“Overcoming the Opposition”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. The obstacles and problems of life sometimes seem overwhelming. They weigh heavily upon us and we struggle to overcome. My guess is, we can all relate to that because we all face giant problems every day. In fact, some problems are so overwhelming we look for ways to hide from them, but we can't. They know where we are. They find us and they continually bring about more pain and more misery. And so what is the solution? Well, we probably already know it. The solution is to put our faith in God and in His protection and care. In today's lesson on “Key to the Kingdom”, we will consider the very best way to overcome the opposition we face. We will give some thought to dealing with and defeating the problems, the demons, and the giants, that try to destroy our lives. And, we will remind ourselves that God loves us more than we will ever know and we can always put our faith in Him. I hope you will join us for this lesson and give some thought to how you can rely on the power and strength that comes from God.
Have you ever been afraid? Oh, I'm not talking about hearing something in the middle of the night and not knowing for sure what is, but I mean really afraid; afraid someone is out to get you, afraid someone is about to take away your life and you don't know what to do. Or perhaps, you are afraid of those haunting voices inside of your head that are telling you lies like you are worthless, you are no good, and you will never amount to anything. That causes some real fear, doesn't it? Those are real life experiences that cause us to be afraid, and many people live every day of their life afraid, or in fear of something or someone. At times we may all have some kind of fear, thinking about someone or something that is about to take away or destroy our life. And the problem is, we know something is out there that is big and scary and we know that whatever it is, we can't run away from it. Try as we might to hide from such scary things we know we just can’t do it. We don't know how to get away from those giants and at times they may even make us think that we have no options and there is no way to escape. In Genesis 6:4, we read about the Nephilim, or the giants who lived on the earth soon after the flood. They were mighty men, or men of valor, fighting men. They were giants. And if I lived on the earth back then I would be just a little bit more than afraid that they might seek me out and take away my life. And those giants still exist today, but in different forms. They are those big people that intimidate us. They are those scary things that cause us to live in fear. We know them by name and they certainly know us. It seems they never leave us alone and they will never go away. Here are some giants with which we might be familiar: discouragement and worry, loneliness and anger, jealousy and resentment. Yes, those are some big giants that we have to deal with and to face on a daily basis. And then they may turn into even bigger giants that affect our walk with God or maybe even damage our relationships with other people. And those concerns are ever present, they never go away and they always are lurking nearby. Why is that? Well, it's not because of something we have or have not done, but rather it is because of Satan. And this is what I want us to understand, today. I want us to understand that Satan is in the business of scaring people. He is in the business of putting doubts into our minds and causing feelings of intimidation. Satan is in the business of drawing us away from God and taking us down. And he wants to do nothing but take control of our heart, soul, mind, and body, and everything about us, so that there is no room for God in our lives. Yes, Satan wants to put so much fear into our lives that there is no room for faith in our hearts; and he does a pretty good job of doing that. Yes, when dealing with the giants of this world we would do well to remember that Satan is alive and well. And as the apostle Peter writes, in 1st Peter 5:8; Satan is like a roaring lion, roaming the earth, seeking someone to devour and to destroy, and to control. Now realizing that and becoming very weary of running away from these very intimidating giants we ask the question, where do we go for help? Who can stand by our side? Who can fight the giants and the enemy of Satan in our lives? How can we feel safe enough to crawl out from under the bed and face life once again? I encourage you to watch closely this short video clip from our website, keytothekingdom.com.
What are some things you fear in this world? Oh, I could mention several: economic situation, fuel prices continuing to rise, some people may even fear the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. Oh yes, there are many things that cause fear, and anxiety, and worry in our lives. But, did you know that God does not want us to live in a spirit and atmosphere of fear? In fact we read, in 2nd Timothy 1:7, that God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but rather a spirit of power, and love, and self-control. And yet, often times, that spirit of fear overtakes the Holy Spirit's work within us. And we live in that spirit of fear and we are anxious about so many things in this world. But I want you to remember that Jesus has conquered this world. He has overcome the fear and the problems that this world presents, and so there is no reason to live in fear but rather to live in that spirit of power, and love, and self-control. And perhaps that is one reason why Peter wrote what he did in 1st Peter 5:7 – Cast all of your anxieties upon Him because He cares for you. – I want you to know today that God really does care about you. He cares about the situations in your life and the fears that might present themselves to us. But yet, when we cast those fears and anxieties upon Him, He takes them away from us and we can live with joy, and excitement, and that spirit of power, and love, and self-control. Yes, I would encourage you to not allow the things that cause fear in the hearts of so many people to be a part of your life, and to remember that when there is fear in your life there is no room for faith in your heart. I would encourage you, today, to put your faith in God. Put your faith in His power to overcome all of the scary things, and all of the scary people, that we find in this world, and to live the life of power, of love and self-control.
The last thing God wants us to do is to live in fear. He doesn't want us to be scared or afraid of anything in this world. But rather He wants us to live in complete faith and trust in Him. There are some words, from an Old Testament prophet named Isaiah, that remind me of the security we find in the Lord. Isaiah records God's words to the Israelites who are living in Babylonian captivity. Now, these people are His children but they are being punished because of their unfaithfulness to God. However, the time of their release is coming and the time is drawing near when they will go back home and start life all over again. And yet as they live in captivity, and as they go home, they will continue to face opposition. They will continue to face the foreign nations and armies that do not like them and that oppose God. And so, as they prepare to move on with their life they need some reassurance that God is with them and that God will deliver them in the midst of their scary days. Listen to what Isaiah writes to them in Isaiah chapter 43 beginning with verse 1. – Family of Jacob, the Lord created you. People of Israel, He formed you. He says, “Do not be afraid. I will set you free. I will send for you by name for you belong to Me. You will pass through deep waters but I will be with you. You will pass through the rivers but their waters will not sweep over you. You will walk through fire but you will not be burned. The flames will not harm you.” – Isaiah lets the people know they are special and important to God. And we find a description of God's power, here in verse 1. Isaiah reminds them; God created you, and He formed you, and He redeemed you (or He set you free). In other words, Isaiah tells the people God knew you before you knew yourself. He brought you into this world. He knows every intricate detail about your life and He will take care of you. These words remind people that they came into existence as a result of God and now their daily survival is totally dependent upon Him. And as long as their hope is in God then they have nothing to fear. He claims them as His own. He calls them by name. He knows them as His children. There is a personal relationship between God and these people. Now between the time these words are spoken and the time they go back to their land, they will face more problems and concerns. The giants are constantly present and they will continually seek to scare them, and to put fear into their lives. In spite of it all, however, the Lord promises to be with them. He wants them to stand firm against whatever adversary they encounter, and to remember that He is God and He will take care of them. Now, it's interesting to notice that the magnitude of such trials will come in the form of 2 things: deep waters, and devastating fires. And those are some really big giants, aren't they? I live in a place where often times we don't receive much rainfall, we don't receive much moisture, and as a result of that the fields and the pastures become very dry. And the winds sometimes blow at a high velocity, and even a little spark will start a fire out there in the field. And with the wind blowing at high velocity, very quickly that fire will spread, not only across the pasture but it will burn up the pasture, and the fences, and the livestock, and it won't stop there. But that devastating fire will continue to destroy people's properties, and cars, and homes, and sometimes even take away their life. Oh, the devastating wildfire no doubt leaves some damage. And then others may be familiar with the deep waters that Isaiah refers to, those hurricanes, or floods, or tsunamis. The waves of water that over lap their boundaries. And we know what happens with that as well. The water begins to destroy people's property and damage all kinds of cities, and communities, and sweep away cars, and homes, and again, even claim the lives of some. Yes, the devastating fires and the big deep roaring waves of water leave a great deal of damage and sometimes it takes months, or even years, to clean up all of the mess and all of damage that is left behind. And in some cases no repair is even made. And so Isaiah reminds the people, you may experience some of those things: the powerful waves and the devastating fires. But as you do, I want you to remember that God is still with you. And even though they experience 4 different things, God gives 4 promises. Did you notice that? Let me look at it again, here in verse 2. Isaiah writes, you will pass through the deep waters, but the promise is, I will be with you. Number 2, you will pass through the rivers but their waters will not sweep over you, there's the 2nd promise. And then thirdly, you will walk through the fire but you will not be burned, there's the promise. And the flames, but the flames will not harm you. Isaiah reminds the people that no matter what kind of problem, or giant, or devastating thing you experience, God's presence is there and He will always protect you. Do you remember what happened to Jesus immediately after He was baptized? He went into the wilderness where He spent some 40 days and 40 nights fasting, and praying, and preparing for His ministry upon the earth. And afterward, when Jesus came out, He was hungry. He wanted something to eat. And He met Satan, and Satan tempted Jesus 3 times in 3 different ways to follow him, instead of following His Father in heaven. And how a Jesus respond? He responded by going to the Word of God. He responded to Satan by quoting Scripture and relying upon the power of God's Word and God's presence in His life. And He defeated Satan, and Satan went away for a period of time. Satan realized that he could not tempt Jesus. He could not scared Jesus or draw Him away from God. Oh, no matter who we are, no matter where we live, we will always face some trials and obstacles; some things that we have to overcome in life. No matter what we do there will always be problems to solve and giants to slay. And the tests, and the trials, and the temptations of life are simply inevitable. There is no way for any of us to escape from them. But I want us to remember something very important, and that is Satan brings the temptation, not God. Satan is alive and well in this world, as we mentioned just a moment ago, and Satan's great desire is to scare you, to make you live your life in fear and to walk with him instead of walking with God. As Satan has a desire for us, so does God, and the apostle Paul perhaps presents that best, in 2nd Corinthians chapter 1. I want us to look at verses 8 through 10, here in 2nd Corinthians, and notice what Paul did when he faced the giants in his life. We begin reading with verse 8. – We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us. – The apostle Paul experienced all kinds of problems and adversity in his ministry in the province of Asia. He felt as if he had received the sentence of death. He did not know what to do. The opposition was pressing down hard upon him. He knew that Satan was trying to get control of him and of his ministry. But what did that teach Paul? It taught him not to rely on himself, on his own resources or abilities, but it taught him to rely upon God. Likewise today, when we walk in obedience to God we will meet some giants. If it happened to Jesus, if it happened to the apostle Paul, then no doubt it will happen to us as well. And every day we have to make the decision to walk with God, no matter what the opposition does to us. As we seek to overcome the opposition we rely not on our own strength and power but we rely upon the power of God, the One who raises the dead. And we allow God to slay those giants, and to defeat those enemies, and to put out those false lies and voices that we here in our heads. We put our trust and faith in Him knowing that He will bring a solution. Do you remember the story of the 12 spies who went into the Promised Land? 10 of them came back with a negative report and only 2 brought a positive report. God sent them in there to spy out the land, and we find the negative report of the 10 recorded for us in Numbers chapter 13:32-33. Here it is. – And so they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who came from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” – The land of Canaan was a good land, it was the Promised Land. It was the land that God was bringing His people into, to conquer, and to live, and to enjoy. He had all kinds of wonderful things in store for the people there in the Promised Land, and these 12 spies went into the land to look it over. They brought back some produce. They saw the springs, and the water, and the river. They saw all of the wonderful things that were in store for them. But the problem was, 10 of the spies focused on the people and not the land. God knew there were people there, and God was going to take care of those people. He would defeat those giants in their behalf. God simply wanted the people to see the wonderful blessings He had in store for them. And likewise today, we too have a promised land. Don't we? And it might be different for all of us. Our promise land might be our goals for the future, our ideas of walking with God, or perhaps the pursuit of spiritual maturity. But whatever our promised land might be, whatever the goal, or that home might look like for each one of us, we realize that it's occupied by giants. And there are some obstacles in the way of us living in the promised land and enjoying the good life that God has in store for us. And it might be very tempting to focus on the giants in our promised land, instead of focusing on the good life that God wants us to enjoy. We might even allow things like insecurity, and insignificance, or bitterness and apathy, or a host of other things to stand in our way of taking hold of and possessing a better life, a promised land. And if we're not careful then those giants and those obstacles will become more important to us, and they will blind us to what God has in store. And so with that in mind we have a number of questions that are presented. What are we focused on? Are we focused on the giants of this world? Are we focused on the opposition that stands in our way of arriving, and dwelling, and living with great prosperity in our promised land? Oh, we need to keep in mind that God is bigger than any giant we will ever face. And therefore, we do what Paul did. We depend upon Him and not ourselves. We depend upon God to drive out those giants and those scary things that keep us from living prosperous, and successful, and good lives in the sight of God. We know without a doubt that God will deliver us from the deep waters and the devastating fires. He will bring us out of all of that as He delivers us from the giants. And why? Because He knows us by name. He has a personal relationship with us. He cares for us. He wants the very best and so He will stand in the gap and He will slay those giants, so that we don't have to worry and we don't have to live our lives in fear. Yes, when we are willing to trust God and to walk with God even during the most difficult of times, we need to remember; God will defeat our giants, whatever and whoever they might be. His love will always support us. His love will never run out on us. He will strengthen us to the task that lies ahead. He will restore and rebuild us to who we need to be, and who we want to be, in His sight. Oh, let us be well aware of the fact that Satan is alive and well and he is the opposition. He is the giant that continually tries to draw us away from God. Let us also be reminded of the fact that God fights our battles for us and we rely upon Him to defeat and to overcome the opposition of this world. I would encourage you, today, to remember that: To walk with God, not relying on your own self, your own abilities or talents, but to rely upon a powerful God who knows you by name.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson. Hopefully this message from God's Word inspired you to rely on God to overcome the giants in your life. If we can assist you by offering a free Bible study, or other teaching material, we will be happy to do so. On our website you will find some devotional thoughts, short inspirational messages, along with other lessons. All of these are free and require no commitment or obligation of any kind. While you are on the website I hope you will send me an e-mail letting me know how and when you received this message. And also, remember “Key to the Kingdom” is now available as a free app for your Android or Apple iPhone. It takes just a minute to download and it will give you quick access to all the things I have just mentioned. Whatever giants may be haunting your life, know that God is more than able to rescue you from the water and from the fire. He loves you and wants to bless you in a special way. Thanks again for being with us today and join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”