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

The Higher Goal of God’s Deliverance

1 Samuel 1:10

“She was very upset as she prayed to the LORD, and she was weeping uncontrollably.”

1 Samuel 2:1-3, 9

1 Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in the Lordmy horn is exalted high because of the Lord.  I loudly denounce my enemiesfor I am happy that you delivered me. 2 No one is holy like the Lord!  There is no one other than you!  There is no rock like our God!  3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly, letting proud talk come out of your mouth!  For the Lord is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do. 9 He watches over his holy ones, but the wicked are made speechless in the darknessfor it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.”

Each day, I am amazed how God speaks to just what I need to hear.  This blog is written directly out of my devotion time, which is from a bible-in-a-year plan.  Yet in God’s sovereignty, He uses right where I am at in His Word to speak to me. What an awesome God.

Hannah’s story has always been special to me.  God sees our longings, but fulfills them in accordance with His will and timing.  Her response is so humble and surrendered to God.  In the face of a rival mocking her for her perceived inferiority because she could not bear children, she cried out to her God.

Don’t we all not measure up somehow, in someone else’s eyes?  Hannah suffered from the onslaught of minimizing, but it was not so much her concern for Penninah’s opinion.  She did not get involved with the small-minded desire to be esteemed by others or to have what others had for vanity’s sake.  No, she longed to be a mom.  The pain and shame of not being able to bear children stemmed from her innate, God-given role as a woman.  God honored this desire.

The sting of a longing unfulfilled can paralyze us if we let it.  But in this beautiful moment of Hannah’s submission to God’s will, she wipes away her tears and trusts in God.  When God granted her request, she praised Him and then gave back this cherished gift to her God.  Our tendency as humans is to want to hold onto God’s provision, but Hannah knew that Samuel, her precious son, was God’s and not hers.  Ultimately, her desire to honor God brought about more blessing for her and five more children.

More than victory over those who would demean her, Hannah had a joy in her relationship with her LORD and had gained something even more precious – character.  Humility gained from other people’s judgment is a reward, too.  It teaches us perspective and guards us from living to please man and reminds us that none of us are without fault.

Overly being concerned with man’s affronts is not righteous.  Jesus modeled this heart of humility when false accusations were hurled at Him and He is the only One in whom there was not a hint of truth in his enemy’s rants.  He was spat upon and murdered and responded by praying on behalf of those who wished Him harm.

Letting go of the idol of currying man’s favor is a beautiful place of peace and freedom.  Hannah was not trying to be glorified by man or be the best at anything.  She was not concerned with other people’s perception of her, and when Penninah’s judgment hurt, she ran to her Father – and He heard.

Man’s opinion is insignificant in the scope of eternity, but our response reveals pride and insecurities or trust and surrender to God.  Hannah chose the latter and glorified God, not herself.  We can, too.  Her “ladder” was leaned against God, not the culture.  Her greatest goal was not being right or triumphing over her enemies, but in glorifying God and being found in Him.

Lord, help us to be in the world and not of it.  May we care more about pleasing you than anything or anyone else.

Thoughtful Thursday: Debunking Positive Thinking & other Escapes

Photo Credits jacquelinegum.com

Photo Credits
jacquelinegum.com

Job 9:25, 27-28

25My days are swifter than a runner, they speed by without seeing happiness27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaintI will change my expression and be cheerful,’ 28 I dread all my sufferings, for I know that you do not hold me blameless. 

Job 10:8-9, 15

8Your hands have shaped me and made me, but now you destroy me completely9 Remember that you have made me as with the claywill you return me to dust?  15 If I am guiltywoe to me, and if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head; I am full of shame, and satiated with my affliction.

Job 8:21

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughterand your lips with gladness.”

Psalm 27:13

“Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the LORD’s favor in the land of the living?”

Life can deal some painful blows that do not make sense and cannot be rationalized by our human perspective.  Well-meaning people can try to either hyper-spiritualize our situation or prescribe the power of positive thinking dogma.  Others might even try to pin your current demise on the possibility of your own sin being the cause.  These solutions do not bring us out of our pain, they only serve to multiply our sufferings.

Be honest about the struggle.  It is not fun – in fact, it is often heartbreaking.  A good attitude is a great approach, and seeing things through the lens of faith a necessity, but we cannot just resort to positive thinking as our solution.  A good profession of faith in God, yes, but not just merely saying positive words or self talk which are not grounded in Scripture. Pretending won’t work, either.  Religion, too, is not our Savior.  Using Scripture or numbly trying to manipulate the results we want is also not effective and ultimately trying to bypass the heart surgery God wants to perform on our character.

We don’t like being examined so ruthlessly, put through such prodding; we would rather worship God in our comfort zone. But Christ is in the dark valleys with us.  It is there that we fellowship with Him and realize our perspective was focused on self and our deliverance – being free from the trial at hand.  Deliverance is given, but not the kind we were seeking – escaping pain or the end of hardship.  No, instead we receive the priceless gift of deliverance from self and a right focus of bringing God glory in all of the many testings life brings.

Sometimes when calamity visits our home or our life, if we are honest, we admit that the trial can create a doubting of God. He let it in.  We thought He loved us, and our definition of love evidently meant that no hardship would be allowed to encroach upon our lives.  Instead, the medicine God provides is His counsel, His comfort and His presence.  This happiness does not mean all is well.  It is choosing to trust God and delight in Him, choosing to place our hope in Him when sorrows abound.

There is a sweetness in surrendering and trusting in God when it appears that He slays us.  The profession of Job in the book of Job 13:15 was such a surrender.  Instead of looking to escape adversity, it is an opportunity that we do not want to waste.  In that place of knowing God is good and knowing that He has covered all of our sins, we begin to see that temporary hardship is not the final judgment – it is just a passing through and a refinement which will pale in comparison to the sweetest moment of all, when we are with Him for all eternity.

Lord, we are but flesh and cannot comprehend how anything good could come from pain.  Give us Your eyes and understanding.  Give us faith when life hurts.  You are our sufficiency and with us always.  Thank you, God!

A Matter of Trust

By: Denise Pass © 5/30/14

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Joshua 21:45

“Not one of the Lord’s faithful promises to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; every one was realized.”

Joshua 23:11

“Watch yourselves carefully! Love the Lord your God!”

Joshua 24:14, 16

“Now obey the Lord and worship Him with integrity and loyalty. Put aside the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and worship the Lord.” :16 The people responded, far be it from us to abandon the Lord so we can worship other gods!

Trust. Such a small word and such a hard thing to do. If you have lived long enough to understand the language and dialect around you, you have had your trust broken; whether it was a family member or a friend, someone, somewhere has let you down. Live a little longer and maybe you will taste the bitter fruit of betrayal. Boy, I sound like a pessimist, don’t I? But pretending we have not been wounded by someone not fulfilling what they promised is not a solution, is it? Perhaps the most difficult of all is when you experience a horrific tragedy that you never fathomed would happen to you – sexual abuse, divorce, an incapacitating illness – where was God then? Is your trust in God hurt today, because of the actions of another who hurt you? Why is it that we blame God when another’s hand committed the pain? Or when living in a fallen world with diseases means we might become infected ourselves? Lastly, when our own sinful choices cause devastating consequences in our lives or the lives of others? Breathe in what the Bible says about God’s character. Not one. Not a single promise has He not kept. He is good – no evil resides within Him. How then can He be the author of evil that manifests in our lives? God is compassionate and weeps over the sins committed against us because of what it does to our soul. We mentally assent to these truths about God, but our heart betrays us. Oftentimes we convince ourselves that we trust God, but we cleave to something or someone else for peace and comfort. It’s a scary world out there, but no god or substitute can deliver us from the uncertainty living in a fallen world presents. Joshua is speaking to us now to put aside those things – idols, false gods, worldly solutions – that we seek to fill our trust vacuum. It can be so hard to do, but it is what is required to walk in a relationship of trust with God. “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). If today those words pierce your soul, if it seems impossible to truly be abandoned to trusting God with all of your life, surrender. That’s right. Admit that you cannot do it and lay it at His feet. Maybe consider bowing down, since we all will bow before Him ultimately. His shoulders are big enough to carry your burdens and His love never ceases. He alone is completely trustworthy.  Trust Him, today.  He is good – all the time.

Lord, help us to trust you when we are surrounded by a multitude of burdens that can turn our heart away from the simplicity of sweet trust and surrender in you. Minister and heal hearts that read this blog today, and pour out your love on them, Lord – all for Your glory!