Daily Devotional for Thursday August 21, 2008

Serving the Lord is Not a Game

(Ephesians 6:11-17)

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor 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, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:11-17

Serving the Lord is not a game! A month ago, I began getting phone calls from people I know telling me that the lead evangelist in the Lakeland healing revival, Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries, had a "female problem." I was sad for Todd and his wife, but also sad for the people who would be hurt and their faith shaken if this ever came to light.

Just last Thursday in talking about the John Edwards adultery scandal, I shared about our "secret sins" and how what we do in the dark will be exposed by the light. Within the past week, reports have surfaced that Bentley and his wife are separated and that his ministry has removed him, offering him a time of healing and restoration.

Let me say that while I had a real problem with his Board allowing the unbiblical teachings and clearly unbiblical events to take place during Bentley's Lakeland meetings, I have to applaud them for taking such quick and decisive action when his failings came to light. It makes a joke of the work of God when people like Juanita Bynum and her husband Bishop Weeks divorce and they keep right on ministering like nothing happened.

The same was true with the recent high profile divorce of Randy and Paul White. They got divorced, yet never took one minute off to heal or get their lives in order. Even more shameful were the Christian TV networks that allowed her program to continue like nothing happened. I guess collecting those weekly airtime checks is more important than the integrity of the programming they air.

First, I ask that you pray for Todd and his wife and for the Lord to bring healing and restoration to their marriage and home. I see God's restoring power every day and know that He is no respecter of persons. Second, while what happened in Lakeland the first few days was clearly a move of God's Spirit, but quickly deteriorated into little more than a work of flesh, lots of hype, smoke and mirrors that had northing to do with Scripture. It caused lots of damage to many churches and individual lives over the weeks the meetings were being held. Bentley's personal failings now become the sad conclusion to that story.

The larger issue that I want to address today has to do with something I have witnessed in my nearly two decades of ministry, and that is how many people underestimate and are completely ignorant regarding the personal dangers that exist when you serve the Lord. This message today is not to scare people into not serving the Lord. As you know, rarely does a day go by that I don't challenge you TO serve the Lord. This message today is meant to prepare you and make you aware that when you answer God's call to service, no matter in what capacity you serve Him, you have now become a threat to satan who is going to come after you with all that he has.

As many of you know, my favorite movie of all time is the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz. If you remember that scene in Munchkin land after Dorothy ends up in Oz, she is being cheered by the Munchkins for killing the witch of the east and there is a big celebration going on. Then, all of a sudden, a cloud of smoke appears and there she is, the wicked witch of the west! She gets close to Dorothy with her ugly face and utters that now famous line, "I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too. Just try to stay out of my way."

Most people who serve the Lord are like Dorothy, young, naive, not even aware that there is a very real enemy who is out to get her. Like Dorothy, God's servants eventually are confronted by the enemy, and sadly most either don't take satan serious and are taken out or they simply run from the Lord service. Let me give you another good analogy. We see TV programs and movies where law enforcement are going after organized crime or gangs. They always have the big board with the pictures of all the mobsters or gang members. They are usually arranged by the chain of command with the big boss being at the top. When you make the choice to serve the Lord, your picture goes up on satan's board and you now become his target. You are now on satan's radar.

I'm sure many people are sitting there and asking themselves why would anyone want to serve the Lord and have satan after them. After all, life is difficult enough. Just getting through the day-to-day challenges of life is more than most can handle, and now on top of that, by virtue of serving the Lord, you have to deal with an enemy who wants to take you out? NO THANK YOU!!!

Don't forget that Jesus told us in John 10:10 that satan's goal was to kill, steal, and destroy. The reality is, satan is coming after you regardless if you serve the Lord or not. So why sit back, knowing that the enemy of your soul is going to come after you, and not fight back? All serving the Lord will do is make you a bigger target, but satan is after your soul and life whether you serve the Lord or not.

Listen to me my friend, the fact is if you are saved, have given your heart and life to Jesus by faith, the Bible says it is no longer your life. It says that you have been bought with a price and you belong to Christ. God created us to SERVE and glorify Him with our lives. God don't leave you defenseless! Go up and read today's anchor verses from Ephesians 6 about the armor of God. God knew that satan would come after you for serving Him and gave you all of the protection that you needed. The problem is, too many of God's servants don't put on their armor each day!!!

Herein lies the problem. People make the decision to serve the Lord, whether it be in their church, working in some capacity for a ministry, or in a million other ways. They eagerly begin to serve God, stepping on the battlefield without even realizing they are now a soldier of Christ and that there is a war going on. It is like a soldier who walks into the heat of battle with no protection and nothing to fight with and is very quickly taken out.

My message for you today is this. Understand that when you make the decision to serve the Lord, you are now entering into a battle that is very real. There is a very real enemy on the other side who wants to destroy you. This is NOT a game. Those who think it is, who are just playing, will quickly get eaten up and spit out. Satan will come after your finances, your marriage, your children, your health, and everything else in your life. He is deadly serious about crippling you and keeping you from being able to serve the Lord. This is also why if you are not serving the Lord with the intention of defeating satan, of winning, you are going to get defeated.

What football team goes into a game without the goal and desire of victory? The fact is God has given you all that you need to be victorious. He has given you the protection you need while you are fighting, will give you His strength during the battle, and because of what Jesus did on that cross 2,000 years ago, insured that you will be victorious. Now it is simply up to you to go out and execute HIS plan and kick the devil's rear end!!!

I love you and care about you so much. I can't even begin to tell you the level of warfare that I deal with every day. Most people could not even begin to comprehend it. After all of these years, I have gotten use to it, but even for me, there are times when it intensifies greater than I expected. As Paul told the church at Ephesus, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it is a spiritual battle!

Day after day I see the carcasses of good people who wanted to serve the Lord, but had no clue what they were getting into. I blame this mainly on leadership not properly preparing people and putting them on the front lines without any real training. We have ALL been called to serve the Lord with our lives. We have all been called to serve Him in different ways.

Regardless of what God has called you to do to serve Him, just know up front you are entering a war and that you will be attacked. But fear not, He has given you all the protection you need, the battle plan to fight with, and assured you of victory. What more could any solider ask for?

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller