Day 13: Facing the Enemy


Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Ultimately victory cannot be won if we do not even know what we are aiming at.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 119:114

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”

The enemy lines are drawn and we think we know the enemy’s tactics. Adrenaline pumping through our veins, we brace ourselves for the next attack and prepare our own offensive strategy . . .

. . . Or maybe we are wandering out on the field unaware that we are standing in the middle of a battleground. Yep. That is more like me.

Pelted with attack after attack we cannot fathom that anyone could be so manipulative or conniving. But we better wise up, because there is no sign of things letting up and we don’t want to be another casualty on the field of life, strewn with people who lost their hope and let the enemy take it from them. What we need is a strategy.

Though we feel weakened, God is calling us to rise up and fight.

How do we fight? What does this fighting look like? David has some ideas to share with us. He prayed and asked God to deal with his enemies. Though he entered into God’s presence stressed and wanting vengeance, he left God’s presence keenly aware of the mercy that had  been extended to Him.

Wise up. Ever had someone believe the worst in you or relentlessly attack you? You kind of wonder if there is a sign on your back, saying, “kick me while I am down”, right? The fool keeps on going and suffers for it, though, and we need to be spiritually discerning to understand our enemies tactics, how to counter them, as well as who, in fact, is our enemy. The moment of revelation is sobering when we realize we have another enemy in the ranks – especially when they claim to be our friend. Jesus understands. One He loved and washed the feet of betrayed him with a kiss.

Get over it. Hurt can paralyze us if we let it. We have to get over the reality of the betrayal to be able to see clearly. God knows it hurts but that hurt can be a tool to help us or a vessel to trap us with bitterness and pain. 

Motivations. Trying to get into the heart and mind of one who has us under siege proves difficult, but God’s word opens our eyes to a spiritual understanding that trumps the world’s perspective every time.  The motivations of another person just don’t matter. Let God deal with that. What matters is our response to their affront or attack.

Stick to the facts. People might intend harm and they might not. We can get lost walking in a mine field if we try to guess the motivations of another. Only God knows that. Sticking to the facts keeps us from the dangerous territory of presumption, which is a real joy and hope killer. It is a lot easier to understand objective facts rather than subjective ideas.

No blaming. Blaming comes naturally to us. It is easier to think that we do not bear the responsibility, and somehow makes us feel better to cast aspersions on the other wicked people. Sometimes we truly don’t bear responsibility for an attack. But blaming cannot erase the pain or fix our heartache. Instead of blaming, we can pour out our heart to God and ask for His understanding.

No hiding. Trying to destroy the evidence of our broken heart will not rid us of the scar it has left behind – it will only cause it to harden. Pretending just does not work for long. Exposing our responses to our enemies helps us to be real. Ultimately victory cannot be won if we do not even know what we are aiming at.

No Benedict Arnold. Don’t play into the enemy’s tactics. The enemy of our soul is cunning and comes like an angel of light. He trips us up to sin then condemns us and blames us. He uses other people, too. We don’t have to let them provoke us or cause us to stumble – that is defeating ourselves.

Be strong. I love the verses in Joshua reminding him over and over again to be strong and courageous. The strength is available to us, but we have to come to God and His Word to get it.

Let Him Fight For You. Todays’ scripture is not just a nice poetic illustration. It is real. He is our refuge. He is our shield – if our hope truly is in His Word. What does that mean? It means I confess doubt and place everything in His hands. I hunt for verses that speak life and truth and surrender my way to His. We have the God of the universe fighting for us and can take authority over the enemy in Jesus’ name.

So, who is our enemy? It might be an illness, another person, ourselves, or even a fellow believer who poses as an enemy in our lives. But the real enemy is the devil, seeking to use anything at his disposal to destroy us.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and sometimes we let people beat us up. That’s not what God wants for us. We can rise above attacks and glorify God in them by overcoming evil with good. Fighting for our enemies in prayer and asking God to reveal their sins as well as our own sends the devil packing. Let’s fight on our knees together and see what God does. Our victory is sure.

Lord, thank You for overcoming every enemy we will ever face. Help us to let go of a vain hope in vengeance and to have our hope in You and Your word alone.

Maybe this song will help you to fight in a way that honors God: God is Fighting For Us

Mundane Monday: Call Me Chief

Grae abounding.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 1:15

“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–and I am the worst of them!”

Self righteousness is one of the slickest tools of the enemy. Pride at the root, we begin to think we are righteous of our own merit. Often unrecognizable as we see the flaws in everyone surrounding us except for our own, it is lethal to our walk with God and hurts those around us.

Paul is refreshing in his transparent view of himself. He did not boast of his righteousness, but instead called himself the worst sinner ever.  It seems kind of demeaning at first. After all, there is always someone worse than ourselves. But God does not grade on the curve and the beauty in recognizing nothing good in and of ourselves apart from the grace of God is not only seems truthful, but fitting.

It is in seeing my desperate condition before a Holy God that I see my need of His salvation. I cannot defend myself based on any deed or belief, for it was only His grace that enabled me to do or be anything that would please a perfect God in the first place.

Admitting we all are Chief in the sin department is at once condemnation and freedom. Gaining access to a relationship with our Holy God only happens through confession of sins and then sweet redemption when we choose to believe and accept His righteousness for our own.

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us. When falsely accused, we realize that although the accusation might not be true, there is something in us that we are guilty of even if we cannot see.

This truth has been such a blessing in my walk with Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation, even though we are guilty. For Christ fulfilled God’s perfect law for all eternity and we stand blameless before a Holy God. What good news this is!

Walking in this perfect freedom, we no longer have to fear, but we also can no longer judge our brothers and sisters, either. We do not know anyone else’s hearts and we all are equally chiefs of sin, too.

Lord, thank You for revealing our sins that we could be set free. Thank you for removing our sins as far as the east is from the west. 

Truthful Tuesday: Temptation’s Opportunity

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Luke 4:13

“So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

James 1:13-14

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”
Luke 22:40
On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Matthew 6:13
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Romans 6:14
“For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.”

“The devil made me do it”.  “I couldn’t help myself”.  “I wanted to do it”.  Ever said similar things?  Mankind’s tendency is to rationalize why we do the things we do.  Paul understands.  He battled with the flesh, too, and left us excellent advice on the subject in the book of Romans.

The key is in the word, “battle”.  Many times we do not recognize that we are indeed in a battle, whether we want to be or not.  Doing nothing is doing something.  Resisting temptation is not enough when the forces of evil are seeking to plummet our walk with God.  Having a good offense and storing God’s Word as well as praising God in the midst are excellent tools to have in our arsenal, but we also must exercise our will by the grace of God in the midst of our moments of temptation.

I find it ironic that “Truthful Tuesday” was on my heart today, when my youngest child was writing the verse from Psalm 34:13 for me 100 times – “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies”.  Convincing my son that lying is not the solution to his problem with sin is a challenge.  Yet, just like his forefathers, he attempts to cover up his iniquity with excuses or falsehood.  We could never cover up all our transgressions nor face the temptations that come our way if it were not for the grace of God and the His covering of our sins by His own blood.

So who is to blame?  Certainly the enemy’s hand is ready to make us stumble.  Our own flesh,too, fully corrupt in its desires, is prone to influence us toward it’s will.  As humbling as it is to admit, we ourselves are deceived if we think we have triumphed over temptation.  It is not a once and done deal.  Hence the need for our dependence on God in relationship with Him.

When I was reading again of Christ’s victory over satan’s temptations, the words, “he departed from him until a  more opportune time” stood out to me.  Christ approached his temptation with fasting and prayer and overcame.  Yet his time of dealing with the evil one was not over.  He would undergo temptation to the point of sweating blood and deny self in every way, providing salvation for the entire world.  He was fully God and fully man and it was not easy.

In our culture, our goal can often be to take the easy route, to pursue comfort.  Such an endeavor is fertile ground for temptation to woo its victims.  Catering to the flesh fosters growth of that same flesh and will make it much more difficult to quiet its demands when tempation seizes its next opportunity.  We must never take the stance that we are done with temptation.  God’s salvation opened the door to our heart to discern sin, but we must be watchful and in prayer, so that we might continually be overcomers in Christ.

Lord, give us a holy fear to stay ever close to you.  Help us to recognize when we are being tempted and to flee all temptation, running to Your perfect arms.

Mundane Monday: A Sense of Belonging

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Jeremiah 15:16

“As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you.”

1 John 4:4

4 “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Ever feel out of sorts, like you don’t quite fit in?  Pretty sure we all have felt like that from time to time.  Some of those feelings are imagined, and sometimes groups can be exclusive, but with God all are welcome.

Acceptance and rejections await every person in any group.  This yearning that we have to be accepted can lead to idolatry and vanity, but it can also lead us to the real source where we belong – close to God.

Quiet and shy as a kid, I often wished I had the outgoing personality of those who were always popular.  But that is not how God made me.  Moving from school to school, I learned to accept others without judgment, but learning to adapt to all of these different groups and places was not as easy, and sometimes the new culture did not readily accept me, either.

When I look back at all the futile moments of time wasted searching for acceptance from man, resulting in anxiety and feelings of rejection, I wish I had the wisdom and peace that I have now.  Funny thing is, over time we receive a gift of learning to be happy in our own skin.  Sure, we can still worry about people liking us or not, but what used to bother us does not have the same affect anymore as it once did.

If you are not yet there, do not despair.  The One living in us is able to help us overcome our fear of man and convince our souls that we do in fact belong – to the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Sure, some might be saying it would sure be nice to fit in down here on earth, but God holds a neat promise there, too.  If we will seek to love people and be faithful, He will grant us favor with Himself and man, too (Proverbs 3:3-4).

If you have’t yet decided to risk joining the group called Christianity, can I just tell you that you will not be rejected if you come honestly before God and ask him to save you.  He is able to open your eyes and heart to understand and to save you.  You, too, can hear the words, “You belong”.  If you already belong to Jesus, no doubt the enemy has tried to rock that faith.  God is able to heal your heart, too.  Come to Him.  I am praying for you now.  Ultimately, belonging to Jesus is the most satisfying relationship we could ever want, and, unlike temporary popularity, it lasts forever.

Lord, thank You for accepting us despite our shortcomings and failures.  When we are tempted to yearn for belonging in this world, God, please convince our souls that we were not made for this world, but for You and Your pleasure.  

Happy Easter – The Second Adam Conquered Death!

1 Corinthians 15: 26, 45, 47, 54b-57

26 “The last enemy to be eliminated is death.  45 So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.  54b Now when the perishable puts on the imperishable and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen.  55 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ!”

The greatest fear of mankind according to one source, is public speaking.  Next to that is death.  When I was a child, I was afraid to die.  Mostly it was the uncertainty of and the manner in which that event would take place that I feared.  Or being taken sooner than I wanted.  Then I met Christ.  He conquered the fear of death and conquered my heart, as well.  I will never be the same.

What looked like defeat when God Himself was nailed to a cross was victory, instead!  The innocent was slain and satan thought he had won.  Instead, all mankind was covered with the blood of the sinless lamb, who defeated our enemy – death.

Jesus faced the fear of death as the perfect God-man.  The first Adam was given life by our Creator, God.  .Made in the image of God, he chose sin and separated all mankind from God.  Every offspring from then on was made in Adam’s image.  Until Jesus came.  This second Adam lived a perfect life and brought eternal life to all.  We were first born of Adam and now can be born again through Jesus.

When I first heard that terminology, “born again”, I thought the people who shared the Gospel with me were crazy.  So did Nicodemus, when he questioned Jesus about how one could be born again.  But because Christ rose from the dead, we, too, who believe in Him will rise.  And this hope we have is not in vain.

The more I walk with Him, the more I long to be with Him.  I do not desire to leave loved ones, but I realize that we who are in Christ were made for another world.  My former fear of death has been replaced with a perfect love that casts out all fear.  The longing in our hearts for eternity with God cannot be satiated by anything this world has to offer.

Today, as we celebrate Easter, may we pause and realize the effect of Christ’s obedience on the cross.  His resurrection means we no longer need to fear death – He crushed it and the head of the serpent.  Praise be to God!  Happy Easter!

The Devil’s in the Details

Judges 8:22-27

22 The men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us – you, your son, and your grandson. For you have delivered us from Midian’s power.” 23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 24 Gideon continued, “I would like to make one request. Each of you give me an earring from the plunder you have taken.” (The Midianites had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 They said, “We are happy to give you earrings.” So they spread out a garment, and each one threw an earring from his plunder onto it.26 The total weight of the gold earrings he requested came to seventeen hundred gold shekels. This was in addition to the crescent-shaped ornaments, jewelry, purple clothing worn by the Midianite kings, and the necklaces on the camels. 27 Gideon used all this to make an ephod, which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. All the Israelites prostituted themselves to it by worshiping it there. It became a snare to Gideon and his family.

When presented with people wanting to hail him as their king and leader, Gideon did not crave power – instead, he wanted God alone to rule His people.  God had led Gideon successfully to defeat the Midianites (Ishmael’s descendants).  15,000 Midianite men against 300 Israelites, armed with trumpets, clay pots and torches.  A God like that was the only One Gideon wanted to lead His people.  He rightly knew that he was not the one who led God’s people – God was.  Gideon followed God and was blessed for this obedience.

I love the humility of Gideon here, and yet, directly after he professed so beautifully that God alone was the true King, he stumbled.  Right after seeing an amazing deliverance where God told him ahead of time about His deliverance and fulfilled it, Gideon got sidetracked.  A little decision to make a simple relic destroyed his pure devotion and the devotion of ALL the Israelites to their living, One true God.  How sad.

An ephod was not necessarily sinful; in fact, historically it was part of the high priest’s garment, which had a breastpiece overlaid, containing the Urim and the Thummim, used for obtaining oracles from the LORD.  This ephod designed by Gideon, however, was not made in the same manner or with the same elements.  It was not used as a priestly garment, but was instead used as an item of worship, kept in Gideon’s own home.  Gideon had been insecure about whether or not God would use him in the past.  I wonder if Gideon considered seeking divination from a relic instead?

Even more striking to consider is the crescent-shaped ornaments that Gideon was enamored by.  These ornaments are a foreshadowing of modern-day Islamic iconic symbols, reminding us of Sarah and Abraham’s choice to take matters into their own hands, when they tried to bring about God’s promise through Ishmael. That one decision, made in a sea of right decisions, is the very source of the catastrophic attacks on God’s people today, played out on the world stage.  Think about that.

God help us to consider not just the vast decisions that lay before us, but the small ones, too.  The failure of a saint does not always have to be a big glaring sin.  It is often in the subtle, hidden places where our enemy lurks to see if we are paying attention.  May we care about motives and diligently seek God to walk blamelessly before Him.  Those who follow behind us will be impacted, too.  Will we surrender over every aspect of our lives to obedience to God, or hold back a portion that seems insignificant?

Lord, thank you for revealing our sins, that we might confess them to You!  Thank You for your mighty deliverance.  Help us to not take Your salvation for granted and to be aware of the enemy’s tactics, seeking You in all things.

You Can’t Hide From God

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1 Kings 14:2-6

Jeroboam told his wife, “Disguise yourself so that people cannot recognize you are Jeroboam’s wife. Then go to Shiloh; Ahijah the prophet, who told me I would rule over this nation, lives there. Take ten loaves of bread, some small cakes, and a container of honey and visit him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.”

Jeroboam’s wife did as she was told. She went to Shiloh and visited Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see; he had lost his eyesight in his old age. But the Lord had told Ahijah, “Look, Jeroboam’s wife is coming to find out from you what will happen to her son, for he is sick. Tell her so-and-so. When she comes, she will be in a disguise.” When Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, “Come on in, wife of Jeroboam! Why are you pretending to be someone else? I have been commissioned to give you bad news.

Imagine trying to play hide and seek with God.  There’s no winning there.  Adam and Eve tried to do it in the garden.  Now here it is again – a wife led astray by her husband who coached her in how to deceive – busted.   Insult to injury – in front of an essentially blind prophet, too.  This story is reminiscent of Jacob’s deceit (with momma’s coaxing), as he donned some fur and went into essentially blind Issac’s presence, presumably as Esau.  In the New Testament we see Ananias and Sapphira together choosing to deceive – not just men, but the Holy Spirit.  Scary stuff.  Foolish choices, that are laughable to us today.

What is hidden from God’s eyes?  Nothing!  Why even attempt to deceive God or one of God’s mouthpieces?  It is folly, and yet attempted because deep down they knew of their sin.  They knew they could not curry the favor of God while condoning their sin.  So they manipulated and deceived instead.  Sounds like our ancient enemy, coming as a serpent making promises that were insidiously deceitful.  That’s his manner and language, after all.  Ultimately the enemy is behind our attempts to deceive, to.  If that doesn’t work, he uses shame to make us hide from God.  Will we listen to him, or to the One Who we will give an account?

So, if we know that God sees all and knows all, why would anyone ever be ignorant enough to try and trick God?  Really?  It is futile!  Perhaps because God appeared so much more overtly active at different times in the Bible.  Fire from Heaven in response to a prayer is much more tangible to man than a nudging of the Holy Spirit in our hearts today.  We have seen though, that God’s people quickly turned away in the Old Testament, too, despite massive encounters with the living God.  But perhaps we are not as bold to step out in faith and see God be as palpable today as He was in the Old Testament. Today, yes even today, many countries witness the powerful movement of God through missionaries whose hearts are completely His.  People are healed dramatically, miracles still happen today – large and small – for God’s glory alone.

I love the story of Elijah, the one lone prophet remaining against 450 prophets of Baal.  He boldly affirmed that God was the One true God, in the face of 450 prophets all slashing themselves and screaming at the top of their lungs for God to answer.  Elijah stood firmly and KNEW His God would deliver.  An amazing sign of God’s power followed.  Have you ever had moments like that in your life?  Not where you ask God for signs which demonstrate your faith to bring you glory, but where you have nothing left and cry out to God and stand on His promises and see Him glorified by activity in your life.

By the grace of God, I have seen God move strongly in my life, but I have also had prolonged periods of silence.  It is the times of God’s miracles that I cherish and hold onto when I feel forgotten.  It is His character and the knowledge of how awesome God is that keeps me motivated to walk before Him, knowing He is good all the time.  Who would want to hide from a God like that?  One who has been deceived into believing falsely about God’s character.   One who has been tricked into thinking that he can achieve favor through another means.  Stop the madness.  Submit to the Father of our Spirits and live!

Lord, when we are aware of how we fall short and are tempted to hide from You, please open our eyes to see You and help us to run to You, instead.