Today it was my pleasure to share the message of Fiery Darts to an endearing group of ladies at Mt Lebanon Baptist Church during their Sunday school hour. We dealt with how fiery darts relates to the following questions:
1 – Am I free from trying to win the approval and acceptance of other people, even those who are closest to me (such as spouse and children)?
2 – Have I learned what it means to take every thought captive and make them obedient to God’s truth that is clearly revealed by His Word and His Spirit?
3 – Am I well equipped to fight battles in my thinking, circumstances, and relationship and as a result stand strong in my faith?
We learned that our answers to the above questions are largely determined by where our thoughts dwell, the carnal realm or God’s Word.
An excerpt from Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice added a foundation for our discussion.
When a person becomes a Christian they are given a new nature, one that is the direct opposite of their old nature. Formerly, their will was directed by their old nature, but at the point of salvation, their old nature was dethroned. Their will is now directed by their new nature. (This civil war is fully explained in Romans 8:1-11, see page 95.) With this comes a hunger to study the Bible and to maintain consistent communication with God through prayer. The old nature, the flesh, resists such desires. Eventually, Satan arrives on the scene with his first and most formidable fiery dart—tempting their old nature with powerful distractions, making it harder and harder for new believers to commit to consistent Bible study and time in prayer. P 43
Satan knows that our sinful nature (flesh) is set against God, as well as the values and priorities of the unsaved world. He uses that to deceive and manipulate us.
A sure fire way to avoid his deception and manipulation is found in
Rom. 12:2, Do not be conformed to (the world), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
How are we going to renew our minds and become discerning as to God’s will? By devoting ourselves to prayer and the study of the Bible.
As we mature in wisdom and understanding, what we learn from spending time with God in prayer and His Word will expose the enemy’s plan (John 10a, the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy) and reveals God’s plan (John 10:10b & Jer. 29:11)
But in God’s Word in particular Ephesians 6:16 reveals God’s plan to undo Satan’s plan,
In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the evil one.
Somedays, I feel my dreams are slipping away. Somedays, I feel I am a solitary soldier. Somedays, I feel abandoned. Somedays, I feel overwhelmed. And no matter how much I pray and attack these fiery dart thoughts, relief and/or victory just doesn’t happen.
So what does one do at times like these?
Well, I’m going to keep fighting and resisting those fiery dart thoughts. I’m going to replace every fiery dart thought with verses of hope. Verses that remind me of who God is and how much He loves me. I’m going to remind myself of the abundance of God’s blessings and answers to prayers from my past.
Satan’s fiery darts are unrelenting at times like these. Therefore, I must be persistent in my resistance. Like Winston Churchill reminds us
So, even though the relief, victory, the answers haven’t arrived, I won’t forget that each and everyone of my problems is something God cares about. And that
When God created man and Satan tempted Adam and Eve, the great civil war between man’s spirit and flesh began. Then Christ came and as a man and as God, resisted Satan. Easter makes a way for us to resist Satan’s fiery darts. By accepting Christ’s death for ourselves, we can be assured that after our death, just like Christ, we will ascend to heaven.
As I grow older and move closer to my life’s end, the thrill of heaven, being with Jesus, becomes more intense. Therefore, I do not fear death. Nor should any believer.
Satan’s plan to remove the influence of God’s Word and spending time with God in prayer, makes possible the fulfillment of his plan. Just look around at all the people in our country that see nothing wrong with abortion, homosexuality, divorce, or lying to gain an advantage, etc. When we remove what the Bible says about either of these, and have no personal relationship with God, Satan easily victimizes us. And you know what, we won’t even realize how we have been deceived and manipulated.
When the world accuses Christians for standing firm on these issues, we get accused of all sorts of hateful actions. And Satan will make sure that our accusers don’t open up their Bible. Why? Because he doesn’t want the world to know about God’s love, compassion, forgiveness, redemption of those involved with the sins I mentioned above.
Remember, if you ignore the Bible and prayer, you are easy prey to the enemy. He will lie to you with such skill, that you can become convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right.
My greatest regret in life is not spending time with God daily in prayer and reading my Bible. I think about the unnecessary trauma I have gone through over the years simply because I wasn’t listening to God (you know, spending time with Him by reading and meditating on His word)!
Now that I am retired and spending that time daily with God, I am realizing the HUGE EFFECT it is making in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions. I think about all those years I failed in allowing God to show me the path I should have taken. I could have avoided so much pain, so many mistakes, pitfalls, detours, etc., if I had been familiarizing myself daily with what God had to say about what I was going through.
I could have you know. But I allowed myself to be manipulated and deceived into allowing busyness to keep me out of God’s word. Sure my life was busy when I was raising four children, working full time, and being deeply involved with my church. But I paid the price for putting all of that before my personal time with God. Not only did I pay the price but those I loved paid the price as well.
The more we pray and the more we study, the more of Christ is revealed to us. Our faith is strengthened and our access to the power of God is increased. Our ability to recognize fiery darts becomes keener, and we do not succumb to their influences so readily. We will recognize the battle going on between our flesh and our spirit and we will choose to cooperate with God’s plan instead. p 80 FD’s 3rd ed
So please, please heed my warning. You are not doomed to repeating my mistake. Know that the enemy is whispering the same lies into your thoughts as he did to mine. Be aware only the power of God’s word can successfully expose Satan’s lies.
So go get your Bible. Open it up and start reading it everyday. (I recommend a read your Bible through in a year plan.) I can’t tell you how many times God will highlight a verse for me in my daily readings that speaks directly to something I’m dealing with. I add that verse to my prayer notebook (oh yeah, keeping up with verses like that helps keep them in your focus).
Start NOW letting God’s Truth’s rule your thinking and not Satan’s lies.
Why do we so easily believe the lies of fiery darts? But struggle to believe Truths from God’s Word?
If the darkness of the world, Satan, and our flesh influences our thinking more than God’s Word, then our thoughts, attitudes, and actions will reflect that darkness. Thus our focus will be on the darkness, blinding us to the light of God’s truth that lies beyond it.
Yet, if we desire to believe God over the lies of the enemy, we must do the following:
We must seek God.
When God speaks we need to listen.
When God speaks we need to believe.
When God speaks we need to act on His words.
Take to heart the following:
…when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. Is 43:2 ESV
The LORD is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you. Do not be afraid or discourages. Deut. 31:8
Don’t be afraid anymore, only believe. Mark 5:36 NASV
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Yet sometimes the problems we face threaten to overwhelm us. We believe God,. We believe His Word. We go to it daily. We talk to God about it a lot, but the hoped for solution evades us! What do we do in situations like that?
As we wait, we continue to pray and search the Scriptures. We focus on verses like the ones above. We become alert to the encouragement God sends us as we go about our day. Through those encouragements and God’s word, we grow in our faith and perspective of the problem.
We learn to recognize the fiery darts and how to reject them. We learn to replace them with the Truth thoughts from Scripture that God directs us to.
We may not feel so good about the way things are going, but we must remember that if God says He will never leave us, that He will not fail us, then in spite of how things look, we must take Him at His word.
There are times when our thoughts seem to become more anxious by the moment.
Recently, anxious thoughts took center stage in my mind. They indeed appeared to multiply. The fiery darts of worry and fear joined forces with doubt and confusion. The problem loomed large. My ability to handle it grew smaller. I was close to feeling overwhelmed. I needed peace of mind.
Then God gave me a Truth thought that settled me down.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
As I meditated on this verse, I gained a new perspective on my problem.
God had gone on before me. You know out there where that problem was.
When I get to the point where I have to face the problem, I am not going to be by myself. God assures me He will be with me the whole way!
Fear and discouragement get left behind!
Now that’s what I call Consolation!
I asked God for a physical sign that He would protect me and not allow me to be taken advantage of. Normally, I don’t ask God for a sign. But this time, I felt it was necessary, considering my weakness. He gave me that sign!
So every time, the fiery darts of doubt, fear, discouragement, etc., attack, there’s my sign reminding me of God’s promises from Deuteronomy. That’s when the verse from Philippines 4:6-7 comes into play.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. NIV
Did you notice God’s peace (which I am sorely in need of) will guard my heart and mind, surpassing all those multiplying anxious thoughts!
Now, I must focus on these verses whenever I’m tempted with anxious thoughts. If I take this approach, I will face the future, where my problem looms, with confidence in God. He has gone on before me, remember!
For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.
At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the emotional strain of sending them off.
My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)
Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I. My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.
The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.
It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well. While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me.
One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:
How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?
If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).
His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)
He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28).
Okay, so I have a choice!
I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts!
Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!
Does your life seem complicated at times? Do you feel like you just don’t have God’s full attention? You pray for guidance but it seems God remains silent. Does the peace you earnestly seek for continue to elude you? You fast, but the answers and the peace do not come. And while you are still waiting for answers, you get punched in the gut with more problems!
Yet, you have the sense to know that answers won’t come from any other source. Therefore, you know you must persevere. So you keep on asking the LORD. All the while wondering when the relief will come.
In the meantime, fiery darts are messing with your resolve to seek the LORD. They plant doubt and confusing thoughts into your mind. With these fiery dart thoughts, your seeking the LORD grows more complicated. For now you must sort through these dark thoughts to be able to hear from and be guided by God’s Truth thoughts.
What do you do in these valley times?
Might I suggest that you attack the fiery dart thoughts (those thoughts of negativity, hopelessness, discouragement, doubt, fear, impatience, etc) as soon as they enter your mind. Replace them with Truth thoughts such as Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:27, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:13, Isaiah 43:4. Words from God to encourage you, give you hope, and to lift you up.
And we’ve all lived long enough to know that sometimes the answers won’t come quickly (which seems the rule not the exception). At times, we might find that we just have to wait for the answers that seem so long in coming. It is during such times that we must arm ourselves withverses that instruct us as we wait.
It is good for us to remember, that these dark times have a purpose. (Romans 8:28) God will use these times for our benefit and His glory. Therefore, focusing on the following word from God, will keep our heads above water. And though the answers still may not come for awhile, these words will give us the relief we need to keep on keeping on.
Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.
Do you think others, especially close to you, don’t think well of you?
Do you over focus on your fears?
Do you find yourself doubting God?
Do you struggle with inconsistency in reading your Bible and praying?
Have you recognized questions such as these as the fiery darts Ephesians 6:16 identifies? Satan knows quite well, that these fiery darts will never permeate the Shield of Faith. Therefore, what do you think his first plan of action will be with individuals? Of course, tempt an individual to search everywhere but God’s Word for the answers to questions like the ones above. And ifhe can manipulate enough individuals to reject God and/or His Word, then his plan to destroy a nation falls easily into place.
Our country’s leaders, some even calling themselves Christians, speak and act in ways that contradict God’s ways. For example, the Bible makes it quite clear how God feels about abortion. Yet, some of our most powerful leaders stand firm in their support of organizations that promote abortion! I just don’t get it. Why would anyone, claiming to be a Christian, support something God is against? But wait, I think I do!
People who have rejected God and His word, are easily manipulated into seeing lies as truth and truth as lies. You recall those questions I started out with? Well, Satan’s plan is to get us so self absorbed that we loose sight of who God is and the good plans He has for us.(Jeremiah 29:11) We can’t believe that He can take the bad things we are experiencing in life and turn them into something good and thereby enrich our lives by them. (Romans 8:28)
We look for solutions to the problems we encounter in our lives and Satan makes sure that our search for answers takes us no where near the Scriptures. Every idea we get from him may feel like an answer at the beginning but only serves to intensify our problems and complicate our lives even more. (Proverbs 14:12)
As Christians, we must seek God’s will and wisdom and apply them to the problems we face. As we hold up our Shield of Faith, then we are protected from being manipulated and distracted by the fiery darts aimed at us by Satan.
Here’s how it works!
God’s light will shine forth for all to see and as God helps us, then we can help others. (2 Corinthians 1:4) As His light is experienced and shared then that light grows and the darkness is dispelled. (John 1:5) Eventually, as individuals turn back to God, then a nation has hope. (2 Chronicles 7:14)