It’s the Christmas season!
Time to get out my Christmas decorations.
You know, I would love to just be able to focus on the Christ Child.
And I will. Right after I finish decorating.
Wait! There’s all that Christmas shopping to do.
Family, special friends, school teachers, Sunday School teachers,
My list gets longer every year!
Perhaps as soon as I finish decorating and shopping, and wrapping presents, then I can focus on the Christ Child.
Oh, but I’ve got Christmas parties and Christmas programs that I MUST attend, and each one requires a potluck dish or a gift to exchange.
Surely when things slow down, I will have time to focus on the Christ Child.
Hold up! The family is coming over for a traditional Christmas family dinner.
What on earth will I fix this year? Gonna spend a wad on that grocery bill.
Surely, once that is completed I will have a moment to focus on the Christ Child.
Oops! Christmas is finally over. And I’m beyond exhausted!
Did I ever find the time to focus on the Christ Child?
I’m t-o-o-o tired to remember!
Another Christmas has been undermined by fiery dart thinking! Putting our focus on the Christ Child must be done first and foremost. Then from that focus we will proceed to successfully celebrate Christmas! Amen?
Before individuals accept Christ as their Savior, they are ruled by their flesh, or sinful nature—a nature predisposed to sin. However, when a person accepts Christ as his or her Savior, a new nature is born, ruled by God’s Spirit. Yet the old spirit remains, thus, creating the great civil war that will be ongoing for the rest of their life. Satan takes full advantage of the struggle between the old nature (the flesh) and the new nature (God’s Spirit). His first attempt will be to weaken our new nature by tempting our old nature with distractions meant to diminish our desire to study the Bible or spend time with God in prayer. p 46, 3rd edition FD
Remember that the desire to sin originates with our fleshly nature. If we don’t focus on the Truths we learn from Scripture, then the temptations/fiery darts, will become harder and harder to resist or even recognize! Knowing the Truths found in the Bible makes us wise to the lies of fiery darts that bombard our minds on a daily basis. Prayer and bible study are effective in keeping us keen to those lies and supplies us with the power to resist them. There is no substitute!
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Yahweh is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the whole earth.
He never grows faint or weary;
there is no limit to His understanding.
He gives strength to the weary
and strengthens the powerless. Isaiah 40:28-29, HCSB
Isaiah was writing to the Israelites who were in captivity in Babylon. God through Isaiah meant to encourage them as they looked forward to returning to Israel. And as they waited for the promised hope, thoughts (of a fiery dart nature) would tempt their minds with discouragement. They would grow faint and become weary.
But God had promised them they would return to their beloved homeland. And because He is everlasting, the Creator of the whole earth, He had a ready supply for their weariness. They knew that His strength could be their strength from the promise of His Word. Therefore, each temptation to despair could be extinguished by these true and powerful words from their Creator God.
We live our lives with the hope of John 3:16. And like the Israelites, we must wait for that hope to be fulfilled. In the meantime, things can get pretty rough can’t they. And if we are not on our guard, those trials can overwhelm us. Especially, if our minds are not saturated with the words of God. With every trial, our strength can be worn down and our power can be depleted. In such a state we become vulnerable to the destructive force of fiery dart thinking. Ill prepared to receive the promised hope.
You see, as we wait for the sure hope of heaven, Satan is working on a plan to impair our witness. He tempts us with thoughts of doubt concerning God. He secures the success of this plan by tempting us to ignore God’s word. Ever felt too busy to read the Bible and pray? We put it off till later but often later doesn’t come.
But if our minds are saturated with God’s words, fiery darts get exposed pretty quickly. Verses like Isaiah 40:28-29, remind us that God is our strength and source of power to defeat the enemy’s fiery darts.
As we encounter weariness and become weak from the trials we face, it would be helpful to remember Isaiah 40:28-29. Yes, the reality concerning our life here on earth is that it is fraught with trials and temptations. Yet, those very trials can make us stronger and more prepared to receive God’s promise. God’s strength will become our strength and we will have more power to resist temptations.
My first bout with depression lasted for 2 years and occurred after I gave birth to my first child (43 years ago). I survived it but that’s all. Having a little one who depended 24/7 on my ability to care for her, prioritized my daily routine. Then two years and 4 months later my 2nd daughter was born. Now the well being of two precious little girls depended on my getting it together. After two more children, a daughter and a son, life demanded that I focus on the needs of my 4 children. However, the darkness of depression continued to stalk me.
During a retreat I attended only recently, I listened as a young mother described her bout with depression. Eventually, she was diagnosed with post partum depression (suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue).
I’m pretty sure that my initial years of depression was an undiagnosed case of post partum. During those first two years, I established a pattern of destructive thinking. My times spent in Scripture were consistent but brief (3 to 5 min). Any help I might have gained from them to combat such thoughts was drowned out by the lies swarming within my brain. My thoughts were ruled by those lies. I remember during those dark days my prayers became nothing more than, “God hold on to me.” I had a sense that those negative thoughts were lies but my weakened spiritual state was no match for their dark power.
Several years ago I reached a turning point when God prompted me to take notice of the thoughts that were so troublesome to me. This prompting resulted in increasing my time spent in prayer and bible study. As my knowledge of God’s Truth increased, the lies within those fiery darts were exposed. Eventually, I began to break free of the chains that for years had held me in bondage.
While I continue to battle fiery dart thinking, it no longer rules my thoughts. My thoughts are becoming saturated with God’s Word. Through prayer and bible study, I am learning to recognize & extinguish the lies of fiery darts. Remember, depression stems from the lies of fiery darts. But depression cannot take root in the soil of God’s Truth.
In looking back on my journey, I have often pondered why it took so many years for me to reach the path that led me out of the darkness of my negative thinking. . .Therefore, my hope is that by sharing the lessons I learned, your journey out of the darkness will not be nearly as lengthy as mine. p 14-15, FD 3rd edition
Why would I, a committed Christian, make such a statement? Christianity is all about faith. You wouldn’t think God would make it scary, right?
Well, He doesn’t! But remember,
Before individuals accept Christ as their Savior, they are ruled by their flesh, or sinful nature—a nature predisposed to sin. However, when a person accepts Christ as his or her Savior, a new nature is born, ruled by God’s Spirit. Yet the old spirit remains, thus, creating the great civil war that will be ongoing for the rest of their life. p. 46, 3rd ed FD
Folks, it’s that great civil war that feeds our fears and doubts (alias fiery darts). Especially, when we can’t see where the path might be taking us. Inevitably obstacles will show up along the way only adding to our fears.
Yes, it can be very scary to forge ahead. Therefore, our confidence to take those forward steps must be fueled by Truth thoughts like the following:
and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 HCSB
Exercising our faith in the face of fear will diminish our fear and increase our faith!
Giving into fear will diminish our faith and give rise to more fear.
It is disturbing to me when I hear of Christians, especially those in a Christian profession, getting caught up in moral failure. Or hear of them supporting something that is plainly identified in Scripture as sin. My first thought is “How could this possibly happen!”
In my book (Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice), a quote from Thomas à Kempis (1380-1417, a Medieval Catholic monk) reveals a partial answer to my question!
Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. Someone has said very aptly: ‘Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.’ First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him. FD 3rd edition, p. 66
Reading the above quote leads me to another question. How can we avoid giving into temptation in its beginnings? The following excerpt from my book provides the whole of the answer.
Again, I must emphasize the necessity to persevere in prayer and Bible study! We must grasp the fact that there is no other substitute. As we fellowship and worship in these two disciplines, everything we experience in life will be filtered through what we learn there. What we teach our children, how we define true love, how we view ourselves, our marriages, how we deal with difficulties, etc., will all be influenced by what we learn from God’s Word and prayer. p. 91, 3rd ed Fiery Darts
The plain and simple truth of the matter is that without the filter of consistent prayer and Bible study, we won’t possess the wisdom and/or the strength to recognize the fiery darts of temptation’s first call. Therefore to avoid allowing Satan to gain full entry, it would be wise to ponder the following question:
What filter will supply me with the wisdom and/or strength to recognize and resist the fiery darts of temptation?