One of the biggest spiders I have seen this warm season made a nice home at the arborvitaes. Every day I would see this huge web constructed and the large spider just sitting there. I tried to keep my distance. He hung around for days. Eventually, we didn’t see him anymore. I thought we were safe. Little did we know, the spider found a way into my sister’s car. While she was driving to work one morning, the spider decided to interrupt her drive. She shared with me this great excitement. I’ve been there; it’s not fun.
The evils of this world like to hang around, lurking around just as this spider. We often think we are safe because we keep our distance. But just like the avoidance of the spider lurking about, so there can be trouble if you don’t address the nearby evils. When there are temptations lurking, when our friends or family are knee deep in sin, or when we start to even allow sin to take residence in our homes—this keeps the door wide open for the devil to do his work. The devil doesn’t sneak through the front door with a bright neon sign announcing his coming. He sneaks through the cracks. He enters when you least expect it. Remember, he is clever.
We are not always going to be prepared for an attack. We are human—we have our good days and our not-so-good days. To be best prepared, consistency in our walk with Christ is very important. Put on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6), and remember that this is a daily need. Continue to surround yourself with that which will keep your eyes on Jesus (see Philippians 4:8). Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Spend time with godly friends. Remember, the Spirit of God will help see you through to victory.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4 [NASB]
This morning was a foggy one. As we ventured out on our normal walk, it was difficult to see up ahead. This would not be such an issue; however, Max has post-traumatic stress disorder. If he encounters another dog, he sometimes gets very fearful and the situation escalates. This is not normally an issue on morning walks as no one else is crazy enough to walk their dogs so early. However, every so often there is a chance encounter. Being able to see, allows me to prevent Max from having to undergo a stressful situation. It is hard to properly prepare for something you cannot see.
As believers, we are commanded to be prepared. Paul tells us to, “Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers” (Ephesians 6:18). Peter warns us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This coming week, I will be preaching about the devil and his demons. Some people believe it’s unnecessary to discuss this topic. Whether it be fear, disinterest, or something else—the truth is we need to stay alert, and we need to know what we need to stay alert against.
The devil has been defeated. He has already been condemned (John 16:11). Victory is with Jesus. Even so, the devil is the prince of this world and he is still out and about trying to spread his lies, because he is the father of lies (John 14:30, John 8:44). We need to remember our battle is not of this world (Ephesians 6:12). In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). Put on your full armor of God and pray continually. Do not let the fog prevent you from knowing what is Truth and what is a lie.
I love Spring. I enjoy opening the windows and letting in the fresh air. I enjoy seeing the sun brighten up the sky during our morning walks. I love watching the flowers begin to bloom and the robins seeking out food. One thing that I cannot stand is the invasion of the ants.
Ants are clever and annoying. It is interesting how one day there are no ants and then the next day, BOOM! It is not like you leave the door open. How do they come? It’s as if they slip through the cracks. Slowly one slips through and notes that there’s a good area to investigate. The ant calls for more ants. Before you know it, there are ants galore, and it demands a trip to the local store to get some ant bait to remedy the situation.
No matter how much you try to prepare for the ants, it seems like they come through the cracks. They are not sneaking in right before your eyes. They enter another way. In the same way, as we try to prepare for the attacks from the devil, we find that he sneaks through the cracks. It’s a gradual process. It’s a process that you often don’t see coming. Then it happens. BOOM! Spiritual attack. Today, pray for the Spirit to strengthen you. Read Ephesians 6:10-20. Dress in your armor and pray, pray, pray!
This time of year the mornings are a bit darker. I make note of the spiders beginning webs on my evening walk with the dogs. My hope is to duck each web on the morning walk. I cannot stand the feeling that follows when you walk through a spider web. Instantly you become a ninja warrior, arms flailing in all directions trying to remove the sticky, gross web. Then you feel like something has to be crawling on you somewhere so you continue to move your hands and arms to search. Minutes later you are still feeling on edge. What if there is a spider on me? Do you see a spider on me?
Some mornings I underestimate the spider. I think by ducking a certain amount or by moving in a certain direction that I will miss the web. That spider won’t get me. But I am wrong. The spider’s web was bigger than imagined. Then the “definitely not a black belt” part of me takes action. Sadly, we also many times underestimate the devil. Flailing arms do no good when that happens.
In Genesis, we are told that the serpent was “MORE CRAFTY than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made” (3:1 ESV). Now if the devil is more crafty than all others, it is therefore important that we protect ourselves and put on our full armor of God. We cannot duck and dodge. We need to be armored up—protected with each piece of armor. One piece won’t work. A few pieces won’t cover us. We need to be fully armored. Today, armor up. Tomorrow, armor up. Each day, armor up.
“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” – Ephesians 6:10-18 [MSG]
I speak a lot about the Armor of God and about being clothed in righteousness. We are able to put on this armor and to be clothed in this righteousness only through God’s grace, only through the blood of Christ. From the very beginning, God made sure we were able to be dressed by Him.
When Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, defying the Word of God, they found themselves naked and ashamed. They hid themselves from God. Even before sin entered the world, God had a plan in place. He knew what was going to happen and He prepared a way. Redemption was always on His mind. YOU were always on His mind. His compassion we see as He dressed Adam and Eve with leather clothing He made so that they would no longer feel ashamed.
You don’t have to feel ashamed either. God has made a way for you—His name is Jesus Christ. If you believe in Him and accept His redemptive work on the Cross, it is by His blood that you are cleaned. You are redeemed. No longer should you feel ashamed. If you are still feeling ashamed, you have not given it all to God. Give it all to Him. Allow God to dress you. You have been redeemed. You have been bought with a price. Don’t forget that YOU have been dressed by God.
“God made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them.” – Genesis 3:21 [MSG]
We talk often about God being faithful but what about us? How can we be faithful to God? I know that God has always been and will always be faithful. I also know that I have not always been faithful. I fail Him daily.
Stop Hesitating. Move forward to what God has promised. Don’t stand on the verge. Embrace God’s plan for you. James 1:6 speaks about those who are double-minded, who are “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (NIV).
Start Acting. Bury yourself in the Word. Read it. Study it. Study it alone and join a group. Remember the Armor of God? The Word is the only offensive weapon. Take an offense. Pray. Pray continually. Helplessly. Shamelessly. Listen intentionally.
Stand Firm. It is easier to fight than to stand. Remember, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:13 NLT).
Galatians 3 talks about clothing yourself with Christ. I love the wording that Paul uses in that letter. I think of why we clothe ourselves. We put clothing on for protection– protection from the elements, protection from people’s eyes. We clothe ourselves for warmth. We also clothe ourselves in such a way for particular situations. We may dress ourselves for a sporting event, a wedding, school, work, church, etc., and each way is so that we fit whatever we are attending.
Jesus protects us. He is our great Protector. He is our Substitute, who took all the world’s sin upon Him so that we would be able to have eternal life and a relationship with the Father. He also protects us from judgment. People may look with their eyes and judge, but no child of God will be ashamed. That is a promise from His Word. He also has us prepared for any event. The Bible says we will be given the words we need to say. Ephesians 6 even discusses the armor of God. The armor of God includes the sword of the Spirit, His Word.
The world is a corrupt place and it is not always very kind to us. We aren’t going to always have good days or meet up with nice people. We are not guaranteed everything will be okay all of the time. Every day, when you rise to start the day, think about getting dressed. Remember that you are not simply selecting the clothing you will wear for the day. Don’t forget that as a child of God, you are to clothe yourself in Christ. Take Him with you– allow the Spirit to help you through the day. It is a lot easier when you have on your armor. If you are clothed in Christ, you will find strength, peace, patience– it all comes a lot easier.
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” – Galatians 3:26 [NASB]
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 [NIV]
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Temptation is something everyone has faced at one time or another. If anyone says they were never tempted by anything, I think it would be fair to be a bit distrustful of the individual. Even Jesus was tempted. I have lost track of the temptations I faced in the past few days. It seems when we are most vulnerable, Satan is always there lurking, waiting for us to break down. Jesus was fasting — He was hungry. I’ve gotten very little sleep this past week — I am tired. These types of scenarios are only a few of the ways Satan tries to sneak in the ideals that appear desirable.
It’s important to take a look at the cycle. The cycle begins with the temptation that Satan puts before us. If we are tempted and we falter, we have sinned. Sin leads to death per the Law; however, thanks to the grace of God, it does not end there. God gave us His only Son so that we are able to be redeemed. Only with God are we able to have redemption.
Some people have a problem with understanding temptation. I often hear people saying that they believed God was “testing” them. God does test us. He tests our faith in Him. However, temptations are different because they are evil. God has no part in evil. He may allow evil to persist for a period of time for a particular purpose (ex: transformation, glorification); however, He does not throw evil at us. He does put us through trials, not evil. Trials help to build up our faith. Temptations attempt to steer us away from following God’s Law.
It is important to know that as God allows us to be tempted by Satan, no one is being forced to sin. No one can say they had no other option. Jesus has proved that any temptation could be refused. Also important to note, is that Satan is very limited in what He is permitted to even use to tempt a person. Remember the story of Job. God did not bring evil upon Job, but He allowed Job to experience the evil that Satan brought. The entire time, God was in control. God knew what would happen. God did not allow Satan to snuff out Job. God never gives us more than we can handle. He knew what Job could handle.
God always provides a way out of every temptation. If we look at the temptations that Jesus faced in the desert, we discover that Satan used various human needs to tempt Jesus: the physical needs (hunger), the emotional needs (security), and the psychological needs (power). I think it’s important to remember that Jesus had supernatural powers, so when He was tempted, He had the option of making the choice to take things into His own hands. Even though He was fasting, and food would have been very tempting, He didn’t cave in to His desires. What was His secret?
If you read about the temptations Jesus faced in the desert (Matthew 4), you will find that with each temptation, He used Scripture to overcome a temptation. Scripture? Well we have that– so why are we not stopping at the temptation? We need to know Scripture. I am not saying we must necessarily memorize the Bible word-for-word; however, daily reading and Bible study allow for us to have God’s Word written on our hearts. We get to know His commands and the Holy Spirit does some miraculous things as well. I also think it’s important to mention prayer. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, more temptations came His way. His love of God’s Word and His continuous prayer kept Him strong to defend against any temptation that crossed His path.
Maybe temptations seem unable to be defeated. Perhaps our miscalculations of their strength allows us to falter. Lets not forget that Jesus never fell for a single temptation, and therefore was the only sinless human to walk the earth. We have a wonderful example, a great model for how to handle temptations in our own lives by looking at His life. Scripture and prayer are both important. I like to say I wear the “Armor of God.” If you have read Ephesians 6 before, you would know that the armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Don’t ever think something can get the best of you. You are always under God’s protection– put on your armor.