Summary: This sermon deals initmately with the spriritual warfare that affects the growing church.
A War, A Warning, A Plan, & A Promise
Fallujah, Najaf, Baghdad, Ticrit, - these names that a year or more ago you probably would not have recognized now are blazoned on our memories. Each day we hear these names as bombs explode, grenades are thrown, and men and women are injured and die in the service of our Nation and our World in Iraq. These battles form the headlines that define this moment in world history. These battles capture the bulk of the nightly news, the print media, and even the internet. But the truth is that another war is raging in the world around us ¡V it doesn¡¦t get much publicity ¡V in fact most people deny it¡¦s existence ¡V but it is the most deadly and costly war of all. It¡¦s the ultimate fight between good and evil, between light and darkness, between right and wrong, and it¡¦s being fought every day over the souls of men.
On one side we have God ¡V the creator of all things ¡V pure, holy, just, and awesome. On the other we have the Devil ¡V corrupt, unholy, unjust, and unyielding. At stake is the eternal destiny of every man woman and child born into the world. This battle is being fought all over the world in places like India, Hungary, China, Nepal, Burundi and Kenya, Peru and Brazil, Mexico and Canada. It¡¦s being fought in the United states in every city, town, villiage, and borough, yes and it¡¦s being fought in Hughesville. It¡¦s with news of the battle in Hughesville that I want to begin today.
There is good news ¡V let me share just a little bit with you about some victories we have seen in our fight this year.
„« In January of 2004 almost every person in this congregation stood to make a commitment to doing more for the kingdom in 2004 than they had done in 2003. Those commitments to get into the battle have paid off.
„« In the first 4 months of this year we have seen 43 people make first time commitments to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. And we are just getting started ¡V we have only begun to scratch the surface of our outreach plans for the year.
„« We are seeing Spiritual growth in almost every sector of our church family. Our attendance is up, we are exceeding our budget need to do ministry, we are reaching new families almost every week with hope, help, and friendship. We have more people in active ministry than ever before ¡V taking on new ministries, and bolstering existing opportunities.
„« We are partnering in unprecedented ways with other Congregations to reach our community. We had almost 300 young people at our first club night, we had an average of 50 children each night for kids connection. On June 19th we are having a block party on our back lawn ¡V partnering with Hughesville Baptist and Picture Rocks Baptist churches we will fill the back lawn with music, comedy, evangelism, and fun to help engage our community for Christ. Our homecoming weekend is coming up and it promises to be the most exciting thing to hit Hughesville in a century.
„« New ministries are popping up around us ¡V the Day School, New Member discipleship studies, small groups, visitation and helping hands,
„« In a time when most churches are giving up on Sunday Evening as a viable ministry time ¡V we are averaging 45+ in our contemporary worship service.
„« In an era when church attendance is in decline ¡V we are celebrating 100yrs of life growth and vibrant ministry to this community.
„« Winds of refreshment, renewal, and even revival are blowing in the hearts and minds of our congregation and it¡¦s leadership.
Friends we are winning battles left and right ¡V we are taking ground from the enemy ¡V and we are seeing the blessing of God in the midst of it all.
A Warning ¡V Each day the enemy struggles to regain the ground that he has lost. With each victory comes the renewed and invigorated assault of the enemy. I and others around me have already begun to sense the counterstroke as the enemy tries to breach the walls and gain a foothold. I Peter 5:8 reminds us to ¡§Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.¡¨ The enemy¡¦s greatest weapons are personal weapons. He preys on our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our pride, and even our personal preferences. Anger, bitterness, fear, frustration, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy are the devils tools ¡V apathy, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and selfishness the fuel that feeds the fire. The warning I bring you today is similar to a warning given by Paul to the early church ¡§be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.¡¨ I give you a warning not because of what has happened but because of what is inevitable ¡V we have only met with the first skirmishers of the enmies army but we are soon coming against the main host. I say this not so that you are fearful but so that you are ready ¡V every inch of ground is worth the taking.