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“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” -Acts 2:42
The early church saw many signs and wonders, as are recounted to us in the Bible. They worked in unison lifted one another up when necessary. The book of Acts shows not only a history of the church’s first steps, but it also provides an outline of behaviors, followed by the results of these behaviors. Those who accepted the word of God as truth came together and, as the above verse states, devoted themselves to 1) the apostles’ teaching, 2) fellowship, 3) breaking of bread, and 4) prayers.
I would like to consider one of these behaviors in this space: fellowship.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fellowship as “a community of interest.” Acts chapter 2:44 states, “all who believed were together and had all things in common.” The early church consisted of a group of individuals who came to Christ, advanced in like-minded behaviors, as outlined in verse 42, which resulted in great blessings and, as verse 44 shows us, they were together and had all things in common. They were successful in creating a “community of interest” and benefitted greatly from their fellowship. Through their behavior, they lifted each other up in the name of Christ as we are called to encourage one another.
This passage demonstrates one of the most obvious reasons why fellowship in our lives is so important. Fellowship; or the pursuit of community with a common goal (which in this case is worshipping Jesus) provides us with encouragement and support. Without living in communion with fellow believers, we remove the opportunity to provide for each other’s physical needs and encourage one another in prayer or reading of the scriptures as we are also called to do in the same verse we’re called to live in fellowship.
Earlier in chapter two we see a great miracle where the Lord’s disciples speak in different languages, and this resonated with countless individuals from faraway lands as they recognized their own languages. This shows us that God’s power is awesome and transcends any kind of barrier. We also see that God’s church has always consisted of those from incredibly diverse backgrounds. If we look closely, we will find countless verses with God’s people worshipping him “… from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…” (Revelation 7:9). God made us different from one another, and intends to see us all worshipping him together.
In our natural lives, we know that when we interact with those from different backgrounds, we tend to be more productive and profitable (Weiner 2014). This is attributed to a multitude of factors including the fact that we expect to be challenged differently from those of dissimilar backgrounds as we are unsure what to expect (Phillips 2014). Those who gathered at the time of Pentecost are connected in the sense that they happened to be in the same place at the same time and that many of them gave their lives to Christ, but we have no real evidence of much anything else to unite these individuals other than their common belief in Jesus Christ.
If we are God’s creation, we must accept that we are all his creation, those who are similar, and those who are dissimilar. This passage clearly shows that the only similarity needed to form a community and benefit from one another’s company is a common belief in Jesus Christ, followed by engaging in the behaviors we are commanded to follow: read his Word, share with one another in communion, share with one another to provide for physical needs, and to pray. As we share in communion, we are met with the realization that God’s word is for everyone and that God has built every one of these distinct cultures and languages, giving us the opportunity to challenge ourselves to be better. Let us then encourage one another to share and learn from all indiscriminately as the Lord has called us to share to all “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole of creation.’ ” (Mark 16:15).
Fellowship isn’t just about sharing with those who already believe. Fellowship is about building a community of interest centered around the worship of Jesus Christ. We were commanded to pursue this community and our command holds true to this day. Building our community requires the extension of a relationship to those around us, and those further away and the encouragement to all to seek the Lord. I want to encourage you to embrace the diversity of our planet as an opportunity bring a diversity of laborers into our fellowship and creating Christ centered communities out of those from every nation and peoples. Let us pursue fellowship both within our more natural communities and without, to include all of creation.
Many years back I remember seeing a Christian play, and there in the scene at the point of Jesus’ Crucifixion in a shadowy background was another character depicting the ‘Father’. As each nail pounded into His Son’s body, the Father’s body would simultaneously mimic each movement of every nail piercing pain and agony that His Son was experiencing.
I remember this now not to debate the ‘separation’ and ‘forsaken’ scripture questions that come up regarding the Father’s position at the moment of our Lord’s crucifixion (Mark 15:34). Here now instead God has brought me to a place to better know, understand and remember at this Easter Season, the depth of the Father’s love and purpose, and presence in the plans of His sending His only Son.
Jesus would have in no other way.
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. - Jhn 14:6 NKJV
The example of Jesus’ devotion, obedience and unity with the Father can serve as a testimony of how to worship in Sprit and truth as He did.
In the earlier chapters of the gospel of John, Jesus’ commitment and passion to His Father’s will is evident:
- His ‘food’- His fullness and sustenance were found in accomplishing God’s will.
34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. - Jhn 4:34 ESV
-He relied upon His Father to provide the direction, wisdom and guidance to complete the
work He was given to do
"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. - Jhn 5:19 ESV
-His purposes and His works were done as a testimony to point to His Father
36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. - Jhn 5:36 ESV
-He sought only to glorify His Father
54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' - Jhn 8:54 ESV
The references regarding Jesus response and interaction with His Father in the gospel of John are a great example of how to have a heart set on surrender to God’s will. These scriptures also remind us of the ‘roles’ of our triune God in bringing us the gift of salvation.
However, there in the living word interspersed between Jesus’ relationship of surrender and commitment to the Father and His mission, I began to see the greater purpose. The unbroken unity and representation of His Father bound up in one revelation. Jesus’ ultimate desire is for us to know the Father’s love as He does.
Each gospel stories intended purpose seemed set in place to reveal His steadfast and unequivocal love for every one of the many He encountered. His care for Lazarus, His healing of the blind and lame, the feeding of the 5000, the woman caught in adultery to name a few. Here in these gospel stories, I heard Him saying ‘This is how much my Father loves you!”
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. - Jhn 3:16 ESV
In the midst of the approaching agony of His own death and suffering, the red letters of John 17 set a seal on a love that is beyond our human abilities to comprehend. Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and then He prayed for us!
These 26 verses reveal the heart of God- a heart that longs for us, protects us, claims us, desires us. All of us. Love manifested. Oneness with He and Father.
He finished His Father’s work for us. He gave all the Father had given Him for us. He consecrated Himself for us. The glory He received given to us.
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. - Jhn 17:23 ESV
Lord Jesus, revive us by Your word and truth. May we be in oneness with You and the Father. Excite us by Your love and our mission to bring that love to others. By Your might and power. Thank-you Jesus. Amen
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. - Eph 3:14-19 ESV
A strong statement, yes, but this mindset may be needed to help us recognize the many schemes of the devil that are at work to destroy our desire, our approach and position in prayer.
In Ephesians 6, the great analogical lesson on our spiritual armor ends with the warning to ‘keep alert with all perseverance’ by ‘praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayers and supplication’.
Thus personally, I have asked Jesus to teach me how to pray.
These reminders of His truth have helped me to reposition myself into the blessing that is found at the throne of grace.
• Prayer isn’t about my words. It is about my heart’s desire to draw near to God.
He knows what I have need of before I ask Him. He intercedes for me when I don’t know what to prayer. His ways and thoughts are higher than mine.
I come to God as He is: Almighty, Creator, Sustainer, Life giver.
I come to Him as I am: weak, beggarly, childlike, foolish, uncertain, sinful.
We meet in the dwelling place of His love, His mercy, His power.
Light penetrates the darkness. I am home.
13 And you will seek Me and find [Me], when you search for Me with all your heart. - Jer 29:13 NKJV
• Prayer is the mortar to build the church:
The descriptive phrases that are coupled with prayer in the early church exhibited a passion, a certainty and a confidence that God would perform as He had promised in continuing to build and nurture His church. The sampling of these words would indicate that the knowledge and practice of prayer was foundational to the health of the church:devoting themselves to prayer, earnest prayer, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day,constant in prayer, praying at all times in the Spirit, continuing steadfastly in prayer, praying without ceasing, striving in prayer, always in prayer, remembering you in prayer, Struggling for you in prayer.
2 And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. - Luk 10:2 ESV
• Prayer is a thread of eternity weaving my soul into the oneness of a triune God.
The Atonement-ordained by my Father in heaven who gave me the right to be called a child of God.
Jesus, the eternal sacrifice who became flesh and dwelt among us.
The Holy Spirit who gives life and is a guarantee of my heavenly inheritance.
The One who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The One who parts the seas and walks on water.
The One who completes the good work that He has started.
My prayer is not about me in this moment, it is about His desire for me to embrace Him in every moment, forever. His eternal purposes become my goal, my vision. My momentary trouble is but for a moment.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. - Jhn 17:22-23 ESV
• My prayers bring delight to my Father and His response is my reward (a giving back, a payment, something I receive)
He tells us to ask that we would receive. His delight is to give us good gifts from above.
His intimate blessings reveal that we are His children and He knows the desires of our hearts.
Abba Father, Give us this day our daily bread. Fill and satisfy my longing soul with the good things from Your hand.
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Mat 6:6 ESV
• Prayer is the conversation of truth that leads to life.
Eve’s conversation in a beautiful garden lead to rebellion and death.
Christ’s conversation in the garden of suffering lead to surrender and life.
I don’t need to wait to be in a place of suffering to seek Him.
He is a God of all seasons and always worthy of praise and thanksgiving.
41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." - Mat 26:41 ESV
• Prayer brings healing
This is how they will know that we are His disciples. We learn to trust, we become authentic, we receive instruction, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We become knit together. We love.
In prayer, the vulnerability and weakness of another becomes a fragile treasure carefully lifted up.
We are changed. The cry for God’s healing touch upon another becomes our own balm of healing.
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. - Jas 5:13, 16 ESV
• Prayer is a service of the Kingdom Priests
In the ancient priesthood, ritual and sacrificial duties were required to allow sinful man to meet with a Holy God. Though the Levitical priesthood has now been replaced by the leadership of our High Priest Jesus Christ, our role of intercessory prayer is our offering as servants under His ‘royal priesthood’.
Our prayers for the saving of souls, for the Word to go forth, for missionary needs, for doors to open, for ministries, for the church to grow are right now the petition being declared in the heavenly realms!
His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." - Rev 5:8-10 ESV
Thank you Lord Jesus that You have seated us with You in the heavenly places. Let us serve in our position beside You. Please elevate our response to prayer as a privilege with purpose and power by Your Spirit Lord. Teach us how to love You more through our prayers. Amen
As a therapist, I don’t shy away from emotions. I appreciate and even encourage emotional expressions. I can tell you wholeheartedly that I enjoy watching movies with lots of displays of relationship and family dynamics, and expressions of emotion.
Displays of anger, particularly when expressed verbally, are powerful and typically give you a view into a person’s heart. After all, recall what the second part of Matthew 12:34 says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Our words give us away, particularly when we’re angry.
Have you ever tried to pretend you weren’t upset with someone to their face? How painful is this “act”? Or maybe you tend to be passive-aggressive. So, you never quite own your anger and therefore it comes out sideways, in underhanded jabs, leaving people wondering if they just got hit by something you said.
Maybe your anger runs very deep, and it feels quite justified. You may have had a loved one (or someone supposed to be a loved one) that wounded or betrayed you. Is it right to feel anger toward them? What do you do with it?
Let’s look more closely at Psalm 109. This Psalm was written by King David and has 31 verses. We’re just going to focus on a few of them. First verses 1 and 2:
1Be not silent, O God of my praise!
2For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
David cries out to God, begging him to answer his call. He describes what he is going through – people are slandering him. Being slandered, lies being told about you, is one of the most painful things to go through. Particularly when you have tried to do the right thing by the Lord and in your life. So, we can all understand, David is angry about what he’s going through.
David then begins to describe line by line all that he would like to see done to his enemies. We’ll look at a few verses here:
9May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
10May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
Can you relate yet? If we’re honest, I think we all can. I believe we all have been so angry as to imagine harm coming to those who have hurt us. What’s amazing is that this intensity of anger is in the Bible – in a prayer to God. And the intensity does not end here – there are more verses following these that describe what King David is asking God to do to punish his enemies.
However, 9 verses later, something changes. David refocuses on who he is speaking to – Almighty God – declaring that his “steadfast love is good” (verse 21). And then David acknowledges his own situation, “I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me” (verse 22). See the verses below:
21But you, O GOD my Lord,
deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;
because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
22For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
I believe we can find insight here. Is the answer to anger found in acknowledging our own sin and need for God’s rescuing? I believe so.
But of course, similar to our other emotions, it’s that simple, and in some ways it’s not that simple. What do I mean? Well, the answer can be that simple but actually working though the anger isn’t always that simple.
For some of us, the hurt is so deep, and the anger so strong, that we will need to express it over and over again to finally let it go. The expression could be crying out to God, talking to someone we trust, writing therapeutic letters (a letter we write to the person we’re upset with, but don’t actually give it to the them), attending a support group, processing it in therapy, confronting the person we’re upset with, setting up healthier boundaries (what we say yes and no to for our lives), artistic ventures like painting, acting or writing, and so much more.
But one thing we have to remember is that anger is not a “bad” emotion. When we label emotions as “good” or “bad” it’s gets in the way of dealing with them. Because our emotions tell us something. As in the case of anger – it tells us something about what’s going on inside of us.
In Psalm 4:4, King David instructs us:
4Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
In other words, take time to reflect upon what is going on in your heart, and why the anger is there. Do not simply react (such as sending a text you can’t take back) to feeling that way.
The book of Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 25 and 26, the Apostle Paul instructs us:
25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.
First, he talks about speaking truthfully, which can, many times, prevent anger from getting rooted in your heart. In other words, deal with the matter at hand – say what you have to say (ideally, speaking the truth in love).
Paul then references Psalm 4:4 at the beginning of verse 26, “in your anger do not sin.” It doesn’t say, ‘if you’re angry, you’re sinning.’ Sometimes we confuse the two and convince ourselves that it’s wrong to be angry, and we live inauthentic lives, never addressing offences or telling others or ourselves the truth. But you don’t have to live this way.
It’s impossible to cover every scenario in a blog. But know that your story is important. Please reach out if you need to talk or you need help processing how you’re feeling or figuring out what to do next. You’re not alone. We are here to help.
Julie was a missionary sent out by Redemption Church in June of 2017. Julie served at the House of Blessing Orphanage in Bachiniva, Mexico and finish out a year-long internship. We were very encouraged and privileged to have partnered with Julie as her sending church. Take a few minutes to read and learn from some of the wonderful things Jesus did in her life through this process:
1) THE CHRISTMAS TRADITION OF DECORATING WITH POINSETTIAS ORIGINATED IN MEXICO!
This past Christmas was the first one that I spent away from family. Very different, but very wonderful, complete with hot tamales, soccer, and Mexican hot chocolate.
2) WATER CAN BE CONSERVED.
There were multiple occasions when I experienced running out of running water. So on a practical note, there are ways we can change how we wash our hands, shower, and do dishes that can conserve water and make a difference.
3) AWARENESS OF BLESSINGS TRUMPS AMOUNT OF BLESSINGS ON THE HAPPINESS METER.
I know this sounds like the cliché mission trip answer when someone has spent any amount of time in a third world country. It’s often noted that people with less possessions seem happier. And I truly got to experience the relief of traveling light. On Christmas day, I was profoundly grateful for things like running water, let alone hot running water! For brilliant stars in the night sky, for the loyalty of a dog, for the kindness of a friend. For cough drops stilling throat tickles, for the ability to run and the ability to ease others’ pain.
4) THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A GOOD STRUGGLE.
Just because we’re promised victory doesn’t mean we’re exempt from the fight. This reminds me of the movie ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in which it is prophesied that Alice will slay the Jabberwocky. But that only came to fruition after an epic battle. Don’t assume that life being hard means that you’re doing something wrong or being punished. Get out there and do hard things!
5) STOP COMPARING AND START CARING.
Living and working with the same few people 24/7 can present a little interpersonal friction at times. In any sort of partnership (business, ministry or marital), it’s so easy to subconsciously ask, “Is my partner working as hard as me?” I call this the ‘Martha Complex’ (Luke 10). But I’m learning to replace that question with these: “Am I about God’s business?”, “Am I doing the work He wants me to do?”, “Am I loving the people He wants me to love?” That change of perspective is hugely beneficial. Jesus addressed this issue another time (in addition to the situation with Mary and Martha). In John 21, Peter and Jesus have an intimate moment of relationship restoration and a sobering moment of prophesy regarding Peter’s calling and future, ending with Jesus’ statement, “Follow me.” Peter’s immediate reaction is, “What about him, Lord?” (referring to another disciple named John). To this Jesus responds, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”
6) GOD INSTITUTED A DAY OF REST FOR A REASON.
Through my previous life experiences, I was accustom to working a salary job M-F, and then on the weekends tackling my personal to-do lists including meal prep, cleaning and laundry. So that didn’t always leave a lot of time for ‘rest’. I mean, in such a fast-paced, capitalistic society, what does it mean to rest anyway? Well after continuously working 14-hour days, 6 days a week, ‘day of rest’ took on a whole new meaning. I learned to detach myself from lists and go climb a tree or hike a mountain with God… to sleep, journal, watch a movie, or call a friend. And you know, when I let one whole day be truly restful, then that one day off was enough. #GoodPlanGod
7) GOD IS MY ADVOCATE AND I DON’T NEED THE APPROVAL OF MEN.
Phewee, this was a hard one to work through, but what a blessing to realize and to witness specific examples of in my life! Knowing that God stands up for me means that I don’t have to balance the books or zero out the scales. I don’t need to look for verbal ‘payment’ or rewards for the efforts I expend. It means I can actively love people who act unloveable (which is not as easy as one might think). It means you can resolve, “I’m going to treat this person as my friend because I’m choosing to call them ‘friend’, regardless of what I get from them in return.” This might sound like a lot of self-sacrifice, but just remember that God isn’t asking us to do for others anything that He hasn’t already done for us.
“Who dares accuse us who Christ has chosen for His own? No one- for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one- for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”
Have you ever felt like your world is collapsing and it’s all you can do just to keep from being buried alive? I want to talk about disappointment today. Not the kind when you forgot Chick-fil-A was closed on a Sunday ;) but the kind that truly rocks your world and causes you to question the very belief structures that were your foundation.
I’ve been rereading the story of ‘The Raising of Lazarus’ lately. You may be familiar with this passage in John 11 and how it exemplifies Jesus’ empathy with our pain because it says he wept (when visiting his friends who had just lost a loved one). But I noticed a few other things this time. Firstly, the fourth verse states, “But when Jesus heard about it [his dear friend Lazarus being very sick] he said, ‘Lazarus’ sickness WILL NOT END IN DEATH…’” But then Lazarus dies (verse 14). Mary and Martha (Lazarus’ sisters) had petitioned Jesus for help and He, by all appearances, had done nothing. He didn’t show up in time. How is this the same Jesus referred to in Luke 6:19 which says, “Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.” Talk about confusing and disappointing…
There have been similar situations throughout the Bible. God, you said you would rescue your people from the power of Egypt and now they’re being crushed even harder than before (Exodus 5:22-23). And remember Job? God, I know the rain falls on the just and the unjust but what the heck! Job lost all ten of his children in a single natural disaster. God, you said Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death, and now he’s dead! How does one make sense of that? Well…it must mean that this is NOT THE END OF THE STORY. The same is true for those previous examples and for your story as well, whatever that may be. I’ve heard it said that God’s past faithfulness demands our current trust. He sees the big picture. And usually we can see in hindsight only AFTER we’ve passed through something.
Jesus does go on to raise Lazarus from the dead, and the ‘delay’ in healing brought about so much good and glory to God. In the next chapter, we see in John 12:9-11&19 that, “When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus… Then the pharisees said to each other, ‘There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him [Jesus]!’”
So when disappointment strikes, take a dose of perspective. I don’t mean to sound flippant. God sees the stuff we go through, recognizes that it’s hard and He cares. Back to the story in Exodus 3:7-8 God says, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I AM AWARE OF THEIR SUFFERING. So I have come down to rescue them…” But regarding perspective, just remember that God’s goodness to me trumps whatever ‘badness’ I’m experiencing. We are never abandoned by God. He’s our infinite blessing, the everlasting fount. Our Comforter, our Advocate, our Hope. No matter what, I have freedom from fear and from every stronghold the enemy had in my life. I am new. I am never alone. I am represented. I am seen. I am known. And I am loved, perfectly and eternally. I’ll close with 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Movie trivia time! Who can place this quote:
“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective.
A lot of hope is dangerous.”
Though spoken by the antagonist character, President Snow, in the Hunger Games series, there’s a seed of truth there. I think we all can agree that fear is a powerful thing. It controls and dictates decisions. It cripples, paralyzes even. No wonder intimidation is a primary weapon of our spiritual enemy. He uses fear like a smokescreen in an attempt to cloud our vision and distort reality. But you see, the devil doesn’t have any real power except what God allows. Whoah, that’s a radical statement. But in Job 2:1-7 and Luke 22:31 (both old and new testaments), we see Satan asking for God’s permission before messing with people. God is in control- that changes everything. I once heard it said that the devil is like a toothless bulldog- he can bark, but he can’t bite.
In the book Spiritual Warfare: fighting the good fight of faith, Brian Brodersen states, “Satan will threaten you…But that is all he can do because ‘greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (1 John 4:4).”
This is our reality. God Most High fights for us. (Some of my favorite verses on that topic are Exodus 14:13-14, Jeremiah 20:11, Psalm 144:1-2, Lamentations 3:58, and Proverbs 23:10-11). The Champion King perfects our faith. He wins. He’s already won.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16:20a
The reason the intimidation strategy exists is because, sadly, many Christians give in to fear. But we don’t have to. We have something more powerful than fear- hope. And our hope is this, “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live (Gal 1:4).”
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours
through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8: 37
I thought I had finished this blog two months ago, but only realized its application (like where it comes alive in my own life) in the last week. Thus, I want to add a few things. I was aware that the devil can spit lies and hurl condemnation, set of smokescreens and act intimidating (like the Wizard of Oz seeming larger than life behind a curtian). And I knew that through Jesus we have the power to stand against that… But how? How do we just not be affected in the midst of a spiritual onslaught? Because as Christians, especially as ‘on mission’ Christians who are pushing back darkness, intimidation will still come and intimidate.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor
so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.
Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:13
This passage in Ephesians goes on to describe the ‘Armor of God’, in which the only offensive weapon listed is the Word of God. Did you catch that? The Bible is a weapon. Wield it.
Jesus exemplified this battle strategy when he was under spiritual attack (Luke 4). Each time the devil came at him with something, Jesus responded, “No, the Scriptures say…” And get this, each time that was the end of the story. The devil had to move on to a new temptation because he couldn’t refute the Word of God. (By the way, do you think Jesus was referencing biblegateway.com in the desert? He was able to wield the Word because he knew what it said.)
So if the enemy drudges up junk from your past, declare that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If he makes you feel like there’s some habitual sin you can never be free from, remind yourself (even outloud) that “we are no longer slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). When you fear you don’t have what it takes, repeat God’s promise that “my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Don’t just ‘stand’, stand on the Word of God. It is powerful. It is life. Go in victory.
Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. Psalm 27:3