April 30, 2009
by Pastor David Ferranti
Senior Pastor, Bay Valley Christian Church
There are times when out of nowhere, we get blindsided with trouble. The source of this trouble can be our flesh, the world, or even the devil himself. When the enemy comes in like a flood, God wants us to raise up a standard against him. Many times, we respond to this pressure in our normal, usual way that doesn’t avail much. But God has provided us instructions to overcome in these trials. As Ephesians 6:10-18 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
In order to stand up and fight, we need to discern the source of the attack. An attack could be from our flesh, the world, or the devil. We must recognize enemy involvement, reject the world system, repent of known sin, and submit to Christ’s lordship.
Discerning the Source:
I. The Flesh
Mark 7:20-23 “He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”
Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
II. The World
1 John 2:15-17 “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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
James 4:4 “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
III. The Devil
John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
As Christians, we need to understand and learn to recognize the tactics of the tempter “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Ask the Lord to sharpen your discernment. Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Build authoritative prayer into your lifestyle. Prayer should not be a last-minute combative move against the enemy.
A good swimmer will tell you when the waves get rough, dive into the waves because you can’t outrun them. This is true in our walk with the Lord. The attacks will come. We cannot outrun them. But we don’t have to let the waves of life push us down and drown us. Dive in. Stand up and fight! Put on the amour of God!
In closing, I want to encourage you to “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). Stand up to your flesh! Stand up to the influence of the world! And stand up to the devil! Tell him to get behind you. He is defeated by the blood of Jesus Christ. In the end, we win!
December 2, 2008
By Dorie Meendering
Associate Pastor, Women’s Ministry, Resurrection Life Church, Grandville
What a challenge to stay on course through all the emotion of life! It’s important to remember that we are here because God designed us and put us here. We were God’s idea in the first place and He has a special place for us!
However, I Peter 5:8 tell us we have an adversary trying to devour us. He will try to make you feel discouraged and want to give up. But you have the ability to persevere because you have a personal guide, the Holy Spirit, who leads you every step of the way. So, why would you give someone else more power over your life than the Holy Spirit? If some situation has made you want to give up, you are led by the situation and not by the Holy Spirit.
Outlasting the Devil
You can always outlast the devil’s attack by “doing” the Word. The “Word” is usually quite different than how you feel but, it works! And, if the ‘Word’ works, why not do it?
Rom. 12:21 – overcome evil with good
I Peter 3:9 – bless so you receive a blessing
Matt 6:14 & 15 – forgive so you are forgiven
Phil 4:6 & 7 – pray and be thankful with your request
Rom. 15:13 – believe in the God of all hope and receive peace and joy.
Matt. 5:44 & 45 – do good when there’s opportunity
Prov. 2:1-7 – seek God for Wisdom
You do not have to understand everything that happens. “Wondering” can keep you from believing. If you have a divided mind, the Bible says don’t plan on receiving from the Lord. (James 1:6)
There is a Way of Escape
Remember, there is a way of escape so you will be able to bear what you are going through. (I Cor. 10:13) However, several things can block your escape. Take time to examine how your life is lining up with the Word of God. One of the most common things blocking our victory is a lack of forgiveness, or holding on to offense. Since God has forgiven us we are able, and expected, to forgive others. Sometimes the hurt took only 5 minutes but we give it the right to hurt us 10 more years. Why would we be so stubborn and continue to punish ourselves by making the choice to disobey God and not forgive? You should love yourself more than that!
Attack with Tenacity and Perseverance
Recognize who is trying to pull you off course. (I Peter 5:8). If you don’t recognize your enemy, you won’t know how to fight and take your authority to use the power of Jesus’ name. God, in His wisdom, has already laid out the only battle plan that will work and it is found in Ephesians 6: 10-18. Use these tools and choose to be immovable in your faith. Stand firm and don’t let your faith become shipwrecked!
You can outlast the devil!
October 6, 2008
“Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works . . . faith without works is dead,” says James 2:18, 20. Did you know that people can have a faith that is not active-a faith not living and moving in their lives? Your faith needs to be alive in you and on the move. If you’re going to deal with the challenges of life with any success, you have to have a faith that’s on the move. You have to release your faith!
You can have faith without releasing it. You might be born again and believe in God’s power, but you can still choose to sit there in a trial, down and depressed, and do nothing, pray nothing, meditate on nothing but your troubles, and speak nothing but negativity. You can refuse to thank God for anything or worship Him for what He can do. Victory over any trial is right within your grasp, but if you don’t choose to release your faith for that victory, it’s like not having faith for it at all. And you’ll get the same results in your sorry situation as if you didn’t have faith in the first place.
Avoid that scenario! In learning how to deal with trials, I’ve been there enough times to know that it doesn’t work. Release your faith instead. How do you release your faith for victory over a trial? You take action. You work at it. Don’t pray, “Lord, I’m going through an awful trial, and I’m going to sit right here and not make a move until You do something about it!” No way! Get moving! Take some steps to do all that you can do about your situation. Do everything God tells you to, and trust Him for the rest.
Remember the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5? She released her faith with great expertise. She was plagued by an unhealthy flow of blood “for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse” (verses 25-26). She was in one miserable, long-term trial! When she heard about Jesus, though, the Bible shows that she released her faith in some of the ways I’ve talked about. “She came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well’” (verses 27-28).
Do you notice how she’d heard about Jesus beforehand and started meditating on what she’d heard? I’m sure before she approached Jesus, she thought about Him over and over. She kept wondering about the reports of miracles He’d done. Jesus was on her mind day and night! The more she thought about Him, the more her faith rose up, until she spoke out loud the miracle she was believing for. I believe the words “she said” imply that she didn’t only say “I will be made well” once, but that she kept on saying it, kept on confessing it again and again. She focused her thoughts, her words, and I’m sure her prayers on finding an opportunity to touch Jesus and be healed. You’ve got to remember that she wasn’t suddenly made well at the point of her first confession, or her second, or third-she was still very unwell. Her healing hadn’t yet come, but her faith was constantly on the move before Jesus even showed up!
When Jesus did show up and an opportunity came her way to carry out her plan, she didn’t just stand on the edge of the crowd and hope He would spot her and do something, either. She went into action! She released her faith by putting some works behind it. She worked her way through the crowd toward Jesus-no doubt a difficult task. Some Scripture versions say she touched the hem of his garment, so she may have even crawled ground-level in the dirt to get to Him. She had to press through to be able to touch Jesus, and when she did, “Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction” (verse 29).
I love the way she released her faith. I think Jesus loved it, too. “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well” (verse 34).
Turn Back to God and Things Turn Around
King Hezekiah in the Old Testament was another one who released his faith in the midst of a terrible trial. The Bible says that pride entered into Hezekiah’s heart, and he became sick. He wouldn’t be the first or last person to let pride get the better of him! A lot of people find themselves in terrible trials because of their own pride and other sins. I’ve been there and done that! Have you? Even when we cause our own troubles, however, God is still there to turn things around if we’ll turn to Him. I love that!
Hezekiah didn’t think he needed to do things God’s way; he thought his own way was working just fine. (Admit it-a lot of us have been there!) But Hezekiah’s way wasn’t working, and he became deathly ill. Second Kings chapter 20 tells us what happened when Hezekiah turned back to God:
In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of
Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for
you shall die, and not live.’”
Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now,
O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have
done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the
Lord came to him, saying, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says
the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears;
surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will
add to your days fifteen years.”‘”
2 Kings 20:1-6
Basically Isaiah went in to Hezekiah and said, “Take care of things, because you’re going to die,” just like that. Then Isaiah walked out of the room. The news hit Hezekiah hard-verse 3 says he “wept bitterly.”
Ever been hit that hard? Sometimes when you’re hit hard by life’s challenges, it’s all right to release your emotions-as long as you don’t let that get in the way of releasing your faith. Hezekiah released both. He was upset, and he turned his face to the wall and wept. But he also turned to God. He made himself pray, and he petitioned the Lord, “You know that I’ve lived before You all the days of my life, Lord. I’ve sought You, and I’ve tried to do good things. This shouldn’t be the result! This shouldn’t be my end!”
After Isaiah walked out, Hezekiah didn’t just lie down and die. He acted on his faith. He humbled himself, reminded the Lord of their relationship, and begged for mercy. In any trial, even a trial of our own making, we can always do the same. Before Isaiah could even walk out of the king’s court, the Lord answered Hezekiah’s prayer. The Lord told the prophet to turn around and tell Hezekiah that he would live fifteen more years.
Triumph Over Your Trials
Releasing your faith allows God to move. When life hits you hard, repent if you need to, then worship around God’s Word. Pray, “Lord, I’m righteous because of the blood of Jesus Christ. I’ve been washed in that blood. I’ve confessed Him as Lord and I’m living for Him, so therefore I cry out to You in the face of this trial. Lord, I call on Heaven-I need a change in my situation. Show me what You want me to do, Lord, and take care of whatever I can’t do. I trust You with my life.”
If you’ll grab on to these different ways we’ve talked about for dealing with your troubles, you’ll get to the place where you’ll make it through every single trial successfully. You’ll get to the place where you’re perfect and complete in Him, lacking nothing. What looks like it could or would destroy somebody else will not destroy you. Like Hezekiah or the woman with the issue of blood, you’ll come out in a better place after the trial than the place you were in before.
When a trial hits, start by taking the steps we’ve covered. First, realize that we all face trials. You are not alone. Look at your trial as an opportunity to build spiritual maturity and practice walking close to God. Next, take action. Realize that you can do some things to help you deal with your trial successfully. We’ve talked about some important things to do:
- Make yourself pray with thanksgiving and meditate on God’s Word day and night, even if you don’t feel like it (and you probably won’t).
- Watch your words because life and death are in the power of the tongue.
- Make it your goal to speak God’s Word out loud instead of speaking about your trial.
- Don’t forget to make yourself laugh because a merry heart does good, like medicine.
- Worship God around His Word, reminding Him of the promises you find there.
All of these are phenomenal ways that you can release your faith. Do these things, and I guarantee that no trial will defeat you. You’ll deal with the challenges of life successfully, and you’ll be able to say, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14). You will win over trials every time!