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guard0602A new soldier was on sentry duty at the main gate. His orders were clear. No car was to enter unless it had a special sticker on the windshield. A big Army car came up with a general seated in the back. The sentry said, "Halt, who goes there?"

The chauffeur, a corporal, said, "General Wheeler."

"I'm sorry, I can't let you through. You've got to have a sticker on the windshield."

The general said, "Drive on!"

The sentry said, "Hold it! You really can't come through. I have orders to shoot if you try driving in without a sticker."

The general repeated, "I'm telling you, son, drive on!"

The sentry walked up to the rear window and said, "General, I'm new at this. Do I shoot you or the driver?"

Sometimes, it's difficult in times of war to know who to shoot. In the heat of battle, armies frequently experience casualties due to the gunfire of allied armies. During the first Gulf War, for example, 24% of American deaths were attributed to "friendly fire." The church suffers in the same way. In our zeal to get rid of the enemy and shoot someone, we have been known to mistakenly set our crosshairs on one another.

Simon Whitten has written these insightful words on his Spiritsword Daily Devotional blog

"One way or another, ‘friendly fire’ incidents are inevitable during the stress and confusion of war. Even well-meaning, well-trained soldiers sometimes shoot at and wound or kill men on their own side. This doesn’t make them the enemy, though Satan would prefer we felt that way. We need to look beyond the small firefight we’re involved in, and see the big picture, see it from a general’s perspective.

"If you’ve been involved in or have witnessed a ‘friendly fire’ incident, you’re probably aware of the lack of trust, the deep suspicions, the healing that needs to take place. No healing can take place unless there’s forgiveness. Perhaps you have to receive it, or maybe extend it, but in this war there is probably no weapon more powerful than forgiveness.

"Spend some time praying. Pray for those in the church who have been involved in a ‘friendly fire’ incident, regardless of blame or fault. Pray specifically for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation."

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:10-12)

May you be strengthened today in the spiritual warfare that Satan is waging against you, and may you set your sights on him.

Alan Smith