Friday, April 25, 2008

The Powr of The Enemy and Counting The Cost

Good morning my friends,

It is unfortunate that we do not always consider what Jesus said when he told us to "count the cost". We do not count the cost of most things these days but especially the cost of the decisions we make. Most of us do not take the time to reflect and consider what will happen when we do something. We often comment on the rashness of youth but do not consider how often we make rash decisions.

Recently I have been helping some of our students work on their checker skills. Believe it or not checkers can be more difficult than chess. In chess there are only so many possibilities. With checkers the possibilities are so much greater and it is more difficult to force your opponent into making bad moves. It is a game you need to be able to see the possible outcomes of each move and be willing to sacrifice in order to gain. It is not a bad example of our spiritual walk.

Every decision we make has spiritual consequences to it, good and bad. Consider Samuel and the Israelites at Mizpah. They had finally gotten to a point where they were desperate enough to submit themselves to God, again. Samuel told them that they would need a complete renewal. Get rid of your idols he told them, fast and seek God's face. Renewal was gripping the nation, but what was the cost? It is great to seek God. It is great to surrender everything and be renewed in relationship and devotion to Jesus, but what is the cost? There is always a cost.

I figure this is where we often get it wrong. We have this expectation that surrendering everything to God will cause all our problems to be resolved immediately. The example of the Israelites demonstrate the more frequent example. The Israelites were being suppressed by the enemy, the Philistines. Samuel called the people to renew themselves with the LORD God. They were still suppressed. They came to God, threw away their idols, sought his face and fasted. The enemy heard what was happening and came against them. Then the people were full of fear. That's where most of us lose it.

Fear is the greatest weapon the enemy has against us. If fear grips our hearts so does doubt and doubt destroys faith. What do we expect? If we are being suppressed by the enemy do we truly believe he is just going to let us go? If we are being renewed and God is re-establishing himself in the hearts of his people do we think the enemy is just going to sit back and take it all in? No way! He is going to come against us with everything he has, to fill us with fear, to send or new faith back under a rock and keep us in suppression. So, what do we do?

We do what the people did, we keep calling out to God. We stay on our knees and fight with all we have, seeking the face of our God. We offer up sacrifices of praise and worship, pay our tithes and offerings, seek, seek , seek. The cost of spiritual renewal was a greater attack from the enemy. I think most of us give up there but if we were to follow the example of the Israelites we would discover that victory comes in the midst of the battle. God saw the determination of his people to seek him, the sincerity of their desire for this relationship and he responded as he always did; he drove the enemy from his people.

I really appreciate how God sent the enemy running. He did not raise up an army against them. He did not send hail or have the earth open up to swallow them. He used noise to send them running. Simple thunder. Noise. Noise because that is all the enemy is against those dedicated to God. The enemy has no power over us except the fear that he tries to produce. But when we truly know or God we know that nothing can defeat our faith. But still, the cost is that we will be attacked. We discover the worth of our faith in moments like these.

Count the cost of serving Jesus. Count the cost of ministry. Count the cost of living a dedicated life totally for the Lord. Count the cost, not so you can quit but so that you know what to expect. If you expect it then you will never be surprised and fear will never enter in. Remember the words spoken to Joshua:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Do not give up! Victory is at hand.

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