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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.

 

From despair to freedom!

   There was a time when despair lurked beneath the surface of my thoughts almost constantly. In hindsight and especially after my lessons on fiery dart thinking, I now know that I was being victimized by fiery dart thinking. Or using a term you might relate to easier, negative thinking.

   My schooling in spiritual warfare taught me a lesson that transformed my walk with God.  Being the people pleaser that I was, I cared too much about what others thought of me. I lost my focus as to who I was in Christ. Instead my self worth had more to do with what I thought others thought of me. Obviously, if their treatment of me left me wounded, then my self worth plummeted. 

   I now realize that my temptation to despair had mostly to do with the thoughts in my head. If they were negative (and way too often they were) then a hopeless despair pulled at me constantly. 

   Learning how to reject those negative thoughts (fiery darts) and replace them with God’s Truth thoughts (Ephesians 6:16) set me on a road to recovery and to freedom. A lengthy process, I admit, but one well worth embarking upon; life saving in fact!

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No matter what others thought of me, or what I thought they thought, the Truth thought is found in Isaiah 43:4. I learned to make that my focus.

 

God speaks!

In the last few days these (Truth)thoughts have been pressed into my thinking:

 

The trials in my life are developing perseverance.

(Came to me while I was watching someone lead a worship service)

Reminded me of James 1:2-3

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

    *     *    *     *     *

There are a few battles that I have to let God fight for me! In the meantime, I must be still and know that God is God!

(Came to me while I was sharing with a friend!)

Reminded me of Exodus 14:14

The LORD will fight for you while you keep still.

Which reminded me of Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

*     *     *     *     *

I must live my life from God’s perspective!

(Came to me as I read a blog from one of my favorite bloggers.)

Reminded me of James 1:17 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

*    *     *     *     *

 

And I thought God was being silent!

Defeated?

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The Spanish Armada

   That is a word that rings too loudly and too often in many people’s heads. For some it rings for the sole purpose of influencing defeat, especially in a Christian’s life. It rings so loudly that it drowns out the Truth thoughts of God. Which is precisely it’s purpose. 

   Isn’t it odd that this happens to Christians! Christians have God on their side and He can defeat anyone or anything that is set against His will. But it happens!

Why?

   When we first become Christians we are like infants. And like infants, we must be consistently fed and nourished in order to grow and mature. However, many Christians today have experienced arrested development. This happens because we have not remained constant in feeding upon the Truths of God’s Word. And because we have not remained constant in prayerful communication with God, we have failed to develop in a healthy manner. 

   The unavoidable results of such neglect, produces such a weakened state that Christians  find themselves easily distracted by anything that is designed to keep them from these two disciplines. Eventually, we begin to live our lives not for Christ, but for ourselves. We turn our ears to listen to the World, instead of God. 

If this describes our state of existence as Christians, then Defeated will be the word that will define our existence.

   Do you feel defeated, confused, frustrated?   Please understand that these thoughts stem from your flesh, and Satan uses them to design fiery dart thinking, meant to undermine the wonderful plans God has for you. If these thoughts are ruling your thinking, then you have been cooperating with the enemy. Perhaps, you were unaware of this. But it doesn’t have to continue. 

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The following are Truth thoughts that will ensure the victory God has planned for us!

And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 ESV

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV

Listening with the intent to understand!

    I think guys, especially husbands, are convinced that it is impossible for them to understand their wives. (I know you know what I would call that!!!!) Therefore, husbands throw up their hands at the thought of trying to understand their wives, because the enemy has convinced them it’s impossible. 

     Ah, but God, has something quite different to say to husbands about understanding their wives in 1 Peter 3:7,

In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. . . ISV

     I am quite sure that the reason this fiery dart has infiltrated the thinking of husbands is because our Enemy, Satan, knows full well the blessed effect this will have on the relationship between a husband and wife. So, he cuts them off from these blessings by lying to husbands and convincing them that understanding their wives is all but impossible. 

A personal testimony to the power of understanding

I can remember vividly a time when my son was about to leave to serve as a missionary in South America! We were driving around doing some shopping to prepare for his hiking of the AT and the night before he revealed to me his plan to go to South America.

I was overwhelmed! With great effort I had finally come to the point where I could release him to solo hike the AT and the night before, he had sprung this news on me! I remember privately crying out to God, “Really, God, couldn’t this news have waited a bit? I’m not at all sure I can do this!” 

As we drove around the next day, I labored under the burden of deep sadness, trying all the while to keep it from my son! Then my son said this, “Mom, I understand that this is going to be harder on you than anyone else.” Well, the floodgates opened and the tears flowed like a river. But they were not tears of heartbreak that my son was leaving me! No, indeed, they were tears of relief because he understood my pain. From those precious words of understanding, I drew the strength that would empower me to do this hard thing. It was all I needed to move forward.

     Now, I realize this isn’t a husband/wife scenario but it is a scenario that husbands can draw from to grasp the power of understanding your wife.

     Everyone, especially wives, have a deep desire to be understood by at least one person and the person of preference is their husbands. Their husband’s understanding is the source of their strength to deal with hard things. If they don’t feel they have their husband’s understanding they become all the more vulnerable to Satan’s fiery darts of self loathing, depression, taking personally all the negative things that you and others say about them, and wounding their hearts more deeply than you can imagine.

     Husbands, don’t allow the enemy to convince you that you can’t understand your wife. The Truth Thought is that God has mandated that you do. And when you commit to this, then God will show you how it’s done. Therefore, listen to your wife with the intent to understand, not to judge or criticize! The rest of verse 7 points out why understanding your wife is so important. 

Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.

After writing this post, I had a thought I want to share. It’s a good thing husband’s to praise your wives, but timing is everything. During a difficult or stressful moment an understanding word may be what’s required rather than praises! For your praises will ring hollow if they feel you lack understanding of their need during that moment. 

Loosing the Civil War?

Who tells the Truth?

   Recently, in my research about the battle that goes on between our old nature and our new nature as a Christian(1), I came across a reference that described this battle as a civil war. I think that is an apt description.

   You see, it’s like this. We have this old nature, by means of our physical birth, which is predisposed to sin. It is what rules us until we experience a new birth, that is salvation, which seeks to please God. After the new nature moves in, the old nature is no longer in charge and self gets dethroned. Now the battle royal begins!(2) And this is where our will (you know that part of us that makes choices) must be understood. Upon becoming a Christian, our will seeks to please God and willingly forsakes the throne to give it up to Christ. However, our old nature was quite attached to that throne and will make repeated attempts to persuade our will to again choose in its favor. So, what do you think? Are our wills making some bad choices? Why? Consider the following:

     Unsurprisingly, if you aren’t even aware of the existence of this civil war within yourself, or if you only know of it vaguely and aren’t consciously engaged in fighting it, then you will inevitably be defeated. You can’t possibly win this battle against your flesh unless you know what is going on and are determined to fight. Once you realise that you can then start to make decisions, with your will, so as to take the side of your new man in opposing and resisting the old man. – See more at: http://www.realchristianity.com/world-flesh-devil/introduction.html#sthash.1h2HgYZZ.dpuf

   How do we fight this battle and win?

   First, we must accept the fact that our winning is not just a one time event. Every day, for the rest of our lives, we must be ready to  go at it again refreshed by our time spent in God’s Word and in communication with Him. A little here and a little there won’t cut it for this battle. There is too much at stake.

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. FD p. 76

   A spirit weakened by too little nourishment cannot stand against the constant onslaught of the enemy’s fiery darts. And pay attention to the word ‘constant’. For constantly we must seek the nourishment available to us as we pray and seek God’s Truths. Thereby strengthening our will to choose for Christ and against our old nature (replacing those fiery dart thoughts with God’s Truth thoughts).  

(1) John 3:6
(2) Romans 8

Facing the Future, whatever it brings!

    Once again we are wrapped up in a presidential election. Once again the fiery darts of negativity are being aimed and far too often are reaching their mark. In the past, I have allowed these fiery darts to victimize my thinking, tempting me to hopelessness and despair as I endured yet another presidential election, but NOT THIS YEAR!

   How could I possibly face such a bleak future as seems likely for our country, considering the insecurity cast by the growing threat of terrorism, the rebellion reflected in the moral upheaval in our courts considering abortion and same-sex marriage, the rejection of our country’s foundational principles evident in congressional decision, etc?

   For I know that when society collectively rejects God, then we are set on a path of destruction. And as long as society collectively continues to reject God, there is no hope that things will improve–on the contrary, things will continue to deteriorate. 

   Again, I pose the question, “How could I possibly face such a bleak future and not feel overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness?”

Here’s how!

 Every time I am tempted with despair and/or hopelessness, or any other fiery dart thoughts of a similar nature, I put the following plan into action: 

First

I recognize those thoughts for the fiery darts they are. I know that focusing on them will eat away at my faith, weakening me with every attack. 

Second

 I reject such thoughts, so as to prevent them from taking root and influencing further attitudes and actions.

Third 

I replace such hopeless thinking with Truth thoughts and those thoughts become my focus from which my attitude and actions spring from. 

Truth thoughts such as:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV

   I would like to quote Tony Evans’s comment from Decision magazine, February 2016, titled Prayer That Turns A Nation, p. 13

“If enough Christians in places of responsibility in the fields of medicine, law, government, education, the media, and even the church begin to humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, we could influence this culture and make the presence of Christ felt top to bottom and bottom to top.”

   But what if that doesn’t happen? What’s a Truth thought for that despairing question?

My dear readers, the day will come when:

. . .  that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth —and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:10-11

   And those of us who are Christians, what does the future hold for us in the midst of society’s rejection of God?

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.
Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 HCSB

   Therefore, I face my personal future and my country’s future with the confident assurance promoted in the above verses. On a daily basis, I commit to cooperating with God as He works out His plans for me making sure that my attitudes and actions are based on Truth thoughts not fiery dart thinking. And daily I pray 2 Chronicles 7:14 for myself, my family, my friends, and my country.