Monday, May 28, 2018

STRONGER PART 4| THE FINGERPRINTS OF YOUR FOE



I came across a book early this year by Havilah Cunnington titled “Stronger than the Struggle”. I strongly recommend you read it. Much of what I am blogging here is from that book and what I did with a ladies group called Coffee Chats. If you find this useful, please feel free to use this material in a study group you might be leading. The blogs in this series are reflections and a summary of what I got from this fantastic book that I recommend you to buy. Click here for PART 3 of this Blog series



PART 4 - THE FINGERPRINT OF YOUR FOE


I- STEAL
Whenever you see death, destruction, and loss you see the fingerprints or the handiwork of the devil. So the more I understand his methods the better I will be equipped to fend off his fiery flames.

Thieves operate in pairs with a technique called “bump and lift”. So when you are walking on the street, one guy will bump into you and distract you while the other will pick your pocket. The devil uses the same technique in different ways and in different situations.

Remember the one thing the devil is after is to destroy or keep you from accomplishing all God’s great plans for your life. He will do anything and I mean anything to keep you from reaching that goal. He does not want you to grow in your faith or produce the fruit of the spirit in your life. He wants to snatch that from you.
Jesus’ time of ministry on this earth was very short. Out of his 33 years, he was in ministry for only 3. So what he packed into those three years, what he taught and said to his disciples must be very, very important. He knew he was going to leave the earth. However, he did not want to leave us uninformed.  He spoke about the devil and his intentions and we would be wise to listen up.

Many of us have experienced loss – in relationships, health, finance, time etc. These are the ‘bumps” in our lives. If these are the bumps what is his real target.? What is he trying to steal? One would have thought those things: relationships, health, finance are the things being stolen from us. Yes and no.

He uses those to distract us and render us powerless. He wants us to feel useless, condemned. He knows that to get you to stop believing in God will be much harder. So he will try to get you to doubt, and slow down or get distracted from God’s purposes for your life. He will try to neutralize you. He will keep you running in circles over relational issues, health issues if he finds that it is working.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Jesus promised us something. Someone actually!! The Holy Spirit. He is there to guide, comfort, strengthen, remind, encourage and help us. ( John14:25-27)
He has promised us PEACE. Jesus said do not let your hearts be stirred up or troubled. The Greek word for that is to’ agitate’. It is like being jostled and you drop whatever it is you are holding. Things will come to make us lose a grip on what we are supposed to lay a hold of in God i.e our purpose, our destiny in God.

FEAR is another bump. We are not saved so that we continue to live anxious lives every day. Jesus has made us strong on the inside.

 He promised us PEACE. What is peace? He is called the Prince of Peace. Peace is not a state of mind; peace is a person. The person of Jesus himself.
Is 26:3 He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on/leaning on Him. Its like saying Jesus will keep us in himself when our minds are focused on him. He will hold us shelter us in the midst of chaos. Peace is not the absence of trouble. It’s being strengthened by the person of Jesus in the midst of the storm. HE gives us himself to anchor in.

The devil comes to shake you, God comes to steady you to keep you HOPE up.
God is for us. He is not against us. He is our constant help in time of need who will NEVER leave us. We need to keep reminding ourselves of these truths and repeating it to ourselves and thus form new patterns of thinking. Allow Him to breathe life back into you so that you can be made whole again to fight the good fight of faith. Hold onto to PEACE . He is in you. Partner with Him an do not get distracted by the bumps.

2 KILL
When he comes to kill he hopes that you will give up and surrender to his schemes. What is he trying to kill?

He mainly wants to kill God’s plans for your life, God-given dreams that you are waiting to become a reality. You might say, surely this is a bit much! You must be exaggerating. Can it really be that important? What he can’t take away he will make you give it away through a  giving up on a delayed dream, discouragement, distraction,  financial problems, waiting for a relationship to be restored, waiting to get married, wanting that pregnancy to happen and in so many other ways.

 They may even be things that are good but when they are not under the Lordship of Jesus, they could potentially harm you and shipwreck your faith or destiny in God.

 My story -I  know the battle I had to fight for the dream that God put in my heart to write songs for him. Disappointment, discouragement, and being let down by people whom I thought could help me were the traps I fell into. I got stuck. The devil tried to trap me and trick me.

 But God in His rich mercy got me out of that trap and I was able to write again and today I have more than 20 songs completed and a book full of ones I'm working on. These songs are sung at my church. Not only that I am now training other to write songs. That is a kick in his teeth for trying to mess with me.

If this was not so important why do you think the devil went after Peter to capsize his faith? What he underestimated was Jesus prayer to the Father for Peter’s ( and our) preservation in John 17. 

What he underestimated was the forgiveness and redemption we can have in the Cross. Not only was Peter restored, but he went on to full his God-given destiny, as a result, the gospel did go to the ends of the earth. Can you see how powerful your life can be? Yes, YOU. This not for a few people like the late Billy Graham. God can use you to make an impact on this planet, to touch many lives and will count.

Sometimes we do his job for him. We give up
Remember Esau? He sold his birthright for a pot of stew. It sounds silly but this is exactly what he did! This is the spirit of this age. We give up too easily. We live in a world of instant gratification. Noodles in cup, Soup in a cup. Precooked foods, email, and communication with relatives 1000s of miles away are at an instant, plastic money where we can spend what we don’t have and not have to wait till we painstakingly saved every paise/penny.

 When the straight and narrow proves to be too difficult, we opt out or choose to comprise with an easier way or just fold up in apathy. Both way the devil wins and we hand it to him on a silver platter with little or no resistance. It does not have to be this way.

We have an invitation to be powerful. Jesus came to give us an abundant life. If we give in to discouragement, if we give in to fear it will grow bigger and begin to dominate our lives. We will empower those things and enable them to keep us from our destiny. These are daily choices, daily battles. Our success is found in our daily victories.

So a point of reflection: What is the stew in your life? It could be an ill temper, fear, overspending leading to debt, laziness etc.  Whatever it is, deal with iit or it with deal with  you!

FACE YOUR FEARS
Fear is not just an emotion. It is a spirit. We have to fight it or we can become a slave to it. 2Tim 1:7 says that we have not been given a spirit of fear but of power love and of sound mind.

SO WHAT DO WE DO?
You need a plan. How are you going to fight? .Eg) if every time you or a family member falls sick you get gripped by fear you have given the devil a foothold to play havoc in your life. Today you fear a fever, tomorrow every ache in your body and you will be thinking it’s a tumor or cancer. He will make you anxious over every a cough. Fear will overtake you till it paralyzes you and dominates your life.

So use the Word to battle those fearful thoughts do the opposite of what fear wants you to do.
Eg) If the thought of cooking for people and inviting them to your home paralyzes you, just go ahead and do and partner with the truth that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

Let's not make excuses and give mercy or grace to what we are not supposed  to tolerate in our lives. 
 Let us not make excuses for what the Bible does not.
The antidote to the poison of fear is TRUST. FEAR is trust in the wrong kingdom, in the wrong power. We trust God to keep our children, our family safe, to watch over our jobs and finance and our futures.
Lets partner with God and combat fear.



3 – DESTROY
Remember we said God has a destiny over our lives. He wants to use us for his purposes. Do you know that you are called by God? Or has your call originated in man or was it just a good idea? You need to be secure in your call or else the devil will try and shake you and make you doubt, get you into comparison, jealousy, and competition. 

The fact is that we are all called by God. Eph 2:10 tells us that God has prepared good works in advance for us to do. The advance predates even creation. Imagine that! Now it is our job to find out what are these good works God wants us to do. It’s different things for each of us according to the gifts and abilities HE has given us.

The devil is an opportunist and is patient. He will wait until you are a little successful and confident and then he will attempt to destroy your reputation and what God has started in you.
 Know that he cannot read your thoughts but he can see out actions and hear our words. So do not give him ammunition that he can use against you.

Our words have the power of life and death. Prov 18:21The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Rom4:17-18 What we declare our body, soul spirit will respond to.

Think of the times you partnered with a lie. Now replace it with truth and declare it. Declare is pronouncing what you believe rather than what you feel. Eg) If you keep saying that you are “tired”, “fed up”, “angry”, “Frustrated”; guess what? – you will feel exactly that.

If you are going through a season of trial in some area of your life start speaking life to it. Declare what you want to see and start thanking God for it. God did that with Abraham, Gideon, and Peter. He called them something that they had not yet become. They grew into their calling and destiny.

So the strategy is to declare the Truth. Truth speaks of God’s intentions his plan and calling.

Most of the battle is in our mind- what we focus on. This is an internal battle without the enemies help. He may try and plant thoughts in our heads but we have a choice whether we act on it or not. He may plant it through what someone says. But if we act upon it he will use it like ammunition. Eg) someone says something and we misunderstand the intention and assume that person wanted to offend you.
 You can choose to give the person the benefit of the doubt or you can take offense and hit replay in your mind. We do harm to ourselves when we do this. 

The devil is a master at creating disunity, misunderstanding, and friction. He will use those words to cripple us with rejection, fear, discouragement, comparison, jealousy. He will use them as fiery darts against our soul to destroy us if we allow him to.
So now that we are aware of his strategies let look at the TOOLS we have to fight in the next blog. ( To be  continued CLICK HERE for part 5)