Spiritual Warfare

Description

In this message we learn that there’s an incredible supernatural protection and power when we are unified or aligned together.

Some of us are like, “I don’t know why I’m clapping, but I think I’m supposed to.” Happy Valentine’s Day weekend. I’m so glad that you’re here with us at Valley Creek Church. And my hope for you today is that you would just receive the love of Jesus for you. When you receive that everything else seems to take care of itself. So may your heart overwhelm and overflow with the love of God. I’m really glad that you’re here. It’s already been a great weekend at Valley Creek. This weekend, Friday night we had — our students had their big night event right here. And we had like more than 700 students in here worshipping Jesus and a couple of hundred leaders, and they had an amazing experience. And I just want to tell you, the students of this church, they really love Jesus.

And it’s incredible to be a part of a church that really believes in and invests in the next generation, because they are the future. And what I just want to tell you is that it is always worth investing in the next generation. Like, it’s worth investing your finances into them. That’s one of the reasons we give ties and offerings, so we can invest into them. It’s worth in investing your relationship into them, to be mentors in their lives, to give them wisdom and direction as they’re trying to follow Jesus. It’s worth investing into them spiritually and helping them know and discover God. It’s worth investing into them by giving up preferences in church to gear things more, to connect with the heart of the next generation. It is always worth it. And I was here and I got to hang out with them and just watch them love Jesus and engage with each other. As you look into the faces of these hundreds and hundreds of sixth graders through twelfth graders, when you just look in their eyes you can see the image and likeness of God. I mean, you can literally see it on their face. You can see this destiny and this divine purpose and this calling that He has for them. And we want to raise them up to be the greatest kingdom leaders that the world has ever known. They get to stand on our shoulders and go farther than we ever have.

And so I just always want to remind you, we are a church that’s geared to the next generation because that’s what it’s all about. So maybe that’s your next step. It’s to get involved with the next generation. In fact, if you need to be inspired or you need a little bit of passion on your journey, get involved with the students because I promise you, you will get more out of it than they will get out of you by hanging out with them [Laughs]. You realize that, right? Like, you just come hang out with students for like one night and watch them worship Jesus. It will do something inside you. So maybe that’s the next step for some of you. Alright. One quick announcement and then we’re going to get into it. This Thursday night is our all-in, yearly community gathering. So if you’re part of the all-in community, this Thursday night I need you to make sure you go online and RSVP. And then I need you to be here. And whatever you think you have on Thursday night that’s important, it’s not as important as being here on Thursday night. That’s kind of what it means to be all-in, is you sacrifice some things to come when we need you to. We only do this once a year, and we talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going and some clarity for our church. And as a way of reminder for everybody at Valley Creek, we don’t have traditional church membership. And it’s really intentional because the word membership has lost its definition in today’s day and age. When we hear the word member, it’s very exclusive. Like, you either are a member or you’re not. And it’s all about rights and entitlements. Like, if I’m a member at a country club or at a gym or with some organization, I have an expectation, an entitlement, a perceived set of rights that I get. Well, we don’t want to create a bunch of exclusive, entitled people. We want people that are all in on this journey with Jesus. And so it’s a posture of the heart that anyone can make at any point in time. And to be all-in it’s just three things. It’s saying, “I’m committed to Jesus as Lord. I’m committed to Valley Creek Church as my church family. And I’m committed to being a part of advancing this vision.” And so maybe you’re here and you’ve been with us for a few weeks, a few months, a few years and you love this church. You would call this your church home. You love what God is doing in this place, but you’re not all in yet.

Maybe that’s your next step. So I would encourage you, go to the Pathway classes. Go through them. You will get to the end and there’s all-in, and you have an opportunity to make that decision. We would love for you to be all-in on this journey with Jesus. That’s the kind of group of people that we’re trying to build together, an inclusive group that’s committed to Jesus as Lord and being planted in the house of the Lord in a local church, so that we might flourish. Okay? Alright. If you’ve got a Bible, Second Corinthians 2 and Ecclesiastes 4. Second Corinthians 2 and Ecclesiastes 4 — we’re going to start a new series today called Alignment. And for the next few weeks I want to talk about the power and protection of unity. In our world of independence we have lost the value of interdependence. But if you read through the Bible, you will find that there is an incredible supernatural protection and power when we are unified or aligned together. The Bible tells us, “One can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight.” There is an exponential increase in impact when we’re aligned with one another. The Bible teaches us that two are greater than one when united, but two are actually less than one when divided. There is a power and protection in alignment and unity, but alignment isn’t natural and unity is not normal. It takes a ton of intentionality. Amos 3:3 says, “How can two people walk together unless they agree upon the direction?” If we’re going to be aligned together, we have to intentionally agree. Then we can be aligned and then we can move forward together. Which is God’s heart for you. He wants you to be aligned with Him and then He wants you to be aligned with the people in your life. He wants you to be aligned in your marriage, aligned in your family, aligned in your workplace and in your teams and in your groups and in your relationships, and in His church. And so I’m excited about this series.

I think it’s going to be a little bit challenging, but if you will receive what God has for you, I think there is tremendous healing and freedom that He wants to bring to you. And so here’s what I’d like to do. I want to teach in this front half. There are some things that I just need to teach you. And then the back half is going to be all super-applicable that you can apply to your life. So track with me on the teaching and then it’s going to be very applicable. Okay? Can you do that for me today? So to understand Second Corinthians Chapter 2, you have to first understand First Corinthians Chapter 5. And in First Corinthians Chapter 5, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, and he’s writing to them about a guy in their church who has ongoing, unrepentant, willful sin. Ongoing, unrepentant, willful sin. It’s a sexual sin that this guy has engaged in. He refuses to change his behavior. He refuses to repent. It’s going on and on and on. And so finally Paul writes to the church and he says, “Guys, you need to de-fellowship this man from your church because of the ongoing, unrepentant, willful sin.” And what I need you to understand is that in the Bible the highest form of discipline in the New Testament is to de-fellowship somebody. The highest consequent there is in the New Testament of the people of God is to de-fellowship somebody, is to literally remove them from your fellowship. Listen, Matthew 18 when Jesus says, “If somebody sins against you, first you go and you talk to them. And if they don’t repent, you go and you get somebody else, and then the two of you go and talk to them. If they still don’t repent, you bring the church along. You get the church leaders involved in it. If they still don’t repent, then you remove them from your fellowship and you kind of push them to the side and close down the relationships that you had with them. And you say, “Why?” Well, for two reasons. One, it’s to protect the church from the impacts of sin. And two is, the hope is to bring that person to repentance. To shut off the life-giving relationships of the church, to isolate them, so they realize the kingdom of darkness is not a great place to be. I would much rather be a part of the people of God, to bring them to repentance and bring them back in.

So the loss of fellowship is considered the highest form of consequence or discipline in the New Testament. So think of how sad it is that so many Christians choose to place the highest form of discipline and consequence upon themselves. When Christians just choose to check out of the church to isolate themselves, to only come and barely gather on the fringe, but never really get to know anybody, they are applying the highest form of discipline and consequence to themselves. The Bible says, “The loss of fellowship is the highest consequence there is.” It’s like a pool party going on in the backyard and one kid decides he is going to go and sit in his room all by himself while the pool party is happening. Not because he did something wrong, but just because, because — because I don’t know why. But he just chose to do it. That’s crazy. Right? That’s what we do when we choose to separate ourselves. And so that’s what’s happening inside First Corinthians 5. He’s got ongoing, unrepentant, willful son. They de-fellowship him. Some time has gone by. And you get to Second Corinthians Chapter 2 and Paul is now riding to the church again, a second time after time has gone by. So look with me in Verse 5. It says, “If anyone has caused grief” — talking about this man — “he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent, not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him to de-fellowship him. Now instead, you are to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” It actually worked. The de-fellowshipping brought him to the end of himself. He repented of his sin. And now he wants to be brought back in. “I urge you therefore to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven, if there was anything to forgive, I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake in order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes.”

Paul writes the church and he said, “You guys did a great job. You de-fellowshipped him like I told you to. He repented. No more ongoing, unrepentant and willful sin. And just so you know, de-fellowshipping is not for like you and me like when you have a bad day. It’s not like you made a mistake or you had a moment of weakness or whatever. It’s ongoing, unrepentant, willful sin. And the guy got to the end of himself and Paul says, “Now bring him back in because he is repentant.” And here’s what I need you to see, Verse 11. “In order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not aware of his games.” In other words Paul says, “The disciplined work. Bring him back in. Forgive him and unite, because all Satan wants to do is divide.” Satan is a divider. That’s how he started. That’s how he rules. That’s what his kingdom is based on. I mean, think about it. The first thing Satan did was divide himself from God. Then he divided a third of the angels from God. Then he divided Adam and Eve from God. Then he divided Adam and Eve from each other. After they took the fruit the first thing Adam says to God is, “The woman you put here with me, it was her. She made me do it.” [Laughs] That was not a good Valentine’s Day thing to say.

I’m just saying it’s her fault, you know. Divided from each other. Then he divided Adam and Eve’s kids from Adam and Eve. Then he divided Adam and Eve’s kids from each other when Cain killed Able. Then he divided the kingdom of Israel and had the 10 tribes of Israel and the two tribes of Judas split the kingdom in half. Then he divided the people of God from the messiah, the savior, when Jesus showed up. Then he divided the disciples from each other. Then he divided the New Testament church. And now he wants to divide you. That’s what he does. He wants to divide you from your purpose by telling you that you’re not qualified for it. He wants to divide you from the scriptures by telling you you’re not spiritual enough to understand. He wants to divide you from your family by creating hurts and wounds. He wants to divide you from your friends by saying they don’t care and they don’t get it. He wants to divide you from his church by creating preferences and offenses in your heart.

And he ultimately wants to divide you from God by saying, “He doesn’t care and you will never measure up.” Satan cannot divide God. So he will divide the thing God cares most about, and that’s you. He is a divider. But what Paul is telling us in this passage, he is saying, “But we’re not unaware of this. Like, we know Satan’s plans. We know his tactics. We know exactly what to expect on how he does. We have Satan’s playbook is what Paul is saying. And he says he only runs one play, and that’s to divide. It’s like, imagine if you’re driving to work or school or wherever you go every day, and one day you’re just driving down the road and, boom, you hit a pothole. Oh, like it totally catches you, a massive one. Like, man, that was crazy. The second day you are in your car and you’re driving on that same route. You’re probably not remembering that pothole, because it is only the second day. Boom, you hit it again and you’re like, “Wow. Okay, that was bad.” Third day, by now hopefully when you get close to that pothole you have avoided it, because you know what to expect. And that’s what Paul is telling us. He is saying Satan only runs one play. He divides. And you need to expect it. He divides. God unites. Satan wants to divide you and so we respond by reconciling with one another. In other words, here’s the big idea of this whole message. Reconciliation is spiritual warfare. Reconciliation is spiritual warfare. If all Satan wants to do is divide, then the way you respond to his spiritual attack in your life, in your marriage, in your family, in your work, in your friends, in your church, is by choosing to reconcile. We get so confused about spiritual warfare. We think like spiritual warfare is chasing demons around and calling them by names. No, it’s not. Spiritual warfare is forgiving from the heart. James 5:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee.” How do you resist him? By reconciling.

All Satan wants to do is put things in between us to divide us. Jesus wants to come among us to heal us and unite us. And what Jesus did for you is always greater than what anyone else will ever do towards you. And Satan gets this. I mean, he gets the power and protection of unity. He understands the value of alignment. I mean, just listen to this. Ecclesiastes 4, Verse 9 — “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. Also if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? The one may be overpowered. Two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Okay, let’s be honest. Satan believes that more than we do. Satan believes that truth more than we do. That’s why he relentlessly tries to divide us, and that’s why we casually just choose to tolerate division and barely reconcile and barely pursue unity, because he believes this more than we do. He knows if he can divide us, he will stop our kingdom work. That when we fall down we won’t be able to get back up, that we will be alone and cold, and that if we are by ourselves we are easy to overpower. Satan gets this a whole lot more than we do. I mean, it’s interesting in that in the Bible we’re referred to as the followers of Jesus as sheep. You realize sheep are herd animals. They flock together, and when they’re in the flock there’s power and protection. Well, we are called sheep, but the Bible calls Satan a wolf and a lion. Do you know how wolves and lions hunt? They chase down a flock and they break it apart. And if they can get one sheep by themselves, it’s easy to pick off. Satan doesn’t care how he does it. He just wants to do it. Gossip, slander, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, preferences, offenses, it doesn’t matter. He just wants to divide you, so he can get you.

And what you have to understand is that division always dishonors, disables, and destroys. Division always dishonors God. It disables your supernatural power and protection, and it destroys everything around you. That’s why Satan loves it. Reconciliation is spiritual warfare. In fact, listen to this verse, Second Corinthians 5:18. “All this is from God who reconciled those to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” In other words God says, “Hey, I know Satan’s play. He has one play. In fact, I’m even going to tell you what it is. Here is his playbook. He divides. That’s what he is going to do. And so what I’m going to do is I’m going to give you the ministry of reconciliation. I’m going to anoint you with supernatural power to be a reconciler. He is going to attack by dividing. You respond by reconciling and that’s how you will stop his attacks.” I mean, we talk about it all the time as the church. We say it around here all the time. We want to see heaven come to earth. Anybody else want to see heaven come to earth? Right? I mean, we talk about it. Like, I want to see supernatural power and miracles and signs and wonders and healings. I mean, we want to see heaven come to earth. It’s the third circle of our three values that we want to release the kingdom of God. And we say, “Hey, in heaven there is no sickness and there is no brokenness and there is no disease.” And so we want to bring that heaven to our earth. We have the keys to the kingdom of heaven. So we believe it and we pursue it. But you know what else isn’t in heaven? Division, slander, gossip. And so you can’t you’re serious about bringing heaven to earth if you don’t pursue unity. Usually, the people who are the most excited about seeing signs and wonders and miracles are the least willing to pursue unity. I mean, you have to understand. Every time you reconcile with someone you just brought heaven to earth. I’m going to empower you all right now to bring heaven to earth.

Every time you reconcile, every time you refuse to be divided, every time you get over your offense or your preference, you just brought — in that moment you just brought heaven to earth. I mean, we read about the Acts church and we get all excited about their supernatural power. But do you understand? In Acts 4 it says, “They were all together in one heart, in one mind, and had great power.” The power followed their unity. And so maybe the lack of miracles we see in our lives today is because we tolerate division. Reconciliation is spiritual warfare. It’s bringing heaven to earth. Are you with me so far on this? [Laughs] You’re like, this isn’t a fun Valentine’s Day message. Actually it is. Actually it is. So just try it with me. Let me teach you one more thing and then I’ll get real practical. Okay? Unreconciled hearts are vulnerable to the traits of darkness. Think about it like this. If you want to be aligned with somebody, we first have to agree. If I agree with you, I’m aligned with you. And the moment I’m aligned with you, I’ve just empowered you in my life. So Amos 3:3 says, “How can two people walk together unless they agree?” You first have to agree. If I agree with you, I’m aligned with you. If I’m aligned with you, I’ve empowered you in my life. Second Corinthians 13:1 says, “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” So when two or three people agree together, something gets established. Now see if you can catch this. When you agree with Satan, you allow his kingdom to be established in your life. Whenever you agree something gets established. So if I agree with Satan, I’ll allow his kingdom to be established in my life. Satan is only empowered through your agreement. Matthew 28 — Jesus says, “All authority on heaven and earth belongs to me.” Jesus has it all. Satan has none. And you say, “Then why does it feel like Satan can overwhelm my life sometimes and take over?” Because he is only empowered when you choose to agree with him.

And unforgiveness is agreement with the devil. So if I agree with him, I’m aligned with him and I’ve empowered him to rule and reign in my life. His kingdom could now be established in my heart, in my relationships, whatever that may be. So there’s division in your marriage. You’ve agreed with him, you’re aligned with him, and you’ve empowered his kingdom to be established in your marriage. If there is division in your workplace, you’ve agreed, you’re aligned and you’ve empowered his kingdom to be established in your workplace. If there’s division in the church, in your relationships with people in here, you’ve agreed, you’re aligned, so you’ve empowered his kingdom to be established in that place. And you will absorb whatever qualities or characteristics of whoever you are aligned with. Like, listen to this, James 3 says, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, division, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual and of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.” He says, wherever you tolerate division you’re in agreement with Satan. And when you’re agreed with him, you’re aligned with him. And if you’re aligned with him, you’ve empowered him in your life. And there you will find every disorder and evil practice. In other words, you will absorb the qualities and characteristics of the kingdom of darkness. Let me explain it to you like this and try to give you an example. Think of a couple that you know that’s gotten divorced, for whatever reason, the man or the woman. And they choose to get divorced. They weren’t willing to reconcile or work through it. Okay. Well, the person that chooses the divorce gets divorced, and a year later you look at their life and you look at them and you can say, “Man, they are totally different persons. They behave and act and talk in a way that they never had in the past.” Do you know what I’m talking about? Come on. Have you ever seen that? They’re like a totally different person, not in a good way [Laughs]. And you say, why? Because they agreed with Satan. They aligned with him. And so they absorbed the qualities and characteristics of darkness in their life.

Think of churchy people. You realize some churchy people are some of the meanest people you ever meet in life. I know that’s not you. But churchy people can be mean. And you say, “How can churchy people be mean? They’re in church.” I know. At some point though they had a division, offense, a preference, whatever it may be. So they agreed and aligned and empowered Satan’s kingdom in their life. So they absorbed the qualities and characteristics of darkness. So they became full of gossip and slander and hatred and envy and bitterness. And all these things got absorbed into their life because they were in agreement with the wrong kingdom. Think about you. Think about the last time you were really divided with someone. I would bet there was a whole lot of other qualities and characteristics that maybe aren’t normal for your life that started to come out over time because of that one situation. Like, you would say things and be full of hatred and frustration and anger. Why? All because in this one area you’re agreed, you’re aligned, so you’ve empowered the wrong kingdom and you will start absorbing it in your heart. I mean, think of Judas. Judas was around Jesus, but he was in agreement with Satan. So he never absorbed the qualities of the kingdom of God. He absorbed the qualities of the kingdom of darkness. You’d say, “Well, isn’t being around Jesus enough?” No. That’s why just coming to church isn’t enough. Being in agreement with Jesus is enough. But Satan — Judas was in agreement with Satan. So he became full of lying, stealing, and division, and offenses and bitterness and murder. I mean, at the end of the day you have to understand. Satan’s kingdom has these three things. It’s chaos, it’s rebellion, and it’s division. The kingdom of God has three things. It’s order, submission, and unity. Which one are you aligned with? Listen. The great danger is not out there. It’s right here.

I tell our staff team all the time. Valley Creek Church will never go down by the forces of darkness outside of us. We will only go down by division inside of us. I mean, for years the church at large has been so afraid of the world. Like, we back up into this little bubble and we’re terrified of a politician or a celebrity that has a stance, or these things that happen in school. I mean, we get so afraid and we back up and we hide in our holy huddle, as if they can stop us. Listen. Jesus says, “I will build my church. The gates of hell will not prevail against it.” If the gates of hell can’t stop his church, I don’t think we need to be afraid of what’s out there. He says, “I will give you authority to tread on scorpions and snakes. Nothing of the enemy will hurt you”, Luke 10:19. Okay?

“All the authority on heaven and earth has been given to Jesus”, Matthew 28, “and Satan has none.” So Jesus says all that. But then he says in Matthew 12:25, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” Just don’t be worried about the darkness that’s out there. Just refuse to tolerate agreement with Satan right here. In ten years being a part of this church I have never once seen us stopped by the darkness out there. I have seen countless examples of the spirit of division that work in people’s lives in here. Marriages, families, business partnerships, groups, teams, staff members. Why? Because someone came into agreement with the kingdom of darkness, absorbed the qualities and characteristics, and division ultimately crumbles and hampers. Reconciliation is spiritual warfare. It’s always the heart of God. Okay? Are you with me on all that? And the reason it may feel a little heavy is because every — just about every one of us —
I won’t give you a reason to be offended. For a silly reason. I’ll give you reasons for good reasons. But we have some level of division in the relationships in our lives. So there is a point where an agreement with darkness and that’s why it feels weighty. Okay? So now how do you get set free of that? Ready? Couple of thoughts for you. Now that you get the value of it, what do you do? First thing is this. Have healthy expectations. This is a great idea for Valentine’s Day. Have healthy expectations. I just saved some of you really a long week. You can’t expect from people what you can only get in God. And unhealthy expectations are a birthplace for offences. Like, if I expect everyone in my life to fill my heart full of joy, I’m always going to be offended because Psalm 16:11 says, “Only in His presence is the fullness of joy.” If I expect the people in my life to fill my heart full of love, I’m always going to be offended and disappointed because Romans 5:5 says, “The Holy Spirit fills my heart full of love.” If I expect other people to make me not feel lonely and never leave me or forsake me, I’m going to be disappointed because Hebrews 13:5 — “Only He can never leave you nor forsake you.” And if I expect other people to declare my identity and validate my significance, I’m always going to be offended because only the Father can declare that you are his beloved son and daughter, in whom He is well pleased. If you always need your boss to encourage you, your spouse to meet your needs, your friends to pursue you, the family in your life to be in tune with your needs, that person to notice you, you will always be divided and offended. Because they’re broken. And they’re going to fail you. And you know what happens when they fail? You know who shows up? [Laughs] Satan. He is really good at finding faults. Like, Satan found fault with a perfect God in the perfection of heaven.

That’s mind-blowing when you get it. Because if he could find fault there, just look at the person next to you. He is going to find fault there too. And as he starts pointing that out, you will start agreeing with it. Okay, but I can’t expect those things from broken people. Philippians 4:19, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches.” Stop thinking about that in terms of finances and think about it in terms of what your heart needs. My God will meet my needs. And so instead of having expectations what if you just came with servitude? What if you were the one that encouraged and championed and pursued and met needs and loved and noticed and all those things? I mean, think of Jesus. Jesus should have been offended by every single person on the face of the earth. [Laughs] I mean, his family rejected him. The disciples betrayed him. The crowds abandoned him. The Pharisees wanted to kill him. Everybody was offensive. In a sense you and I would have been offended by it, but not Jesus. Why? Because he didn’t need from people what he already had in the Father. So Mark 10:45 — He says, “For the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give.” If you engaged in relationships in your life from a servant point of view, you won’t have expectations. And servants aren’t offended. So do you have healthy expectations? Second thing is this. Ask God where you need to reconcile, not if. And it is funny. Jason over here laughed for me. It is funny. Ask God where you need to reconcile, not if. Luke 17:1 — Jesus says, “It is impossible that no offenses should come.” If you live on this earth, you breathe this air, you engage with the people around you, you will be offended because they’re broken people and they do broken things. And the reality is that at the end of the day we don’t stumble over boulders. We stumble over stones. It’s the little things that other people do that trip us up. Big things start small.

That’s true with really good, significant things. It’s true with really bad things. All Satan wants is one hairline crack of division between you and whoever. And if he can get that, he will put his hand on it and he is patient, and he will press and he will press and he will press until he can blow that thing wide open. Think of a canyon. A canyon didn’t start as a canyon overnight. It was a little crack in the ground that over time as water kept running through it, it eventually spread wide open. Think of a redwood tree, 300 feet in the air. That thing didn’t start up there. It started as a little seed in the ground and over time it grew into. That’s why Jesus says, “A little bit of yeast ruins the entire lump.” Most of the division that’s in your life started with something small years ago. And you never dealt with it and so now it’s turned into a canyon. And so you say, “Well, how do I know who this is or what I need to do?” Okay, well ask God and then run some of these filters through your mind. Who do you criticize instead of encourage? There’s probably a gap there. Who do you avoid instead of pursue? There’s probably an offense there. Who do you celebrate their failure instead of praying for their victory? Probably offending. Who do you say, “I told you so” instead of “I’m so sorry?” Who do you gossip or grumble about instead of being grateful for? And who do you hide from instead of being honest with? Like, those would be good examples. I like it to call it the grocery store test. Like, if you’re in the grocery store and all of a sudden you see that person, you’re like “Oh.”

You know what? Come on. You know what I’m talking about. Okay. That’s probably a person that there’s some crack there. And when you’re like that you’re in agreement with the wrong kingdom. So you’re absorbing the qualities of darkness. And you say, “Well, how do I get rid of that crack?” Do the opposite. If you criticize him, start encouraging him. If you celebrate their failure, pray for their victory. If you avoid them, pursue them. “Hey, I’m so glad to see you in the grocery store.” [Laughs] You know? He’d be amazed at how that happened? Listen to me. Wherever you tolerate division, you empower Satan to rule. You have to get this. Wherever you tolerate division, you empower Satan to rule. Don’t let him rule. He is a really bad God. And if you’re sitting here and you’re in a toxic relationship, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, I’m not talking to you right now. You get out of that relationship. You go find a godly relationship. You process it with them. Reconciliation is not submitting yourself to someone else’s ongoing, unrepentant, willful sin. You leave that scenario. You don’t subjugate yourself to that thing. And then you get help on how to move forward in the days to come. Okay? So who do you need to reconcile with, not if. Third thing is this. Go first. You’ve got to go first. Okay, if you’re going to wait for the other person, you realize you’re going to be waiting a long time. Matthew 5 — “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you” — that is division — “leave your gift in front of the altar. First, you go and be reconciled to your brother. Then come, offer your gift.“ In other words what God is saying is that the highest form of worship is to reconcile, because when you reconcile with somebody it’s spiritual warfare. You’re defeating Satan and you’re declaring agreement with the kingdom of God. I mean, think of David and Absalom. David, the man after God’s own heart, and his son, Absalom. A terrible situation happened in David’s family, but happens in a lot of our families. Terrible situations. And David didn’t handle it well and Absalom is furious about it. And so they have this huge rift, this tension between them. And in Second Samuel 14 it says, “Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face.” Catch it? Two years.

For two years they’re offended at each other. They don’t even see each other. Instead of one them going first and walking across the city to reconcile, they stayed in their respective places, offended with each other. And so they’re both in agreement and alignment with and empowering the kingdom of darkness in their own lives. And so David lost his kingdom and Absalom lost his life. Where do you need to go first? Maybe it’s walking across the living room, reaching across the bed. Or walking across your office, going across your neighbor. Maybe it’s walking across this room. I don’t know, but go first. Big people say it. I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me? And I forgive you. Big people say, “Are we okay? I feel like there’s something between us. Have I hurt you or offended you because if so, I’m so sorry. I want to bring it out of the darkness, into the light. So Satan no longer has power and authority over us.” Reconciliation is spiritual warfare. And you are not responsible for their response, but you are responsible to initiate. You’re not responsible for how they respond. You are responsible for how they initiate. Like, some of you are sitting here and you’re like [Laughs], “This is the worst message ever. I’m getting stressed just thinking about it.”
I know. Your heart starts beating. You start sweating. Your tongue goes dry. You’re like, “How are we going to deal with this conflict in this situation?” I know it’s so hard, but you go first. And regardless of what they do, it doesn’t matter. And I’ve had it all. I’ve had them where you go and you reconcile and you become better friends than you were ever before. I’ve had it where you reconcile and the division is gone, but we’re probably going in different directions. And that’s okay. At least there is no more division. And then I’ve had it where the other person refuses to even talk to you. And some of you are sitting in this room and you’re desperately trying to reconcile with someone in your life. Listen to me. You’re not responsible for their response. The very fact that you’re initiating and going first means you’re in agreement with the kingdom of God. You’re aligned with Him. You’re empowering His kingdom in your life.

So you will absorb the qualities and characteristics of the kingdom of God. Peace, hope and comfort will be absorbed in your heart, because you are in agreement with His kingdom. That’s why again when you see couples that split and one wants to reconcile and the other refuses, a few years go by. And the one that tried to reconcile is full of peace, hope and comfort. And the one that refused is full of bitterness and envy and hatred and jealousy. Why? Because whichever kingdom you’re in agreement with, you start to become like. Okay? Romans 12:18 — “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” And then the last thing is this. You’ve got to give up your rights. If you’re really going to reconcile, you’ve got to give up your rights. You can be right or you can reconcile. You can win the argument or you can win their heart. Jesus laid down his life. Satan lifted himself up. So in every conflict and tension and relational problem in your life, you’re becoming conformed to one of those two things. You’re either becoming conformed more to Jesus laying down your rights, or you’re becoming more conformed to Satan lifting yourself up. I mean, it cost Jesus everything to reconcile with you. It’s going to cost you something to reconcile with them. Pride, money, convenience, time, something. And yeah, they messed up, but so did you. I mean, instead of throwing rocks let’s remind ourselves we’re standing on the rock. All the stones you want to throw have already been thrown at Jesus. And the reality is, is Satan will move in and he will try to deceive you. And he will tell you, “You’re justified, man. You don’t need to go first. They need to go first. They were wrong.” Like, some of you right now, Satan is moving in and he’s chirping in your ear. And you’re thinking, “Yeah, I wish so and so was sitting in here right now because they need to hear that message.” Yeah.

Some of you are thinking — you’re looking across the room looking at somebody thinking, “I hope they’re listening because I’m ready for my apology when this thing is done.” Uh-huh, people. That’s the kingdom of darkness. Jesus doesn’t tell you to be concerned with what’s going on in someone else’s heart. He says to be concerned with what’s going on in your heart. So if you’re thinking about how this applies to someone else, [Laughs] wrong agreement. What about you? Don’t be worried about what they did wrong. Be worried about what Jesus did right. Let me close with this. Philippians 4 — Paul rides to the church of Philippi. He says, “I plead with Udea and I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord, women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel.” He says, “I plead with these two women who are good women, who love God, who are part of the gospel, part of the church, but divided over something silly.” We don’t even know what it is. There’s division. They are in agreement with the kingdom of darkness. And whenever there’s division, it dishonors, disables and destroys. There’s consequences that everyone is feeling because of the division between these two women. He says, “I plead with you.” Agree. Okay, if I’m Paul and I’m writing to you today, I plead with you and who to reconcile. I plead with you and your spouse, reconcile. I plead with you and your kid, reconcile. I plead with you and your parent, reconcile. I plead with you and your friend, your neighbor, your boss, your coworker, reconcile. I plead with you and that person in this church, reconcile. Don’t agree with the kingdom of darkness any longer. And the reason Satan will tell you, “They should go first. You forget it. Move on. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about up there today.”

The reason is that it’s because when you’re in agreement with him, you’re aligned with him and he gets to rule and reign in your life. And the moment you break the agreement with him, he loses all authority. So he will convince you to hold on to the division as long as he can, because that’s the only way he gets to rule. He is a divider. But Jesus’ ability to unite is greater than Satan’s ability to divide. Okay? So close your eyes with me. And let me just ask you. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today? I know that was a lot, but I think God wants to bring us some freedom. The first place you reconcile is with Jesus. And if you’re here and you’ve never done that, it’s as simple as this. It’s as simple as acknowledging, “Jesus, I’ve offended you. I’ve sinned. I’ve fallen short. I have been broken. I want to reconcile with you.” And I believe you died on the cross and poured yourself out, that you went first, and you paid the cost, so that Satan can’t rule and reign in my life anymore. And I receive that today, Jesus. And then once you reconcile with God, who else is He inviting you to reconcile with? Marriage, a friend, a neighbor, a family member.

That name that’s been bubbling up in your spirit this entire service, that you keep wanting to push away, it’s probably who the Spirit is drawing you towards and saying, “I know it will be hard. I know it will cost you your pride. I know it will be awkward. But you can be free.” And the Holy Spirit doesn’t send you alone. He goes with you. And he promises to give you the words that you need to say. And he promises to give you the fruit of the spirit, to be kind and patient. My hope for you is that you will have a new revelation today to understand that you don’t want to agree with the king of darkness. He has one play. Expect it. Expect this week to be offended by someone. And when it happens, smile. Say, “I’m not hitting that part all over again. I’m going around it. And I’m going to win the spiritual war, because Jesus already has and he has empowered me to be free.” So Jesus, we just pray for healing, restoration and reconciliation. I pray for all of us, that you would show us the cracks of division wherever they exist, and that they would be healed in the name of Jesus. That we would reconcile and fight the spiritual battle, that we would walk free. And I pray for those of us especially today that are sitting in this room hurt and broken over broken relationships. As they agree with you Lord, would you let your qualities and characteristics of your ruling and reigning fill them fresh today? We love you, Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.

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