Change your vantage point for spiritual warfare!

Who are you when it comes to the unseen realm?

Does the enemy know your name?

Do you believe that you are a victim?

Or are you a victor?

You might give a cursory answer as a Christian! You are naturally going to say something like, “In Jesus, I am a victor. Through Jesus, I am victorious!”

But the reality is that as we move or leave this moment of feeling and believing in our victorious state, the everyday onslaught of reality and life comes crashing back in. Whatever progress we might have made on Sunday, seems to be lost by Monday morning.

Often, the problem is we have misinterpreted the “appropriation of victory.”

We have become confused about our “identity” in Christ.

We have relinquished our “authority” in Christ.

We have diminished the “sacrifice” of Christ.

Instead, we have replaced it with:

  • An insurmountable debt of sin
  • An unquenchable thirst for the world
  • An insatiable striving of selfishness

This then translates into anemic Christianity that discounts who we are, what we are supposed to do, and how we are supposed to do it.

From this weakened state is how we approach our days, weeks, and years. It is from this vantage point that we view our problems, trials, and tribulations. It’s this pre-packaged, pseudo-Christian worldview that allows us to attend a service on Sundays for our weekly fill-up so that we might be able to make it through another week of this thing we call life.

This state of life just flat-out stinks. I have been in that state before, and I understand how it feels. Unfortunately, once we spend a little time in this state of mind or spirit, we simply don’t remember what it’s like to be in any other position. This state I am describing is an effectual rut. And a rut is just a grave with its ends kicked out.

For us to move beyond this rut, this place of the mundane, this poor pathetic halfhearted Christianity, we must change our mindset and focus upon that which is just, pure, holy, and pleasing to God.

Let me help by describing a few steps, like steps on a ladder, which will help you climb out of the rut. And it is not just focusing our attention upon those things. AND it is more than just acceptance of His grace in these things …it is a giant bear hug of an embrace that we must squeeze and become “one with”. It is an affectionate coming together, allowing it to course through your entire spirit. Yet, beyond that – it is even more. It is His covenant that we are talking about.

Generally, the word covenant causes people’s eyes to glaze over in dread as they realize covenant requires effort from both sides. The amazing thing is that God already knows that our side of the covenant is severely inadequate. There is nothing we could ever do in our entire lifetime, or many lifetimes over and over, that would ever allow us to come close to fulfilling our end of the bargain.

Rather than us feeling like we are utter failures, even though we are, there was incredible provision made. Provision that is not to be minimized as scraps, crumbs, or leftovers. This provision is literally the finest of all morsels that one could imagine. It is through Jesus – the sacrificial lamb that met and exceeded all requirements to enact this covenant – that we are made righteous and upstanding in this covenant agreement.

Through Him, we can move from victim to victor. Through Him, we can view life, people, trials, and triumphs through the proper lens. Through Him and through Him only!

Spiritual Strategies to Experience God’s Victory and Peace:

Philippians 4:4-9

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

1. Develop a Lifestyle of Rejoicing in the Lord. (Verse 4)

Let’s consider how this verse is written. We are given a clear command to rejoice in the Lord – always. But then immediately we are told again to rejoice. I wonder if Paul knew something that we didn’t. Perhaps he knew that we could easily be discouraged, depressed, or defeated when we allow the enemy to steal our joy.

As I think about some of the rough patches of life, I look back and see that I was not rejoicing enough. I lost focus on those things that were worth rejoicing about and focused on the struggle. By then, I didn’t feel like rejoicing, and it became more of a challenge to find the motivation to rejoice. Don’t lose momentum in your joy. Be continually rejoicing!

Find ways to make rejoicing a lifestyle.
Celebrate God.
Celebrate His blessings and His goodness!

2. Pray about everything so as not to worry. (Verse 6)

What is supplication? To pray humbly; make humble and earnest entreaty or petition.

When is the last time you took your entire life before the Lord? When was the last time you came to the Lord in complete humility to basically beg Him for His intervention, direction, and control in the situation?

Most of our prayers are “Jesus to do” lists.

I find that generally we give up after a period of time, whether that is seconds, minutes, hours, or days. The prayer becomes an item on our checklist rather than a true petition that is from a place of burden on our hearts.

In a proper posture of prayer and supplication, we remove ourselves from control and place control of the situation into God’s hands as we surrender it at the foot of the Cross. When we leave our burdens at the foot of the Cross, we can move forward in life without worry, without struggle, without the weight, and we can walk in peace and victory.

Hebrews 12:1-2 
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3. Win the Battle of your Mind by keeping it on Godly Attributes. (Verse 8)

Meditate: to engage in contemplation or reflection. When is the last occasion you have spent time contemplating and reflecting the amazing attributes of God?

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Also, read Psalm 1:1-3 and James 1:13-15.

We win and lose battles in the mind. The mind is where the game is played. I have learned this in a new way as I have stretched myself into endurance running in recent years. As soon as I begin to argue in my mind, the battle has begun. Will I stop? Will I go? Will I continue? Will I make an excuse to slow down or quit? Will I push forward and complete the race ahead? These are the questions we ask ourselves as we walk and run in our Christian journey.

4. Determine to Move from Theory to Practice in your Daily Life. (Verse 9)

We must move from theory to practice. Each day, we need to seize the moments one at a time and apply these powerful Biblical truths and allow Jesus’ victory to overshadow all situations.

Applying these principles is easier said than done. In conclusion, here are several ways that practical application can be made.

  1. DEVELOP that lifestyle of rejoicing. Each time the world is turned upside down, rejoice. Each time the news on TV shares something that doesn’t sounds uplifting, rejoice. Each time you receive bad news, rejoice in the Lord, for HE is still on the throne.
  2. PRAY about everything! Pray, pray, and pray some more! It can be in the morning, in the night, or it can be in the daytime. You can pray while you are driving. You can pray anytime, anywhere, for anything!
  3. WIN by MEDITATING. You win the battle of the mind, by keeping your mind in the proper form. Like a soldier who is ready for battle, his armor is on, sword or gun at the side. In Ephesians, it says we put on the helmet of salvation. Win the battle by keeping first things first and focusing upon God’s word.
  4. MOVE from THEORY to PRACTICE. Do not walk away from here and go back to doing the same things the same way, every day. Practice these things. Do these things. Verse 9 of Philippians 4 assures us that the God of peace will be with us as we implement these things.

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Loneliness is a common human experience that transcends age, occupation, and social status. Even in the context of church ministry, where pastors and leaders are surrounded by a congregation, it’s possible to feel isolated and alone. This article explores the unique challenges of loneliness within church ministry and offers strategies that I myself am using to combat it.

The Loneliness Paradox

At first glance, it might seem paradoxical that individuals in church ministry, who are often surrounded by a community of believers, can experience loneliness. However, ministry can be isolating for several reasons:

Role Expectations:

​ Pastors and leaders are often seen as spiritual guides, and there’s an expectation that they should have it all together. This can make it challenging for them to admit their struggles, including loneliness.

Lack of Peer Relationships:

​ While pastors and leaders have strong connections with their congregations, they may lack close peer relationships within their own ministry circles. They often shoulder the burdens of others but may not have someone to share their own burdens with.

High Stress Levels:

​ The demands of church ministry, including sermon preparation, pastoral care, and administrative tasks, can lead to high stress levels. This stress can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Strategies to Combat Loneliness

  1. Seek Accountability:

    Pastors and leaders should actively seek out mentors or peers with whom they can build accountability relationships. These relationships provide a safe space to share struggles and receive support.

  2. Prioritize Self-Care:

    Ministry can be all-consuming, leaving little time for personal well-being. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care, including regular exercise, rest, and time for hobbies that bring joy and relaxation.

  3. Establish Boundaries:

    Set clear boundaries for work hours and responsibilities. Overextending oneself can lead to burnout and increased feelings of loneliness.

  4. Foster Peer Connections:

    Create opportunities for pastors and leaders within your church community to connect and build peer relationships. This can be done through small groups, retreats, or regular meetings specifically for leaders.

  5. Spiritual Discipline:

    Deepen your spiritual discipline. Regular prayer, meditation of the word, and reflection can provide a sense of connection with God, helping to alleviate loneliness.

  6. Professional Counseling:

    Don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling if loneliness becomes overwhelming. Therapists can provide guidance and support to address these feelings.

Loneliness in church ministry is a real and challenging issue. However, with awareness and proactive steps, pastors and leaders can combat these feelings and create a more supportive and connected ministry environment. Remember that it’s okay to seek help and that you don’t have to battle loneliness alone. By prioritizing self-care, seeking peer relationships, and deepening your spiritual discipline, you can find greater fulfillment and connectedness in your ministry journey.

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Strange! What could that possibly mean?

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