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]
King Aram told his commanders not to fight with anyone except Ahab king of Israel but King Ahab had a plan to foil any possible injury. He decided he would wear a disguise in battle. To throw the people off of him, he told Jehoshaphat to still wear his royal robes. Off they went into battle.
When first reading this one would bet that King Ahab would get away with this deception and King Jehoshaphat would meet his doom. It has the perfect storyline for a television or movie action sequence with the antagonist plot and this somewhat innocent ally. But God intervenes. The commanders see that they were chasing the wrong man. Even more, someone randomly, yes randomly, hit the king of Israel, right between the breastplate and his scale armor. That is not an easy shot.
What does this say to us? The prophet Micaiah spoke out against Ahab, prophesying doom when asked if the kings should go to war against Ramoth Gilead. The Word of God stands always. There is no hiding from the Truth. God will see His work to completion.
“When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, ‘There he is! The king of Israel!’ and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn’t the king of Israel after all. God intervened and they let him go.”
-2 Chronicles 18:31-32 [MSG]
“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.