Thursday, April 23, 2015

Timely Truth

- Satan, God's enemy and ours, is real and is actively, aggressively, persistently seeking to destroy all that God loves, especially us, His beloved children. Satan is never satisfied with the prey he has already gotten; he always prowls around looking for more. He is ravenously hungry for us. He is roaring insults, accusations, and lies at us to intimidate us, to get us to doubt God and/or stay away from God, to make us feel unloved, unworthy, and unfruitful for the kingdom of God.

- Spiritual warfare is real but we don't have to be afraid of it. Our God is stronger than our adversary. "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) He gives us power through Jesus Christ to overcome all attacks from the devil. First, we must stay alert, be watchful/vigilant, and be sober-minded/self-controlled/self-disciplined. Don't let down your guard. Watch out for Satan and his tricks & temptations. His schemes are cleverly hidden and disguised. He loves to make sin look sweet and God's principles burdensome. Satan's desire is to tempt Christians to doubt, deny, disregard, and disobey God. Know your Enemy but more importantly, know God (and His Word) so that we will know how to respond, defend ourselves, and defeat our Enemy. 

- Perhaps Peter remembered his own difficulty in staying alert during our Lord's prayer in Gethsemane. Jesus said to His disciples whom He found sleeping, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) When we are weak (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually), suffering, feeling lonely, feeling sorry for ourselves, focusing on our troubles/circumstances, isolating ourselves from fellowship with other believers, ignoring spending time with God in prayer & in His Word, we tend to forget to watch for danger and we are more vulnerable to Satan's attacks. Keep your eyes on Christ always. Satan tries to keep us from living freely and fruitfully for Christ. Don't listen to him...don't believe his lies. If you're feeling weary today, run to Jesus and let His love empower you to face every fear, worry, and discouragement that Satan throws at you. Unseen spiritual battles must be fought in Christ's name and by the power of His blood. "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) The devil is to be resisted through divine grace and power. Remember that we're more than conquerors through Christ. A surrendered life (to Christ) is a victorious life. As we humble ourselves and rest at Jesus's feet, He promises to give us everything we need to live a victorious, godly life. Pride is an open door inviting Satan to have a field day. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7) Before we can stand against Satan, we must bow down (submit) to God.

We're told to resist the devil. Stand firm and strong in the faith, in God's truths, in the Holy Spirit's power and we'll have courage to say no to all ungodliness and be able to withstand and overcome evil. Put on the full armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-18). "Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thessalonians 5:6) The devil is powerful but not invincible. Our winning defense strategy is to stay steadfast/unmovable/impenetrable in our faith, grounded in God's Word. Be prepared/ready always. Satan wants to destroy our faith and one of his ways is to use our suffering to get us discouraged and disillusioned. That's why it is so important for us to be resolute in our faith. Peter tries to encourage the persecuted Christians by helping them realize that they're not suffering alone. Christians all around the world are enduring the same kind of sufferings (we have obviously seen more and more recently). Knowing this helps us not to be surprised when we suffer for the sake of Christ and His gospel. Moreover, their faith encourages our faith. Their courage strengthens our courage. Their perseverance moves us to persevere. We believers need to be reminded to expect hardship and persecution so that we won't be dismayed and overwhelmed by them. Knowing that God enables them to stand strong through suffering to the end will help us cope in time of duress. We don't need to stand alone against the Enemy. We should stand with other brothers and sisters in Christ around the world in prayer.

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