Sunday, October 30 – Spiritual Enemies

Jesus said “…Upon this Rock I will build my Church… Matthew 16:18

Sunday, October 30 – Spiritual Enemies

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.—Ephesians 6:12

In a battle, it is imperative to identify your enemy. If you are not aware of the point of your attack, you are vulnerable. Paul had many enemies. Some resented him, others hated him, and others wanted to kill him. Some, who were supposedly on his side, sought to harm him and his ministry (Acts 9:23; Phil. 1:17; 2 Tim. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 4:14). In spite of the persecution he faced, Paul never lost sight of his real enemy. Paul was wary of Satan. When people attacked him, he knew they were not his real opponents. They were simply unwitting instruments of the spiritual forces of darkness.

When you meet opposition to your faith, your first reaction may be anger toward your antagonist. This may divert your attention from the deeper, spiritual dimensions of your conflict. Your adversary may be hopelessly in bondage to sin. Rather than retaliating, you should immediately and earnestly intercede for that person. Your opponent’s hostility is your invitation to become involved in God’s redemptive work to free him or her from spiritual bondage.

Be alert to the spiritual warfare around you. It is real and potentially destructive to you and those you care about. Knowing your real foe will protect you from bitterness and unforgiveness. Your hope lies in the reality that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Do not place your hope in humanity, but steadfastly trust in the One who has already defeated your enemy.

 

Monday, October 31 – A Defeated Enemy

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.—Colossians 2:15

Christians are not called to defeat Satan. God has already done that in Christ! Nor is it our mandate to “bind” Satan. Jesus has already set limits on the extent and duration of Satan’s freedom. Satan, “our ancient foe,” was decisively and completely defeated by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and in His resurrection. With regard to Satan, our assignment is to trust in the victory that Christ already achieved and daily resist him with the truth of his defeat, as Jesus did.

Satan is the father of lies and a master deceiver (John 8:44). If he can convince you that God has not defeated him, then you will not experience Jesus’ victory. You will find yourself fighting battles that Christ has already won! You will fear Satan though he has already been utterly and humiliatingly defeated. Your responsibility is to resist Satan, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). When you resist him, you are acknowledging that Jesus has defeated him and given you victory over his influence. God has provided you with spiritual armor that is more than sufficient to withstand any assault by Satan (Eph. 6:10–20).

Christians can become preoccupied with battling Satan. This deceives them to invest their time and energy attempting to do something that Christ has already done for them. If Satan can divert you to wage a warfare that has already ended in surrender, he will have eliminated your effectiveness where God wants you. Fearing Satan is fearing a prisoner of war. You have no need or calling to defeat Satan, you need only to apply Christ’s victory in every area of your life and to live the victorious Christian life. As you go about sharing the gospel message with others, Satan and his forces face the reality of their defeat in each life that is claimed by the kingdom of God (Luke 10:17–20). 

  Tuesday, November 1 – Grace, Mercy, and Peace

To Timothy, my true child in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.—1 Timothy 1:2

How you pray for your family members and friends is important. There is no better way to pray for someone you love than by following the example found in Scripture. Paul often asked for specific gifts from God for those He cared about. On Timothy’s behalf, Paul requested grace, mercy, and peace.

Grace is the unearned gifts the Father bestows on His children. The Lord relates to us only by His grace. His grace provided salvation though we deserved destruction (Eph. 2:8). His grace blesses us with the riches of heaven. His grace brings us peace in troublesome times. His grace brings us good things every day (1 Tim. 1:14).

Mercy is God withholding the punishment we deserve because of our sinfulness. The consequences of our sin is death, yet Jesus paid this penalty for us (Rom. 6:23). God is long-suffering and will delay giving us our just punishment in order for us to have every opportunity to repent and to receive His gift of salvation (2 Pet. 3:9). Peace is the state of mind and heart we experience when we are confident of God’s grace and mercy toward us. Peace comes in knowing that God’s grace will sustain us, even in our most difficult crises (Phil. 4:7). God assures us that even when we fail miserably in our commitments to Him, He will show mercy upon us. This assurance gives us peace.

The peace God gives is fundamentally different from the peace the world offers (John 14:27). The world seeks to sedate us from the problems we face through counseling or drugs or temporary pleasures. The peace that God gives goes right to the soul, relieving the heart and mind.

How are you praying for your loved ones? There could be no better request than asking the Lord to give them an abundance of His grace, His mercy, and His peace. 

 

Wednesday, November 2 – Have You Done What You Know to Do?

So, for the person who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it is a sin.—James 4:17

It is never a minor thing to know God’s will and not do it. God calls this sin. We can make excuses for our lack of obedience: “I’m just not ready yet” or “I’ll do it later!” or “I don’t think it will make a difference” or “I can’t afford to!” We rationalize, we procrastinatate; yet, in God’s eyes, rationalization and procrastination are nothing more than disobedience. At times we deceive ourselves into thinking that good intentions equal obedient actions. They do not. A good intention without corresponding activity is disobedience. When we encounter God and He gives us a direction, it is not enough to write down the date in our spiritual journal, or even to tell our friends and church of our “decision.” God’s call is not to “make a decision” but to obey! Deciding to obey is not equal to obeying! (Matt. 21:28–31). Loudly affirming the necessity of obedience is not the same as obeying (Luke 6:46). Making commitments, even publicly, is not the same as obeying our Lord. Substituting our own good works is not the same as obeying.

God told King Saul to wait until the prophet Samuel arrived. Instead of waiting, Saul took matters into his own hands and offered a sacrifice. Saul discovered, to his deep dismay, that other acts of supposed piety do not take the place of obeying a clear command from God (1 Sam. 15:22). As with Saul, God expects you to obey everything exactly as He tells you. Only obedience satisfies God’s desire for obedience!

 

Thursday, November 3 – Counted Faithful

I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry. . . —1 Timothy 1:12

From a human perspective, the apostle Paul’s record as a zealous persecutor of Christians should have precluded him from being used in God’s service. Paul was known as the “chief of sinners,” a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor (1 Tim. 1:13–15). Everything changed when God saved Paul. He embraced the Christian life with the same fervency in which he had opposed it. Paul labored to be faithful in every assignment, no matter how small or large. Ultimately, because of Paul’s faithfulness, God entrusted him to be one of His foremost promoters of the gospel.

Paul understood that everything he ever accomplished for God’s kingdom was due to the enabling power of God. He was not deceived into thinking that his own intelligence or personal drive brought about God’s will. Rather, Paul was grateful for the opportunity to be tested and found faithful in any assignment, regardless of its size.

Your ability to serve God is not based on your past, but on your faithfulness today. If you are faithful with the task God entrusts to you, God will enable you to accomplish it. Don’t distinguish between big and small assignments from God. Paul saw every one as a privilege he did not deserve. Whether God has asked you to pray for someone, to minister to a person in need, to lead a Bible study, or to care for those who are sick, strive to be faithful. You will experience His enabling as you serve Him. If you are faithful in a little, God will entrust you with more. You will be able to join Paul in praising God for having counted you faithful, putting you into His service (Luke 16:10).

 

Friday, November 4 – Let No One Look down on You

No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.—1 Timothy 4:12

Timothy was a sincere young man who earnestly desired to serve the Lord. Yet certain weaknesses in Timothy’s life hindered him from serving God confidently. Timothy was very young to be a religious leader, and apparently some doubted his abilities. Timothy had a tender nature and was sickly (1 Tim. 5:23). His was an inauspicious beginning for a young minister of the gospel in an age of persecution!

Paul urged Timothy not to allow his youthful insecurity to blunt his zeal and faithfulness in doing what God had told him. Rather than arguing with those who criticized Timothy, Paul urged him to live as an example of godliness. Paul advised Timothy to live a life that was so spotless in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith, and purity that his life could serve as a model for others in the church to follow. Timothy’s life was to be the evidence that God had called him. God looked beyond Timothy’s youth, timidity, and physical weakness and saw his sincere heart.

As you seek to follow God’s will, you may identify with Timothy. Perhaps some things about you seem to disqualify you from serving the Lord effectively. You may be sensitive because you are a new Christian or because you come from a sinful past. Perhaps you have little education or money or social status. You may have previously experienced failure in your service for God. Don’t allow this to intimidate you from following God’s will. Your area of weakness may be God’s means of demonstrating His strength (2 Cor. 12:9). Allow God to demonstrate His call upon you by transforming your life into a model of godliness. 

 

Saturday, November 5 – Wisdom Justified

“Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”—Luke 7:35

The world is full of “experts.” There are people everywhere who want to convince you of the wisdom of their opinion. Yet God says that it is not the one who declares his viewpoint the most loudly or vociferously who is the wisest, but the one who is vindicated over time.

Wisdom is not proven by argument or debate. Wisdom is proven over time. Some people adamantly proclaim that their opinion is best. Regardless of how convincingly these people defend their viewpoint, time is the best judge of their wisdom. The result of a practice proves its validity, not how loudly it is promoted.

When you seek to obey what God has told you, you will sometimes meet resistance and criticism from others who disagree with the wisdom of your actions. Your immediate response may be the urge to vindicate yourself. However, if you wait patiently, time will reveal the wisdom of your actions far better than you could through argument.

Through the ages, the wisdom found in God’s Word has been tested and proven true. It is critical that you measure everything you hear against the Scriptures. Trends in psychology and philosophy come and go, but God’s Word is timeless. Whenever you share an opinion in counseling someone else, make sure that it comes from the Scripture and not merely from your best thinking. As long as you base your life choices on the Word of God, time will be your defender and will validate the wisdom of your choices. If, over time, you clearly see you are wrong, ask God’s forgiveness and seek a fresh word from God through the Scripture. Then obey that word and watch to see God confirm His wisdom in your life. 

 

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