He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:17-19)
You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. (Psalm 18:39-40)
Take a moment and read the scriptures above. Think of God as your Deliverer in the first. He rescues you because He delights in you, not because you turned to Him. He brings you into a spacious place where you are no longer bombarded by your present trouble. Now think of God as your Provider and Vindicator in the second. He gives you what you need to battle the darkness of this world and walks before you in battle.
Now read the scriptures again knowing the character of God but this time see that the “foes” and “adversaries” represent your sin and your flesh. Many times, you are your own enemy as your flesh battles the spirit that is put inside you when you accept Christ as your Savior. Many times, God has to rescue you from yourself and give you weapons to battle the sin left in your soul.
We tend to think of our enemies as outward influences but many times we are at odds with ourselves. Our humanity founded in worldly things fights our spirit founded in eternal things. It is when we submit to God and the character shown in His Word above that we have the ability to fight the residual sin found in our flesh. It is when we crucify our flesh daily that the Spirit of God in us can shine forth and lead us to deeper relationship with Him. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God…. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:6-9)
“Daniel, don’t be afraid. God has heard your prayers ever since the first day you decided to humble yourself in order to gain understanding. I have come in answer to your prayer. The [evil] angel prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief angels, came to help me, because I had been left there alone in Persia” (Daniel 10:12-13).
This piece of scripture points out that there existed an angel over Persia that was in opposition to the angel of God. We must see the significance of the evil angel that opposed the work of God accomplished through His angels from Heaven. This concept is huge. We know from Ephesians that: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Imagine with me that for every blessing God has for His children the deceiver has the ability to send one of his demons (fallen angels) to oppose that blessing, resulting in a spiritual battle. This battle exists around believers constantly. We walk in the peace and joy of the Lord and then find ourselves beat down by worry and doubt that results in depression and despair. We start to question God’s involvement when in fact it’s the actions of the deceiver through suggestion that cause us trouble. We are called to have faith in our Lord so that we can combat the seeds planted by the deceiver. We are called to put on the full armor of God to protect ourselves for his flaming arrows and then fight against him with God’s word as Jesus did in the wilderness.
Don’t lose heart when you struggle. Those struggles only exist because the deceiver sees you as a threat worthy enough to require attention. If God wasn’t using you for an important purpose the devil would have no need to concern himself with you. Always reassure yourself that the troubles that attack you as you walk in faith are attacks from the enemy and not an absence of God. Use these attacks as a opportunity to ‘fine tune’ your armor and grow closer to God. As your faith matures along with your relationship to God, the deceiver will see that attacks on you become fruitless because the fruits of God’s Spirit abound in your life.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Revelation 12:7)
Many people come to Christ and dive into trying to be good. They imitate what they think a Christian should do and end up disappointed and exhausted in their effort. The yoke of Christ is light. He bore the burden of our sin and sent the Holy Spirit as our Helper to continue our growth and maturity. When we try to walk in our own strength we end up burned out and wondering where the peace and joy is. It is impossible to control your flesh with your flesh. Even if it were possible you would not be walking with God, you would still be alone. God didn’t send His Son to reconcile you to Him and then allow you to walk alone.
Our job is to deny our flesh, turn from our sin and allow the Holy Spirit to create genuine and lasting change in us. God looks to break down our flesh and let His Spirit guide us in our walk. If we try to imitate godly attributes by ‘being good Christians’ God still has to break down those human imitations so that His Spirit can instill the eternal ones. Man-made attributes are motivated by man’s will and not the Spirit. Even at their best, which is broken, they build up man instead of glorifying God. God will not let His children settle for lesser gifts, He knows His Spirit is necessary for the relationship He desires. All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.
Spend time daily with God in submission to His will and the correction of His Holy Spirit. Be led by the Spirit to lasting, eternal change in your spirit. It takes longer because it’s genuine. After experiencing the process, you will see changes to your heart that you were not even aware needed attention. Then you will experience the lasting changes of God that are accompanied by the peace and joy promised in Jesus Christ.
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:5-6)
It is rare that we are exposed to preaching and writings that focus on the schemes of the deceiver. I agree that the love of God the Father through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus is the most important message by far; but the enemy of God’s love must be acknowledged. Thinking about an entity and his army trying to draw you away from God can be terrifying. As with all things, perspective makes all the difference. It is inevitable that a walk with the Lord will be met with equal opposition. If you don’t feel the opposition of the devil you might be walking in the direction he wants for you. If you don’t feel his opposition you may not pose a threat to his plan to destroy God’s reconciliation with His creation.
The closer you get to God the more the deceiver looks for a way to hinder your progress. You could get discouraged by this, or be prepared and wear his attacks as a badge of honor. You can know ahead of time that the deceiver wants you to fail and use the power you have in your Savior to walk in victory. Better than that, you can use satan’s prideful attempts to trip you to grow!
The deceiver will use earthly desires and pride to tempt you to settle for something far less than what God has for you. When he shoots the flaming arrows of Ephesians 6, use your shield to defend yourself and acknowledge where the devil was trying to hurt you.
Let his attempts to hurt you reveal the weakness he perceives in you. When you are attacked stand secure in what God has promised you and let the deceiver point out the weak points in your armor. If he continues to aim at a certain place, he is just showing you wear your armor might be weak. Let your walk with God strengthen that part of your armor. Most of the time the deceiver will use your pride to draw you away. Not a chest pounding pride but the pride that makes you feel that you can do anything without God, the pride of self-sufficiency or self-focus.
When you feel drawn away or beat down in your walk with the Lord, identify what weakness the deceiver is looking to exploit and ask the Holy Spirit to help you in that weakness. Ask God to give you His power to grow in that area, closer to His grace and love. After having God’s view of the deceiver’s feeble attempts to hurt you, you will gain experience and get better at seeing the new ways he comes against you. Each new angle gives you another chance to grow closer to God and stronger in His Spirit.
As satan’s pride causes him to battle in vain to win a battle we know He loses in the end, use his pride to destroy yours. As the devil’s pride attacks, yours will fall away when you draw closer to God. Your self-reliance will fall to pieces and God’s indwelling Spirit will shine through in your maturity. Use the devil as a stepping stone. Each new stone lets you raise higher. As long as the hatred of the devil comes against us, we have another way to perceive our weaknesses. Now we can let the Holy Spirit work in us so that we are stronger in battle and closer to our Father.
Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them— let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth’— then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. (Job 33:23-26)
Reading the passage above I am confronted with the extent of God’s mercy. This wonder scripture tells us about “one of a thousand” angels send to guide us in how to walk with God. That’s God’s one thousand plus attempts to guide us back to Him. Imagine the love involved in that kind of persistence. Would you have the love to try a thousand times to walk with someone who rejected every previous attempt? God allows people who turn from Him to walk into trouble repeatedly in the hope that the next angel sent to them will be the messenger of joy to Heaven.
Then it’s revealed that the angel may find a ransom for that lost soul, that they might be renewed in the eyes of their Lord. All of Heaven knows that there is in fact a ransom which will reconcile us with God. He sent His Son so that He might be a ransom for all who believe in His name. the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6a)
Praise God for the mercy, grace and love that led Him to seek His children a thousand times. Praise God for the gift of Jesus and His rescue from a death we all deserve in our sinful turning away. Although the events of Job take place well before the laws given to Moses or the birth of Jesus, we see the heart of God for His people. We can fall in love with a God who seeks us in our rebellion with a tenacity that has no bounds. Let this love for God lead you to share it with the lost as He sends to share the Gospel. Know that you are one of God’s thousands of attempts to make His love known in all the earth.
Many people think of pride as someone who thinks they are better than those around them. People focus on the “chest beating” pride that is the most outwardly evident form. The dangerous kinds of pride are the less obvious types. These are self-reliance and self-focus. All pride drives us away from God and opens up a foot-hold for the deceiver. God opposed the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Pride is the reason the devil was cast out of heaven and is the source of all sin. The pride of the deceiver is what causes him to oppose God and oppose those who serve God here on earth. Any pride that you hold is a connection to the nature of satan and a barrier to closeness with the Lord.
It is human nature to try and do things for ourselves in our own way. We drift from reliance on God. This sinful nature draws us into a life soiled by pain, frustration, and worry. We feel out of place and unsettled as we try and mask the missing peace with worldly pleasures through more self-reliance. These earthly “band-aides” leave us deeper in despair. Someone who lives in self-reliance builds a house with no foundation. When they fall there is no limit to the depths of that trouble.
On the other hand, we can fight that nature. We can rely on God. He desires us to rely on His provision and designed us to walk in reliance on Him. We were designed for a purpose and God wants us to walk in His light. If we follow the path of God we a fulfilled and at peace in our journey through life. We draw closer to God in reliance on Him and the deceiver loses his ability to draw on the pride that causes self-reliance. God calls us to humility and submission so that He can lead us in the peace and joy found in Him.
Humans are selfish by nature. From birth we think only of ourselves. The dangerous position of self-focus causes many things that create deep turmoil in our live. This kind of pride is the source of anxiety, depression, anger, unforgiveness, etc. It’s sad to see the world turn to medication over God. When we think the world revolves around us or that we deserve more than we do, we fall victim to pride. We are anxious when we think we can control the things around us. We get depressed when we don’t get what we feel we should or feel the way we want. Anger occurs when we feel wronged because we don’t deserve undesired treatment or belong in a certain situation. We have trouble forgiving when we want additional attention for the wrong we perceive. All of those situations find their source in personal opinions on what we think should be true.
We have to turn to God and realize our mission on earth is to serve the growth of His kingdom and to glorify Him as His image bearers. The world owes us nothing. We have no control over the outcomes when God is in control. People are not focused on how we are affected by their actions because their fallenness causes them to be self-focused. It’s not our job to hold anyone accountable for the pride that we can now recognize. We must show them what humility looks like as they continue to walk in pride. Their escape from the prison of pride is between them and God. Focus on God and His plans. Focus on your involvement in His kingdom and turn away from the temptation to make any situation revolve around you.
The most dangerous part of pride is that pride keeps us from seeing the pride in ourselves and others. We cannot admit the existence of our pride because our pride will not allow it. That is the reason why, even in the eyes of defeat, the devil cannot admit to himself that he cannot defeat God. People cannot see their own pride so you cannot call out their flaw. You must be an image bearer of humility and love that draws them to God’s peace that radiates from you. If you read this and find pride in your heart, you can thank God for that revelation and know that He personally is calling you out of the darkness of sin. You cannot see your own pride without the humility God gives you. The cycle of pride requires Godly intervention to break. Thank God for His continued work in and through you. Love others in their fallenness and draw close to God who loves you too much to lose you to pride, the source of all sin.
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” – Samuel (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
The religious actions of people will never take the place of God’s desire for obedience. People think that they can please God by doing things that they feel serve Him. God desires your service for His kingdom but He desires to lead you in your service. Samuel says in the scripture above that divination (prediction) can be considered rebellion and presumption (assumption) is considered to be on par with immorality and self-reliance. We can’t walk a path that we have designed for ourselves and then be disappointed when God won’t honor our misguided decisions in how we should follow Him. In the case above, Saul was told to kill all of the people and the livestock of the people God had chosen. He instead kept their king alive and brought back all of the good livestock to sacrifice it to the Lord. He directly disobeyed God’s order to kill everything. His intentions might have been good but God was looking to be obeyed. What use does God have with the things He created being sacrificed to Him? The intention of sacrifice was submission and obedience in its implementation. Bypassing what God has called you to do and trying to serve Him in your best efforts will not please Him. Don’t fall victim to self-reliance in how you want to be part of God’s kingdom. Let the Spirit He gave you through your faith in Jesus as your Savior guide you into your service for Him. Recognize Him as Lord and let obedience through love be what drive you into relationship with your Creator.
He (Saul) waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come …, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered … I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me …, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. (1 Samuel 13:8-14a)
Saul falls victim to temptations we all face in our Christian walk. As soon as circumstances developed in a way that he did not like he took matters into his own hands. He was impatient when Samuel didn’t come when expected, he was discouraged when all of his men had scattered, and he lost focus of God’s direction when his focus shifted toward the army mustering against him. He made the decision to trust in his own power over the power of God found through obedience. God had a plan for Saul to rule as long as he was obedient to God’s rule over His chosen people. If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. (1 Samuel 12:14-15) But his self-sufficiency led him away from God and bypassed the plans for his prosperity.
No battle will ever be complete unless it is won through God. Our human efforts leave trouble incomplete. It is why we find ourselves in struggles repeatedly. If we submit our plans and allow God to fight for us He will bring those troubles to completion where we would continually fight and grow weary. Don’t let the circumstances you see pull you away from what God’s will. Don’t let an impatient soul drive you forward while God is setting up the victory for you. Walk with God as He develops a victory that glorifies Him and His provision for you. Let God’s timing lead you and find rest in the anticipation of the upcoming victory. Die to yourself daily and establish Jesus as your Lord. Give control top the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Let the plan He has for you exceed your wildest dreams and destroy forever your biggest fears.
The world is focused on what they can see and touch. People who don’t have a correct view of God fail to realize that the things we cannot see are much more important and just as real to us if become aware them. The things we see will fade and turn to dust in time. The things we cannot see are the eternal things that have no end. They are also the only things that can bring real fulfillment to the empty places in our lives. People who focus on the things of this world are empty even when they accomplish what they set out to achieve. This is clear because they are always looking to seek even more, they lack the satisfaction we all desire. What they fail to realize is that fulfillment is only found in God and His work which we can only see when we look to Him. He placed an emptiness in us that can only be filled by Him. He desires that all of His chosen look to Him. This is clear in scripture when He calls His people to follow no other god or idol. for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) God want the recognition from His people. He wants the unconditional love He gives as part of His very essence to be returned in the form of worship and obedience. God wants all glory and praise to be focused on Him alone. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (Isaiah 42:8)
The bible uses the concept of money to convey this to us. As we look to scripture I want us to take the word money and allow it to be replaced with whatever other part of creation might fit that place. Anything that gets in the way of you serving God as your only master fits this criteria. It represents anything you seek that might draw you away from your purpose in God. He designed you for a specific purpose. When you seek things other than what God has for you draw your attention away from a calling that will exceed anything you could ever imagine. Refuse to follow God’s creation over God the Creator. Let your Lord lead you in the things that are eternal and come with an everlasting joy and peace. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24) Don’t fall victim to the pain and hardship that is inevitable when you seek the lesser things of this world. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10) Let all of your hopes and faith fall upon your Father, the Creator of this universe. Submit your life to God as He leads all things to serve His will. Let your desires be His desires and your will align with His. Only then can your life fall into alignment with the things that we cannot see, the things that are eternal, the things God will bless us with. When God is truly the one we worship, every other part of life can take its rightful place.