Spiritual Warfare: Open Our Eyes

Sword & Shield SmallAn amazing story takes place in II Kings 6:8-22. The king of Aram was trying to attack the king of Israel’s territory. But the prophet Elisha kept warning the king of Israel where the attacks would come. The king of Aram became so frustrated, he asked his men if one of them was a spy. They told him the problem was the prophet Elisha who knew their every move. So the king of Aram sent his army to capture Elisha.

What a Sight!

Elisha’s servant stepped out the front door onto the porch one day, probably to get the morning paper, and was surprised to see an army surrounding the city. He was, understandably, afraid. He asked the prophet what they should do. But Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid … Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Spiritual Vision

I wonder if the servant looked around and then gave Elisha a look that said, “Dude, there’s only two of us!” Because the next thing Elisha did was to pray. “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” And then! “…the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” And God gave Elisha great victory over that entire army that day.

We talked last week about needing to acknowledge that we have an enemy, but knowing we have the victory. We need to ask the Lord to open our eyes to both. We need to be able to see when and where the enemy is at work, but we must always be firmly rooted in the fact that, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Focus

I talked to a lady once who was in love with the enemy. Truly. She didn’t realize that at the time, but all she wanted to talk about was the enemy and his work. She wanted to tell me about all the different times she had been attacked by him and times she had seen demons, etc. Never once did she talk about the Lord and His power.

We are not in a relationship with the enemy. We are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, who has already defeated the enemy. Even when we find ourselves in spiritual warfare, either standing against the enemy or declaring the victory in worship or battling in prayer for someone’s salvation, we keep our eyes on the Lord. We focus on the work He wants to do and the fact that He has the power to do it. We are merely partnering with Him.

God’s Army

So, before we look at the weapons of warfare God has given us, such as the armor and prayer and fasting and the Word, we need to clear. We need to ask the Lord to give us sight like Elisha. He received wisdom from the Lord regarding the enemy’s attacks, but he wasn’t afraid. He knew he was serving in the greatest army of all. And so are we.

Was there a time the Lord gave you supernatural insight into the spiritual battle behind a situation?

 

Lighten Up

The Lord told me the funniest thing last week. In such a kind and compassionate way, He told me to, “Lighten up.” What? Really? Did I hear that right?

Who me? I’m not worried…

I know we’re not supposed to worry, and I put a lot of effort into not worrying, sometimes without much success, really. My mind returns to the problem over and over. But even if I catch myself, and if I’m sincerely praying about something and speaking in faith about it, I often still have this underlying intensity. I walk around with a heaviness in my heart. Sometimes it comes from fear. Sometimes the tension comes from trying so hard to not be afraid. Which means, I’m missing the whole point.

If I give something to God and believe that He’s handling it, I can let go of it. I can even choose to relax and smile because everything is going to be ok. I could, technically, enjoy the fact that God has everything under control. I could, “lighten up.”

This Tension is What’s Holding Me Together…

I find myself very suspicious of this idea. I think I picked up somewhere along the way that the way I help God is by staying intense about the problem. If I’m not concentrating on it (aka: worrying about it,) if I’m happy and having fun, I’m probably not doing my part.         Silly me.

Of course, I would never want my kids to do that. There are things that I need to handle for them and I want them to trust I’m doing what needs to be done. The whole point is that they don’t have to worry about it.

Believing with Our Emotions

Part of believing God’s Word is believing with our emotions. Even for introverts with trust issues. Do we believe God is at work on our behalf? Then, let’s take a deep breath (and let it out!) and smile because God is “on it.” It’s ok to be happy about all the good things in our life (aka: counting our blessings) and to enjoy ourselves in the midst of a stressful problem or issue because God is absolutely going to work everything out for the very best. (So many Scriptures support this, but just to note two of them: Romans 8:28 & Jeremiah 29:11.)

Maybe I’m the only one who gets over-focused on a problem, but if you’re like me at all, maybe you’ll join me in trying something new: Let’s let our spirits lift as we take some joy in the things around us, trust God ~ and lighten up.

 

Is there something you need to let go of today? Do you need to “lighten up?”

Fear vs. Faith

Challenged Again

It’s always a funny, déjà vu feeling when you’re challenged again by something you’ve previously written. That happened to me last week as I was preparing to teach the second lesson of “Queen Esther’s Secret.” I love teaching this material, but I quickly realized I wasn’t fully walking in faith instead of fear—again.

Fear Taking Over?

As I read over the lesson and made a few updates and edits, I realized that so much of the stress I was carrying—right then!–was from fear. I followed my own advice and started to identify the fears. What was I afraid would happen? Why wasn’t I taking action on a couple of items? I answered these questions by filling in the blanks. “I am afraid that …” or “I don’t want to take this step because I’m afraid … will happen.”

Then, to turn it around. I turned those fear statement into faith statements. “The Lord is with me, therefore, I will proceed with …” and “The Lord is leading me to do this, so in faith I will step out and move forward.” In some things, I needed to ask the Lord for wisdom first. Part of my stress and fear was because I wasn’t sure what to do.

“People Stress”

It helps to know what your personal stressors or triggers are. There are certain things that cause each of us to slip from faith to fear faster than others. One of my triggers is when things feel out of control. Especially, if people are doing things that affect my life in a negative way (and I don’t feel I have influence with them) or if their decisions are causing me stress or hurting people I love, I get “wound up.” People. They can really “up” the stress levels, not to mention the blood pressure! (Ha, ha!) If only they would do things the way I think they should be done…you know, the Right Way! (Just kidding. Kind of.)

If I have to confront someone—even if I know it’s completely necessary—that definitely causes me stress. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I really care about how people feel and how my words, attitude and actions make them feel. But I have to lay down that fear of hurting someone and ask the Lord what I’m supposed to do. Sometimes confrontation is the path to life, the path to growth and change. If God is telling me to confront, then I need to do so in faith that He is wise and all-knowing and will use the conversation for life.

Walking in Faith

I stepped out in faith in a couple of ways last week. Deciding to take those steps didn’t make me feel brave. I had to “do it scared.” But that’s ok. The second half of the Esther lesson about leaving fear behind and walking in faith teaches us that favor follows faith. Indeed it does. We can move from fear to faith, step out in obedience and know God will bless us and work through that very obedience. (Hey, that’s what this week’s lesson in Esther is about–obedience!)

In all things, we need to intentionally walk in faith. These are scary times for a lot of people, but we can still walk in faith. Faith that God’s Word is true and He is faithful. Faith that He will always provide for His people, as His Words says. Faith that He is always with us and that His plans for us are good, to give us a future and a hope.

Faith Statements

We must not let fear rule our lives. We must starve fear to death and feed our faith. Faith is one of the key steps on the path to victory (Heb. 11:6) God is good. We can trust Him in all things. Let’s actively identify fears, give them to God and then choose to walk in faith. Let’s turn our fear thoughts to faith thoughts and our fear words to faith words.

Where is fear impacting your thoughts and actions this week? Identify your fears and turn them into statements of faith. (You can do all things through Christ who is your strength!)

Wind & Waves

Stress

Recently, I was feeling stressed and pressured about several issues. Circumstances and people were all “pushing my buttons.” I don’t know how they found my buttons. I try to keep them well-hidden, but somehow the word got out and it was constant, “Push. Push. Push. Beep. Beep. Beep!” I was frustrated, irritated; all those stress symptoms were popping up.

I was thinking about what Bible verses I could hold onto and realized right away, a BibleGateway.com search for irritated, cranky or crabby would not bring up one Scripture. (Hee, hee!) But the Bible tells us plenty about having the right attitude and it speaks to us over and over about peace. Hundreds of times we are told, “Fear not.” Surely the opposite of stress is peace. Suddenly, I found myself thinking about Peter walking on the water and it hit me.

I was looking at waves.

Focus

I usually associate Peter looking at the waves with fear. The Bible tells us he looked at the wind and waves and was terrified and began to sink (Matt. 14:30). But more than terror can cause us to sink.

Any time I set out toward Jesus and circumstances take my eyes away and I start looking at all the ruckus around me, I can be sure I will start to sink.

When Peter began to sink and cried out to the Lord for help, “Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt me’?” (Matt. 14:31 NLT).

Saved

Something I love about that verse: Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. He didn’t give Peter a pep talk or tell him to use more faith. Jesus grabbed hold of Peter and saved him right away. Just like he saved me last week. The Lord provided exactly what I needed. Situation resolved. (*Insert sigh of relief here!*)

Like Peter, I needed to get my eyes back on Jesus and trust Him. When I focus on Jesus, I can know everything will work out.

Trust

I think it’s interesting how the NLT translated Jesus’ words to, “Why did you doubt me?” Not just, “Why did you doubt?” but “Why did you doubt me?” Isn’t that the question?

Peter was already walking on the water to Jesus. Jesus was already enabling him to do the supernatural! But our human nature responds when the waves kick up. Oh no. Jesus can’t handle a wind that strong. Panic! Stress! “Jesus, save me!”

Do I really think Jesus will let the waves overcome me? Do I really think He won’t continue to hold me in my walk toward Him? Do I really think this is the situation He’s not prepared for and can’t handle? Silly.

Peace

Sure, it’s natural to look at the wind and the waves all around us. But we walk in the supernatural. We walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. We just need to keep our eyes on Jesus and keep walking toward Him right through all the chaotic circumstances around us. We are the people of the Lord. We are people of peace.

What wind and waves are trying to take your eyes off Jesus today?

Do you need to take a moment and focus on Him?

I’ll Get to That…Later

Procrastination. Am I the only one who struggles with this? I blame the Poetry Project. Yes, the Poetry Project of junior high. Something about that project set me off. I didn’t always procrastinate. I was a straight-A student, who diligently finished homework on time and studied for tests. I was always prepared. But that Poetry Project…

Jr. High Poetry!

I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t start it. It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t see the whole picture or grasp the whole scope. I finally told my mom and the night before it was due, my mom, her friend and I all worked together to gather the poems I needed. We got it done and I was just glad it was over. Then I went back to my usual over-achieving ways.

The Procrastination Button

Unfortunately, from time to time that procrastination button gets pushed. I still can’t tell you precisely what sets it off. Something about not seeing the whole picture or grasping the whole scope…something about not being exactly sure what to do (not that I’m a perfectionist or anything!) and feeling some element out of my control (I’m not controlling either! Ha, ha!) I find myself putting off that big project until…later. Much later.

Behind the “Putting Off”: FEAR

I recently delayed, deferred and otherwise put off doing something I needed to do and even wanted to do, so I’ve been thinking about this procrastination issue. I believe the bottom line is some kind of fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. (Seriously, success changes everything.) Fear of less than perfect. Fear of all that is out of my control.

That’s probably why II Timothy 1:7 is one of my favorite verses. Sometimes I quote it out loud to myself, more than once, until I break through the fear barrier. This helps me move forward.

“For God hath not given us a spirit of fear;

but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (KJV)

The NIV says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,

but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Forward Motion Restored

When it’s fear causing the sudden lack of momentum resulting in endless procrastination, we can turn to the Lord and know He is not the one holding us back. He has given us all the power we need to move forward. His perfect love drives out all our fear (I John 4:18) and we have the clarity of mind and the self-discipline we need to see that thing through.

Hooray for God’s strength in us! We can do all things through Him!

The enemy wants us bound, but God has set us free. Let’s walk forward in power, love and mental strength.

Is there something you are putting off because of fear?

Confidence for Life

In the last post, we talked about God being “with us” very specifically and the fact that He cares about the details of our lives. A short phrase I love to use to remind myself of this is, “God is with us. God is for us.” Or, a more personal approach—God is with me. God is for me. Say that out loud. The truth of those words can change your life.

On Our Own?

Sometimes we forget God is with us. We act as if we are “on our own” in this life, surviving by our instincts, thriving by our hard work alone. We think we have to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps” and trudge on through. By the sheer force of our will, we pretend to conquer all.

The only problem is when we don’t conquer and give way to defeat, to despair. Then, we finally look to the heavens and say, “God, where are you?”

By Our Side

With tenderness, He replies, “Right where I’ve always been. Where are you?” It’s like the child looking one direction and crying out for her parent who is standing right by her side. He’s right there.

God is with us. This should be our comfort and confidence booster each day.

What is there to worry about? God is with us.

What is there to fear? God is with us.

Unemployed? Fighting sickness? Worried about the kids? Worried about the future? GOD is with us. Something holding you back from your dreams? Go forth and conquer! Get out there and do it! God is with us!

Got Our Back

And God is FOR us. God looks upon us with love and favor. He wants us to succeed. He fully intends and plans that we will (Jer. 29:11)—when we partner with Him. If we will take His hand, He has the adventure all planned. He is for us. He loves us.

God is for us. He’s on our side. Well, really, we’re on His side. But once that decision is made, we belong to Him. We are His children. He’s got our back. He is our Protector, our Deliverer. He is the One going before us to smooth the path. He is the ultimate “connection” who will “hook you up!” He is the One you want to know, the One to be seen and identified with! Greatness by association.

God is with us. God is for us. Be comforted. Be strong. God is with you and He’s crazy about you.

What can the phrase, “God is with me. God is for me.” give you the confidence to do today?


  • Hi, I'm Erica ~ a wife, a mom, a Christian speaker, singer, author, and worship leader. I love coffee & chocolate, reading & writing, music & more music, Facebook & Twitter, time with family & friends! Thanks for dropping by ~ I hope you are encouraged here.

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