Day 13: Facing the Enemy

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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

Worshipful Wednesday: Our Protector

Photo Credits: avramizza.wordpress.com

Photo Credits:
avramizza.wordpress.com

Psalm 94:14

“Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him. 15 For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated. 16 Who will rise up to defend me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against the evildoers? 17 If the LORD had not helped me, I would have laid down in the silence of death. 18 If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O LORD, supports me. 19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. 21 They conspire against the blameless, and condemn to death the innocent.  22 But the LORD will protect me, and my God will shelter me.” 

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-15

“Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, 2 can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” 3 He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. 4 He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.5 You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day 6 or the plagues that strike in the dark or the evils that kill in daylight. 14 God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord.15 When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honor them.”

When I was in middle school, I remember well people who surrounded me and bullied me.  Knife fights on Fridays were to be avoided and you did not want to look at anyone the wrong way, lest they think that you were judging them and want to fight you.  The bus ride to and from school was where I tried my first earnest petitions for God’s protection.  “God, please keep me safe.  Do not let these people beat me up”.  “Protect me”.  I thought if I refused to fight and was kind to them that they would leave me alone.  Not so much.  Insecure people thrive on intimidating others.  But our God is bigger.

Back then He used friends and family to stand in the gap to protect me.  I was a bookworm as a kid, quiet and shy. Definitely not a fighter.  I remember being so thankful that my two older brothers had my back.  I was not alone.  Ultimately, though, my brothers could not be there for every scuffle.  When perpetrators sought to harm me, God defended me and made a way out.  When my heart was filled with fear, God was my covering and my Protector.

If I thought the trauma from childhood was bad, it was a walk in the park compared to what lie ahead.  Cleaving to my God when being bullied, God used me to protect my children from harm, and from those who wanted to control or force their way in.  God’s protection is stronger than any other, but sometimes we have to walk through the fire to appreciate it.

Somewhere along this road in life we will encounter people who seek to harm us.  Maybe it is jealousy, or they want what we have.  Maybe they think they have a right to be in our life, despite their inability to respect our boundaries.  Maybe they persist because they truly believe they have a right to.

As we seek refuge in our God, we also walk in wisdom.  Walking at night alone and expecting protection is careless. Placing healthy boundaries in our lives can be a source of protection, but is not where our hope for deliverance rests.  Sometimes we are presented with challenges that we did not seek out or place ourselves in.  It is then that our God will rise up and defend us.  Like the Israelites, that deliverance might hurt.  It will not be easy, but He will carry us through it.

As we hide in the eye of the storm and watch our God fight for us, we might need to make sure we have let go of the anxiety and fear that were our companions when we were harassed.  Forgiving people for inflicting harm also frees us to revel in the joy of the LORD and to be free from the fear of man.  Compassion for the oppressor surprises us as we let go of any right we feel we have to become embittered for harm we suffered.  Forgiveness does not mean, however, that we permit open access to people who think they deserve it.  Walking in wisdom means we have boundaries in place to test the trustworthiness of those who want to be in our lives.  Jacob and Esau forgave one another but they did not dwell near one another.

Good old fashioned respect and apologies go a long way in mending relationships, but boundaries are perfectly acceptable and needed to protect us when people have violated us and our trust.  Bullies were not just in the middle school play yard. And they are not always people.  We can be bullied and pressured by life’s hardships, until we run to our Shelter.

A job, a person, an entity or a court system are not our Savior – they might be tools God uses to protect us, but God is the One doing the protecting.  When we come to know Him as our Deliverer, Defender and Protector, we trust Him and are able to help others do the same as our lives are a testimony of His grace and provision.  He is faithful and loves to come to the aid of His people who cry out.  He did not promise us that there would not be surging waters and roaring fires, but He did promise to carry us through it all.  What an awesome, faithful God!

Lord, help us to trust in You and Your deliverance.  We worship You, our Covering, our Jehovah Nissi, our Protector – Jehovah Roi!  Thank you for Your mighty salvation!  We look to You alone!

Fear Not!

Psalm 91:1-9

“As for you, the one who lives in the shelter of the sovereign one, and resides in the protective shadow of the mighty King – 2 I say this about the LORD, my shelter and my stronghold, my God in Whom I trust – 3 He will certainly rescue you from the snare of the hunter and from the destructive plague.  4 He will shelter you with His wings; you will find safety under His wings.  His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall.  5  You need not fear the terrors of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6  the plague that comes in the darkness, or the disease that comes at noon.  7  though a thousand may fall beside you, or a multitude on your right side, it will not reach you.  8  Certainly you will see it with your very own eyes – you will see the wicked paid back.  9  For you have taken refuge in the LORD, my shelter, the Sovereign One.”

Fear is in the air . . . especially if you get your daily dose of the terrorist propaganda or news of the spread of the dreaded Ebola.  You can even watch a poor soul being beheaded to terrify you, though I have not done so and would not recommend condoning such savagery by viewing it.  The pictures are enough to make us wonder if this evil force will succeed in their purposes, but somewhere in the quietness of our souls we know there is a Hero who has already won the war.  Though we might suffer temporarily, we know God has a good purpose in it and that ultimately He will deliver.  Praise His Name!

I cherish the promises in the Scriptures above.  The casual observer might wonder what it means to be sheltered in His wings – He is not a winged being, but it is an illustration of His covering.  Hidden in Him, He is our Protector.  I had to laugh at the disease arriving at noon – that’s how life is, isn’t it?  One moment, all is well, then the next you have a diagnosis or some crisis.  But we do not need to fear what comes next or borrow troubles that might not ever visit us.  Even when hardship or problems come our way, God never removes His love from us.  No, He even uses that necessary evil to make us more like Him – a treasure far more valuable than temporary suffering.

Fear speaks of a lack of trust, uncertainty.  Our times might be uncertain, but our God isn’t.  He is from everlasting to everlasting, the Eternal God.  He already knows the end completely and it is His faithfulness and His character we can rest in.  Evil will come and go and the temptation to fear will be tangible.  It is at that moment that we need to CHOOSE to place our trust in God – our fear in Him, not in things which are destined to be destroyed.  He is Our Defender and wants to show Himself strong on our behalf – we activate that defense by confidently trusting in Him by faith.  Don’t worry if you do not have sufficient faith – He can help you with that, too.

To everyone in these troubled times, God is in control.  He is not surprised by the turmoil and evil around us, He’s seen it before.  The rise and fall of wicked men is a cyclic pattern, ultimately all for God’s glory.  Yes even evil will bring Him glory, because He is the only One, true, Holy God and He is the One Who is All-Powerful and able to conquer any foe.  In Him I place my confidence, not our military or our leader, who the LORD put in the position of leadership, but in God alone.  I hope this inoculation of the real “reality” of God’s strength will help us to all realize the weakness in the enemy’s armor – he is not a god, he is not all-powerful.  He is a tool of the devil, destined to hell.

Lord, help us to trust in You – when we can’t see You, when we are prone to doubt, increase our faith and help us to rely solely on You.  Thank You, God, that You are always faithful!  You know we are dust and You long to protect and defend us.

Fear and Illusive Safety

Proverbs 16:17

“The highway of the upright is to turn from evil; the one who guards his way safeguards his life.”

Proverbs 3:24
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.”

Proverbs 18:10
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.”

Job 5:22
“You shall laugh at destruction and famine, And you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth.”

Psalms 112:7
“He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Psalms 91:9,10
“Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;”

Isaiah 43:1,2
“…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

In an uncertain world, it is amazing anyone of us feels safe.  Just yesterday I heard of a friend who was making funnel cakes in a tent when all of a sudden a tree fell out of nowhere upon him and he was hospitalized.  Crazy.  It was not even raining outside.  Evil villains slaughter innocent children and blame their radical so-called faith for their actions, people loot stores and threaten violence because of a perceived injustice; yes friends, fear is still a tool used by the enemy daily, seeking to rob us of security.  Even if it is not crazed people terrorizing the general public, earthquakes, hurricanes, natural disasters and accidents happen daily.  So what is a Christian to do?  Be afraid?  Maybe.  Give in to fear?  Never.

Fear of flying can keep you from venturing through the sky, fear of water can keep you from exploring the sea, fear of criminals can keep you in at night, fear of well almost anything can steal your joy and make you feel unsafe.  But isn’t it so wonderful that as Christians we do not need to fear ANYTHING except for only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).  You may say, “bad things happen to Christians, too”.  Yes, the rain falls on the good and the bad, but perfect love casts out fear.

What is this perfect love?  Amazing grace to uphold you when the fire is hot and the waters are deep.  Strength beyond what you ever thought you were capable of when you felt weak.  The will to endure when trials are long and arduous.  And more . . . much more.  Until you have walked through the pain and sting of real fear and threats, one cannot contemplate how very real the presence of God is in those moments.  His promise to be with us during those moments is the singular most significant difference we have when compared with unbelievers walking through the same trials.

My hope is that in this very difficult time with so much tumult throughout the world, that whoever reads this blog will find comfort in the midst.  He is our refuge, our dwelling place, our strong tower.  We are safe when we run to Him.  Shadrach and his pals saw God’s amazing intervention and deliverance from the fire; Daniel did, too, in the lion’s Den.  The Israelites saw God part the Red Sea then swallow up their enemies.  God can do that for you, too.  But even if He in His perfect sovereignty does not choose to deliver you FROM the fear or hardship, He very well might deliver you THROUGH it.

Fear not – rely on God and His mighty arm today!  He is able to strengthen us and will accomplish His purposes all for His glory and our good.  What an amazing God.

Lord, help us to trust in You and that You will not give us more than we can bear, but will grant us strength to bear through it.  You are good, Lord, and we want to shine genuine faith to a world that suffers alongside us.  Thank you for being our refuge and very real ever-present help in times of trouble.