Obedience Met by Spiritual Attack

laptop_computerContinued from here.

Now let’s take this simple concept a step farther. In the case of the friend I shared about yesterday, an expected blessing was withheld. He clearly did not get the flu from doing something nice for someone who didn’t deserve it, but it would have been nice to have been spared the flu. Of course, if he had been spared, he wouldn’t have known this and might still have grumbled about not receiving a blessing. Aren’t we all prone to this type of thinking?

Taking this a step further, let me tell you about what another Christian friend is dealing with. In obedience to God, she volunteered to take on an important role in a new ministry in an area that God has been wooing her to for years. Within hours of making this commitment, she was involved in a serious car accident (not her fault) that rattled her enough to step back from this commitment for the time being. I told her she is clearly dealing with spiritual attack and encouraged her to pray scripture prayers out of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds from the chapter entitled Overcoming the Enemy, which is all about fighting spiritual attack. Thankfully, this friend is a mature enough Christian to recognize this truth and does plan to resume God’s calling.

One of the shocks of entering professional ministry for me was how frequently God allows spiritual attack to impede my progress … at least, that’s my perception when everything I do for God seem to take 3-5 times as long to accomplish as the same tasks when I was working for Corporate America. I miss the days when I would press Ctrl + P on my computer, and a document would print. That was my experience for decades in Corporate America. I entered professional ministry, and suddenly the printer repeatedly goes offline … or the new printer (still under warranty!!) has not one but TWO drums break … or the wireless printing feature that always worked well becomes so erratic that I need to buy a wire to ensure the printer will actually receive the print command. I took a pay cut (literally earning half the hourly rate) to obey God, and it takes 15 minutes to print out a one-page donor receipt letter?? Really??

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking frustrated while typing on a laptop computer. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Arming Yourself with Applicable Scripture

Continued from here.

Note that the method I just walked you through for holding every thought captive to Christ is the same one that Jesus himself used when he was tempted. He did not base his responses on how he felt. After all, he was very hungry when he was tempted to turn stones into bread. Instead, he examined the temptation as it measured up to Scripture and found it lacking. Each time, He chose to believe what God had to say on the subject over what he felt. That’s how he managed to live a sinless life, and the Bible recorded how he did it so we would have a model to follow.

Now that you know how to fight back, you need to actually do it, and that starts by arming yourself with Scripture that is applicable to your situation. What types of temptations do you deal with? If it’s feeling unloved or worthless, you can start with the three passages I shared in my last blog entry. You can use a concordance or Biblegateway.com to help you find scripture that is applicable to your situation.

I strongly recommend Beth Moore’s book,Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, because Moore has already done this work for you. Do you struggle with feeling rejected? Moore has a chapter filled with Bible verses that tell you that God accepts you. Are you grieving loss? She includes a chapter on God’s comfort as you mourn. There’s a chapter for eating disorders, sexual struggles, guilt, and many other topics that people struggle with. I pray scriptures out of this book every morning and strongly recommend you do the same, particularly if you find yourself repeatedly being derailed by painful feelings and emotions.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds. Courtesy Amazon.]

 

Quiet Time Component #2: Studying God’s Word

Continued from here.

A second component of quiet time that Lysa TerKeurst mentioned in a video for her Bible study, Finding I AM: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart, is studying God’s Word. If you want to get to know God, you need to learn more about Him – how He acts and reacts, what matters to Him, and what He expects from us. All of this information is available to you in the Bible.

God’s ways are counter-cultural, and He does not change. Everything that you allow into your mind shapes how you think. If you don’t spend lots of time studying God’s Word, then the culture will shape the way you think, which will lead you farther away from God. Conversely, filling your mind with Scripture – not only reading it but also studying it and meditating on it – will change the way you think to better align with how God thinks.

In addition, Joyce Meyer frequently points out on her television show, Enjoying Everyday Life, that the Bible is like medicine. For example, let’s say I struggle with anger. I need to meditate on passage of Scripture that teach me how to deal with anger – to pray for my enemies and forgive them. Reading those passages is not enough – I need to actually DO them. If anger is my issue, then meditating on passages re: prosperity isn’t going to heal this area of my life. That would be like putting a Band-Aid On my head instead of taking an aspirin for a headache.

I find Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, to be particularly helpful with this. For example, if I am struggling with feeling rejected, I will pray scripture prayers out of the chapter entitled Overcoming Feelings of Rejection. As I pray God’s Word about how He views the situation, I reprogram my mind to agree with God’s perspective. I cannot emphasize enough how powerful this has been in my personal life and personal spiritual journey.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds. Courtesy Amazon.]

 

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.]

 

What to do When under Heavy Spiritual Attack

Continued from here.

The situation I am writing about is still not resolved, and I don’t know how God is going to resolve it. In the meantime, I know what I need to do:

  1. Pray for wisdom and discernment. Now is not the time to start doing things on my own. I need to continue obeying God and following His leading for how to proceed in this difficult situation.
  2. Pray for the person the enemy is using. The person the enemy is using to persecute me is a Christian, which is another aspect of what has me reeling. I must repeatedly pray for him so God will intervene and so that I will not allow myself to grow bitter toward him.
  3. Pray scripture to combat spiritual attack. Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, has a chapter devoted to how to address spiritual attack, which includes numerous passages of scripture that Moore has converted into prayers. I am praying many of those scripture prayers aloud daily to invite God into this situation as well as to help me remember that He is in control, no matter how the situation looks.
  4. Watch my words. It is tempting to complain about this situation to anyone who will listen, but that is not what God calls me to do. I need to ensure I allow no unwholesome talk to come out of my mouth about this situation. If I want to complain, I need to do it to God, followed by prayer and thanksgiving.
  5. Keep moving forward. I allowed this situation to paralyze me for a few days, but no longer! I am going to continue in obedience to what God called me to do despite this situation remaining unresolved. I will not allow the enemy’s tactics to distract me from obeying God.

I have not yet reached a place of considering this situation to be “pure joy,” but I can trust that God is in control. I cannot allow my feelings to drive my actions. I love God enough to keep moving forward, even when I would rather quit. I love Him enough to obey, even when it hurts.

[Graphic: Cover of Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds. Courtesy Amazon.]

 

Praying for the Person Who is Hurting You or Someone You Love

On my blog entry entitled Does Forgiveness Require Reconciliation, Sonja posted the following comment:

hi there, I have a dilemma where my child’s best friend rejected her and ended their 3 year friendship and now expect us to just carry on as nothing happened I do not want my child to be friends again is this wrong?”

I have been in a similar situation as Sonja. In my case, not only did the best friend end the friendship with my son, but he also bullied him and led other children to do so as well. I understand the “Mama Bear” instinct that arises when someone hurts your “cub.” This was my first big test after forgiving my childhood abusers, and I did not know what to do.

While the bullying was going on, my spiritual mentor advised me to pray for the ex-friend. I should have already known to do this as this was the same process I used for forgiving my abusers, but when I was in the midst of seeing my child hurt, I “forgot” what I needed to do. Nothing hurts more than seeing my child hurt, and when I’m in pain, it’s easy to take my eyes off God and place them onto myself. So, step one was to pray for the ex-friend daily.

It’s not easy to pray for someone who is hurting (or has hurt) your child, but that’s the most important thing you can do. Joyce Meyer gave some good advice on her television program, Enjoying Everyday Life: she said to pray for God to reveal the height, depth, width, and breadth of His love for the person who has wronged you. She pointed out that if the offender truly understood the depth of God’s love for her, then she would not feel the need to engage in the hurtful behavior. When I am very angry about someone’s bad behavior, this is one prayer that I can always pray in sincerity.

I also recommend Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, which I pray out of every morning. When I am struggling with unforgiveness, I pray the “fill in the blank” prayers on the last five pages of the chapter entitled Overcoming Unforgiveness. As I pray for the offender morning after morning, I gradually release my anger or bitterness and invite God’s healing into the situation.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cover of Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds. Courtesy Amazon.]

 

Promised Land Living: Helmet of Salvation Example

Let me give you a personal example of how to use the Helmet of Salvation to hold every thought captive to Christ. Because of the childhood abuse, I grew up believing that I was fundamentally unlovable. I thought that if anyone ever saw the “real me,” he or she would run screaming from the room. I viewed myself as loathsome, so I could not fathom anyone else finding anything lovable about me. I built much of my identity around this lie.

God’s Word says the complete opposite of what I believed about myself. It says that God loves me lavishly, that His love is unfailing, and that Jesus found me worth dying for, even while I was still mired in my sin.

I had to decide which to believe – the lies that seemed to be supported by many years of child abuse or God’s Word. Once I chose to believe God’s Word (even though I really didn’t believe it), I put on the Helmet of Salvation and chose to believe God’s Word over my own feelings and past experiences. Whenever Satan tried to push another “I’m unlovable” thought, I fought back with God’s Word. As I persisted in rejecting thoughts that ran counter to God’s Word, the unholy energy stopped poisoning my soul, and I grew to believe God. I began living like someone who is loved.

In her book Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, Beth Moore has already done the work for you of locating numerous Bible verses that address common lies and turning them into prayers. This book includes a chapter entitled Overcoming the Insecurity of Feeling Unloved, which you can use to fight the lie that you are unlovable. The book also includes other very helpful topics, such as overcoming unbelief, feelings of rejection, addiction, food-related strongholds, feelings of guilt, despair resulting from loss, depression, and sexual strongholds. I have found her format to be helpful in doing the same work for topics that she did not include, such as overcoming anxiety.

God’s Word is truth, so whatever you believe that runs contrary to what the Bible says is a lie. As you choose to meditate on truth and reject any thought that runs contrary to that truth, you put on the Helmet of Salvation and protect your soul from Satan’s poison. This is one of the keys to Promised Land Living.

[Graphic: Cover of Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds. Courtesy Amazon.com.]