.

I think of angels as God's battle hardened Marines. They are always ready to execute their Commander's orders. They never waver or ask why, they jump into the fight with great joy. I have no doubt that they often wonder what is wrong with us, don't we realize what is going on all around us? Don't we realize that they are in a battle and they could really use our help (our prayers)?

If you think I am wrong about angels, then look at just a few verses about them: He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility-- a band of destroying angels. (Psalms 78:49 NIV) This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (2 Thessalonians 1:7b NIV) And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace.(2 Chronicles 32:21 NIV)

You may wonder why you need to be concerned with these spiritual battles, after all with or without us God will win anyway. Why not just sit this war out? You can't that is why!! You are in this whether you like it or not. If you choose Christ as your Savior then you have enlisted in His army. Even if you try to stay behind the lines out of the battle, Satan knows where you are and will attack you.

I don't mean to give Satan more credit than he deserves but don't make the mistake of thinking he has no power either. When you see a Christian leader fall, you can count on the fact that the attack came from Satan and his demons. We are all at risk. That is why Paul told us to put on the full armor of God: 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 6:11-12 NIV)

Do you find it hard to pray? I know I do, when I pray I often get up off my knees exhausted. I have to fight to keep my mind on my prayers. I find myself dreading my prayer time because it seems like a chore. Don't get me wrong I love to be in my Father's presence and that is how I feel when I pray to Him, but it is work. It is work because it is part of that larger battle going on in the spiritual realm. When you pray you directly engage in warfare on the side of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Want more evidence of the warfare? Look at the parable that Jesus told about Lazarus and the rich man: "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. (Luke 16:22 NIV) What strikes me about this is the contrast between Lazarus and the rich man when they both died. Notice that the beggar (Lazarus) was carried away by angels but the rich man was buried. Let me say here that this is only my view and I cannot directly point to Scripture to back up my view, so take it only as my opinion. I believe that since Satan has been given dominion, in this age, over the earth and is even called the ruler of the power of the air, this is his territory. You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:1-2 NRSV) So I visualize the air as enemy territory, when Lazarus died he was escorted through enemy territory to his reward.

One of the things that I was taught in Marine boot camp at the end of the Vietnam war was that Marines (if humanly possible) never leave their dead on the battle field. That is a comforting thought if you are a member of that unit. Well God won't leave you alone on the battle field either! So keep your focus, stay alert, be prepared for the battles and wear the full armor of God at all times, because: Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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