Tag Archives: the enemy

Your Faith

Isaiah 7

Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. (7:9b, NLT)

What are your thoughts? God said this to King Ahaz when the kingdom of Judah was in serious trouble from Syria and Israel. Those two nations were primed and ready to attack the Jews in Judah, and they had the manpower to do some damage.

Ahaz was understandably nervous about the situation. Maybe nervous isn’t a strong enough word. Terrified might be more accurate. The king and the people “trembled with fear like trees shaking in a storm.” (vs2b)

God saw the fear, but He also had a plan that was much bigger than the fear the people were experiencing. So He sent Isaiah to Ahaz to encourage him.

Don’t worry, Ahaz. God’s got this. You don’t need to “fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers.” Sure, they are plotting an attack, but it will never happen.”

Now you’d think those words from God Himself would alleviate any uncertainty Ahaz was having. He had been looking at his enemies as formidable foes, but God saw them as has-been, ineffective weaklings. Ahaz had been looking at his enemies, thinking he needed to face them in his own power. God told him they had no power!

God said this about the threatening kings:

Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. (vs 8)

Israel is not stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. (vs 9)

But then he said the words I quoted at the beginning of this post. The King James version says it like this:

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Ahaz had a choice. He could trust God to come through like He’d promised. Or he could face his enemy in his own strength, and take his chances. On the surface it seems like a no-brainer. But I’m not so sure it was.

In our present culture we celebrate self-reliance, don’t we? We admire people who have worked hard, who’ve overcome obstacles by sheer will, and who are self-made men. Yet I think that’s been true since the garden when Adam thought he didn’t need God, that he could make up his own set of rules and do just fine.

I read a post from a fellow-blogger, Darryl Dash (DashHouse.com), entitled “In Whom Do You Trust?). He said something that has me thinking:

“Whatever we trust in place of God will eventually turn on us and destroy us.”

Money? Popularity? Relationships? Power? Self? What is it you trust for your happiness and well-being? What is it you trust for your eternity?

Pastor Dash says, “Self-reliance is deadly.” I think Adam would agree.

If you read on in this chapter of Isaiah you’ll hear God say, instead of looking toward armies to protect you, look toward a child. A virgin will be with child…

There’s the crux of the matter. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, you’re putting your faith in burnt embers and has-been kings. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, God cannot and will not make you strong.

But, my friend. If you let go of self and shut out all the other voices out there, if you put your faith in God alone, there is no battle you need to face alone. There is no enemy too strong for God to defeat. There need be no fear, because God’s got this.

I hope you’ll take a serious look at your faith today. You might say you have faith in God. In fact, I hope you do. But do you really have faith in God? Or do you have faith in God, plus something else. You know, just in case God doesn’t come through.

Can you have equal parts of faith in God and in yourself? What could be wrong with that?

Simply put, that’s not faith in God.

And unless your faith is firm, God cannot make you stand firm.

The Choice (Esther 1-5)

Mordecai would not bow or pay honor to Haman, even when the king had commanded it. Haman didn’t like being disrespected, so he plotted to kill, not only Mordecai, but the whole Jewish race because of it.

Mordecai still refused to bow.

I haven’t seen the movie “Infidel” yet, but I think I need to. It’s about a Christian journalist who is arrested and sentenced to death in the Middle East because of his faith. I understand it looks at the persecution of Christians, and I think it probably ought to be seen by all of us who think it can’t happen here in the good old USA.

I listened to a FOX News interview with the star of the movie, Jim Caviezel. What he said in that interview came to mind this morning as I read about Mordecai’s unwavering stand.

Mr. Caviezel quoted from Ronald Reagan’s “Time for Choosing” speech (1964). Reagan said we were (and I believe we are again) facing the choice between providing for our children “the last best hope of mankind on earth,” or choosing to set our children on a path to destruction.

My friend, I believe it will take Christians refusing to bow.

Caviezel said something that hit me. He pointed a finger at liberal, tolerant churches, Christians, priests and pastors, and said the problem with our “policy of accommodation is appeasement” and plays right into the hands of the enemy. He cautions us that when Satan delivers his final blow “our surrender will be voluntary…We will be so weakened from within spiritually, morally, economically,”our surrender will be seamless.

As I read about Mordecai’s courageous stand, and consider what is happening in our world today I want to encourage all of us who know Jesus as our Savior to stand. Our enemy wants to make us afraid when Jesus tells us we have nothing to fear. Look at God’s promises in His Word and believe them. If we are faithful, HE WILL BE FAITHFUL!

Caviezel said, and I agree, that maybe it’s time we “tell our enemies there is a price we will not pay, a point beyond which evil will not advance.” Do you know where that line is drawn in your life? Are you ready to take that stand?

It’s time to make a choice. Are we with God or not? Are we going to stand for Truth or not? Are we going to speak up or go along with the crowd?

Let’s pray for each other. Let’s pray for our pastors, priests, teachers, parents, children and great-grandparents. Let’s pray for voters and lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats. Let’s pray that God will move in the hearts of people and find us willing to bow only to Him.

Let’s choose God while we still have that choice.

May 1; Regroup

2 Samuel 23:8-12, 21;19-22, 10:1-19, 11:1; I Chronicles 11:10-14, 20:1a, 5-8, 19:1-19; Psalm 33

Here’s what I believe Scripture tells us about our enemy. At those times when we can enjoy a victory in a battle for our souls, Satan doesn’t just give up. Our enemy is never one and done.

Like Israel’s enemies in 2 Samuel 10 and I Chronicles 19. When the Israeli army soundly defeated them, they “regrouped.” (2 Samuel 10:15). Our enemy doesn’t waste time licking his wounds, either. His arrows don’t stay sheathed very long. And, like the passages we read today, we end up fighting one battle after another.

I love that Psalm 33 is included in our reading today. Our hope is in the Lord, the Creator God whose eyes are always on those who fear Him. The truth is, God doesn’t always remove the threat before we go into battle. Sometimes we have to go through that difficulty, struggle with that sin.

Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. But, as His children, we know the war itself is already won.

I am challenged today to learn something from the enemy. Instead of giving up when I find myself losing a battle with sin, when I commit a sin I’ve already confessed, when doubts and fears begin to take over, I need to regroup. I need to prepare to fight another day.

I need to get my Bible out, to get on my knees in prayer, to reach out to an ally to pray with me or fight alongside me. My hope is in the Lord, and He never fails.

We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in You.
(Psalm 33:20-22)

April 15 – When Life Gets Tough

Psalms 7, 27, 31, 34, 52

There is so much gold contained in the psalms. In the five we read today, you get a feeling for David’s pain, his confusion. He is being pursued by Saul, and betrayed by Doeg. David is hiding in a cave while he writes these words.

In these psalms David also gives us a glimpse of Jesus. Look for verses that refer to our Savior as you read. It’s pretty awesome.

But what stood out to me today as I read these psalms was David’s unwavering faith and trust in God. Yes he was running for his life. Yes, he was being treated unfairly. But no matter what, David rested in God alone.

52: 8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the loving kindness of God forever and ever.

34:1  I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will continually be in my mouth.

34:4  I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

34:8  O taste and see that the Lord is good.

31:14&15  But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…

27:1  The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?

7:1  O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge…

I hope you’ll read these psalms as the prayer of your own heart. Substitute David’s enemy with whatever it is you are facing. I pray you’ll be able to face whatever would destroy you, with the same confidence David expresses in these beautiful psalms.

When life gets tough, the only place I want to be is clinging to God who loves me and shelters me and holds me close. There, and only there, I have no fear.

April 12 -It’s A Giant!

I Samuel 15-17

So often Scripture gives us examples of God’s power demonstrated through individuals. Like Moses through whom many miracles were performed. Like Gideon who took only 300 men into battle and won the war. Like what we read yesterday about Jonathan, and again today as we read about David’s victory over Goliath.

When David heard Goliath’s threats and saw the reaction of the Jewish soldiers, he didn’t get it. “Who is this Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”

I think that, in a sense, we 21st century Christians are a bit like that army David was talking to:

The media is against us. The government is against us. The laws are against us. People say mean things about us.

Scripture says that when faced with the giant, the Israelite army “fled from him and were greatly afraid.” (17:24)

It took one person – David – to recognize that God is greater than anyone. David could face Goliath with confidence, because David’s confidence wasn’t in himself.

David’s confidence was in the living God!

We are facing a giant here in 2016. Do we believe God is more powerful than our enemy? Just where have we put our confidence?

December 29

Revelation 11-14

Reading the description of the dragon and the beast is frightening. Multiple heads and horns, a powerful tail, spewing water and eating babies. Feet like a bear and the mouth of a lion. And people bowing down to worship them. This is the stuff horror movies are made of.

I am reminded that Satan is serious about taking me to hell with him. He is not sitting around a campfire, pitchfork in hand, laughing it up with the demons. He is actively pursuing me. He and his legions are attacking me every day. Their weapons might include false teaching, what I watch on TV, disease, loss of job, envy, or any number of subtle and not so subtle tactics. But all are intended to shake my faith, to cause me to doubt, and to render me useless in sharing the gospel.

I’m not sure I’ve given Satan enough credit. He is a powerful enemy. That’s why Scripture tells us to guard our hearts, to put on the full armor of God. We are at war with a monster and I wonder how many of us give that a thought.

I want to be counted as one who is actively engaged in this war for my soul. I want to be one who will sing the new song, blameless because I’ve allowed Jesus’ blood to wash me. I want to stand with the saints before the throne of God because I have fought the good fight.

Satan should terrify us. The thought of him should drive us to our knees and cause us to run to the Savior for protection. Satan is serious about my soul. Am I?

Dear God, protect me. Help me to be aware of Satan’s attacks on my soul. And may he find me a formable opponent because I have put on your armor, I have guarded my heart and my mind, and I stand with you ready to fight. May I not underestimate his hatred for me. Defeat Satan in my life and in the lives of those reading this blog today. Keep us armed and ready to meet the enemy.

September 18

Nehemiah 1-4

I love the book of Nehemiah. I love it that the names of the Jews and the section of the wall they repaired are recorded. I love it that Shallum’s daughters helped him rebuild his appointed section. I love that the Jews worked hard to complete the task at the same time they were aware of the enemy and were ready to defend the city. One hand pounded nails while the other held a sword. They were workmen by day and watchmen by night.

No one person was responsible for repairing the entire wall. Everyone did his part. I can’t imagine what that wall looked like. Different people with different levels of ability worked on different sections, often right in front of their own homes. 

Did they each put their personal touch on their section? Did Shallum’s daughters decorate their portion with flowers and rainbows? Uzziel was a goldsmith. Did he put a little sparkle in his section? And did the perfume-maker Hananiah douse his stones in fragrance? Were there little handprints pressed into the mortar or initials dug into the stone?

I love reading Nehemiah because it reminds me of what the Church should look like today. Each of us doing our part, planting seed as we take soup to a sick neighbor, teach Sunday School or sing in the choir, putting our personal touches on God’s work as part of a worshiping fellowship. All of us working individually toward one common goal.

It reminds me that there is an enemy we need to be aware of and we need to be ready to go to battle at any time. It also reminds me that, when God is in our efforts, when he is on our side because we are obedient, our enemy doesn’t stand a chance against us.

I hope you are involved in a Bible believing fellowship of believers. And I hope you are putting your own personal touch in the work there. May God be pleased with our efforts as we work together to further his kingdom, the winning of lost souls. One brick, one soul at a time.

August 21

Psalms 102, 120, 137; Lamentation 1-2

There is a lot of heartache in these verses we read today. They may have been written after the fall of Jerusalem but I imagine if you have experienced loss or hardships you relate to at least some of what the writers are saying. I know I did.

Have you ever felt God is out to get you? The writer of Lamentations said, “The Lord is like an enemy.” (2:5) How can that even be? Isn’t he the God of love and the giver of good things?

We aren’t fighting the flesh and blood battles Lamentations is talking about. But we can be battling wars as devastating. Depression, unfair treatment, alcoholism, pornography, self-pity. You can add your battle to the list.

And in the midst of that battle we might feel like God is leading the attack. 

Here’s what I believe is true according to Scripture. God created us with the ability to choose. And he wants us to choose him. But if we don’t, he “gives us over” to our choices. And he allows consequences to occur with the purpose of driving us to him.

That’s where he might seem like the enemy. 

We may be suffering because of our own choices or because of the choices of someone else. We may be even suffering because of the simple fact we live in a fallen world. I have a dear friend whose new-born granddaughter is experiencing some serious physical problems. I don’t believe that precious one’s illness is a punishment. But it is a circumstance God can – and wants- to use to draw that family, those friends, and hospital staff, to him.

But if sin is at the root of our battle today, I pray each of us will allow the circumstances do what God intends for them to do – cause us to repent and open the doors to fellowship with him.

I am reminded that God is zealous about your soul. And about mine. He will use any and all means to get our attention. He’s not the enemy. In fact, he wants to be on your side to fight the enemy. 

If your heart is broken today, I pray you will take inventory. If you recognize sin that needs to be confessed, do it. Ask God to forgive you. Trust him. Allow him to fill you with his Presence and give you hope and peace.

If God is for us, who can be against us?