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THE GOOD NEWS AND THE BAD NEWS

It’s been one of those weeks. Good news for one daughter. Bad news coming from the other daughter. Which should I tell you first? Let’s start with the good news…

At last! After two years of jumping through hoops, cutting through red tape and shelling out nearly twenty thousand dollars—so far—there has been some real action in Julie and David’s adoption process! When they started this journey, they were approved to adopt up to three children up to age four. Over this last year, though, as they have prayed and learned more about the situation in El Salvador, the Lord has been laying on their hearts the plight of the older children who are languishing in that country’s orphanages.

The government agencies until now have been totally closed to international adoptions, and very seldom even allowed domestic adoptions to go through. Thousands upon thousands of children have spent their entire childhoods in overcrowded orphanages, therefore, only to be kicked out in their late teens into a world where they have no one who cares about them or who is willing to help them get their start in life. Julie and David had started praying fervently that somehow God would work a miracle in the hearts of those who control these policies and open up the orphanages so that at least some of these children could find real homes and loving families. (Their adoption was to go through a lawyer and be done privately, catching those little ones before they were lost in the orphanage system. Even these private adoptions were very few and far between and the last two years had stopped altogether.)

The miracle happened this week! Suddenly, the orphanages in El Salvador have been opened to international adoptions and Julie and David’s agency was given the names of several children, including one sibling group, who have been approved for adoption. For Julie and David, who all along were thinking they would adopt babies or toddlers, this was an exciting answer to prayer – and a challenge. Should they continue in their quest for little ones, or was the Lord calling them to open their hearts to these lost children who had little hope of ever having a home and family?

The sibling group caught their eyes—and captured their hearts. They were two sisters, Mirna and Karen, ages ten and six, and their little four-year-old brother Daniel. They knew nothing more than their names and ages, but somehow, as they prayed, the Lord began impressing these children upon them. They felt God’s leading to tell the agency that they were very interested in Mirna, Karen and Daniel and to ask for more information. They found out on Friday that the lawyer was given permission to go to the orphanage this coming week and talk to the children and take their pictures. He was also told by the government agency that if Julie and David decide they want to adopt them, that the agencies will do all they can to expedite the approvals and processes!

Now, we don’t know for sure yet if these are truly the children the Lord intends for them to have, or if they are another stepping stone to the Lord changing Julie and David’s hearts and direction, but it is encouraging and a joy to see what has come to pass this week, and at last to be able to pray for three little orphans by name. David and Julie are not naïve. They know that taking this huge step, if it is to be, won’t be easy. There will be many hurdles – emotional baggage, language barriers at first, new and different family dynamics, the logistical issues of doubling the size of their family, the expense of the adoption (it could be another $20,000 before they are all done) and so on. If anyone, with God’s help, can handle it, though, I know they can. They have felt for a long time that besides the adoption, the Lord may be leading them into some kind of orphan ministry. This would certainly be a first step in that direction! Regardless of how this turns out, praise the Lord for answered prayer!

That’s the good news. Now for the bad news…

Poor Laurie and Fernando. It is one spiritual battle, one trial after another in their lives. They are so worn out, and fighting discouragement as Satan hurls his arrows at them. The last week or two have been hard. Melissa’s broken wrist and surgery, being threatened with a $600 fine because Sara wouldn’t open the door to two truckloads of people demanding entrance and her signature on papers supposedly for the government when her parents weren’t there, and now this among other things…

They took an overnight trip to Guayaquil to pick up my niece Rachel at the airport. That evening they got a call from the alarm company that alarms were going off all over their house! Fernando had forgotten to leave keys to the new house with his family, but he called them and asked if they could at least drive over there and see if robbers were carting their things out the gate. They called back and said, no—there were no robbers but they could see water pouring out from under the back door! Fernando then called William, the fellow who had installed the alarm system, and asked if he would please go over there and try to get over the wall and into the house to see what was going on.

William called back a while later. He got over the wall (and was shocked by the electric fence on top of the wall in the process) and managed to get the door open and then let Fernando’s family in. A pipe had broken under the sink in one of the bathrooms upstairs and the entire second floor was running with water, the water was pouring down the stairs and covering the first floor with several inches of water, as well. To make matters worse, water was pouring through most of the ceiling on the first floor, also. The alarm control box had gotten wet, too, and shorted out, and was a loss.

They could not drive home over the mountains at night (Rachel didn’t get through customs until 2:30 AM anyway), but bless their hearts, Fernando’s parents and several of his siblings stayed for hours, wet-vacuuming out the water and cleaning up the mess the best they could. When they got home the next day, the laminate floors upstairs were already beginning to curl up and water was still dripping through the ceilings downstairs. None of their possessions seemed to be ruined, but they will have to replace the floor and repair the ceiling. They can’t ask their landlady to do it, even though it was her pipe that broke and not their fault, for fear that she will kick them out of the house.

Please pray for them as they deal with one more thing that is a strength-zapper, money-waster and time-robber—just the very things that Satan knows will hinder the ministry and discourage them. The more they see fruit for their labors, the more Satan fights them. They are counting their blessings that it wasn’t robbers, it wasn’t an accident driving through the mountains, no one got hurt or killed and so on. They know God is in control and for some reason allowed it. Still, after the last few months, they are exhausted and it is hard humanly-speaking to keep praising and thanking God even in the midst of yet another trial.

There’s good news and there’s bad news…

The bad news is that we fight against Satan and all his cohorts. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

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The good news is that Satan and all his cohorts cannot separate us from the love of God. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)
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The bad news is that Satan is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us.Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (I Peter 5:8)
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The good news is that God is greater than Satan and is here with us in the battle. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4) “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (I Peter 5:9, 10)
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The bad news is Satan uses every trick and wile and lie and deceit and temptation and weakness to fight against us. “He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
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The good news is God has given us resources to fight against Satan. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:10-18) Notice it is persevering prayer that enables us to use the armor of God.
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The bad news is Satan never gives up. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:7) He is constantly, as long as he is the prince of darkness and this world, at work. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:2, 3)
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The good news is that the victory has already been won over Satan! “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31) ”And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:2, 10)

I would say to Laurie and Fernando and all who are exhausted in the battle, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9) We understand their weariness, and so does the Lord. Let us pray for strength and rest and comfort for them, and that they will feel the presence of God at their side and going before them as they face the battle against the adversary.

II Chronicles 20:15 says, “Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed…for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Satan will be defeated – he is defeated already! Victory is the Lord’s—and victory is ours! That’s the GOOD news!

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THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS

Have you ever gone through a period of time when everything seemed to be going so well, when progress was being made or you had experienced some great success, and you were excited over the all the good things that were coming your way—and you thought to yourself, “Oh-oh! We’re in for it now!” You’re holding your breath, just waiting for that other shoe to drop.
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That has happened often in our lives in the spiritual realm. We can be sure when we are seeing fruit for our labor, and victories are being won for the Lord, that Satan is not going to sit meekly on the sidelines and let it go without trying to shoot us down. The Bible tells us that we are in a spiritual battle and …we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
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This week we’ve seen several examples of that in our family, although I’ll only mention one for now. We’ve been rejoicing that the work Fernando and Laurie are doing down in Cuenca is finally underway, and that already they are seeing souls being saved, lives being touched and a body of believers encouraged and excited and growing in the Lord. After months of struggling just to get their family settled and being assaulted by one delay, obstacle and problem after another, finally in this last month they have felt that they are accomplishing the work the Lord called them to do in Ecuador. I just said a few days ago to a couple of people when we were discussing their work, “Just watch. Satan isn’t happy about this. He’ll be throwing something else at them very soon!”
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Two days later we found out what it was going to be. They are going to have to move again—for the third time in less than a year. Since the owner of their house lives in the States, they’ve been dealing with his father, Señor Morocho. They came home the other day to find Señor Morocho on their doorstep with the news that his son is planning to sell the house, despite the fact that the Naranjos have a two year lease. Apparently contracts aren’t worth much more than the paper they’re written on down there. Oh, they could take him to court, but Señor Morocho is the one who would have to deal with it, and they’ve been trying to witness to him and don’t want to do anything that would turn him away—and it’s not his fault anyway.
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You can’t imagine how disheartening this was when they first heard it. The first move had been hard—moving a family of seven from the United States to Ecuador—emotionally and physically. The second move had been bizarre—being forced to move out of a brand new house because mold was growing out of the walls in every room. Now, after only eight months in a house which is perfect for the family as far as space is concerned, but in which they had had to invest a lot of time and money in order to make it habitable, they are faced with the prospects of having to start all over again. They had just finished a major repair job in which several of the cement walls throughout the house had to be opened in order to replace leaking pipes—and deal with mold again due to the leaky pipes. Laurie had said to the girls just a few days before, “At last, this house is finally beginning to feel like home, isn’t it, girls?” Now they, too, were upset at the thought of having to move again. And on top of everything, they will be forced to spend a huge amount of time and money and energy now on another move just when they need to be using all their resources on this new church work.
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A snippet of a verse came to me yesterday when I was thinking about this battle they are going through, and I looked it up to read the whole passage. The part of the verse I remembered was “the battle is not yours, but God’s.” To my surprise I found that it is from II Chronicles 20—the very passage Fernando sat down and read with the family that night when they heard this dismaying news. As I read this chapter, there were several things I drew from it that are so encouraging to realize and remember as we go through spiritual battles of our own. I’d like to share them with you:
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II Chronicles 20 gives an account of an alliance of nations (Moab, Ammon and the inhabitants of Mount Seir) marching to war against Judah and King Jehoshaphat. This army was “a great multitude,” we are told, and Jehoshaphat was afraid and called all of Judah together—men, women and even the little children—to fast and pray.
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First of all, they acknowledged God’s power and might. And [Jehoshaphat] said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? (vs 6)
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Secondly, they acknowledged what He had done for them in the past. Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? (vs 7)
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Third, they acknowledge that He is their protector. If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. (vs 9)
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And finally, they acknowledge that they are helpless without Him. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (vs 12)
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The Lord answered their prayers. First came His promise: Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. (vs 15) Don’t worry! It’s not your battle, but Mine!
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Then came His instructions: Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. (vs 17) What?! All they had to do was stand fast, be still and watch Him accomplish it?!
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Jehoshaphat and Judah did three things then before the battle had even begun. First they worshipped the Lord. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. (vs 18)
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Second, they went forth believing and trusting God. And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. (vs 20)
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Third, before the battle began, they praised the Lord! And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. (vs 21) It was while they were singing and praising God that He fought the battle for them, causing the alliance to turn on one another and destroy themselves. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. (vs 22)
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The results of this battle? Victory, of course, but also afterwards there were blessings far beyond what they could have dreamed. (…they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. vs 25) There was thanksgiving. (…on the fourth day…they blessed the LORD. vs 26) There was rejoicing. (Then they returned…to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. vs 27-28) God’s name was glorified among the nations. (And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms… vs 29) There was peace and rest in the Lord. (So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. vs 30)
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Did you see in each of these points what we can gather for ourselves when it comes to the battles we must face? We begin with prayer, acknowledging that God is our Protector and Defense and that He is great and mighty and powerful. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world! We recall in prayer what He has done for us in the past and confess that we not only don’t know what to do, but cannot do anything without Him anyway.
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God’s answer to our prayer is “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be dismayed! Don’t worry! Stand fast. Be still and know that I am God. Watch Me fight this battle for it is Mine, not yours!” When we are truly believing and trusting Him, we are free from worry and fear and free, then, to worship and praise Him. The result is victory, for who can stand against Him? And with the victory come blessing, rejoicing, thanksgiving, peace and glory to God!
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Prayer and faith are the key. As the old saying goes, Let go and let God… Be encouraged—we do not go through our battles alone. He marches before us, and in Him, victory is sure. Just stand back and watch Him do it!