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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Stumbling Blocks Part 5 (Holy Warriors Part 42)

Today’s readings:

Deuteronomy 6:4-13

Psalm 18:2-51

Matthew 17:14-20

For holy warriors, we present more stumbling blocks and ways of overcoming them, according to God’s word.

One, a big stumbling block is not loving God with our all. Sure, we love God. Sure we serve Him. But do we love and serve Him with our all, over and beyond anyone and anything else we have? Is He our one and greatest priority? God Himself through Moses tells us His people, “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.” (Dt 6:4-5). Holy warriors know who their God is, and act accordingly.

Two, a stumbling block is ingratitude or forgetting the good God does for us. “When the Lord, your God, brings you into the land …. with houses full of goods …. with vineyards and olive groves …. and when, therefore, you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord” (Dt 6:10-12a). How often do we ask, nay beg, God for good things, and then when we receive them, forget about His goodness? If we only kept all the good things we have received from the Lord in mind and at heart, we would be forever grateful. Then holy warriors would not be brought down by the occasional mishap or trial or suffering. We would know that He is a faithful God who is never outdone in generosity, and who only has our well-being in mind.

Three, a stumbling block is the lack of awe for the one and only God, which then can lead to straying away from Him and even to idolatry. “The Lord, your God, should you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear. You shall not go after other gods” (Dt 6:13-14a). Our God is a jealous God. He wants us all to Himself. He wants us focused on Him and on His work. He looks to fidelity. He does not want us to veer away, and end up serving the enemy. For holy warriors this is crucial, “lest the anger of the Lord, your God, flare up against you and he destroy you from upon the land.” (Dt 6:15b). How tragic, God who is committed to destroy the enemy through us would end up destroying us as we have become the enemy within.

Four, a stumbling block is forgetting where our strength lies and comes from, and beginning to act on our own human strength. But what is the reality? God is “my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!” (Ps 18:2-3). Right here is everything that a holy warrior would need in order to engage in spiritual warfare and be victorious. We find our strength, protection, refuge and salvation only in God. With such a God, we go forth into battle with great confidence, as we say, “Praised be the Lord, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.” (Ps 18:4).

Five, a stumbling block is sin and unrighteousness. We serve a holy God, and we must be holy ourselves. God looks kindly upon the righteous, and is able to empower us in battle. “The Lord acknowledged my righteousness, rewarded my clean hands.” (Ps 18:21). We battle against evil forces. It must be clear on whose side we are, by the outer garments (uniform that we wear), signifying what is in our hearts. Is it clean white linen, or dirty diabolical garb? “Toward the pure, you are pure; but to the perverse you are devious.” (Ps 18:27). Wearing the mantle of righteousness, we can charge into battle and do wondrous deeds. “With you I can rush an armed band, with my God to help I can leap a wall.” (Ps 18:30).

Six, a stumbling block, as we have seen over and over, is lack of faith. We do have faith, but it is not big enough. It is not commensurate to the greatness of our God. Jesus’ disciples could not cure the boy with a demon (Mt 17:16). They had already been empowered by Jesus, but they lacked the faith to accomplish the task. Jesus told them why they could not drive the demon out. “Because of your little faith.” (Mt 17:20a). Holy warriors are to go forth in the very power of God, to overcome a very strong enemy. They need faith that moves mountains. “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20b). But is it not only God with whom nothing is impossible? True, but holy warriors do His work, and are given His power to do so.

The focus of a holy warrior is God. We have faith in God. We are centered on Christ. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Such focus is crucial to engaging a powerful enemy. We must know and follow only “this God who girded me with might, …. who trained my hands for war” (Ps 18:33a,35a). This God gives us courage. “You girded me with valor for war” (Ps 18:40a). This God gives us the victory. “I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till I destroyed them.” (Ps 18:38).

As God used and empowered King David, so too will He empower His armies today. As we overcome the stumbling blocks, we can look to His mighty hand upon us and our work. “You have given great victories to your” holy warriors. (Ps 18:51a).

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