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

Try, Try Again

Faith urges us to keep doing the right thing and leave the results up to God while doubt causes us to wonder What’s the use?.png

I told you a few days ago the Lord had been dealing with my heart about the topic of giving up. The lessons haven’t stopped. In fact, at a missions conference this weekend, I saw a Bible story in a whole new light, and the message has stuck with me. I’d like to share a portion of it with you today.

Second Kings 4 tells the story of a couple who loved the prophet, Elisha so much they built a room for him within their home. He was welcomed any time, and they saw to his needs on more than one occasion. In thanks for their faithfulness and hospitality, Elisha promised them a son, for the woman was barren. And it came to pass, the couple had a boy just as the prophet had said, but one day, the child went out with his father into the field and became ill, crying about a pain in his head. The Bible doesn’t specify what the illness was, but it caused the child to die. The Shunammite woman, heartbroken, went out in search of the man of God, and when she found him, she explained what happened. Distraught by the news, Elisha resolved to set things right.

And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
— II Kings 4:32-35

The first thing Elisha did was to pray, which is an excellent reminder to us that the first thing we should do in a crisis is call upon the Lord. But look at what he did next. He lay face down upon the child. It’s strange, I know, but the action had a positive response—the child grew warm. However, the child still wasn’t awake. The situation was still dire.

Elisha paced the house, and I have no doubt in my mind, he was still praying. But I have to wonder, too, if he was beginning to question. Did I do the right thing? Did I do it the right way? Am I missing something? Why didn’t it work? Could it be this is not God’s will?

Oh, how I can relate to the flurry of questions! When I’ve done what I know to do and things don’t work out the way they should (or I think they should), I find myself in a tug-of-war between praying and questioning. Typically, the struggle ends with a final question: what do I do now? Faith urges me to keep doing the right thing and leave the results up to God while doubt cause me to wonder, What’s the use?

I can’t say for sure Elisha faced that same tug-of-war, but I can tell you he acted in faith. After pacing a while, he repeated his previous action, stretching out upon the child, and his faith paid off. The child awoke. The family was reunited. And the prophet was reminded that persistence is golden. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again,” but they were following Scriptural advice.

Even when what we’re doing doesn’t seem to be working, if we’re following God’s will for our lives, we can trust our persistence will pay off. Keep working even when the rewards are few. Keep witnessing even when the message seems to fall on deaf ears. Keep training your children even when it seems they’re not interested. Keep fighting even when you feel you don’t have the strength to stand. Keep on keeping on, and God will reward your faith.

When You're Tempted to Quit

God has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word read in fact as well as faith.-2.png

There has been a common thread running through my quiet times with the Lord. From sermons, songs, devotions, Bible verses and more, God has been reminding me to keep on keeping on. Don’t quit when things don’t look the way I imagine they should. Don’t give up when I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. Don’t give in when the road is long and hard.

Just this morning, I was reminded of the children of Israel as they marched around the walls of Jericho. Day after day, they followed God’s command, yet to the eyes of Israel, nothing was happening, other than the fact that the inhabitants of Jericho were probably laughing their heads off at the ridiculous “antics” of God’s chosen people. What if the people had given up on the fifth day? What if Joshua—discouraged by a lack of progress and results—decided he had had enough and he would fight the battle his way? Would Jericho have been destroyed?  

I think, too, of Naaman, the leper who sought healing from God’s prophet, Elisha. Despite Naaman’s lousy attitude and resentment over Elisha’s prescribed remedy, the nobleman followed through and began dipping himself in the waters of the Jordan. What if he had stopped after the fourth dunk or even the sixth? What if he had examined his leprous skin each time after immersing himself in the water and determined the process didn't work? What if he stopped obeying because he didn’t see immediate results?

With these thoughts on my mind, I prayed about what the Lord would have me share with you today, and He directed me to this quote I scribbled in my journal several weeks ago. It went so beautifully with everything else God was speaking to my heart I knew I had my topic for today’s devotion.

God has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith.
— A.B. Simpson

Wow! Think about it. Faith is the evidence of things unseen. If we see results, that’s not faith. It’s sight. But the Bible tells us the just shall live by faith. God is working in our lives to help us trust Him whether or not we see results. He encourages us to be faithful even when we don’t understand. It is His will that we keep going despite our progress or lack thereof.  

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve prayed, “God, I would do much better if I knew this was actually working. Let me see something. Shew me some results, some fruit from my labor. Help me to know I’m on the right track here.” Now, I realize how small-minded that prayer is. God sees the bigger picture and has a higher plan in place. Instead of fueling my obedience with visible results, He’s teaching me to trust Him without them. He is increasing my faith (which, ironically, has been near the top of my prayer list for quite some time).

I don’t know what you’re facing today or how weary you are with the journey, but I know this—God has a plan for you. Don’t give up. Keep marching around those walls. Keep dipping in those waters. Or as Dory says, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” Whatever God has called you to do, please don’t let the lack of progress or results keep you from continuing in obedience. God is working even when we can’t see. Trust in that and keep on keeping on!

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
— Galatians 6:9