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Spiritual Battles Are Real

Over the past few months, I’ve become increasingly aware of the reality of the spiritual realm.  I’ve always believed that there is more to life than just the physical, tangible, temporal world, but I’ve functioned in many respects with a secular, rather than spiritual, worldview.

I’ve tended to recoil when people dive into conversations about spiritual warfare, demons, spiritual oppression, and spiritual attacks.  In my mind, I’ve often been judgmental of those who put too much stock in “the devil made me do it” and those who see demons hiding behind every rock.  When the devil or his legions are blamed for all marriage conflict, disobedient children, and church divisions, I skeptically respond with, “Well, could it be that you have some culpability as well?”

It’s easy for us to blame the devil every time something goes wrong.  And it’s easy to “demonize” those with whom we disagree.  I’m much quicker to conclude that someone else is being influenced by the dark side than to see any such devilish mischief reflected in my own attitudes and behaviors.

But not anymore. 

Over the past few months we have been bombarded with one of the worst global pandemics in history, and national division and unrest are paralleled, perhaps, only by the Civil War.  On a personal level, I’ve seen more attacks, confusion and chaos in ministry than in any other season of my life.  I’ve scratched my head on numerous occasions as of late and thought, Why is this an issue now?  Why is this person reacting this way now?  Why has this conflict emerged now? 

After five or six of such happenings, I’ve come to heed the Apostle Paul’s words that much more: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). 

This morning, Laura and I read the chapter titled, “The Supernatural,” in Mark Moore’s book, Core 52.  In it, Moore describes how there are multiple levels of demonic influence: Temptation, Oppression, Influence, and Possession.  He goes on to suggest three quick steps to minimize demonic influence: Scripture (reading or quoting aloud), worship music, and praying aloud in Jesus’ name. 

Herein lies the good news: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).  In fighting spiritual battles, we know who ultimately wins.  God is greater, Jesus is the Victor, and “He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

But this doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing.  Spiritual battles are real and must be fought with spiritual armor and our spiritual weapon—“the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). 

In C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, the demon-mentor, Screwtape, says to his protégé-nephew, Wormwood, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” 

Let’s make sure we’re keeping the right things in and the wrong things out.  “Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).  Whatever spiritual battles you may be facing right now, know that you are not alone.  You have the strength of God’s indwelling Spirit.  You have the church, Jesus’ followers who are with you.  And you have the angels of heaven by your side, those “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).  Fight we must.  Fight we will.  Let’s just make sure we’re fighting the right enemy.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).  As you read these words, I know this about you.  I know you have many hopes.  Many longings.  Many dreams.  Many aspirations. 

You hope you have a good marriage.  You hope that one day you get married.  You hope to have kids.  You hope your kids stay healthy.  You hope you keep your job.  You hope to find a job.  You hope to make it through college.  You hope you have enough money to retire.  You hope to find purpose in your retirement.  You hope to find happiness.  You hope to make it through another day.  You hope to get through the COVID-19 pandemic before you lose your mind.

But hope deferred makes the heart sick.  We know that to be true.  You and I have experienced it.  Some of you have hoped for your loved one to be healed, but they weren’t.  You are deferring that hope for heaven, but for now, your heart is sick.  You hoped for a happy marriage, but divorce came anyway.  You are deferring your hope in the unspoken pain of marital betrayal, and your heart is sick.  You hope for life to return to normal, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen any time soon . . . if ever.  Your deferred hope makes your heart sick.

So, here’s my question for you.  In what do you place your hope?  Is hope a roll of the dice, a gamble that maybe things will work out?  Yes, if you place your hope in the wrong thing.  If you place your ultimate hope on the economy, the government, your company, your spouse, your kids, or anything that can shift with the shadows, your hope is not deferred; it is decommissioned.  In truth, you are without hope.

If, however, you place your hope in something, yes, in Someone who is unmovable, unchanging, steadfast, secure, indomitable, and accessible, your hope may be deferred . . . for now.  But one day your hope will be realized. 

What did Jesus say?  “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).  Our hearts are sick in this world from deferred hope, but here’s the rest of Proverbs 13:12—"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  The tree of life is in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).  Not all longings are fulfilled in this life, but all longings that flow from hope in Jesus are fulfilled in the paradise of God.

This is why we need to “hold fast to the hope set before us.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:18b-19a, NIV).  This is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3b-4, ESV).

I encourage you this day—don’t . . . give . . . up . . . on . . . hope, at least not on the hope that, though deferred, will never disappoint.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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