Paying Attention to God, Not the Enemy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve all heard people declaring how busy the devil is in this world.

“The enemy is doing his best to discourage me.

“The enemy knows how to attack my weakest spots.”

“This situation is definitely the work the enemy.”

 

 

 

 

Yes, we live in a world where sin runs rampant and many people declare truth is relative. Yes, bad things happen to good people. Yes, Scripture warns that the devil prowls like a lion (1 Peter 5:8). Yes, the devil and his false teachers sometimes masquerade as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

 

But the devil has no authority or power over God’s people. Scripture says we have the power to deny the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27), the power to resist him (1 Peter 5:9) and make him flee (James 4:7).

 

“The scriptural way to see things is to set the Lord always before us, put Christ in the center of our vision, and if satan is lurking around he will appear on the margin only and be seen as but a shadow on the edge of the brightness. It is always wrong to reverse this — to set satan in the focus of our vision and push God out to the margin.” (Tozer on the Holy Spirit, January 19)

 

When we pay too much attention to the enemy, especially during seasons of affliction, we neglect acknowledging the ways God works in and through our circumstances.

 

Trials offer intimate encounters with the Lord and opportunities for spiritual growth. Change opens doors for submitting to the will of God. Conflict prepares our hearts for experiencing the power of God overcoming the flesh.

 

Scripture doesn’t promise Christ followers guaranteed worldly prosperity or an easy road devoid of spiritual warfare. That’s not how Jesus lived during His earthly ministry.

 

So what can we do when faced with spiritual attacks?

 

The apostle Paul writes: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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 6:10-12, emphasis mine)

 

Our strength is in the Lord, not just from Him.

 

According to Scripture, Believers possess the power to “put on the full armor of God.”

 

To put on armor suggests preparation, not a passive response to surprise attacks. The battlefield unfolds in the spiritual realm, a realm in which God is the only One in control.

 

The Lord reigns in heaven and on earth, already victorious, establishing His Kingdom and preparing the world for His return.

 

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, emphasis mine)

 

When the apostle John says “them,” he’s referring to those shackled by unbelief and false teaching, those deceived by the devil. John assures the church that God’s power in us surpasses the façade of the power the enemy wants us to think he has.

 

So, when affliction tempts our focus away from the unchanging power and faithfulness of God, we can BEAT IT!

 

Be prepared to use the sword of truth as God sharpens our knowledge of His Holy Word.

 

Enlist prayer warriors to intercede and support us with accountability and godly encouragement.

 

Accept the privilege and power of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us.

 

Take up the shield of faith, believing nothing is impossible for God.

 

Invite God to be our strength, infuse us with peace, revitalize our joy, and carry us through.

 

Trust God to work His will, even when circumstances are painful and difficult to understand.

 

As beloved disciples of Christ, we can persevere with an awareness of spiritual warfare without being paranoid or afraid. We have offered the enemy way more power, credit, and attention than he deserves.

 

So, the next time we’re under spiritual attack, let’s praise the Lord for blessing us with spiritual awareness and discernment. Let’s rebuke the enemy in Jesus’ name and stand firm on the Word of God with Spirit-empowered courage and strength.

 

Let’s live like we believe the One in us is, indeed, greater than the one in the world.

 

Lord, thank You for not giving us a Spirit of timidity, but a “spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  Help us live in the power of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us and works in and through us for Your glory alone. In Jesus name, Amen

 

Reflection:

How can we tell if we’re depending our own power or embracing the power of the Holy Spirit?

 

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Trusting God and Enjoying the Gift of Today

Brick Pathway by Kim Bangs January 2015When I first saw this picture posted on my friend’s Facebook page, I barely glanced at the colors of fall painting the sidelines of the walkway.

I hardly noticed the artistry in the detailed pattern of the bricks aligned by the path’s designer. I didn’t appreciate the emerald moss flourishing in the darkened cracks.

I failed to imagine the glorious fragrance of transformation, as drying leaves surrendered to buds of new life.

 

 

Instead of gasping at the wonder of God’s perfect moment, I strained to peek through the branches in hopes to catch a glimpse of what lay just around the bend.

 

More often than not, fretting over what we may or may not face in the future blurs the present beauty of what the Lord’s doing in the moment.

 

We can easily forget that every step we take is arranged by an intentional Designer, especially when obedience feels like it’s leading to a scenic route destined to extend our travel time and challenge our comfort zone.

 

Still, Scripture confidently confirms God can be trusted with today.

 

In Psalm 139, the psalmist proclaims, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16, NIV)

 

The prophet Jeremiah cries out, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23, NIV)

 

Wisdom reminds us that “[in] his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NIV)

 

These verses point to the faithfulness and lovingkindness of our Good Shepherd and Wise Counselor, Jesus. He is always with us. He is well prepared for what lies around the bend in every season of our lives.

 

Being overly concerned about tomorrow negates everything the Bible teaches us about God’s character and reflects fear not trust, doubt not faith.

 

Jesus said, “. . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

 

He promised a full life today, on this side of eternity.

 

Today, He is with us. Today, He is working. Today, He is enough.

 

Yet, so many of us still waste time and energy preparing for battles we aren’t even sure we’ll be facing tomorrow. We invite the pain of our past to sabotage the joy of today. We try to control circumstances in an attempt to avoid the possibility of being hurt again.

 

Life is filled with seasons of wilting and spurts of new growth peeking through the cracks of God’s masterpieces, so often mistaken as ordinary days.

 

While planning ahead is wise, being too preoccupied with the future opens the door to discontent and distraction.

 

When we appreciate today as a gift from God, falling leaves of fear and disbelief give way to buds of revitalized faith, spiritual growth, peace that transcends all understanding, and joy.

 

Embracing God’s pace and direction, being grateful for the moment we’re in right now, will help us learn to savor each step as we’re transformed into His likeness.

 

Lord, thanks for reminding us that every day is a gift from You, no matter how mundane or difficult that day may feel. Forgive us for doubting You when we worry about tomorrow instead of trusting You today. Help us live in the fullness of the moment, walking in obedience to Your Word and rejoicing in the fact that You are “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Reflection:

In what aspects of your life are you tempted to worry about what tomorrow might bring?

 

When is it hardest to admit your dependence on God, live in the moment, and trust His promises instead of being concerned about what may or may not happen in the future?

 

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Photo taken by Kim Bangs and used with permission for this post.

 

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