And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do — I Chronicles 12:32
One of the wisest and noblest goals you can have in life is to help yourself, your family, and others to become ‘future-ready.’ Teachers, financial planners, pastors, and parents all have a role to play in this.
The resources are out there but sadly many are simply not ready; indeed, they are in danger of ‘sleepwalking into the future.’ The risk of falling into the ditch becomes all the greater. With so many challenges in our world today, being ‘future-ready’ becomes a necessity, not a luxury, in order to survive and succeed in the days ahead.
So far, we have learned two pillars to understanding the future. Number One is to understand that Bible prophecy is the key. If there is anything to has been given by God to help us be future-ready, this it it. Bible prophecy is God’s early warning service. Number Two tells us to understand that we live in a spiritual world and the enemy, challenges, and solution are equally spiritual. Therefore, investing in your spiritual life becomes the highest priority of all.
The third pillar to understanding the future is this: We have power of the enemy. Yet, before we exercise such power, we need to know who the enemy is.
Many of us would like to think that we are nice people with no enemies at all. That may be the case, some of the time. Yet the truth is we all have an enemy: in fact, it is the same enemy. This enemy is powerful, vicious, menacing formidable, and deadly. The enemy continues to cause much damage throughout the world. Jesus describes this enemy in John 10:10: He steals, kills, and destroys. Who is this enemy? Revelation 12:9 calls him by four things: 1) The Great Dragon; 2) The Old Serpent; 3) Satan and; 4) Devil.
Ephesians 6:12 describes the nature of the opposition very well.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Two very important points need to be made here. Your real enemies are not people. People are made in the image of God and even the most despicable and vile among them are still people for whom Christ died to save. So quit treating people like an enemy, even if they seem to be and oppose the things you endorse.
Second, we have no choice but to engage in the real enemy - the spiritual one. Fortunately, thanks to the victory of Jesus Christ over Satan and demon powers, we can share in His victory, too. When you understand the power and victory Christ gives, you never need to be defeated and frightened again.
Tools in the Toolbox:
1. Mighty weapons: Just as military superpowers have the latest and most advanced weaponry, so the Church of Christ has been well-equipped to engage and defeat the forces of darkness. II Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
This passage is telling us that our spiritual weaponry is even more powerful than military hardware. Furthermore, we learn that it defeats the enemy ‘in the mind,’ ‘casting down imaginations’ and bringing ‘every thought to the obedience of Christ.’
A soldier was captured by enemy troops and kept as a prisoner of war for six years. Though he looked thin, anaemic and phlegmatic - a physical pushover - the soldier actually endured and survived captivity. The reason: he had a tough, sound mind. With the weapons God gives, we can also prevail For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind — II Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
You have been given spiritual weapons - therefore use them. However, what are they?
2. The whole armour of God: Ephesians is a remarkable epistle. It tells us of our rich, glorious, and heavenly inheritance in Christ. No rebukes, corrections, judgments, just celestial blessing. Then, at the very end of the epistle, almost like a postscript, the apostle Paul tells us to ‘put on the whole armour of God.’ At first, such advice seems out of place among the lofty principles espoused earlier. Yet, the ‘armour of God exhortation’ is logical and consistent: after all, since we are seated in heavenly places (2:6), remember that the spiritual activity is fuller and more concentration up there than it is down here.
Our spiritual weaponry includes (6:14-17):
1. Belt of truth around the waist;
2. Breastplate of righteousness over the chest;
3. Gospel of peace on the feet;
4. The shield of faith quenches the fiery darts of the wicked;
5. Helmet of salvation protects the mind;
6. Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (the only offensive weapon).
Christ’s two-fold exhortation to ‘watch’ and ‘pray’ (Matthew 26:41) is reiterated here in Ephesians 6:18. ‘Pray always’ with all kinds of prayers in the Spirit; and ‘watch’ with perseverance and supplication for all saints. Victory over the enemy entails watching and praying, especially ‘prayer in the Spirit’ (Jude 20).
3. Resist the devil: Like a weight trainer has to lift the heavy barbells in order to gain strength, so at some point we will have to face and defeat the enemy in order to stand strong. This may sound daunting but it is very simple: Christ defeated the enemy, so can you. Christ is with you always, so you have nothing to fear. The victory has been procured, therefore stand in it.
The Book of James is the ‘Proverbs of the New Testament,’ teaches us to be wise and also how to practically apply our faith. James gives us a simple blueprint for defeating Satan.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Note the simple progression:
A. Humility (4:6): God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. It will be by God’s grace you win the victory and it comes by humility. This Godly character quality does not mean you put yourself down; instead you merely acknowledge your need and desire for God. Proud people live independently from everything and everyone, including God. The humble do not.
B. Submit to God (4:7): When you submit to God, you are ‘in Him’ and He is ‘in you.’ Therefore, the upcoming conflict is a partnership with Almighty God, where He is the senior and you are the junior partner.
C. Resist the devil (4:7): Don’t fear, don’t negotiate, don’t submit - say ‘No’ and keep standing, no matter what. The most amazing thing happens. The big bad devil, rather than terrorise you with his evil, is instead ‘terrorised’ by your steadfastness. He doesn’t merely walk away; he flees!
Essentially, our victory over the evil one is procured through fervent prayer (Ephesians 6:18) and standing on God’s Word (6:17?).
Rather than being dispossessed and disenfranchised, ‘future-ready’ people are spiritually empowered and take control of their lives by exercising power of the (real) enemy. Put these Biblical principles into practice and you will no longer be on sinking sand but well established ‘on the rock’ (Matthew 7:24-25).