7 Surefire Ways to Deal with Spiritual Warfare Continued

Since none of us are exempt from spiritual warfare, we had better get a strategy for combat—and fast. Looking at 2 Kings 6:8-17 last week where Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the enemy, I pulled the first part of the strategyexpect battles. (Click here for last week’s post of Part One).  We can’t stick our head in the sand and think we won’t have to deal with them. We will. We already have.

Spiritual warfare can be exhausting, far exceeding minor skirmishes. Many of our battles wear us out and make us doubt we have what it takes to endure.  The truth is we don’t have what it takes, but as Christians we know the One who does.

Elisha’s servant panicked when he saw that they were trapped inside the city completely surrounded by the enemy.  I’m sure his thoughts were, “What in the world are we going to do?” While panic is a very natural state, it is very dangerous because it can lead to despair. Despair causes us to want to go to bed, pull the covers over our heads, and give up.  But we must not give into it.  The second part of the strategy for spiritual warfare is—don’t despair.

The third part of the strategy reminds us to—acknowledge the enemy but not ascribe to him more power than he possesses. Elisha’s servant saw the enemy—the army was real, large, and powerful!  Make no mistake; we, too, have an enemy.

Satan is real and ferocious. From personal experience Peter described him as one who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Paul warned us to watch out for him because he often “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:15). Eve found him to be “crafty” in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1). Satan is a predator desperately seeking his prey because he knows his time is running out.

By all means, acknowledge the enemy, but remember that “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:7-8).

Don’t forget what John had to say—“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [evil spirits], because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The fourth part of the strategy is to focus on the Lord’s faithfulness in the past.  How was it possible for Elisha to assure his servant that the Lord was going to protect them? It was because he had seen what the Lord had done previously.

The preceding chapters describe several people in dire situations—a desperate widow about to lose everything, an affluent woman dealing with infertility and death, a hundred hungry men, and a leprous Syrian official. Because Elisha was privy to see how the LORD had worked in each situation, he was confident that the Lord would work on their behalf in this situation.

When we are faced with desperate circumstances and we are tempted to fixate on them, one of the best things we can do is remember how God has worked in our lives in the past.  Remembering that God is the Great I Am—totally consistent in His character—changes our focus, and it also gives us confidence to stay in the battle.

When fighting our spiritual battles we dare not be naïve.  Without a doubt we must expect battles, but we must not fall prey to despair. While acknowledging the enemy is necessary we should not ascribe to him more power than he possesses. Satan is NOT equal to God nor does he possess God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.  Our God is all knowing, all present, and all powerful.  And He is faithful.  We must never forget what He has done for us in the past so we will be strengthened to face today and tomorrow.

Next week I will finish the rest of the strategy for spiritual warfare. Hang in there, sister!  (And you guys, too).  You have what it takes to win the battle!

Dear Father, only You know how intense the battle really is and how dirty Satan fights.  Quite often we feel defeated and wonder if we have what it takes to continue.  When we start to ascribe to our enemy power that is Yours and Yours alone snap us back to the truth. Thank You for reassuring us through Scripture and Your presence that You are always by our side never leaving us alone.  When it’s all said and done we know You will be victorious and we will be “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 6:8-17

P.S.  Last week I asked if you would share my post with anyone you thought could benefit from it.  I’d love it if you would do the same this week.  I appreciate YOU!

7 Surefire Ways to Deal with Spiritual Warfare

Do you ever feel like you have a bull’s eye on your back and Satan is doing target practice?

I’ll never forget the day Waylon came home and expressed that very sentiment. It scared me to death! I don’t know why since spiritual warfare is a given part of his job every day. Never will he go to work and seek to dispute the lies of the evil one and rescue hostages the enemy has taken without resistance.

In 2 Kings 6:8-17 Aram and Israel were at war.  The Aramean king soon became frustrated because his attacks on Israel were continually foiled.  Defection appeared to be the only explanation.  When the king accused his officers of treason, they denied it saying that Elisha, the prophet of Israel, was the culprit.  With that information, the king immediately deployed a unit to determine Elisha’s whereabouts.  When the intelligence revealed that Elisha was in Dothan, the king of Aram staged an attack on the walled city.

Upon awakening early the next morning, Elisha’s servant panicked when he discovered they were completely surrounded by enemy troops.  Elisha told his servant not to be afraid because there were more troops on their side than on the enemy’s side.  Knowing his statement was very puzzling to his anxious servant, Elisha asked the LORD to open his servant’s spiritual eyes. When the servant looked again, he “saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire”—the invisible army of the LORD.

I love this story because it has powerful spiritual applications for Christians today.  While it is unlikely you will wake up tomorrow morning to find your home surrounded by enemy troops, rest assured a battle of some magnitude will be waiting for you every day.  The battles may range from a bad hair day to a life-altering experience.  If that is true, then how do we fight the battles?  We need a strategy. Over the next couple of weeks I will share with you 7 surefire ways to deal with spiritual warfare. Each one is taken straight from Scripture.

picture 2 7-22-15The first part of the strategy is—expect battles Aram had been raiding Israel for an extended period of time.  Israel knew to expect an attack at any moment.  The same is true for us today.  Because we live in a fallen world, attacks and battles are an inevitable part of our lives. I used to think that the closer we got to God, the fewer the battles would be.  Wrong!  I have found the opposite to be quite true.  That’s why Paul advised us to be equipped with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-13).  “The weapons we [Christians] fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

Our daily battles come in many forms.  They may be spiritual in nature.  Your battle may be related to unforgiveness, jealousy, or a rebellious spirit.

You may lack discipline when it comes to prayer, Bible study, tithing, internet usage, conversation, etc.

Perhaps you may have an emotional issue related to disobedience or a poor self-esteem.

Given our present economic situation, some of your dilemmas may be financial.

Your battle may be physical requiring you to deal with a debilitating illness.

Possibly you are experiencing marital issues or having trouble with your children.

You may have legal issues that are draining you both emotionally and financially.

To make matters worse our battles don’t necessarily come one at a time.  Often we can’t seem to get one board nailed down before the next one flies up.  Sometimes we can see our battles coming and have time to brace ourselves while others catch us completely by surprise.  I can remember being caught off guard on one occasion and having to go to bed for three days.

Occasionally we even get dragged into other people’s battles—ones we didn’t choose or cause.  During those times it’s hard not to become bitter and resentful.  Rest assured there is nothing fair about spiritual warfare.

Just like Elisha we may even find ourselves in battles because we are believers. Given the recent unprecedented turn in our country we may find ourselves there more and more in the future.

We don’t always know why we go through adversity.  At other times God does allow us to see in retrospect what He was doing.  He may have been refining us to make us stronger (James 1:12, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17) or letting us see that when we are weak He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).

picture 3 7-22-15Sometimes God permits us to go through hardship in order to help other people.  “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (2 Corinthians 1:4 MSG).

Then there is always the possibility that God is using our struggles for a greater good that we cannot see.

So the first surefire way to deal with spiritual warfare is to expect it. Next week I will share two more parts of the strategy.  –Adapted from It Hurts but I’m Okay by Martha Bailey      

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 6:8-17

Dear Lord, I know the apostle John said, “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4), but sometimes Satan’s attacks are so fierce it almost seems like he has the upper hand. Thank You for preserving John’s words and impressing the truth on my mind so that I can cling to them in times of attack. Thank You for not leaving me defenseless against my enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

P.S.   Do you have family, friends or co-workers who would benefit from or enjoy this post?  If so, I’d love for you to share it with them.  Thanks for reading each week!

Caution! She’ll Throw Your Head over the Wall!

As you read through 1 and 2 Samuel you encounter women who were a force to be reckoned with.  For example, Sheba, a Benjamite who rebelled against David, met one of those females when he sought refuge inside the walled city of Abel Beth Maccah (2 Samuel 20:14-22). It was NOT good!

Here’s what happened.

David’s troops pursued Sheba and immediately launched an attack on the city.  After being terrified by the deafening sound of the battering ram, “a wise woman” as she’s called, yelled down from the city wall and asked to speak to Joab, the commander of the besieging army.

Here is my paraphrase of the conversation:

Woman: “Listen to me!”

Joab: “Yes, ma’am, I’m listening!”

Woman:  “Don’t you know that we are a peace-loving city—one with a reputation for being a mother (caring, nurturing) to our neighbors? What do you mean trying to destroy a city like ours?”

Joab:  “No way.  Not why we’re here, ma’am. We’re looking for one man who has rebelled against King David.  His name is Sheba.  Hand him over and we’ll be outa here.”

Woman: “Humm…… could you wait just a minute?……Okay.  His head will be coming over the wall shortly!”

Woman after gathering all the townspeople:  “Look, people, it’s just a matter of minutes before the troops break through the wall.  All they want is the head of one man named Sheba.  My advice is to decapitate him, and do it NOW!”

Townspeople:  “Yes, ma’am!”

They complied, and in a matter of minutes Sheba’s head came flying over the wall and the battle was over!

Let me give you some advice—beware because there are still women who will throw your head over the wall in a heartbeat!  I’m serious. They are all over the place.

proverbs 2911I have a friend who tells about what he and his siblings used to do when their mother got mad at them.  They would run and seek refuge under an old raised house.  One day mama got mad, and the children ran for cover.  A few minutes later, they saw their daddy coming.  They thought they were in big trouble until he crawled under the house with them.  Then the children asked, “Daddy, is mama mad at you, too?”

Waylon and the girls will tell you there have been quite a few times they have wished they had a raised house to get under.  In fact, if you ask, Anna and Emily will gladly show you the look I used to give that communicated loud and clear that somebody’s head was gonna roll. (It’s the mama look when she means business.  Don’t all mothers have one)?

Do you work with someone who decapitates a few people almost on a daily basis? Been there. Or is it possible that you might be that someone your coworkers see as a “force to be reckoned with?”

Perhaps it’s a friend who constantly hurts you or anyone who tries to have a relationship with her.  That gets old quickly.  It’s easy to reach the point where you conclude friendships like that are not worth the risk of being hurt over and over again.

galatians 522Although anger is an emotion we all have to deal with, hopefully we are maturing and being intentional in the way we are handling it.

Always remember—“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man [woman] keeps himself [herself] under control” (Proverbs 29:11).

Let us refrain from throwing anyone’s head over the wall today.  Instead, let us be people who are controlled by the Holy Spirit allowing Him to bear His fruit in our lives–“love,  joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Help us today, Dear Lord, to bless those we encounter instead of hurting them with our words.  We want to be women who are controlled by Your Spirit.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 20:14-22; Galatians 5:22-23

Is the Holy Spirit in Partnership with the Waterproof Mascara Industry?

Although I realize there is a down side to text messaging, I find it to be very useful. It has opened a door of ministry by allowing me to support people and be supported all hours of the day and night in a non-intrusive way.

Last Friday a friend and I texted back and forth about a recent unexpected opportunity she had to share the love of Jesus.  Read the string of texts below.

Friend:  So here’s one for you…getting my nails done and the Vietnamese (Buddhist) woman who usually does my nails collapsed in tears telling me her boyfriend left her for another woman. I hugged her for a long time and prayed for her.

Do you know off the top of your head any outreach a Baptist church might do among her nationality?  She is so scared and alone and I think, open.  There is a bit of a language barrier…

Me:  That was a God appointed nail appointment. And her god is of no help to her.  Invite her to our Sat night service and let the Holy Spirit speak to her in her own language.

Friend:  I cannot even tell you the weeping that went on — from both of us.  Ever since I received the HS (Holy Spirit) in baptism I feel people’s pain in the deepest, deepest way (the pain for my sin is equally unbearable!).  As it turns out, she is going out of town.  I will invite her to a Saturday service when I come back and will offer to go with her.

Me:  That’s the way the HS works.

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photo credit: mascara via photopin (license)

Friend:  I’m starting to think he has a partnership with the waterproof mascara industry!

Her tears left big stains on my shirt…walked in the door a little while ago and my husband even noticed…that’s how big they were.  I feel like those stains were a blessing…a sign of the hard work I was doing for the Lord…a reminder that I need to get out there and hug and love and help and He will wash away all the pain…and the stain.  Still processing all of it.  Will need to reflect more at prayer time this pm.

Had another encounter with Jason, the homeless man I mentioned to you before.  Still processing that as well.  Some weeks the Lord just blows your mind!

Me:  He’s like that. He doesn’t mind asking us to WORK in His kingdom either!

Friend:  Happy to do it!

All I could think about during our text conversation was what I had read recently in Psalm 115.

Why let the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

This distraught nail tech had a god but he/it was of no value to her in one of her greatest times of need.  Her god was not there to hold her, to hear her, and to talk to her. How sad!

photo credit: Engaged Hands via photopin (license)

photo credit: Hands via photopin (license)

But what a blessing that our God had positioned my friend right in front of that needy woman to touch her, to see her, listen to her and to cry with and for her.  What a blessing that my friend cared more about an acquaintance with a broken heart who did not know the Lord than she did about a replaceable soiled blouse.  How precious that she could view the stains as a blessing—evidence of the work she was doing for the Lord.

I firmly believe that there are opportunities all around us every day just like this.  The questions we need to ask ourselves are, “Am I in tune enough with the Holy Spirit for someone to trust me with their greatest needs and deepest hurts?” And, “Will I be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and show that person the love of Jesus?”

I think my friend may be on to something about the Holy Spirit being in partnership with the waterproof mascara industry!  But just remember: all we “need to do is get out there and hug and love and help, and He will wash away all the pain…and the stain.”

Heavenly Father, I wonder how often I miss opportunities similar to the one above because I am too busy and unavailable to hear about someone’s pain.  Help me to remember that in The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)You said, “As you go, make disciples.”  As I go about my day today I’m going to be ready for whatever opportunities You ordain for me.  I’ve got my waterproof mascara on, Lord.  I’m ready and willing to hug, love, and help as you wash away all the pain and the stain.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 115:1-8 and Isaiah 44:6-20

How to Fix a Broken Heart

WE FIX BROKEN HEARTS.

picture 1 6-30-15I couldn’t help but be overcome with emotion by this banner on the lawn of a local hospital.

My first thought was, “I wish fixing my broken heart was as simple as inserting a stent or constructing some bypasses.”  My broken heart had to do with visiting my sister in the hospital last Saturday afternoon.

All you have to do is listen and you’ll find many people with broken hearts. I have so many friends who are hurting.  Some of them are grieving over the loss of loved ones while other are grieving because of sons and daughters who have abused drugs and alcohol or who are struggling with same-sex attraction.

Others of my friends are brokenhearted over unfaithful spouses or ones who are addicted to pornography.

I could go on and on with people I know well who have broken hearts–pain caused by job loss, children in prison, debilitating illnesses, or  Alzheimer’s or other mental disorders.

While there are many things that boast of knowing how to fix a broken heart, most of us know that they don’t work.  Why? Because we tried them, and they didn’t offer any relief.

So, what do we do?  Where do we go?  Who or what do we turn to?

There’s only One who can fix a broken heart.  It is the Lord Himself—The Great Physician.

Shortly after Jesus’ baptism and temptation, He returned to Galilee.  Because news about Him had spread throughout the area, He was invited to teach in the synagogue at Nazareth, his hometown.  He read from Isaiah 61:1-2—“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”

In those verses Jesus laid out His mission.  Clearly, one part of it was to bind up the brokenhearted.

But a thousand years before Jesus came, the LORD had already revealed Himself as one who cares for the brokenhearted.  David, an individual who was described as “a man after God’s own heart,” struggled with a broken heart.  He had a dream that he felt came from God, but he just couldn’t seem to make it happen.  Every way he turned he encountered more heartache and pain, even within his own family.

picture 2 6-30-15There were times when David experienced loneliness, but deep down inside he knew he was not alone.  Through it all he chose to cling to the reality that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)—that the Lord, “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Like many of us, David knew that life can often be overwhelming.  But at the same time, he also knew that he had access to power that far exceeded his own strength.  In Psalm 121 he reassured himself by asking the question—“Where does my help come from?”–and by answering his own question—“My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and of earth” (vv. 1-2).

So, what do we do when our hearts are broken and there seems to be no quick fix or no fix at all?  What do we do when our situation looks hopeless?

We have to do exactly what David did—talk to ourselves. We must trust that the Lord is close to us, the brokenhearted, and does bind up our wounds.  We have to believe that He is “a shield around [us] and the lifter of [our] heads” (Psalm 3:3).

Rest assured I’m thankful we have access to skilled doctors who can fix the physical abnormalities of the human heart, but I’m more grateful we have access to The Great Physician who is available 24/7 and heals our broken hearts and soothes our painful wounds.

Loving Father, I praise You today because You are the Sovereign Lord of the Universe and yet You care about the brokenhearted.  Quite often You are the only One who really knows how we feel and why we are hurting.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for staying close to us and binding up our wounds. Thank You for being a shield around us and the lifter of our heads.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 34