Summary: God has promised us that we can win the spiritual war against our enemy. We can win because God is greater and more powerful, and because Satan is a defeated foe.
A. One day down at the Veteran’s hospital, a trio of old timers ran out of tales of their own heroic exploits and started bragging about their ancestors.
1. One old timer said, “My great grandfather, at age 13, was a drummer boy at Shiloh.”
2. “Mine,” boasted another, “went down with Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.”
3. “I’m the only soldier in my family,” confessed vet number three, “but if my great grandfather was living today he’d be the most famous man in the world.”
4. “What did he do?” the other vets asked.
5. The old timer answered, “Nothing much, but he would be 165 years old!” (That would be something!)
B. Some war veterans have many wartime tales to tell, but others, like my great uncle Hank, who survived the Battle of the Bulge, would not speak of his war experiences.
1. Make no mistake of it, war is war, it is no picnic.
C. Max Lucado opens his chapter on today’s promise with a surprising story from history.
1. The thought of picnickers wanting to have a picnic is not surprising or unusual.
2. But the picnickers that quiet and sunny Sunday afternoon in July of 1861, who thought that a picnic in the countryside would be nice, were in for an unwelcomed surprise.
3. And so, on July 21, 1861, many Washingtonians rode horses and buggies to Manassas for a picnic and to witness their Union soldiers bring an end to what they thought was a small rebellion.
4. They arrived at the battlefield, spread their blankets, thinking they would eat and cheer from a distance, like people in our day do at a baseball stadium.
5. One soldier described them as a “throng of sightseers…They came in all manner of ways, some in stylish carriages…others in buggies, on horseback and even on foot…It was Sunday and everybody seemed to have taken a general holiday.”
6. A reporter from the London Times observed, “The spectators were all excited, and a lady with an opera glass…was quite beside herself at the sound of an unusually heavy discharge, saying, ‘That is splendid, Oh my! Is not that first rate?’ ”
7. It wasn’t long before reality rushed in as a real war broke out and with the sound of gunfire, the sight of blood, and the screams of wounded soldiers, the spectators realized this was no picnic.
8. Mothers grabbed their children, and husbands called for their wives, and everyone ran for their wagons and jumped onto their horses.
9. Tragically, some of the spectators were caught in a stampede of retreating Union troops.
10. One spectator, a congressman from New York, was caught by Confederate soldiers and was kept as prisoner for nearly six months.
D. You might think that that was the last time onlookers took picnic baskets to a battlefield, but it wasn’t.
1. Sadly, countless people today don’t realize there is a spiritual war raging around us and in us.
2. Such people do today what the Washingtonians did then, they make preparations as if they are going to a picnic, but then they find themselves in the midst of a war.
3. The apostle Paul describes the spiritual battle with words that are familiar to most of us, and especially familiar to those of us who are participating in our Wednesday class on Spiritual Warfare taught by Alan Perkins.
4. Paul writes: 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
5. That is a power-packed section, filled with truth and guidance for the battle.
6. In our Wednesday night class, we are spending 13 weeks unpacking and applying God’s commands and provisions to enable us to stand in battle and experience victory.