ATTACK!

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“Rebecca, it wouldn’t happen any other way. Satan does not want your freedom, and he will attack it. Get ready, because it will only get worse. Be prepared, stay in the truth!” My friend, Steve, reminded me recently.

I told him of an upcoming Life Group I’d be leading on spiritual warfare and again he emphasized the importance of keeping my eyes on Jesus, His word, and what was true. Attack was inevitable.  Attack was an understatement. If there is one thing Satan cannot stand, it is believers understanding their position in Christ and taking an active stand against his lies. He wants the Church to be ignorant of his plans. Sure, people can go to church, study their Bible, and teach classes, but as long as they ignore him, he’s fine with all of that other religious stuff.

On Sunday (February 10th) this new Life Group on spiritual warfare will be launched at New Life Community Church. I’ll also be sharing with you, faithful readers, our study notes and discussion topics as we go, but let me first share with you a few of the things that have happened between the time I believed God called me to lead this group, and today, just 24 hours shy of the group’s first meeting.

Distraction:

In the last two months I’ve had an unusually difficult time focusing during prayer—or even getting to prayer in the first place. For someone who talks/writes about the importance of putting on the armor of God, that might surprise you. But it shouldn’t. Satan wants to attack the area that I use to fight against him, which is putting on the armor of God through prayer. I couldn’t possibly describe each event here, but the attack on my prayer life has been a daily occurrence. I can sense a force that tries to keep me from my time with Jesus.

Fear:

Being afraid of the devil is not something I would have admitted to under any circumstances a few weeks ago. If anything, I would have blown off the devil as a nuisance and nothing more. But today I recognize more clearly his power and how desperately he really does want to destroy me (and all believers). On the same note, I understand he can only do what God has allowed him to do.

About three weeks ago, while my husband was working out of town, someone tried to break into our home at around 12:30am. A friend had taken me to see a show earlier that evening, so by the time I picked up Samantha from the sitter and arrived home it was close to 11:00pm. So, I happened to still be awake at the time of this incident. When the noise first started, I was confused. “Am I hearing what I think I’m hearing?” As it continued I knew what was happening. Fear gripped my heart. It was a fear I had never in my life experienced, and something of which cannot be described in any adequate terms. My body physically reacted with shaking, sweat, and scrambled thoughts.

“He stole my security,” I told Steve the next day in an email. But Steve was good to remind me of the truth. Satan cannot steal anything from me–he can only take what I give him.  Since this attack, fear has been a new companion in my life, one I have had to pray against repeatedly. I can almost hear the Enemy’s voice, “So you think you know about me, huh? Let me show you what I can do.”

Yes, Jesus has already defeated Satan, and yes, through Christ we already have victory. But, we still need to fight his attacks (see Eph 6:10-18, 1 Pet. 5:8)! Satan will use any means necessary to disable us, especially the things we think we’ve conquered. (In my case, physical fear had never been a major issue in my life, so I had rarely given it a second thought.)

Visions:

Yes, you read that right—visions (and if you knew my denominational background you would understand how unusual this is). Only once before had I ever personally encountered a demon in the physical realm (that’s for another post on another day, though). But in the last two months I have seen, on more than one occasion, demons appearing in my home. Now, I’m not talking about a physical thing that I could touch, but rather an image in my mind. Unlike the experience of the home intrusion, these visions did not create a reaction of fear but of doubt. Each time I would “see” a demon I would immediately pray against it and focus on God’s word. But the visions have continued not only in the form of demons but in dreams.

My sleep has often been interrupted with disturbing images from the past–sinful behaviors, etc. I wake up with waves of doubt over my calling as a Christian, my competence as a teacher, and my effectiveness as a servant in Christ’s kingdom. These thoughts, visions, and dreams have left behind a residue, a sticky film that is difficult to eliminate. It is, yet again, another attack I have had to fight off.

And there have been many other attacks (marriage, financial, relational, physical…etc), but this post is already too long to list them all. I do, however, want to make one thing clear in all of this. I have not shared these experiences to bring an unhealthy attention to Satan, but  rather to show that when we are in God’s will, when we are attempting to follow His plan, Satan will oppose it. And if you are not recognizing any attacks from your enemy, you might want to reevaluate some things in your life. If you are walking with Jesus, Satan is going to attack you. We don’t need to be afraid of him but we do need to understand his hatred towards us as we daily fight against his fiery arrows.

What type of opposition have you encountered as you’ve been led by God to serve in a ministry or in some other area?

 

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is an author and freelance writer. She is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters online women’s ministry, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

Stand Firm; Fight with Faith

Stand Firm; Fight with Faith

 “And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4b

When we think of words like fight, battle, and war we often get an image in our head that resembles many gruesome scenes. Perhaps this is due to the movie generation we live in where everything is put on the “big screen”, and easy for us to imagine. War movies are particularly popular. Maybe you’ve already got scenes from “Saving Private Ryan” in your head, or “Independence Day” (if you’re into alien movies), a western story like “Tombstone” is a favorite of mine. All of these movies have a common theme: the heroes have to fight for their freedom, and they must use a lot of violence. In all practical sense it is very logical to believe that in war we must fight with weapons, and use force to take what is rightfully ours.

Friends, we are in a very real battle in the spiritual realms. We are cautioned:

 “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12(NLT)

Does this verse make you a bit nervous? The truth is, we are in a very real war, it is raging and you and I are IN this war, whether or not we want to admit it. We are either pawns on the chessboard, or we are active participants, ranking in God’s army and being used to fight against the “rulers…of the unseen world”. I know I would rather be a bishop in God’s army then a pawn in Satan’s chess game. We do have a choice as to what “player” we are going to be.

 But this isn’t a message about choosing to fight, or what player you want to be in the war. This is about strategy. Assuming you want to fight, what is the strategy you need to use to be a successful victor against these “mighty powers in this dark world”? We can be sure that this is serious business, and we need to know how to fight God’s way. One thing is certain: our battle plan will always fail.

First, we look to God’s Word and see how He instructed His faithful followers to fight in the battles laid out before them, and from that we will get some clues as to what our strategy should be.

Read Exodus 14:21-30

 Finally the Israelites have been released from captivity under the oppression of the Egyptians. As they are fleeing, the Pharaoh is enraged and has a little change of heart. He instructs his armies to chase after the Israelites. Coming up to the Red Sea the people become desperate. Did they come all this way just to be recaptured and killed by the wicked Pharaoh?

 “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise it over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground…My great glory will be displayed.’” Exodus 14:15-17(NLT)

 God didn’t tell the people to grab the nearest blunt object and fight for their lives, He didn’t even tell them to run across the dry ground. He instructed Moses to stand still and hold up his staff to part the Red Sea so the people could walk across. Be calm, and trust God to fight your battle.

 “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.’” Exodus 14:13-14(NIV)

This is one marvelous example of many. You can look at them for yourself. In Judges 7:19-22 we see how God delivered Gideon and his very small army from the Midianites. What did they have to do? We are told:

“Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape.” Judges 7:21

Again we see words like, stood, and watched as the means for “battle”. Not exactly logical by worldly standards, but that is exactly how God’s glory is revealed! He takes the impossible and makes it possible only through Him, so there can be no denying His hand’s work. In Acts 16:25-27 Paul and Silas literally sat and sang their way out of prison!

 “All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off.”

In Daniel 3 we read of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who did nothing but stand for what they knew was right and they were delivered from the fiery furnace and God’s glory was revealed to all who witnessed it. Daniel 7 reminds us of how Daniel stood for what he knew was right, and was cast into a den of hungry lions for it! Did he pick up a club and start fighting for his life? Nope! It wasn’t necessary because he trusted God.

 “My God sent His angel to shut the lion’s mouth so that they would not hurt me.” Daniel 7:22

And finally I will mention the greatest example of all. Jesus Himself modeled for us His desire for us to stand firm, and fight with our faith, and use the Word of God as our weapon. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read of how Satan came to tempt Jesus after He had spent 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness. He was in a state of physical weakness, and most vulnerable to a spiritual attack. From this we are given an important clue. Our physical weakness does matter, and Satan will use that against us. He comes to us in our weakness and whispers enticing deceptions into our minds, and this is the biggest battle of all. We must have the Word of God stored up in our hearts to fight against this attack. During this time of temptation Jesus did not physically fight with Satan, He only used His words. He quoted the Scriptures, and He knew the will of His Father so He was not deterred by any of the “enticements” laid out before Him. Some things are made very clear from this encounter.

First, we must have an intimate prayer life with our heavenly Father to know His will for our lives. If we are in a state of confusion we are more vulnerable to the lies of the Enemy and more likely to make unwise choices.

 Secondly, we must know the Word of God, it must be hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). How can we resist the devil unless we know what we are resisting? We have to know the truth to recognize the lies!

 Third, when we know the truth, we must then rest in that knowledge and trust God to follow through on His promises.

 “The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The Lord will keep watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” Psalm 121:5,8

This is truth that sets us free! We must trust in this truth, choose to believe what He tells us, and live with faith. The key strategy for our battle is standing firm, using our weapon (the Word of God), and exercising Faith in His truth!

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

 “Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8

 “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Psalm 4:4

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

 “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so that you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” Ephesians 6:13-14 (NLT)