I don't know how you all feel these days about the state of Britain spiritually, but from the view of someone on the outside looking in things seem very dark and getting darker.
In Korea I don't get to see much or be involved in many things concerning the UK but what I do do without fail, is watch Question Time every Friday morning, and when I listen to some of the debates, some of the points of view of both the audience and the politicians and commentators who are on the panel it really rips a hole in my stomach.
Christianity is mocked and Christians are ridiculed and condemned, while other religions are not just tolerated but encouraged to be accepted. There was a whole debate recently about homosexuality, concerning the case of those Christian B&B owners refusing a gay couple to sleep in the same room and the government making it compulsory to teach about homosexuality in schools as being an acceptable alternative, and the reaction of both the panel and the audience was unbelievable!
Not only was the Christian's stance on homosexuality as a sin ridiculed but they also began to mock anyone who believed in Creation over evolution!
Even one member of the audience stood up and said 'I am a Christian, a deacon [or something] in my local church and we believe that homosexuality is fine! If 2 people love each other then God is happy with that!'
Then you look at the news and see the rise of crime, especially knife crime amongst youths and it paints a bleak picture.
Drug use seems rampant and with the rising unemployment, that seems only to be getting worse.
Then you have the behaviour of the politicians and the expenses scandal and the lack of honest people leading the country is frightening, but the worse thing about it is, if we were in the same position as them, and encouraged to abuse the expense account then I'm sure many would!
And finally, just looking at the Church and the lack of numbers and the amount of churches closing paints a very dark picture!
Hearing some of the church leaders of this country describing the atonement as 'cosmic child abuse' and unnecessary for salvation is beyond terrible!
I'm not one of those people to see judgement in everything as some do but I must say, seeing the Bible colleges in Wales closing or in difficulty makes me sit back and think. I must say, seeing the Bible College of Wales, 'God's college' as it was labelled when it was opened, close and the testimony that place had of the provision of God throughout the years seemingly gone really hurts inside and makes me think the future of this country is not looking good.
Yet, God always has a remnant, He always has His people! Remember Elijah 'I am the only prophet left!' But God said to him, 'No I have _____ who have not bowed the knee to Baal' and even Obadiah who met Elijah on the road to see the king was a godly man who hid 100 of God's prophets in caves when jezebel was killing them off.
And as this passage says 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'.
Yes, things maybe looking bleak, we may be in the midst of darkness, but while there is light still shining, while there is still a church, while there are still men and women who love and seek God, while we are still here, the darkness will not overcome!
There is hope for this town, this country, this nation, as dark as it may be but it's not going to be easy! No, it's going to be a war!! And that's what I want us to look at this morning, spiritual battles.
And what I want to talk about this morning doesn't just apply to the 'Big Things' the 'Big Problems' but rather to every battle we will ever face in our walk with Jesus! Whether it is a battle for the country or a personal battle against temptation or whatever else we face on a daily basis that hinders our growth, what I want to speak about this morning applies to it all!
Now, there is 1 thing we all must know, that we all must understand and be aware of. When we come to Jesus, when we call on His holy Name for forgiveness and salvation, we enter a war! And what's more we go straight to the front line!
Now this is something we must know, we must understand and we must be ready for it each and every day!
The 2nd thing we need to know is this: the war we're in, the battles we fight are not flesh on flesh or country against country. There'll be no landmines planted in your path, no sniper waiting to take you out, no planes dropping bombs to worry about.
No, this battle is fought in heavenly places, it's fought in the spiritual realm and it's a war against the rules of this age, it's against the devil and his demons! Let me give you an example of that. Do you know the story of Job?
Here is a man who had all hell thrown at him in an attempt to turn him away from God. Yet it all began in heaven! It all began in the spiritual realm! It all began with a challenge! The point is, that is where the battle is fought! Not here! This is where it is played out, but it is fought in the heavenlies!
You see this more clearly through the book of Esther, which has been described as a 'chess game between God and the devil'
So they're the 1st 2 things we need to know and understand. When you give your life to Christ you're enlisting in an army, you are joining a war! And that's not a nice place to be, it's not an easy place! War is not fun! You must be ready for that!
3rd thing we need to know is this; the war has already been won! Victory has been won! All those things which were against us were defeated at the cross of Christ! Sin, that thing that separates us from God, was defeated at the cross! Death was defeated at the cross! To those born of God are promised resurrection into eternal life! Satan's power over us were destroyed! We have been delivered from his hands, set free from his bondage! The victory is won!
But, but the battles still rage! Satan knows he's been defeated and is just waiting for the day appointed for him and his demons to be cast into the pit of hell, and until that day he is on the prowl! He is on the hunt, looking to take as many of God's creation with him!
For those who don't know God he seeks to keep blinded. For those who are born of God he will attack and test and temp trying to destroy us, trying to rip us out of the hand of God, trying to take us to hell! Don't be deceived, the devil WILL come against you and he'll come with great fury!
And that's the thing! We're in a constant battle! And we need to be always on the lookout for the works of the devil! We need to be aware of it! Each day you wake you need to know that for every second your eyes are open you are but a heartbeat away from another skirmish, from another battle!
Maybe you're fighting one right now, or maybe you're going through a time of peace, a time of rest, you must be alert, you must be aware that the next shot maybe a heartbeat away!
That's why Paul tells us to 'put on the full armour of God' so that we are ready, always ready to stand our ground and fight!
So I hope we all know now that the Christian is in a battle and he must be constantly on alert for the attacks of the devil. But the best bit is this: for every battle we face, and it's best to take it one at a time, for every battle we face, no matter how big or how small or how difficult, we have the victory in Christ!
As long as we are aware of the enemy, as long as we are aware of the battle and are not caught off guard we should triumph in every battle! 2 Corinthians 2: 11 says we should not be outwitted by the devil because 'We are not unaware of his schemes' When we know he is coming and we know how he is coming we should always have the victory!
So now I've told you that you are in a battle, or should I say if you choose to commit to God 100%, 100% of the time you will be in the midst of the battle, let me tell you how to win those battles.
Vs. 18 says 'And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.' And that's it. Prayer! The victory is won through prayer!
Let's look at some of the pieces of armour we're told to wear: the 'helmet of salvation... the shield of faith... and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God' these are all things that we need for prayer!
If I am not saved, if I am not born again, if I am not a child of God than God is not going to hear my prayers! But with salvation comes a way into the presence of God!
Then you have faith! With faith we can move mountains! The prayers of faith are always answered! Hey, if I don't have faith then I'm not going to pray! But if I have faith, if I believe that God can and will and does answer prayer then you can bet your life I will pray without ceasing!
And finally the Word of God! His promises! Aren't these the things we are to pray through? Isn't that a pattern we see throughout the Scriptures? Men praying through the promises God had made them? Read the prayer of Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1!
The battle is won through prayer! And that's it! It's not standing up and shouting 'I cast you out in the name of Jesus'; No it's getting down on your knees and praying! Jesus said 'These kind of demons are only driven out through prayer and fasting'
Prayer is the key to victory! And we must pray through until we get the victory! We must pray until we have that peace, that assurance from the Holy Spirit that the victory has been won! As the Bible says, we're to 'pray without ceasing'
Gideon is a good example of that. He prayed and he prayed until he was assured of the victory, and when he was he knew that nothing could stop him, even if his army was only 300 men!
In Luke 22:39-46 we read of the battle Jesus Himself went through, yet at the end of it he could say 'Not My will but Yours be done' and that night He went to His death without an argument or a fuss! The key to victory is prayer!
And what greater battle is there than the battle for a man's soul? What greater battle is there than that for the salvation of a man? 2 Cor 4:4 '... the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.'
After all, it isn't man who saves! I couldn't save myself let alone anyone else! No, it is God who saves! 'Salvation belongs to the Lord...', 'No man comes to the Father unless the Holy Spirit draws him.'
Yes we have been given a part to play, we've been commissioned to share '...the Gospel of God which is the power of God for salvation...' but what goes along with that is prayer! There is the account in the book of Rees Howells where the Lord tells him to pray for the salvation of 1 man, a homeless guy, and he does. I can't remember how long he prayed for him now but it was around 3 years until the time come when he went to him, shared the Gospel and without anything else the guy was saved!
Why? Because it is a battle! Every soul out there will be won and lost through prayer!
When we look at the state of the UK and we the direction we're heading, don't think of it as a hopeless situation, with its fate already sealed, but rather look at it as what it is, the centre of the battle! Yes there may be an abundance of darkness at the moment, but the light still shines and the darkness has not, cannot and will not ever overcome it!
And that's where we'll finish today, and that's all I want you to remember. 1 we are in a war and we'll face many battles in our life; 2 the key to victory, the way to overcome them is prayer. So be alert and be in prayer!