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.
My eyes watch as delicate snowflakes accomplish the task of blanketing the landscape outside my window. Winter birds flit and flutter around the birdfeeders grasping for the sunflower seeds, now that food is in short supply. A lone little squirrel scampers to and fro searching for hidden acorns. From within, the fireplace offers an accent of crackling burning wood.
Such a scene has the power to call forth a variety of emotions. Positive flavored emotions of peace, calmness, serenity, thankfulness, or a sense of well-being may settle upon us. On the other hand, such a scene can bring forth negative flavored emotions of unrest, sadness, loneliness, or a sense of despondency.
If the recent circumstances of our days have been troubling, don’t be surprised if our emotions default to the negative. If that’s the case, it’s not an easy matter to suppress such emotions. Satan, remember, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Therefore, he will design fiery darts meant to manipulate and deceive how we perceive our world.
Something our enemy doesn’t want us to realize is that we can choose to embrace a positive perspective or a negative one. Yep, we don’t have to be victimized by fiery darts. It may take a lot of meditation on God’s Truths to send Satan packing, but it can be done. We don’t have to allow him to spoil our perspective.
Recently I was privileged to speak to a group of ladies highlighting the connection between fiery darts and making disciples. Here’s some excerpts from my presentation:
Satan has very cleverly devised fiery darts aimed to create confusion concerning how evangelism and making disciples work together to fulfill the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19)
Terms Satan does not want us to understand:
Conversion which leads ultimately to salvation begins with an awareness of sins that we’ve committed, as well as the fact that we have a nature inclined to sin.
Conversion makes us a follower of Christ; not necessarily a disciple.
Discipleship is about teaching; teaching new converts how to obey the commands of Christ.
A disciple is one who learns from another disciple how to live the Christian life, then shares what they are learning to produce more disciples, who share and produce more disciples. . . (But a disciple must be a convert)
What is Satan up to by concealing from individuals the importance of making disciples?
His plan is to manipulate us into thinking that once we are born into God’s family, then that’s all there is. (thus concealing our need to be discipled) John 10:10a
By not being discipled our spiritual growth can be hindered thus rendering us weak and ineffective as Christians. A weakened Christian looks no different from a non-Christian. Matthew 5:13
Due to the lack of training in understanding the truths from the Bible and how those truths apply to our daily lives, our foundation lacks stability. And the assurance of our salvation becomes sketchy. John 10:28
Without discipleship, we are uninformed on how to handle life’s problems. We are doomed to be manipulated and deceived by the enemy. Ephesians 6:16
Christianity becomes something we consume for ourselves; for what we can get out of it. Bible study after Bible study, without applying those truths and sharing those truths with others, benefits no one but ourselves. Matthew 5:15
Satan doesn’t want our foundation to be established upon the Rock; no he plans for it to be formed on sinking sand (without discipleship this is a real possibility.) Matthew 7:24-27
Next time, let’s delve into what is accomplished by concealing the importance of discipleship in our churches.
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.
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
My first bout with depression lasted for 2 years and occurred after I gave birth to my first child (43 years ago). I survived it but that’s all. Having a little one who depended 24/7 on my ability to care for her, prioritized my daily routine. Then two years and 4 months later my 2nd daughter was born. Now the well being of two precious little girls depended on my getting it together. After two more children, a daughter and a son, life demanded that I focus on the needs of my 4 children. However, the darkness of depression continued to stalk me.
During a retreat I attended only recently, I listened as a young mother described her bout with depression. Eventually, she was diagnosed with post partum depression (suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue).
I’m pretty sure that my initial years of depression was an undiagnosed case of post partum. During those first two years, I established a pattern of destructive thinking. My times spent in Scripture were consistent but brief (3 to 5 min). Any help I might have gained from them to combat such thoughts was drowned out by the lies swarming within my brain. My thoughts were ruled by those lies. I remember during those dark days my prayers became nothing more than, “God hold on to me.” I had a sense that those negative thoughts were lies but my weakened spiritual state was no match for their dark power.
Several years ago I reached a turning point when God prompted me to take notice of the thoughts that were so troublesome to me. This prompting resulted in increasing my time spent in prayer and bible study. As my knowledge of God’s Truth increased, the lies within those fiery darts were exposed. Eventually, I began to break free of the chains that for years had held me in bondage.
While I continue to battle fiery dart thinking, it no longer rules my thoughts. My thoughts are becoming saturated with God’s Word. Through prayer and bible study, I am learning to recognize & extinguish the lies of fiery darts. Remember, depression stems from the lies of fiery darts. But depression cannot take root in the soil of God’s Truth.
In looking back on my journey, I have often pondered why it took so many years for me to reach the path that led me out of the darkness of my negative thinking. . .Therefore, my hope is that by sharing the lessons I learned, your journey out of the darkness will not be nearly as lengthy as mine. p 14-15, FD 3rd edition