In the first century, Jewish Rabbis would instruct their students to find a place of seclusion under an olive vine or fig tree to study and pray. The first chapter of the Gospel of John tells us the story of a young man named Nathanael who was under a fig tree when he heard the voice of his friend Philip excitedly calling him to come meet a man named Jesus, who was the Messiah. Nathanael first resisted, but his life was about to be radically changed.
Joh 1:43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote– Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (NIV)
God is big! When I say big, I don’t mean by dimension or size, I mean the magnitude of His reach and presence.
The word magnitude is a word that’s used to describe the brightness of a star, or the power of an earthquake. The word tries to define the measure of His impact and the stretch of His grasp.
If we can get a glimpse of His magnitude all the problems and opposition of life will seem small in the cast of His shadow. That’s why the enemy fights so hard to try and keep us from seeing the magnitude of God. He uses the Satanic scheme of “distraction “that keeps us busy, entertained, or bound by lust, so that all we see is the seemingly overpowering size of our own problems.
Let me suggest that there are two places the magnitude of God can be seen, outside of us in God’s creation and Divine order, and inside of us in that place that Paul calls the inner man. (more…)
I think it’s safe to say that when the topic of spiritual warfare is discussed, Ephesians chapter six is a go- to passage that illustrates how God has equipped the believer to function in a world hostile to righteousness. I’ve heard many perspectives as to its meaning and application, but what I offer in this article has helped me to gain insight and understanding that has effectively increased my faith and helped me to refuse to cower to the threats of dark forces.
Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus to encourage and help them to see that even though they were under fire and faltering, they were more powerful and better equipped than they thought. The Apostle Paul is in prison in Rome awaiting trial and is chained to a Roman soldier. He was allowed the freedom to write a letter to his friends in Ephesus. As he searches for the words to help them , God inspires him to use a word picture. He looks at the solider chained to him and knows that those in Ephesus are well acquainted with the intimidating power of a Roman solider decked out in full gear and armor. So, he uses the pieces of armor to paint a picture of the believer hoping to change their perspective, to see themselves in a much different light. (more…)
The Apostle Paul saw himself as a Spiritual warrior. He recognized that he was locked in deadly combat with demonic forces who were doing everything possible to stop him from taking the Gospel of Christ to the world. He was a man of peace, but also a man of war, understanding that God had equipped him with powerful weapons to fight off demonic hordes and push forward with the Light of Christ setting captives free.
In 2 Corinthians, he writes about battling false teachers in the Corinthian church that were being used by Satan to try and steal grace from the believers by establishing a legalistic devotion to the Law.
2Co 10:3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (more…)
We can divide people into three simple groups, the lost, the looking, and the found.
The lost are those without God and content. They are mostly unaware of their condition and unfavorable standing before the creator of the universe. They move along the path of life not knowing that they are dangerously close to an eternity separated from God and all that is good. But one day it will be over, and all will be lost, most thoroughly and completely lost, as their souls slip from flesh into the darkness of a godless abyss.
Those in the next group, the “looking” group, have been stirred within their hearts to at least recognize that they have a need. A void of emptiness or even a nagging sense of sin that they feel will be called to account one day. It drives them to try and do good and even join some kind of a religion in order to do what they can to reach up towards God in hopes that they may earn some heavenly credit they can trade for entrance through the pearly gates. People in this category who are constantly seeking for ways to be good are often miserable because unlike the unaware state of those in the “lost” group, these are very aware that even with all their effort they are still falling short and always live with a sense of failure. (more…)