There was a day when it was relatively easy to be a Christian. But that’s not true any longer. And I believe that is a good thing. When it is easy to be a Christian, you don’t need to count the cost. Why? Because claiming we are Christian cost us very little. We grow apathetic. Much of the attacks on our Christian way of life happen without our even noticing. By the time we do notice, the job to reclaim our way of life seems overwhelming.
It’s apparent with the pandemic, the governmental opposition to our judo-christian values, the loss of respect our country has experienced on the world’s stage that something is terribly wrong. Christianity is condemned at every turn. False assumptions and human reasoning about anything Christian, rules the day. Peace is in short supply. Life grows less valuable by the day and truth become unrecognizable.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Once we grasp the truth that God has a plan for our lives, (and that hopefully happens early on) we begin to move forward in that plan. As we exercise our faith muscles, our faith increases in strength. The more mature our faith grows, the wiser we become. The expectation is that we would move forward consistently as our faith develops.
Our new nature, given to us at our spiritual birth, desires to please God. Yet, we will always struggle with our old nature always wanting its way. Trials come and trials go, but with every one our character is improved upon.
But what about those trials that refuse to ‘go away’? They perhaps contain the strongest of life lessons. You know, those every day trials that prevent us from living life victoriously.
Trials of this nature usually involve learning how to get along with others. Nothing we say or do brings improvement in them or the relationship. Instead of growing wiser and resolving the situation, despair sets in. Satan manipulates and deceives our flesh, our old nature. Lying to us about what is wrong and setting our focus on ourselves.
We are primed to become distracted by human reasoning and false assumptions. Without realizing it, we have become influenced by Satan to do his will. We get mired down in these kinds of trials with every lie cast upon us by the enemy. We take on the attitude that nothing is going to change and spiritual growth and/or pleasing God fades into the mist. Blindness rules on both sides of the equation.
Perhaps accepting things the way they are in these situations may be the best way to move forward through them. By moving on we leave it up to God to make changes in His timing and will. Forgiving and accepting permits us to throw off the shackles of judgement and condemnation. The liberty to breathe free is ours to claim by the power of God’s word. This sort of example, is a lifeline for those searching for comfort in their own stubborn trials .
So, when trials persist without bringing the desired solution, there is still a way to move forward. Moving forward is possible but it takes a mindset that requires a high level of trust in God. A trust that even though the desired solution has not been realized, our confidence that God is in control and is working out His plan remains steadfast.
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
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!
.John 10:10a (HCSB), “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.” So what is it that the Enemy desires to steal, kill, and destroy? The answer is obvious—anything God has planned for us! p 13 FD’s 3rd edition
It’s obvious that America is in trouble. Chaos reigns in hot spots throughout our land. Too many of our leaders have called upon human reasoning and false arguments to replace the Christian principles upon which our country was founded. Slowly but surely the foundations of our country are being eroded away.
But you know the same is true for individuals. Rejecting God sets us on the same course of depending upon human reasoning and false arguments. The outcome of such a choice places our lives, families, and ,therefore, our country at risk.
And because we are not motivated to spend time with God in prayer and in His word, we are ignorant of the following Truths:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
The second half of John 10:10 reveals an aspect of God’s plan for His children, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” p 13 FD’s 3rd edition
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), ‘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.’ p 24 FD’s 3rd edition
How about we examine the two plans
Cooperating with God’s plan produces
… Galatians 5:22-23. This is the familiar verse describing the fruits of the Spirit. When God puts a thought into your mind, then, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or selfcontrol, for example, is the desired end. The purpose behind thoughts influenced by God is meant to conform us into the image of His Son. p 54 FD 3rd edition
Rejecting God’s plan produces
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity,idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions,envy,drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. Galatians 5:19-21
So why do individuals choose Satan’s plan over God’s plan?
In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 HCSB
Please open our eyes LORD. Lead us out of our darkness into Your Light!
For example, when I look in a mirror, or decide to move after sitting for a spell! Or my energy level gives out before I’m finished with a project. And I’m always on the lookout for a hairstyle that doesn’t shout out to anyone who notices it that I am an old woman.
Living in a world that is obsessed with outward appearances,
I’m nagged with the fiery dart of over focusing on how I look on the outside. Just watch tv for a few minutes and you will see what I mean. So how do I resist such temptations? The Truth thought to undo this temptation is 2 Samuel 16:7, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (Whew, that’s a comfort!)
I want to see myself through God’s eyes, not man’s.
I have the desire to travel to the 3rd world country where my son and his family will be living after stateside. I did get to go once–living in the bush, struggling at times, but I did it! And I was no spring chicken!
Next year I will be visiting my son, daughter in law, and 2 grandsons while my son is studying overseas. I am ecstatic about that! But realistically, as my age increases, my visits might diminish.
So, I fight the fiery dart of fear
that my health might play out, preventing me from making such trips.
Self-Awareness is good. Self-centeredness, not so good.
I do want to be more self aware so that I can be realistic about my limitations, but I know I must be careful to resist the temptation to overdo the self-focusing. I don’t want to forget that I live my life for Christ. I want to focus on the Truth that
“it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Besides, too much self-focusing narrow’s one’s vision! And that would make me more vulnerable to Satan’s fiery darts. Nope, don’t intend on cooperating with the enemy on that one. Instead, if I’m smart, I will make a mature (I’m old enough) decision to cooperate with God’s plans.
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. Jeremiah 29:11
If I make that my focus, then I need not fear growing old! For I will make my plans as God leads, trusting Him to give me what is needed, when it’s needed to fulfill those plans. Like it says in 2 Corinthians 9:8. (Won’t miss out on anything that way!!!)
Once again we are wrapped up in a presidential election. Once again the fiery darts of negativity are being aimed and far too often are reaching their mark. In the past, I have allowed these fiery darts to victimize my thinking, tempting me to hopelessness and despair as I endured yet another presidential election, but NOT THIS YEAR!
How could I possibly face such a bleak future as seems likely for our country, considering the insecurity cast by the growing threat of terrorism, the rebellion reflected in the moral upheaval in our courts considering abortion and same-sex marriage, the rejection of our country’s foundational principles evident in congressional decision, etc?
For I know that when society collectively rejects God, then we are set on a path of destruction. And as long as society collectively continues to reject God, there is no hope that things will improve–on the contrary, things will continue to deteriorate.
Again, I pose the question, “How could I possibly face such a bleak future and not feel overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness?”
Every time I am tempted with despair and/or hopelessness, or any other fiery dart thoughts of a similar nature, I put the following plan into action:
I recognize those thoughts for the fiery darts they are. I know that focusing on them will eat away at my faith, weakening me with every attack.
I reject such thoughts, so as to prevent them from taking root and influencing further attitudes and actions.
I replace such hopeless thinking with Truth thoughts and those thoughts become my focus from which my attitude and actions spring from.
Truth thoughts such as:
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV
I would like to quote Tony Evans’s comment from Decision magazine, February 2016, titled Prayer That Turns A Nation, p. 13
“If enough Christians in places of responsibility in the fields of medicine, law, government, education, the media, and even the church begin to humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, we could influence this culture and make the presence of Christ felt top to bottom and bottom to top.”
But what if that doesn’t happen? What’s a Truth thought for that despairing question?
My dear readers, the day will come when:
. . . that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth —and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:10-11
And those of us who are Christians, what does the future hold for us in the midst of society’s rejection of God?
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. Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 HCSB
Therefore, I face my personal future and my country’s future with the confident assurance promoted in the above verses. On a daily basis, I commit to cooperating with God as He works out His plans for me making sure that my attitudes and actions are based on Truth thoughts not fiery dart thinking. And daily I pray 2 Chronicles 7:14 for myself, my family, my friends, and my country.
Especially when I think about the things in my life that have not turned out like I use to dream they would.
A 67 year old should be reflecting on the dreams they had as a younger person and be basking in the wonder of living in the aftermath of those youthful dreams. Shouldn’t they?
I am 67 but the dreams I had for a big part of my life never materialized. Instead, it became the source of some of the greatest of my disappointments and pain.
If I focused only on my greatest disappointments and pain, I would have long ago drowned in them. You know, that was and continues to be our enemy’s plan.
And even now, it would suit him to keep me focused on the dreams I never realized.
But, if I did that then I wouldn’t have known the dreams that were fulfilled. Many of my dreams, the most important ones, were constructed by the One who loves me most from the broken pieces of my shattered dream. I have even realized some dreams that I never even thought to dream of.
So, while the fiery darts whisper to me that I am too old to dream there is another Voice I listen to. And this is the Voice that says to me, “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you; not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
This Voice doesn’t indicate that I have to stop dreaming when I get old. So, I will continue to dream about the places He would have me go and the things He would have me do.
I’m 67 years old and the One I love tells me to keep on dreaming!
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)