My first night in Israel, I woke up around 1:30 am (Israel time) and wasn’t able to go back to sleep. Thoughts were popping into my mind, demanding I pay attention to them. (I had to be considerate of my friend who shared the room with me and not turn on any lights). Finally, there was nothing to do but grab my phone, go to my Word app, and begin recording those thoughts. The following are the words that forced themselves upon my mind that night. At the time, I thought they were a personal word for me. Up to a point they were. But after I returned home following my pilgrimage to Israel right smack in the middle of the Coronavirus fallout, I feel those words were also meant for such a time as this.
Two themes encased my thoughts that early morning–Perspective and Fear. Our perspective is determined by our focus. But before we choose our focus (and it is a choice, by the way) there is a viewpoint to be considered.
we need to view our lives within the context of God’s plan for them. He has given us assignments that are fashioned by that plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)
we need to be aware that Satan also has a plan:
To steal, kill, and destroy God’s plan for us. (from John 10:10a)
Unfortunately, our human nature is too often susceptible to the manipulation and deception of our enemy, Satan. When we succumb to his temptations, we limit ourselves from fulfilling God’s plans for our lives. How does this happen?
Satan’s premiere plan is to keep us ignorant of God’s plan. So how does Satan pull this off?
By distracting us from spending time with God in prayer and His word. Make no mistake about it, that is the foundation stone on which Satan’s destructive tactics are built.
Now, let’s bring this all down to the trial we are facing at present–the Coronavirus.
Do we think for one minute that those thoughts of fear and despair come from anyone other than Satan? Of course not! But we are being tempted to take on a perspective of fear, are we not? Then how can we avoid or resist such temptation?
Consider the following:
A fearful thought will come to our mind. That thought, if allowed to take root, will produce more fear and put us in panic mode. We will begin to behave irrationally. Thoughts of self-preservation at all costs will be entertained.
YET, if we will but recognize that thought as a fiery dart from the enemy, there is a plan to nullify its effect. Here’s how it works:
Recognizethat thought of fear as a fiery dart
Rejectit outright. Don’t allow its deadly poison to take root
thenReplaceit with Truth thoughts.
This is critical. We can’t just reject fear and expect to be done with it. But when it returns it needs to find no room to plant itself. This is where Truth thoughts come into play. The Truth thought found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”, will quench such a thought. Just as it says in Ephesians 6:16, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
Therefore, the plan we focus upon will determine our perspective in facing the Coronavirus pandemic.
Recently, I was invited to speak to a group of teenage girls on the subject of Fiery Darts. A subject we ALL are affected by, no matter our age. I was thrilled to be able to offer these precious young ladies advice that would prepare them to follow the path God has chosen for them.
They learned that every attitude or behavior (acceptable or unacceptable) begins with a thought. Unacceptable thoughts can originate from their own 1)sinful nature, 2)the World, and 3)Satan. Satan uses all three to deceive and manipulate the formation of our thoughts to suit his purpose in ruining our witness.
We compared God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:11), Satan’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy (fr John 10:10a) , and God’s plan to equip them to defeat the enemy (Ephesians 6:16) From 1 Peter 5:8 they were warned to take seriously the enemy’s attacks.
They were informed that without God’s filter of what is true; lyrics, books, movies, websites, and even social media that is contrary to God’s truths, will begin to shape how they view sin.
It was impressed upon them that if they ignore God by spending little time with Him in prayer and His word, then the lies of fiery darts will infiltrate their minds and will begin to rule their thinking. Eventually, they will see wrong as right and right as wrong.
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…
They were reminded that
God has plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.
Satan’s plans are to destroy you and your future. He will lead you to your destruction one fiery dart at a time
The following steps were given to counter Satan’s attacks
Recognizethe fiery darts of the enemy (absorb God’s word where you will become wise in recognizing the difference between thoughts that come from God and thoughts that do not)
Rejectsuch thoughts immediately. (the longer you think about them the more their lies will take root)
Replacefiery darts with God’s Truth Thoughts. (every time that thought enters your mind, quote a God Truth.
By applying these lessons regarding fiery darts, the benefits of the following verse will be theirs to claim.
Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds (as you spend time with God in prayer and His word) so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. (and not be so easily manipulated and deceived by the enemy) Romans 12:2 ISV
Positive thinking has positive power. Negative thinking has negative power!
I bet you knew that! “That’s just logical,” you might say. But there’s a vast difference between knowing about this power and feeling the impact of such power.
I know all too well the effect of negative thinking. I wrote a book, entitled: Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, based on my first hand experience of this destructive force. Regretfully, it took me many years before my eyes were opened. Thankfully, I didn’t live my whole life ignorant of the enemy’s power.
Positive power at work
Recently, while in a low mood (prime time to get attacked by fiery darts) my mind strayed to the recent departure of two of my children. Both lived relatively close to me. And with a son living in Africa, their closeness was a constant source of comfort. Then a few months ago, two of my three daughters, moved in opposite directions about 11 hours away. The negative power of sadness began to claim my thoughts.
Yet, in these moments, the following thoughts began rising to the surface: “During the times your children and grandchildren lived nearby you made a ton of wonderful memories. Why don’t you focus on those instead? Start thanking God for those memories.” So I did. As I filled my mind with one blessed memory after another, the negative power fueled by negative thoughts diminished. The more I praised God for those sweet memories, the better I felt.
But not one to give up easily, Satan sent me another fiery dart. My thoughts were redirected towards another situation in my life that has the potential to create burdensome thoughts. On the tails of my recent reminder, I was prompted to find the good that came out of that burdensome situation. A bit harder perhaps, (Satan’s is clever like that) because the burden is something I continue to wrestle with. Yet, the good is there! Once again, the negative was drained away and the positive began to soothe me.
As a Christian, I live by the God’s Truth and not the lies of fiery darts. My mind is being renewed every time I spend time with God in prayer and His Word (the Bible).
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV
So, think about it. A mind not experiencing renewal by God’s Truth, is a mind subject to negative power. The negative power of Satan’s lies and manipulation. A decision to take to heart John 3:16, allows us the resources to expose Satan’s negative power. A power that is no match for the positive power of God’s Truth.
For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said:” You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence. But you are not willing.” Isaiah 30:15 HCSB
Choosing Our Way
The last sentence of this verse is shocking! We all desire to be delivered from our trials. Quiet, confident strength sounds heavenly, doesn’t it! But like the people of Judah, we are often unwilling to listen to God’s way.
The temptation to seek our own resolutions is strong. Our flesh is naturally bent to go its own way. Perhaps it’s a control issue.
But if we listen to the fiery darts, and reject God’s way, who is doing the controlling? The truth is our choices have led to our bondage. In actuality, we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated. And we are only fooling ourselves to think we are in control.
We seek deliverance, rest, and strength. But the whispering voice of the enemy purposes to convince us to reject God, His Word, His Way. Knowing deliverance, rest, and strength will continue to allude us!
Our enemy’s fiery darts are powerful. We should never underestimate that. What we all desire can never, and I repeat never, be obtained by listening to Satan’s lies. No matter how cleverly they may be concealed.
Choosing God’s Way
Therefore the LORD is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. All who wait patiently for Him are happy. Isaiah 30:18 HCSB
Sadly, many of us will have to come to the end of our rope before we are willing to choose God’s way. And when that point in time happens and our sight is restored, we will see God standing there, waiting!
And what is He waiting to show us? Mercy and compassion.
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!
Perhaps this whole thing about fiery darts is still sort of foggy–what they are, how to deal with them, etc.?
If that is the case with any of my readers, then please allow me to share a potential calamity that my son and daughter in law recently faced that I hope will clear away some of that fog.
In anticipation of attending an university in the UK next year for his master’s work, my son, daughter in law, and their two small sons (plus all of the paraphernalia that entails) made their way to an airport in Africa to board their plane. My son’s plans were to meet with professors to tie up any loose ends having to do with his registration. They hoped to have some time to look into housing possibilities as well. A few days later we planned to join them and together we would enjoy a vacation that we all had looked forward to and planned on for months.
However, upon arriving at their airline’s check in counter, they were blind sided with the news that their plane had left without them. Apparently, there was some confusion about the departure time. Then to add to the dilemma they faced, they were told their tickets were not refundable($2300)! Oh, and wait, there’s more! The only plane that was scheduled to go to the city where the university is located wouldn’t be leaving for another week. Of course, that would mean we would arrive before them and that would just mess everything up! ! ! ! !
Immediately, my son placed a couple of phone calls–one to me and one to a fellow missionary friend. After my son shared the details of the ordeal with me, I prayed for him, said goodbye and got busy calling all my friends to prayer, urging them to notify their friends to pray. In a matter of minutes, people all over the United States and the world were praying. (My son is a missionary and many of his friends live scattered throughout the globe.)
Now, this is where the fiery dart explanation comes in!
With rapid succession, thoughts of panic, fear, and worry, bombarded my mind. (If they were doing that to me, imagine what they could have been doing to my son & daughter in law). Just imagine how all of our plans would have been derailed if we gave into such negative thinking or yep, you’ve got it,fiery darts!
Now, I preach (might as well admit it) that the most efficient way to extinguish fiery darts are to:
1)recognize the fiery darts
2)reject the fiery darts
3)replace the fiery darts (with Truth thoughts)
Therefore, here are some of the Truth thoughts God brought to my mind:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28, NIV(If we were willing to cooperate with God in this, He would work all this out for our good)
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. Philippians 4:6-7(After taking this turn of events to the LORD, we needed to thank Him for how He was going to work things out and accept His peace.)
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you. Isaiah 26:33(We needed to trust (focus on)God so that we wouldn’t freak out and be at peace)
We knew it was God’s way to take all the scatter pieces of our plan and put them back together again! His plans are always to benefit us.(Jeremiah 29:11)That was our confidence because that is God’s character!
A few hours later, after purchasing a one way ticket to another country, where they would transfer planes, they would arrive at a city in the UK 4 1/2 hours from their original destination. There they would rent a car and drive to the city where the university is located. Several hours late, but arriving nevertheless. And, I might add, with a sound mind!
And concerning that non-refundable ticket?
Waiting on God with thoughts of trust (not fiery darts)
We can face them as individuals or as a group. Sometimes they loom so large we fear we will be overwhelmed by them. Then again, our perspective regarding how we approach problems can be so skewed by fiery dart thinking (negative thinking, remember) that we choose a downward path, oblivous to the upward path already laid out by God for our good.
Here’s God’s plan!
Problems are meant to work out for our benefit!
Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
We are meant to rise above our problems; not sink under the weight of them!
Romans 8:37, No, in all these things (problems) we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Problems are designed to supply what might be lacking in our spiritual makeup
James 1:2-3, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverence. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anthing.
There’s more but this is enough to make my point!
Typically, problems create more problems. Listen to anyone or group absorbed in a problem and what do you hear? One negative statement after another. It’s seems those involved have an opinion on what caused the problem and will rehearse their negative opinion with anyone who will listen.
I have seen the progression fiery dart thinking sets in motion. When problems occur the temptation we succumb to is to set our eyes upon the problem and think of nothing else. The darkness produced by such negativity grows with the intention to completly obliterate the Light of God’s solutions.
I know what that is like. I have been there. It’s a no win situation. Not until, that is, you turn your gaze and ear to Jesus and begin following His instructions.
It’s likely He will open your eyes to the fact that while He has good plans for you, Satan does not.
John 10:10, A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.
He might even ask us this question: Whose plan are you cooperating with?
If we are maintaining a negative perspective regarding the problems with which we are faced, the answer to this question is obvious.
However, I do not believe that we intentionally choose to cooperate more with Satan’s plan than we do God’s. I do believe that we have been deceived with fiery dart thoughts that have blinded us to God’s plan. Which is why I write this post–to reveal Satan’s plan.
Start speaking Truth to the problem–using the verses like the ones I have offered in this post. When a thought forms in your mind regarding the problem, ask yourself this question:
Is it a fiery dart thought or a Truth thought?
Only proceed if your words will speak Truth. Then set back and watch the glory of God at work in your obedience and pour out more blessings that you can imagine. Malachi 3:10 backs this up.
As God exposed the weapons of fiery darts that for years Satan had skillfully used against me, my spiritual walk underwent a dramatic transformation. By teaching me what fiery darts were and how to counter their attack, my walk along the path God had set before me so many years before was illuminated to such an extent that my skill in recognizing Satan’s tactics dramatically improved along with my ability to successfully fight against the fiery darts. FD p. 6
A Pivotal Question!
For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people?. . . Galatians 1:10 (HCSB)
No Christian ever wants to admit that they are more concerned about pleasing people than they are pleasing God. But that is exactly what I, the people pleaser, was doing! God revealed this to me several years ago in the midst of a tumultuous episode when a particular decision I had made resulted in creating discord among many.
For the first time in my adult life, people were severely displeased with me and I couldn’t handle that! At first! But after much counsel and doing some honest soul searching about the Galations verse, my course was redirected. My downward spiral was interrupted as God reached down and rescued me from the plans that Satan had concocted.
Pleasing God now trumped pleasing people! It was quite liberating to live life that way! And on top of that I had the reassurance that,
When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 (HCSB)
Another powerful lesson learned during those days was how something that Satan meant for bad was turned into something good by God. Therefore, I saw all those involved as instruments of God’s will in helping me understand how important it was to please Him above all others. As a result there was no anger or bitterness on my part towards anyone.
As I look back on events such as the one I just described through the lens of fighting fiery darts, I gain clarity about the work of Satan’s manipulation. Of how he can take my weaknesses and victimize me with my own thoughts. Now when those fiery darts try to infiltrate my thinking, by God’s design, I have a plan in place to reject them thus averting the devastation those weapons formerly imposed.
No more downward spirals; depression has been defeated!
In observing the effect fiery dart thinking has on people, I am drawing some disturbing conclusions. I have listened and observed as people (whose lives exhibit some semblance of Christianity) describe a lifestyle that is in direct contradiction to the one given to us by God. They attend church ( perhaps not regularly) and know all the familiar Christian lingo. But they live as if there is no contradiction in their lifestyle.
How can this be?
Could it be that they have lost their sensitivity to sin? They seemingly are not bothered with conviction about their lifestyle. Even though their lives are marked with pain and unfulfilled dreams, the realization that their disobedience could be the source of their disillusionment never kicks in.
I know that when we are first convicted about sin in our lives, the temptation is to ignore it, deny it, or to begin justifying it. And though this is where the Enemy is most easily conquered, this is where for many Satan gains full entry.
“Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. . . .Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.” p. 46 FD (Thomas Kempis)
This, I conclude, is how an individual can live contrary to God and in alliance with the world without apparent guilt! The fiery darts that justifies their sin, if not resisted, will eventually release so much poison into their thinking that they become blinded to God’s Truth. Therefore, they may be convinced they are something they are not! You know, right becomes wrong!
But there’s good news!
These poisonous thoughts (fiery darts) CAN BE conquered dear reader! Not overnight, but by attacking one thought at a time, as directed by the prayer and Bible study I refer to in Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice! It will take some longer than others depending on the amount of poison that has infected their thinking, but there is a future for them that is free of this bondage! It’s God’s plan:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (NIV) Jeremiah 29:11
Over the weekend another beheading took place and an attack on an US embassy by a terrorist group was foiled in a major African country. U.S. citizens there are being asked to be watchful and careful!
Fighting in Israel has disrupted daily life now for months. In my own country, a Jewish friend fears for her safety when attending the synagogue to celebrate upcoming holy days. I understand that it’s typical to have armed guards surrounding the synagogue during these events.
All over the world, persecution of Christians is on the rise. Much of it originating within terrorists cells, not only targeting Christians but Jews as well.
I have friends in the city where the US embassy was put on guard. They are okay at present but have been warned to be careful and alert. I also have family members living in a not too distant area from there.
Am I tempted to fear? You bet, I am!
Do I give into fear? Not as long as I do the following:
First, as soon as the temptation to fear enters my mind, I RECOGNIZE it as a fiery dart.
Second, I put up my shield of faith and RESIST it.
Third, I REPLACE the fearful thought with a Truth thought, and in this case it’s 2 Timothy 1:7,For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Every single time a fearful thought seeks to embed itself into my thinking, I shift into Recognize, Resist, and Replace mode of behavior.
What is the effect of this behavior?
God tells me that fear is not something from Him. So on that fact alone, I reject it! ! ! ! !
God tells me He has given me the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, instead. Therefore, any action I take, any words I speak, or thoughts I think, having to do with the evil running rampant in this world today should be defined by what God has given me–
NOT FEAR! ! ! ! ! !
Based on the following blog post: https://fierydarts.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-3-rs-of-fighting-fiery-darts-revised-plan/