By Adam Burton | September 17, 2023
Well, have you ever felt like your family’s morning routine could be the next big sitcom? Picture this: you’ve got the Stampers, our everyday family, right down the street from you.
Molly, a high school teacher, is frantically searching around for her misplaced lesson plans. Keith, the father and IT guru, is on a conference call, trying to mute himself while also searching for the family dog. As for the kids, Jake and Mia, Jake’s attempting to convince Mia that his cereal is superior to hers. Meanwhile, Mia is on the hunt for that one shoe that always seems to vanish.
Let’s face it: amidst the morning chaos, lost shoes, and the occasional burnt toast, our families often feel like they’re in the middle of a sitcom episode. But sometimes, between the laughs and the eye rolls, there’s an underlying tension. It’s as if there’s an invisible tug of war happening, trying to pull apart the unity we cherish.
Now, think about Ms. Rodriguez, a single mom doing her best, or the Thompsons, the sweet grandparents now raising their grandkids. Their stories might differ from the Stampers, but that invisible tension? It’s present in their lives too.
Last Sunday, we dived deep into preparing for battle, understanding the spiritual battles we often overlook. Stay with me today, because as we journey further into this series, “Rise Above: Winning Spiritual Battles,” we’re focusing on where these battles hit the hardest: our families.
Whether it’s the classic family chaos like the Stampers, or the unique stories of families like Ms. Rodriguez and the Thompsons, they all share one thing: the challenge of staying united amidst unseen battles. But here’s the good news: Just as Jesus brings us into his family, offering redemption and unity, he’s also given us a blueprint. It’s a way for our families to stand strong, even when the toast burns and the shoes disappear.
So, are you ready? Let’s explore how we can shield our homes with faith and unity, ensuring that we rise above and emerge stronger together. Today’s message is titled “Family Under Fire.” On the back page of your bulletin, there’s an outline for you to take notes and follow along.
I. The Enemy’s Sneaky Tactics
Our first point this morning is the enemy’s sneaky tactics. The enemy’s sneaky tactics. Have you ever been engrossed in a suspense movie where the villain is so crafty that, for just a split second, you’re almost impressed? That’s reminiscent of what we see in Genesis chapter 3.
Set in the Garden of Eden, which I imagine as the ultimate paradise with white sandy beaches (though it’s even better than that), we’re introduced to the enemy’s master class in deception. The Bible describes it in Genesis chapter 3 verse 1: “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'”
Let’s break this down. The serpent didn’t just barge in with a dramatic villain monologue. Instead, he poses what seems like an innocent question. It’s akin to when you’re trying to stick to your New Year’s resolution, and a friend casually asks, “Did you really say no desserts for a month or just no to chocolate?” That’s the enemy for you: sly, understated, and always looking for a loophole.
In today’s world, enemy tactics might look different, but the essence remains. Instead of a serpent, it might be a trending social media challenge that seems harmless but goes against our values. Or perhaps it’s a popular TV show everyone’s watching, but something about it doesn’t sit right with you. The enemy loves to blur the lines, making us question what’s right and what’s not.
After Eve’s encounter with Mr. Sly Serpent, both she and Adam decide to taste test that forbidden fruit. Their harmonious duet suddenly goes off key. Adam, perhaps in the first recorded instance of shirking responsibility, points his finger at Eve, who then blames the serpent. It’s eerily similar to when something breaks at home, and everyone’s playing detective, but no one’s confessing. This blame game, while almost comical, demonstrates how unity can shatter in an instant.
But the story takes a turn. Even amidst the mess, God, in His infinite wisdom, doesn’t just mete out consequences. He also shows grace. He crafts garments for Adam and Eve, a gesture that says, “I’ve got you, even when you sin.” It beautifully foreshadows the ultimate covering we receive through Jesus.
For all the families out there, here’s a golden nugget: Even when we sin, even when we feel we’ve messed up royally, God’s grace is right there, ready to recover, restore, and redeem. You might wonder how this ancient story relates to families today. Every day, we face choices. Some seem trivial, like choosing a TV show, while others are weighty, like addressing a moral dilemma your child faces at school. In each choice, there’s often a subtle whisper, a nudge to compromise just a bit. Recognizing these whispers, these modern-day serpents, is our first line of defense.
As we navigate the maze of family life with its ups, downs, and winding paths, let’s equip ourselves. Let’s learn from Adam and Eve, understand the enemy’s tactics, and lean into God’s grace. At the end of the day, it’s not about perfection; it’s about direction. With God’s blueprint, we can ensure our family’s direction is always towards Him.
II. Invisible Invaders
Have you ever felt a pounding headache coming on after a stressful day? Some of you feel like a daily occurrence. Maybe you’ve noticed your shoulders just nodding up when you’re anxious or worried. Our bodies have a fascinating way of reacting to what’s going on in our minds and our spirits, don’t they?
Let’s dig in a little deeper into this connection between the physical and the spiritual. All throughout Scripture, we find stories of people whose physical ailments actually mirrored the spiritual battles they faced. Maybe you’re familiar with the story of the paralyzed man by the pool. He was there in John 5. He was the one who waited for 38 long years for healing. In some ways, that seems like an eternity. I’m sure he fought it. But then Jesus encountered him. And he saw beyond just a physical problem. He discerned a deeper spiritual need in this man’s life. An area of unrepentant sin that was cutting him off from God’s power. Look at what John 5, verse 14 says, But afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and told him, Now you are well, so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you. Scripture tells us that this man was healed at once. Isn’t that incredible? His physical healing flowed out of a spiritual restoration.
What about King Saul? When David was anointed king instead of him, Scripture says that an evil spirit tormented Saul. He even tried to spear David to the wall in a fit of rage. Anger and jealousy took over him. And it manifested in mental and physical ways. We see this pattern over and over and over. Physical problems often point out spiritual battles. Like the woman in the issue of blood, drained and exhausted from her condition. Or Bartimaeus, blind and begging at the roadside for 12 long years since birth. Respectively, their physical disabilities mirrored spiritual brokenness. But Jesus, oh Jesus, met them right where they were at. And he touched them. But not just physically. He touched both their body and soul.
I mean even King David spoke about the connection between the physical and the spiritual in numerous Psalms. When he cries out in Psalm 38, My guilt overwhelms me. It is a burden too heavy to bear. Anybody ever felt like that before? David’s spiritual anguish took a physical toll as he felt deep in his bones. His sin left him drained and debilitated. And isn’t this just like us? When we harbor bitterness. When we refuse to forgive. When we allow guilt to just fester. It eats away at us. Not just spiritually, but mentally and physically as well. Our souls and our bodies are intertwined. And what impacts one, impacts the other. As Jesus says, we are to love God not just with spirit, but with all of our mind and our strength. With our mental and the physical.
But the good news is, that just as our physical ailments can point to spiritual issues, our spiritual breakthroughs can also unlock physical healing. Think of that woman who reached out to touch Jesus’ garment. Or the ten lepers that were cleansed. Or Lazarus, raised from the dead. As we walk in spiritual freedom, our bodies follow. So we may have eyes to see the deeper connections. To discern the root causes of our physical struggles. And through prayer, through wise counsel and repentance, we may address the spiritual layers that are beneath. But friends, wholeness in the body, mind and spirit is available through Christ our healer.
III. Suit Up
You know, when the storms of life raise against this church, when sickness, stress, and hardship threaten to uproot our faith, we need strong anchors to hold on to. Yes, we are instructed to put on the full armor of God. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and so on. But in this ongoing spiritual battle, what else equips us to stand firm?
First and foremost, prayer. And I’m not talking about a quick little phrase thrown up here and there. If we’re going to withstand the enemy’s assaults, we need deep, deep intimate prayer. The kind that pours out our hearts in honest dependence on our Father, trusting Him with our pain and our questions. And Jesus Himself modeled this discipline before every single major ministry moment. What did Jesus do? He withdrew to solitary places to seek the Father’s heart and wisdom in extended prayer. In Luke chapter 22, He urged His disciples. He said, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” So as we boldly approach God’s throne and present our request, oh, prayer, it’s like building a fortress around us for the battles ahead. It aligns our hearts with His purposes. It fills us with spiritual insight and it reminds us that we are not alone in this fight.
But in addition to personal prayer, great power lies in coming together as believers for corporate prayer. Like Jesus said, where two or three gathered in my name, there with them I am. We think of how the early church joined in prayer in Acts chapter 2, or the believers gathering to petition for Peter’s miraculous release from prison in Acts chapter 12. When we link arms as the body of Christ, to appeal to heaven, strongholds begin to shake and give way. Look at what James says in James 5 verse 16, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Another vital discipline is immersing ourselves in God’s word. And I know it seems like every Sunday I say this because every Sunday it is essentially true. Just as Jesus countered the devil’s lies by quoting scripture, biblical truth fortifies us against deception. Oh, when we drink deeply from scripture, it washes away the dust that the enemy would love to cloud our vision with. As one preacher put it, the word of God is the spirit uses to overcome evil. When wielded in faith, no adversary can stand.
We also must seek honest counsel from other believers who have walked with God because it provides a valuable perspective when we are under attack. The Proverbs say, in the multitude of counselors, there is safety. Fellow soldiers who have faced their own battles can often identify those spiritual dynamics at work beyond what we can individually see and discern on our own. And their support helps us to stand.
For me personally, worship, I tell you, as one, as I mentioned earlier, my dealings with narcolepsy is one of the byproducts and challenges of that is the challenge to read. And while I seek to faithfully sit down and read God’s word, hardly do I get through a page of any type of literature before my mind starts to drift off. It’s a challenge. It takes a lot more time than most. And sometimes to offset that, I will listen to audio books so that I can either physically walk or go and run. The same is true with prayer. You know, a lot of us, when you pray before you go to sleep, sometimes you fall asleep before you say amen to your prayer. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing just to kind of slumber into sleep focusing on praying to God. But any time where I sit still and I have to get quiet, it just, you know, that’s just the way it is. But for me, one way that I can help to overcome the challenge but also connect myself with God is through musical worship. That’s why I love to sing, love to play music. I’ve done it. I’ve gotten drowsy while singing. But it’s hard when you’re playing the guitar and singing lyrics to fall asleep. But oftentimes, the words that we sing are prayers to God or the truths of Scripture. Oh, I’ve only seen songs like, oh, the goodness of God. Oh, He is running after me. And no matter where we go, no matter what we face, He is with us.
Church, through prayer, both individual and corporate, God’s Word is written in our hearts. Through authentic Christian community, we fix our focus on the one who no enemy can overpower. When we are united to Christ, our spiritual armor in place, we withstand the onslaughts. Because the battle does not belong to us. No, the battle belongs to the Lord. And He has already claimed the ultimate victory. So suit up, church family. Put on the armor. Be strengthened for the fight that you know that you are not alone. For our commander stands ready to defend, ready to guide, ready to heal. And on days, and they will come, I promise you, I’ve felt them and I know you have. When the war seems endless, know this. Oh, cling to this, that with Jesus, you have everything that’s needed to triumph over evil. Because the enemy is defeated. We fight from a place of victory, not for it.
I ask if our musicians would come forward at this time.
You know, church family, our time together has reminded us that the battles that we face involve far more than just the physical realms that we see and that we touch. There is an ongoing spiritual war. And many of our struggles have roots far deeper than we realize. Take heart. In Jesus, we have divine power and protection to stand strong even when the enemy rages. For we do not wage this spiritual warfare alone.
And today, I want you to give you an opportunity to tap into the unshakable strength through a relationship with Christ. Maybe you feel completely overwhelmed and exhausted by the battles that you’re facing in your health, your emotions, at work, those relationships. And you try to pray. Oh, you do. But your answers just seem distant. Friend, let me assure you, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. For the same Savior who spoke peace into the storm longs to bring rest to the chaos that you feel inside and all around you.
Perhaps maybe this morning, you are just paralyzed by guilt, by shame, by regrets, doubts that keep you chained to the past. Oh, I’ve got good news. Jesus did not come to condemn, but to forgive, to restore. And He longs to heal your broken heart today. So whether you’re battling sickness, depression, addiction, anger, or even when it just feels like you’re worn thin by just going through the motions, Jesus understands your pain deeply. Because He endured every temptation and suffering to redeem us completely, our body, our mind, and our spirit. And though the enemy seeks to destroy, Jesus came to give abundant life.
So here’s what I invite you to do. Turn to Him. That’s all you have to do. Bring your weariness. Bring your burdens. Bring your battles to the foot of the cross. And ask Him to wash you clean and strengthen you where you are weak and to fill you with unconquerable life. Oh, may you open your heart fully to His transformative power today. And if you had never asked Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior, oh, choose to follow Him today. Admit your sin, your limitations, and surrender your life to His control, to His Lordship, and ask Him to forgive you of every sin, to save you, and to reign on the throne of your life. And if you already follow Christ, but have been trying to fight it alone, come back. Come back to your first love. Return to the One who gave all for you. For He is ready to lift the burdens, to reignite passion and to walk closely by your side again.
You can take this life-changing step right from where you’re seated today. Talk to God openly and honestly. Confess your need for Him. If you prefer to pray with someone, come forward. I’ll be standing down here at the front. It would be an honor and a privilege to celebrate this commitment with you. But do not wait another day if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you now. For He offers salvation and spiritual strength. It’s available to all who will receive it. And so if you sense Him calling, may you have the courage to respond. Oh, choose the fullness of life that He intends for you. For only in Christ can we stand strong against every assault of the enemy. So my friends, He is pursuing your heart this very moment. His divine power is at work among us. So say yes to Him today and experience that power unleashed in your life.
May God bless you, church family. May we continue to walk in the triumph with our conquering King. Would you pray with me? Lord, dear Heavenly Father, may You strengthen us, may You renew us. May You work in us to give us everything that we need to fight the enemy and to live for You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.