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THE ENEMY IS ROARING THE LORD IS BLESSING Introduction
Steven Ray Bragg
Author requests article critique
This is the introduction of the new book I'm currently writing. Please feel free to comment.
THE ENEMY IS ROARING ~ THE LORD IS BLESSING
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
"The roaring of the lion and the voice of the fierce lion, And the teeth of the young lions are broken” (Job 4:10).
I’m a missionary serving our Lord in the Philippines. My family and I arrived August 2011. We plant new Christian churches in barangays (small neighborhoods with governing councils) and their associated smaller neighborhoods called sitios, made up of 100 to 1000 families, an average of seven per family. Many are accessible only by dirt road or footpath, sometimes hanging bridges or crossing rivers with no bridge. They are often many kilometers from a town.
The barangays consist of people who are malnourished, have little or no education and typically no healthcare. These are our target locations where there are no other Christian churches. As of the end of 2014, we had planted twenty-four new churches. Of these churches, fourteen have a newly constructed church buildings and parsonages, and eleven are house churches. We call these churches River Rock Church Philippines (RRCP).
However, most importantly, these are the new congregations in barangays that have never had a church before. Most hear the Gospel for the first time from us. Each church has its own pastor who lives among them, teaches and loves them. False religion, superstition and witchcraft are being replaced with the truth of God and His love for them. Prevalent is hopelessness in these barangays. It is being replaced with hope. “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love” (Romans 5:5 NLT). Thank you, Lord!
My first book, GET UP! God Is Not Finished With You!, has a chapter titled the same as this book title. Filipino Pastor Alejo F. Alagos, my partner in this ministry, and I have coined the phrase, “the enemy is roaring and the Lord is blessing!” This is our experience. This comes from the verse, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). In all things – good and bad, success and failures – God is always working them together for His good and His purpose. God is sovereign and His purpose will always come to be. In fact, His purpose was predetermined before creation.
Job is a good illustration of what I mean by the title phrase from this book. Job was a man of incredible wealth. His family was large and enjoyed the good life of prosperity. Job was a man of faith with an extraordinary close relationship with God. God knew his name and boasted about Job’s faith in Him. This for me is the best possible faith: for God to know my name and enjoy my faith; imagine that to be true for any of us. Amen.
In spite of Job’s faith, or maybe because of it, he had lost everything: wealth, family and health. He lost it all suddenly and dramatically. Job’s life, and even his faith was shattered.
While going through the trial, little did Job know this was a deliberate test of his faith. God Himself allowed Satan to test Job. Only God knew the depth of Job’s faith. God knew Job would stand the test and both prove himself faithful and prove God’s glory and sovereignty.
Truly Satan, was roaring in the life of Job. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). Job was taken to the limit of his great faith and survived the test.
Job’s faith was under assault. In chapter 4 of Job, Eliphaz the Temanite tries to encourage Job in his enormous trial of loss. Although not all of Eliphaz counsel was true or good, I think this encouragement was accurate. Eliphaz tells Job "In the past you have encouraged many people; you have strengthened those who were weak. Your words have supported those who were falling; you encouraged those with shaky knees. But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart. You are terrified when it touches you” (Job 4:3-5 NLT).
Often, even with people of strong faith, when trouble strikes we can lose heart or become terrified. I describe these times as THE ENEMY IS ROARING. It is when our hearts are attacked and we become terrified that the roaring lion attempts to devour us.
Eliphaz goes on to describe Job’s enemy, Satan. The enemy can only roar. He has no teeth. God is sovereign, and His protection and blessing are always imminent. The enemy is always defeated. "According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity And those who sow trouble harvest it. By the breath of God they perish, And by the blast of His anger they come to an end. The roaring of the lion and the voice of the fierce lion, And the teeth of the young lions are broken. The lion perishes for lack of prey, And the whelps of the lioness are scattered” (Job 4:8-11). Job’s faith was steadfast. He was not prey. Satan’s attempt to devour Job was to no avail. His faith proved authentic. The accuser was silenced.
The testing of his faith was indeed a life changing ordeal. The apostle Peter says these tests have purpose. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT).
Fire: that’s a good description. Peter and James call them test of fire; test to build endurance; test of maturity, or that lead us to maturity. “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:11). The outcome of the test is faith more precious the gold. Peter concludes “the reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9 NLT).
The ROARING OF THE ENEMY was the testing of Job’s faith. Always, through trials, “THE LORD IS BLESSING.” For Job, the blessings of the Lord are his inspirational faith for those in trial even to this day. The author of Hebrews put Job in the category of faithful people and described them as “men of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38a). He is eternally honored in the Word of God that will never perish. Through his test, we get a window of observation into the glory and sovereignty of our God. For Job, he received a double blessing on what was already one of the most blessed lives.
The Enemy Is Roaring
The roaring of the enemy works toward God’s purpose. It is a part of God’s purpose. In the book of Daniel, King Darius appointed governors (satraps) over the provinces and then three commissioners over the satraps. Daniel was one of the three commissioners. Daniel was blessed by God and excelled in all he did. The other commissioners and satraps became jealous of Daniel and planned a political demise for him. They knew of Daniel’s singular allegiance to his God and tricked Darius into signing an irrevocable law for everyone to worship only Darius for thirty days. Of course, the man of God still worshiped only his God: our God.
Now Darius was forced to feed Daniel to the lions. Darius’s effort to save Daniel were to no avail. However, King Darius hoped and prayed that Daniel's God was strong enough to save his respected commissioner. In their recent history, God had already proven Himself and He was well known to King Darius.
The enemy roared in the plot to kill Daniel. The hungry lions roared in their den. Daniel was shut up in the lions’ den and the entrance was sealed until morning. The enemies thought they had won. The lions were about to have a tasty meal.
The Lord Is Blessing
King Darius prayed and fasted in hope Daniel’s God was true and strong. “Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions' den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, 'Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?' Daniel answered, 'Long live the king! My God sent His angel to shut the lions' mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in His sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty'" (Daniel 6:19-22 NLT).
God proved once again that He is God and there is no other. The lions’ months were shut and no harm came to Daniel. As a result King Darius sent out a decree. "I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and He will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and His rule will never end. He rescues and saves His people; He performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions" (Daniel 6:26-27).
Through the roaring of the enemy came the power of God revealed. The enemy was destroyed. “The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions' den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones” (Daniel 6:24). Also blessing came to Daniel because of his faith. “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (Daniel 6:28).
The result of the enemy roaring in Daniel’s life, Daniel’s unwavering commitment to God, and the resulting actions of God led to a governmental decree that significantly changed the law of the land. I can only imagine such an awesome event in my own life. God’s reward to Daniel for enduring the test and standing firm in his faith was substantial. He was honor by two kings.
Pharaoh of Egypt
It’s the same message in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart against the Israelites. Everything works to God’s glory. “And once again I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display My glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD" (Exodus 14:4)!
The enemy roaring was Pharaoh’s approaching army sent to kill the entire Israelite nation. The Lord’s blessing was their great enemy destroyed in the closing of the Red Sea behind them. “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses” (Exodus (14:-31).
Saul of Tarsus
When Saul, who later came to be known as the apostle Paul, persecuted the early church, the disciples were scattered and spread the Gospel everywhere and the church grew as a result. “But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison. But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went” (Acts 8:3-4). The enemy roaring was Saul going house to house to put Christians in prison, desiring to destroy God’s church. The blessing of our Lord was the church spread everywhere and multitudes saved unto eternal life.
The roaring enemy came again when Saul was on the road to Damascus, on his way to persecute the church. The Lord overcame Saul and blessed us all through the attempted persecution.
This violent man who put Christians in prison and had them murdered was shown mercy by the Lord Jesus Christ. The saving of such a man proved the unfathomable riches of God’s mercy and grace. God worked His good and purpose even through the “worst of sinners.” “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT).
The enemy roaring was Saul with letters to arrest more Christians in Damascus. The Lord’s blessing was the demonstration of His great mercy on Saul. This is our example and encouragement even today. And the now converted Saul becomes Paul and establishes the Lord’s Church in Gentile cities. He then goes on to write a good portion of the New Testament.
The enemy roared at the persecution and death of Jesus. The false trials, the approval for Him to be crucified, His suffering death on the cross and His burial into the tomb. It seemed the enemy had won. However, God was blessing as Jesus was resurrected on the third day, freeing us from death. His sacrificial blood on the cross purchased us all from the consequences of sin to eternal life and the magnificence of His love was demonstrated.
His Good – His Purpose
We love Him and He has called us for His purpose. Because we love Him our lives are dedicated to His purpose. His good for my life and His purpose for my life are accomplishing His good and purpose. For us, River Rock Church Philippines (RRCP), His good and purpose is to take the Good News to the remote areas of the Philippines: thus fulfilling our portion of The Great Commission. In doing so we establish His Church in each place we go. We teach His great command; “And he answered, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF'" (Luke 10:27). We are intentional to always be in His purpose. This produces His good in our lives: ministries, we pray.
We repeat to each other Romans 8:28 and the phrase “the enemy is roaring and the Lord is blessing” often. It reminds us and encourages us. We see it fulfilled time after time. Truly, with almost every mission of our ministry, we experience the roaring of the enemy, but what always follows is the blessings of our Lord. Even the roaring works to accomplish the mission. He overcomes the roaring of the enemy that has blocked the way for many: the fierce roaring that has keep His church from coming to each remote place.
Indeed, as we approach a new place to plant a new church, the enemy roars with accusations against our character, intimidations to our livelihoods, and threats to our lives. Sometimes the enemy roaring is when we go to places with dangerous roads, deadly diseases, crocodiles and snakes. Even witchcraft has been tried against us. The enemy roars in each of the lives of our pastors and church leaders. But we, through the power of Jesus Christ, conquer the enemies of sin, fear, doubt, persecution, disappointment, heartache and loss. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).
This book features stories of Filipino pastors and churches, that have met the roaring enemy and experienced the power of our Lord Jesus Christ as He conquered each attempt to harm us, thwart us or scare us off from accomplishing our ministry of planting new Christian churches in the remote places. Our Lord is blessing each dedicated life and each church planted in His name, in His authority and by His power!
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'"
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06 Sep 2015
Amen. May the LORD bless your Book and make HIS FACE SHINE in it.
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