Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finding the victory...

I sat down to share something that I feel the Lord really wants me to share, and I'm realizing that it's more than I can/should share in one post. And so, for today, I am focusing on the biggest lesson that is filling my heart right now. If God permits, I'll share the rest in the next few posts.

These lessons all have to deal with spiritual warfare. If you're not sure what to think about that term, then consider this lesson more about dealing with whatever troubles the devil sends against you.

These are not complicated or scary-sounding lessons. In fact, I'm coming to believe that the devil has deceived us into making spiritual warfare much more complicated and threatening than it really is.

Why do I believe this? Because of a lesson the Holy Spirit guided me in teaching my 10-year-old at 11:00 pm last week (which means it had to be pretty simple). This lesson is, I believe, the foundation of all spiritual warfare. That is, the most important lesson necessary for fighting any attack we face.

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Like many 10-year-olds, my precious one sometimes struggles with fear at night. My other children have struggled with this occasionally as well, so I'm raising my children to know that fear must leave in the name of Jesus. Fear, you see, is a spirit...and a very powerful one!

Verses such as these are a part of my children's normal lives:

Fear not, for I am with you.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but instead He has given you a spirit of love, and power, and a sound mind.
Submit to God, resist the devil, and He will flee from you.
Be anxious (fearful) for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
He who abides in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress,
My God in whom I trust!
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
“With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.” 

But last week after I found her crying in the dark, she confessed to me, "Mommy, I do pray those Bible verses, but sometimes I still feel afraid."

How well I can identify!

And so I prayed and asked the Lord for wisdom in how to answer her unspoken doubts and questions.

This is when the Holy Spirit began teaching.

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What do we adults do when we try to exercise our authority against the enemy (aka the devil), and we don't see immediate results? Maybe we're fighting fear and trying to trust. Maybe we're praying for healing or provision. Maybe we're fighting some other kind of attack.

Sometimes results aren't immediate, and we're faced with the question, "What do I do now?"


Several common answers that I've heard preached went through my head, but there's nothing quite like teaching a lesson to a child to show you exactly what solutions are not going to work. But if Jesus said to come to Him like a child, then shouldn't God's real answer be something that can be communicated simply to a child?


God answered my plea for guidance by opening my eyes to how the devil was attacking my daughter. I saw instantly that it's the very same thing we do.

They're scared of monsters. We tell them there are no monsters, and they tell us what it looks like in the dark.  They're scared of the darkness, and they tell us how they can't see and that it seems like something is hiding in the dark. I tell my daughter that God is bigger and stronger, and she says, "I know, but the darkness is still scary."

What was the devil successfully getting her to do?

She was focusing on the problem. And the devil was using it as an open door to fuel the fear that we were trying to stand against.

As soon as I saw this, the Spirit reminded me of these verses:

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
The Bible says that we are to lift up our eyes off of our troubles and instead center our focus on the One who will rescue us! We are to acknowledge and remind ourselves of who He is and what He has done!

And so I pointed out to her that she was still thinking mostly about her fear. I told her that we needed to focus on how big and powerful God is instead. I told her that were going to remember Bible stories that she knew.

Immediately, the Spirit reminded me of the story of Elisha and his servant, when the king of Aram surrounded the city with his army to capture Elisha. (I couldn't remember which enemy it was until I looked it up.) It's in 2 Kings 6:2-20, but here's how it goes in the words the Spirit gave me.

The king of Aram was warring against the king of Israel, and like most battles, surprise attacks were involved. The only problem for the king of Aram was that every time he planned a surprise attack, the Lord told Elisha where and when it would be. Then Elisha told the king of Israel, who made sure his men were prepared. Eventually, the king of Aram figured out what was happening, and he immediately decided that Elisha was a bigger threat to him than anyone else!

Not long after, Elisha's servant got up in the morning and looked out over the city, only to see something that horrified him. The entire city was surrounded by the enemy army. He was instantly filled with fear, and he ran to Elisha asking, "What shall we do?"

Elisha, on the other hand, was not afraid. Why? He said, "Fear not! Those who are with us are more than those who are with them!"

Look at the difference! The servant's eyes were totally focused on the problem. A problem, I might add, that was 1000 time greater than he was and that seemed totally insurmountable.

Elisha, on the other hand, kept his eyes firmly on God. He never forgot the size and power of the God he served.

The servant, though, was evidently having some trouble getting his eyes off of the massively-huge problem and onto the God that was much, much bigger and more powerful. And so Elisha prayed, "Lord, open his eyes that he may see."

And the servant's eyes were opened so that he saw that the mountains were completely covered with horses and chariots of fire. The city may have been surrounded by the enemy, but the enemy was surrounded by an even greater force!

I'd like to point out that the Bible does not say that Elisha was able to see army of the Lord. Perhaps he did, but I think it's more likely that he didn't. The Bible only says that the servant saw that army. But from the very first moment that Elisha knew that the army of Aram was there, he had no fear, because his focus was on God, and he knew who God was and the power at His disposal.

My daughter and I turned the lights back off, and I laid down beside her. I almost began to tell her what story to think about, but then the Holy Spirit stopped me. Let Me lead her in this, He said.

And so I asked her, "What other Bible stories can you think of?" She'd been listening to Esther, and she began telling me what God did for His people. Then she talked about the woman who touched Jesus' garment and was healed and the little girl who was raised from the dead. She told me about when Peter and John healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful and how amazing it is to her that God would use people to heal other people like that.

And as she focused on the scriptures that the Holy Spirit brought to her mind, fear totally left.

Yes, we used our authority to command fear to leave. But the victory came, not because of our authority, but because of who our God is. After all, the only reason we have any authority at all is because of who He is. And as she remembered who God really was, the devil lost the tool he was using to torment her.

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What about us? We do the same thing when we've asked God to provide, yet we still continue to stare at that account balance. (Or lack thereof.)  We do it when we're sick and the pervading thoughts running through our mind are how sick we are and how behind we're getting on everything we need to do.

What we are not doing is lifting our eyes to the Lord and focusing on who He is.  We are all-too-often acting as the Israelite army was when the Philistines sent Goliath against Israel. They were so focused on the size of the giant that they totally forgot about the size of their God. David, on the other hand, knew that Goliath's size made absolutely no difference whatsoever. He knew that God could deliver Goliath into His hands just as easily as any other normal-sized enemy. He'd grown into the habit of trusting God, focusing on Him, and watching God prove His power and lovingkindness. Just read the Psalms and you'll see. Over and over again, David begins his song by stating his troubles, and he winds up totally focused on God and His goodness and His power.

Elisha and David weren't the only ones. I could list dozens of others... Daniel... Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego... Paul. Even Martha, for Jesus had her take her eyes off of the fact that her brother had died so she could confess who He was.

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What problem are you facing? Does it seem that no solution could possibly exist? Are you having a hard time believing that God would actually do whatever it seems must happen to solve your problem?

No matter! God does not need you to find a solution. If it seems there's only one way out and it's closed, rest assured that He is infinitely capable of opening that door. Of course, He is also infinitely capable doing something completely different that you've never thought of! Look at the extremely unorthodox way He dealt with the armies of Aram! He is also capable of carrying you through that problem instead of taking you out of it. Or He might show you that what you think is the problem is just a disguise for something far deeper.

But none of that matters. Not really. What matters is who He is. Jesus promised that we'd have troubles. But He also assured us that He has overcome! (John 16:33)

So don't look at the problem. Don't even waste time looking for or at solutions. Lift your eyes to the One who is your solution. There is nothing else worthy of our attention and our focus, for there is nothing and no one who has promised so much. And there is no one more capable of fulfilling His promises.

Open your Bible and read whatever Scriptures or stories that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind. Begin listing every attribute of God you can think of. Turn on the worship songs that minister the most to you... songs that you can echo with every fiber of your being and proclaim the goodness and greatness of the God who knew you before the dawn of time.

For He is good! And He is powerful. And He is faithful and wise, and He loves you with an everlasting love.

2 comments:

  • Tracey says:
    Monday, October 17, 2011

    WHEW! I feel totally spiritually fed! And yes, God is so, so good! I'm printing this post out for later Bible study. I know how the devil waits around to prey on what fears we have; when I had horrible panic attacks while driving, it's like the devil knew just when to strike. At that time, even music in the car brought on panic. So I would turn on Midday Connection (a Christian radio program) which soothed me so much, listening to the words of Our Father & Jesus. After getting medical help, I feel much better, I laugh in the devil's face, plus I found a new radio station for life. Thank you for this beautiful post. I wish more folks read this one & if they did, I really wish they would comment :-)

  • Katie says:
    Monday, October 17, 2011

    That's so wonderful! As your experience shows, there's no "formula" to follow. We simply follow the leading of the Spirit who will lead us to all Truth and show us how each one of us can keep our focus on Him! The how and why can be different for everyone. How wonderful it is that our Father chooses the perfect things for each of us instead of making us all the same!

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