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:
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
It was my joy to speak to a group of ladies from Lydia’s House of Prayer during their Spring Retreat. These ladies left with a renewed sense of the spiritual warfare they must fight daily. Now they are equipped to
So how do we recognize fiery darts? Examine the effect the “suspicious thought” has on you. Does it produce confusion, fear, doubt, anger, inferiority, indecisiveness, jealously, judgment, or selfishness, for example? It would be wise to consider where such thoughts could lead. For example, thoughts of self-sufficiency can lead to a decreased dependency on God. Thoughts of jealously could lead to revengeful actions. Thoughts of judgment toward ourselves or toward others fosters condemnation. (Remember, God convicts. He does not condemn.) “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, HCSB) and “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him”(John 3:17 HCSB). I’m sure you get the point. p 53-54, 3rd ed FD’s
The above excerpt from my book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, provides essential advice on how to identify thoughts of the fiery dart kind. Recently, I was made aware of an additional technique.
I was listening to a sermon when this question was offered as a way to recognize the influencer of our thoughts. It’s a simple question we ask ourselves. But the answer is powerfully revealing. So here it is:
But there’s a catch in being able to answer such a question. We need to know about the character of God. And we also need to know the character of Satan. When we do, then we can recognize where our thoughts have originated. For example:
I have a tendency to be self condemning. Therefore, I battle this fiery dart often. So when a condemning thought troubles me, I ask, “Who said that?” I can answer with confidence, “Well, it sure wasn’t God.” How do I know that? Because the Bible tells me that God brings conviction; not condemnation. And conviction is given in order to restore. Condemnation, on the other hand, is given in order to destroy. This knowledge empowers me to reject the condemning thoughts; preventing them from ruling my thinking.
The Bible reveals God’s character as well as Satan’s. Those of us who are not familiar with either can easily be deceived and manipulated. Pretty obvious isn’t it as to why Satan would be so determined to keep us from reading our Bibles? If we can’t recognize the influencer of a troubling thought then we are primed for deception and manipulation.
So allow me to pose this question: If we aren’t reading our Bibles due to thoughts such as, “You don’t have time. It isn’t really all that necessary. The Bible isn’t relevant to our day. It won’t make any difference.”
Too old to dream? That’s the negative thought or fiery dart this elderly lady had come to call it. Yet she had to admit that at 70 years of age, it was an ongoing struggle not to give in to such a depressing thought. For the reality was that people her age and younger actually, were suffering from poor health and the obituaries of the local paper and facebook regularly reported on those who has lost their struggle.
How did she know that at any moment a certain pain might herald the dreaded attack of some terminal illness? Or that some unforeseen circumstance would spoil her plans for her future? Well, the truth of it was that she didn’t!
Therefore, she determined that she would leave the plans for her future (and whatever those details looked like) in God’s hands! She would embrace the Truth thought that God had plans for her future; plans for her good and not for bad, to give her hope for her future. So with that and a bit of naivety about the realities of old age, this elderly lady purposed to live the remainder of her life!