Not Today, Satan!

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From the moment my alarm went off this morning, a thousand anxious and worrisome thoughts filled my mind.

The schedule is full again today. How will I get it all done?

Why do I still feel so tired?

Yea, my headache is back. . .again!

I wonder if it’s supposed to rain today. I’m sick of rain.

Amidst the turmoil of my soul, I uttered the three words God laid on my heart this weekend: “Not today, Satan!” I don’t mind telling you I’ve had quite enough of his antics. I’m sick of him stealing my peace and joy day after day. He’s had me running in circles, and enough is enough! So, by God’s strength, I shout from the depth of my inner being, “Not today, Satan!”

When he fills my mind with anxious thoughts that cause my heart to race and my peace to retreat, I say, “Not today, Satan!”

When he urges me to be critical of those around me, “Not today, Satan!”

When my heart is overwhelmed, and I feel like giving up, “Not today, Satan!”

When I’m tempted by that piece of cake or that third helping of dinner, I cry, “Not today, Satan!”

When I feel the pull to skip my exercises and watch television instead, I shout, “Not today, Satan!”

Not today! He may have tricked me yesterday. He may have won the battles last week. But today is a new day, and I have a choice. I can say, “No,” and I choose to do just that. I’m tired of playing the part of a puppet on a string. God gave me free will, and when Jesus died for my sin, He gave me the power over that sin. I’m no longer a prisoner. I decide each day whether to live in freedom or captivity, and with that in mind, I say, “Not today, Satan! Today, I am free, and I will act like it!”

My friend, if you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior, you, too, are free. You are not bound by sin. The only power it holds over you is that you surrender to its pull. May I urge you to stand with me today and declare, “Not today, Satan!” Don’t worry about yesterday. You can’t change that. Don’t even worry about tomorrow. You’re not there yet. Consider today. When Satan comes to tempt you, distract you, discourage you, or dissuade you from following God, hold your head up high, and tell him, “Not today, Satan! This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).” Then follow through.

You may make this declaration once in the morning and live it out throughout the day, or you may have to declare your choice repeatedly throughout the day. I’ve only been up for about an hour, and I’ve already had a few occasions to say, “Not today, Satan!” But here’s the thing: we have God’s promise that if we resist the devil, he will eventually flee from us (James 4:7). He’ll see we’re no longer giving in to him. We’re no longer an easy target. And like he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Luke 4), he’ll be on his way (though I warn you, he probably won’t stay away long; he’s persistent that way!).  

Not today, Satan. I could wallow in self-pity, but what good would that do? I could allow the demands of life to sap my strength and joy, but then how would I serve God? I could give in to the promise of an “easy life,” but why would I? I know Satan is a liar and the father of all liars (John 8:44). Why would I believe anything he says? No, thank you! I choose to listen to the Voice of Truth who tells me I’m already an overcomer. How about you?

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
— Ephesians 4:20-27
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
— Joshua 24:15

Out of My Darkness

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I love it when God gives me the message I need when I need it. Yes, He’s the God that’s right on time with the perfect combination of conviction and encouragement, which is precisely what I received this weekend.

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been feeling down and defeated. The process of juggling demands and schedules was growing old and overwhelming, leaving me feeling like David in the cave of Adullam.

I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
— Psalm 142:1-4

Yup, a royal pity party, to be sure. But it’s where I was, and God met me there and gave me the strength I needed to climb out of that horrible pit. It began with a long, heartfelt talk with Jason and some much-needed (though not gracefully received) spiritual guidance. Then, as if to drive home the point, God led us to a church in Shelby for the Sunday morning service, and I got an earful.

In the Sunday School hour, the teacher taught on Jonah. As my mind condemned Jonah for his selfish choices, direct disobedience, and bitter attitude, I heard the still, small voice of the Lord whisper, “Sound like anyone you know?” Ouch, that stung, but I knew it was the truth. I had been acting just like Jonah—wanting to have my way and pitching a fit when things didn’t go according to my plans. Yikes! Talk about a wake-up call!

The morning service involved some of the best singing I’ve heard in a long time. The choir was fantastic as they lifted their voices in jubilant song, one of which was the perfect pairing to my feelings of guilt and shame after the Sunday School lesson—“I’m amazed that you love me!” The tears were flowing and continued to flow when a family group made their way to the platform and sang “Casting All Your Care Upon Him.” Now, I was bawling like a baby amid all these people who were probably thinking I was some kind of lunatic. Bless their hearts!

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, the pastor (a firecracker of a man) got up and announced his morning message—“Not today, Satan.” Oh my goodness! I leaned over to Jason and whispered through my tears, “It’s like they knew I was coming.” Immediately, I realized they (the church and pastor) didn’t know I would be attending that day or that I was in need of such encouragement, but God did. And once again, I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness to meet me in the low places and give me the strength to climb up out of my pit of despair and discouragement.

When I began writing this devotion, I planned to talk about the topic of “Not today, Satan,” but I think the Lord might want me to leave off until tomorrow for that. Today, I think I need to park it right here for a few minutes. Friend, God knows where you are. He knows what you’re facing. He understands the heartache and disappointment you feel. He sees your tears and hears your heartfelt cries. That’s where the latter part of David’s prayer comes into play.

 I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.
— Psalm 142:5-7

David was overwhelmed and feeling alone even though he was surrounded by 400 men. He felt no one cared for him and even implied that God had failed him. But somewhere along the way—during his darkest moments—God met with David and encouraged his heart. He reminded him of the truth and whispered comfort in the psalmist's ear, leading to David’s change of heart in the final verse: “thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”

God met Jonah in the whale's belly. He met David in the cave. He met me in my valley. God can meet you wherever you are. You are not too far gone. There is nowhere He cannot reach, and He longs to bring you up out of your despair. God will meet you where you are, but I guarantee you, He loves you too much to leave you there. I know it may seem dark, but He is the Light. Don’t shut Him out. Listen to His voice. Honestly, I was in such a state I wondered if He was through talking to me, but when I quieted my complaints long enough to listen, God’s voice was there. It started as a faint whisper, but let me tell you, by the end of the day, it was a shout! He can do the same for you. He wants to do just that. Will you let Him?

Maybe you need someone to talk to. Someone outside the box of your circumstances who can direct you according to God’s truth instead of your feelings. If so, I encourage you to seek that help. If you don’t know who to call or email, I am offering to be that listening ear. I may not understand exactly what you’re going through, but I am familiar with the valley, and God has taught me some things through my journey that perhaps I can pass on to you. Whoever you speak with, make sure that person will guide you in the truth of God’s Word not according to man’s opinions or understanding. The blind cannot lead the blind.

Dear one, you are not alone in this battle. Life is hard, but you don’t have to face it in your strength. God is and always will be a refuge for His people. Go to Him. Call on Him. Trust in Him. He’ll bring you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light!

Spiritual Housecleaning: Distraction

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Do you have any idea how many unfinished projects I have around my house? No? Me either. There's too many to count. I have good intentions, but I'm easily distracted. There seems to always be something else that needs to be done. For example, I've been bombarded by distraction after distraction just this morning. I sat down at my computer like a good girl, ready to get my blog posts done. Oh, I need to check my email. Well, what's this? Ooh! Look at that. I need to check that out. Let me look into that. I need to respond to this one, or I'll forget. Two hours later, I find myself still sitting in front of the computer. I've gotten a lot accomplished, but none of it had anything to do with my initial goal: to write my blog posts.

In the world we live in, distraction has become inevitable. With computers, television, cell phones, radios, playstations, cars, books, etc., there's simply no end to distraction. As if that weren't bad enough, our own minds constantly distract us from our immediate tasks. What are we going to have for dinner? Did I put the laundry in the dryer? I wonder what time my hubby will get home tonight? I need to pay the bills. Hmm, is there any money in the bank account? Should I get another job? On and on it goes.

I believe distraction is one of the devil's most valuable weapons. With just this one weapon, he can get us to stop doing the work of the Lord, not because we don't want to serve, but because we're too distracted to notice we're not serving. While we're quietly trying to go about the Lord's work, Satan is sending flashing neon signs to draw our attention away from our true goals. With most of us, it works like a charm every time. We're so gullible!

There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, “I didn’t come up here to read.” - "Nehemiah, Learning to Lead,"J. M. Boice, Revell, 1990, p. 38

Oh, that we would be more like Hank Aaron. When the devil comes to us with distraction, we say, "I didn't come here for that. I'm here to do what the Lord called me to do." It will take focus. It will take discipline. It will take constant monitoring. But we must avoid distraction at all costs.

For more on the subject of distraction, check out my book, The Deadly Darts of the Devil.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
— Proverbs 4:25-27