The Personal Side of Spiritual Warfare

There are times when we take a look at our lives we know that the circumstances in which we find ourselves are of our own making, and we really can’t complain too much about it.  There are other times when we take a close look at our lives and wonder what in the world is going on!  What did we do to deserve what is happening to us?  It is at these times that we may need to consider the realities of spiritual warfare, especially if you are involved in a ministry that is making a significant impact on lostness in the world, or the body life of a church.
As I was praying this morning I was overwhelmed with a sense of danger and dread.  These are not common feelings for me, so they got my attention.  As I examined the feelings and began to categorize all that is going on in my life, and what I know about the lives of those in relationship to me, I began to realize that there is a concerted spiritual attack underway.  As I analyzed the attack, I recognized many elements of the attack could be easily overlooked as life circumstances and not really spiritual in nature.  There is a significant increase in stress on all of us involved in ministry.  I see it not only in my family, but in the families of others who are engaged in ministry with me and around me.  We need to be aware of the source of the attacks and the stresses they cause, and we need to be praying for each other and supporting each as never before.
When we are under stress, we increase stress on others by the ways we respond, react, and engage.  The ones most directly affected are our families and those who work closely with us.  This causes a cycle of stress that can grow until relationships break.  Normally, we only have one or two of these cycles going at a time, but, just in the groups I relate to, I am seeing multiple cycles from multiple sources. 
Stress from health issues, home, family, work, friends, partners, business, finances, politics, church, ministry and more are all pressing in on me, and it is mostly not related.  But each added stress is put into a stress container that has fixed capacity.  This is true for all people.  Our capacity for stress may vary on an individual basis, but the capacity is fixed.  It will reach a limit, regardless of how small or great the capacity. 
When we reach our limit, we begin to act out our stress, and if stress continues to be placed on the system, it will break – we will break.  Symptoms of reaching our stress limit include getting angry about things that don’t and shouldn’t normally upset us, dreading doing something that we do not normally consider to be difficult, avoiding people we usually enjoy being with, and/or avoiding tasks that need to be taken care of.   
Emotional and spiritual breakdowns are the result of too much stress that has not been dealt with appropriately.  One of the plans of the evil one is to send so much at us from so many different directions at the same time that we cannot possibly deal with each situation with the care and time necessary.  This causes more stress on the system and leads to breakdowns in relationships, impaired spiritual health, shaky emotional health, and even poor physical health.
The only way to deal with these kinds of spiritual attacks is in a community of Believers who pray for and support one another.  Where one person will lose a battle, a community can win the same battle.  Where one can be defeated by this kind of spiritual attack, a real community will not fail because they support, care for, and look out for each other.  We must be aware of what is going on, and we need to be praying for each other, and cutting each other some slack in order to decrease the stress load we might be placing on each other, and help each other whenever possible.  Part of being community is about having each other’s backs, and not having to worry that an attack is going to come from someone we thought we could trust in our own community.
Following are some of the verses God brought to mind this morning as I was working though this process.  Perhaps some of these will be helpful to you.  They certainly were reminders to me about how to live in community and the tremendous need I have for community.  I am convicted that I do not live in community the way I should.  I will do better. 
The following verses were selected from a Bible Study I did a number of years ago, and was led to review this morning as I was struggling in prayer.  If you have some community related verses that are important to you, please share them with this community.
David Watson
Cape Town, South Africa
All the following passages are from the NIV.  The bolding was added by me.
They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.” Gen 42:21 NIV
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Exo 20:16 NIV
“‘Do not steal. “‘Do not lie. “‘Do not deceive one another. Lev 19:11 NIV
“‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. Lev 19:15 NIV
“‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Lev 19:17 NIV
“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Lev 19:18 NIV
If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Deut 15:7 NIV
You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. Oba 1:12 NIV
In your hearts do not think evil of each other. Zec 7:10 NIV
Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another? Mal 2:10 NIV
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.  Mat 5:23-24 NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  Mat 18:21 NIV 
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Mat 22:36-39 NIV
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:50 NIV
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Luke 17:3-4 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong–that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Ro 1:11-12 NIV
so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Ro 12:5 NIV
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Ro 12:10 NIV
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Ro12:16 NIV
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Ro 13:8 NIV
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. Ro 14:10 NIV
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Ro 14:13 NIV
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Ro 15:7 NIV
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1Cor 10:24 NIV
… there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1Cor 12:25-27 NIV
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Gal 5:13 NIV
If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Gal 5:15 NIV
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Gal 5:26 NIV
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  Gal 6:2 NIV
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Eph 4:2 NIV
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Eph 4:29 NIV
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Eph 4:32 NIV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Phil 2:3  NIV
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:4 NIV
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col 3:13 NIV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  Col 3:16 NIV
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thes 3:12 NIV
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.   1 Thes 5:11 NIV
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 1 Thes 5:15 NIV
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Heb 3:13 NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Heb 10:24 NIV
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb 10:25 NIV
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb 13:26 NIV
Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! James 5:9 NIV

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 NIV
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8 NIV

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