Is. 54:17 “ No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
While God is speaking only to Israel here, His assurances apply to Christians as well.
As we dig deeper into God’s word, truths become clearer. On the surface I see God’s assurance that He will protect us from these weapons. But does this mean He will keep us from being attacked? I confess, for some time now that was my perception. However, more recently I have come to realize my former perception was incorrect. I’ve come to understand that while the weapons are indeed formed and they indeed come against us they will not succeed in their intent.
We need to expect weapons to be formed against us. We must remember that Satan has a mission of destruction for mankind. He will use anything and anyone to prevent us from coming to Jesus as our Savior. Or if we belong to Jesus, Satan will attack us with any weapon in his arsenal to damage our witness. His goal is to make those who claim Jesus to become weak and ineffective.
But the verse in Isaiah 54:17 has good news. Those weapons that are sure to come against us WILL NOT SUCCEED. Romans 8:28 explains why. “All things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” For you see, when the weapons come against us, God’s plan is to prevent them from succeeding. What Satan intends for evil, God turns into good. He filled the Bible with instructions on how to foil the enemy’s attacks. God’s plan is to make us stronger and wiser in the process as we apply the truths from God’s word.
Because sin is the reality, God has made the way through Christ’s sacrifice that will empower us to live this earthly life victoriously. Satan’s weapons will come against us, be prepared for that. At the same time, be encouraged, for his weapons will not prevail.
Ok, that statement from a sermon I heard this morning rather startled me. I would venture to say that like me that was not the foremost thought in our minds after this current election. I was clearly disappointed and concerned about the ramifications our new president’s style of leadership would have on the moral fiber of our country. The thought that came to me, instead was, “Are we as a nation about to encounter the wrath of God?” That sounds scary.
By not being familiar with who God is as revealed in the Bible, the idea of God’s wrath will be completely misunderstood. Without the clarity of Scripture, our frame of reference in understanding God’s wrath will be to compare it to human wrath. Huge mistake, for:
Naturally, if this is what we think God’s wrath is, we aren’t likely to accept it. We will turn our focus to something more acceptable. Since it is too uncomfortable to think of God as wrathful, we will focus on the comfortable thought that God is love. And we won’t even wonder, “Have we missed something?”
Obviously, there is something we are missing. Because God is holy, He cannot tolerate or excuse sin. While He is patient (Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 103:8), there comes a time when He must express His wrath.
So the question we must ask is, “What is the purpose of God’s wrath?” History tells us that Israel was taken into slavery by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Prior to that invasion, Israel had disobeyed the covenant they had made with God. They were worshipping idols, sacrificing their children to these idols, committing immorality in the worship of their idols, and much more. However:
Following the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish people never again embraced pagan worship. While there have always been some in Israel who followed after pagan practices (even as there are today), the nation as a whole did not embrace pagan worship again. Instead, the nation remained devoted to the Law of the covenant and to the God of Israel…
By Israel’s example we realize that God’s love and God’s wrath rightfully coexist. They are the very combination that led Christ to the cross. God’s wrath had to be satisfied. If it had not, sin would have destroyed all of mankind. Therefore, in order to save the world Christ willingly suffered God’s wrath. By accepting Christ’s sacrifice as payment for our sins, then we are spared God’s ultimate wrath. One sacrifice for all who believe!
Therefore, it’s not that God lost this election but it’s that He allowed the outcome. For now, Christians must purpose in their hearts to reflect Christ as we deal with what God has allowed. Thus pointing out the only way to be delivered from God’s wrath and be destined for heaven.
NO GOD, NO PEACE – KNOW GOD, KNOW PEACE
In the midst of all the chaos that darkens our country these days, peace alludes us. We cry out for peace, well some do, but there is no peace. So what’s the problem?
Perhaps the problem lies in recognizing Truth. Because until we know what’s true, we won’t have peace. To go even further with this thought, rejecting Truth has a predictable outcome. And replacing Truth with a counterfeit truth leads to destruction.
I believe it all comes down to this. Our country started out recognizing that God is Truth. God’s record of Truth, the Bible, was the foundation upon which our country was established. However, since then we as a country have drifted from what we knew to be true. The rejection of God and His word produces predictable outcomes. The Bible records the consequences of a land who rejects God/Truth in Romans 1:18-32. It reads like a commentary on life in present day America
Our country’s rejection of God/Truth begs the question, “Why would we reject a truth that was proven to be true by the odds of ten to the 21st power (1021) There were over 300 fulfilled predictions regarding Christ in the Bible. This mathematical computation was based on only 8 of those predictions being true. Just ponder that for a moment!
As a nation, and even as an individual, if we genuinely desire peace then we MUST turn to and embrace the Author of Truth. We are in the throws of the consequences of rejecting God/Truth. What more will it take to wake us up?
Christmas will be minus children & children in law (8 in all), grandchildren (10). The twenty of us will be reduced to just my husband and I. And why is this happening this way? One word, COVID!
My devotional reading today focused on ‘contentment.’ Therefore, I asked myself, “In light of the drastic changes in my traditional Christmas celebration, could I claim contentment?’
Had I embraced the truth of Philippians 4:11-12?
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Phillippians 4:11-12
Honestly, I’m not too happy about the prospect of missing out on the delight of watching the good natured antics of my beloved offspring which characterizes our celebration. No reaching out to give or claim a hug is hard to accept. Listening to the squeals of delight as gifts are opened will be limited to an e-experiance via my computer. We will be minus all the delights that have characterized past Christmases around this old house!
So, how does one find contentment in this?
In our search for contentment during the tumultuous events at present, we must come to terms with some basic tactics of our enemy, Satan. His most successful trick is to manipulate our focus. He will cause us to focus on all that we have lost. Our minds will become so fixed on such that there will be only enough room for negative thinking. Those fiery darts will permeate our thought, influence our attitudes, and produce actions contrary to God’s will.
Therefore, if we will but seek God’s way to find contentment, we will turn to Scripture, like the one above. Matthew 14:22-36 will alert us to Peter’s fiasco when he became distracted by the storm. Romans 8:28 will present the gifts of peace and encouragement God stands ready to present to us. If every time a fiery dart thought attempts to take root, we can call upon the weapon of our faith to extinguish it. Satan’s manipulation and deceit fizzles. We are free to find the contentment God offers.
So instead of focusing on not being able to physically connect with our children and grandchildren, we find we still have much to be grateful for. Thanks to the provision of connecting online, we will still be able to visit with each other. We will still be able to sit back and listen with great joy to the loving and playful antics of our offspring as they enjoy being together during Christmas.
However, the sweetest blessing of all is that all 20 of us will be able to focus more on the Christ child than ever before. We will all remain cozy in our homes, focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. I welcome this for my husband and I, and I welcome this for our children and grandchildren.
In addition I would love to share a Christmas story I wrote for my family. Merry Christmas and remember Jesus is the Reason for Christmas.
First, I heard myself saying, “We just need to keep our focus on God!” Second, that very phrase jumped out at me a short time later as I was reading from my devotions. A few hours after that, I heard a pastor reminding his flock to “keep their focus on God.”
Okay, God had my attention after that third attempt, and the following resulted:
With all that is going on in our country at present, the temptation to loose our focus is hard to avoid. And when we throw personal dilemmas into the mix, it can be overwhelming.
Our enemy will wear us down with attacks, and when we are especially vulnerable, he will bombard us with what we feel is more than we can handle.
I recall such a weak period in my life. My desire was to keep my focus on God but the fight to hold it there was fierce. I knew to hold up my shield of faith. Yet, with every blast of fiery darts, I grew more desperate. I just couldn’t get a break from the onslaught. That’s when I began to pray that God would bring something outside myself to give me some relief. To help me in maintaining my focus.
Again and again over the next several weeks, I prayed that prayer. Thereafter, when a loved one, in expressing concern, offered his counsel, I resolved to give his counsel prayerful thought. And although the fiery dart was to discount and ignore his counsel, I had to acknowledge it was highly likely that God was answering my desperate prayers from earlier.
So instead of disregarding the counsel, I received it as from God. In following through, the much needed emotional relief was realized. The desperation was replaced with calmness. I was once again able to take my eyes off the stresses and turn my eyes upon Jesus.
There is a clear picture in the Scriptures that illustrates succinctly the dilemma we all face when the storm we are going through claims our focus.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31
Why did Peter doubt? Could it have been because he simply took his eyes off Jesus?
Our struggles, especially at present, have the potential to overpower us. But remember those struggles, however menacing they may seem, are not more powerful than God. A fact Satan would prefer we forget.
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Some things to note regarding the above verse. The Bible compares the devil to a roaring lion. A roaring lion is a hungry lion. A lion who is driven by hunger is on the watch, prowling around, searching for prey that can be easily devoured. You see, it is ravenous, so the quicker it can spot its prey the sooner its appetite will be satisfied.
This begs the question, “What type of prey is easily devoured?”
Obviously, weakened prey is the most likely. Those suffering from malnutrition have no strength to be alert to danger.
Perhaps those who have become distracted by and are driven by fear. This kind of prey runs blindly away from the roaring. They become isolated. They become easy pickings for the lion.
Of course, if the prey doesn’t take seriously the threats surrounding it, they can be picked off rather easily.
What’s the analogy here?
Christians are Satan’s prey. His plan of attack is to send us contradictory thoughts (fiery darts) about what our behavior should look like. His “go to” weapon is to draw us away from prayer and bible study. He knows we receive our nourishment from these two basic sources. Without this nourishment, we will be on a steady decline spiritually. Easily manipulated.
Satan knows that the less we delve into the Scriptures and the less time we spend in prayer, the less likely we will be to recognize his tactics. He will be flying under the radar, so to speak. We won’t have the information needed to expose our enemy. Because we are unaware of Satan’s schemes, fear and doubt will rule our thinking
Do we dare ask ourselves the following questions
Do we care about reading our bibles?
How’s our prayer life?
Do we find the only time we do some serious praying is in a crisis?
How’s our church attendance?
Do we desire to be in church?
Do we talk about our faith?
Are we uneasy when others do?
Would our behaviors/attitudes classify us as Christian?
What does your answers to the above questions reveal?
For two years I have actively tried to attract Goldfinches to my yard. I hung thistle socks and even dressed up a thistle feeder with a yellow ribbon. My desire to attract these yellow charmers was fueled by the fact that they frequented my sister in law neighbor’s yard regularly. I concluded, if they gathered in her yard, why not mine?
Last year was a bumpy road. Potholes of problems were a constant contention. While the end of the year revealed the removal of one major issue, others stubbornly remained. Thankfully, the removal of that major issue gave me some breathing space. Though difficulties remained, God was true to His promise in Isaiah 43:2 that they would not overwhelm me.
I recall a time early in this present year, when discouragement threatened me at every turn. Negative thoughts, aka fiery darts, tore away at my resolve to allow God’s word to direct me.
Just as soon as my path led me to a clarifying high point, it would be followed by a dip into dismay. I grew weary of this up and down existence. Yet, the truths of God’s word sustained me and kept me on track.
Often, I would plead with God to intervene and guide me along straighter paths. The fiery dart of doubt invaded my thoughts repeatedly. The highs and the lows were too close together and my peace was dwindling.
It was during such a time that I sought God in prayer to affirm that He was listening. He gave me Psalm 66:19-20, “However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer. May God be praised! He has not turned away my prayer or turned His faithful love from me.”
In my desperation to stay on track and follow God’s lead, I made a particular request. I asked God to direct the Goldfinches to my yard. Nevertheless, I was prepared to believe God was listening whether the Goldfinches showed up or not.
It was while I was sitting in my kitchen talking to my daughters, that one of my grandchildren exploded into the room shouting, “Nammy! There’s a Goldfinch on your feeder!”
Running to look, I asked, “Are you sure?”
And sure enough, hanging on the thistle sock in the crepe myrtle bush positioned by the deck, was a bright yellow male Goldfinch. Tears spilled down my face. God’s little messengers had accomplished their mission! And the bonus is that since that first sighting, daily appearances of God’s little messengers continues to assure me.
I would like to give my readers a break today. Let’s focus on something other than the out of control violence running rampant in our land. After you read this, those concerns will still be there. But may this respite of a read introduce some calmness into those concerns.
I get to live on a farm! I’m 71 years old (next month I’ll turn 72 but that’s irrelevant). Sometimes, I feel guilty about getting to live here. Why? Because I don’t contribute to the maintenance of the farm. But my daddy (Daddy has 4 children, 3 of us live here on the farm. We still, even in our 70’s and 80’s, refer to this man as Daddy. It’s our farm culture. The way we speak.)
But I digress. I live here because it is a gift from my daddy. I didn’t do anything to deserve this acre of land I live on, other than being a child of my father’s.
Wow, does that remind me of something! Isn’t that the way of things in the spiritual world, too? Let’s examine the parallels. As Christians, we are born into God’s kingdom. That spiritual birth entitles us to the abundant life and eternal life that Jesus died for. It’s our birthright as God’s children. We did nothing to deserve this life. It is ours due to our spiritual birth into God’s family and Christ’s sacrifice.
My life here on the family farm was ultimately provided by my Heavenly Father. It was about 26 years ago, that my family of 6 moved onto the homeplace. This was made possible by a gift from my earthly father.
Stepping out onto my front porch while enjoying the welcomed coolness of a late spring morning, I heard the revving of the mower’s engine, signaling the first hay cutting of the season. I won’t go into all the beautiful details of why this is one of my favorite pleasures of living in the corner of a big ole hayfield. Yet my reverie of thoughts was waylaid with the intrusion of thoughts of guilt. I was reminded (and we all know the source) that while my brothers and nephews work hard for this farm, I can make no such claim.
Why, on earth, you may ask would I spoil this picture of drawing in the sweet fragrance of new-mown hay, as I watched the birds perched on electrical lines anticipating the goodies the mower uncovers for them? Well, it’s Satan’s way. Attacking us with negative thoughts, for the purpose of undermining the perspective God sacrificed to give us.
But I know something too. I don’t have to give into such thoughts. (I call them fiery darts) My perceptive daughter in law reminded me (not long ago) that I have what I have because of who I was born to. And when I take on that perspective then I am at peace about enjoying this undeserved gift.
So, Satan be forewarned. Every time you try to plant that fiery dart thought into my head, I will remind you that like the undeserved gift of my salvation, my home here is an undeserved gift as well. I choose to honor both my fathers with a thankful heart for the undeserved gifts that my birth permits me to enjoy.
No, I’m not referring to the battle between the North and the South of 1861-1865. I am referring to the ongoing present-day battle between our fleshly nature (pleasing ourselves) and the spirit of Christ within us. Let’s allow God’s Word to illustrate:
Romans 8:5-8 NIV
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
As Christians, we must ask ourselves, “What is our mind set on?”
Was our mind set on spending time with God in prayer and His word at anytime this day?
Was our mind set on pleasing God with our words, attitudes, and actions as we proceeded through our day?
Was our mind set on seeking God’s will as we faced the problems of our day?
What is our mind set on when we encounter suffering?
What is our mind set on when others wound or attack us?
What is our mind set on when we are tempted to fear?
What is our mind set on when we are tempted to judge another’s actions?
This is not an all-inclusive list of questions, but enough I hope to prompt an evaluation. How we answer these questions reveals who rules our desires. If our mind is set on pleasing God, then our enemy will make certain to come against us. The war between our flesh and God’s Spirit within us ensues. Our civil war indicates the presence of God’s Spirit actively fighting against our fleshly desires.
But if there is no civil war, then it’s imperative to our eternal existence that we answer this question: Why not?