Today’s Scripture:

  • 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9

Introduction:

The biggest area that we need to learn how to win in is the battle between our ability to believe and trust God, and our doubt and unbelief.  The source of our doubt and unbelief really doesn’t have to do with God, but us.  I believe that part of the reason for doubt and unbelief is we base what we’re seeking God for on whether or not we are worthy of receiving whatever it is we’re seeking Him for.  Furthermore, I also believe that it’s a feeling that’s really a lie from the devil, and that’s the thought that I know God can and will…but I don’t know that He will for me.

So, let’s see where Joyce takes today’s message about defeating unbelief, and see how we can get more victory in our lives…Amen?

Today’s Message:

Sometimes we unintentionally give the wrong impression about spiritual warfare. We know that our enemy is the devil and that we must fight daily to win, but that’s not everything. If the Christian life were nothing but battles, it would be discouraging to fight every hour of every day.

I know that I’m certainly not the only one who has walked with the Lord, gone through some struggles, and thought that “I just can’t win”.  That’s the truth.  We can’t win, and usually the reason we get to this point is quite simple.  We’re not really relying upon God’s strength, guidance, or direction.  If we’re truthful, and I am being so…we usually do it half and half.  What do I mean by that?  I mean we use half of God’s strength, and half of ours.  The silly thing is we know through trial and error time and time again…our way doesn’t work, but yet we find ourselves laying down battles for the Lord to fight…only to turn around and pick them right back up again.

Why do we do this?  The simple answer is that we’re into fear, doubt, and unbelief.  We may have even known, and had some victories with the Lord.  Still, there are just some things that we (myself included) just can’t seem to leave at the foot of the Cross isn’t there?  I can’t imagine what I would’ve been like had I been one of the Israelites being lead out of Egypt.  Spending all that time wandering in the wilderness because of doubt, and unbelief.  I would like to think that somehow I may have been one of the few who had enough sense to see the manna from heaven, water from a stone, and parting of the Red Sea…and thought at the very least…there must be something to this Promised Land thing…and I would hope that I would be one of those who had the sense not to worship the golden calf.

The Christian life is one of joy and peace. God gives us a great sense of fulfillment, and we’re at rest because we know we honor Him by the way we live.

Don’t you know it’s taken me almost my entire life to figure out that the joy and peace I was seeking all my life…even during my walk with God…is only accessed by faith.  The only way to true rest is to accept Christ’s invitation in Matthew 11:28-30.  The only way to live in peace is to truly learn to cast ALL my cares upon the Lord, and realize that He really does care for me…and about my situations.  I can almost imagine Him looking down upon me sometimes saying to Jesus:  “I wonder how long it’s gonna take Bryan to realize I AM the only One who can do what he’s trying to do.  I wonder how long it’ll be before he realizes he has to set this at the foot of the Cross.”  Now, I realize that’s a ridiculous statement because I’m certain God never wonders about anything…because…well…He knows everything.

But Joyce is absolutely right.  Don’t you know that the times in my life I’m the most stressed is because even though I’m in ministry I still have doubts that God will take care of a certain situation, or the dreaded thought that He’s not taking care of it on my time-table so I feel the need to help Him out.  Yes, I realize that God doesn’t need my help, but sometimes I think that He forgets to ask.  Obviously I know that’s a ridiculous statement to make also…God never forgets a thing…unless it’s my sins that are covered by the Blood of Jesus.

In today’s scripture, Peter wrote to Christians about their enemy–warning them and urging them to be vigilant, which is where we often put the emphasis. Just before he wrote those words, however, he said, “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (v. 7). We must remind ourselves of God’s love for us.

It was said a few times by a few different preachers that said that often times we relate to our Heavenly Father the way we relate to our earthly father.  I agree with that to a certain extent, but eventually I think we have to come to the conclusion that we are extremely valuable to God.  How do I know this?  You don’t lay down your life for something that isn’t worth dying for.  You don’t sacrifice all the Jesus sacrificed just on a whim.  You certainly don’t sacrifice yourself like He did for people you just kind of care about.  God loves us, and we get a picture of this in Matthew 7…I’m not going to include it for the sake of time…but if you’d like a good picture of God as our Father…read Matthew 7…and also 1 John 4.

Satan tries to destroy our faith with lies like: “If God really cared about you, why would He make you go through this trial?” “If God truly loved you, would He treat you this way?” If he can make you think you’re not loved or that God doesn’t have your best interest at heart, he can plant tiny seeds of unbelief.

Here Joyce gets to a point that I was loosely trying to make, and that’s the lies that the devil tells us.  The truth is that all the devil has for us is lies.  He has nothing to offer us other than deceit.  After all, he is the father of lies, and the Word of God says that there is no truth in him at all.

So, when we’re going through stuff, or it’s taking longer for God to grant a request we’ve made or whatever the case may be…that’s the exact opportune time that the devil looks for to come in and try to steal, kill and destroy our faith.  Thing of it is that’s really again the same lie that he tempted Eve with…he got Eve to have enough doubt creep to where she began to buy the lie that maybe God really was holding out on them.  That is THE lie the devil told Eve.  God said you will die, but you surely won’t.  God said you can eat of any tree in the garden except for this one…He’s withholding something from you.  Don’t you think that you deserve to be able to eat from whatever tree you want…I mean if God loves you so much why can you eat from every tree but this one.

See, that’s all the devil has.  So, maybe you’re like me, and your going through a period where you’re unemployed.  The bills are piling up, and Christmas is on the way.  You’ve been out seeking work, but every door you knock on is either closed or slammed in your face.  In the mail comes a disconnection notice for the electricity, the cable company is about to shut off your cable, the rent is due, and no one seems to want to give you any kind of opportunity.  At first you had faith, but after a while you begin to wonder if faith is enough…and that’s when the devil comes in.  “If God really loved you don’t you think He’d open a door for you?  The lies just keep coming don’t they?

So, what do you do at that moment?  That’s exactly why yesterday’s message is so important.  You have to know God’s Word.  You have to have God’s Word in your heart so that when the fiery darts of the devil come at you…you can lift up your shield of faith.  You have to be able to have the assurance of your salvation…putting on your helmet.  You have to know the Word of God so when the devil starts shooting you have something to shoot back with.  That’s what Jesus did in Matthew 4…the devil came at Him with a few tricks at His weakest point, and every temptation the devil threw at Jesus…He responded with the Word of God.  The devil even tried to use misinterpreted Scriptures to tempt Jesus, and he will do the same to us.  Yes, friends, the devil does know what the bible says, but he knows how the story ends…and that’s why he’s doing everything he can to get us to believe that we’re not loved.  He’s going to do everything he can to distract us from the truth of God’s Word…friends the devil doesn’t want you to KNOW God’s Word.

That’s why he does everything he can to give you excuses to not pick it up, and study it for yourselves.  The truth is I don’t want you to read what I write at face value.  I want you to read the scriptures along with what I write because that’s the only way you are going to really know whether I’m writing good sound doctrine or not.  I want YOU to search the scriptures daily, and the hope really is that you’ll get a better understanding of what God’s Word is saying by reading these messages.

The Word of God is our main weapon, and if we don’t know what it says it’s like carrying an empty gun into battle.  Like I said yesterday prayer is wonderful, but if you really want to have a powerful prayer life…then you have to know the Word of God.  Start praying God’s Word over your situations and circumstances.  That’s what I have to do when I get discouraged…I have to do like David and Paul did and build myself up by speaking the Word of God.

“Greater is He that’s in me than he that’s in the world.”, “If God is for me than none can be against me.”, “If God is for me, and people come against me they’re really coming against Him who sent me”.” , “I have the love of God shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit.”,  “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength.”, “He who has started a good work in me will complete it.”, “God is my refuge and strong tower.”, and once you start speaking that stuff out…faith arises.  Why?  Faith comes by hearing…and by hearing what…the Word of God.

So…I again urge you to get out your Bibles, dust them off, and get into them…that’s if you already aren’t.

Conclusion & Prayer:

When struggles, trials, and hardships come your way–and they always do–you have a choice. You can heed Peter’s words and give God your cares, worries, and concerns. No matter how dark the night or how evil the situation, you must remind yourself that God is not only present with you in those situations, but He also loves you and will provide for you.

I have lived on both sides of those choices, and it’s no secret that the best side to be on is when you trust God.  I have spent enough time in misery, stressed out, and down right depressed.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of that stuff.  I want the peace, joy, and rest that comes from trusting totally in Him.  I want that peace that surpasses all understanding, and the only way I can get there is for me to stay rooted and grounded in God’s Word.

Pray: Dear heavenly Father, the enemy often tries to fill me with unbelief and make me deny Your powerful love for me. But like Abraham, I stand firm on Your promises. Thank You for the comfort I find in Your assurance that You’re always with me. Amen.

*  All quotes are from the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.