12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future,for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” Daniel 10:12-14
Here is undeniable proof that the spiritual world exists and warfare is happening all around us. The question is, how are you engaging with it? Paul states in Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Let me quickly give you six ways to engage in spiritual warfare, based off of the armor of God listed in Ephesians 6:14-17:
1. Saturate yourself with truth (belt of truth). Are you filling your mind with truth or deception? Are you listening to music that tells you lies about relationships or money? Are you filling your mind with television programs that give you a false view of reality? Spiritual warfare starts with you saturating yourself with truth.
2. Live right (breastplate of righteousness). Spiritual warfare becomes a lot easier when you get your life right. Any habits, addictions or secrets need to be exposed and dealt with. Confess to someone. Ask for help. Get your life right, and you’ll find yourself protected from spiritual attacks.
3. Be sensitive to the Spirit (shoes of readiness). A soldier can fight better when he’s at the right place at the right time. If you’re sensitive to the Spirit, he’ll direct your feet. He’ll tell you where to go, when you’re under attack, and how to fight back.
4. Choose to actively believe God (shield of faith). When the enemy attacks he’s going to try to get you to doubt God, that He doesn’t care, that He isn’t strong enough to save you, that God isn’t fighting for you. It’s then that you need to make a conscious choice to trust in God. That active trust is a shield to you.
5. Daily surrender (helmet of salvation). Salvation is all about surrender. You can’t save yourself. To be saved by someone else you need to surrender yourselves to them. When you daily surrender, you’re crucifying the flesh and choosing to live under God’s authority by the power of His Spirit. That surrender is a helmet of salvation to you.
6. Wield the Word of God as a weapon (sword of the Spirit). Know Scripture. Memorize it. Meditate on it. When you’re attacked with lies, fight back with the truth of God’s Word. The truth of God’s Word is how you push back the enemy and cause him to flee.
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:1-4
It’s far too easy for us to ignore the great salvation given to us. How many hours go by without you thinking about God? How many days or weeks go by without you opening God’s Word? Here are four sure fire ways to make the most of your incredible salvation:
- Consume the Word. When you dig into Scripture, you’re engaging with God’s living revelation to you. It changes you. Every single day should start and end with God’s Word. (If you’re looking for a way to regularly interact with God’s Word, I Facebook Live a morning devotional every weekday at www.facebook.com/drjoshdaffern.
- Pray with thanksgiving, not just a Christmas list. So many times our prayers are a laundry list of what we want from God and how we want him to bless us. Before you start asking for anything, spend time thanking God for who he is what he’s already done for you. Start by thanking God for your great salvation.
- Worship regularly. I’m a worship junkie. I love Hillsong, Hillsong United, Elevation Worship, Vertical Church, Bethel Church, you get the picture. I listen to worship music constantly as a way to keep my mind focused on spiritual things. Find your worship jam and rock out throughout the day.
- Exercise your spiritual gifts. In verse 4, the author reminds us that spiritual gifts testify to this great salvation. Do you know yours? Do you exercise your gift regularly? Start by taking a spiritual gifts test at www.spiritualgiftstest.com and discover your spiritual gift. As you use it regularly, you’ll interact with the Spirit of God inside of you, the deposit that serves as a constant reminder of this great salvation.
Several years ago Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley preached a sermon series that has always stuck with me for its simplicity and practicality. Titled “Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith,” Stanley taught from his years of experience as a pastor, noting that when people told their story of faith and how God had grown their faith over the years, the things they shared all fell into one of five categories. Looking back over my own journey and talking with hundreds of others about their own, I see these same five things popping up all over the place. Here are the five things God uses to grow our faith:
Practical Teaching – When you sit under someone who explains the Bible in practical ways, your faith grows. It could be a Bible study leader, a Christian professor, or a pastor. But a good and gifted teacher can help the Word come alive practically in your life.
Private Disciplines – When you begin to practice the private disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, fasting, tithing, etc., your faith will begin to grow. As you trust God and develop strong habits, your faith strengthens.
Personal Ministry – When you begin to serve others, whether it’s working at a homeless shelter, leading a small group or working on the host team, you’ll see your faith grow as God meets you at your point of service.
Pivotal Circumstances – There are moments, forks in the road, valleys of decision. Moments when you have to choose whether to trust God or go your own way. When you choose to trust God in those pivotal circumstances, your faith in God will skyrocket.
Providential Relationships – There are relationships that come into your life that, looking back, you would say were providential. That guy at work, that lady down the street, that grandmother who showed you what it meant to follow Christ. God regularly uses providential relationships to help grow our faith.
QUESTION: How has God used these five things to help grow your faith?
If you’re a believer, then you give financially at some level (even if that level is nothing at all). As followers of Jesus, we’re continually called to take the next step in our faith, including in our level of giving. Below are the five levels of giving in a believer’s spiritual life. Which level are you, and what’s the next level God is calling you to go to in faith?
Taking – At this level you don’t give to God at all. You’ve never really invested in anything other than yourself. Every time you go to church, you’re taking. People are investing in you, in your children, providing them with programs, sending them to camp, but you’ve never contributed. You don’t give. You take.
Tipping – Tippers don’t really want to give to God but feel obliged whenever a preacher or a cause guilts them into doing something. When tippers see the offering plate coming down the aisle, they immediately begin to hear the theme music to the Jaws movie as they dig furiously into their purses or wallets, hoping to pull out a $1 bill but they’ll settle for a $5. Tippers usually spend more on lattes each week than they invest in the Kingdom of God, which is insulting when you think about it.
Trusting – This level happens when a believer begins to start giving to God on a regular and consistent basis. They begin to trust God. They set an amount and a time and they give to God because they’ve set their hearts on it. An incredible tool for this step is online automatic giving, which most churches have now. The amount may only be a small percentage of their income, but they’re trusting with that on a regular basis.
Threshold giving – Threshold giving is what happens when we trust God enough to give at a level where things start to happen. God asks us to trust him with a tithe (which literally means a tenth) of our income. When we tithe 10% of our income to the local church, we reach a threshold in giving where God begins to work in powerful ways. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)
Transformational giving – This level isn’t for everyone. God asks all believers to tithe, but he’s gifted some with the ability to give beyond that. Some believers have been given the ability to make money so that they can invest it exclusively in the Kingdom. For some believers, they’ve been tithing for decades and it doesn’t require faith anymore. God may be saying, “If I’ve blessed you this much when you trusted me with 10% of your income, how much more could I bless you if you trusted me with 12% or 13% or 14%?” Transformational givers can positively impact the Kingdom in transformational ways.
What’s your current level of giving? Are you willing to trust God and go to the next level?