Warriors

25 04 2006

Warriors

Scripture:
1 Samuel 30:3-8, 17-20 (NIV)  3 When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.

7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”       “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”


Observations:
David was designated by God and anointed by Samuel to be king.  Yet Saul will not stop rebelling against God.  Several times David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but he refused, saying, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”

Each time Saul was confronted with the fact that David could have killed him, he repented and blessed David – promising to not kill him.  But each time his pride got the best of him and he once again pursued David and tried to kill him.  So, in an unlikely move, David joined the Philistines – at least he joined a good man Achish.  But when David and his men tried to fight with the Philistines, they were afraid of his loyalties and sent him packing.

From there the Philistines destroyed and plundered two towns.  This was heartbreaking to David and his men, because the Philistines had carried off all of their loved ones.  That’s where we pick up the story above.

The first reaction to loss is to weep.  Grief is a painful, bitter experience.  The empty hole left in our hearts is a painful vacuum that cannot be restored.  Nothing can ever fill the space left by a loved one lost.  Whether that loss is through death or absence – it leaves a chasm that cannot be filled.

Sunday we went to Six Flags and rode some roller coasters and other attractions.  One of those is called the Tower of Doom.  It is a 200 foot tower where one is taken to the top and then dropped, free-fall, to the bottom where the brakes kick in and we land safely.  It looks to be a fairly innocuous ride, but it is deceptive.

My first clue that this was more than it appears was the line waiting to ride.  If this was so innocent, why are so many people waiting in line.  After about a 20 minute wait, we were finally being strapped into our seats and were slowly lifted up to the full 200 feet.  At the top, the chair stops and you wait in anticipation.

That waiting at the top was tense.  I knew that at any moment they would release us to free-fall to the bottom.  There was a twitch, then a bang in the machinery, and then a slight shudder.  I took a deep breath and waited – nothing.  I quickly exhaled and took another deep breath.  Suddenly:  Bang!  We were falling.

The sensation is difficult to explain.  It felt as if my abdominal cavity had suddenly become hollow and as if it was being sucked dry.  Our speed accelerated and the sensation increased.  It is not really a pleasant feeling.  There is some fear (irrational though it be), some discomfort, and some sort of exhilarating pleasure.

The fear is irrational because millions of people have ridden this ride, and ones like it around the world, without serious incident.  There is no way that they would put you on this if you would be hurt or killed – especially in today’s litigious society.

The discomfort comes from the body’s inability to cope with an abnormal situation.  I’ve read that astronauts in space experience this sensation the entire time they are in a weightlessness producing orbit.  It causes nausea and a host of other symptoms, but eventually they learn to cope.

The exhilarating pleasure comes from putting oneself into a situation that mimics a life-threatening experience, yet living to tell about it.  Normally, falling 200 feet from a tower would be fatal, but in this controlled environment, I walked away.  My mind has trouble discerning the difference between a “safe” fall and a fatal fall however.  Yet, my intellect is strong and I laugh in the face of impending doom – knowing that I truly am not in danger.  (Despite the protestations of my amigdalla.)  Intellectually, I know I’m safe – or why would I have taken a seat and fastened myself in.  Emotionally, my mind is unable to understand what is happening.

So, I’ve made a rational decision to scare myself silly.  This type of experience could quite possibly be the only way one can meld the right and left brain together!

But it is that uncomfortable, almost painful void in my gut that leaves me comparing this to grief.  As I fell from the sky, I wanted the sensation to end.  I wanted it to be over.  “I changed my mind!”  I shouted out.

David and his men, upon seeing the destruction of Ziklag, were without comfort.  Their families were gone and they wept.  There was no light at the end of the tunnel, and unlike my quick 200 foot fall, they could not see the bottom and they didn’t have the luxury of knowing that this was a “safe” experience that millions had survived in the past.

All they had was a void in their hearts that could never be filled by anything except their families.  So they wept.

Then the men began to turn on David.  They blamed him for the situation (how typical of God’s people).  They don’t blame God, or Satan (where the blame justly lies), they blame their leader.  But they don’t just blame him, they want to kill him.

David stands tall though.  He seeks the counsel of God through the priest and then goes to war.  After a long day of battle, they defeat the Philistines and take back what was theirs – the void is filled.  The ride is over.


Application:
Newton said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  This applies to almost everything we encounter – not just physics, but emotions, relationships, and spiritual battles.  It isn’t just in the physical world that we face opposition and reactions.  If we push, it is likely it will push back.  If we sit at rest, it is likely we’ll not face much resistance.

David was pushing forward and he faced opposition from Saul, his King, and from the Philistines, Israel’s enemy.  Then, when things didn’t go as well as they would all like, he faced resistance from his men.  

When squeezed from three sides, something has to give.  But David wasn’t just squeezed from those three, he also faced pressure from below – from Satan.  Something was about to give.  Like squeezing a tube of toothpaste, eventually it is going to pop.  The only way out, for David or the toothpaste, is up.

David turned to God and was provided a way of escape.  It wasn’t easy – but it was successful.

Our church has gone to war to win back the souls of lost men and women in Colorado Springs.  If we had remained comfortable in our complacent, nurturing community, we could easily have grown a nice family-style church where everyone was pleasant, peaceful, and placid.  However, God has asked us to go to battle and Satan is resisting our efforts.

We have tried to warn people of the opposition we would face in this endeavor, but most of us are pretty complacent.  The Lord woke me up at 5:30 this morning to spend time with Him.  He said, “Gary, this is war, you don’t have time to sleep.  People are under attack.  You and your family are in danger.  Your church family is in danger.  People are being surrounded by the enemy.”  God said, “Gary, get up and pray!”

Much of what we are facing appears to be mere harassment, unless you are the one trying to pass the kidney stone, or lying in the ED with chest pain.  Much of what we’re seeing looks like normal, everyday hiccups, unless it is your 3 year old daughter with a high fever and hooked up to IVs in the hospital.  Much of what we are experiencing appears to be normal in the paths of life, unless you are the one with a pregnant wife who is ill.

When we started this evangelistic campaign 2½ weeks ago, we had a team that was enthused, motivated, and ready to mobilize.  We not only had breadth, we had depth in our ranks.  But in the last week, we have lost people to medical problems, family dynamics, distractions, apathy, fear, harassment, illness, tiredness, burnout, discouragement, busyness, and apathy.  Our team of volunteers and thinned – we’re still getting the job done, but our ranks don’t have quite the depth.

This is war and we are under attack.  There are casualties.  God said, “Pray.  Pray that there will not be fatalities – spiritual or otherwise.”


Prayer:
So, here I am God, laying this all at your feet.  I cannot just make something happen.  In fact, I am pressed on all sides.  There is apathy, there is anger, there is frustration, and there is pure, unadulterated opposition.  There are bureaucratic obstacles and there are logistical hassles.

But God, what I am most concerned with is the cost this has on my people.  Robert’s chest pain and hypertension, Rene’s kidney stones, Ainslee’s infection, Jen’s cold/laryngitis, Scarlett’s sinus cold, Mike and Hannah’s pregnancy, people’s family issues, and the various cultural, personal, professional, and social issues that distract people and stress them out of the game.

We are under attack God.  We are pressed on every side. Persecuted, but not abandoned.


7But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies.? So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.

8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. 9We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you.

13But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, and so I speak.” 14We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. 15All of these things are for your benefit. And as God’s grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are? being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-18 NLT)

Lord, you brought this text to me and it is so true.  We are not abandoned and we do have this hope.  But that doesn’t mean that the war is over.  I am only human and I crave your protection.  I pray for my family – please protect Jen and Scarlett.  I pray for Byron’s family – please heal Ainslee and bring peace to their temporary home away from home.  Please Lord, surround Glenn and Lisa with strength and courage and protection.  Surround my team with your Holy and boldest angels God.  Send angels with flaming swords to protect everyone who is putting their lives on the line for others.

Protect us from apathy, discouragement, busyness, tiredness, stress, anger, frustration, fear, hopelessness, and interpersonal conflicts.  Protect us from ourselves God.  Protect us from “accidents.”  Protect us from oblique attacks that we could never anticipate.  Make us a bold and dangerous army under your direction.

I lay these people at your feet God and surrender my need to be successful for ego’s sake.  I pray for your children – those who are making bold decisions to join your Kingdom.  They are loved by you and in need of strength, courage, and protection.  Bring them the hope of your Kingdom, the hope of your salvation, and the hope of your grace!

This Lord, I surrender all to You so that you may be glorified.  Your Name will be vindicated.  Your character revealed and your Holiness proclaimed.  You alone God deserve the honor and we are here to serve You.  Use us God – we’re ready!

We confess our own lack of preparation.  We confess our own procrastination, laziness, and apathy.  We confess our pride and presumption.  We confess our prejudice and judgmental attitudes.  We confess our lack of love and compassion.  We confess our need to embrace you more fully.  We confess our inattention to where your Spirit is working.  We confess our lack of response to your love and to your Spirit.  

We come to worship and obey you God – that is our purpose.  Now use us as you see fit.

I love you God – I am ready to continue in the battle.

gw


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One response

26 04 2006
craig

G’day Gary,

It seems you / your team are under some heavy spiritual attack and its not a coincidence.

Do you have any intercessors / prayer warriors in your group – some serious corporate prayer and fasting might be in order. Along with praying hedges of protection, often when groups pray for the lost, they forget to pray for protection for themselves and telling the evil one to git.

I’ll be praying for you,

Blessings craig b

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