Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

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Warfare and Building

Spiritual building and spiritual warfare go hand-in-hand.  Jesus is the Master Builder.  He is building a spiritual Kingdom … the Church, and we are “co-laborors” with Him in the building process.

Simultaneously, we are under attack.  While we are working with Jesus we are being constantly attacked by His enemy and ours.

The juggling act – of building and warring – are beautifully described in the Old Testament book written by Nehemiah.  Take a look at the first three chapters of his book to get some context and then dive into this:

You must understand that you have an enemy!   You didn’t pick the fight.  You don’t deserve to be attacked.  BUT YOU HAVE AN ENEMY, NONETHELESS!  His name … or names … are many!    (Abaddon [Hebrew name for Satan meaning “Destruction”], the Accuser of the brothers, the Adversary, an Angel of light, the Antichrist, the Beast, Beelzebub, the Deceiver, the Devil, the Dragon, the Enemy, the Evil one, the Father of lies, the God of this age [or this world], the Lawless one, Liar, Lucifer, the Man of sin, Murderer, the Prince of the power of the air, a Roaring lion. Satan, the Serpent of old, the Tempter, the Thief, and the Wicked one.)

Jesus told His disciples in Luke 10:18 that He saw Satan “… fall from heaven like lightening” when God banished him from the throne room.

Your enemy, Satan, hates you because God loves you.  Satan’s a liar and a killer.  He loves to murder the innocent, slaughter the weak, poison the hungry, sicken the healthy, and lay waste to children and ruin futures.  He inspires all evil and all wickedness, and he’s so deceptive … he will make everything he does appear to be the work of God.  Peter said of him:  (1 Peter 5:8) Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

AND don’t let anyone tell you he is a toothless lion.  He is not!  Peter called him a “great enemy.”   And making fun of him is not going to weaken him in the least.  If you want some biblical advice about how to think of Satan, the devil, look at Jude.  8 In the same way, these people — who claim authority from their dreams — live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.  9 But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.)  10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand.  Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.  11 What sorrow awaits them!

I personally know people who once made light of Satan, called him things like “old slewfoot,” and shrugged him off.  They are now broken people, still healing from wounds brought about because they didn’t understand just who they were dealing with!

You are Satan’s prize … or rather, the prize is your eternal soul.  God wants to save it.  Satan wants to destroy it.  It’s as simple and as complex as that!  And he will never fight fair.  In case you were wondering, that’s why life is unfair.  He’s prideful and arrogant.  He steals and destroys.  He’s angry at God and takes it out on you!  You are in a war, and in this war – with the biggest stakes imaginable, there will be casualties!  DON’T BE ONE!

Matthew 24:9-12 –  9“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.  10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.  12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

Those of the words of Jesus!

I want to take you to the book of Nehemiah, because it’s a story of God’s people at war while at the same time, building.  Isn’t that a good and appropriate picture of the Church of Jesus Christ around the world?  We are all warring and building, building and warring.  We’ll take a look at Nehemiah 4:11-23.

First, you need to KNOW YOUR ENEMY!  In Nehemiah 4:11-12 – 11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.”  12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!”  

Our enemy, Satan and his minions, are described this way in Ephesians 6.   Ephesians 6:1212 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

And in 2 Corinthians 7:5-65 When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us.  We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside.  6 But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.

Second, look at how Nehemiah defends the work of God and the people of God!  The principle is that YOU MUST BE EQUIPPED FOR BATTLE!

 Nehemiah 4:13 – 13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas.  I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows.

Ephesians 6:10-1311 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.   13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 

Next, (Third) you should UNDERSTAND … THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S!   Nehemiah 4:14 – 14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy!  Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”

Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10 – 10 Be strong in the Lord and in HIS mighty power.   The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 24:8 – Who is the King of glory?  The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle.

Fourth, DON’T BE CAUGHT OFF GUARD!    Don’t go into battle unequipped!  And don’t be caught unaware by the enemy!  In Nehemiah 4:17b – 18a it reads:  17B   The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.  18A All the builders had a sword belted to their side … 23B …We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water.

Paul give a warning and then informs us in 2 Corinthians 2:11 – 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us.   For we are familiar with his evil schemes.

If and when you become familiar with the way Satan attacks, you’ll understand how important it is to be “armored” (7 components) in the battles.  Paul describes God’s means of protecting us and arming us in Ephesians 6:14-17 – 14 Stand your ground, putting on (1) the belt of truth and (2) the body armor of God’s righteousness.  15 For (3) shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  16 In addition to all of these, (4) hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  17 (5) Put on salvation as your helmet, and take (6) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Here’s a key verse … one to memorize for the days you find yourself under attack:  Psalm 144:1 – Praise the LORD, who is my Rock.  He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.

And remember this:  VIGILANCE IS THE KEY TO VICTORY!  Look at Nehemiah 4:23 – 23 During this time, none of us — not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me — ever took off our clothes.  We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water.

You see this principle of vigilance described in Ephesians 6:18 – 18 (6) Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.   (7)Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Think about this.  There are two major factors involved in living the life of a follower of Jesus:

  • Building – Your primary purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God.  Your enemy wants to stop the building!  Jesus said He would build His Church, and you are (1) part of that building, you are (2) a co-builder with Christ.  Nothing is built unless someone is willing to count the cost of the building and for the building.  If we build wisely, things last and are very fulfilling.
  • Battling – No battles are won unless you armor up, organize your troops, and make sure you’re ready for battle.  There is no neutrality in spiritual warfare.

We are MORE than conquerors in Christ because He give us the means to victory!

It’s Time!

Thirteen years ago I saw something that has since become a dream. On the streets of Liverpool, England, a small group of men and women climbed out of a remodeled cargo van and lifted the side panels. Like a theater curtain going up, the panels revealed a gleaming stainless steel kitchen. Soon the stove burners were heating up large pots of porridge, potato soup and a lintel stew. Even before the panels went up the people on the streets could smell the crushed beans being brewed in a trio of large coffee makers. Paper plates and cups and plastic spoons and forks were neatly arranged on the slide-out shelves. And then … the music began pumping and pulsating and exciting the atmosphere, announcing to the hungry in the alleys that it was dinner time!

Young and old, male and female … they poured into the street. The anonymous hungry recognized the familiar crew serving them – committed, loving people who came night-after-night, to demonstrate with food that these poor souls had not been forgotten. On this particular cold night many of the homeless gravitated toward the warmth of the van, leaning up against the engine cowling or edging as close as they dared to the propane stove burners.

Bread, soup, music, laughter, tears, prayer, hugs – all there that night, and in abundance.

And I was forever changed. God dropped a thought into my heart. “What if you did this in your city? Would it make a difference? Of course, it would! So … DO IT.” From time to time I would venture to put the project together, and time-and-time again I would hear, “It’s not time. But soon.” I would dream about the van that would eventually become a fleet of three vans … all customized to exceed health department and government standards.

I knew one day I would see this dream become a reality. Tonight I believe I heard, “Okay … it’s time!”

Here’s what we need … and when I say “we” I’m not talking about one local church or some entity created around me and my name. No. This “we” is open to anyone who (1) loves Jesus Christ and is committed to Him, (2) understands and is committed to feeding the poor in the name of Jesus (“… if you do it to them, you’ve done it to Me …”), and (3) longs to see Richmond transformed by the love of God.

A dream for Richmond

The Means to a Dream

WE need a van. It would be GREAT if it was like the one pictured here. This particular van is a 1997 GMC P30-16. But getting the van is just the beginning. We’ll need someone to customize it. It’s gotta be cleaner and sharper than an ice-cream truck – you know what I mean. Gas tanks, stoves, refrigeration, utensils, pots and pans … we’ll need all that! We need to research local government restrictions and requirements, licensing, titling, insurance, etc. And to do all this, we’ll need the help of generous people who buy into the vision.

We need money. $1 to $50,000 … and every gift amount in between. I’m estimating that the initial costs could, depending on the quality of the final product, be between $50-60,000. That’s just to get the meals to the people.

And then we’ll need drivers with the right licenses, cooks, bottle-washers, clean-up crews/pot-scrubbers … and the kindest, sweetest servants (servers) in the city. Leave your religion and your judgmental attitudes at home!

The poor of Richmond need food, clothing and shelter. They need legal aid. They need a lot of things! But everything that is provided for them must be wrapped in the love of God. Like my friend Jason Stickles is fond of saying, “We need to be Jesus with skin on.”

There are many, many ministries and agencies doing this same kind of thing. This “meals-on-wheels” idea is not like Newton having the apple land on his head and him thinking, “That must be gravity!” Like I said before, I SAW THIS in Liverpool, 13 years ago!

The question in my mind is, “Is every hungry child … is every homeless person … is every single mom getting the nutrition they need?” I know that HOMEWARD (http://www.homewardva.org/) is doing phenomenal things in our city. So is CARITAS. Embrace-Richmond is out there, too, doing their part. There are scores of organizations doing their best to do what I’m suggesting.

But … is anyone falling through the cracks? What about the prostitutes? What about the poor in the Hispanic community of Richmond? And what about the moms and dads who send their kids off to school (the schools are feeding the kids during the school year), but have a rumble in their bellies? What about the addicts who are starving themselves in order to buy the next hit?

I don’t know! I just don’t know everything that’s being done. But that doesn’t dissuade me from following this particular dream.

So … what do you think?

Oh, and one more thought. We’ll need food, too … and lots of it.