#942. Spiritual storms (21/11/23)
This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we are reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:46-49 where we learn that we are to build our lives on the rock of Jesus’ teaching if we are to withstand the various storms that we will face. Today, I want to think about spiritual storms that assail us.
‘“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”’ (Luke 6:46-49)
Lesson: A major storm that we face is demonic in origin and we must learn to expect, discern, persevere in, and overcome demonic assaults.
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Jesus has promised that we will experience various kinds of storms and it's so important, therefore, that we are prepared before they hit us. I like this saying:
‘When it’s raining, it’s too late to fix the roof but when it’s sunny, you don’t need to!’ (Jim Rohn)
The storms of which this passage speaks are many and varied. One very important type of storm that we need to recognise is spiritual ‘storms’ or demonic attacks. The devil and his hordes are always at work but we will experience particular seasons when his attacks are more vicious in our lives, our church or our nation.
We see this in the temptation of Jesus at the beginning of His ministry in Luke chapter 4; at the end of forty days of temptation in which He uses the Word of God to protect Himself (as should we) we read:
‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.’ (Luke 4:13)
Paul wrote of these seasons of heightened spiritual attack:
‘Therefore put on the full 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.’ (Ephesians 6:13)
The ‘day of evil’ is a moment when we recognise that we are under particular spiritual assault. The ESV Study Bible notes:
‘Paul identifies this whole age as “evil days,” yet the outbreak of the Satanic onslaught against Christ’s people ebbs and flows throughout this era until the final day when the Lord of Hosts will return in power and great glory.’
Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones preached a series of sermons on Ephesians 6 which became the basis for his book The Christian Warfare. He says:
“It is my belief, as I have tried to show in my expositions of the apostle’s warnings, that the modern world, and especially history of the present century (the 20th when writing) can only be understood in terms of the unusual activity of the devil and the principalities and powers of darkness. Indeed I suggest that a belief in a personal devil and demon activities is the touchstone by which one can most easily test any profession of Christian faith today. I make no apology therefore, for having considered the matter in such detail. It is essential for successful living of the Christian life, and for peace and happiness and joy of the individual Christian, and also for the prosperity of the church in general. In a world of collapsing institutions, moral chaos, and increasing violence, never was it more important to trace the hand of the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience and then not only learn to wrestle with him and his forces, but also how to overcome them by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. If we cannot discern the chief cause of our ills, how can we hope to cure them.”
John, in the book of Revelation, speaks of Satan and His followers’ expulsion from heaven and how they are now actively at work in this world:
‘The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.’ (Revelation 12:9)
Our great foe leads the whole world astray (deceives) in many ways:
i. False teaching and the undermining of Biblical truth.
ii. Temptation to sexual sin and other sins which bring destruction in church and society.
iii. He assaults the mind with accusations directed at God and accusations of oneself.
iv. He assaults the mind in order to amplify and exacerbate divisions in the church and society.
These spiritual storms will test the quality of our building. If our churches and lives fall apart because of demonic attack it reveals that we have not listened and obeyed Jesus about this danger. James writes:
‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ (James 4:7)
A major storm that we face is demonic in origin and we must learn to expect, discern, persevere in, and overcome such assaults. Following on from what we read of the ‘great dragon’ in Revelation 12:9, it continues to show us how to have victory and remain standing in these storms:
‘They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.’ (Revelation 12:11)
Our victory over the devil is through our faith in what the death (blood) of Christ has achieved and our preparedness to confess it openly. The great foundation - the rock - on which we build is what Jesus teaches, and central to this is what the cross achieves for us.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. Worship together
Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.
4. Study and pray together
This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we will be reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:46-49 where Jesus is finishing off this section often called ‘The Sermon on the Plain’. As He finishes, He ends with a parable in order to illustrate the vital place of building our lives on the good foundation of His teaching.
Please read Luke 6:46-49
On Sunday we saw that we are to be those who build on the rock of Jesus’ teaching; what aspects of Jesus’ teaching come to mind for you?
Our ‘icebreaker’ in our Community Groups is often: ‘How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?’ This is designed as a simple way of encouraging one another to read and do what’s in the Bible. When, where and how do you make time to devote yourself to the Bible?
What are the various ‘storms’ that assault and test the quality of our faith?
On Sunday, Phil shared a very painful storm that he had been through; Do you have any experiences that you would like to share of how you’ve persevered through storms and what truths did you stand on?
SIV - How will the way that we deal with the storms of life be a testimony to those in our lives?
SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ this week?
SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.
Does anyone want prayer out of what we have reflected on together or for anything else?