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Seasons! some good, some not so good

 

      Each season possesses beauty unique to its time. Sometimes the beauty is obvious and a wonder to behold and experience. Some seasons, however, the beauty is less obvious. Those seasons require an extra effort on our part to experience the beauty. Nevertheless, the beauty is there; waiting to be known. 

     Life is like that too! There are seasons that present quite the challenge to discover its beauty. Seasons change. Some changes are sudden and completely upend our lives. Some changes happen slowly but inevitably. 

     These changes bring with them a most undesirable host of temptations. (I call them fiery darts, remember) Fear, doubt, discouragement, anxiety, depression, anger (just to name a few!) have the potential power to overwhelm us (even destroy us). And they will, if we face them unequipped.

     There is only one source that I would recommend that is capable of extinguishing the temptation of such powerful negative emotions. 

Consider the following:

Fear 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7  Do not receive what has not been given to you by God.

Doubt

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:6  Without faith, fear will overwhelm us. 

Discouragement

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 God is with us and goes before us all at the same time. He can do that because He is God. He is preparing the solutions ahead of time to our problems.

Anxiety

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 Worry and anxiety are sin. But the world will tell us it’s normal. We can’t help it. Oh! but this verse wipes out such a false assumption. Do we desire peace or anxiety? It’s a choice we make! 

Depression

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalms 42:1 Without hope, depression can get the best of us. Think about God, how He loves us, the extreme measures He went to to assure us of hope. Don’t allow the enemy to steal that from us. 

Anger

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20 Anger can be brought under control. Take the measures recommended here to defuse it.

     For every fiery dart that attacks us in those not so pleasant seasons of life, there is a Truth thought that will extinguish them. Only then will we have to vision to uncover the beauty they hide. If we can but remember Romans 8:28,

 

 

 

God’s plan to extinguish Fiery Darts

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     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.

Something to keep in mind

Jesus convicts in order to restore.

Satan condemns in order to destroy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teens and Fiery Darts

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     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.

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     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…

 

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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

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         The following steps were given to counter Satan’s attacks

  1. Recognize the 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) 

  2. Reject such thoughts immediately. (the longer you think about them the more their lies will take root)

  3. Replace fiery 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

 

 

POWER OF PRAISING

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     Ever feel like as a Christian you are letting God down? When your thoughts are consumed with the burdens you bear. You make a valiant effort to spend time with God in prayer and His word. Yet, the weight of the burdens persist. Somedays you are able to believe God. Somedays, not so much. Especially as the burdens bear down upon you and new ones are added. You don’t doubt God as much as you doubt yourself. For you know God’s word is true and powerful. It’s just that the power to tap into those truths keeps evading you. 

     It’s in times like these that we must recognize the fiery darts of the enemy. Here’s what happens when our thoughts are consumed with our problems. The more we focus on our problems, the more pity we feel towards ourselves. Negative focus=fiery darts. Hope begins to drain. No solutions come forth from such a focus. 

But there IS a solution.

     It’s not so hard. But it takes deliberate effort. The temptation to dwell on our problems is strong.  It’s our default reaction. However, as Christians the power of the Holy Spirit is stronger. When you are strong in God’s word and prayer, then Satan must use another tactic. When he won’t succeed at causing us to doubt God, he will cause us to doubt ourselves. It’s nothing but a ploy of the enemy. Here’s how we counter his attack:

Step One

     Make a list of all the reasons you have to praise God. Especially, concerning your problems. Yes, even in the midst of your problems, there are reasons to praise God. 

Step Two

     Make a list of praise verses (Hint: go to the internet and type in the phrase ‘verses of praise’. (I recommend: http://www.biblegateway and http://www.biblehub.com)

     Next time you find yourself drowning in the negativity of your problems, pull out your lists. Allow praise thoughts to saturate your thinking. In all likelihood your problems will remain. But your perspective toward them will have changed. Now they will not overwhelm you.

Some benefits of praise?

     Praising God (even in the midst of your problems) empowers you to rise above those problems. Because you are focusing on God not on yourself. 

     Praise shapes your perspective. Preventing the enemy from draining hope from your thoughts.

     Praise provides you with the means to escape the darkness when in moments of weakness, you revert to your default of centering your focus on your problems. (We are human, after all)

     Praise builds your confidence in God and His Word. (A sure way to stand against the enemy.)

     Praise increases your success route. Did you know that with God on your side, your chances for success go through the roof (a thought from The Word for You Today, p.6, 6/4/19). That’s empowering, isn’t it!

PRAISE IS YOUR POWER, NOW ATTACK!

The 3 R’s of Disappointment

    Recently, I experienced a huge, and I mean huge, disappointment. I missed the championship game of my grandson’s soccer team. All because I got confused on the date. My disappointment was intensified by the fact that his team won, 3 to 1. And he was instrumental in the 3 points his team scored. It was a glory moment for him, and I had missed it, unnecessarily!

   But allow me to back up to the day prior to the game. I had two important appointments on my day’s schedule. But then a chance conversation with a relative resulted in my cancelling those appointments. Therefore, I was able to attend an event of even greater importance.

    I remember commenting to my close friend, how grateful I was to God for intervening and redirecting my plans for that day. It gave me such a secure feeling to know that God was overseeing my plans. That God redirected when necessary. I also remember talking to my friend about my grandson’s championship soccer game. How proud I was of him and how I looked forward to that game. 

   Then after taking care of those appointments I had cancelled the day before, I get a call from my daughter. She called to ask me if I was coming to the game! A game that was already 30 minutes into play. We live 40 minutes away. There was no way I could make it. I was devastated (and that’s putting it mildly)! No thoughts of gratitude toward God for redirecting my plans this time!

   All it would have taken was a chance conversation earlier in the day. Or a glimpse at my phone calendar to check the date. It would have required no miracle to alert me to my misunderstanding about the date. God could have easily intervened, just like He has done the day before to reveal my mistake. But He didn’t!!!!

   My temperament has a hard time letting go of such disappointments. Negative thoughts feed on disappointments like this. I was struggling to know joy and peace in the midst of my despondency. 

  Yet, empathetic words from my friend and a phone call from my grandson helped me over the initial hurdle. Then the following Truth Thoughts 

A devotion on

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill  you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” NIV

And,

Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”  NIV

worked to disrupt the enemy’s manipulative scheme.  

   Finally, a fiery dart that I’m overreacting to all of this discouraged me from writing this blog post. But the Truth Thought found in

2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comfort us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” HCSB,

extinguished that fiery dart.

   My readers may not be suffering disappointment exactly as I have posted here. But the steps to prevent the enemy’s manipulation and deception in the event of disappointments are the same.

Recognize, Reject, and Replace

And that’s worth posting about!

 

Even when the answers don’t come

     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

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     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

It won’t always be like this! 

 

Choose Easter’s Victory

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“He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15

It’s important to remember Easter is ultimately a spiritual battle between Christ and Satan

 

   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.

You see that’s the victory we as Christians have over the plan of Satan’s to steal, kill, and destroy. 

   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.

   This Easter, choose Christ. Choose victory. Defeat the enemy. Begin cooperating with God as He gives us the desire and power to do what pleases Him. 

   Refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated, deceived, and blinded by Satan.

Satan has come to condemn us; Christ has come to restore us.