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A Book Review: Eternity Now: The New Testament Series

Eternity Now: The New Testament Series. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2022.

In August 2022, I received a complimentary copy of Eternity Now: The New Testament Series from Thomas Nelson publishers because I am a Bible Gateway Blogger Grid member who promised to read the books and publish an honest review of the series. My analysis is below.

The Series

This series consists of five books titled with a content description.

Volume 1: The Legacy—Matthew, Hebrews, James, Jude

Volume 2: No Going Back—Mark, 1-2 Peter

Volume 3: Grand Tour—Books of Luke: Luke, Acts

Volume 4: Death to Life—Books of Paul: Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians,

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy,

Titus, Philemon.

Volume 5: Now But Not Yet—Books of John: John, 1-3 John, Revelation

*************************

Content

The books are formatted presentations of the New Testament using the New English Translation. The editors describe the series as books that reveal “the history shaping story of how Jesus Christ changed the world and what that means to you. The reader-friendly format presents the New Testament books across five paperback volumes, making it easy to carry anywhere and read anytime.”

Design Décor Description

The books arrived in a beautiful display box—so attractive that one would be proud to place the boxed set on any bookshelf as a lovely décor addition. All five books have coordinated covers using blue, orange, black, and two shades of green. When put together, the spines of the books create an attractive design when placed in the series box. Each cover describes the book as coming “From the #1 Bestselling Book of All Times” (a.k.a. The Bible) along with a title, subtitle, quotation, and an acknowledgment that what is inside comes from the New English Translation Bible (NET). When I first received the books, I had no idea the publishers were using a unique concept in designing them to make them look like small fiction or non-fiction books—great to fit into one’s purse or briefcase.

The Positives

  1. The books are easy to pick up and browse through, easy enough for any late elementary or junior high student to read.
  2. The “ministry-first” concept is impressive, meaning there are no restrictions regarding quoting or sharing any of the Scriptures when using them in books, magazines, newspaper articles, and more. One does not have to gain permission to use as much of the translation as desired.
  3. Its simple format is excellent for seniors who might have problems holding a large, heavy Bible.
  4. I enjoyed how the layout shows the chapter headings and accurate subtopics.
  5. Another positive is that the books bold all prophecies from the Old Testament.
  6. This innovative approach to Bible reading seems accurate compared to my usually read Bible—the New American Standard Bible.

The Drawbacks

The drawbacks listed below are all due to “my personal preferences,” which may or may not affect other readers.

  1. All five books lack verse numbers while representing their story format. I understand that by not including verse numbers, one will experience more ease in reading. However for me, many times, as I was reading, I wanted to look up the Bible verse but could not find “the address” to do so.
  2. The books did not create that sacred feeling of reading the Bible. While the editor’s intent is to read each book like a novel, reading them as a novel was bothersome.
  3. Words referring to Jesus were in lowercase letters. My preference would have been to use the names of Jesus as He, Him, and Himself. Other words like scripture are also noted in lowercase.
  4. I missed the red lettering of Jesus’ words prevalent in many Bible versions.

Book’s Purpose

The book’s primary purpose is obvious. It is to get the Bible into the hands of those who might never pick up a Bible themselves, making this set a lovely gift for any occasion for boys, girls, men, and women. Not everyone will appreciate the novel format, but many will find it the most enjoyable way to read the Bible. Therefore I recommend this book series.

God Bless,

New English Translation Bible Verses:

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 NET

Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. Matthew 22:29 NET

For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.” John 19:36 NET

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures. Luke 24:45 NET

Prayer:

Lord, give me wisdom as I approach my Bible reading. Lead me to Bible verses You want me to read and learn from. Allow me to obey all Your sacred principles, which You have made available through Your Holy Scriptures. You are a mighty God, and I love You. Amen

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

 

Love Your Enemies

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In 2018, a horrible accident occurred in Dallas, Texas. Amber Guyger, a Dallas police officer, was given ten years in prison. Amber fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream when she entered an apartment mistakenly thinking it was her apartment. Instead, she entered the man’s apartment, who lived one floor down from her. If Botham’s family had a right to hate this woman, it would be understandable.

Luke 6:27-38 (New American Standard Bible) tells how people are to love their enemies and do good to those who curse and mistreat others. These verses mirror Matthew 5:43-48, where Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Along with being told whom one is supposed to love, the Bible states how to love these purported enemies. In outlining Luke 6:27-38, a person can see how Jesus wants His children to act toward their enemies. This passage unfolds from start to finish by giving instructions on loving enemies, how to act toward them, and the results of acting in a godly fashion toward foes.

  • Loving one’s enemies (Luke 6:27-28)
  • Handling physical abuse and giving to those who ask (Luke 6:29-30)
  • Treating people equally (Luke 6:31)
  • Crediting, loving, and lending (Luke 32-34)
  • Loving one’s enemies and being merciful (Luke 6:35-36)
  • Giving, condemning, and pardoning others (Luke 6:37)
  • Measuring others (Luke 6:38)

However, one must ask, “Who is the enemy mankind is supposed to love?” In the Bible, three enemies, also called foes or adversaries, can be seen—the world, the flesh, and Satan. This paper will discuss each verse in Luke 6:27-38, emphasizing loving one’s enemy and what responsibilities believers have in dealing with enemies Biblically.

Context

One must look at the historical-cultural context of Luke to gain a complete understanding of the Book of Luke, Luke as a man, and the audience he addressed. Through the eyes of Luke, one gains a better understanding and perspective of his writings.

In The New Testament in Antiquities by Gary M. Burge and Gene L. Green, the authors discuss the relationship between The Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts as a “two-volume” set with many overlapping themes. Luke’s main emphasis revolves around salvation, which he deems is for both Jews and Gentiles. Most scholars believe that Luke was penned in Rome between 60-61 A.D., and most also agree that he was the author of this book. Luke is a cultured, organized writer, also known as the beloved physician, whose sources come from eyewitnesses and multiple servants.

Luke wrote much of this Gospel about how individuals are either in need or how they conduct themselves through God’s Spirit. This Gospel can be seen in some of Luke’s most famous stories, i.e., the great catch of fish on the Lake of Gennesaret, the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus, and the robbers as they were dying on their crosses.

Luke wrote his Gospel from Rome. Readers of Luke should know that many believe Luke was an early gentile convert to Christianity. Who’s Who in the New Testament states, “He became the loyal and indefatigable secretary, doctor, and companion of the Apostle Paul.” Luke accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and his fourth and final missionary journeys, which are not mentioned in Acts. Luke traveled the Aegean from Troas in Asia Minor to Philippi in Greece . . .then he accompanied Paul on his final journey from Caesarea, the seat of the procurator of Judea, all the way to Rome. There he loyally remained with Paul throughout his captivity. From Luke’s writing style, one can observe that Luke was a sophisticated and knowledgeable man whose writings in Luke became one of the three synoptic gospels, along with Matthew and Mark. Luke’s writing shows a more generous spirit to the Roman authorities than the Gospel of Matthew and John did.

Luke’s gospel was written to Theophilus, a man of high status who shared it with people everywhere. John Martin notes that Theophilus (lit., lover of God) was a common name during the first century. Luke wrote this gospel to Theophilus to show him the reality of Jesus Christ. From the 1st century to this present age anyone can receive Jesus. Many of the intended audience in early Christianity (Jews and Gentiles) were ready to learn truths about relating to people—including how to love their enemies.

Although there is debate on the literary genre of Luke, it appears that it is a combination of both history and biography The author of this paper believes it was written more from a historical perspective. Luke’s objective in writing this book comes first when he unveils his purpose—emphasizing the “fulfillment of God’s plan.” The writing style is simple to understand and his logical organization becomes evident as one reads from Jesus’ birth to ending with Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, always emphasizing salvation in every personal situation he finds himself in such as in Luke 17:19 and Luke 7:49-50. The casual reader may not notice that in the latter part of the book, Luke shifts from third person to first person in the latter part of the book. This shift is known as the “we” section of the book. Many scholars believe this could have been written when Luke accompanied Paul face to face.

Luke, an investigative and orderly writer, created an easy-to-follow line of thinking. This continuity is seen in Luke 6:27-38 when he goes from loving one’s enemies to doing good to those who hate you. Luke informs people how Jesus wants them to act from loving enemies to not judging others. These verses involve how to treat people, including those who are an enemy. The Beatitudes, which are a basis for the blessings and woes of living precede this section and create a natural flow into how to act toward others. The verses following Luke 6:27-28 are a beautiful display of Jesus’ illustrating how one should live through a parable along with statements and questions teaching believers how to live, i.e., understanding that a pupil is not above their teachers, a good man out of good treasure brings what is good. As one ponders how to treat their enemies, one should consider their heart and desire to follow the principles outlined in the Bible.

Content

Luke’s Sermon on the Plain and Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount are similar.  In each sermon, Luke 6:27-38 and Matthew 5:43-48, one verse has been debated and examined over the years. This debate revolves around the command to love one another and how loving neighbors and enemies should be conducted. William Barclay says, while both pericopes start with “a series of beatitudes, there are differences between the versions of Matthew and Luke, but this one thing is clear—they are a series of bombshells” on how Jesus wants believers in Him to act. Barclay notes these debated sermons use different verbiage than a typical person of those days would talk.

Some scholars do not include verses 37 and 38 in their content analysis. This paper includes these verses to complete the flow and thought of this section. While many verses in the Bible discuss principles of love and loving one’s enemies, this paper points men and women to Jesus’ way to love both neighbors and enemies.

The general population shows an interest in the topics of love, hate, and enemies. It is evident because of what appears in grocery stores. Most checkout lines are filled with publications enticing readers to understand why they hate each other, such as

  • “My Neighbor, My Enemy” (New York Time­s)
  • “Hate in America” (Time Magazine)
  • “It’s a Thin Line between Love and Hate” (Psychology Today)
  • “And They Will Know We are Christians by our Hate” (The Christian Post)
  • “The Secret to Loving Your Enemies” (Today’s Christian Women)

When people read the Bible addressing love, hate, and enemies, understanding the Christian definition of certain words will help.

Table 1: Definitions—Luke 26:27-38

Word Definition Bible Verse Reference (NASB) Strong’s Concordance Reference Number
love To care for Luke 6:27,32, 35 25
enemies Adversary, foe, one who dislikes or hates another and seeks to harm another Luke 6: 1, 35 2190
hate Detest Luke 6:1 3404
“do good” [to exhibit] a fine moral character Luke 6:1, 33 2573
reward Recompense for good or evil, most often it suggests a benefit or favorable compensation 35 3635

As one delves into the so-called Golden Rule verses, it is helpful to fully understand what Luke 6:27-28 is saying as they are imperative in grasping verses 29-38, which follow. In Luke 6:27-28, there are four instructions for believers to follow:

  • Love your enemies,
  • Be good to those who hate you,
  • Bless those who curse you, and
  • Pray for those who mistreat you.

There has been debate on the actual meaning of what “love one’s enemy” means. The word here means the agape kind of love, distinguishing it from passionate love and love for only those who love them back! William Barclay describes this kind of love as “an active feeling of benevolence toward the other person; it means that no matter what that person does to us we will never allow ourselves to desire anything but his highest good, and we will deliberately and of set purpose go out of our way to be good and kind to him.” Enemies today are viewed as people who want to hurt or betray—they may even gossip or tell lies about us, still as believers, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, one can trust in God’s ability for mankind to love with this agape kind of love. Moving beyond these two verses, there are two more Biblical verses that continue to train Christians on how to act.

People are innately inclined to hate their enemies because of their sinful nature, which originated in the story of Adam and Eve. Despite this, Jesus continues to give more instructions on how to treat enemies in Luke 6:29-30. Jesus tells us that “whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other cheek, and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Jesus does not want us to pick and choose who we are to love even if there is physical violence—in this case, the turning the other cheek reference. Leon Morris says that cheek is siagon, which means, “a punch to the side of the jaw rather than a light slap on the face.”As one would expect, most people would want to fight back, but Jesus tells believers to turn the other cheek and accept the same treatment again. Warren Wiersbe says it is our inner disposition that the glory of God is seeking.

Regarding accepting a strike from an enemy, Wiersbe says, “we must have the wisdom to know when to turn the other cheek and when to claim our right. Christian love must exercise discernment.” In this illustration and in the example where Jesus tells of not withholding one’s shirt if it is taken away, verse 30 says to give to everyone who asks and not demand it back. The ethics behind these two verses revolve around the ability to do good—TO EVERYONE!

It is a complex concept to understand that we are to love everyone and give to everyone regardless of how one feels. But, in Luke 31, Jesus tells us that people are to treat others the way they want to be treated. But, how can hurt brothers and sisters treat others with love and kindness? It is impossible without the Holy Spirit helping Christians to show Christ’s humility.

Robert H. Gundry shares how Jesus mingled and socialized with all sorts of people. As in ancient times, people today mingle and socialize with all types of people. Wherever Christians are, and whatever sort of people they encounter, Jesus tells us to treat each other with the same kind of treatment one wishes to receive themselves. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Regarding a more inwardly way to act, Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” It takes God’s Holy Spirit to love the way Jesus did.

Jesus did not want or demand credit for his works; He followed the Lord’s path established for him in humility and with integrity. In Luke 6:32-4, one question is asked in all three verses. Jesus asks, “What credit is that to you?”

Many serve to obtain accolades for their service to the Lord. Christ is more concerned with the character of our heart than He is that people receive congratulations, fist bumps, or flattery for service. These accolades are in the following verses.

And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend [with interest] to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount (Luke 6:32-4).

First, it does not take much to love a mother, father, son, or daughter. Second, it does not take much to love those who love us. And last, it does not take much to lend to those who will pay us back. But, from Jesus’ perspective, it is better to love one’s neighbor, love those who hate, and help others without knowing if they will pay back a loan or not. If one only does their works and service to be seen, they are doing nothing more than a sinner would do. David Guzik says, “Though we will have enemies, yet we are to respond to them in love, trusting that God will protect our cause and destroy are enemies in the best way possible, by transforming them into our friends.”

As Luke 6 progresses, Luke tells us in verses 35 and 36 that believers are to love enemies and be merciful toward them. Regarding loving neighbors, much is written about the ways to resolve hate. They are:

  • Use conflict resolution techniques
  • Kill someone with kindness
  • Come to a healthy comprise, and
  • Create boundaries between each other.

The Bible wants people to initiate love towards enemies, first with a clean heart, before the four actions afore-mentioned above. In Psalm 51:10, King David addresses God desiring a clean heart. Believers in Christ should start by cleansing themselves as David did in the referenced psalm. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” After loving someone with a clean heart, believers are better equipped to show mercy to others. Author Andrew Herbert mentions one can extend mercy to others only when they have received sympathy, compassion, and forgiveness themselves, but “we do not have what it takes, but Jesus does, so we come to Him in brokenness and humility, hungering to be filled with what only He can give.”

Not judging and giving to others conclude this pericope in Luke 6:37-38. The Bible is ready to address judging others. Jesus clarifies in verse 37 what believers will gain. Christians should not judge or condemn others, believing that when they follow His instructions, they will gain. Leon Morris says the verse is not clear on whether it means gain in this present judgment or the future judgment of God or both. He states, “If we are harsh with our judgments on other people we generally find that they return the compliment and we ourselves are widely rewarded.”

Application

When Christ and His Holy Spirit work significantly to where individuals understand the need to forgive and love our enemies, the fruit of the spirit of love becomes evident by giving of oneself. Because the Lord has given of Himself, those who have turned their life over to Christ through the forgiveness of sin and repentance can love their enemies; thus, being a reflection of Jesus Christ.

Luke 6:27 tells believers to love enemies. The Bible commands individuals to do that, but it is not easy. As ambassadors of the Lord, the desire to love like Jesus is there, but when one is offended, hurt, gossiped about, and betrayed, the human heart does not think of kindness as one’s first choice of action. Learning to love and not to hate is a process. Sometimes it is slow and lengthy, but the process to become more as Christ must commence in obedience to the Lord’s command. When facing hate, the following points will help people from all age groups to acknowledge their hate and move towards love.

  • Pray with passion.
  • Pray for the offender. Pray for yourself.
  • Pray to be a forgiving person.
  • Repent if needed.
  • Pray for an attitude change.
  • Trust deeply in God for a resolution.
  • Trust the Holy Spirit for an understanding of the incident or developing angst.
  • Put oneself in the offender’s shoes and seek perspective.
  • Ask God to address any issues springing from both parties.
  • Plead for forgiveness. Sometimes this means addressing the person or organization involved. Sometimes not.
  • Read Bible verses on love, hate, bitterness, cruelty, offenses, and behavior of believers.
  • Recognize that God may be using this incident for good.
  • Understanding making boundaries or moving on might be His solution.
  • Keep praying with passion.

Conclusion

Returning to the 2018 accident in Dallas, Texas, where Amber Guyger fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream. Guyger was sentenced to a ten-year sentence. On the witness stand during sentencing, Brandt Jean, the victim’s eighteen-year-old brother, turned to Guyger, and said, “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.” Botham’s family had every right to hate Guyger. However, in an act of kindness, the victim’s brother Brandt continued to speak directly to Guyger. He said, ‘I love you like anyone else,’ and later hugged her in the courtroom before being led to her ten-year prison sentence by the bailiff. That is loving one’s enemy in action! The conclusion reached in Luke 6:27-38 is that God commands believers to love one’s enemies, and by following and obeying God’s Biblical instructions, it is possible to live in a godly fashion toward foes.

God Bless,

 

Dear Lord, Please let us rest in Your peace indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Let us look at all people with love and acceptance, even those who have hurt us terribly. Pour Your holy power upon us to live a life of forgiveness, acceptance, and reconciliation–no matter what it might be. You love us. You hear our prayers and cries. You want to help us through all the attitudes and difficulties we face. I call upon You to touch my heart. Give me a heart of love. Let my soul be like Your soul. Transform me into Your image. In Christ, I pray.

This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please contact me through the comment section of this article. [This paper was written for a college, academic, research class by Patti Greene.]

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

 

 

The Left Engine

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The Pilot and Passengers

The airplane pilot calmly addressed the passengers.

 “We are experiencing trouble with the left engine. We are currently talking to Chicago about the problem. Maintenance will be arriving soon. We will try to start the plane again, wait for a period of time, and try to start the engine again. Please sit tight while we address this problem.”

I sat in seat 14F on the tarmac for two and a half hours when the pilot addressed the issue. I wondered why they did not get all the passengers off this plane and onto another plane. Why stress us all out wondering if it were our last day on earth or whether angels intervened to make us safe? At this juncture, all the passengers and I could do was trust the pilot.

The Left Engine

But why all the concern with the left engine? I get it now that I am off the plane and can indulge in mindless research. The left engine is the engine that, if it fails, will have the most adverse effect on the control and performance of the aircraft. To understand why the left engine is critical, one must also understand the right engine. The right engine’s slipstream does not strike the rudder and does not affect the aircraft’s control. Still, if the right engine were to fail, the left engine’s slipstream would counteract the airplane’s instability and deviation toward the dead engine, assisting in aircraft control. [1] However, this same positive counteraction does not occur if the left engine encounters trouble.

Trusting God in our Spiritual Life

I compare the left engine to our spiritual life. In life, we sometimes have trust issues—some rational, some not! Regardless of our problems and issues, we have a heavenly Father to support us in our time of need. When Jesus’ disciples thought they would perish in the storm, Jesus came to the rescue calming the storm. He can do the same for us today because sometimes we veer off in the wrong direction (Mark 4:35-41).

On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let’s go over to the other side.” After dismissing the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And a fierce gale of wind developed, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling with water. And yet Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who, then, is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

So, how is your “left engine?” Just like how the pilot kept reassuring us that all would be okay, God, the creator of heaven and earth, reassures us continually that He has everything under control.

Let us all be diligent in maintaining our spiritual life—our left engine. We must keep our leverage firmly planted in Jesus Christ, His Word, and in prayer because it will be critical if our left engine fails!

God bless.

Bible Verses:

They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Put your trust in the Lord your God and you will endure. Put your trust in His prophets, and succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the Lord (Psalm 4:5).

I will raise my eyes to the mountains; From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who watches over you will not slumber (Psalm 121:1-3).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock  (Isaiah 26:4).

Prayer:

Lord, give me your guidance at all times. Let Your Holy Spirit lead me through conviction, other people, the Bible, and prayer. Allow me to see where I am veering away from You, so that I may fix it before my left engine—my spiritual compass— gets off track. Gently allow me to recognize Your plan for my life and give me the trust I need in You to believe wholeheartedly that You are where my trust needs to be—always. Amen.

Bibliography

[1] “The Critical Engine.” Accessed May 26, 2022. www.thebackseatpilot/critical engine

All verses are taken from the NASB.

Please feel free to share, forward, or copy this blog with authorship included. Thank you.

#bgbg2

Books by Patti Greene

  

 

GUEST BLOG by Heroes II: What Makes Bible Characters Better Than Superheroes?

Most of us, especially children and youth, are fond of fictional superheroes like Superman and Batman.

We often watch them, collect toys and souvenirs, and even imitate their signature moves. Do you remember putting on an improvised cape to pretend like flying? Have you attempted to jump from a rooftop? Dangerous, right? Those were the days!

Let’s admit it! Superheroes are fascinating to follow. It is not only because of their powers but because of the inspiration they give us. We can relate to them because they experience the same struggles we do.

The most exciting part, perhaps, is whenever they overcome a tragedy.

Before going any further, let us define a “superhero.” A superhero is an imaginary character possessing superhuman power.

But do you know that the Bible also has heroes? It defines a hero as someone who lived his life in faith and helped his neighbors.

The Most Famous Fictional Superheroes of All Time

Superman the Greatest

Superman is the superhero we consider the strongest. His name implies it.

We identify him with the red, blue, and yellow costumes. His height is 6 feet and 3 inches, while his weight is 225 pounds. His hair is black with a natural curl, and his eyes are blue. He has a rugged body-build and a square jaw, giving him a noble physique.

He has a gentle, kind, and selfless personality. He knows what is right and wrong. Thus, he can act decisively during a crisis. In addition, he can maintain friendships and acquaintances.

Finally, he has superhuman powers that make him invulnerable. He can fly and leap in the air. Having X-ray vision, he sees through walls and other obstructions. It allows him to shoot red beams out of his eye.

Batman the Protector of Gotham

Batman is the superhero in a black and brown costume with the wings of a bat. He claims to be the protector of Gotham City.

His love for his city is probably one of his best qualities. He is intelligent, suspicious, devoted, and determined. He is ready for any challenge. Another good trait is his ability to control emotions and tolerate pain.

He does not have superhuman abilities, but he can do incredible things. He can pick a lock, hack and record mobile frequencies, understand multiple languages, and much more.

Spider-man the Superhuman

Spider-man is the character who does whatever a spider can. He shares almost the same uniform colors as Superman’s uniform.

He is caring, kind, loyal, brave, and intelligent. He uses more of his left brain in assessing situations. However, he has a personality disorder–neuroticism. He is anxious, fearful, jealous, envious, lonely, and frustrated.

Despite those weaknesses, he is notable for his superpowers. Like a spider, he can cling to walls. He has a sixth sense which keeps him alert for possible danger. He can also maintain perfect balance and equilibrium.

The Most Famous Bible “Hero” Characters of All Time

Joseph the Dreamer

Joseph was the second youngest son of Jacob and Rachel.

Since he was his father’s favorite, his brothers envied him. They became angry whenever he shared dreams, telling them that he would someday be their king.

As such, they would always trick him until they finally decided to sell him to Egypt. To protect themselves, they made their father believe Joseph died.

Extremely cruel, were they not?

In Egypt, Joseph became a slave. He suffered for something he never deserved. Nevertheless, God blessed his curse.

He earned the favor of the king by interpreting his dream about the coming famine. Eventually, Pharaoh appointed him governor.

When famine came, his brothers went to Egypt to buy food. They did not recognize him until he revealed himself (Genesis 45:4-5). Soon, he met his father and youngest brother. It was a dramatic revelation and reunion.

Indeed, Joseph’s curse turned out to be a blessing. It not only benefited other people but saved his family who his brothers had once disowned him.

What a hero!

Noah the Ark Builder

Noah, son of Lamech, was a righteous man in his generation. God entrusted him a special mission to save and restore the earth from all wickedness. He was to build an ark.

For 120 years, he preached about the coming global flood. He encouraged people to get into the ark, but they laughed at him–thinking he was crazy.

When the flood came, the people realized they were wrong. They wanted to get into the ark, but it was too late. Thus, they died along with other living creatures. Only Noah’s family obeyed and saved themselves.

Though he was not able to save his generation, Noah was a hero to his family. He became God’s instrument to eradicate all sinful beings and start anew.

Jesus our Savior

And, of course, there has been no better hero than Jesus Himself! Can you believe the Creator and God of the universe sacrificed Himself on our behalf?

He fulfilled this plan by living as a human on earth. God guided His earthly parents in preparing Him for the divine mission. By overcoming sin his entire life, He saved the world by dying on the cross of Calvary.

Indeed, Jesus is the ultimate hero in the Bible. His life, death, and resurrection justified us, giving us the chance to obtain salvation if we accept Him.

Reasons Why Bible Heroes Are Better Than Fictional Superheroes

Bible Heroes are Real

Bible heroes truly existed on earth. Superheroes are just fictional—meaning they are made up.

No matter how much we admire and follow them, superheroes can’t do anything outside our television screens.

On the other hand, Bible characters were real humans who did exist just like us. Genesis 2:7 confirms that God created man from the earth and gave life to it. Verse 27 of chapter 1 adds that He made them in His image.

Bible Heroes Did Not Need Superpowers to Carry on a Mission

Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, and the rest had superpowers. Without such, they could not protect themselves and other people.

Meanwhile, Bible heroes did not have supernatural powers. Faith and prayer were their weapons. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1).

With God as their source of power, they have performed acts that changed the world beyond human understanding.

The Deeds of Bible Characters Never Exemplified Violence

Fictional superheroes have good motives. Saving people from danger is their mission. However, it involves killing and other forms of violence.

In contrast, Bible characters never had to be cruel to bring about change. They just relied on God’s power and let Him move. They did not have to commit any sin that would ruin their moral character.

1 John 3:9 says that a child of God does not practice sinning because God’s seed abides in him.

Take-home Lesson

There is nothing wrong with admiring fictional characters. But to be fanatic about them is somewhat alarming.

It may sound harsh, but the truth is that there is no sense to idolize fictional characters. Superheroes are just a product of human imagination. They do not give us any value more than entertainment.

And so, Bible heroes are the ones worth following. We learn the best moral lessons from them. We can relate well because they were real beings like us. Above all, they lead us to the ultimate hero of all – Jesus Christ. Amen!

Heroes 2: The Game is a Bible trivia game released by the Hope Channel. It is a sequel to the game Heroes which was released in 2013.

The latest game version features:

  • New 3D animation
  • More challenging Bible Questions
  • Comes in four languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French
  • Heroes 2 is available on  iOS and Android
  • Downloadable at the Apple Store and Google Play

CLICK HERE – Heroes II Bible Trivia Game

It’s Mind-Blowing How Sewing and Salvation Merge!

It Blew Up

Living in Nigeria a few years ago, I blew up my sewing machine. (Don’t ask!) But I will say: it was my husband’s fault! He didn’t get me the right power converter; in fact, he didn’t buy me a converter at all.

In his defense, though, he did tell me not to use it until we got the correct piece of equipment!  But, I took a chance—I plugged in my sewing machine, turned it on, and after the big BANG, some nice fluffy white smoke shot out of the mechanism.

Now that I have vented, the result is that a new sewing machine was birthed out of the blow-up. My husband and I did not blow up at each other. He is sweet.

It’s Rudimentary, Right?

Moving on . . . Last night and today, I used my new machine for the very first time. It was awesome! Sort ofl

First, a good friend eventually had to come over and show me the ins and outs of this wondrous contraption. “Piece of cake,” I thought to myself when I first started using the machine on my own. And it was, until the stitching was pulling from the bobbin on the backside! At that point, the frantic call to my friend ensued. Thank goodness for friends who can help us when we encounter difficulties of any kind!

Second, I decided to get fancy and use one of those complicated computerized stitches. Yes, it looked amazing, but do you know how LONG it takes to sew a 60×126” tablecloth hem with one of those fancy stitches? Luckily, I was able to use that stitch on just one side and go back to the “fast stitch” on the other of the fabric.

But then I had noticed I had inadvertently sewn two seams in the opposite order from how they were supposed to be sewn.  Oh no! I had to get out that pesky stitch remover (ah, yes, they are called “seam rippers”), and what a hassle they are to use! It’s complicated!

Flawless or Not

When all was said and done, however, and my project was completed, I was happy with the result. True, the tablecloth didn’t fit the table it was made for quite like I would like it to, but I’m not perfect and my sewing lines veered over some.

My project definitely did NOT meet the consistent and FLAWLESS standard 5/8″ seam allowance I longed for. Again, sewing is complicated—at least for me!

Given the annoyance that this experience had turned into (one, by the way, which was supposed to be fun), I could not help but wonder whether the historical Biblical experience with sewing was anything like this…

I didn’t have to look very far to find out.

Disobedience

The only documented instances of sewing are in Genesis 3, the first book of the Bible. They occurred because our two heroes, Adam and Eve, did something questionable (read: “not very smart”), namely disobey God. One case explicitly involved sewing, the other strongly implied it.

The explicit case occurred right after Satan tricked them into eating from the tree God told them to avoid:

The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die. Genesis 3:2-3

We all know what happened next. Satan twisted God’s words; as a result, Eve, then Adam ate of the tree, and God gave the three of them a good chewing-out, complete with curses for all, to seal the deal.

Fig Leaves

So, where did the sewing come in? Read on:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. Genesis 3:7

They sewed! Without a machine, no less! It couldn’t be any less frustrating than it was for me, even if they had to get out needle and thread to get the job done. Although… wouldn’t it be a hoot to imagine Eve, seated at a kitchen table in the Garden, hitting the foot pedal on her Singer Quantum Stylist to knit all that foliage into something wearable?

Hey: The Bible doesn’t say how she did it, or how long a “day” really was in Creation, or any of several other things, so it is possible after all! I’m just sayin’…

Guess I’ll ask God about it when I get to heaven.

Better yet, I could just ask Eve herself!

The second, and implied case arose, it should be noted, after the curses were cast upon the earth and things were no longer in their original intended perfect state. God replaced the fig-leaf clothing Eve made with something more substantial:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

OUCH!!! Of skin??? That means… something had to give up its skin (and, probably, its life!) to compensate for man’s folly. Possibly some of those animals Adam had spent his days naming.

Come to think of it, those fig leaves were just minding their own business, too, when they were yanked off the tree and woven into the forerunner of the Grass Skirt.

There seems to be a theme here: because man messed up, something innocent had to die.

Hmmm…

Because man messed up, something innocent had to die.

Hmmm!

BECAUSE MAN MESSED UP, SOMEONE INNOCENT HAD TO DIE.

HMMM! I seem to have heard that somewhere before…

Animal Sacrifice

Fast-forward to the New Testament, and the life (and death) of Jesus.

Throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, animals were slain repeatedly to atone for the people’s sins, in bloody and gory ceremonial rituals designed to temporarily satisfy God’s anger against them. It had to be done on an ongoing basis, because sin did not stop, either.

But it would take the sacrifice of the most innocent and undeserving (and ONLY sinless) man to ever live, dying the most horrific and unreasonable death ever recorded, to heal the rift once and for all, for everyone, everywhere, and forever.

All four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – give us various glimpses into the Lord’s time on earth, beginning with His birth, all the way to (and beyond!) His being “pierced for our transgressions” in getting nailed to the cross.

Instead of needles, He bore a crown of thorns. What was being “patched together” was the relationship between God and man, which was torn asunder back in the Garden of Eden.

Even more ironic is that at the instant Jesus died, not only was this relationship “sewn up”, but in keeping with the Hebrew love affair with contrasts, it was the curtain in the Temple which was ripped apart:

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51

The tearing of the curtain around the Holy of Holies symbolizes that God has opened the way for everyone, Jew and Gentile, to come to Him; until then, only the Chief Priest could enter, and at that only once a year.

Wow… what a trip, from my living room to the cross at Calvary! I guess all roads do lead there!

I wondered how God felt sewing those clothes for Adam and Eve. At first, I am sure He felt extreme sadness that He was even sewing. They sinned and He was grieving. But He was taking them at their lowest point and helping them to move on.

That’s God for you!

Sin

How do we feel when we sin? Sometimes we have friends to help us out of our depression, uneasiness, or whatever we happen to be feeling momentarily. Sometimes, we remain in our sin for a long time – sort of like spending all that time on that fancy stitch which took forever for me to make. But we can get out of sin quickly; to do so, we must decide to do something else, or go a different direction.

What happens when we mess up and go in the opposite direction from the Lord? Just like when I sewed two seams together incorrectly, I had to decide to undo the error and change course. It wasn’t easy to put my ego in check and “just do it”, but the result was a peace and joy about my project.

Rescue and Care

In 1 Peter 5:6-7, the Bible says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” God’s Holy Spirit is waiting to rescue and care for you today!

Do you feel you are going in the wrong direction as Adam and Eve did? Have you committed a grievous sin, as they did? God wants to help.

Just because your mother or grandmother was a good cook or a good seamstress does not mean that you will be one also. Do not think that just because your father or grandfather was a good man who served God regularly and spoke of the joy he will have in heaven that you will automatically go to heaven also.

You Must Decide

You must make those decisions for yourself.

The Bible says:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

But we can choose to ask God to forgive our sins, accept his offer to “sew” us up and make us whole.

Today, seek God for yourself and you will be “sew” happy you did! Let Him press out the wrinkles of your life and allow Him to make you the beautiful person that you were meant to be.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Works Cited

All Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible unless noted otherwise.

By Patti Greene [with contributions and edits by E. Johnson]

===============

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please sign up from this blog or email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene [Order today for Christmas]

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Devotional Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2

Literally, 27 Bible Verses to Ponder Throughout Christmastime

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-19 (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and PONDERED them in her heart.

Mary, Jesus’ Mother Pondered: So Should We!

When I finished reading the Christmas story above, the word pondered resided in my heart as I was deciding what the Lord wanted me to share in this blog.

After pondering, I opted to share a daily verse—one from each of the 27 books of the New Testament—to meditate on over through the Christmas season.

Every book of the Bible contains some key or famous verses to mull over and below are 27 well-known Bible verses for you to ponder from December 1st through the 27th.

Ponder means to think about, give thought to, consider, review, reflect on, contemplate, study, meditate on, and to turn over in one’s mind.¹

My prayer is that you will reflect on these verses each day from December 1 – December 27th as you approach and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Bible Verses

December 1

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NASB)

December 2

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (NLT)

December 3

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:34 (KJV)

December 4

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NRSV)

December 5

Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Acts 1:8 (AMP)

December 6

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NASB)

December 7

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

December 8

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6 (KJV)

December 9

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)

December 10

 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

December 11

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

December 12

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

December 13

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

December 14

For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NRSV)

December 15

For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 (AMP)

December 16

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)

December 17

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

December 18

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. Philemon 1:6 (KJV)

December 19

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)

December 20

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (AMP)

December 21

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)

December 22

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

December 23

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7 (KJV)

December 24—Happy Christmas Eve

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it. 2 John 1:6 (NRSV)

December 25—Merry Christmas

 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but [imitate] what is good. The one who practices good [exhibiting godly character, moral courage and personal integrity] is of God; the one who practices [or permits or tolerates] evil has not seen God [he has no personal experience with Him and does not know Him at all]. 3 John 1:11 (AMP)

December 26

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand [a]marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4 (NASB)

December 27

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Works Cited

Ponder. Oxford Dictionaries Thesaurus. Accessed 30 Nov 2019. oxforddictionaries.com.

Bible Abbreviations:

NASB—New American Standard Bible; NLT—New Living Translation; KJV—King James Version; NRSV—New Revised Standard Version; AMP—Amplified Bible

===============

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church where her husband also teaches in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene [Order today for Christmas]

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Devotional Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2

Targeting Sorrow

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sorrow as “deep distress, sadness, or regret, especially for the loss of someone or something loved.” ¹

Admit it: we all face sorrow at one time or another.

Sorrow fills our hearts at different times and under different circumstances throughout our lives. We may be distressed over a divorce, disappointed we didn’t get accepted into the college we desired, or regretful because of a poor decision.

King David Faced Sorrow

Old Testament King David experienced both joy and sorrow.

Joy filled his heart when he dedicated and devoted his life to God. Furthermore, on the battlefield, David’s military power and strength exceeded that of all other leaders, earning him the admiration of his God-given abilities and gifts.

However, at other times, David resembled a godforsaken failure. As a child, David lived in obscurity compared to his older brothers. Later in life, though, he defeated Goliath! In his youth, he was constantly running away from King Saul because Saul became jealous of David’s success. As an adult, he lived with harsh consequences due to his sexual lust for (and relationship with) Bathsheba and then his subsequent murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah.

As to be expected, David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba caused him extreme grief and undue sorrow.

David’s Success Plummets

David, who once held a familial relationship with King Saul, escaped from Saul’s horrific wrath by reducing himself to hiding in a cave. David’s psychic characterized his enemies as snarling dogs waiting to attack. All the while knowing that his refuge was in the Lord. David acknowledges his disdain for his enemies in Psalm 59:13-15, where he writes:

13 Destroy them in wrath, destroy them that they may be no more;
That men may know that God rules in Jacob
To the ends of the earth. Selah.
14 They return at evening, they howl like a dog,
And go around the city.
15 They wander about for food
And growl if they are not satisfied.

We can glimpse more clearly the heart of David as he pleas for God’s help in Psalm 56.

¹ Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.

2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.

3 When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.

4 In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?

5 All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.

6 They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.

7 Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God!

8 You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me . . .

13 For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living. (Psalm 56:1-9;13)

David’s pure and unadulterated prayer to God exposed his dilemma, pleas and desires.

  • His dilemma: He tells God His foes were fighting him (Psalm 56:1-2);
  • His plea: He asks God to put his tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8) and;
  • His desire: He asks God to be gracious to him and to cast his enemies forth, so he may walk before God. Psalm 56:1, 7, 10.

David approached God in confidence—all the while knowing that God knew the true state of his circumstances and heart.

God knows the true state of our hearts as well. When the walls are closing in around us and when we cry out to the Lord, the prudent thing to do is to follow David’s example by sharing everything that is on our heart with Him. At many times, our thoughts and desires are meant only to be expressed to God. Some say, “Why should we tell God? He already knows everything.” But, when we share our inner thoughts with Him, He is pleased to see us entrusting our lives to Him in prayer and conversation.

Only God knows the true state of our hearts—not the person sitting next to you, your parents, or your spouse.

What Thoughts Should Fill Our Mind When We Are Sorrowful?

Deal With Sorrow

We all experience sorrow at some point in our lives: the death of a parent, a divorce, an unfulfilled desire, a jealous spirit. If you haven’t experienced sorrow yet, it will come.

The emotional pain from our circumstances can linger for years or decades. Some carry grief, regret or sorrow their entire lives by ignoring the pain and blocking their sorrow. Be that as it may, blocking our sorrow can cause serious problems, such as suicidal thoughts, hate and physical illnesses.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at the agonizing pain of a broken heart—medically called takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Broken hearts can affect men and women,  and young and old. Doctors now say that having a broken heart is real: it mimics heart attack symptoms and can lead to heart failure. ²

I know it’s real. I experienced it as a young adult due to a boyfriend-girlfriend breakup—although at that time there was not a medical term for what one experiences with undue pressure, stress and sorrow. It took six months to finally release the severe heaviness stirring in my heart. Then decades to release the emotional pain!

Let’s take care not to dismiss the extreme pain many high school students and young adults feel when losing a relationship or any desire of the heart. God knows and cares about all these types of experiences.

We need Him to hold our sorrows and tears so we can move on and be useful to Him, and when we are being used by Him, we will flourish in our Christian walk.

Cry: Tears – Chasing a Rabbit

God loves us so much that He puts our tears in His bottle. Some Hebrew Bible scholars use the word wineskins or containers in place of the word bottle. The opening of a wineskin is so small that liquid can be poured in carefully resulting in very little evaporation. Either way, David asks God to look at his tears of fear and pain. David’s tears were so precious that He preserves each one. He does the same for us.

There are three types of tears: Basal tears, irritant tears, and emotional tears.

Basal tears keep our eyes lubricated. These tears are needed to prevent damage from the sun, air, or debris.

Irritant tears occur when we are hit by the wind, sand or even an onion.

Emotional tears show up in moments of intense feelings; sometimes joy, but more often sorrow. They contain stress hormones.

Our eyes generate tears under all these circumstances. This is one reason that crying is therapeutic when we are under a lot of stress. ³

In Here’s Scientific Evidence That Crying Can by Therapeutic, Anna Almendrala states, “new research shows that while shedding a few tears leads to a dip in mood immediately after the crying jag, about 90 minutes later people report feeling even better than they did before they had reason to cry.” ⁴

In Psalm 56, David was experiencing emotional tears. When we are going through an emotional crisis, our emotional tears pour out and are collected by our Heavenly Father as were David’s tears. Then when God has prepared us, trained us, and is ready to use us, He will use those tears. He will tilt that bottle or wineskin until the tears that you have shed can be used for His glory.

Jesus was not ashamed to shed tears. He wept at the raising of Lazarus. He wept over Jerusalem. And, He wept in agony at Gethsemane.

The Lord is aware of our suffering and sorrow.  Crying is a gift from God, and He wants to bottle up our tears and record them in His book. (Psalm 56:8c)

Remember, Life Happens

Toilets break, dates are broken, jobs are lost, children have life-long illnesses, parents disown their children, young couples encounter infertility, spouses die, malignant tumors appear out of nowhere. I love what my pastor recently said when he said, “anything that can happen to anyone else can happen to us.” So true!

It is vitally important that we know what to do when “life happens”—this includes emotional, mental, physical or spiritual misfortunes. Often times, we see our trials as solely physical, but trials can be emotional, mental, physical, and/or spiritual in nature.

The problem is we insist on running our own lives when we really need to be still and set our sights on God. Sometimes our pain is so deep, we can’t even talk to others about it, but we must talk to God. When life happens and tears fill our eyes, we must remember that God is right there with us as we cry, mourn and seek peace.

Jesus guides believers through life. Unfortunately, sometimes we act like we are “La-Z-Boy believers”,  i.e. too lazy to be still before God; too lazy to read our Bible; too lazy to pray; too lazy to make some Christian friends. Let’s change that today!

In Our Sorrow, God Always Has a Plan For Us

Our Lord deeply desires to give us peace when we encounter sadness and sorrow. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bank on the fact that God knows our future and the future of our family? Well, we can!

Most of us don’t want to go through any circumstances that would refine us to be all God wants us to be. We take our wounds and try to hide them, so the same wounds keep coming up time after time; marriage after marriage; job after job. Then, bitterness sneaks in.

James 1:12 says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Folks, life throws us curves.  We need to anticipate the curves. We need to be” pre-prayed up” so we are ready when those curves come speeding toward us. We must learn to trust God always, even when we cannot understand what is happening.  If you are anxious about the future, turn to God. When you are confused, take refuge in Him because He has a plan for our lives.

Look at your afflictions and sorrows as a means God has chosen to refine, purify and mold you into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.”   — C. S. Lewis

God Uses Our Sorrow and Suffering for His Glory

God is doing a great work in us that can only come to fruition as we learn to trust Him, no matter how dark and dreary our life may seem. When we stop asking God why we are experiencing sorrow, and instead start applying our pain and sorrow for His glory, a milestone in our Christian life has been reached!

Pastor Tony Evans compares our sorrows to “The Temptations” hit song My Girl. When the song lyrics say, “When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May,” Evans says, [Look! My external circumstances are bad, but what can make me feel this way—My girl. He had a love relationship. You may be in a cloudy situation, but when it’s cold outside you can still have the month of May. My God can change your emotional strongholds]—when you have a relationship with God. ⁵

Every person must make the crucial choice to choose God or not choose God. By allowing the Holy Spirit to lead our lives, we develop trust in Him knowing He will control our lives way better than we can. Why? Because He knows the big picture, and we don’t!

Most often, those who have had the deepest spiritual impact in the world are those who have endured the most suffering because suffering produces holiness, strength and endurance.

Looking back over your life, where have you come from? What circumstances have happened in your life? Have you asked God what He wants you to do? He probably won’t show you the big picture of your life—even though He knows it! But we have the joy and privilege of asking Him to show us one step at a time.

Ask the Lord the following questions:

  • What needs to be refined in my life?
  • What areas do I need to improve upon? [My sins and logs]
  • Then repent, move on, and ask Him how He can use you.

When We Surrender Our Lives to Jesus Christ, He Will Give Us Peace

Let God carry your earthly burdens and concerns.

In addition, one thing I have learned in life is that “surrendering all to God” can be the most painful task we can undertake. It is painful because we have to confess our sins, give up all our earthly desires and trust solely in Him. It may not come all in one sitting. It may come over time. But through the pain, God is refining us, maturing us and making us more Christ-like. And as believers, that should be our ultimate goal, even if it is a grueling task, because our job is to joyfully endure to the end of our earthly life.

As I have grown in my walk with the Lord, I know the more time I spend with God reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on His Word, and releasing my cares, sorrows, and trials to Him, the more I want to obey Him and His Word.

Conclusion

Moreover, as we each move through our earthly life, let’s not forget that, in that life, we all experience sorrow in the form of deep distress, sadness, or regret. We will all make mistakes and blow it—just like David did. But, let’s not dwell only on David’s failures. Let’s look at how He chose to sum up the lessons learned as he imparts his wisdom to his son Solomon.

“As David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn.” (1 Kings 2:1-3)

Bible Verses

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)

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 4:6-7)

Prayer

Oh, my dear Jesus. When times of sorrow fill my heart, let me remember You foremost. Let me come to You and share my sorrows, concerns, and trials. Let me lay them at Your feet. You are my comforter. It is in You whom I want to always depend upon and trust. Help me to be all I can be for Your honor and glory. I love you. Amen.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member

BibleGateway Blogger, Member

SBC, Church Member

Works Cited

¹ “sorrow.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2019. http://www.merriam-webster.com (1 July 2019).

² Q13 News Staff. “Doctors say having a broken heart is real: Here are the symptoms.” Web. 14 Feb 2018.

³ Roizen, Michael. “What are the three different types of tears found in our eyes.” Sharecare. Web. Accessed 1 July 2019.

⁴ Almendrala, Anna. “Here’s scientific evidence that crying can be therapeutic.” Web. 25 Aug 2015.

⁵ Evans, Tony. “Overcoming Emotional Strongholds.” Podcast. One Place. Web. Accessed 29 June 2019.

Edited by E. Johnson.

All verses are from the New American Standard Bible unless noted otherwise.

Books by Patti Greene

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

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What Everybody Ought to Know About Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare—An Introduction

What is Spiritual Warfare?

Spiritual warfare is the struggle between spiritual principalities and our human weakness—evil vs. good!

For our spiritual well-being, there are many lessons in the Bible which Christ-followers should be mindful. Lessons abound such as how to manage money, how to pray, how to grow from babes in Christ into mature Christians, and more.

In this article, we will be looking at one vital lesson: Combating sin before it begins! And that usually involves believers engaging in some level of SPIRITUAL WARFARE. We will learn how spiritual warfare operates in the lives of Christ-followers and how to face the battles when they come upon us. In understanding how to contend with the struggle between good and evil, knowledge of the following terms or phrases are requisites: spiritual warfare; the adversary—Satan and his demons; testing, trials, and temptation; and Jesus Christ—our mediator. This exposé will address spiritual warfare and how to overcome the temptation to sin.

Books, articles, and sermons have been written on the topic of spiritual warfare, and in many of these works, authoritative figures discuss the difficulty of sharing this topic. It is difficult because Satan does not want believers to be aware of his schemes and tactics.

This article is no different. There have been multiple roadblocks in preparing this article—time constraints, issues with unworthiness, and fighting spiritual warfare myself. I prayed extensively, read God’s Word for hours, and fought the fear of misspeaking. My notes and drafts for this article have been on the shelf, off the shelf, back on the shelf. If I misspeak, I apologize. I know many different opinions abound on the topic of “spiritual warfare.” But, now I am ready to “bite the bullet” and push the “publish” button. Happy reading.

My Dangriga Story

Back in 1992, my husband and I, along with our children—ages 2, 4, and 6—were traveling in an old dilapidated school bus through the country of Belize. Our eight-hour bus trip originated in Belize City and the final destination was to be Punta Gorda—a poor seacoast city in Southern Belize. Midway through our journey, about 20 miles outside of the city of Dangriga, an extremely evil presence fell upon me. The closer we came to the city, the stronger this presence felt.

Around nine o’clock in the evening, the bus stopped for a short break in Dangriga. My daughter and I had to use the restroom but to get there the family had to split up since the men’s facilities were behind where the bus stopped. Unfortunately, my daughter Jennifer and I had to cross a wide, pitch-black deserted street. Being frightened by the eeriness and evilness of the town, I tightly held six-year-old Jennifer’s hand. The atmosphere exuded danger and wickedness. Being weighed down by oppression I had never felt before, I feared an attack on our lives. I was terrified we would never make it back to the bus after our jaunt to the toilet. While in the dark stand-alone structure, I began to whisper the name of Jesus over and over in my mind. Notice I did not call on the name of Jesus verbally; I was too petrified to draw any attention to ourselves.

After crossing the street and making our way back to the bus, Jennifer and I mounted the bus steps, and the family proceeded to Punta Gorda. It was only after we traveled about 20 miles outside of the city that I felt the heavy burden leave me.

Satan is Real

Later, I learned that traditional witchcraft was prevalent in Dangriga. The Garifuna—an ethnic group of people living in Dangriga—were known for contacting the spirits of the dead and for their faith in shamanism, a spiritual practice that interacts with the spiritual world.

I share this story to tell you that Satan is real. He and his demons roam the earth looking for those they can devour. His presence comes in many ways, even today. We can feel his demons operating; maybe not so dramatically or even in the same way.

Satan Roams

The spiritual warfare I will be addressing here is the kind where temptation dominates in Christ-followers’ lives—the kind which impacts believers’ hearts to the point of deep agony, a piercing pain, or a tormenting temptation.

The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (Job 2:2)

Satan approaches believers with the goal of destroying those who love Christ. But before I get too far in this article, I am going to give you a “spoiler alert” about who ultimately wins the battle. This alert will be your notice that I am giving away the plot—the ending of the story!

The winner of the battle is JESUS CHRIST! You can win the battle against Satan because victory is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:57–58).

Live in the Spiritual Realm

Spiritual warfare is the battle between our spiritual principalities and human vulnerabilities—the fight to resist evil. When we live in our humanness, we lean towards evil by sinning and turning away from God’s plan and commandments. The moment we live in God’s spiritual realm, we lean towards godly thinking and living a life possessing the Christlike fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23).

Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are in a struggle between the powers of good and evil; this is spiritual warfare. The temptation to sin comes in many ways. It can come upon you suddenly or it can gradually sneak up and catch you in an ambush. Satan knows where and how to personalize the struggle we may face now or in the future.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Who Experiences Spiritual Warfare?

Only believers, those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, experience spiritual warfare.

Satan and his demons hate Jesus. He hates it when a new Christian receives salvation. Likewise, he hates it when a believer is living a Christ-like life serving Jesus full-force. Solid, sold-out believers may consciously experience the gut-wrenching fight between good and evil; some call this fight fighting strongholds—strongholds being areas in our mind or in our personality that cause us distress through our mind, spirit, or soul. Satan knows our weaknesses and he will use whatever he can to destroy us. Examples of spiritual warfare can be continual thoughts (thoughts you can’t get out of your mind) ranging from dwelling on success at work, struggling not to take the next hit of cocaine, or a temptation towards a sin, which if heeded, could destroy a reputation or livelihood.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3–5 NIVUK).

What Does The Book of James Say?

So, what are Christ-followers to do when facing tests, trials, and temptations? The book of James gives us the answer:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind . . . Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:3–5, 12–15).

If we have been a Christ-follower for very long and are honestly trying to live for the Lord, we will encounter spiritual warfare—that deep pull that calls us to turn our back on what we know is right. Lukewarm believers are not as likely to encounter the deep pangs associated with Satan’s drag.

It is when we are involved in truly trying to live for the Lord that these deep struggles occur.

Satan knows there isn’t much benefit in trying to draw a person who isn’t totally committed to God’s way in this type of battle because they are already ineffective in their witness for God. But, those who are committed and love Jesus with all their heart and want to obey Him in truth and honesty will encounter the fight between good and evil on a much deeper level at one or more times in their Christian walk. Why? Because Satan does not want God’s kingdom to enlarge through salvation or discipleship. When strong believers are tested, and they succumb, Satan can thwart these believers’ faith and it can cause havoc in their lives.

Satan—The Adversary

The Father of Lies

We know that Jesus Christ wins the battle over Satan. But Satan still tries to get into the minds of Christ-followers through temptations and trials. He attempts to confuse us and sway us away from all Godly behavior and thoughts. The Scripture tells us that Jesus does not tempt anyone—thus leaving Satan as the cunning and crafty tempter (See James 1:13).

We must look at Satan as our adversary and Jesus Christ as our mediator. Girding us with His strength, Jesus fights our battles as we face Satan’s persuasive temptations and relentless trials.

The Bible calls Satan the Father of Lies (John 8:44), but he disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Satan and his demons want us to fail as we go through testing and trials. Demons are fallen angels who follow Satan. Their plan is: to ruin God’s plan, obstruct people from working for the Lord, and deceive us into believing sin is acceptable.

Don’t be fooled by Satan—the master of lies and deception.

We may hear phrases, like those below, in our mind or from other people. Be alert and be aware that these types of statements are NOT to be believed.

“Dipping in the company fund one time won’t hurt you—God knows you need the money.”

“Pornography isn’t hurting anyone. You are in the room all by yourself.”

“So, what if she/he is married? She/he isn’t happily married.”

Satan wants us to sin. He wants us to be disobedient to the laws and mandates of God. He tempts us with the deeds of the flesh.

The Bible speaks of those encouraging sin as those disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–14).

Sometimes we experience deep temptations from Satan. Other times we experience tests from God to prove our devotion to him. As in the case of Job, God allowed Satan to test Job. Job lost his family, his friends, his possessions, and his health. We must recognize that spiritual warfare attacks are from Satan—the deceiver—even though sometimes God has given permission for Satan to tempt us to test our faith and loyalty to Him.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19–21).

Spiritual Warfare is Intense

Sometimes the spiritual warfare we face may be intense! It is often so deep that one might feel the only way to rid themselves of this battle is to succumb to it. But we must persevere through these times. We must stand firm and fight the temptation with every fiber of our being. The trial or struggle may seem strange. It may come out of nowhere. By the same token, it may be a terrifying internal struggle that no one knows you are going through or it can be out in the open and even be physically manifested in fatigue, depression, or an oppressed appearance. But the lure is real. Satan wants us to fall prey to his schemes because he wants to make us ineffective for Jesus Christ. But God will use these times to test our character to see if we can be shaken.

In Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Firm in the Faith, Ray Stedman says,

Among Christians, the devil will often attack in the realm of the intellect to lead us to be overly obsessed with certain points of theology. There are many Christians who pride themselves on being intense students of the Bible and systematic theology . . . I believe that one of the greatest triumphs of Satan has been his strategy of pulling people away from a simple childlike faith and leading them into endless pointless disputes over doctrinal minutiae. ¹

I like Stedman’s word obsessed. While he is talking about being obsessed with theology, we can be obsessed with other things—our marriage, our reputation, our jobs. Satan will use what he needs to in our thought life to lead us away from fulfilling God’s will for our lives. We cannot fight the enemy’s strongholds in our own strength. Satan wants to make us a worthless witness for Christ. While Christ will forgive our sins, those trespasses can create havoc in individuals’ lives and cause all one has worked for in their lives to collapse and/or be destroyed.

Jesus Christ—Our Mediator

A few years ago, my husband and I were in downtown Belize City. When we left a fabric store, I noticed a group of young boys around 8 or 9 years old following my husband with their eyes fixed on the wallet in his back pocket. I knew what they were planning, so I fell back behind my husband and walked between my husband and the boys, preventing a pickpocketing incident from occurring. Acting as a mediator between my husband and the boys, I kept the crime from ever occurring.

That is exactly what Jesus—our mediator—wants us to do. He wants to step in and prevent sin from transpiring. He wants us to turn to Him and be our mediator. Just as I was being a mediator that one summer day, Jesus wants to be our mediator to prevent us from falling into sin. Leaning on Him for our strength is our source of power.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:5–6).

Christ is Stronger Than the Devil

Christ is stronger than the devil. He defeated Satan on the cross. While Satan can afflict people, he cannot defeat God. Satan is intelligent and deceitful; he knows our weak points and he tempts us in those areas. We must remember that the demon’s goals are to impair and wreck lives. The Bible says we must know the schemes of the devil. By being aware of the devil’s schemes, God’s children can face current or future battles with understanding, discernment, and strength.

Through persistent prayer, immersion in God’s Word and possible fasting, this struggle can be won. This battle belongs to the Lord and Jesus is our mediator to help us through it. There is a form of darkness that comes to us when we experience this agonizing form of spiritual warfare, but the battle is still His. Satan presses in hard, but we should not be fearful. We should give the Lord glory and honor by relinquishing our lack of strength and power to Him, so He can fight the devil on our behalf.

Complete Surrender

When a Christ-follower has finally made it safely through this excruciating period, they must still be diligent and on guard, in case the same temptation comes upon us later—maybe next month or maybe in the next decade. We must put on the armor of God and fight this severe temptation with complete surrender, trusting that God through our mediator Jesus Christ is the only one able to take our weaknesses and make us strong.

Finally, be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:10–16).

Testing, Trials, and Temptations

The Battlefield

Spiritual Warfare—All struggles on the battlefields of life come with various degrees of force and intensity. They are fought for different reasons. Our spiritual battles come with unique purposes, although all are under the umbrella of capturing the souls of God’s children rendering us useless for Him. The devil does not show up in a bright red suit with pointy ears waving his pitchfork. He comes as an angel of light. The sooner we realize this deception, the better off we will be.

Most intense testing, trials, and temptations come:

  • Before a big spiritual assignment
  • After a big spiritual victory
  • To those already working for the Kingdom of God
  • When we are weak, discouraged, and tired
  • As soon as ministry opportunities are not pursued or available
  • When we are frustrated, and more

Encountering and Persevering Under Trials

The Bible addresses the testing, trials, and temptations we face in the following verses. As you read through these verses, bear in mind that we grow spiritually through our suffering and adversity.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:2–8).

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will, He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures (James 1:12–18).

Understanding the Spiritual Battle

Deep spiritual warfare is an agonizing time! Our minds continually dwell on the sin Satan is working full-time to pull us into. We feel helpless at the time to avoid that tug in our hearts to stray, but we must. Understand that this struggle we experience is not just a natural battle, but a battle intended to disrupt our ministry, deceive us, and eliminate the promises God has given us throughout the entire Bible.

Just because Satan comes banging on our door, we are not defeated. Even when he messes with our mind—and he does—Jesus Christ is our refuge. At times, the spirit of evil can confuse our thoughts so powerfully creating: an inability to think clearly; hopelessness when ungodly thoughts become obsessions; and/or helplessness in overcoming our discontentment, gloominess, or sadness.

David was facing imminent danger when he wrote Psalm 57. He had been taken in by the Philistines when he fled from Saul. This psalm was written during this time of great uncertainty and trial, but he holds fast to God—exactly what we should do when Satan gets hold of our mind, soul, and/or spirit. David’s prayer pleads for relief from these kinds of tormentors BEFORE it leads to sin.

Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.
Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God! (Psalm 56:1–7)

Satan’s Banquet

On November 28, 1958, Charles Haddon Spurgeon—an English Particular Baptist preacher—preached a sermon titled “Satan’s Banquet.” In this sermon, he used the analogy of the four courses of a banquet to compare one’s temptation to sin to the miracle of Cana (John 2:1-12).

At the miracle of Cana, there was a wedding and Jesus’ mother was there along with Jesus. When the wine gave out, Jesus’ mother told the servants to do whatever Jesus said. Jesus told them to fill the water pots with water and they filled them to the brim. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine and he told the bridegroom that, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer.”

Spurgeon’s analogy of wine to sin is:

1st Course of Sin—Good wine – Satan makes sin look good. Spurgeon describes the cup of Satan as, “But O how sweet it is! How it makes his blood tingle within him.” At this point, one may have no intention [of] being enticed to sin, but he finally does.

2nd Course of Sin—Wine is not so sparkling – Satan has lured a person to sin and now the person has had enough of pleasure. A person succumbed to sin, but it isn’t that enticing to him anymore. The fun he once had has gone flat and dull.

3rd Course of Sin—Wine now comes in a black goblet – When he drinks the wine, he shrieks and says, “O God! That ever I must come to this!” The suffering is to come because of iniquity.

4th Course of Sin—Horrors from the last cup – A persons’ hope and dreams have vanished. His sin haunts him. ²

Spiritual Attacks

It is critical to fight all spiritual attacks as soon as they appear. A spiritual attack unaddressed can oppress ones’ faith and future. Casual everyday prayers are not enough; we need to plead, cry, wail, knee, fast, or even lay prostrate before our Lord and beg Jesus Christ to sever all thoughts and desires from the devil to sin from our mind. As believers, demons cannot enter us, but they can disrupt our thinking, sway our beliefs, and make us doubt our sincerity to God.

We must fight against ungodly thoughts and behaviors with every fiber of our being. We must humble ourselves and pray and keep doing that until the urge or desires have left us. It may take months or years, but it is worth every ounce of fighting we must do to protect ourselves. We may have to desperately call out to the Lord to take our thoughts captive.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Spiritual warfare may show up differently in different people. Since God knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs, we are all different—different personalities, different weakness, different tugs. Some common ways Christians experience spiritual warfare are when we possess revenge we can’t shake off, jealousy we can’t quench, all types of sexual temptations, or any desire which fills our minds with a longing and yearning to sin.

Is it Spiritual Warfare or Sin?

It is important to remember that the temptation is not sinning. It is better to be struggling in warfare than to step over the line into sin—disobedience to our heavenly Father and Lord.

It is when we cross the line that consciences are seared, reputations are ruined, souls are damaged, that our relationship with God is negatively affected, and our walk with Him might be permanently marred. Crossing over from spiritual warfare into sin has consequences. These consequences might not rear their ugly heads right away, but somewhere, somehow sin will interfere or sidetrack us and lead us away from God’s imminent plan.

How to Overcome Spiritual Warfare

When we are in the pangs of spiritual warfare, it means we have not yet succumbed to the treachery of sin. There is still hope for sin to be averted.

We must actively be on the alert for Satan’s attempt to lead us to sin. Some tips for prevention are:

  • Ask God to take the object of our warfare away because it is not profitable for our soul
  • Ask God to replace our thoughts with godly thoughts and ministries
  • Keep busy and don’t allow boredom or idleness to abound during this period
  • Ask for prayers from mature Christians. (We do not need to tell them our specific vice if we don’t want to, but just ask for prayers.) God knows what we are dealing with and He wants to help us through it, so when it is over, we can say, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
  • Watch the areas where you are the weakest and plead with God to keep us within the confines of our place and our calling

If We Succumb to Sin, Does God Forgive Us?

Of course, He does. God is a forgiving God and when we repent of our sins and turn from our “wicked” ways, He is there for us—with open arms—ready to forgive us and lead us back into a full relationship with Him. But there still may be consequences and scars. As soon as we recognize our sins and turn back to God, He accepts us back into His fold to love, cherish, and forgive us.

In the February 2018 issue of Decision magazine, Billy Graham said,

“Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful words in the human vocabulary.” ³

God goes on to say,

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

But, what if you are the tempter—a Christian that Satan is using—to tempt another person? With your allurement, you may lead someone else to follow in your footsteps. After a while, you may move on and repent, but what you have led the other person to do cannot be undone! When you are the perpetrator leading others to sin, you have sent them directly into Satan’s grasp and you don’t know how long they might remain there.

While you might confess your “mistakes” and move on in your relationship with the Lord, you can’t make the other person turn to God or back to God. At this point, their spiritual life is completely out of your hands. They may go the rest of their life being led astray by Satan or become so obsessed with your mutual sin that they are numb to the things of God—all because of your sin and its enticement upon them. Only God can rescue them at this point, but they may not choose Him because of the hurt, deceit, fraud, or distress you inflicted upon them.

Anglican clergyman William Gurnall says,

“Even after you’re dead and gone, your sins may be perpetuated in those who are alive, generation after generation.” ⁴

Now, that is serious business!

William Gurnall states, “Do not try to stave off the onslaughts of Satan in your own strength. Tell God you are afraid of what may happen if He does not intercept these wicked imaginations . . . Seal the windows of [your] heart in prayer to control your thoughts, ask Christ to control your heart.” ⁴

Be Alert

It used to scare me at first whenever a SECURITY ALERT came through on my email when we lived in Lagos, Nigeria. These alerts were sent out from either my husband’s company or the U.S. Consulate warning us of possible danger. But, the more alerts I received, the less scared I became. I got used to them as just part of life and didn’t put much weight into them.

Some of these security alerts consisted of the following warnings.

  • An increasing trend is hijackers trailing unsuspecting victims. Some are robbed and some are unfortunately held for ransom;
  • Criminals side brush unsuspecting vehicles or hit them from behind to force drivers to stop, after which they are robbed or kidnapped;
  • Be extremely vigilant and develop a situational awareness that may enable you to avoid victimization;
  • Avoid night time traveling;
  • Keep a low profile and dress unassumingly;
  • Be alert at all times – don’t ignore any suspicious circumstances.

The last alert is the most general alert and probably the most important alert as it involves how we were to live every day of our lives in the country we were living in at the time.

As I pondered these alerts, I thought about how similar these alerts are to a Biblical alert we read about in the Scriptures.

Paul, the author of Ephesians, urges us to put on the full spiritual armor of God. Paul wants us to understand that we can fight the fiery darts of Satan who is very active in trying to trip us up and lead us away from our trust and dependence on God.

We may not live in a country with evils such as ISIS, suicide bombers, extremists, and beheadings. However, we are all surrounded by the wiles of the devil. Satan might be attacking us in the form our idols, our fleshly desires, a false gospel, physical afflictions, selfishness, friendships with the world, addictions, media, or worldly wisdom – just to name a few. We need to recognize the methods Satan uses to attack us and stand firm against his schemes. No one has given us a more wise strategy for living than God.

The Armor of God

Put On the Whole Armor of God: Ephesians 6:10-17

In Ephesians 6:10-17, the apostle Paul says to put on the whole armor of God:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-17 ESV).

Understanding the Armor of God

Let’s take a look at the individual pieces of the armor of God. Below you will find a fact, an action, a verse from God’s Word, and a quote from The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall—a 1600 English Puritan and Anglican clergyman that believed in standing firm in Christ by using the graces listed in Ephesians 6. ⁵

1. Truth

Fact: God’s truth will keep us secure in Christ.

Action: Confess all known sins and get rid of all deceptions and commit yourself daily to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth.”

Quote: Love for God makes the soul inquisitive to find out what is dear to God so it can express tenderness to truth and thereby give love to Him.

2. Breastplate of Righteousness

Fact: Satan is trying to attack us with lies or reminders of our past sins.

Action: We must guard our hearts against Satan and live for the righteousness of Christ by being obedient to God’s ways and will.

Bible: “and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”

Quote: Righteousness and holiness are God’s protection to defend the believer’s conscience from all wounds inflicted by sin.

3. Feet

Fact: Satan will put obstacles in our paths. He wants us to stumble.

Action: Prepare yourself through Bible study, prayer, meditation, confession and more, so you can confidently walk in Jesus’ ways wherever you go and wherever He may lead you.

Bible: “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”

Quote: God does not want the saint to stand still and fret or to have to be coaxed to move but to follow Christ voluntarily, as a soldier follows his captain. Yet Christ is not like a general who drives his men into battle whether they want to go or not . . . A heart full of grace will follow Jesus into the wilderness of affliction as willingly as a lover goes with her beloved into a quiet garden to enjoy his presence. By His Word and by His Spirit Christ satisfied the Christian, making him want to be with Him anywhere.

4. Shield of Faith

Fact: Satan will try to put doubts in our mind. Hold on to your faith.

Action: Trust that your faith will defend all the unholy darts that may be projected upon you.

Bible: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”

Quote: Faith is the only messenger which can bring good news from heaven to the heart. It is faith that proclaims the promise, opens Christ’s riches, and pours out His name to increase love in believers. Whenever faith wins the character of Christ out of the Word and presents Him to us in all His loveliness, we are sweetly drawn to Him.

5. Helmet of Salvation

Fact: Our thinking needs to be protected because Satan loves to make us doubt our salvation and God.

Action: We must be sure that Jesus is our security through salvation in Christ. [If you are unsure about your relationship with Christ, understand that we are all born with a sinful nature, but when we repent of our sins and ask Jesus to be part of our life, we can have the assurance of salvation and eternal life.]

Bible: “and take the helmet of salvation,”

Quote: As a Christian soldier you must always stand in a defensive posture with your armor on, ready to defend the treasure God has given you to keep and to repel Satan’s assaults.

6. Sword of the Spirit

Fact: The Word of God is our weapon against the attacks of Satan.

Action: Read and study the Bible. It is God’s tool to prevent Satan’s strongholds and thoughts from infiltrating into our lives.

Bible: “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”

Quote: As the sword defends the soldier it offends his enemy. Thus God’s Word is a killing sword as well as a keeping sword. Not only does it keep the believer from surrendering to external temptation but it kills his inward lusts and completes the victory.

7. Prayer

If we are not in prayer, our reliance on God is diminished allowing spiritual warfare much easier access to our lives. We must pray for the mind of Christ. Set aside time every day to pray and listen to God’s Word. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

And as Paul concludes, he says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:18-20 ESV

Wrapping Up

In Nigeria, it didn’t take me long to learn how to conduct myself in Lagos—a city of 22 million people. For survival, I learned to be bold. I learned to walk with confidence. I learned how to talk to those who tried to intimidate me. I learned not to walk in the streets alone (if ever).

When I maneuvered through Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport all by myself one day, I found I was able to hold my head high, shuffle through the crowd, ward off swindlers, tow my baggage, and reach my destination. That day I knew I had accomplished a feat many foreigners fail to achieve—to feel confident in their walk!

It’s the same when Christ-followers trust in the God of the Armor. We soon feel confident in our walk with Christ. We can hold our head above inconsequential disagreements, controversial church strategies, and/or misinterpreted theology. We can move through the crowd with discernment. We can experience godly tranquility when Satan’s fiery darts come at us. We will have the knowledge needed to handle our past, present, and future experiences and attacks. But, most of all, we will have faith that our destination with Jesus Christ is secure and one day we will be living in glory with Him in Heaven.

Just as our Nigerian security alerts warned us how to proceed even before any unknown danger might occur, so does the Bible warn us how to be pre-prepared against the schemes of the devil, because we never know when he might attack. It is so easy to become ensnared in the devil’s traps, and the best way to be on guard is to put on THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD—even before the temptations and evils come upon us. This can be accomplished by following Ephesians 6:18-20 with a sincere and longing heart to please our Lord and Savior.

God Bless,

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member

BibleGateway Blogger, Member

SBC, Church Member

Bible Verses:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (Job 1:2–7)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. (Deuteronomy 20:1)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 ESV

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 ESV

Four Prayers To Choose From if Teaching From This Blog

  1. Dear heavenly Father, most days I experience some low-level discomfort fighting between good and evil—right and wrong. However, at some point in my life, I may experience fierce intense spiritual warfare from Satan and his demons. Please prepare me ahead of time, so when the time comes I have the strength to overcome my human weaknesses. Let me be wholly sold out to You and to Your Word. Give me the strength to overcome the fiery darts of Satan. Let me never give up fighting against sin. Allow Your light to be a lamp unto my feet. Let me recognize these battles are not of flesh and blood, but they are spiritual battles “against powers and principalities beyond my physical being.” Hopefully, I won’t fail You, but if I do, please convict me to return to You by repenting and turning away from my sin as quickly as possible, so I can walk in Your ways again. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
  2. Dear Lord Jesus, I believe You are the source of protection. Protect me from my weaknesses and temptations. I want to draw closer and closer to You. I need Your power to overcome the fiery darts flung on me. I am choosing You today and every day, so You can use me for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
  3. Dear Lord, I love You, but lately, I have been tempted beyond control. I need You to help me face the severe trials I am going through. Let my faith be so strong that, in my weaknesses and temptations, I can avert any turning away from Your plan for my life. Use me Lord for Your service. I need Your power and love to pour down on me. I seek Your face daily and depend on Your Holy Scriptures to keep me strong and honorable. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
  4. Dear heavenly Father, Thank You for all You have given me. You have given me the means to escape the evilness of this world. Thank You for being so generous to me. Thank You for forgiving me for my failures. You always take my hand and bring me back to You even when I fall into Satan’s schemes. You are stronger than him and I am grateful for all the tools and love You have given me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Works Cited

¹ Stedman, Ray. Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Firm in the Faith. Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1999.

² Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon Sermons, vol. 5. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2013.

³ Graham, Billy. Decision Magazine. Feb 2018. Print.

⁴ Gurnall, William. The Christian in Complete Armour, Vol. 1. Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996.

⁵ Ibid.

Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Edited by E. Johnson

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Dear God Letters: Communicating with God

I have been writing Dear God letters for many decades. A few letters are penmanship perfect, but most of the time they are a jumbled long-hand script of thoughts to God.

Communicating with God

What a privilege it is to be able to look back and see how my prayers and communications with my heavenly Father are so raw and honest!

As I’ve learned more about God and His ways, I know it’s not popular to say, “God told me . . .” so I rarely say that. I am human and I know that, in my humanness, I can easily be mistaken in messages I perceive to be from God. Therefore, I prefer to say, “I feel impressed that. . .” We are imperfect beings and prone to interpret things incorrectly. I can accept that.

But what I can’t accept is that some people say God does not have the power to reveal Himself to us. With me, God most often uses the Bible to show me His will, His desires, and His love. I love spending time studying and meditating upon words, phrases, or chapters in the Bible seeking His wisdom and direction. The Bible is God’s love letter to us. Through His Word, He shares Himself with us.

Equally important, there are the special times when His sweet words calmly enter my mind and the holy presence of God is impressed upon me.  The joy and peace I feel foreshadow a breath-taking encounter between God and me. Just sitting and spending time with my Lord—reveling in His love towards me—is sweeter than a cool glass of water on a hot summer day!

When we bask in His love and get into His presence, we are placing ourselves in a position where God can “speak to us” or shall I say “impress Himself on us”. The beauty of wallowing in His rest and glory will astound us every time. Moreover, we leave that place of sweet and satisfying fellowship with a spark in our eyes, a love in our heart, and a desire to give Him all of ourselves. It is in these moments the Holy Spirit may impart and reveal His thoughts to us. Interconnecting with our Lord and Savior at these times fosters our faith and develops our spiritual growth.

The Challenge

I challenge you this week to ask God to let you see EVERYTHING through the eyes of His precious son Jesus.

When we let God be God and listen to Him through prayer or the Bible, the peace which passes all understanding falls upon us (see Philippians 4:7). It’s like what I imagine Heaven on Earth to be like.

Find What Works for You

Below is just a sampling of a “Letter to God.” You may not like to express yourself in words and writing as I do, but the Lord wants to communicate with you. By the same token, there is no right or wrong way to communicate with the Lord. Find out what works for you and just love being loved by Him.

Dear God Letter and God’s Reply

Dear God,

We’ve been together for a long time. Over the years, we have been learning more and more about each other—or should I say, I’ve been learning so much about You! As the years have gone by, my love for You is getting stronger and stronger. You are my everything. Sometimes, I don’t know why You love me so much. All those times I have left You behind You have stayed alongside of me. I want to love You as much as You love me. You listen to me—even answering me even when I don’t want an answer. Open my ears to hear Your wisdom. Let me have an increasing understand of Your ways every day. Thank you, Lord.

Me

=====================================

My Dear Loved One,

Oh, how I cherish My time with you, but today I want you to listen to Me.

I know your thoughts and I am right here with you. All healing comes from My sovereignty. I keep secrets and I don’t share my thoughts about you with others—just as I don’t share other people’s thoughts with you unless I need to. I am God. Therefore, I can do with you and others as I please, but it’s all for your protection and growth.

The waiting—the being patient—is so you will trust in My will more and more. Whenever I am ready to share with you, I will. And, I do the same for others. I hold on to what you aren’t ready to accept until My perfect timing is complete.

Be strong; be enlightened; confess sins. Ask and continue to ask for My help. I know you are confused about your thoughts and your future.  Again, I say, “Be strong,” Follow my commandments. Love Me. I want you “to want to want what I want.” ¹ That’s the goal. I love you. My hand and My Spirit are upon you. I know what you are going through, and I am with you every step of the way—safeguarding you and others until the day where you can rejoice either in heaven or on Earth. Let My will be done in My timing.

God

Different and Unique

It’s so simple to converse with God. Use your words, your colloquialisms, and your expressions. Be yourself. Also, be honest. Don’t be concerned if you don’t pray as others pray. God created us—we are different and unique. We pray differently. Furthermore, we write, listen and read differently. Our uniqueness is what makes us who we are. Embrace it. Just be yourself.

The important thing is to just start communicating with your heavenly Father and let Him communicate with you. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines communication as:

  • A personal rapport
  • Information transmitted or conveyed [through] a verbal or written message, or
  • A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. ²

Whether you are talking to God in prayer or writing to God, He desires our hearts to be open to Him.

Whenever I write my Dear God letters, I am cognizant of the fact that writing a letter to God is a very personal experience. Sometimes I write to praise Him; other times I write to thank Him; and even other times, I write to address an issue. No matter why one writes a letter to the Lord, we should approach our communication with an honest and sincere heart.  God desires all our communication to be more than eloquent words, a penmanship-perfect letter, a jumbled note, or a conglomerate of misplaced typing errors on a piece of computer paper! He wants us to come as we are, with all the honesty and sincerity we can muster.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Bible Gateway Blogger Member – Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG²) is an international network of independent bloggers who meaningfully blog—and who are serious—about matters relating to the Bible. Follow the members on Twitter using the BG² List; Inspirational Writers Alive Member (IWA) – Central Houston Location; Baylor University, B.A.

Bible Verses:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:8)

Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord. (Psalm 104:34)

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. (1 John 5:1)

Prayer:

God, thank You for all the love You have bestowed upon me. In addition, I thank You with my whole heart that You have made known to me Christ’s love and for filling me with the fullness of You. May my prayers, meditations and reading always guide me into the spirit of truth. Likewise, challenge me to be dwell in Your presence every single day. I love You.

Works Cited

¹ In a recent sermon, my pastor used the expression, “I want to want what God wants.” I added one more want here.

² “Communication.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2019. Web. 5 Feb 2019.

Bible verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible.

Edited by E. Johnson

Books by Patti Greene

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

.@PattiGreene13

Spiritual Warfare: An Introduction – Part 1 of 4

Spiritual Warfare Introduction

Spiritual warfare is the struggle between spiritual principalities and our human weakness—evil vs. good!

For our spiritual well-being, there are many lessons in the Bible which Christ-followers should be mindful. Lessons abound such as how to manage money, how to pray, how to grow from babes in Christ into mature Christians, and more.

In this blog, we will be looking at one vital lesson: Combating sin before it begins! And that usually involves believers engaging in some level of SPIRITUAL WARFARE. We will learn how spiritual warfare operates in the lives of Christ-followers and how to face the battles when they come upon us. In understanding how to contend with the struggle between good and evil, knowledge of the following terms or phrases are requisites: spiritual warfare; the adversary—Satan and his demons; testing, trials, and temptation; and Jesus Christ—our mediator. This blog series will address spiritual warfare and how to overcome the temptation to sin.

Books, articles, and sermons have been written on the topic of spiritual warfare, and in many of these works authoritative figures discuss the difficulty of sharing this topic. It is difficult because Satan does not want believers to be aware of his schemes and tactics.

This article is no different. There have been multiple roadblocks in preparing this four-part blog series—time constraints, issues with unworthiness, fighting spiritual warfare myself. I prayed extensively, read God’s Word for hours, and fought the fear of misspeaking. My notes and drafts for this article have been on the shelf, off the shelf, back on the shelf. If I misspeak, I apologize. I know many different opinions abound on the topic of “spiritual warfare.” But, now I am ready to “bite the bullet” and push the “publish” button on WordPress. Happy reading.

Back in 1992, my husband and I, along with our children—ages 4, 6, and 8—were traveling in an old dilapidated school bus through the country of Belize. Our eight-hour bus trip originated in Belize City and the final destination was to be Punta Gorda—a poor seacoast city in Southern Belize. Midway through our journey, about 20 miles outside of the city of Dangriga, an extreme evil presence fell upon me. The closer we came to the city, the stronger this presence felt.

Around nine o’clock in the evening, the bus stopped for a short break. My daughter and I had to use the restroom. To get there, we had to cross a wide, pitch-black street. The men’s facilities were elsewhere so the family had to split up. The atmosphere exuded evil and wickedness. Being weighed down by an oppression I had never felt before, I feared an attack on our lives. I was terrified we would never make it back to the bus after our restroom break. While in the dark stand-alone structure, I began to whisper the name of Jesus over and over in my mind. Notice I did not call on the name of Jesus verbally; I was too petrified to draw any attention to ourselves.

After crossing the street and making our way back to the bus, my daughter and I mounted the bus steps, and the family proceeded to Punta Gorda. It was only after we traveled about 20 miles outside of the city that I felt the heavy burden leave me.

Later, I learned that traditional witchcraft was prevalent in the city. The Garifuna—an ethnic group of people living in Dangriga—were known for contacting the spirits of the dead and for their faith in shamanism, a spiritual practice that interacts with the spiritual world.

I share this story to tell you that Satan is real. He and his demons roam the earth looking for those they can devour. His presence comes in many ways, even today. We can feel his demons operating; maybe not so dramatically or even in the same way. The spiritual warfare I will be addressing is the kind where temptation dominates in Christ-followers’ lives—the kind which impacts believers’ hearts to the point of a deep agony, a piercing pain, or tormenting temptation.

The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (Job 2:2)

Satan approaches believers with the goal of destroying those who love Christ. But before I get too far in this article, I am going to give you a “spoiler alert” about who ultimately wins the battle. This alert will be your notice that I am giving away the plot—the ending of the story!

The winner of the battle is JESUS CHRIST! You can win the battle against Satan because victory is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:57–58).

What is Spiritual Warfare?

Spiritual warfare is the battle between our spiritual principalities and human vulnerabilities—the fight to resist evil. When we live in our humanness, we lean towards evil by sinning and turning away from God’s plan and commandments. When we live in God’s spiritual realm, we lean towards godly thinking and living a life possessing the Christlike fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23).

Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are in a struggle between the powers of good and evil; this is spiritual warfare. The temptation to sin comes in many ways. It can come upon you suddenly or it can gradually sneak up and catch you in an ambush. Satan knows where and how to personalize the struggle we may face now or in the future.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Who Experiences Spiritual Warfare?

Only believers, those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, experience spiritual warfare.

Satan and his demons hate Jesus. He hates it when a new Christian receives salvation. He hates it when a believer is living a Christ-like life serving Jesus full-force. Solid, sold-out believers may consciously experience the gut-wrenching fight between good and evil; some call this fight fighting strongholds—strongholds being areas in our mind or in our personality that cause us distress through our mind, spirit, or soul. Satan knows our weaknesses and he will use whatever he can to destroy us. Examples of spiritual warfare can be continual thoughts (thoughts you can’t get out of your mind) ranging from dwelling on success at work, struggling not to take the next hit of cocaine, or a temptation towards a sin, which if heeded, could destroy a reputation or livelihood.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3–5 NIVUK).

If we have been a Christ-follower for very long and are honestly trying to live for the Lord, we will encounter spiritual warfare—that deep pull that calls us to turn our back on what we know is right. Lukewarm believers are not as likely to encounter the deep pangs associated with Satan’s drag.

It is when we are involved in truly trying to live for the Lord that these deep struggles occur.

Satan knows there isn’t much benefit in trying to draw a person who isn’t totally committed to God’s way in this type of battle because they are already ineffective in their witness for God. But, those who are committed and love Jesus with all their heart and want to obey Him in truth and honesty will encounter the fight between good and evil on a much deeper level at one or more times in their Christian walk. Why? Because Satan does not want God’s kingdom to enlarge through salvation or discipleship. When strong believers are tested, and they succumb, Satan can thwart these believers’ faith and it can cause havoc in their lives.

So, what are Christ-followers to do when facing tests, trials, and temptations? The book of James gives us the answer:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind . . . Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:3–5, 12–15).

Bible Verses:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

Prayer:

Dear heavenly Father, most days I experience some low-level discomfort fighting between good and evil—right and wrong. However, at some point in my life, I may experience fierce intense spiritual warfare from Satan and his demons. Please prepare me ahead of time, so when the time comes I have the strength to overcome my human weaknesses. Let me be wholly sold out to You and to Your Word. Give me the strength to overcome the fiery darts of Satan. Let me never give up fighting against sin. Allow Your light to be a lamp unto my feet. Let me recognize these battles are not of flesh and blood, but they are spiritual battles “against powers and principalities beyond my physical being.” Hopefully, I won’t fail You, but if I do, please convict me to return to You by repenting and turning away from my sin as quickly as possible, so I can walk in Your ways again. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE: An Introduction, Part 1

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Satan, Jesus, and Trials, Part 2

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Battle Between Good and Evil, Part 3

SPIRhttps://greenepastures.org/valentines-day/ITUAL WARFARE: The Armor of God, Part 4

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Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Edited by E. Johnson