Why is it, after so many years of following Christ, I still fail at so many things?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? The answer might be here.
Please read the ten verses of Luke 14:25-34, and then the article
Jesus calls his followers to count the cost of building — the true cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Why?
In his talk, Jesus creates two mental images upon which he wants readers to focus;
1. Of a person building a tower
2. Of a king making war
These two examples were not just randomly selected by Christ, as we ourselves might do to support a story we’re telling. They were chosen specifically. Jesus calls his listeners to count both the cost of building the tower and going to war. These two examples are entirely different types of costings.
The tower is static — vigilant but defensive and protective in nature.
The war is dynamic — on the move, strategic, changing direction quickly.
1. Building a tower? This tower is actually a type of fort used for seeing the enemy afar off and defending if he attacks.
Strong’s concordance G4444. Outline of Biblical usage, “a tower; a fortified structure rising to a considerable height, to repel a hostile attack or to enable a watchman to see in every direction.”
This is about using wisdom in defence
a. looking in advance to see what attacks of the enemy are coming
c. with the intention of repelling the enemy and defending and protecting what is within our own walls — the precious things of Christ we have in our hearts.
2. A King making war? This is not just about war, but making war. It is the art of offence or attack, and encompasses making war on behalf of ourselves and others.
We go to war in the spirit, by either praying or physically helping those who can’t help themselves. We must prepare for this, thinking our prayer out before we enter into it.
I found it bizarre when, after church one night in Bendigo, we stopped at a cemetery on the way to somewhere else. My friend walked into the cemetery, oddly thinking that’s where the devil resided, and shouted, “I’M NOT AFRAID OF YOU, SATAN!!”
That is not the way to make war. It is a learner's attempt at courage and is how to get your head shot off.
In these ten verses, Jesus tells us that those who follow him will be engaged in a spiritual war, both offensively and defensively. So we need to get used to that idea and figure out how to do it well.
If our defensive tower is only partly built or poorly manned, what happens to what is inside? It will be overrun. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us on those very same lines, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”We are being instructed to defend it.
When we give our hearts to Christ, we don't realise it at the time, but we are inducted into the business of spiritual warfare. Satan couldn't care less about us before that because we are not a threat to him, but now it's different. The game changes.
This is the business of defence, and we are to act as a military leader. Before we got to sleep at night, we should be thinking through the next day's situations and activities we might encounter, as best we can forecast, like a military leader would over plans. We look at appointments, places we plan on visiting, personal alone-time, what t we read and watch on the media, and we prepare to remain in the spirit of peace, love and self-control throughout the day.
In life, you create patterns and habits, and Satan knows them. He waits to see when your sentry is off-duty (when your guard is down), when you haven't been looking at where you are walking through your day, then, just like a sniper he hits you from his hiding place, and you either get angry, depressed, rattled, or fall into greater sin. You weren’t ready. You were casual about your defence. You had no armour on because it looked like a nice day, and what could possibly go wrong. Your defence is vital.
Likewise, if we don’t sufficiently prepare for the making of war, where do we end up? In disarray.
Rushing into battle is a most foolish thing. No decent military commander does it. Although, many years ago, when American soldiers fought to repel the British from America, both sides simply lined up in rows and shot at each other. The losses were immense. It wasn’t until the Americans realised they’d lose if they didn’t modify their strategy, so they changed their battle plan to more guerrilla-like tactics and won. The British didn't know how to fight against them. The Americans prepared and planned, and then appear in all sorts of unexpected places, fighting hard in surprise attacks.
What has that to do with us?
Satan has taken a lot of ground by strategic guerrilla warfare. He uses the same system he has used for six thousand years and modifies it to accommodate our generation and the patterns and habits of people. We see it in our schools, law courts, and parliaments, as well as in our own local communities, and in ourselves.
Galatians 5:19-21 gives us an idea of his system. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Satan uses these in his attacks on groups, individuals and countries.
To counter that, we need to make war. We do that in fasting, prayer and conduct.
The conduct is Galatians 5:22-25 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control:… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Our best conduct in making war is to remain upright living in the spirit each day. Then, we go to war in prayer — on behalf of our nation, our church leaders, our friends, the sick, the poor, the defenceless, the spiritually bereft, the broken, and anyone else that need it. We need war-prayer, fighting Satan where he hides in the unseen realm, where his workings and war strategies remain undiscovered by most people.
We are not to be found just babbling out unplanned gibberish like a boxer thrashing his arms everywhere, but figuring out what we are praying for, what end result we need, and how we want the Lord to work. In essence, a battle prayer.
Taking back lost ground or defending what we have is part of our everyday work as followers of the living God. We have all experienced spiritual loss, so we know the battle is real.
King David was spiritually embattled much of his life. He knew then what we are going through now. In Psalm 144:1-2, he shows us the way to praise and thank God for our defence and offence. Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: My goodness (conduct), and my fortress (defence); my high tower (defence), and my deliverer (offence); my shield (offence), and he in whom I trust;
Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, many people have prayed on my behalf. They have gone in hard to pray for my problems and issues over the years. Please lead me into war prayer, and show me how to properly intercede on behalf of others and myself.
Photo by Neil Thomas