Have You Been Broken? Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #25)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

PART A

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PART B

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TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today.

Then Christian began to go forward, but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go down the hill. Then said Christian: “As it was difficult coming up, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down.” “Yes,” said Prudence, “so it is, for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as you are doing now, and to catch no slip by the way.” Therefore, said they, “are we come out to accompany you down the hill.” So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.

Christian had just had a wonderful time at the Palace Beautiful. He had come up the Hill of Difficulty, was well rested, and had received a new suit of armor and provisions for his journey. However, as he sets out once again to go to the Celestial City, he learns that he must travel through the Valley of Humiliation.

Think about the word “humiliation” for a moment. What kind of thoughts or feelings come to mind when you hear that word? No doubt, you have a negative reaction to the word “humiliation.” When we think of humiliation, we think of being embarrassed or put to shame. We think of failing in a very public and noticeable way. We think of being laughed at. We think of walking into a room and immediately people start whispering because of something we said or did in the past. One dictionary defines humiliation as “the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission.”

Even though we may think negatively of the idea of humiliation, lowliness, submission, or brokenness, the Bible is replete with the importance of this subject in God’s eyes. The more common term in the Bible is humility. Notice these verses: Continue Reading…

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 10 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #24)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

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TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

In Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the main character, Christian, receives a suit of armor to put on as he prepares to continue his journey to the Celestial City. Bunyan writes, “The next day they took him and had him into the Armory, where they shewed him all manner of armor, which their Lord had provided for Pilgrims, as Sword, Shield, Helmet, Breastplate, All-prayer, and Shoes that would not wear out. And there was here enough of this to harness out as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the Heaven for multitude.“ We, too, face enemies and danger in our walk with Christ, and God has given us armor to put on. So far, in this series, we have looked at six pieces of armor that God has supplied for us as we face spiritual battle every day :

1. The belt of truth.
2. The breastplate of righteousness.
3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace.
4. The shield of faith.
5. The helmet of salvation.
6. The sword of the Spirit — the Word of God.

After a very detailed discussion on the pieces of armor that a Christian needs to put on, one might think that that is all there is too it. But it isn’t. There is one more thing we must do in order to be battle ready. No, it is not another piece of armor. But, based on the way Paul talks about it, it is extremely important. It is prayer.

Three times in a single verse, Paul urges us to engage in prayer as part of our warfare. First, he says we ought to be “praying always,” that is we ought to be in a constant spirit of prayer. We ought to pray “in every season” and at “every opportunity.” Second, he says, “with all prayer,” that is with all forms of prayer which we will discuss shortly today. Third, he says, “and with supplication,” that is to make our requests, in the name of Christ, for things that are in God’s will.

In his commentary on Ephesians, John MacArthur writes, “All the while that we are fighting in the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, we are to be in prayer. Prayer is the very spiritual air that the soldier of Christ breathes. It is the all-pervasive strategy in which warfare is fought.”

Because spiritual warfare is a constant struggle, we ought to be constantly praying. The Bible commands us to “pray without ceasing.” But, what does it mean to pray with “all prayer and supplication.” This means that we should not hesitate to engage in prayer in all its forms — whether alone or with others, in private or in public, silent prayer or praying aloud — all prayer is to be engaged.

Scholars have found in the Bible eight types of prayer. Allow me to share them with you.

1. The prayer of faith. This is a prayer for something that is in God’s will, but is yet to come to pass. In this prayer, you express belief in the power of God to bring things to pass. James 5:15 says, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

2. The prayer of agreement or corporate prayer. This is simply praying with other believers. In Acts 1:14, we find that Jesus’ followers “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” in the upper room before Pentecost.

3. The prayer of request. When Paul used the word “supplication”, he was talking about this kind of prayer — asking God for your needs and desires. Philippians 4:6 teaches us to “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” John R. Rice said, “Prayer is simply asking and receiving.”

4. The prayer of thanksgiving. This is a prayer of gratitude to God for what He has done for you. This is a prayer you pray after God has answered your prayers. Philippians 4:6 says we ought to offer “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.”

5. The prayer of worship. This is a prayer of praise to God where you aren’t asking or thanking Him for anything specifically, but you are just worshipping Him because of who He is. In Acts 13, we read of early Christians who were “worshipping the Lord and fasting.”

6. The prayer of consecration. When something or someone is consecrated, it means that they are set aside to do God’s will and be used for God’s purposes. Jesus Christ prayed a prayer of consecration in the Garden of Gethsemane when He told His Heavenly Father, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Jesus also taught us to pray this way in the Lord’s prayer which says, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

7. The prayer of intercession. This is when we pray for the needs of others. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” You ought to always have in mind someone you can pray for other than yourself.

8. The prayer of imprecation. These are prayers that invoke God’s judgment on the wicked. David and others prayed these types of prayers in the Psalms. However, Jesus teaches us as Christians to pray for blessings on our enemies, not cursing. He said in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Of course, that is often a hard thing to do, but we can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Those are the eight types of prayer found in the Bible. When we “pray always with all prayer,” we are engaging, at different times, in all types of prayer.

As a final command regarding spiritual warfare, we are told that we ought to be “watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” This means that we must be alert and we must be watching in order that we might pray. We ought to be on the lookout for saints who are faltering that we might lift them up in prayer. We ought to be on the lookout for sinners that we might lift them up in prayer, asking God to deliver them from their spiritual blindness. We ought to be ready to pray for people and situations at a moment’s notice.

John Piper describes this wonderfully when he calls prayer our “war-time walkie-talkie.” He said prayer “is mainly for those on the front lines of the war effort to call in to headquarters to send help. One of the reasons our prayer malfunctions is that we try to treat it like a domestic intercom for calling the butler for another pillow in the den rather than treating it like a wartime walkie-talkie for calling down the power of the Holy Spirit in the battle for souls.”

That is what we need prayer for in spiritual battle — to ask God to step in and defeat the enemy through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words we need air power through prayer power. Throughout this series we have mentioned numerous times how that we are not fighting this battle in our own strength, but in the strength of “the Lord and the power of His might.” And the only way to call down the power of the Lord into our present-day spiritual battles is through prayer — so pray always!

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 9 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #23)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

PART A

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PART B

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TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

In Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the main character, Christian, receives a suit of armor to put on as he prepares to continue his journey to the Celestial City. He needs this armor because He will meet with enemies and danger along the way, and he will often have to fight to proceed on his journey. We, too, face enemies and danger in our walk with Christ, and God has given us armor to put on. So far, in this series on the armor that God has supplied, we have looked at five pieces of that armor:

1. The belt of truth — the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.

2. The breastplate of righteousness — we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace — part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.

4. The shield of faith — our faith in God and in His Word will enable us to deflect and extinguish Satan’s fiery darts.

5. The helmet of salvation — this crucial piece of armor protects our minds against the insidious attacks of the enemy on our assurance of salvation.

Today, we are going to look at the sixth piece of armor — the sword of the spirit. The Bible leaves no mystery as to what this piece of armor does. It says take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

As we noticed on last week, this command is preceded by the action verb “take.” Our spiritual warfare is not like what you see in Star Wars where a lightsaber that is lost in battle automatically floats back into the hands of a fighter. We must physically take up the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.

Now, the sword is the only offensive weapon which the Christian is given as part of his armor. If we are going to attack the enemy, nothing else will be effective against him. Our words will not work. The words of a popular preacher or a motivational speaker will not work. The words you find in some book on spirituality — no matter how good of a book it is — will not work. The only words that are effective against Satan and the kingdom of darkness are the words of God found in the Bible.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 8 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #22)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

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Some Things to Take With You Throughout the New Year

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

So far, in this series, we have looked at four pieces of the armor which God has supplied:

1. The belt of truth — the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.

2. The breastplate of righteousness — we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace — part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.

4. The shield of faith — our faith in God and in His Word will enable us to deflect and extinguish Satan’s fiery darts.

Today, we are going to look at the fifth piece of armor — the helmet of salvation. The Bible says, “And take the helmet of salvation…”

First of all, notice the verb “take.” This word lets us know that putting on our armor is a conscious choice. It is something that we must choose to do every day. Just being saved does not mean that we are automatically fit for battle. Some Christians go out in the world every day unprepared for warfare, and they wonder why, by the time they get home, they are defeated, depressed, and discouraged. The thing is, they let Satan beat up on them all day because they failed to put on their armor.

So, along with our other pieces of armor, we must choose to put on the helmet of salvation. The Greek word for “take” is in the aorist imperative tense which carries with it a sense of urgency. We are to pick up and put on the helmet — and do it now!

In this verse, Paul is not talking about receiving salvation itself, for we have already received that. Rather, he is talking about the need for us to not allow the devil to destroy our assurance of salvation. Now, once you accept Christ, you are saved whether you feel like it or not. (Jesus Christ makes sure of that because it is about what He did on the cross, not about what you have done or are doing.) However, you will be more effective in your Christian life and in spiritual warfare if you are confident of your own salvation. Just as a soldier who doubts his ability to fight is timid in his approach to warfare, just like the football player who is worried about being hurt, does not play with abandon, and ends up getting hurt anyway, if you have doubts and worries about your salvation, you will be timid in your approach to spiritual life.

When Satan wants to target our assurance of salvation, where does he attack? He attacks the mind. This is why the helmet of salvation is a necessity. Steven Cole writes, “Your head is a very important part of your body, because it contains your brain, which controls everything. Your head determines how you think about all of life. How you think in large part determines how you feel and how you act….To put on the helmet of salvation requires that you learn to think biblically… You must develop a Christian mindset, a saved mindset. Your head determines how you function in all of life. If your brain is not working properly, it affects how other parts of your body work.”

Someone once said, “What you think means more than anything else in your life. More than what you earn, more than where you live, more than your social position, and more than what anyone else may think about you.”

As you face each day, how do you think about yourself? Do you see yourself as a child of God, who is no longer a slave to the devil and sin? Do you see yourself as a believer who has the power of the Holy Spirit to help resist temptation? Do you see yourself as a Christian who has already overcome the world through Jesus Christ? The condition of your mind — what you think about your salvation and what you think about the devil’s lies — will determine how victorious you are.

Another reason why putting on the helmet of salvation is important is because it gives us hope for the future by reminding us about the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” In this context, Paul is referring to the return of Jesus Christ as our blessed hope. Living in this sin-cursed world can be a cause of depression and discouragement for the believer. If we are not careful, we can become so entangled in the affairs of this world that we lose sight of the great hope for the future that we have in Jesus Christ. That is where the helmet of salvation comes in. In his book, The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him, Warren Wiersbe writes that the helmet of salvation is “referring to the hope the believer has in the return of Jesus Christ.” He says, “Satan often uses discouragement and hopelessness as weapons to oppose us. It is when we are discouraged that we are the most vulnerable. We will make foolish decisions and be susceptible to all kinds of temptations. When the mind is protected by ‘the blessed hope’ of the Lord’s return, Satan cannot use discouragement to attack and defeat us. Discouragement is a lethal weapon in the hands of the enemy. Moses and Elijah became so discouraged they asked God to kill them. The psalms record some of the occasions when David was ‘in the depths’ and could only hope in God.”

Dear friend, let me encourage you to put on the helmet of salvation every day. If you are discouraged, it will encourage you. If you are depressed, it will lift you up. If you are doubting your salvation, it will reassure you. If you are losing sight of God’s plan for the future, it will remind you that we have a blessed hope and a glorious appearing to look forward to. Keep your head up and your helmet on!

One of the techniques that Olympic competitors use to increase their chances of victory is visualization. Before their competition, they visualize themselves performing in the way they wish to perform. In their mind’s eye they picture themselves flawlessly running, swimming, skating, skiing, etc. They picture themselves outdistancing and outperforming their competition. They picture themselves stepping up to the platform and raising a medal in victory. Why is visualization effective? Because it steels the mind against thoughts of negativity, failure, and defeat. Those who go into the competition thinking that they will be victorious are far more likely to win than those who go in already thinking that they will be defeated.

Ladies and gentlemen, we already have the assurance of victory because “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” Believe the Word of God, put on the helmet of salvation, and be victorious in spiritual warfare.

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 7 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #21)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

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TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

So far, in this series, we have looked at three pieces of the armor which God has supplied:

1. The belt of truth — we must understand that our belief in the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.

2. The breastplate of righteousness — we must understand that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

3. The shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace — we must understand that part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.

Today, we are going to look at the fourth piece of armor — the shield of faith. The Bible says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Now, the Roman shield, which was what Paul was using as a model, was a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss). The shield was an impressive tool of defense. Some of these shields were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide, and soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies.

One of the famous tactics of the Roman infantry is called the tortoise formation in which the soldiers advanced against their enemy as a single, tight, compact unit. The soldiers on the outside of this unit would hold their shields so that the edges were touching the shields of the soldiers to their right and left. The soldiers in the middle of this unit would hold their shields above their head, again with the edges touching the shields of those around them. One of the benefits of this formation is that it protected the soldiers from the arrows of their enemies.

The Bible tells us that our shield of faith is meant to deflect the flaming darts (or arrows) of the wicked one. First of all, what is faith, and how is it meant to be used as a shield? The Bible’s definition of faith states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” At its very core, faith is a strong, unyielding belief in God Almighty and His only begotton Son Jesus Christ even though we can’t see them. However, this faith is not belief based on nothing. Rather, this belief is based on the solid foundation of God’s Word. It is our firm belief in the Word of God which deflects the flaming arrows of the wicked one.

The second question we must ask is what are the fiery darts which the enemy shoots at us? These fiery darts are meant to tear at our faith, our belief, and our confidence in the Word of God. The devil knows that if he can get us to stop believing the Word of God and start acting on our feelings or our own human ideas, he can eventually defeat us.

The fiery darts of the wicked one take on several forms.

1. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of doubt at us. He will tell us that God will not really do what He says He will do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie…”

2. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of discouragement at us. He will tell us that our present situation will never get better. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

3. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of delay at us. He will try to get us to stop trusting God because something that we wanted to happen yesterday still has not happened yet. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”

4. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of difficulty at us. He will place people and circumstances as obstacles in our path to try to get us to stumble and eventually give up on whatever it is God has called us to do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

5. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of depression at us. He will try to steal our joy, our contentment, and our happiness from us. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lies because Jesus Christ said in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Although the shield is a defensive weapon, raising the shield is something we must actively do each time the fiery darts of the devil come flying at us. Rick Warren said putting on the shield of faith is “trusting God, no matter what you see, hear, or feel about the world around you. You need the certainty of God when you face the uncertainty of Satan’s fiery darts.”

The devil will never stop throwing his fiery darts at us. That is why we must never take off this all-important piece of armor. We must spend time in the word of God so that we will know what God says about the various difficulties we will face along our Christian journey. When we face those difficulties, we can raise the shield of faith to deflect the arrows and extinguish the fiery darts that the devil throws our way.

During the second World War, a town in England was bombed by the Germans one moonlit night. When workers were clearing away the debris, they found on top of a heap of rubbish a sailor’s prayer book, open at the Twenty-seventh Psalm, with the thirteenth verse marked. That verse reads: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The incident was widely commented upon in Great Britain, for it seemed to many that the verse noted in the open prayer book found amid the ruins of that town was the secret of Britain’s magnificent endurance during the worst days of her trial. The victory was won, not just by battleships and tanks and rifles and armed men, but by faith in God and by faith that they would be victorious in the war. Unless the Britons had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in their land, unless they had believed that the future included the survival of their country, they may very well have fainted and given up hope that they would be victorious.

When we believe God’s promises, when we put our trust in Him by holding the shield of faith aloft as we go into battle, we will not faint, and we will eventually be victorious.

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