My friends, I am setting aside my usual routine of sharing the Word to share with you a matter of the heart. I want to bring to your attention that you are a hated person. It doesn't have much to do with you as much as with the one to whom you belong. Our Father has an enemy and because we are the children of the LORD God Almighty he is our enemy too. He hates us because we are the beautiful work of God. His greatest desire is to destroy anything that is even remotely attached to our Father. The Word puts it this way:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
What better way for Satan to hurt our Father than to bring harm to his children. He can't lay his hands on us directly so he uses his tricks of half-truths, bold-faced lies, playing on our selfishness, bringing fear and division, using rumours and assumptions. He works to get our eyes off of Jesus and onto ourselves, which is not always a difficult thing for him to do. He loves division. He loves to use his methods to bring such division into leadership and marriages and he does it by working on our egos, our selfishness, our pride. He works in direct contrast to what Jesus taught and exampled for us. The enemy is doing everything he can to put stumbling blocks between us and God and us and our neighbour.
I am saying this because I am getting tired of falling into his trap and seeing my church falling into his trap. Incredible things are happening right now in my church family. The Spirit has brought in a refreshing. He has brought new life to old bones. He is renewing people and people are laying down their lives. Power and authority are coming upon the people. Great things are happening in worship, the Word comes with authority, people are getting back to their knees. This is all great but I know it is just a starting point. He has greater things planned as we grow into maturity because he is releasing the anointing in greater amounts as we grow in faith.
Wherever we see God's hand moving we will find the enemy sowing his seeds. In this season of refreshing I am witnessing discouragement as I have never witnessed before. I am witnessing and experiencing distractions so that my eyes are off the sheep and on myself. I am seeing people dancing in victory on Sunday and overwhelmed by their circumstances on Monday. I am seeing people declaring their faith who are then attacked by fears with no substance. I am seeing a weariness and a tiredness where there is no reason for either. I am seeing some people lost in worship and others who can't even sense the presence of God because their hearts have been chocked by the enemy's traps. But these traps are only effective if we are unaware of them. Be aware my friends.
Division in leadership and marriages is destroyed by forgiveness. It is one of the single most important lessons Jesus taught us and that we should be living every day of our life. The enemy loves unforgiveness and he can play on that until the perfect work of God is completely destroyed. This was Paul's answer to this plan of the enemy:
If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)
Don't be outwitted by the enemy, forgive whatever needs to be forgiven. Such unforgiveness leads to fault finding, name calling, tearing down, and discouragement. Forgive the mistakes the leadership makes. Forgive the person who sat in your favorite chair on Sunday. Forgive that person for forgetting to say hi to you. Yes, these little things lead to the destruction of God's beautiful work. Be aware of the schemes of the enemy.
Look at the words of your mouth and the actions of your hands. Are you an encourager? That is what we have been told to do; build each other up, encourage one another, cheer each other on. Stay strong as a family and keep Jesus the center of it all:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
If we are ever going to progress forward we must be able to resist the discouragement of the enemy. When God brings us into his promises there will always be fortresses and giants to contend with and the enemy will be there to emphasize them. We must learn not to fall into that trap. Peter put it this way:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Be self-controlled and alert so you can be aware of what the enemy is doing and once you see it resist him and stand firm in your faith, realizing you are not alone in it. Peter also adds something we may not like at first but it is God's normal pattern of things:
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11)
It is the "after you have suffered a little while" that we don't like. But sometimes that suffering is because we have yet to become aware of what the enemy is doing. Once we realize it then we discover restoration, strength, firmness and steadfastness. Our job is to resist the enemy, to stand our ground, to proclaim the praises of the Holy One, to do what good we can around us and to be used as an instrument to rescue the perishing. We can't do that if we are allowing the enemy to keep us in our selfishness. I leave you with this:
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)