The Comfort of God in the Midst of Battle

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“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
– 1 Peter 4:1-2, ESV

I’ve been reading Melissa Kruger’s newest book, Growing Together: Taking Mentoring Beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests, and in her chapter on temptation, she begins with an anecdote of the time she watched the movie Saving Private Ryan. She describes the opening scene that portrays the D-Day landing at the beaches of Normandy during World War II, and then she writes, “In the midst of such a battle, imagine the surprise we’d all feel if one of the young men stopped on the beach, set out a towel, took off his shirt, and began to put on sunscreen. When a fellow soldier would pause to ask, ‘What on earth are you doing?’ he would reply, ‘Well, I’m at the beach. I’m going to spend some time enjoying the sun and waves.'” Kruger comments on how astonishing we would all find this soldier’s behavior. He’s in the middle of a battle, and if he sits there and ignores it, he’s going to die! We might think this hypothetical scene is impossible, but Kruger claims we often do this very thing when it comes to spiritual warfare. “We forget that in the midst of the physical world around us,” she writes, “there’s a spiritual battle raging. We think the Christian life is like a nice day at the beach, but it’s described as a race (Heb. 12:1-3), childbirth (Rom. 8:22-23), and a battle (Eph. 6:11-23). None of those are easy, and all of them involve pain” (108).

The more I study God’s word and pray for help in my struggles with sin, the more I realize how deeply rooted sin is in my heart. There are days where I’m just tired of battling unrighteous thoughts, impulses, and desires. I want a break. I want a day at the beach. God in His goodness never gives us more than we can handle, though, because He is the power at work in us. And in His great mercy, He gives us many moments of respite from the battle. But sometimes I think we can long so much for the comfort of God, that we forget it’s meant to come because of the war and not apart from the war. We want a type of comfort and ease in this life that’s free from struggle, but the reality is that we don’t get that type of life until we die or until Christ’s second coming and the old heaven and earth pass away and all is made new again. We should seek the peace and rest and comfort of God while we walk faithfully on this earth, but these things come as a result of waging war against Satan, the flesh, and the world and seeing the power of God as sufficient to defeat these forces. Our hope and comfort comes from knowing the war is already won even if the battles are still being waged. While we are alive on this earth on this side of eternity, we live in the tension of the “already, but not yet” (1 John 3:2).

Let us not be caught off guard. Let us remember that while the work of Christ is finished and we are justified, the work of our sanctification and of the great commission are not yet over. And Satan will do everything in his power to subvert these works (1 Peter 5:8). But praise God that His power is greater and that He has already destroyed the one who has the power of death (Heb. 2:14)! Let us find comfort in the day when all of His promises will be fully consummated and say with the apostle John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

Bible Study Tip

Eight main genres exist throughout the Bible—Narrative, Law (sometimes these two are combined as Historical Narrative/Law), Poetry, Prophecy, Wisdom (sometimes combined with Poetry), Gospel, Letter, and Apocalyptic. I know English classes aren’t everyone’s thing, but the Bible is a piece of literature, and understanding literary genres, themes, and devices is important in better understanding God’s word. Many resources exist that can teach us more about these literary characteristics. See the links below to learn more!

Upcoming Events

VBS
Due to a variety of circumstances, Westwood’s outdoor VBS that was scheduled for the end of July has been cancelled.

Community One Volunteer Opportunity
A group is scheduled to volunteer with Community One on Saturday, July 25th, from 8:00am-12:00pm. We will be cleaning and possibly beginning landscaping work on one of the houses that is being fixed up to be sold as affordable housing. If you would like to volunteer, fill out this brief form and you will be emailed a volunteer waiver and details regarding the place to meet. If you would like to join but can’t come for the full four hours, that’s okay! Come and go as you are able. But be sure to sign up so you can receive the waiver ahead of time!

Recommended Books

Links in this section are Amazon Affiliate links to books we find helpful

A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love
by Milton Vincent

God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving us everything we need for life and godliness. Here is a valuable tool to preach the gospel to yourself daily to strengthen your faith and define what you believe and why.

For the Kids

Sing: Remembering Songs
by Ellie Holcomb

On this record, you will find songs rooted in scripture that remind you and your little ones of how God created the earth to remind us of His love. “The songs on the record were inspired by Psalms and creation. My hope is that these songs would help kids and the adults in their lives remember how deeply they are loved by the God who made them. I forget what’s true a lot of days, but songs get stuck in my head! My prayer for these songs is that they would help the beautiful truth of God’s love and companionship get stuck in kids’ heads and hearts!” – Ellie Holcomb

Question 13:
Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?

Answer:
Since the fall, no human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly.

“There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel.”
 

– Milton Vincent, from A Gospel Primer for Christians

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

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