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Life can be full of challenges, setbacks and frustrations. This is something we experience individually in our lives. This also holds true for us as a congregation. We have weathered some difficulties in the past and we have recently been facing some trials as well. These sort of things can easily distract us from what is most important; namely our life of faith, repentance and mission. As a congregation we have made some very positive and bold steps forward to be engaged in mission. Good things have been happening! But make no mistake about it; we are also being targeted by our enemy, Satan. This is an attempt to derail us from keeping our focus where it needs to be. How can I be so certain of this? God tells us this is the case in Ephesians 6:12: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Yes, we are involved in a wrestling match, in a battle, with Satan and his demons. They come against us both individually and as a congregation. It is important that we recognized it for what it is. Satan is on the attack.

So what is God's advice to us? Ephesians 6:11: "Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." Put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, have on your feet the readiness of the Gospel, put on your head the helmet of salvation, and in your hands have ready the shield of faith by which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

You are equipped to handle the attacks from Satan and his demons. You are armored by God to withstand all of this evil that is being thrown at us. You have faith in Jesus and hope of salvation. You know that your savior Jesus has already won the battle. He battled with the devil in the wilderness and defeated him with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11). From the cross Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). The war has already been won. Through faith in Jesus the victory is ours. You know that regardless of what you suffer here and now, you will see paradise because your savior Jesus has already won the war for you.

Therefore, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to fight the battle. Fight with God's words, faith and the confidences of salvation.  Fight with the Gospel of peace, the righteousness of Christ and with His truth. Stand up for your faith. Bring God's mercy, grace and love to a world that is continually being assaulted by Satan and his demons. Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).    Bring the freedom that Jesus offers to a world that is falling for the devils schemes.  You may not be leading military campaigns with the armies of this world, but in caring for one another, living your faith, forgiving others, building the unity, helping the needy and engaging in the missions God has called us to be a part of, you are fighting and wining battles against Satan and his go with the spiritual forces of evil in ways that no other military could. Go with the armor of God and confidence of the victory that Jesus has won for you.

Pastor Schoenfeld