Enemy Invasion-A Fresh Perspective

The Garden of Eden was a peaceful place. Everything was there that the first couple needed to survive and thrive. Adam (man) had been given dominion over the earth and the animals. He had named them all–the only thing lacking was a suitable helper for Adam. When God noticed this, He formed a woman from man’s rib for his suitable helper. By the end of the Sixth day, everything had been set into place for a successful first family. On the seventh day, God rested; instituting a day of rest for mankind.

Enter the Enemy

“Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

There is always something coming along to shake up the status quo! In chapter 3 of Genesis the enemy enters. He comes in slyly and stirs up some trouble. “Did God really say?” How was this even possible? Why would such a creature even exist and what possessed him to question the Creator? What did he hope to accomplish?

Only God Himself has all the answers to the questions we could possibly ask about this intrusion into the peaceful garden. Chapter 3 brings out all kinds of questions and the more you ask, the more that seem to come to mind. Here are some of my observations about his entrance and tactics:

  • The enemy is cunning – definition: artful subtlety and deceptive; exhibiting ingenuity, delicately pleasing, pretty or cute; adeptness in execution or performance. thefreedictionary.com
  • The enemy was a wild animal
  • The enemy used words to inquire and incite – Did God really say…

Results:

  1. Self-doubt – Eve: Did I hear God correctly?
  2. Questioned her understanding – you surely will not die but will be like God.
  3. Called God’s goodness into question – implying that God’s holding out on you.
  4. Usurps the peaceful balance that was found in the garden.
  5. Insights fear – fear of missing out; fear of being less than; fear of God’s reaction/rejection
  6. Stirs up blame and defensiveness.
  7. Causes strife and disruption of unity.

First, the serpent called into question God’s Words by cunningly asking “did God really say…?”. This was most likely designed to call into question either God’s precise words or Eve’s understanding or lack of understanding of God’s words establishing doubt in her mind. (Most battles are fought first in the mind.)  Eve repeated back to him what God had said to them.

Next, the serpent directly contradicted the result associated with eating the fruit. Maybe knowingly or not that the direct results would not be death but regardless; the end result would be sin which would ultimately result in death. Then the serpent spoke truth – the fruit consumed would make them aware of the knowledge of good and evil; what he did not tell her was that once aware, you are now responsible for consequences of your behavior on a whole other level. If you know good and do not do it; it is a sin. If you know it is evil, and yet you do it; you are also guilty of sin.

Results of sin:

Guilt

Shame

Consequences

Broken Relationships with God

Broken Relationships with man

The enemy of God always seeks to bring into question God’s provision, His protection, and His goodness. He goes after our mind subtlely, trying to bring everything we think we know and understand about God into question. Our mind is the enemy’s primary target, and that is why we are told many times in Proverbs to seek wisdom and get understanding. His goal is to destroy our relationship with our Creator and Father by disrupting our faith in God’s goodness, His protection, His provision, God’s faithfulness and anything else that we place our confidence in where God is concerned. His desire to steal our faith, turn it to doubt and incite fear; to tear down love and stir up division and hate; to destroy any peace and unity in our lives; encourage blame and finger pointing rather that finding common ground and working together toward common goals and finding unity.

Best News Ever

Jesus Christ defeated the enemy of our souls more than 2000 years ago on the hills of Jerusalem. His blood and His resurrection have given us the victory and the power to overcome every single attempt that the enemy throws our way!

In Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness!

Lord, I pray that you will grant each of us wisdom and understanding that we need as we travel through life. May Your peace that passes understanding surround Your children and Your grace – which is sufficient surround us and be our companion. May we never lose sight of the wonder of Who You Are – for You are the Great I AM. No enemy can stand up to You, and You are always with Your kids. Your Word says You never leave us and You never forsake us. You have gone before us, and You walk beside us. Even when our paths take us to places and situations we do not understand, and we do not like, You are more than able to take those situations and over time use them to produce good in our lives. They may not feel good right now, but somehow You have a plan to redeem those things just as You did with Job troubles and with Christ’s persecution and death. Teach us to trust in Your goodness even when we can not see it with our own eyes. In the mighty and steadfast name of Jesus Christ! Amen

Grace and Peace be with you!

Courage: This is War

       As I sit at my desk on a sunny Sunday afternoon with humming birds flitting and playing right outside the window; I find myself reflecting on a new book I began reading yesterday evening. But first, let me say that I don’t believe in coincidences. Nope, divine appointments yes; happenstance no way. Because of this belief, I fully believe that my need to go into town to the bank to pay a bill that was due the next day and my daughter’s desire for a new translation of the Bible on Friday were no accident or coincidence.  During our trip to the bookstore, it was no fluke that we spotted a new book by one of our favorite women in ministry. Not even scheduled for release until August first, yet here it was not only available but also on sale beckoning to us!  Not a mishap or happenstance, no my friend; this was favor!
 
      After only reading the forward and Strategy One, I know without a doubt that this was a divine appointment for me. If you’re anything like me, sometimes life goes through rough patches. When that happens, sometimes we weather it with grace and other times we can tend to let what’s happening in our life, health, or the world zap us and drain us of our desire to push forward; to march on. In those times, it is easy to fall prey to marking time or even consider just quitting since it just seems too hard. Most of us are quick to realize it is no real option and usually after a short time resume our march forward. Other times we can get stuck marking time. When we aren’t moving forward, whether on not we want to admit it, we are really loosing ground. We think we are standing still when in fact we are actually retreating because the world around us keeps going even if we do not. 
     One look at the headlines around the world and you can see everything is moving faster and life is changing at warp speed. Technology has put information at our finger tips. Things change fast and social media is full of posts and blogs about this or that subject. Information can be helpful and good but much of what I am seeing lately is also very polarizing. Almost warlike. In many circles, it just isn’t ok to have a different opinion than someone else. There are battles over politics, religion, flags, historical statues and much more.  While it’s important to know current events, events such as those above can be discouraging and draining on us. World or local events are not the only things affecting our lives; our health, wealth (or lack of) and relationships also can be a drain. Lord help us if they all converge at any given time.  Sometimes we feel like casualties of the constant battle around us. At least I do.
 
   That brings me back to our trip to town. Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer seems like just what the doctor ordered for me; for such a time as this (if you will). There are ten strategies for the battles that we face. Unlike any other book on prayer I’ve read, this one outlines a battle plan using prayer and I can already see benefits after just the first step. Whether we realize or acknowledge it or not, the Christian life is a war and we have a real enemy that wants to take us out. (John 10:10) We also have a real hero who wants us to be victorious because He has already bought and paid for our victory! Our enemy is not flesh and blood! It is not that surly person that keeps driving you crazy. Normal strategies are seldom effective when things just keep coming at you; but I can say first hand prayer works and I believe the information and techniques in this book will be perhaps the best prayer journey to date because it not only informs but draws a plan of action. It outlines tactics of the enemy and effective ways to combat those tactics. As I begin this journey, I am confident that it is a great tool for life and can develop  a prayer warrior in each one who dare to read its pages…more to come.  Keep the faith.
 
Grace and peace to you!    

Courage in Battle

As early as I can remember, my parents read me Bible stories.  You know, the Creation; Adam and Eve sin; Cain and Able; David faces the Giant; Daniel and the lion’s den; Joseph and his colorful coat… the list could go on and on. They taught me biblical principles from the time I was a tot even we were not a “church going family” or as some would say a “religious” family. My parents and my Nannie (grandmother) taught me the importance of living my life based on God’s Word; that He was always with me and that He knew and saw everything that happens. They taught me the importance of prayer and that God answers our prayers. By the time I was five or six, I was in a very frightening situation, and I put it to the test. This timid little girl prayed and prayed hard. Did I say I was terrified?? That evening I promised God if I made it out of that situation alive, I was His, forever. As you can see, He saw me through! My family had set the stage by teaching me God was faithful every time they read those stories of His faithfulness to me! When I found myself in a pinch, I remembered and held fast to those stories, and He answered in a mighty way that has affected my life ever since that evening.

There was one thing back in the day; it seemed no one ever told us. At least I never heard it once even after I started attending a church nearby a couple of years later. The truth is I was an adult before I realized that a decision to believe God and accept Jesus brings a Declaration of War against us! Many of us were told a decision for Christ was the greatest, most important decision we would make and it is. Many of us believed or were taught once that decision was made it is smooth sailing from then on. Let me just tell you; nothing is further from the truth! The battle between good and evil and light and darkness began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit to “be like God”.  This age-old battle has raged ever since!

Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly, but the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10)  Jesus came to set us free from bondage/captivity; heal us and heal our brokenness; and bring us wholeness: “The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.” (Isaiah 61:1-3 HCSB)  Once we choose to join Team Jesus, we are no longer off the radar of His enemy; we are now a threat because we have chosen sides. Jesus Christ has already paid the price and won the victory over sin and death. Satan refuses to admit defeat and uses all means possible to keep us distracted and deceived about our worth and our standing so that we find it difficult to walk in the abundant life and freedom Jesus has already made available to us.

It is important for us to know the truth and that begins with understanding the Word.  “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 HCSB)  “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11 HCSB)  The priority is to know whose side we are on. Next, is knowing that there’s an enemy and a battle going on; we are targeted.  Third, that person who doesn’t seem to like you; who lied to you or about you; who betrayed you…it is not about them. Perhaps they have misunderstood you or been deceived about you; they may be a pawn in the battle of the ages, but it is really not about them.

So what do we do with this info? Ephesians 6 tells us:

“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.”

Because of this, you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith; with it, you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alerted in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-11, 13-18 HCSB)

•    Be Strengthened by the Lord’s immense strength; don’t fight in our

strength!

•    Take up the Full Armor of God.

•    Stand Firm.

His Armor:

The Belt of Truth – ” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6) The belt holds the armor together and gives stability!  Likewise, Jesus is the truth; He is the One who holds us together and gives us confidence. Colossians 1:17 says. ” He is before all things, and by Him, all things hold together.”

The Breastplate of Righteousness –  “We are Christ’s Ambassadors…Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) This piece guards our heart!  Above all else, guard your heart for it is the source of life.(Proverbs 4:23)

The Gospel of Peace –  “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He (Jesus) said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” which is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend  on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:38-40)

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Romans 12:17-19 MSG)  Just as the sandals protected the warrior’s feet from the terrain, keeping peace with others helps us keep our walk safe.

The Shield of Faith – “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. (Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG)  Our faith is our shield that protects us. It is a huge barrier that protects our full body and quenches the tactics of our enemy!

The Helmet of Salvation – guard your mind!  Our greatest battles are fought in our minds. Our mind is where we form strategies and plans. It is where we reason and decide how to move forward. It is where the battles between fear and faith are either won or lost. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

The Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) –   “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.(Hebrews 4:12) This is our one offensive weapon and it is powerful!  God’s Word has an answer for every question; a solution for every problem!

Pray at all times – “Pray constantly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good.  Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:18-22)

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.…” (Luke 11:9-10)  In the original,  this passage really reads ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking indicating perseverance in our  prayers.   Our battles will be won not by using earthly weapons but by walking in faith using the spiritual weapons He provides us!

May grace and peace be yours!

Note: You can find many additional scriptures by using a concordance or Google to search keywords about this or any topic. I highly recommend that you are sure to keep them in their original context and always check out the accuracy for yourself rather than relying on what any individual may say. Part of being armed is knowing God’s Word for ourselves. How else can we be on guard and not be unintentionally or for that matter, intentionally deceived?