April 4th, 2020

Strategy 2: Your Focus (Fervent Bible Study Blog # 3)

My husband and I said in our twentieth-year of marriage we would have twenty new experiences. I thought it would be a year filled with excitement and fun, one that would be unforgettable. I think we both will never forget it as it’s been the most difficult year of our marriage.

I don’t know at what point things went terribly wrong. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I do know there were months when it seemed all we did was fight. That “biting and devouring” verse I quoted in my last blog, yeah, that was us. We had a lot to blame our troubles on. Him being persecuted at his work until he lost his job, my father’s death and the grief that followed, financial stress, my cancer scare, the stress of my writing career. Yep, that sums up the last nine months of 2019. That’s when the fighting intensified. Yes, we had so much to pin it on, but when I read the opening of this chapter, I knew the truth.

“If I were your enemy, I’d disguise myself and manipulate your perspectives so that you’d focus on the wrong culprit— your husband, your friend, your hurt, your finances, anything or anyone except me. Because when you zero in on the most convenient, obvious places to strike back against your problems, you get the impression you’re fighting for something. Even though all you’re really doing is just… fighting. For nothing.” (Shirer 39)

My husband had become my enemy. I was so worn down I gave in to the fear, self-doubt, stress, anxiety, and depression that plagued me. Then I lashed out at the person closest to me.

Some people say it’s important to not give Satan too much credit. But here’s the thing, if it’s not a fruit of the Spirit, it doesn’t come from God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
Matthew chapter 4 also reminds us Satan will go after us when we are vulnerable, rundown, or coming off a spiritual high. Jesus comes from the wilderness after fasting for forty days to be tempted by Satan. But Jesus models the right behavior for us. He rebuked Satan with the Word of God.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:10-11 NIV)

It’s important to recognize the real enemy because “…if all we’re doing is whacking at the nearest, most visible symptoms every time they pop their head up, we’re doing two things: (1) wasting precious time and energy that ought to be reserved and refocused on the real enemy, and (2) trying to fight ferocious spiritual forces by using weapons that don’t faze them in the least— weapons that aren’t even designed to hurt them. So the hits just keep on coming.” (Shirer 43)

I tell you, friend, I have tried a whole lot of stuff to “fix” my problems. Doctors, counselors, food, isolation, writing, yelling, blaming, disengaging, crying. It’s like I’ve been stuck in the ultimate “Whack-a-Mole” competition. And I’ve lost a whole lot of time and effort.

The answer? Jesus. Really, truly, God is the one who can “fix” it all. When we know who our enemy is and what battle we are entering, we know who will win.IMG_20160611_222112

About five years ago when I was going through a major depression and thought I was losing my mind, I penned these words on a sticky note:

Dear Satan,

You lose. We win. And I won’t forget. Ever.

Romans 8:37-39

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I had my eyes focused on my enemy. I wanted to remember the truth. I even memorized those verses I read them so often. Oh how quickly we can lose perspective in the middle of trials.

So I ask you, friend, what or who have you made your enemy? What battle are you trying to fight? What verses are you going to use to combat the REAL enemy?

I love that Priscilla shared from 2 Chronicles 20. Take a minute and read that chapter. The Israelites did not even have to fight. They just had to stand still—and believe.

You have a real enemy of your faith. It’s time to put pen to paper and write out the prayer that will defeat him!

All quotes not from the Bible are taken from:

Shirer, Priscilla. “Fervent.” B & H Publishing Group, 2015.

 

 

Comments :

  1. Patty So says:

    I was late in reading chapter 2, which I think turned out to be exactly how it was supposed to be! My devotion this morning was titled, ‘Perfect Timing,” and it was based on Psalm 42:5– being discouraged, but knowing God will give what you need when you ask, and sometimes even BEFORE you finish praying for help!
    I loved Shirer’s whack-a-mole analogy. I have always known when I grab on to something “small” to attack like a dog with a stuffed toy in its mouth, shaking it back and forth, it’s because there is something REALLY BIG I can’t wrap any of my own “solutions” or “understanding” aruond. That’s when I have to have a good conversation with God. :) Also, in this understanding it helps me have empathy for others when they get prickly over something, knowing that it’s ALL they can grab on to at the moment, and something pretty huge must be out of their reach.
    My devotional always has a little saying at the bottom. Today’s was, “Prayer is a cry of hope.”
    :)

  2. Kristin says:

    I checked out the verses Priscilla gave in her example of Jesus’ victory. I liked Hebrews 2:14, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil-”
    So when I feel powerless I know that Jesus is mighty and overcame death! Not only that 2 Thessalonians 3:3 promises “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
    Praying that we hold on to His promises during difficult times.

  3. Rachel Dupray says:

    Days with my children seems to have become my enemy. In my heart I know that’s not the case.
    Each day seems like I am fighting a constant battle with my children. That I’m the bad guy enforcing boundaries and navigating the emotional rollercoaster that comes with 3 children so close in age.
    John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (He will not have his way with our family)
    Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly…(That the Lord give me wisdom…James 1:5)
    Deuteronomy 6:6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (This is the verse that God impressed on my heart before homeschooling.)

    All verses talking about relying on His strength to go about each day…I need to write all these down…Is. 41:10,29,31, Phil. 4:13, 2 Thess. 3:3, Eph. 3:20-21, Job 12:13.

    Training Children…Proverbs 22:6, 29:17, Eph. 6:4, Ps. 34:11, Heb. 12:7, 3 John 1:4, Col. 3:21 Loving them…Titus 2:4 Teaching…Eph. 4:29-32

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