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Filtering life through prayer and bible study

   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?

 

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Some relief please!

   Does your life seem complicated at times?  Do you feel like you just don’t have God’s full attention? You pray for guidance but it seems God remains silent. Does the peace you earnestly seek for continue to elude you? You fast, but the answers and the peace do not come. And while you are still waiting for answers, you get punched in the gut with more problems! 

  Yet, you have the sense to know that answers won’t come from any other source. Therefore, you know you must persevere. So you keep on asking the LORD.  All the while wondering when the relief will come.

  In the meantime, fiery darts are messing with your resolve to seek the LORD. They plant doubt and confusing thoughts into your mind. With these fiery dart thoughts,  your seeking the LORD grows more complicated. For now you must sort through these dark thoughts to be able to hear from and be guided by God’s Truth thoughts. 

What do you do in these valley times? 

   Might I suggest that you attack the fiery dart thoughts (those thoughts of negativity, hopelessness, discouragement, doubt, fear, impatience, etc) as soon as they enter your mind. Replace them with Truth thoughts such as Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:27, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:13, Isaiah 43:4. Words from God to encourage you, give you hope, and to lift you up.

  And we’ve all lived long enough to know that sometimes the answers won’t come quickly (which seems the rule not the exception). At times, we might find that we just have to wait for the answers that seem so long in coming. It is during such times that we must arm ourselves with verses that instruct us as we wait.

waiting on God

  It is good for us to remember, that these dark times have a purpose. (Romans 8:28) God will use these times for our benefit and His glory.  Therefore, focusing on the following word from God, will keep our heads above water. And though the answers still may not come for awhile, these words will give us the relief we need to keep on keeping on. 

 Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:  I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

 

Fear leads to panic! Prayer leads to calmness! We have a choice to make!

Dear Readers,

Could we just ponder this post for another week? In light of all that’s going on in our country just now, perhaps it would do us well to pause here to rearm ourselves.

Every time we turn on the tv, browse the internet, or listen to the radio, the poisonous venom of fear attempts to snake its way into our minds. Fear mongers roam the earth seeking whom they may devour. From the looks of it, the fear mongers are progressing with increasing speed in taking victims hostage. 

You know what concerns me in all this? That Christians are suffering from a dangerous loss of memory!

THEY ARE FORGETTING:

 that ‘the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.'(1 Corinthians 4:20 NIV)

 about His all-consuming power, ‘who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations—let not the rebellious exalt themselves.’Psalm 66:7

 that ‘the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world’. 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

Beware the Spirit of Fear running rampant in our world!

The Spirit of Fear is armed and powerful. It’s agents such as terrorists, deadly diseases, weak and dysfunctional leadership, and vulnerable borders (to name the most obvious at present) stage a formidable force. Believe me, this is powerful fodder on which fiery darts feed. So, what’s a Christian to do?

Remember these Truth thoughts?

 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

Focusing on fear leads to panic.

Focusing on what God has given us–power, love, and a sound mind–gives us the power to resist fear and equips us to utterly defeat and destroy its agents. Reminding us that our God, is greater than any, ABSOLUTELY ANY, of our fears. 

Remember the following next time the headlines tempt you to fear:

Lord, so the headlines would like us all to lose our heads,
to be fear-driven instead of faith-still,
to panic instead of pray,
to be scared silly instead of courageously calm.
And no matter what’s swirling around us,
Your words come like the relief of a gentle, steadying refrain:
“Don’t fear… Don’t panic. God, *your God*, is right there with you” Deu.20:1MSG
And there’s this peace that is transferrable… from Your hand to our hearts…

And all the brave & trusting smiled & whispered their quiet Amen.

Ann Voskamp

Reclaiming Your Self-Worth–God’s Way!

My Dramatic Transformation

As God exposed the weapons of fiery darts that for years Satan had skillfully used against me, my spiritual walk underwent a dramatic transformation. By teaching me what fiery darts were and how to counter their attack, my walk along the path God had set before me so many years before was illuminated to such an extent that my skill in recognizing Satan’s tactics dramatically improved along with my ability to successfully fight against the fiery darts. FD p. 6

A Pivotal Question!

For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people?. . . Galatians 1:10 (HCSB)

     No Christian ever wants to admit that they are more concerned about pleasing people than they are pleasing God. But that is exactly what I, the people pleaser, was doing! God revealed this to me several years ago in the midst of a tumultuous episode when a particular decision I had made resulted in creating discord among many.

     For the first time in my adult life, people were severely displeased with me and I couldn’t handle that! At first! But after much counsel and doing some honest soul searching about the Galations verse, my course was redirected. My downward spiral was interrupted as God reached down and rescued me from the plans that Satan had concocted.

    Pleasing God now trumped pleasing people! It was quite liberating to live life that way! And on top of that I had the reassurance that,

When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 (HCSB)

    Another powerful lesson learned during those days was how something that Satan meant for bad was turned into something good by God. Therefore, I saw all those involved as instruments of God’s will in helping me understand how important it was to please Him above all others. As a result there was no anger or bitterness on my part towards anyone.

     As I look back on events such as the one I just described through the lens of fighting fiery darts, I gain clarity about the work of Satan’s manipulation. Of how he can take my weaknesses and victimize me with my own thoughts. Now when those fiery darts try to infiltrate my thinking, by God’s design, I have a plan in place to reject them thus averting the devastation those weapons formerly imposed. 

No more downward spirals; depression has been defeated!

Who’s Messing With Your Self Worth?

The Cognitive Triangle

The Cognitive Triangle

First we entertain a thought. That thought will cause certain related feelings. Thus, behavior is based on our thoughts and feelings.  p.16, FD

     Several years ago and over a two year period of time, I suffered from a serious bout of depression. I remember battling suicidal thoughts and deep sadness to the point that my prayers became a desperate cry for God to hold on to me because I had no strength left to hold on to Him.  I survived that dark time in my life but that’s about it. It wouldn’t be until several years later as God initiated my training in fiery dart recognition that I would be able to recognize the bondage that defined my existence during those two years. 

Here’s what happened to me and I see this same overused but deadly effective tactic of Satan’s still being used today!

     Refer to the diagram above. In my case I was a people pleaser. If I felt significant people in my life approved of me, then life was good and I felt good about myself. On the other hand, if there was strife or conflict in these relationships life was not good and I became convinced I had little reason to feel good about myself. Self approval you see was strongly connected to what others thought of me. (Or what I thought they thought!)

Do you see the pattern?

     First this negative thought (fiery dart remember) would plant itself into my head producing some very negative feelings or emotions. Never mind that these negative thoughts had no basis in Truth! The poison of these fiery darts seeped into my thinking producing destructive attitudes and behavior. 

     The purpose of these fiery darts, you see, was to diminish any sense of self worth that I might still possess. I was an easy target because it was way too important for me to have the good opinion of those significant people in my life. As relationships with these people deteriorated, so did my self worth.

I wonder if I have touched a nerve? 

     Are you sad seemingly all the time? Are you convinced you don’t measure up and that significant persons in your life don’t approve of you? Does the dangerous thought that your family would be better off without you ever sneak into your mind? Please hold on, for I have glorious news for you in my next post. In the meantime hold on to the following verse,

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Refusing Admittance!

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     In observing the effect fiery dart thinking has on people, I am drawing some disturbing conclusions. I have listened and observed as people (whose lives exhibit some semblance of Christianity) describe a lifestyle that is in direct contradiction to the one given to us by God. They attend church ( perhaps not regularly) and know all the familiar Christian lingo. But they live as if there is no contradiction in their lifestyle.

How can this be?

     Could it be that they have lost their sensitivity to sin? They seemingly are not bothered with conviction about their lifestyle. Even though their lives are marked with pain and unfulfilled dreams, the realization that their disobedience could be the source of their disillusionment never kicks in.
     I know that when we are first convicted about sin in our lives, the temptation is to ignore it, deny it, or to begin justifying it. And though this is where the Enemy is most easily conquered, this is where for many Satan gains full entry.
“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. . . .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.” p. 46 FD (Thomas Kempis)
     This, I conclude, is how an individual can live contrary to God and in alliance with the world without apparent guilt! The fiery darts that justifies their sin, if not resisted, will eventually release so much poison into their thinking that they become blinded to God’s Truth. Therefore, they may be convinced they are something they are not! You know, right becomes wrong!

But there’s good news!

These poisonous thoughts (fiery darts) CAN BE conquered dear reader! Not overnight, but by attacking one thought at a time, as directed by the prayer and Bible study I refer to in Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice! It will take some longer than others depending on the amount of poison that has infected their thinking, but there is a future for them that is free of this bondage! It’s God’s plan:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (NIV) Jeremiah 29:11

God, Our Logistics Coordinator wrap up!

This my friend, is how you conquer the fiery dart of worry!

This my friend, is how you conquer the fiery dart of worry!

I am just a worrier. It’s the way I was made.  I can’t help it!

     The next time you make that statement or hear someone else make that statement, I hope you will refer to my blog posts. You see, worry is a major fiery dart! Worry will create all sorts of turmoil within your mind. That turmoil will make you vulnerable and a prime target for fiery darts that will undermine your trust and faith in God.  

     If you ever have any thoughts like the ones I opened with in this post, then plant your feet firmly in God’s Word and

1 – Recognize those thoughts for the fiery darts that they are

2 – Reject them outright for dear readers they are nothing but lies

3 – Replace them with Truth thoughts (go to your computer and type in the phrase “verses about worry” for there you will find a bunch of them. God has a lot to say about worrying) but I highly recommend,

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:67 (NIV)

     Now that you have had the opportunity to read my last two posts illustrating, through personal testimony, why I see God as my logistics coordinator, I hope I have given you food for thought that will deflect all those fiery darts that tempt you to worry. He will prove to you, as He does for me over and over again, that He can be trusted to work all things out for my good (ooh, sounds like Romans 8:28 doesn’t it!)  That, my dear readers is a liberated way to live!