The armour of God is next, because over the last several weeks we have been doing a series looking at the various battlefields we face as believers in the 21st century. We have examined battles in society, the mind, the family and the battle for money, but no discussion of the battles we face would be complete without looking at the daily, personal battle we fight, for high we need the armour of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

We can not withstand the enemy’s attacks if we are not suited up and properly prepared, and we will not take ground for the Kingdom of God if we fail to use the armour of God and the weapons God provides for us.

 

THE TRUE ENEMY

 

We must remember that our true enemy is not people, governments, family members, debt or mental stress. The true enemy is seen in Ephesians 6…

 

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV Strong's)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

We need to be strong and to stand in His strength, because our enemy the devil and his troops are fighting hard. But we can and I believe will win! We need to recognise, protect ourselves from and take ground from our true enemy the devil. He is real, he is nasty but he also is a defeated foe!

 

The Bible speaks of the devil more than 100 times. Not once is he a short, red, goat-like dude with a pitchfork. Not once does he enter into fiddling contests down in Georgia.

 

CS Lewis said it well: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

 

Scripture makes it clear that Satan is real and is always working against God and His kingdom. He might ultimately be a defeated foe, but he’s still kicking up mischief, controlling and manipulating people to achieve his evil ends. That's why we need the armour of God.

 

1 John 5:19 (ESV Strong's)

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

 

There is a real spiritual war being waged against God, and every believer finds themselves in this spiritual battle. It’s in our homes and families, it’s in our finances, it’s in our society and it’s also in our heads. When we understand that we are in a battle, our first thought should be “How can I keep from becoming a casualty on this spiritual battlefield?”

 

So yes, Christian. Satan is real and he is still very active. But why do we still need armour of God if Satan was defeated on the cross?

 

Just as an army that has been dealt a decisive blow can still inflict casualties and destruction on individual soldiers, Christians can become also casualties on the spiritual battlefield.  Though we may not lose our salvation—nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord—we can nevertheless be gravely wounded in our spiritual life, as our defeated foe pursues a scorched earth policy.

 

Warfare and spiritual battles are not reserved for the super-spiritual among us. Every one of us who bear the name of Christ are soldiers in His cause, and we require the armour of God so we can be protected from the battle that rages around us.

 

IT’S TIME TO SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD!

 

Ephesians 6:13 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

 

We are instructed to take up the whole armour of God, not bits and pieces, the entire armour of God. Why? Because we need all the armour and weapons in the various battles we face. When Paul wrote this, he was imprisoned, so he likely based his illustration on the Roman soldiers who guarded him. So let’s work our way through Ephesians 6 and see how each piece of the armour of God relates to these battle fronts.

 

1.      BELT OF TRUTH

 

Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong's)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,

 

A soldier’s belt wasn’t a fashion accessory to hold their pants up. It was an important piece of the armour, had various other pieces fastened to it, most noticeably the sword. It’s the belt of truth, and truth is the foundational element of protection for the Christian soldier.  Jesus prayed,

 

John 17:17 (ESV Strong's)

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

 

God’s Word is complete truth and it never changes, so the piece of the armour of God upon which our defence hangs is the Word of God. Society’s morals change every 2 minutes, and the world accuses us of being bigoted, draconian and out of touch, but we’re not… We build our defence on Biblical truth that has stood for generations, and we stand on the Word of God, regardless of how culture changes and media react.

 

Scripture should be the basis of the way we live, raise our kids, do business, vote, and connect with our communities.  We must not compromise truth, now more than ever, but we must also commit to loving those whom we disagree with, even those who hate and attack us…

 

Ephesians 4:15 (ESV Strong's)

Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

Listen, for too long Christians have had truth, and inflexibly stood for truth, but not showed love. The belt of truth needs to be based on God’s unfathomable love, which doesn’t mean we agree with gays or transgenders or abortionists or sex workers or politicians or media commentators, but that we love them unconditionally, all the while holding onto truth.

 

2.      BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Ephesians 6:14 (ESV Strong's)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

 

We must live righteous lives. To be a Christian and walk in a way unworthy of the calling to which we have been called is to march into battle with chinks in your armour of God.

 

Godly character and a right relationship with God are necessary in protecting our heart and allowing us to fight effectively for purity and justice. We must guard our heart and be righteous,

 

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV Strong's)

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

 

Philippians 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

 

We are made righteous through faith in Christ, but we still have to protect our heart. We must be living right, living with integrity, we cannot and must not compromise in this present time of darkness. If I claim to be a Christian but live a life of moral compromise, not only do I lack integrity and one day my sins will find me out, but in life’s battles I’m exposed and open to satanic attack.

 

3.      SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

 

If you live a righteous life, this righteousness brings you peace. And when you experience true inner peace, you can’t wait to share this peace with others you know who are stressed by life.

 

Ephesians 6:15 (ESV Strong's)

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

 

The Roman soldier’s footwear was not fashion, neither was it prestige like some sneakers are today. It is what enabled him to travel further and faster than his enemies, through any terrain he may encounter.

 

In the same way, the peace of the gospel is what equips us to travel over rough roads as we carry this same gospel to others. These strong sandals were called caligae, and they had heavy soles with hobnails in them to provide traction for the wearer. These nail studs ensured that the soldier could not easily be pushed backwards in battle.

 

The gospel of peace is like that, it’s strong and allows us to stand for the truth, without compromise and without being pushed back against our will!

 

4.      SHIELD OF FAITH

 

Ephesians 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

 

When Paul wrote these verses, the average height of a man was just over 5 feet, so the large shield he refers to offered a great deal of protection. Similarly, the shield of faith in the armour of God protects believers from many troubles.

 

The Roman shield was covered in leather and usually soaked with water to extinguish flame-tipped arrows or darts. These arrows were launched from a distance, and without water, the shield could be set on fire. In the same way, lust, pride, anger, contempt, or any number of sinful reactions can hit their mark and set our minds and hearts ablaze with wicked thoughts and desires.

 

But faith counteracts that in the armour of God! In the 21st century, we fight on many battlefields. Whether we are concerned about moral decline in our society, or face fears, pain or anguish in our minds. Whether we face family conflict, people we love hurting us, or if we have money problems, and we live in fear over finances. Whatever battle we face, the shield of faith can protect us from all the enemy’s fiery darts.

 

1 John 5:4 (ESV Strong's)

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

 

HOW TO TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH

 

How do you get faith? Faith is not some mental exercise you have to stir up and convince yourself of.

 

Romans 10:17 (ESV Strong's)

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

 

Faith is not trying to convince yourself that a miracle will happen. It’s not ignoring the facts and believing fairy stories. Real faith, the shield of faith that protects you from attack is unwavering. Consider Abraham…

 

Romans 4:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

 

Abraham knew he was infertile at 100 years of age. He didn’t ignore facts, he didn’t hope against hope, he didn’t try and convince himself about a fairy story. No, he looked the facts straight in the eye and said, “I recognise that you are facts and are big. But my God is bigger than you!”

 

So how do you pick up the shield of faith? By knowing a Him. Do the reading plan, pray, and come to church. When you do this, you get to know Jesus Christ, and begin to trust Him. Faith is not something you have to drum up… godly faith occurs naturally when you know Jesus intimately. Know Christ, and the more you know Him the more you realise that He will never leave you, and never forsake you. Faith is simply knowing God so well that you trust Him totally… that’s real faith, the shield in the armour of God!

 

Now here is where is gets exciting. You don’t have to stand alone. You must not face this dangerous enemy by yourself. This is why I am begging you to come to church, because when we are under attack, especially if sin is involved, we isolate ourselves. But that’s the enemy’s strategy, it’s not the battle strategy of God!

 

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE!

 

Romans 1:12 (ESV Strong's)

that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

 

The Roman army never sent their soldiers into the field alone. The real strength of their battle plan was when they joined their shields together as a unit.

 

Roman soldiers joined their shields together to form an impenetrable barrier to enemy attack,  called the tortoise. They linked their shields front and back, left and right and even over the top. The strength of their one shield was when it was joined to other shields. The strength of our shields of faith is when we join them together.

 

So if you want to take up the shield of faith, to protect yourself from the darts of the enemy, get close to God and join with others here who can stand with you in faith! If you don’t have a church you like, come here for a time, just join your faith with ours and be protected.

 

5.      HELMET OF SALVATION

 

Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong's)

and take the helmet of salvation,

 

Like a helmet covering our head, our salvation protects us from being dealt a deathblow. Those who are in Christ cannot ultimately be defeated by Satan. If you know Jesus, if you have asked Him into your heart as Lord and Saviour, then you are saved, you have eternal life and this protects you.

 

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV Strong's)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The helmet protects your mind, and we need this protection today given the attacks on believers by social media, the media, and every area of our 21st century lives!

 

6.      SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

 

Ephesians 6:17 (ESV Strong's)

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

 

We have looked at our defences, but what is the one offensive weapon in the armour of a God? Just as every Roman soldier would be equipped with a gladius (that’s Latin for sword), every believer is equipped with the Word of God.

 

A sword is a weapon used both for offence and defence in the armour of God. So is Scripture.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

To wield the sword of the Spirit is to use Scripture to defend against attacks on truth and to “destroy strongholds” of false beliefs.  We must use Scripture against any opinion, ideology, or worldview which would place itself in contention with the Word of God.

 

Of course, in any movie you’ve ever watched that involves any sort of sword fight (or light sabre battle) you’ll notice that they are constantly deflecting blows from the enemy—as often as they are attacking with their own sword. And so it is with the Sword of the Spirit. We use it to defend ourselves against error and attacks on the truth of God by knowing and wielding Scripture.

 

In Matthew 4, Jesus responds to every accusation and attack from Satan by saying, “It is written,” and so should we. The world tells us that the Bible is old school, bigoted and out of date, but

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

We cannot wield this offensive weapon unless we know it well. So join us, do the Bible Reading plan. Read God’s Word, study it, learn it, memorise it. It’s your sword in the armour of God, and it is powerful to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

SUIT UP IN THE ARMOUR OF GOD

 

We have discovered that as believers we are in the midst of spiritual battles. But God doesn’t leave us exposed to enemy attacks! We thank God that we are well-equipped to stand in the evil day. No matter what may happen, our eternity is secure and Christ’s ultimate victory is certain.

 

To those here who have been greatly wounded in the battle, and that’s many of you here today, —take heart! You may be wounded, you may have suffered attacks from Satan, from worldly people or even from fellow Christian’s, but you are not defeated.

 

The Christian life is not a vow to never lose a battle, but it is a commitment to always fight. To take up the armour of God, stand and fight and join our faith together to grow strong and become a real threat to the enemy.

 

I for one want to be a massive threat to Satan in our area. We need to get our defence right, but then we must be ready to attack and take ground for the Kingdom of God!

 

To those here who are weary, under a constant barrage of fiery darts—take courage. We need not rely on our own strength, but on the strength of Christ, and the faith of others around you. He is never fatigued and never grows weary, and we are keen to stand with you and fight shoulder to shoulder.

 

To those who are distressed at the state of our nation and our world—take comfort. We know that although darkness creeps in from every side, God has equipped us to stand firm in the evil day and against the schemes of the devil. You may think the church has suffered a few setback recently, but in a God a setback is just a set up for a come back!

 

Today, let’s commit to stop running. Stop ducking an weaving and stop barely standing in the battles we face in life. It’s time to start fighting and start taking ground. I am prepared today to commit my life to serving Jesus, my home, my family, my finances, my mind, my dreams, my future.

 

We’ve talked about the battlefields we face as believers, our society’s moral breakdown, our minds, our families and our finances. Today we are equipped to stand and then to take ground. So what about you? Will you stand with me to join our faith shields and fight the good fight together?

 

Colossians 2:15(ESV Strong's)

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

 

Ephesians 6:11 (ESV Strong's)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

 

Are you battle weary? Do you feel alone, being picked off by the enemy? If you feel the pressures of life, it’s time we took a stand… let’s do it together.

The next battle we are going to look at is the battle for money, and this battle affects us all. Old and young, single and married, rich and poor, we all face the battle for money. Now I know some of you will be cringing, and if it’s your first time here you are probably thinking, “Yep, just as I thought, the church wants my money.”

I actually have never spoken about money since becoming a pastor here, but let me start by assuring you that I don’t want your money, and God doesn’t need it!

Psalms 50:10 (ESV Strong's)

For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.

 

I’m not trying to get your money today. I want to examine the spiritual battle for money we all face, and while some might get offended or threatened, I really want to set you free from the domination money has over you and your family. I want you to be a victor over money, not a victim of the battle for money and greed!

 

THE BATTLE FOR MONEY IS OPPOSING  SPIRITS

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

Nowhere is the battle more deceptively covered up than in the area of money. Money is why we get up and go to work. It’s why we visit Centrelink. It’s why we go into debt to buy things that we don’t even know we don’t need. Money controls us, like it or not, and we think it’s normal!

 

Let’s play a word association game. In Matthew 6 Jesus explains spiritual matters using two contrast opposites… There are two kingdoms: earth or heaven; two realms: darkness or light; two masters: God or Satan.

 

So He contrasts opposites in Matthew 6:19-24, storing up treasures on earth and in heaven, light and darkness. Now if you were in the audience listening to Jesus, when He comes to talk about 2 Masters He says “You cannot serve both God and____________”  You would expect him to say “God and Satan.” But Jesus surprises everyone when He says,

 

Matthew 6:24 (ESV Strong's)

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

 

That word money in the Greek is MAMMON, and it means riches personified as a god.

 

Jesus is personifying money as a rival god. Jesus is making it unmistakably clear that mammon is not some impersonal medium of exchange. Money is a neutral medium, that can be used for good or for evil, but the spirit behind money is not neutral, it’s evil, a god opposed to the God we love and serve. That’s why money is a power that seeks to dominate us. Money is godlike.  It is a substitute God. And, if we aren’t careful, it will rule and ruin our lives. In fact, it’s mostly winning this battle, even in the lives of Christians.

 

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

 

An oft misquoted verse says money is the root of all evil. It’s not… money is neutral, but,

 

1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

 

The love of money, the spirit behind the desire for money which is called mammon, that is the root of all kinds of evil.

 

Craig Blomberg, ''It is arguable that materialism is the single biggest competitor with authentic Christianity for the hearts and souls of millions including many in the church.''

 

Many people, even many in churches, are obsessed with money. They think about it, dream of what they could do with it, do things they don’t enjoy to get it and grasp it tight as much as possible. Some of these people are rich, but many poor people obsess about money they haven’t got more than most rich people obsess about money they have got!

 

Again, I’m not after your money today, I want you to be victorious in the battle for money, the battle we all fight, this god of mammon who desires to be worshipped.

 

SHOULD I SELL EVERYTHING AND BECOME A MONK?

 

Luke tells of an encounter between Jesus and a rich, young man. This man asks how to obtain eternal life, and says he has kept all of the rules and laws his whole life.

 

Luke 18:22-24 (ESV Strong's)

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!

 

Jesus saw the real issue for this young man. It wasn’t that he had money, it was that money had him, and the spirit of mammon held his heart rather that God.

 

We don’t have to sell everything, take a vow of poverty and become monks! We simply need to see this battle for what it is, a spiritual battle, and we must overcome the god of mammon. Let’s familiarise ourselves with some of the fronts on which the battle for money is fought…

 

1.      GREED AND SPENDING

 

The most obvious front is greed and spending money on what we want, and of course advertising is built on this spirit. If you’re a rev head, you’ll think nothing of spending money on car parts. If you sew, you’ll make sure you get good material. For me, I’m a tech guy, so I generally have pretty good computers, software, recording software and tech stuff.

 

None of this is wrong in essence, until the lust for things takes a hold of your heart. And the world loves to stimulate your obsessions. Today, if you click on a link for anything, the internet places a cookie on your device and suddenly you gets multitudes of ads for that item (almost like magic!). Jesus said,

 

Luke 12:15 (ESV Strong's)

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

 

I like nice things too, but I need to make sure I buy them only when God wants me to, and that my love for possessions don’t become obsessions, that mammon uses to control my life and finances.

 

2.      DEBT

 

Debt is one of the greatest fronts in the battle of money that we face. We go into debt to get what we want sooner instead of waiting to buy them outright, and of course retailers play on this greed constantly (24 months interest free!).

 

Proverbs 22:7 (ESV Strong's)

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

 

If you borrow money from anyone, you become their slave, it’s that simple. But is all debt bad? Here are 2 simple tests of debt in your life…

 

  1. Is the debt for an appreciating asset?

 

Going into debt for something that will go up in value is what experts call “good debt.” A house, investment or a business is an example. However, going into debt for something that depreciates is foolishness, because the asset goes down in value and you enslaved yourself to a loss. Cars, motorbikes, computers, furniture, holidays… these are consumer debts, and this is what is killing Australians right now.

 

According to the ABS, Australian’s personal debt is now the 4th highest in the world, at 212%. This means if an average Australian earns $80,000 a years, they spend $169,600 a year. The enemy is winning this battle in our nation!

 

 

  1. Can you sustain it? Going into debt for even good, important things will control you if you struggle to sustain it.

 

So even when purchasing a good, appreciating asset, we need not condemn ourselves to crippling repayments, or we will not have quality of life and we become slaves to the debt. Buy a house within your means and leave room to serve God with your money, and win the battle for money.

 

3.      TAXES

 

This week I had to pay a huge tax bill, and it’s has cleaned me out. But listen, if you live in this country, play by the rules. Tax minimisation is smart. Tax avoidance is illegal, and if you fail to honour God with your taxes, how can you expect Him to bless you with finances?

 

Romans 13:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

 

If you live in this country, if you enjoy our roads, facilities and if you care for those who need social security, honour God and our nation by giving to Caesar what is Caesars. Pay tax and win the battle for money!

 

4.      SAVINGS

 

This part of the front is in sad shape! The vast majority of people live to their means and save nothing. I recognise for pensioners and many of us, saving is dfficult. But if you are to be set free from poverty and attain wealth, you must start to save.

 

Proverbs 21:20 (ESV Strong's)

Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.

 

Don’t devour every cent you get, because that is an endless cycle you can never escape from. Even if it’s $10-20 a week, start small, be consistent and start saving. With the wonders of electronic banking, Fiona and I save a portion off the top every week… and don’t miss it!

 

When in debt, time is your enemy, but when saving, time is on your side. If you save $20 a week, in a year you will have over $1000. It all adds up.

 

Proverbs 13:11 (ESV Strong's)

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

 

5.      TITHING

 

Oh no, we knew he’d get to this one! When I say tithe, you feel uncomfortable, and you get angry because you think I’m trying to take your hard earned money for the church. I understand this reaction, but let me show you a different perspective…

 

God is not trying to take 10% of your money. From my perspective, God is letting me keep 90% of the money He brings into my life! I’m an Optometrist, but I recognise that my income comes from the Lord! I can work hard and do my best, but God brings people into my practice, and God brings money in with them. I get to keep 90%!

 

To me, Tithing is not a burden, it’s giving God what is rightfully His anyway. I know that not everyone here gives a tithe to this church. If we had 50 or 60 families here who tithed on a poverty line income we would receive almost $5000 a week. We don’t. That’s ok, I’m not accusing anyone, and I’m not tracking it. But my experience and God’s challenge is to test Him in this, and He will open amazing financial blessing over your life. Frankly, if you’re not tithing, you are missing out on blessing, and hurting yourself financially… God challenges you like this…

 

Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV Strong's)

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

 

In my life I have proven again and again  that financial blessing starts with giving God what is His anyway. But it doesn’t stop there.

 

6.      SOWING

 

Tithing, honouring the Lord with what is His anyway, is the baseline, prepares the soil and opens the door for blessing. I tithe to the church, but I believe what I give beyond our tithe is the seed sown that can yield an

abundant crop. A generous spirit opens the door to financial wealth…

 

Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

 

THE POVERTY MENTALITY

 

Most Australians, many Christians included, are infected with a poverty mentality. This mentality keeps you financially where you are.  The signs of a poverty mentality according to secular sources include no ambition to improve or change, blaming the government or markets for your situation, being jealous of those with money, making decisions based on fear and loss, and focusing on what you don’t have rather than on what you do have.

 

Again, the source of this mentality in mammon, the love of money even if you don’t have it, which controls and makes you worship it as a god!  But it sets up a mental stronghold that closes you down to any change. You’ll say, “I can’t do this, I can’t be generous, I can’t tithe, I can barely make it as it is.”

 

Proverbs 13:18 (ESV Strong's)

Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.

 

So if you are thinking this way, please put your preconceived thoughts aside and listen as I share some ideas that can and will change your financial situation and future. Here’s our warfare strategies to win the battle for money…

 

1.      STOP BLAMING GOD, THE CHURCH OR OTHERS

 

If you are not happy with your financial situation, stop blaming the government or others who have more than you. Chances are they have taken risks you haven’t, worked harder or managed their money better than you.

 

Someone once asked me the difference between a musician and a mutual fund. It’s this. The mutual fund eventually matures and makes money! The first step in maturity is taking responsibility and not blaming others. Some here might even blame God…

 

Proverbs 19:3 (ESV Strong's)

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.

 

Proverbs 19:3 (MSG)

People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?

 

I’m about to lay out for you God’s strategy to win the battle for money. I challenge you to do it, because my experience is that God will never let you down, but don’t you dare be disobedient to God and then blame Him for the result!

 

2.      LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS

 

So many live beyond their means, spending more than they earn. This is foolishness, and ultimately doomed. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it, or buy it second hand and cheap. When Fiona and I married, we lived in a rented house with second hand furniture. We never went out to dinner. We saved, and we got ahead, because we lived within our means. Be content, not lusting for more.

 

Philippians 4:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

 

You don’t need that new car, new sofa, new computer, new phone. You won’t die if you don’t get it. If you can afford it, by all means get it, but if not, be content. A designer coffee a day might only cost $5, but that’s $35 a week, and $1820 a year.

 

3.      WORK HARD

 

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Success in life, and in finances, most often involves work.

 

Proverbs 12:11 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.

 

You might be classified unfit to work, but think of this from a spiritual point of view… why not work for the Lord if you can’t get paid employment. Help out, care for others, meet with them, bless them, take your eyes off yourself and love others. You may not be paid, but God sees it and He will provide incredibly if you work hard for Him.

 

4.      GIVE FIRST FRUITS TO WIN THE BATTLE FOR MONEY

 

Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

 

If you want to honour God, do it first, before anything. How many know if you pay your bills, buy your supplies, food, a few cups of coffee, something for the kids, etc… If you do this then think about God with whatever is left over, you will not give God what is His.

 

The Hebrews gave God the first fruits because it is His anyway. The first amount went to God, and guess what… He increased their wealth! I choose to give my tithe first, before anything else comes out, because it’s God’s anyway in my mind.

 

I’m thinking of giving a first fruits offering to the Lord at the start of the new financial year. I know many people give a week’s wages at He start if the financial year, the first fruits of your income. If you decide to honour God, you have His promise of blessing. So my experience and my advice is, honour God first, and He opens all you need…

 

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

5.      HAVE A GENEROUS SPIRIT

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

If you believe you can’t afford to give God what is rightfully His, then I’m sad for you, because you will never be free from the god of mammon. If you are stingy and feel you can’t change, I’m sad for you, for you will never be free. A generous spirit is one God loves, and He honours and blesses generous people.

 

I am among the least paid pastors in the ACC. I work a secular job 4 days a week, and while a church this size should have 2 full time pastors, it has one part time pastor.

 

But if you go out to dinner with me, I am always the first to try and pay. If I see a need, I want to be the biggest giver to that need. Our church needs money to move, and I personally will commit to giving as much as possible to Ignite, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Why? Because in my experience, you can’t out give God.

 

A generous spirit breaks the power of the enemy in this battle. I want to have an open mind, and open hand, and an open bank account. Some of you have little money, so you give time, or meals or prayer. That’s still giving, if you’re cheerful, God loves it, and honours it.

 

If you are struggling financially, I want to challenge you to commit to doing finances God’s way, with a generous spirit and a faith that He will provide for you.

 

Luke 6:38 (ESV Strong's)

give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

 

If you face financial struggles right now, pray with me and say, “All that I am, all that I have it Yours, Lord!”

 

The battle for the family has long been a key battle in life. Family is unique in that it can be one of the greatest blessings, and the greatest source of pain, all at the same time! I’m not setting out to counsel warring couples or to do a marriage or parenting seminar, but to look at the spiritual battlefield that is family.

Solomon, wisest man in the world, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That’s 1000 wives, worse 1000 mother-in-law.

Put a man and a woman together, add a few kids, a grandparent or two, maybe an in-law, an adopted stray or two, and you have a recipe for a rich and wonderful life, or a world class disaster and a battle for the family. Let’s face it… Drive through the streets of our town and houses look nice, look peaceful and affluent , but inside they are wall to wall hell! I heard this week that 2 of every 3 call outs Police get is about domestic violence, so this battle for the family is hotting up!

 

When we marry (or when we dream of marriage) we have an idyllic vision of what family life will be like.  We see happily married people and we think, “Yep, that’s going to be me.” The man thinks his wife will always be attractive. The wife walks down the aisle to the altar while they’re playing a hymn and she thinks that’s what marriage will be like… I’ll alter him!

 

Psalms 128:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots

around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.

 

The reality is often far from the initial vision, especially when you add children to the mix. We realise that putting 2 selfish sinners together doesn’t lead to marital bliss, it leads to marital blitz often times, because, as my wife says, marriage is perfectly designed to grind.

 

Proverbs 11:29 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

 

We seem powerless to build good families, and good families seem more a result of chance rather than planning. On this battlefield, the enemy wins many times, but if we seek God’s wisdom, I believe that we can win the battle for the family. So on what fronts does the enemy attack in this battle for the family?

 

BATTLEGROUND 1: THE BATTLE FOR THE FAMILY UNIT

 

For a long time, and increasingly in recent years, the family has been under attack. Mum, dad and the 2.4 kids is ceasing to be the norm in our society. We have so many single parent families, grandparents raising kids and now same sex families, that the legal definition of families has changed.

 

But God’s plan has not changed. Jesus said,

 

Matthew 19:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

 

God’s plan is to have a mum and a dad and the kids. If you are a single parent, then the task is greater, but even when one party or other steps out of God’s will, He can still lead and guide you. But despite fashion, current trends and the social situation, God’s plan is still His first choice, whether you aren’t alone or with a partner.

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

Praise God that, even if you are going through marital difficulties, separations or divorce, God loves you, has a destiny for you and can do wonderful things in your life. Whether we are partnered, or single parents, understand that God wants us to keep the family unit together as much as possible and win the battle for the family.

 

BATTLEGROUND 2: FATHERHOOD

 

Men are under attack as never before. Australia has long been known as the land of the absent father, with traditionally many dads down the pub or at work or not even on the scene. Over the last many years, the role of the father has been a battlefield, and socially men and being a man is undermined and under attack constantly.

 

I believe it is time for men to stand up and be men! Real men. It’s time for us to become real fathers to our kids, and real husbands to our wives. The greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother. Our inspiration, and I know the men’s conference coming up is looking at this, should be God as a father, because He is the perfect father.

 

Psalms 68:5 (ESV Strong's)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

 

Men in relationships are frequently the abusers. They hit, they speak down to, they manipulate and control their wives and children, but this is not the heart of your Heavenly Father. This is…

 

Luke 15:20 (ESV Strong's)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

 

BATTLEGROUND 3: FAMILY CONFLICT

 

The Bible is full of family conflict stories, so conflict in the family is nothing new. Look at Adam’s sons

 

Genesis 4:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?”

 

Look at Jacob and his favouritism of Joseph and the troubles this caused. Look at David and his son Absalom. Family conflict is a fact of life, and I bet it is in your family too!

 

Many couples might be together physically, but their relationship is not together at all. Some of you here may be like that. You’re married, but there is so much conflict in the home that you’re looking for any excuse to be away from the home.

 

If your family looks like a soap opera, it’s time to declare to the enemy that enough is enough!

 

 

God’s will is for your marriage and your family to prosper. But the fact is that we are all sinful people, and we are all selfish, so conflict will occur between selfish parties. This is a battle of the devil is exploiting every day, and many people’s lives and ministries have been ruined by family conflict.

 

“Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness and is an insult cast in the face of God.”

  1. H. Morrison

 

BATTLEGROUND 4: FAMILY REBELLION

 

Rebellion in families is not new either, and many times godly, honourable parents find their children rebelling and rejecting Christ. Remember the prodigal son, who took his inheritance and squandered it? Kids rebelling against parents, wives and husbands rebelling against each other, kids going their own way and disregarding their upbringing and parent’s standards…

 

1 Samuel 8:3 (ESV Strong's)

Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

 

Even godly men like Samuel, like King David, like Josiah and others had kids that rebelled. Talk to older people here and they will tell you that kids are more rebellious today than ever before, and it is true. Here’s how Paul describes the last days…

 

2 Timothy 3:1-3 (ESV Strong's)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents,

 

Rebellion in families is almost impossible to avoid, because the devil is battling hard to break up families. He knows that if he can turn children against parents and parents against each other, he can win big victories, yet we are not without influence here, especially mothers, and especially when you start young. Poem…

 

Woman, how divine your mission,  Here upon our natal sod;

Keep—oh, keep the young heart open, Always to the breath of God!

All true trophies of the ages Are from mother-love impearled,

For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world. (William Ross Wallace).

 

This is saying that the one who brings their kids up the right way has incredible, influence.

 

Look, you might have 3 kids and one goes off the rails.  It’s important to recognise that you do your best and bring your kids up, but that at a certain age, the child has the free will to make a choice. If they reject Christ, stop blaming yourself and start praying and believing for their salvation.

 

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV Strong's)

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

 

The devil fights for the souls of your children, because he fears what godly parents can instil into the hearts of children who obey and love God! Train them up when young, and pray like crazy when they are older, because a parent’s prayer can win your child back to Christ!

 

BATTLEGROUND 5: GENERATIONAL CURSES

 

The devil would like nothing more than inflicting upon your family a generational curse. And we see it all the time, from inheritance of  diseases to girls falling pregnant at 16, generation after generation. The concept of generational curses comes from passages like

 

Numbers 14:18 (ESV Strong's)

‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’

 

But we need to also recognise that God wants to set us free from such curses in our families…

 

Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV Strong's)

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

 

Psalms 103:17 (ESV Strong's)

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

and his righteousness to children's children,

 

If your parents, or your parent’s parents suffered or sinned or seemed cursed, if you love Jesus you do not have to tolerate these generational curses. It’s time to do battle and we will be victorious!

 

STRATEGIES TO FIGHT THE BATTLE FOR THE FAMILY

 

Of the many battles we face in life, this is one we need to win! But don’t fall into the trap of excusing the mistreatment of people close to you you saying, "They’re only family, that won’t hurt" and so passing off any offence and failure on our part as if it has no consequence.

 

But it does matter. It matters because it isn’t just some fluke of nature that you have a family. It is part of God’s plan for your life. Your family is important to Him and to you. It doesn’t take much effort to let barriers build up between members of the family, between husband and wife, between parents and children. It happens so easily. And it happens most often that our pride will not let us be the first one to apologise and start tearing down those walls and open up the communication of love and forgiveness between us.

 

So in your family relations you face a choice… your way, or God’s way…

 

Joshua 24:15 (ESV Strong's)

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

So what are some strategies you can employ right now to win the battle of the family?

 

1.      PRAY, DON’T SAY

 

If you saw the movie “The War Room,” you would realise that prayer is essential to fight for your family. Was are often tempted to speak our mind, but I believe we can get better results when we pray, not say. You cannot nag your husband or wife into a great relationship, and you cannot nag your kids into a godly lifestyle. You can nag them and drive them away. Or you can pray them in!

 

1 John 5:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

 

So read His Word, pray and get closer to God, and as you do I guarantee that your life, your relationships and your home will start to come into alignment. I challenge you, if you are struggling in your marriage, build a war room in your home and pray rather than say.

 

2.      LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY

 

I was asked at the Father of the Year by the Premier how to become a great father. I told her to love her children unconditionally because that’s how God loves us. If you want to prosper in your marriage and your family, love each other unconditionally.

 

Human love is usually conditional. I love you if you do well at school, I love you if you make money. Or I love you if you’re beautiful, or handsome. Your spouse needs to know that you love them, no matter what. If they get fat, or bald, or if they go broke, or fail an exam, or spend too much on shoes, or prang the car. I heard of a wife who tops her husband she had good news and bad news, which did he want first. He said, good be me the good news. She said, “The airbags on the car work.” Your love must be unconditional.

 

Romans 12:9-10 (NIV-WS)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

 

When you love unconditionally, you honour your wife, your husband or your children above yourself. Your spouse or children, when they know they are loved no matter what, really feel secure.

 

Ephesians teaches that husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves His church, and wives are called to devote themselves to their husbands as the church devotes itself to Christ. Emulating the love that exists between God and His church in a family is essential, but no easy feat.

 

3.      TAKE A TIME OUT

 

When conflict erupts in the family, you WILL react rather than respond. A reaction is fast, it’s heated, it’s the first thing that comes into your head, it hurts others and it is almost always destructive. A response takes time, is thought through and measured and is much more constructive.

 

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV Strong's)

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

 

So when you have a fight looming with your spouse, or with your children, before you or they explode, agree to take a “time out.” This one, simple tip could save a ton of heartache.

 

Instead of exploding and reacting badly, agree that either side can call a time out for 30 minutes, and that you have to walk away and say nothing in that time. Then when you return the conversation will be a lot more civil and a lot more constructive!

 

Proverbs 13:3 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

 

4.      CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES

 

As a parent or a partner, you don’t have to win every battle.  Erwin Rommel said, “Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything from winning.”

 

There are some you must fight for and win, but others are not as important. With your child, for example, you can lose a small battle with them over a tidy room or a set bedtime, but your dare not lose one over taking drugs and sleeping around!

 

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV Strong's)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

 

Parents, if you fight over every little thing, as your child gets older they will become exasperated, enraged by everything. You can win the battle for your family by choosing the important battles you fight and win.

 

5.      PUT EACH OTHER FIRST

 

We are naturally selfish, and marriage and family are hard because every one of us wants their own way. Don’t say you don’t, because you know you do! We all think we are right, and we all want our own way. Here’s what Paul writes about any group living together…

 

Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV Strong's)

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 

So, in your marriage, put each other first. Honour each other, and each of your children. Don’t show favouritism, but find something to celebrate in each child, and each other. See the best in them!

 

6.      PUT CHRIST AT THE CENTRE

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV-WS)

 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

A rope is made strong because it’s not 2 but 3 cords. And these cords do not run in parallel, they are intertwined, woven together. If you put Christ at the centre of your marriage, you can survive the pressure and prosper into eternity. So honour God in your life, do quiet times, read His Word and come to church, because you will reap the benefits in your marriage and in the battle for the family.

 

7.      ASK “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”

 

I know we have books and wristbands asking WWJD, but honestly it is best practice in all your relationships, within the family and outside as well. That phrase comes from a book called “In His Steps,” and the book is based on this verse…

 

1 Peter 2:21 (ESV Strong's)

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

 

1 John 2:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

 

So if you have turmoil, tension or battles within your family, if you have anger, rebellion, cold fronts or a daily soap opera at home, then stop before you speak or act and ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”

 

Would Jesus explode in anger? Would Jesus say those aggressive, hurtful words? Would Jesus compare children and aliens some of them? Would Jesus give someone the cold shoulder if He didn’t get His way?

 

THE BATTLE IS ON IN THE BATTLE FOR THE FAMILY!

 

Like it or not, the battle for the family is on… big time! Don’t think that shutting down, walking away or just giving in to keep the peace in the home is God’s way. No, ask if Jesus would do that?

 

You may feel like you’re battling your wife or husband, fighting your wayward kids, but remember,

 

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV-WS)

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.

 

So if you are struggling with family conflict, between husband and wife, or parents and kids, then it’s time to tell the enemy, “Enough is enough!”

 

Let me share the words of Nehemiah when he faced a formidable enemy…

 

Nehemiah 4:14 (ESV Strong's)

And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

 

My challenge to you this morning is… who wants to fight for your marriage, your home and your family?

The Battle for the Mind is what we are looking at this week.

We know some of these battles are physical, involving a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be treated using medication. But some of these onslaughts are spiritually based, and are designed by the devil to disrupt and ruin your life. And the lives of others you hurt.

The onslaught of the enemy on our minds is perpetual and relentless, with statistics tell us that 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness in any given year, and that 45% of Australians will suffer from a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their life. Including depression, anxiety, paranoia, and more severe conditions like bipolar, substance abuse and various psychoses. Mental illness is a major contributor to job loss, relationship breakdown and suicide. Doctors now believe that 80% of all physical ailments are based in the mind, things like blood pressure, diabetes and ulcers.

 

Mental illness or not, pretty much all of us face a battle in the mind, with advertising, media, movies and TV assaulting our eyes, music, gossip and negativity assaulting our ears, and the God of this world through these and other means relentlessly assaulting our hearts time and time again. In this spiritual battle, the enemy wants to control and manipulate your mind in order to manipulate your life, so if we can win the battle of the mind, we will win the battle of life.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV Strong's)

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

It is God’s will for us to have a sound mind, even with the pressure of modern life, but if we are not aware where is the enemy attacking, how can we defeat him?

 

THE DEVIL’S PRIMARY TARGET IN THE BATTLE FOR THE MIND

 

On a battlefield, not all targets carry the same weight, and some victories are more important than others. For the devil, his primary target in the battle for the mind is your inner peace. If he can upset that, it gives rise to paranoia, depression, fear, worry and these lead to victories in other mind battles.

 

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

 

The Hebrew word for stayed is SAMAK, which means to lean up against, support or uphold. So this verse is saying lean on God, when you’re down and overwhelmed, when you feel you cannot prevail, let Him support your mind and let Him give you peace. If the enemy can steal your peace, he can win the battle of your mind, but if you stay or lean your mind on the Lord, the enemy is powerless to touch you.

 

And in the battle for the mind, as in all of life, you cannot rely on how you feel, but instead must lean on the unchanging word of God. Remember, the devil’s best deception is to make you so deceived  you can’t tell that you are deceived, and so you have no means of fighting back! Here’s a few ways in which the enemy can attack your mind…

 

1.      DIFFICULTIES AND TRIALS

 

One of the chief weapons satan uses to attack your mind is difficulties. We do ok until something, or many things, go wrong… then we cave in! When you face difficulties you also face a choice… to believe God, or believe satan. These attacks will come, so get ready.

 

1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

 

Good advice Peter, but how can I rejoice when suffering? I find this hard sometimes. Well, you are not called to rejoice that you’re suffering, but to rejoice in your suffering, rejoice in faith knowing God is working all things for good. So you can choose to let life’s difficulties mount up for you, or you can choose to see the great things God does through them.

 

John 16:33 (ESV Strong's)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

Many of you face difficulties at the moment, and if you are not careful this will affect your mindset. But make no mistake, you choose to be overwhelmed by it, or you choose to triumph over it.

 

2.      DISOBEDIENCE

 

Disobedience or sin is a prime battlefield in your mind. If you wilfully sin and refuse to repent, then this opens the door to allow Satan to attack your mind. This clearly applies to those who do not know Jesus, but for we who are being saved, it still applies because persistent sin removes God’s hedge of protection and opens you to demonic attack.

 

Psalms 81:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.

 

God’s judgement on your sin is often just to take His hands off the wheel and let you reap what you are sowing. So if you want to win the battle for the mind, stop sinning and start being obedient!

 

3.      DISCOURAGEMENT

 

Many times you are not in sin, but difficulties lead to discouragement. The enemy loves to discourage believers because when he attacks using discouragement it can affect everything.

 

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV Strong's)

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

 

When what you hope for and work for and long for is deferred, when the goalposts keep moving further away, discouragement is the inevitable result.

 

Some of you here have battled for a long time, hoping for a breakthrough, and your mind is discouraged. Perhaps you’ve asked God and believed for business success, or a loved one to come to Christ, but because it hasn’t happened you get discouraged. And discouragement often leads to…

 

4.      DOUBT

 

When the enemy attacks, you can get discouraged and the next phase of his operation is doubt. Doubt is the opposite of faith.  Doubt knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there!

 

If you get enough hits, enough troubles, discouragement and enough bad experiences, doubt starts to rise up instead of faith. And doubt starts to toss your mind back and forth…

 

James 1:6 (ESV Strong's)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

 

Some of you here are experiencing doubt in your mind right now as the enemy battles for your mind. You try to believe God, but doubts overwhelm you, and the enemy is winning.

 

5.      DEEP-SEATED HURTS

 

Everybody hurts at some time or other. Many people have said and done things that hurt you at some point, but we need to bring these hurts to the Lord and Ask His forgiveness for our lack of forgiveness towards those who have hurt us. If we don’t do this, these hurts often become deep-seated hurts, ingrained into our minds, and they are classic weak spots for the devil to attack.

 

Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

 

When someone hurts you, regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, if you hold on to unforgiveness, it grows into bitterness and this defiles your mind, giving the enemy a chance to attack and defeat you! Some of you here need to forgive and let go of things done to you in the past. Unforgiveness will destroy your mind and allow the enemy a foothold. Unforgiveness is like you drinking poison hoping the other guy dies. Whether you we right or wrong, forgive and move on!

 

Bill Newman often says, “Don’t nurse your hurts, don’t curse your hurts, don’t rehearse your hurts, you’ve got to reverse your hurts, because hurts will make you either bitter or better”

 

6.      DECEPTION OF SELF

 

This is the age of the selfie, the age of me-isms, and for most people life is all about them. Advertising says, drink this beer and you’ll be cool, wear this lipstick and the guys will love you, drive this car, use this deodorant, use this phone, it’s all about you and what you want.

 

Don’t think this is true… remember Australian Idol, and the people completely deluded into thinking they can actually sing. There are people pouring money into scams, there are people working long hours for money while neglecting what’s important in life. People are blinded in this battle by the enemy, so they cannot see the truth about who they are and their need for Christ.

 

2 Corinthians 4:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.

 

We need to serve, not fight for our rights. In our modern, self deluded world, people fight for rights all the time, where they always have an agenda, being a servant flies directly in the face of this battle. People fight for human rights, land rights, they fight for gay rights, they are passionate about save the whales, save the koalas, yet we murder babies for convenience. We should just wrap all these rights up into one bundle, call it land rights for gay whales, and then realise our only right as believers is to serve Jesus.

 

A servant mindset negates many of the selfish, self centred me-isms of this age.

 

Mark 10:43-44 (ESV Strong's)

whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.

 

7 WAYS TO WIN ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE MIND

 

Satan attacks your mind because that is the gateway to your heart and soul. If he wins that battle, he can neutralise your life with Christ, ruin your life and destroy the people you love. Winning this battle for the mind is one of the most important tasks you have in our modern world, so what strategies can we employ to win the battle for the mind?

 

  1. DON’T PUT GARBAGE INTO YOUR MIND

 

The first strategy in the Battle for the Mind is to be wary of what you put into it. The old computer adage “Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. You alone decide what you put into your mind, and you alone are the gatekeeper.

 

Psalms 101:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

 

Now, pause for a moment and think about what you let into your mind. What you let into your mind shapes your mind, and opens you to all kinds of attacks on your mind. Many studies have shown a link between heavy metal music and suicide, and violent films or video games increasing aggression in teenagers. This is not surprising… garbage in, garbage out.

 

So the first step to mastering your mind is to carefully watch what you put into it. What TV shows do you watch? What movies do you watch, what music do you fill your mind with? What junk do you let in via internet sites, pornography, Facebook, or other social media? What friends do you let into your life?

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

  1. RENEW YOUR MIND

 

Just as your computer needs to be constantly updated (especially windows 10) so too your mind needs to be constantly updated or renewed.

 

Romans 12:2 (NIV-WS)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

The Greek word for pattern means a mould, and that’s a great description of how the devil acts on your mind. He tries to squeeze you into the mould of this world, to make you conform the the pattern of morality and thinking that everybody else has. Don’t believe me? Try getting on Facebook and saying that you are against gay marriage and wait about 5 Minutes… you will soon see people trying to mould you into their pattern!

 

The Greek for renewing is “anakainosis” which means renew, to make new again and to conform your thinking to make it like God’s thinking. So again it’s a choice… be moulded into the world’s thinking, or be moulded into God’s image. How do you renew your mind? Read God’s Word every day, come to church and fill it, wash it, regenerate it with good, Godly things.

 

In Israel there are two Great Lakes or seas, both fed by the Jordan river. Galilee has fresh, clean water, and it is full of life and fish. The Dead Sea is exactly that… Dead. It has lethal concentrations of salt and nothing lives in or even near the Dead Sea. What’s the difference? Galilee has an outflow, so the waters are constantly renewed, but the Dead Sea has no flow out. It is never renewed!

 

Daily Bible reading with our reading plan is a great place to start renewing your mind. I challenge you to do it.  Renewing your mind means putting godly things into your mind. Come church, get involved, listen to worship music, read the Bible daily and other Christian books, watch wholesome movies…

 

  1. GUARD YOUR MIND

 

Reading the Word of God renews your mind, but you will still suffer attacks, so when you are renewing your mind you also need to guard it. How can you guard your mind from satanic attacks?

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Prayer… Not the shopping list of things you order God to do for you, the two way dialogue where you pray and His Spirit speaks back to you. This is what Fiona is studying in her course, how to hear the voice of God! When you hear Him, your mind is renewed, and you are filled with peace and love.

 

Prayer and Bible reading not only renew your mind, they guard your heart and mind, protecting you from the attacks of the evil one in this battle!

 

  1. BE ACCOUNTABLE

 

Coming to church, hanging out with fellow believers not only insures more good than bad things are deposited into your mind, it also keeps you accountable. I have long noticed that people drift away from church when they are dabbling in sin, because they are embarrassed and convicted.

 

Being accountable to mature Christians is a great way to guard your mind and keep you on track as you master your mind. If your mind is under attack, if your thoughts are troubling you, don’t isolate. Stay here, get with people who love you and stay connected, because…

 

Proverbs 27:17 (ESV Strong's)

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

 

 

  1. STAY POSITIVE

 

When you are under attack in this battle, you will notice often times that negative thoughts begin to crop up and take charge of your life. We need to watch our mouths and what we say, making sure we stay positive and filled with faith instead of descending into negative.

 

Christians should be like teabags… their true colours come out when they are in hot water! When it’s darkest Christians should shine brightest.  And Christians can stay positive. I ask people how they are going and they often say, “Pretty good under the circumstances.” Then I ask what they are doing under there, they should be living above the circumstances.

 

Whatever the circumstances, you can choose how you respond. Negative, with doubt and fear. Or positive with faith. Whether you feel it or not, you can make a choice in your mind to remain positive, and your words have power. 10/12 spies gave a negative report on the Promised Land, but Caleb said this…

 

Numbers 13:30 (ESV Strong's)

“Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

 

They all saw the same fortified cities and giants that lived there. But their perceptions were different. Their minds were different.  Most of the spies who were sent out perceived the fortified cities and giants as threats and intimidation. But Caleb perceived them as an opportunity to conquer.

 

Your problems, your adverse circumstances, will give rise to either fear and doubt or they can be an opportunity to shine for Jesus. When Fiona and I lost everything including our home in an investment collapse, everyone was watching us, to see how we would react. It hurt, is was fearful and intimidating, but we chose to see the positive and chose faith instead of fear.

 

Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

 

How can you stay positive in the face of pain, doubt, fear, heartache, sickness, breakups or whatever you are now facing. You do this by filling your mind with positive things. Just as you can fill it with negative things from TV, Facebook, etc, you can choose instead to fill it with the positive…

 

  1. TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE

 

Even if you are trying to stay positive, filling your mind with good, godly things, this is a battlefield, and sometimes the enemy wins a round or two. Winning this battle is not a once off event, but a steady, ongoing and vigilant fight. You have to constantly be on your guard, because when you think you have the devil pegged and you recognise his influence, he sneaks up on you another way! He’s a cheat and doesn’t fight fair. All’s fair in love and war, and this is a war for your thoughts and your mind! So how do we deal with all this?

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

Negative thoughts will pop in even to the most positive among us. When those negative thoughts enter your mind, take them captive and make them obedient to Christ! Don’t entertain them, don’t invite them for dinner or to stay with you, capture and neutralise them! Say, “I’m not going to listen to you, Jesus says I’m more than a conqueror, so you have no effect!”

 

  1. STAY FOCUSSED ON JESUS

 

When Peter stepped out of the boat, his eyes were on Jesus, his mind filled with faith, and he walked on water. Then he looked around at the wind and waves, Satan attacked his mind and he began to falter, started to doubt and started to sink.

 

Matthew 14:29-31 (ESV Strong's)

Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

The key to mastering  your mind is to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Don’t look at those circumstances, don’t listen to negativity, whatever you are going through now, you can win the battle for your mind by focusing on Jesus.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV-WS)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

 

YOU CAN WIN THE BATTLE FOR THE MIND!

 

I know many of you face huge battles in your mind. If sin is tempting you, if negative thoughts or unforgiveness are controlling you, if you have seemingly insurmountable odds and you can’t seem to break our or negativity, then I am here today to tell you that you can win the battle for the mind!

 

I know many here struggle to stay positive and fill their minds with good things, but today is the day we say to the devil ENOUGH. We are choosing to fix our eyes on Jesus, we are choosing to take negative, destructive thoughts captive, we are choosing to renew our minds with good and godly things, because we are going to win the battle for our minds!

 

If you are struggling with thoughts that seem to have power over you, stand up.

The battle for society is the next in our spiritual battlefields in this modern age. You remember last week we looked at spiritual battlefields, and we saw that beyond what we can see and feel there is a battlefield that is ferocious, in the heavenlies.

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

As we saw with the federal election last week, there is a spiritual battle happening over our nation, and our people, and this week I want to develop that as we look at the battlefield of society.

 

Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV Strong's)

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

 

God is looking throughout the earth for those who will stand in the gap in the battle for society for our nation, for our people. Are you that person? If God asks you, and I believe He is asking you, will you say , “Here am I Lord, send me!” At this pivotal time in history for our nation, I believe God is raising up men and women of faith, and you and I have the chance to fight in this battle… and win!

 

THE BATTLE FOR SOCIETY STRATEGY… LINES ARE DRAWN

 

The battle lines are drawn in the battle for society, and the two opposing armies are in position. What we have seen over the last year or so are the opening skirmishes, but they are not the true battle, they are probes, reconnaissance missions by the enemy to find our weakest point so they can attack in force.

 

What we saw in this election was the people of God finally uniting in prayer and starting to push back against a previously largely unchallenged enemy. It was a victory for righteousness of sorts, but it is just the first of many battles to come in this battle for society.

 

Peter offers a promise that could have been written to our people in our generation…

 

1 Peter 5:8-10 (ESV Strong's)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

 

Christ will indeed restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us, but there will also be suffering and fighting before then. The most persecuted people in Australia today are not the gays, or transgenders, the Muslims or sex workers. No, our society bends over backwards to accommodate these and not offend them. The most persecuted part of Australian society today is Christians!

 

So where is this battle taking place? Let’s get a bird’s eye view of the battlefield we face, and recognise where the key strategic areas in the battle for society we must defend and fight for.

 

1.      MORALITY

 

Morality is clearly the primary battlefront. The moral corruption and degradation in our society has certainly been ramped up, and this is clearly a front line, where the enemy has taken real ground over the last few years. Paul describes it like this…

 

Romans 1:28-32 (ESV Strong's)

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness (etc.). …foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

 

That’s what we are seeing… even those not practicing these behaviours approve of it! The rise of militant gay and lesbian action is unprecedented in history. Transgenderism is heavily promoted in schools and colleges, and abortion has become legal up until birth in this state. It’s not advance Australia fair but advance Australia wherever vocal minorities want.

 

And the crazy thing is that our society is tying themselves in knots over this! The logic simply makes no sense! After 2 or 3 centuries of being told that science is king, that it is the ultimate authority, after elevating the views of science in areas like climate change and evolution, none of which can actually be proven, we are now told that emotions and feelings trump science.

 

So despite scientifically having an X and a Y chromosome, if you feel like you want to be a woman, well forget science and facts and stuff, just change to what you feel!  So we have situations like Hannah Mouncey, a 6 ‘4” muscle bound transgender whom society will let change into a woman, but whom the AFL won’t let play women’s football because he/she is destroying others.

 

Make no mistake… the lines are drawn, the battle is on and to the eyes of these lobby groups Christians are the enemy. Muslim leaders whose countries preach death to homosexuals are welcomed by politicians, but footballers who post an opinion on Instagram are sacked and viciously attacked. Other footballers are not fired for domestic abuse, gang raping girls or drunken rampages, but one is fired for having an opinion! It’s an utter disgrace!

 

2.      MINDS

 

The second battlefield is in the minds of Australians. And the enemy is not targeting the old, the devil is targeting the minds of the young, using school, social media and peer pressure. In the minds of Australians, especially young Australians, the Church represents old fashioned, antiquated, prejudicial and offensive morality, preventing people from exercising the right to express their true selves.

 

I cannot remember a time in history where people are so easily offended. For all of our intelligence and scientific minds, we are currently so fragile and easily offended. A sign of maturity is the ability to not be easily offended, and to respond in a measured way, but look at the explosions, accusations and rants on social media. Not only do people’s opinions change every 5 minutes, but they will defend said opinions to the death, even if it doesn’t affect them! How strange the modern Australian mind is, but remember our fight is not against these people we differ with, it is against the spirit of the age behind it.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

We will look in a separate message at the battlefield of the mind, but with record levels of mental health problems, constantly changing opinions and infinite offences being taken, the minds of Australians represent a massive area in the battle between good and evil in our society.

 

3.      ME-ISM

 

This could be the most selfish, self absorbed generation in history. This is the age of the selfie, and never before have so many photos been taken of so many people doing so little!

 

2 Timothy 3:1-4 (ESV Strong's)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

 

Why do we have family breakdowns? Why do we have abuse? Why do we have broken lives? Because at the heart of it, people are selfish. They want what they want over and above anyone else. And what’s more, they believe their opinion is superior to anyone else’s, so they fight and claw to destroy anyone whose opinion is different… look at Israel Folau.

 

4.      MISSION

 

The forces for evil in our society clearly have an agenda, a strategy that they are working to destroy the church. Australians were told that same sex marriage was the end in itself for that lobby group, but clearly it was only the opening salvo… trangenderism, abortion, euthanasia, and who knows what follows hot on its heels.

 

Proverbs 28:12 (ESV Strong's)

When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.

 

The overall strategy and agenda for these lobby groups is moral anarchy,  not just in one area but across the board, where in the name of freedom everyone is allowed to do whatever they want and God’s rule, the laws upon which our society stands, is relegated to a bygone era.

 

Judges 21:25 (ESV Strong's)

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

 

If you read the book of Judges you will see the result of this… moral and social destruction on a scale rarely seen. Edmund Burke, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

 

5.      MEDIA

 

A great strategic battlefield where the enemy is triumphing right now is the media.  While social media has become a cesspool of human emotions, opinions and aggressive attacks on anyone who differs in any way on any subject, especially morality, main stream media is totally dominated by evil agenda and anti Christian sentiment.

 

Last year I was crowned Qld Father of the Year, and rushed out to a waiting media contingent. I was interviewed by all TV stations, radio and print, and I spoke about how being a father is loving your children unconditionally, just like God loves us. The early edition on channel 7 went straight to air with my comments in tack, but the later editions sliced all references to God out of the coverage. Channel 9 heard what I said, and decided on the fly that instead of interviewing me their reporter will speak and I will just be in the background. Clearly anti Christian bias, that is evidenced everywhere!

 

This should not surprise us…

 

2 Timothy 3:12-13 (ESV Strong's)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

 

Sure, the media and polls got it wrong on Election Day, but interestingly in the aftermath they are all scratching their heads wondering if it was economics or climate change where Labor policies came undone. I know, and you know, that the silent majority of people who love righteousness was the force behind their defeat, but in their minds they simply cannot see it.

 

The media is very powerful, but after last Saturday we can see it is not all powerful.. God is!

 

But they keep plugging away, and this is a battle of attrition… they are trying to wear us down. Don’t you wonder why according to statistics <3% of America is homosexual, yet 100% of American TV shows feature at least one homosexual, always in a positive way. Yet according to a 2017 Gallop survey, 71.2% identify as Christian, Catholic and Protestant, but they rarely if ever appear in TV shows, and almost always are portrayed as negative.

 

In movies, TV, music, social media and print, Christians are the most persecuted group, and even though the enemy is winning on this battlefield, he ain’t letting up any time soon. Listen, a setback is just a set up for a come back, and it’s time we started fighting back like we did last Saturday!

 

6.      MONEY

 

We are going to look at money in a separate message, and you are not going to want to miss that Sunday.  I’m going to pull back the curtain and reveal the spirit behind money and how you can start to fight and win in your personal finances, your investments and your giving.

 

1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV Strong's)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

 

Money is not evil, but the spirit behind it, the love of money is a constant source of evil in not only our lives, but in and throughout our society.

IT’S TIME TO FIGHT BACK!

 

So these are just some of the battlefields within our society. There are more, but these are some of the bigger ones. We’ve had an arial view of the battlefield, so let’s look at how we can fight back.

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV Strong's)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

They attack us with hate in this battle for society, they attack us with what looks like overwhelming criticism and aggression, but we cannot win our nation by hating them more than they hate us! So what are our strategies to fight back on the battlefield of society and morality?

 

1.      PRAYER

 

If the election taught Christians one thing it surely was that corporate prayer is powerful. I cannot recall an election so keenly prayed over in this nation, and the come from behind, against all odds result is evidence of that.

 

James 5:16-18 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 

For too long the prayers of believers have been lifeless, selfish shopping lists, lacking zeal, lacking power and lacking results. But now is not a time for selfishness, it is a time for selflessness, starting in the prayer closet. As Moody said, “Most prayers should be cut short at either end and set on fire in the middle!”

 

As a church, as individuals, as families, it’s time to commit ourselves to praying. Pray for everything, your homes, your businesses, your own hearts, and pray for our nation, that we might move into our destiny as the Greats Southland of the Holy Spirit.

 

2.      GUARDING OUR MINDS AND HEARTS

 

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV-WS)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

 

We are at risk in this battle of a fifth column, a subversive element entering the church and turning our hearts away from the truths of God’s Word. The voice of compromise is everywhere, and the media tell us that we either compromise and accept their agenda, or we are hypocritical, racial, sexist, fundamentalist, hate speech sprouting bigots. That’s the choice they offer!

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

So we need to make sure we know God’s standards, and stick to them, without compromise in this battle for society. If we bend, if we water down truth, we lose and the enemy gains ground. So my strong advice is to keep your heart and mind pure…

 

Romans 16:19 (ESV Strong's)

I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

 

3.      FILLING OUR MINDS WITH PURE THINGS

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

If we are corrupted we cannot possibly hope to stem the flow of corruption in our nation. Therefore, we have to be careful about what we allow into our minds, especially with such a biased, anti Christian media and social media. Let me put it this way… if your mind is filled with the things of God, you cannot fit evil in there. This is why you need to come to church, and you need to read His Word every day. Do our reading plan and watch your thought life change and be secure.

 

The Word reveals God’s mind, so we should learn it; God’s heart, so we should love it; and God’s will, so we should live it. Our whole being—mind, will, and heart—should be controlled by the Word of God.

 

4.      UNITY

 

The devil, knows if he can divide us, he can defeat us. Jesus told him that in Matthew…

 

Matthew 12:25 (ESV Strong's)

Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

 

Frankly, the enemy is doing a great job implementing this battle strategy in the battle for society. While Christians argue about doctrine, worship styles, tongues, prophecy, methods of evangelism, dunking vs sprinkling and a whole lot more we are powerless on the battlefield for Jesus.  Paul addressed the church at Corinth, who had descended so far as to actually suing each other, in this way…

 

1 Corinthians 6:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

 

Psalm 133 talks about unity, “for there the Lord bestows a blessing even life forevermore.” Any time your doctrine, your belief, your firm conviction, or your opinion exceeds your love for your brother, we are going to have disunity.

 

Ignite is a church in unity, and I will not forsake unity for the pet doctrines and opinions some people have. I know some of you don’t want tongues or prophecy, and I know some of you want tongues and prophecy publicly in every service. I know some want me to preach through books of the Bible, and others prefer topical. Let me say I appreciate that in these things you prefer your brothers and love them more than your doctrine or opinion. That’s unity.

 

Unity doesn’t mean we see eye to eye on everything, but it does mean we can walk hand in hand. And the great strength of Ignite is unity, and we must not forsake this even if we truly believe we are right on an area of doctrine or style of worship. Better to be wronged than to cause offence and disunity.

 

5.      LOVE

 

Our superpower in this battle for society as we stand for Jesus in this battle for the hearts and minds of our society is LOVE!

 

We can pray, we can stand for righteousness, we can be in unity, but without love we are nothing, a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Jesus sets the bar high when it comes to loving others…

 

Matthew 5:43-44 (ESV Strong's)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

 

And they are persecuting us in this battle for society. I’ve never seen such anti Christian sentiment in the media and on social media, but you cannot win people to Christ by hating them more than they hate you. Only love will win people to Jesus.

 

Love doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, with the perversion, with the wickedness, with the unbiblical teaching. But you can disagree and still love them. The media says if you love the, you will give them what they demand, but I love my kids, and they never got everything they wanted. Love is not giving in to people, love is accepting and treating them with honour, even if we disagree with them.

 

IT’S TIME TO SHINE IN THE BATTLE FOR SOCIETY

 

We can win this battle, in the power of Jesus, and in His love, and our nation needs us to shine like never before, and if you leave the city lights for the country, you will recognise that the stars shine brightest when it is darkest. Notice that it starts with unity…

 

Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

 

We have to love our people, agree with them or not, attacked by the, or not, we have to love. Because Christ loves us.

 

Yes we have difficult fights ahead on the battlefield of our society, but we need to see ours lives as voters, not victim. Let’s pledge to stand in love and unity. I am going to ask you to make this practical commitment with me today… Will you

 

  1. Commit to getting closer to God by reading His Word daily
  2. Commit to standing up for righteousness, but loving unconditionally those who persecute you, no matter how vile or venomous the slander.
  3. Commit to standing with us in unity in this church, as we reach our community for Jesus.

We all face a Spiritual battlefield which is real, but most Christians fail to see them.

Once visiting the Belgian town of Mons I asked my American friend if there were any 1st World War battlefields close by. He said he’d lived there for 2 years and there were no battlefield or graveyards from the war. I walked 5 houses down to the end of the street and there was countless graves from the battles of Mons. They are there, but my American friend never recognised them!

Our PM said overnight that he’s always believed in miracles, but regardless of the results of this election, Australian Christians should be under no illusion about our future. If the last year or so has taught us anything, it has shown us that we are facing, and more than any other time in our history, a Spiritual battlefield, we are battling for hearts and minds and even souls of our country.

 

So rather than sail along and ignore what we face as a church in this nation, I want to preach about it. We can get down, we can get fearful, but I’m going to get real and get mobilised as we face the enemy. And we do face a fearful enemy, but

 

1 John 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

 

Over the coming weeks, we are going to talk about key battlefields in our lives, like the heart and mind, homes, families and even church. The enemy is active in all these areas, and I’m believing that these messages can be like a reconnaissance mission, to understand we can fight effectively and win.

SPIRITUAL BATTLEFIELD... THE UNSEEN ENEMY, AN UNSEEN ALLY

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

Our enemy is not the government, it’s not people, it’s not gays or socialists or drug dealers, our real enemy is the devil. Our battle is not against what we can see, against people who oppose God but against an unseen, far deadlier opponents. Elisha faced a huge army coming to capture him in 2 Kings 6…

 

2 Kings 6:15-19 (ESV Strong's)

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.

 

In this story, the young man could not see beyond the physical world in which we live, just like almost everyone today in our nation.  We might be Christians, we might say the battle is not against flesh and blood, but honestly, we don’t really get it… we don’t see this realm, this Spiritual battlefield.

 

Yet an unseen Spiritual battlefield realm exists–a world every bit as real as what we can see, hear and feel in the physical world. It consists of a countless multitude of ministering angels who are active in the lives of God’s people (Ge 32:2; Isa 63:9). It also includes demons who battle against angels and are trying to destroy us, or at least ruin our relationship with God.

 

You cannot see or touch this enemy, but he is there. You cannot sense the presence of angels, but I have a feeling we encounter them more frequently than we realise as they protect us…

 

Psalm 34:7 (ESV Strong's)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

 

My mum and dad we’re in a car accident years ago on a remote stretch of road. Once the car came to a stop, they knew serious damage had been done, and out of nowhere a woman appeared claiming to be a nurse, and she reached through the broken car window and held my father’s head straight until ambulances arrived. Turns out his neck was broken, and this mysterious lady saved his life. However, not of the paramedics saw a woman, and we never learned her name, or why she was randomly on that stretch of road. You might call it coincidence, but after much reflection, we believe this mystery woman who save dad’s life was in fact an angel.

 

THE UNSEEN INFLUENCE

 

We are obsessed with earthly things, but the Bible encourages us to look beyond what we see to see a Spiritual battlefield…

 

2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong's)

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

The heavenly realms fight to influence us in the Spiritual battlefield, and there is a spiritual battleground all around us. Books like Daniel or Revelation should show us that this world exists, and that it is fighting for influence. Demons are real, and they seek to destroy the bodies, the minds and the souls of people. Angels are real and they fight for us. But please realise that this battle is not on a knife edge… I know who wins!

 

Philippians 2:8-11 (ESV Strong's)

And being found in human form (Jesus), he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

We should be aware, but not obsessed by this unseen world of the Spiritual battlefield and it’s influences. Our prayers, as we have seen overnight, can reach into this world and mobilise forces beyond our understanding.

 

WHAT WE SEE ISN’T WHAT WE GET

 

The young man with Elisha could not see what the prophet saw. But just one prayer opened the spiritual eyes of the servant, and what he saw stunned him! God’s power and influence is immense in this Spiritual battlefield.

 

Every believer should have an awareness of the spiritual battle that rages around us. Most modern Christians have no concept of this spiritual conflict at all, because our western, scientific minds exclude what we cannot measure or see, and so we think it does not exist. I can claim gravity doesn’t exist, but if I step off a cliff, regardless of what I believe or can see, I’m going to experience the consequences of my choice.

 

Psalms 119:18 (ESV Strong's)

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

 

Elisha did not pray that his servant would stop seeing the enemy; he prayed that he would start seeing the goodness and provision of the Lord. Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what He sees. Elisha understood this and learned to look beyond his own limited perspective to the Lord’s reality. And because of his faith, God showed Elisha amazing things and did miracles through him.

 

Hebrews 1:14 (ESV Strong's)

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

 

So when we face spiritual forces unseen. When we face life’s troubles, how can we begin to see the provision of the Lord all around us instead of the giant we seem to be facing? Well, when I think giants, I think David and Goliath, and I think of victory against all physical odds!

 

THE BIGGER THEY ARE THE HARDER THEY FALL

 

David faced a seemingly insurmountable task… a giant that the army of Israel had fled from, that he faced as one, scrawny kid. All the polls predicted a Goliath win.

 

Elisha saw what the young man did not, and through faith, David saw what his countrymen did not.

 

1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV Strong's)

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

 

In times of extreme pressure, God stretches our faith and deepens our dependence on Him. Without a strong, abiding faith, we can quickly yield to temptation and fear, especially when the trial or difficulty is intense or prolonged. God developed David’s trust until it became unshakable.

Whatever Goliath you face today, you need to bury one truth deep within your heart:

 

God loves you, He is on your side and He wins the battle every time!  You may go through times of failure. Life may not always turn out the way you planned—but ultimately, God will be glorified, and you will be blessed. When you trust Him, when you open your eyes to see the true spiritual battle, when you train yourself to see beyond the physical world into the eternal, you will live differently and keep battling!

 

So how were David and Elisha able to see beyond their giants, and how can we?

 

1.      RECOGNISE THE TRUE BATTLE

 

So often when we face difficulties and giants, we concentrate on the people attacking us rather than on the true nature of the battle.

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong's)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

David did not see just Goliath on his Spiritual battlefield, he saw God’s enemy. Elisha didn’t just see the Syrian army, he saw the heavenly army ready to battle.  When someone attacks us, don’t concentrate on the person and hate them. Recognise the spirit that is behind the attack. We need to look behind any political party making immoral decisions, beyond any person making our lives miserable and see the devil battling to destroy our nation, our homes and our future.

 

This is why prayer is so effective, because prayer battles in the heavenlies, it does not just deal with the here and now, the people, the sins and the attacks. See eternity, and see things God’s way!

 

 

2.      RECALL PAST VICTORIES

 

David recalled how God had delivered him from the paw of the lion and the grasp of the bear (1 Samuel 17:32–37). You first win spiritual victories in your mind. If you cave into feelings of fear and doubt, you will lose. When you focus on the truth of God’s Word, you win every time. If you want victories in a Spiritual battlefield you face, remember how God has given you victories in the past, and know He can do it again.

 

We are facing the prospect of moving our church to bigger and better premises. The dollars involved are terrifying, but when I recall how God moved amazingly to provide for us to gain this property, I see that His unseen forces are working on our behalf, and my fear is overcome.

 

3.      REJECT DISCOURAGING WORDS

 

The young man with Elisha spoke words of fear and defeat. No one in the Israelite camp encouraged David in his quest to defeat Goliath. The soldiers laughed at him. His brothers felt embarrassed by his presence and urged him to go home. Even King Saul doubted him. If David had listened to the advice of others, he would have given up. If Elisha had listened to the young man, he would have been plunged into captivity or even death.

 

But they both turned their hearts towards the Lord and there they found the encouragement they needed.

 

People often say horrible things, even if they don’t mean to be mean, but their words cut us to the quick. As a pastor, I’m often criticised, and it always hurts. But I need to make the choice to give the hurt to the Lord  and keep doing what I know He has called me to do.

I recently had a pastor ask me what’s the difference between a politician and a pastor. If 51% like the politician he calls it a victory. If 99% like a pastor, he wonders why the 1% don’t like him!

 

Often you are criticised by people who should be encouraging you. Look at Peter…

 

Acts 11:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

 

Gentiles had come to Christ, and the big criticism was not from unbelievers but from Jewish believers! If you face discouraging words, even from believers, your family or friends, you can choose to see the spiritual battle driving those words, and reject the words, not the people.

 

 

4.      RESPOND WITH GOD’S WORD

 

Elisha said to the young man who was full of fear,

 

2 Kings 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

 

David was constantly told he could not beat the giant, but he responded…

 

1 Samuel 17:37 (ESV Strong's)

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

 

Hebrews 13:6 (ESV Strong's)

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

 

And it is not enough to just speak positively, you need to live trusting the Lord in every way. When you face attack or some other giant, we are tempted to worry. Worry is a sin, so confess it and give it to God and trust Him by faith that He will protect and guide you…

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Jesus faced incredible attack and pressure in His Spiritual battlefield from the devil himself in Matthew 4, and Jesus didn’t try and argue or drum up positive words. He answered using Scripture, and so should we, that’s why I want you all to be reading the Bible every day. Read it, learn it, study it, memorise it!

 

5.      RELY ON GOD’S POWER

 

2 Kings 6:18 (ESV Strong's)

And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.

 

David went out to Goliath with a sling shot, 5 stones and an attitude! In front of Goliath he said,

 

1 Samuel 17:47 (ESV Strong's)

and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”

 

You can’t win a battle with the devil on your own. But thanks be to God, we don’t face him alone, we face him with Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, and the power of His Spirit can triumph over the evil one! Stand and fight on your knees and see the victory God will bring upon the situation in this Spiritual battlefield.

 

 

6.      RECKON ON THE VICTORY

 

Elisha saw an army struck with blindness. David saw a giant losing his head, and even before he stepped onto the battlefield, David knew he wasn’t going to lose. He knew it wasn’t his reputation on the line, but God’s. He knew it wasn’t his strength or cunning that would win the battle, but God’s strength and wisdom.

 

1 John 5:4 (ESV Strong's)

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

 

We face a Spiritual battlefield in our nation. We face battlefields every day in our families, our homes, our minds, our finances, and our churches, and over the next few weeks I want to target these battlefields and prove to you that victory is possible because God is on our side… But the real battle is not against people, even people who seem to hate us, but it’s against spiritual forces and powers in this Spiritual battlefield.

 

ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE?

 

Try and make church every week, because over the coming weeks I’m going to centre in on areas where the battlefield is fiercest in our lives… the family, finances, our nation and morals and even in the church.  Make no mistake, Christians are under attack in this Spiritual battlefield across the board more than ever before in this nation, and I for one am not going to bow my knee to the frauds of the enemy.

 

Today, if you feel like you are under attack, then I want you to make a stand. Some of what you face might be natural, it might be selfish people or bad decisions, but much of what you face could be driven by the enemy, demonic forces arrayed against you. You can’t see them, but they are there, and like Elisha, I want you to open your eyes to see the incredible army of God lined up on your side!

 

There are demonic spirits, evil powers and principalities that come against you, whether you see them or not, whether you believe in them or not. But I refuse to concentrate on them when there are myriads of angelic servants to protect, guide and direct our lives for us. They are watching, ready to step in, but they will not force you to act as God wants. You always have a choice in this Spiritual battlefield, but when you choose righteousness, when you choose obedience, when you pray in faith and obedience, they act on your behalf…

 

Psalms 55:18 (ESV Strong's)

He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.

 

If you feel like many things are arrayed against you, it’s time to reveal the enemy for the fraud he is and recognise the power of the Lord of Hosts.  We face seemingly insurmountable forces against us in our lives, our families and our church, but I for one will stand up and fight because I’ve read the Book and I know who wins!

 

Today, if you feel you are facing a Spiritual battlefield and demonic opposition in an area of your life, I want you to stand. I am standing, because I often feel a hopelessness about life, business, family and our church, but I am standing and committing to fight, not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark work in this Spiritual battlefield. And I’m going to win!