"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." Psalm 150:6
Wow, the journey this year has already had some interesting days. Through normal everday vision, you might say the days have been ordinary, very typical. You might say, "I don't really see the challenge!" Oh, there has definitely been a challenge. Praise God for the journey!
God warns us of the spiritual battle and tells us to take up the armor of God. The Living Bible states it this way in Ephesians 6:13, "so use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up." 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roarying lion looking for someone to devour." We know the devil will attack. He attacks the ones he does not already own. He attacks the children of God. The devil attacks. Praise God for warning us!
I went into the year knowing the devil attacks. I knew that reading and studying the Bible and praying would give me strength. However, I forgot something I learned awhile ago: when the devil attacks. The devil attacks anytime we draw closer to God. He will do anything to stop us on our journey to be more like God. Anytime we set our minds and our hearts to serious devotion (which should be all the time), the devil attacks to stop us in our tracks! If he can stop us, he might just gain an extra soul to spend eternity with him in eternal death. Praise God for keeping us from eternal death!
Misery loves company! Actually this is a lie. Misery loves loneliness. He will drop you and leave you suffering all by yourself. There is no gain, no friendship, no joy, no fulfillment, no satisfaction. And no, there is no party in hell. Misery loves company only means that devil in all his misery only loves one thing, and it comes from hate. He hates you so much, that he wants you to suffer, too. He will attack when you are not self-controlled and alert. Praise God for truth and revealing the lies of satan!
So, I'm on this challenge to learn self-control. I am paying so much attention to self-control by listening to both flesh and spirit trying to determine which is which. I am trying to recognize the Spirit and rely upon him to make my decisions and ignore my fleshly desires to indulge, especially the indulgence of my stomach, more precisely my mouth. Not only does my flesh want food, it wants to say whatever I think is clever, funny, smart, self-promoting, and even hurtful if I'm angry. The Spirit leads me to be full, to only feast upon the Lord's provision. The Spirit helps me not to steal/take more than God intends. The Spirit let's me know when I've said things that are ungodly. I am trying to rely upon the Spirit to keep me from saying ungodly things at all. Praise God for the gift of his Spirit, the counselor who guides us in God's path.
To get to the point, I was so busy focusing on self-control, I had forgotten to be alert. Over the past few weeks, the devil has attacked and therefore making what seems like ordinary days, not so ordinary. Why does chaos, hate, indulgence, and all the tactics of the devil appear ordinary. I think we get so accustomed to the devils tactics that we don't even realize the battles before us. We just dismiss these events saying, 'that's life' or 'life happened.'
Woe. Eventhough this world has been given over to the evil one, who roams around looking for anyone and everyone to devour, we must remember the author of life. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," Genesis 1:1. "Then God formed the man form the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Genesis 1:7. Jesus says, "The theif (the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they (all people) may have life, and have it to the full. I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 10:10 and 14:6) Who is life? God is life. Praise God for he is life!
I'll say it again, GOD IS LIFE! He is not the reason for the stress and ordinary battles we endure regularly that we are so accustomed to. We can not dismiss the problems of this world to "life," for God authors life. What we are dealing with is this fallen world being ripped apart by the devil. Praise God who authors life and protects life with extra ordinary measures!
The devil found me giving myself over to God in a whole new way. He sees that I don't want to be a slave to my flesh any longer. He sees my challenge for self-control and sees my focus on it. He then recognized that he would lose another foothold on my life. So, the evil one searched for a way to attack. It really wasn't hard! I wasn't on alert. Praise God for his revelations!
He took ordinary everyday means to attack me. Yep, I wasn't on alert. Here is a list of some of the attacks of the evil one in just 22 days:
1. I experienced nausea from January 1-4.
2. Sadie coughed during the night from January 1-9 rendering me exhausted.
3. Michael borrowed Sadie's cough rendering me fearful that I too may catch it.
4. The weather dropped below freezing for a record breaking time period, leaving me cold and captive in my own home.
5. Michael worked overtime due to factors at his employment requiring his time, rendering me alone at home.
6. I take on a diet and feel my flesh craving food, food, and more food. I have given in to eating past 8 o'clock several times, which is something I am trying to avoid.
7. Some one approaches me for being offensive. This breaks my heart and opens the door for attacks of the mind. (yes, I had offended and took responsibility for it. Now, it is okay.)
8. The mind games begin. I experience a few days (nonconsecutive) of depression. Just what I call "down days." These could be hormonal...who knows!
9. I get sick again with a cold for three days.
10. I miss church two sundays out of three.
11. Mind games: Loneliness
12. Mind games: Self-criticism
13. Mind games: keeping a ledger with loved ones
14. Sadie won't take a full nap making it more difficult for me to spend quiet time in study, prayer, and writing/posting.
15. Television calls out to me...watch, watch, watch, sit, do nothing, relax, watch.
16. Busy: I am busy, friends are busy, family are busy and leaving little time for fellowship.
17. I catch myself saying something I wish I hadn't. Then I call myself names that don't help. (mind games, a tactic the devil uses often on me)
18. Material things: I have found myself thinking about the things I want but don't need.
19. Distractions on the web...you know, facebook, email, youtube, tv shows, googling...anything that I'm fiddling around with that keeps me from his word and his work.
20. Exercise: I gave myself a two week break. Ahhhh! I needed the release that comes through exercise.
21. Laziness: I had days I just wanted to be lazy, sleep on the couch a couple of hours while Sadie watches Sesame Street.
22. Chores: I get so tired of laundry, dirty dishes, and the relentless kitchen chores: sweeping, cleaning, cooking. I avoided this some and felt guilty.
23. Tinker had to stay indoors with us for most of the past 22 day due to the weather. It just gets annoying keeping up a gate, Sadie and the dog arguing, and the floor being dirty.
Woe. Sounds negative? Not really, this is just normal stuff. The devil has thrown all this at me just to slow me down or to stop me from drawing near to God. I list these things just to be honest about the challenge I am experiencing. Had I been alert, I wouldn't have experienced this. On the contrary, the devil would have still attacked and I still would be challenged. However, I would have been prepared to resist. James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Praise God for His living Word!
First, submit to God. Do this first! You will only be able to resist the devil under this condition. Give yourself over to God's will, His plan. Dwell in his word. Only then, resisting the devil is possible. It will be possible because God has the armor properly designed for battle. God is the victorious one over evil. Only God is good. Only God wins. Only God gives victory. Praise God for victory!
Needless to say, I'm becoming alert. Now, I expect the attack. These days are not what I consider ordinary because of my God. He is an extra ordinary God who provides me with all that I need to resist the devil. Then, the devil will flee. Again, Praise the Lord.
The Lord's prayer offers me hope and peace in the battle that lies ahead. "and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:13) This is another prayer I will be offering up to my Lord. I beg Him to deliver me. Praise God for teaching us to pray!
Praise the Lord for He promises deliverance. Praise the Lord for He promises life. He is worthy of praise. This week I took a look at the word praise to draw near to God and to develop self-control. Psalm 145:1-3 reminds me to praise God everyday. Psalm 146:1-2 reminds me to praise God all my life and with my life. Psalm 148:13 says, "Let them praise the name of the Lord for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens." The rest of the book of Psalms speaks of praising God. This is the psalmist's final thought: "Praise the Lord."
What if I offered myself daily to praising God? I would definitely have my mind set on things above. I would be thinking about the greatness of my God. I would be submitting myself to the Lord. I would recognize and reflect upon the graetness of God all the time. A life of praise to the Lord will reflect the Lord who is worthy of praise.
Get behind me satan, today I praise God! Praise the Lord.