THIS is your wake up call!
A Christian that is unaware is a Christian that is unarmed.
In the last 3,400 years, the earth has only known 268 years of peace. Only eight percent of the last three millenniums have been war free. At the writing of this blog, there are thirty wars going on around the world. There are few things more common to the human experience than battle. Even in times of peace, nations plan for war, and soldiers are trained for war because we understand the inevitability of war.
I can remember, as I’m sure many of us do, the morning of September 11, 2001, as terrorists turned three passenger planes into guided missiles. Over 2,500 United States citizens died on that day, as our nation searched for answers. How could this happen? How could a handful of backwater radicals perpetrate such a strike on American soil? After all the intel was examined and the commissions were completed, we had our answer: They were at war with us, but we were not at war with them. America was not on a war footing against radical Islam. As a result, the enemy was able to slip in unawares.
Throughout history, we have learned that we are most at risk as a nation when we are war-weary. The church faces a similar challenge today. Surrounded by enemies on every side, the average Christian goes about their day, casually quoting scripture and carelessly praying prayers without passion or meaning. As a result, the Church is assailed and assaulted with unexpected, yet predictable, blows.
We are born into a battle
The New Testament is replete with references to the spiritual war in which we are all engaged. Jesus spoke more about casting out devils than He did about Heaven. Why? Because He understood that from the moment we are born again, we are born into a battle. His life and ministry were perfect illustrations of this. From the moment Jesus was baptized, He was engaged in hand-to-hand spiritual combat with the enemy (see Matt. 4). He was ready and prepared when the enemy came to challenge Him, and He wants to make us ready for when the enemy will inevitably come to challenge us as well. We cannot choose whether or not we will be in a battle. That choice was made when we were born, and again when we were born again. The choice we have to make is whether or not we will participate in the victory Christ has already won.
Before we dive into the different weapons God has ready and waiting for us, we need a revival of situational awareness. Self-defense guru Jeff Cooper lays out what I am talking about in his book Principles of Personal Defense. This former firearms instructor and Marine makes such a strong case for situational awareness that his teachings are still used in many military colleges today. He contests that when going into battle, it is not your weapon or your combat skills that will ultimately save you—it is your situational awareness. If you are unaware, you are unprepared. Technically speaking, situational awareness is the use of your senses to identify threats around you and to predict them in the future. Tourists in big cities can become easily recognizable targets to criminals because they are so enamored with their environment that they are unaware of their surroundings. Something as simple as having all your attention on your cell phone as you walk down the street can make you a target.
The enemy looks for those who are unaware. Warfare awareness is what is needed today in the church. Your success in warfare prayer hinges on this kind of vigilance. It can change everything!
Imagine for a moment that you are going about your day and performing tasks that require very little thought. Whether it is walking into the grocery store or going to get your mail, these things can be done while sipping on a latte and scrolling through your phone (and they often are). So much of what we do in our natural and spiritual lives are like these tasks. From getting ready for church on Sunday to praying over our meals, very little energy is expended in performing these duties. Let’s take one scenario as an example of how warfare awareness can change everything.
Imagine you are going to pick up something at the grocery store. Simple enough? Now, envision that there have been six armed robberies in that very parking lot in the last week. This would certainly change the way you picture yourself going about this rudimentary task. You would no longer stroll casually through the parking lot. Your awareness would be heightened, your head would be on a swivel, and you might even have your car keys protruding through your tightly clenched fist, just in case! If you knew that armed thugs were frequenting your favorite grocery store parking lot, you could do one of several things:
• Arm yourself
• Take reinforcements with you
• Avoid high-risk scenarios (such as going after dark, not noticing your surroundings)
• Avoid the place entirely In the midst of conflict, your attention to detail is elevated while every step is calculated.
This is warfare awareness, and every Christian needs a heaping double dose of it. This will change how we approach prayer. And when we understand the true nature of the conflict, it will alter how we prepare for church, how we give our offerings, and even how we pray over our food. We’re in a battle, and the sooner we realize that fact, the sooner we’ll find God’s grace to fight it—and win! I’ve heard it said, and it bears repeating, that before the church can have a great awakening it needs a rude awakening.
What is it that we need to be awakened to?
We need to become aware that we are already in a battle. Jesus revealed that it was only “while men slept” that the enemy could come in and sow tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:25). An unaware church is an unarmed church. Are you aware that you have a spiritual foe who is endeavoring to thwart everything you attempt for the Kingdom? What does or should warfare awareness look like in your life? Paul said to the church at Ephesus that after his departure “grievous wolves” would arise from among them (the leaders at Ephesus) and would not spare the flock (Acts 20:29). Obviously, someone was not paying attention. The New Testament is constantly warning us to watch and to be sober (see 1 Pet. 5:8).
Attention to detail can mean the difference between success and failure, between victory and disaster. Are you ready to be ARMED for victory?
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