[Course 18 Index] [Prayer-School Index] [Prayer Mini-Series Index ] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]
We have been looking at the armor of God, how to put it on and why there are times when things seem to "get through" that armor, times where that armor does not seem to protect us from enemy attack. We have been exploring when the armor doesn't seem to be holding up, and we have been doing that by asking a series of questions.
Another question we ask is: Does it mean that God is mad at me and is trying to get back at me for something that I did? In other words, does God carry a grudge? Think about it. Does God carry a grudge? Do you do something that upsets Him and then later He says, "I am just waiting for the perfect time to whoop up on you. Something you did to me a couple years ago just really hacked me off and I just can't wait to take it out on you."
No, God doesn't carry a grudge. Some people may think He does, but God doesn't carry a grudge. It says in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So God does forgive us, He does let it go.
It says in Psalm 103:12, "He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west." That is a long way. God has removed our sin from us that far. God is not one to carry a grudge. However, there is a principle that we do need to give attention to and that is the principle of the harvest -- the principle of reaping and sowing.
Galatians 6:7, 8
Do not be fooled: You cannot cheat God. People harvest only what they plant. If they plant to satisfy their sinful selves, their sinful selves will bring them ruin. But if they plant to please the Spirit, they will receive eternal life from the Spirit.
So there are some consequences. If I have been planting and sowing to the flesh, I am going to reap some things to the flesh. And sometimes those things that you reap may feel like an attack. It may feel like an arrow coming in. It may not necessarily be an arrow, it may be a consequence that hasn't quite caught up to you yet. You know that when you plant corn, it takes some time for it to grow and to harvest it, right? It is not immediate. So whenever you have a harvest, you harvest what you sow, you harvest more than you sow and you harvest later than you sow. That is the law of the harvest. And sometimes when things come back at us, we have to ask ourselves this question. Not only am I out of the will of God, is this simply just the consequence of something I have done?
Now the good news is that the Lord will keep a lot of the consequences away just because He is so good. He is a God of grace. But He doesn't keep them all away. That's right, you are still going to have to face a few consequences. I think God does that to keep us honest, to make sure that we don't want to sow anymore to the flesh.
Another question we ask is: Does this mean God is punishing me for my sin? This is kind of like the previous question. I would say that God is not about doing things just because He likes to punish us. But God does correct us. God does discipline us. He chastens us.
And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, His children? He said, My child don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves. And He punishes those He accepts as His children. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn't discipline you, as He does all Of his children, it means that you are illegitimate. And are not really his children after all.
Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever. For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always right and good. Good for us because it means that we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, it is painful. But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
One of the ways that the Lord will correct us is by lifting the armor. So when the armor does not seem to be working, I need to ask myself, is God disciplining me here? Is He chastising me? If you belong to the Lord, you will be disciplined. It will happen to you. Now this scripture says that if it doesn't happen to you, then maybe you don't belong to God. But if you do belong to Him, you can count on it. God the Father sees everything. He will discipline us. But He does so for our good, and He does so to bring us into holiness and into right living. He corrects us out of love. Sometimes an arrow slipping through is simply an act of God's love.
The last question we would ask is: Does it mean that my faith is weak? I am declaring this shield of faith, but yet something seems to be slipping through here. Is it because I have weak faith? Well, it probably means that your faith might be weak, but how do you think God is going to strengthen your faith? With a good squirt of Armorall on the front of your shield? No. He is going to let you go through some things to test you and refine you and strengthen you.
1 Peter 1:7
That the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
My faith -- tested by fire. That verse doesn't appeal to me. I like the fact that my faith will be like gold and precious and stuff like that. I don't like that testing part. Can I get the refining there without the testing? If I could take that course, I would. But it doesn't come any other way. In fact, God is going to use the things slipping through the armor from time to time to strengthen our faith and to test our faith.
It says in James 1:2-4: "Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything."
By the way, sometimes when trouble comes, that means something might have gotten through the defenses. Now would you please circle the word "when." What does "when" mean to you? It doesn't mean "if." So when our faith is tested, endurance has a chance to grow. God does that so we will be mature. God wants to grow us up. So, trouble will come our way. This shouldn't be a surprise to us. 1 Peter 4:12 puts it this way: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for you testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you."
Don't be surprised, it will come. It is one of those inevitable things. When it happens, get God's perspective on it. That is what we are trying to do. We are saying, "God I want to know what this is. Something slips through my armor and I need to know. Now is it because I am not putting it on correctly? Am I not walking this thing out? Am I not standing firm in this? Am I not being strong in this? Why in the world is this thing coming through? Maybe God, I am out of your will. God am I out of your will? Show me, God. Reveal this to me. What is your will?"
Maybe nothing is coming to you. Maybe nothing is speaking to your spirit that says you are out of the will of God. So you are wondering what does this mean? Is God correcting me? Is God disciplining me? Or maybe He is just strengthening my faith? Sometimes after you have gone through the checklist here, is it this? Is it this? Is it this? But nothing seems to fit. Your heart is not condemning you and your heart is not judging you. You simply know that you are doing the will of God, you are staying in here. You are doing what you believe to be the will of God. You are staying strong with God and all of a sudden it still comes. Maybe it is one of those refining moments, where God is strengthening your faith. Because that is the only way it is going to come.