Last week in a meeting I had with two different saints in our church, I recognized the fingerprints of the enemy in a very indirect way. The attacks were not strong or even extremely clear, yet I sensed their presence, almost in the sense that a splinter is sensed as opposed to the stabbing of a knife. The splinter causes irritation and discomfort, while the stabbing of a knife produces excruciating pain. The problem is that we sometimes delay in dealing with the splinter because we learn how to cope with the pain.
I am convinced that recently the demonic attacks have been more irritable and uncomfortable, but we have felt it was easier to cope with the discomfort than take the time to root out the problem. As a result, we don’t even realize the weight we were carrying, and we were unaware of how distracted we were becoming.
Frankly, for the last few weeks something has felt “off,” but I believe this epitome, which I believe was God-given in the middle of the night, is the answer. We have become distracted by little hang-ups. The devil hasn’t thrown us off a cliff; he just placed something in our paths that caused us to stub our toe. But while we tend to turn to God in those cliff-hanger situations, we tend to try to cope with the distractions of our stubbed toes.
I sincerely believe we need God to remove from us the stubbed toes…the little hang-ups…the distractions, so we can remain focused on the mission. The kingdom of God must move forward, and we cannot afford to be hindered by distractions.
I am thankful for gates. This past Saturday, my family and I went to the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, and there were a number of times when I felt appreciation for gates and fencing that I trusted were strong enough to keep the animals away from us. There was a male and female lion who were enjoying the meat of a piece of dead carcase. There was a menacing tiger pacing around his enclosure. There was a rhinoceros standing near what appeared be her offspring basking in the sun. I was quite thankful for gates and fencing that held.
Prior to my election as Pastor at Life Christian Church in Lansing, I worked as a teacher for the Tennessee Department of Corrections. I met people who needed to be confined, at least for a time, as punishment for their criminal activities. Some of them were outright menaces to the general public. I was thankful for chain link fencing and razor wire that successfully kept felons from escaping their confinement.
I am intrigued by the fact that in Matthew 16:18 Jesus told Peter, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” his church. I have often heard this applied in the sense that the devil and his cohorts cannot be victorious when attacking the church, but gates aren’t offensive weapons. They are designed to keep the opposing forces out. In other words, this verse is not telling us Satan’s forces cannot defeat us (though that is true); it’s actually saying the gates of hell won’t hold when the Church encroaches on their territory. We are the male and female lion licking our chops after enjoying the meat of the dead carcase. We are the pacing tiger. We are the powerful rhinoceros. Yet, hell’s gates won’t be able to hold against the Church’s forceful attack. They can’t stop the Church!
Consistency in current society is truly a jewel. In the ever-changing world we live in, it feels as if consistency is near non-existent. Technology is always changing so that by the time we learn one technological advancement, there is likely a new one that has already been developed to improve upon the method or device we just finished learning.
Consistency in the technological realm may be frustrating, but in many cases it is not concerning. On the other hand, I become alarmed when I see the lack of consistency in “so called” Christians. With some, it almost feels appropriate to ask, “So are we living for God today or not?” Frankly, I’ve determined there are individuals whom you can almost determine their mindset, their faith, and their commitment for that day by checking the weather. Now, I’m not referring to determining the chance of rain for the day or the projected temperature, but I’m speaking of the individual’s circumstances, and it can actually work in two different ways.
There are some who need a crisis to keep them close to God. If it were not for the crisis, they would have no relationship with Christ. They only hold on to God because they need him to fix their circumstances, which often they were responsible for creating. Yet, the moment their crisis is fixed, their personal relationship with God ceases to exist.
On the other hand, some will only serve God when their circumstances are perfect. At the very first sight of trouble, they turn on God, wondering why he has forsaken them and why bad things happen to good people. “How could you let this happen?” they ask God, failing to remember that trouble rains on the just as well as on the unjust.
But I would like to remind you that regardless of your circumstances, God is always God. When the sun is shining, God is still God. When the storm is raging, God is still God. My hope is that we can find a consistent relationship with God that can be constant in spite of our circumstances.
I would like to close by saying there are moments when we feel weak. There are times when we will ask questions. However, there is a difference in experiencing feelings and questions and the outright rejection of God because of a slight change of circumstances. My desire is that in spite of the emotions and uncertainties, we will make the choice to serve God at all times. The weather in our circumstances should have nothing to do with it.