John 4 ~ A Battle to Fight – The Strategy
What is the battle?The battle is for souls. How many will go God’s way and how many the devil’s way?There is even a battle for your soul – oh you might think you’re safe but how safe are you? And what about doing all that God has planned for you. Well this morning we are entering the battle.
The equipment for the battle is alreally there, in the spiritual, unseen realm. We don’t see it, but the angels and our enemies do. Start by simply praying through the passage in Ephesians as if suiting up for the arena:
“Therefore put on the fulI armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”
‘Lord, I put on the belt of truth. I choose a lifestyle of honesty and integrity. Show me the truths I so desperately need today. Expose the lies I’m not even aware that I’m believing.’
“With the breastplate of righteousness in place…”
‘And yes, Lord, I wear your righteousness today against all condemnation and corruption. Fit me with your holiness and purity – defend me from all assaults against my heart.’
“And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace…”
‘I do choose to live for the gospel at any moment. Show me where the larger story is unfolding and keep me from being so lax that I think the most important thing today is the soap operas of this world.’
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming anows of the evil one…”
‘Jesus, I lift against every lie and every assault the confidence that you are good, and that you have good in store for me. Nothing is coming today that can overcome me because you are with me.’
“Take the helmet of salvation…”
‘Thank you, Lord, for my salvation. I receive it in a new and fresh way from you and I declare that nothing can separate me now from the love of Christ and the place I shall ever have in your kingdom.’
“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”
‘Holy Spirit, show me specifically today the truths of the Word of God that I will need to counter the assaults and the snares of the enemy. Bring them to mind throughout the day.’
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Finally, Holy Spirit I agree to walk in step with you in everything – in all prayer as my spirit communes with you throughout the day. (Ephesians 6:13-18)
There is a scene in a film called ‘The Mask of Zorro’ when the old master swordsman saves his young apprentice – who at that moment has had too much to drink – from rushing upon his enemy. “You would have fought bravely, he says, “and died quickly.” This what we have to remember – get dressed in the armour and be ready for the fight but don’t rush in. Be aware of who or what you are dealing with.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18). He tells us this before he gives us the Great Commission, the command to advance his kingdom. We’ve never made the connection. The reason is, if you are going to serve the True King you’re going to need his authority. We dare not take on any angel, let alone a fallen one, in our own strength. That is why Christ extends his authority to us, “and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (Col. 2:10). Rebuke the Enemy in your own name and he laughs, command him in the name of Christ and he flees.
One more thing: Don’t even think about going into battle alone. Yes, there are times a when you must face the battle alone, in the wee hours of the morn, and fight with all he’s got. But don’t make that a lifestyle of isolation. This may be our weakest point, because principally that is how society teaches us. Be an individual, take up your own rights!!!
These verse teach us so many things but I am going to look at just a very few. My overall stance is going to be mission and I am principally going to be talking to us as warriors – we all need to be warriors. For me at heart I want to be a hero and it is to this that I appeal. I am sure you will all find points that you can understand and pick up on but there will be times when I will talk to the warriors out there and maybe, there are no warriors. Shall we see?!
For me, I am an out and out warrior. I would love to be St George defeating the dragon or Maximus in the film the Gladiator crying out, “My name is Maximus and I stand before you ready to fight…” We are in a battle that is why we put on spiritual armour! And so… to the battle we go.
The lady at the well was technically Jesus worst nightmare… A woman, a samaritan, an adulterous person and not really very popular in town! But Jesus doesn’t have nightmares!
Will you fight for her? That’s the question Jesus asks us. Are we on the fence, are we wanting to be the nice guy and be like society wants us to be or are we going to be like a warrior.
A Person to Rescue
Jesus chooses to be the warrior. He steps out between her and the forces of darkness that had been coming against her. He asks only a simple question but look at the reaction. “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.”
All hell broke loose. Was Jesus prepared to fight for her. Are you willing to take up the challenge and began to truly fight for her? You see the woman’s reply is a direct challenge to Jesus’ authority. Can you really do this?Are you sure you should be talking to me?What will society think? What will your friends think?Your wife, your family, etc…
And it’s not just once, but again, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with…” Some people are willing to go in once, twice, even three times. But a warrior is in this for good. Oswald Chambers asks, “God spilt the life of his Son that the world might be saved, are we prepared to spill out our lives?”
The question is simply this: What kind of person do you want to be? Maximus? Or maybe William Wallace? Or Judah? A young pilot in the RAF wrote just before he went down in 1940, “The universe is so vast and so ageless that the life of one man can only be justified by the measure of his sacrifice.”
Life is not a problem to be solved, it is an adventure to be lived! That’s the nature of it and has been since the beginning when God set the dangerous stage for this high-stakes drama and called the whole wild enterprise good. He rigged the world in such a way that it only works when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives, which is to say, only when we live by faith. A person just won’t be happy until they have got adventure in their work, in their love and in their spiritual life.
Are We asking the Right Question
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
And that is what Jesus was doing that day he was talkiing to the woman at the well. What makes me come alive – his answer is easy to know – doing the will of my Father. And so he asks the question, “Will you give me a drink?”
An Adventure to Live
You see are you living a script written for you by someone else. Up to now have you been asking the world to tell you what to do with yourself. What do you want – freedom from responsibility and especially freedom from risk? Do you really want someone else to tell you who to be. Can a world of posers tell you to do anything but pose yourself? As Buechner says, we are in constant danger of being not actors in the drama of our lives but reactors, “to go where the world takes us, to drift with whatever current happens to be running the strongest.” Do you want to find a life worth living?
Well it is there at the well. What questions are we going to ask?Of ourselves, of the world… Of Samaritan women caught in a tangled web and with little or now way out unless Jesus touches them. How will they meet Jesus?Only if we’re prepared to ask the right questions.
Ok so at the moment you have your career plan before you, a house, a family, or maybe you don’t… Is that all you want in life?Ask yourself where is the risk in that?Where are the women at the well in my life?
I know a guy, he had been offered a job in computing, one that in 1989 would have paid him £24k and then some. He was at the forefront of computer technology. Imagine the life that lay before him – But this guy is a warrior. He wants to risk and so he does. He quits and for the next twelve years lives almost on starvation money. He is in and out of debt, sometimes he lives only on handouts and at times he can afford a car. He can’t afford to buy a house and so he moves a lot. The cost over the years has been immense emotionally, physically, spiritually… but going the computer route would have meant a loss of his soul. Over the years he has seen so many young men become Christians – hundreds – he has been involved in the lives of young men who would be dead now if not for his intervention and now with the respect of quite a few people, he could rest on his laurels become an itinerant speaker but no… He is a warrior and so what will he do?This man I speak of is me and I am not prepared to allow any more women at the wells to be abused by the devil, no more men to be trapped by society. I am a warrior. I have a vision to build a retreat centre – I don’t know where and I don’t know how – I’ve got no money. I don’t know what it will look like – I just know that I already have several people to care for – a young man who has been so badly treated he jumps at his own shadow, a homeless guy called Kev, someone I call friend. Prostitutes that want out… The list goes on. I will fight for the lives of these people. Are you willing to join me?Count the cost because it will be immense. Every day I start to enter the battle for these souls it hurts – it hurts my marriage, my sleep, my very soul, but I have Jesus on my side! I am absolutely uncertain about the future. But I do know I don’t want my soul to die.
You can carry on the way you’re living your life right now – it is not a sin (unless of course your life is not right before God) or you can come and conquer the world. But I plead with you don’t let the tentacles of this world bleed the life out of you – fight for your soul.
What are you Waiting for?
Do you want to find out God’s will for your life. Go to the mountains for the weekend to sort things out. Life makes more sense standing alone by a lake at high elevation. Or maybe go and sit on your own in a field – I don’t know. Take time out. No time, then make time… This could be the most important time of your life.
Two roads diverged in a wood and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Where would we be today if Abraham had carefully weighed the pros and cons of God’s invitation and decided that he’d rather hang on to his medical benefits, three weeks paid leave and retirement plan in Ur. What would have happened if Moses had listened to his mother’s advice to “never play with matches” and lived a careful, cautious life steering clear of all burning bushes? You wouldn’t have the gospel if Paul had concluded that the life of a Pharisee, while not everything a man dreams for; was at least predictable and certainly more stable than following a voice he heard on the Damascus road. After all, people hear voices all the time and who really knows whether it’s God or just one’s imagination. Where would we be if Jesus was not fierce and wild and romantic to the core? Come to think of it, we wouldn’t be at all if God hadn’t taken that enormous risk of us in the first place.
Most people spend the energy of their lives trying to eliminate risk, or squeezing it down to a more manageable size. Their children hear “no” far more than they hear “yes”; their employees feel chained up. If it works, if a person succeeds in securing their life against all risk, they’ll wind up in a cocoon of self-protection and wonder all the while why they are suffocating. If it doesn’t work, he curses God and redoubles his efforts and his blood pressure.
Our false self wants to have power over experience, to control all events and consequences. But you literally sacrifice your soul and your true power when you insist on controlling things, like the guy Jesus talked about who thought he finally pulled it all off, built himself some really nice barns and died the same night. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 NKJV). You can lose your soul, by the way, long before you die.
Too many people forsake their dreams because they aren’t willing to risk, or fear they aren’t up to the challenge, or are never told that those desires deep in their heart are good. But when they do lose those dreams I believe they die. Jesus when he says to the woman at the well, “Give me a drink”. Yes he was challenging all of societies perception and value systems but he was also following the desires of his heart. Placed on his heart by God. Psalm 37 v 4
We’re not made to control, we’re made for adventure. Something in us remembers, however faintly, that when God set man on the earth he gave us an incredible mission – a charter to explore, build, conquer; and care for all creation. It was a blank page waiting to be written, a clean canvas waiting to be painted. God has never revoked that charter. It’s still there, waiting for us to seize it.
If you had permission to do what you really want to do, what would you do? Don’t ask how, that will cut your desire off at the knees. How is never the right question, how is a faithless question. It means “unless I can see my way clearly I won’t believe it, won’t venture forth.” When the angel told Zechariah that his ancient wife would bear him a son named John, Zechariah asked how and was struck dumb for it. How is God’s department! He is asking you what is written in your heart? What makes you come alive? If you could do what you’ve always wanted to do, what would it be?
“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness… Legalism is helpless in bringing this about, it only gets in the way” (Gal. 5:16, 23 The Message).
Your life will become an adventure when you let go of the how and just go for it. Today, if you see the woman sat at the well, will you go and ask for some water?Are you willing to live the adventure?
There are no formulas with God. Period. So there are no formulas for the man who follows him. God is a Person, not a doctrine. He operates not like a system – not even a theological system – but with all the originality of a truly free and alive person. Take Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. The Israelites are staged to make their first military strike into the promised land and there’s a lot hanging on this moment – the morale of the troops, their confidence in Joshua, not to mention their reputation that will precede them to every other enemy that awaits. This is their D-Day, so to speak, and word is going to get around. How does God get the whole thing off to a good start? He has them march around the city blowing trumpets for a week; on the seventh day he has them do it seven times and then give a big holler. It works marvelously, of course. And you know what? It never happens again. Israel never uses that tactic again.
There’s Gideon and his army reduced from thirty-two thousand to three-hundred. What’s their plan of attack? Torches and water pots. It also works splendidly and it also never happens again. You recall Jesus healing the blind, he never does it the same way twice.
I hope you’re getting the idea because the church has really been taken in by the world on this one. The Modem Era hated mystery, we desperately wanted a means of controlling our own lives. We take the latest marketing methods, the newest business management fad, and we apply it to the church.
So Oswald Chambers warns us, “Never make a principle out of your experience, let God be as original with other people as he is with you.”
Indiana Jones, has found the Ark of the Covenant but lost it to the German army. He is desperate – it looks like all is lost but Indiana is not finished, oh no, the game has just begun. He says to his friends:
Jones: Get back to Cairo. Get us some transport to England… boat, plane, anything. Meet me at Omars. Be ready for me. I’m going after that truck
Jones: I don’t know… I’m making this up as I go.
So are we ready to fight the good fight – are we ready to let go of control and just, “Make it up as we go along.”Please I invite you to join me on a roller coaster – I don’t know where we’re going – I don’t know where we will end up.
But let’s look at the woman at the well one last time.
‘Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.’
Excellent – I want to save the whole of Lostwithiel and Fowey school and the list goes on….
The battle will be intense, it will be a steep ascent that will take everything you’ve got. The stakes you will be playing at will be immense – financially, that will definately be a course, but even more so spiritually and relationally. It will require a concentration of body, soul, and spirit that you willl have never before endured. But it will be an adventure.
If you want to come on the adventure with me stand and start it together – I can’t promise anything other than the cost but it will be fun and I believe you will die a warrior.