Three Offensive Weapons for Spiritual Attack

homerunContinued from here.

I have found that I am much more successful into holding my ground – and even advancing – when under heavy spiritual attack if studying God’s Word, prayer, and worshiping God are regular parts of my daily life. This is what Jesus modeled to us a well. He clearly knew God’s Word well when he fought off the enemy in the wilderness. He regularly prayed to God and was taught even in boyhood to worship God regularly. Studying God’s Word, praying, and worshiping God were all regular parts of Jesus’ life. If he needed these spiritual disciplines to remain obedient to God, how much more important is it for you and I do to the same?

I incorporate all three of these practices into my morning quiet time. I spend several minutes in prayer, not only for myself but for many others. I work through the next lesson in my Bible study or study a passage of scripture when I am between studies. I also memorize books of the Bible (one book every other year) to help ensure I have those scriptures available when I need them, even if I don’t have a Bible handy. And I spend time in praise and worship, using Contemporary Christian music to focus my thoughts on what God has done and who He is.

When I am under heavy spiritual attack, my temptation is to cease these practices, so I instead double up on them. Whenever I feel the temptation to push God away, I know I need Him even more, so I double up on all of these offensive weapons, spending an extra 30 minutes to an hour with God, even if it means getting less sleep to do so. Sometimes, I am under such heavy spiritual attack that I cannot stop crying long enough to do them, so that becomes part of my quiet time as well – sobbing at the foot of the cross as I pray for God to strengthen me. I then meditate on scriptures about God renewing my strength and being my strength in my weakness. I have a playlist on my iPod for specific songs to help guide me back to worshiping God. This advance preparation has helped me endure numerous spiritual attacks. I might not be victorious in all of them, but I certainly land at least a few punches as I go down. I remind myself that whether or not I lose this battle, the war is already won.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace hitting a baseball under the words, “Home Run.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Preparing for Spiritual Warfare with Worship

worshipContinued from here.

While the armor of God passage only includes two offensive weapons – the Bible and prayer – God has shown me a third offensive weapon I can use, which is worship. This was a weapon that Gideon used before leading the Israelites into battle against the Mideanites:

When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, ‘Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.’” ~ Judges 7:15

When we worship God, we take our eyes off our enemies/problems and focus them onto God. Rather than seeing the size of our problems, we become aware of the enormity of our God, who is much bigger than anything we face. We stop comparing our limited resources to the mountain of problems and, instead, recognize that our God is so much bigger than the mountain. It’s not our job to move the mountain: it’s our job to worship the God who moves the mountain.

Gideon was not a brave person. In fact, the Angel of the Lord appear to him while he was trying to thresh wheat indoors in a winepress because he was hiding from the Midianites. When the angel told him that God planned to use him to deliver Israel from the Midianites, he pointed out that he was the least member of the weakest clan of Israel. He asked not for one test, but two opposing tests, to ensure he really, really, really heard God correctly. Gideon was not a brave guy. And yet, after worshiping God, he spoke decisively and led his men into battle armed with nothing but trumpets, empty jars, and torches. Worship is a powerful way to prepare yourself for spiritual attack.

If you don’t worship God regularly, you are going to have a difficult time doing so when the lion pounces. Praising and worshiping God while you are being pummeled by flaming arrows is going to feel counterintuitive unless doing so has become a natural part of your day-to-day life. Set aside time daily to praise and worship God so you will have this offensive weapon available to you when you are under spiritual attack.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace playing a guitar with musical notes and hearts floating out of it. Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Preparing for Spiritual Warfare with Prayer

prayerContinued from here.

While the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon mentioned as part of the actual armor of God, there’s actually a second weapon mentioned immediately following those verses:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” ~ Eph. 6:18

Why do we need to be alert? Because the enemy is waiting to pounce on us:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” ~ 1 Pet. 5:8

Thus, prayer is another offensive weapon we have at our disposal for spiritual warfare, but we don’t want to wait to use it until we are under attack. We need to develop a rich prayer life while things are calm so prayer becomes a natural reaction when we are shaken. If we only drop to our knees when we are under spiritual attack, our prayers are not going to be as effective because this posture will seem foreign to us. Prayer needs to become as natural as breathing to us so that when the lion pounces, the most natural reaction to us is to go to our Heavenly Father for help.

Paul told us to pray continually. Of course, this doesn’t mean we sit around with our heads bowed and eyes closed all day. Instead, it means that we are constantly in communication with God, thanking Him throughout the day, whether we like our circumstances or not. As Nehemiah demonstrated, we can shoot up prayers to God even in the middle of a conversation. Prayers don’t have to be long or flowery. What matters is that you are communicating with God. If you truly practice being in a state of continually praying to God, then turning to Him in prayer when the lion pounces will feel natural. You won’t have to remind yourself to pray because doing so will be a natural reaction.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace praying behind larger hands held in a posture of prayer. Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Preparing for Spiritual Warfare with the Word of God

bibleContinued from here.

If you are a Christian, then spiritual warfare is heading your way:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” ~ 1 Pet. 5:8

You don’t want to wait until a roaring lion is pouncing on you to start doing the things you need to do to protect yourself. Just like a soldier, you need to train during peacetime to be prepared for war.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to face an opponent without a weapon in my hand. I’m not seeking only to protect myself – I want a way to fight back! The only offensive weapon Paul mentions in the armor of God is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I don’t want to wait until I am under spiritual attack to dust off my Bible and try to find a Bible verse in the heat of battle. I need to know God’s Word well enough to have access to those scriptures when I need them!

This is how Jesus modeled spiritual warfare in Matthew 4. Satan threw a flaming arrow at Jesus, and Jesus responded with scripture. Satan threw a second flaming arrow, twisting scripture to entice Jesus to disobey God, and Jesus responded with scripture. Satan tried a third time, and a third time, Jesus responded with scripture. Only after this did Satan leave. If Jesus, who was both fully man and fully God, needed scripture to fight off spiritual attack, how much more so do you and I?

How do you know which Bible verses to focus on as you prepare for spiritual warfare? Look for those that speak to your deepest vulnerabilities because that is where the enemy will aim his flaming arrows. If your deepest vulnerability is feeling unloved, memorize scriptures about how deeply God loves you. If it’s a fear of not being capable, memorize scriptures about how God is your strength. If you are unable to memorize scripture, write these verses down on note cards and carry them with you so you always have access to them. Then, when the enemy pounces, you will have access to the scriptures you need, just as Jesus did when he was attacked.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace reading the Bible. Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Obeying God as a Spiritual Warfare Tactic

I have shared before that I am working through the Henry Blackaby’s Bible Study, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. My small group recently completed Unit 9, which is on obeying God, and watched the video. One important point from the video that I have been pondering is this:

The greatest single way you can engage in spiritual warfare is to obey whatever God tells you to do.”

I have been writing a lot about spiritual warfare because I am smack dab in the middle of a firestorm of it. When I think about how I need to react to spiritual warfare, I think about putting on the armor of God, which involves several steps, such as picking up my shield of faith and putting on the helmet of salvation. When I’m under heavy spiritual fire, I cannot always remember each individual piece because I am distracted by the enemy’s flaming arrows.

I love the simplicity of this advice from Blackaby because I don’t need to remember multiple things. I only need to remember one: do what God says to do. Encompassed in that one command is all of the individual pieces, such as putting on the helmet of salvation (aligning my thoughts with God’s thoughts) and picking up the shield of faith (remembering that God was faithful before and believing that He will be faithful again). It also encompasses other commands that lead me to put on the armor of God, such as to rejoice, pray, and give thanks.

One reason that soldiers run drills is to automate their reaction when under fire. They don’t have the luxury of time to think about doing X, Y, and Z as bullets are whizzing by their heads and bombs are going off around them. In the heat of battle, they need to know what their role is without having to stop and think about it. That’s what we need to do as well as Christians – we need to prepare for spiritual attack before it happens so we do what we need to do without having to think about it. I find it helpful to have to remember only one marching order: obey God.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God Courtesy Amazon.]


How to Keep your Joy and Peace during Spiritual Warfare

this_is_not_happeningContinued from here.

I’m not sure I am fully qualified to write on this particular topic, but I’m making headway, so I’ll give it a shot. The bottom line is that I either trust God or I don’t, and the tests he allows in my life – spiritual warfare that seeks to distract me and prevent me from making progress for the Kingdom of God – show Him whether or not I am ready for promotion. While most of us want to do big things for God, He is kind in not promoting us to doing big things for Him until after we have proven ourselves faithful in little things. If I cannot hold onto my joy & peace and trust that God is in control when my printer stops working, I’m not going to be able to do so when I am publicly persecuted for following God. The tests He allows into my life are not to “punish” me – they are to determine my level of maturity. Until I can be faithful in smaller things, God is not going to entrust me with bigger things.

What does it mean to be faithful through God’s tests? I believe there are many layers to this question. Interestingly, I tend to do well with the hardest tests but fail at the easier ones. For example, Meyer said that two of the most difficult tests are (1) whether you will continue devoting daily one-on-one time with God, no matter what; and (2) whether you will continue forgiving those who hurt you. I have learned both of these lessons very well and have passed them with flying colors. I would add a third that I don’t recall her mentioning in that sermon: whether you will continue to follow God even when mountain after mountain blocks your way. I continually told God that no matter how much it hurts, no matter how many mountains I encounter, and no matter how little sense any of this journey makes, I will continue to obey Him. I need Him to remove some of the mountains to make this possible to do, but I will never, ever stop giving all I have to obey Him.

However, I struggled with some of the smaller tests within those bigger ones. I did not remain joyful and peaceful. I was tempted to complain, although I did less complaining than I used to do. I was tempted to feel sorry for myself rather than focus on God, although I did this less than I used to. So, did I pass this test or fail? I guess I’ll know for sure when the next test rolls around!

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace spinning in a vortex and saying, “This is not happening.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Why Does God Allow Spiritual Warfare?

joyce_meyer_rokuContinued from here.

As I stated, I did not handle this onslaught of spiritual attacks as well as I would have liked and even “forgot” about one of the most effective ways I previously learned how to deal with these types of situations. I was very much tempted to ask God, “Why?” However, I made a life decision to stop asking God why, so I went back and forth with asking, “Why, God? Sorry, I’m not going to ask why, but it would be really nice for you to intervene here. What do you want me to do?”

In the midst of this, I sensed God reassuring me that He would send reinforcements, and I didn’t know what He meant by that until the next day, when I accessed the Joyce Meyer channel on my Roku and saw that two of her current episodes were called “Tests We Encounter on the Way to Promotion.” God had recently revealed to me that a promotion is coming and that I need to start adjusting my life to prepare for this new direction. I had not connected the two – that I was experiencing this barrage of spiritual attack as a direct result of this upcoming promotion.

If you have access to the Joyce Meyer Ministries channel on Roku, I recommend watching both of those episodes, particularly if you are dealing with lots of spiritual attack like I am. This sermon (aired in two parts) really helped me make sense of what’s been going on with me. After all, why would God put me in a position to lead a ministry and then allow one thing after another to stand in the way of doing what He has specifically called me to do? This sermon helped me recognize what’s going on and how to react to it.

Meyer pointed out that just as we test out a chair by sitting in it or a mattress by lying on it before purchasing it, God tests us out before promoting us. He needs to see whether we will do what we say we will do when placed under pressure. So, God allowed the enemy to erect multiple barriers to doing what God called me to do specifically to test my reaction. Would I trust that God is in control and hold onto my joy and peace, despite the barriers? Or would I give up? Thankfully, I came closer to the first option than the second, but I certainly did not handle it perfectly. In other words, I didn’t get an A, but I hope it was a B. If it was only a D-, then another test might be coming as God prepares me for promotion.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Screenshot of Joyce Meyer Ministries Roku channel. Courtesy Roku.]


Response to Spiritual Warfare

Continued from here.

The best way I have found to deal with the raining of flaming arrows is to pray this to God: “Thank you for this opportunity to trust you more.” This is a lesson I learned from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. Note that it does not say to feel thankful: I certainly did not feel thankful as one electronic device after another was blowing up around me. An effective way to give thanks when we are feeling quite unthankful is to follow Young’s advice by thanking God’s for this opportunity to trust Him more.

I wish I had remembered to do this last week, but I didn’t. Alas! I have done this in the past with much success. It’s not that thanking God in the midst of the flaming arrows puts those arrows out, but it shifts your perspective from your problems to the God who is bigger than your problems. I have now written “Thank you for this opportunity to trust You more” on a whiteboard by my desk to help me remember what to do the next time flaming arrows are raining down on me.

What I did was not quite as effective because I was not reacting with thanksgiving, but I did go to God in prayer. Here was my prayer:

God, you love this ministry more than I do, and you love the people this ministry serves more than I do. You know that I cannot serve these people without working equipment, so I need You to intervene. Please move at least some of these mountains so I can do what You have called me to do.”

God led me to a solution that fixed the work printer, and the ministry came out ahead with two free ink cartridges. Unplugging the work computer seemed to correct that problem (after the weird sounds ran their course). I ordered a new personal computer – I’ve been having issues with this one for a while now, and because I am a full-time student in divinity school, I was able to order one at a discounted rate. I was unable to do an even-exchange for the personal equipment that did not work, but the saleslady led me to a less expensive model that met my needs, saving me over $60. So, God ultimately worked it all for good.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. Courtesy Amazon.]


Purpose of Spiritual Warfare

Continued from here.

One of the lessons I learned from Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God is that the Satan’s plan in spiritual warfare is to keep us so distracted that we stop advancing for kingdom purposes. She bases this on this Bible verse:

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” ~ Eph 6:16

Each of the annoyances I dealt with during this brief period of time was a “flaming arrow” intended to distract me from doing what God has called me to do. Shirer said that in Biblical times, enemies would shoot flaming arrows (literally arrows that had been set on fire) around the soldiers in the hopes of setting things on fire around the advancing army. This could prevent the army from advancing because they needed to stop and put out the fires. Their focus shifted from moving forward to having to deal with the more immediate need to preventing a fire from spreading around and behind them.

The Bible tells us that the shield of faith is the weapon we need to use when we are being attacked in this way. Per Shirer, the advancing armies would join their shields of faith together, creating one large shield out of the many, which would prevent the flaming arrows from being able to hit a target around them and start a fire.

To apply this to my day of every piece of technology appearing to blow up as soon as I touched it, I needed to have faith that God was in control, no matter how many technological issues I experienced. As if that wasn’t enough, the enemy played dirty by the added distraction of not feeling well and also being focused on balancing out obedience to God with obedience to husband. While none of these issues is earth-shattering in themselves, the totality felt like flaming arrows were raining all over my life. Thankfully, I recognized that I was under spiritual attack. The question was how to deal with it?

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of The Armor of God. Courtesy Amazon.]


Dealing with Spiritual Warfare

viseLast week was a difficult one for me spiritually. To be honest, the last two years have been tough. Ever since we learned in March 2016 that our son needed major back surgery, my life has been filled with one pounding after another. I have no question that this is all spiritual attack. What I do question is when it will ever end!

The purpose of this blog series is not to whine about my problems. Instead, I want to give you a snapshot into what spiritual attack looks like in the life of a believer so you will recognize it when this is happening in your life and so you will have some tools to fight back.

I’m going to give you a glimpse into my life from last week, which you might find amusing since it’s not happening to you. I assure you that none of it felt amusing as I was living through it! Also, I am only sharing one snapshot. I had already been enduring spiritual attack from multiple directions and in much more difficult ways before these events unfolded.

My husband felt strongly about my not participating in a ministry-related endeavor, which is my job that I have no question that God has called me to. I prayed for God to show me how to balance submitting to my husband in everything while being obedient to God’s call in this ministry. I awoke the next morning with a milder version of my husband’s cold. When I tried to print an email on my personal computer, my email program crashed. I tried to fix the program and got a new error that I couldn’t find a solution for online. After I repaired the program, I ran into software registration issues. Once those were resolved, I got the email program open, but when I opened my last backup, none of my electronic to-do list had been saved – I lost a year’s worth of electronic to-do’s that I rely on in my personal life, despite backing them up multiple times.

I logged into work, and anything I tried to print came out illegible. Then, my work computer froze up. I could only “unfreeze” it by unplugging it, and it made scary sounds when it booted back up. After work, I received a package for an electronic device I had been waiting for. I set it up, and it simply stopped working. I decided to drive to a local store that is two miles away to exchange it, but that turned into an 8-mile drive because the main road was closed down for an unexpected reason, and I had to get to the other side of that road to get to the store.

None of what I just wrote about is earth-shattering, but the succession of one obstacle after another can be very frustrating and distract my attention from what God has called me to do, which is the point of spiritual warfare. I had a choice to make – would I allow this series of frustrations to steal my joy and peace?

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with her head in a vise. Courtesy Bitmoji.]