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The Schemes of The Enemy

1Pe 5:6 Therefore be humbled under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time,
1Pe 5:7 casting all your anxiety onto Him, for He cares for you.
1Pe 5:8 Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour;
1Pe 5:9 whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions in the world are being completed in your brotherhood.
1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, He calling us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, He will perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

The times in my Christian life, that I have fallen - these are the times I have learned the most, I believe. Yes, you will have times when you fall as a believer, just as a child learning to walk, at first falls down again and again, and each time gets back up and tries again, untill he finally is able to walk with strength and confidence.

Pro 24:16 for a just one falls seven times, and rises up again; but the wicked shall fall into evil.

But each time we fall, we should become more aware of the traps, the wiles, the schemes, that the enemy has placed in our path to trip us, and the weaknesses in oursleves that cause us to stumble. As we grow, and become more mature, we should also grow more adept in recognizing his schemes, and not only recognizing them, but looking for them, and counting on them to be there. Just as a soldier must think ahead and learn to recognize the schemes of the enemy, we are in a war with the enemy of our souls and must learn to recognize and be one step ahead of his schemes, learning and using all God provided for us to stand steadfast and resist. This enemy of ours is deadly! He is not playing games but is out to kill.

We also must be aware of those things in our own flesh that the enemy uses to cause us to fall, and bring them to His cross. Pride is the biggie! Thinking we are anything in ourselves outside of full dependence on God is pride. This will cause us to fall again and again, untill we realize all is dependent on Him. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Prov. 3:34

1 Peter 5:6 says therefore we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

What does that mean?

It means realizing who God is, and seeing yourself in His light, realizing all in your life is in His control, that you are completely dependent on Him, nothing in yourself, and that He is working all together for good, to conform you to the image of His son. It means putting yourself, then, under His perfect hand of care, accepting His chastisement, correction, guidance, provision, and trusting that He has a purpose for it all in your life. To humble ourselves under His hand then is to wait on Him and His purpose as you are obedient to Him, yielding to Him in the battle, instead of fighting against His hand in your own strength, trying to work out your purposes and fight your own way through the trials and testings and struggles. Pride is the opposite of takes true humility to trust all that His hand brings or allows.

Verse 7 then follows with "casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you."

Do you believe He cares for you perfectly? Do you believe in His goodness? If you have pride or fear you won't. But if you have humbled yourself under His mighty hand, now you are able to realize that your cares are not your own, but His, and so cast them on Him, trusting in His goodness and His care for you.

Now you are ready to recognize, with watchfulness and self-control, the enemy of your soul, and be alert to his schemes. Study them! Learn to know what his schemes are! Don't let him catch you in a snare. He has many schemes...

Lies...His greatest weapon! That's what he's famous for! He's the father of lies and will twist and turn even the Word of God and try to use it against you. He will lie to you always. His purpose is to produce doubt, fear, and condemnation, getting you to look away from God, and at yourself and your failure, or weakness, and to destroy your faith and love for God, and trust in God's goodness. Refuse to listen. Determine to answer Him with the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, as Jesus Himself did and not even argue. Put your faith in the Word as your shield of faith. Submit yourself to God and He will flee.

Temptations according to our weaknesses...If we walk in the Spirit, we won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Don't put yourself ever in a situation where you know you are weak in the flesh. Satan is waiting for an opportunity to catch you off guard. If you find yourself under temptation, do what Joseph did (Gen. 39:11,12), flee before temptation gets a hold of you!

1Co 10:13 No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it.

Heb 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, having been tempted, He is able to rescue those who are being tempted.

Distractions...The cares of this life - not casting them on the Lord, other interests that turn our hearts away from God and occupy our devotion above Him, even our daily tasks can distract us from the Lord. We need to make an effort daily not to be distracted from Him, or just as sure as the sun rises every day - we will be! We experience it every time we try to pray or read His Word! I have to always pray before I enter into reading my Bible or intercession that the Lord will take my mind, and fill it with His Spirit and make me alert, while I'm praying, to his distractions, and take every thought captive to be obedient to Christ.

False teachers...They are wolves in sheeps clothing. They are noted speakers...full of charisma, who know how to gain a following. Their teachings are subtle twists of the Word, and permeate the teachings of the church without being suspected because of the Biblical illiteracy of the church. Know the Word of God! Give yourself to it daily; not just reading it in bits and pieces, or in a book written about the Word, but get to know it! Get familiar with it as a whole and what it is saying. Love the truth! Read it with the Holy Spirit, praying for discernment in truth from error. Compare all things to His Word and its message as a whole. Learn to rightly divide the Word of truth. Most false teachers are good at using the Word, and twisting its meaning, taking it out of context. Even satan himself used the Word to tempt Jesus!

1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Dissention...Usually caused by false teachers and those weak enough to follow them, or just plain pride and carnality. Head knowledge without heart knowledge, mishandling of the Word of God, a want for vain glory, and self-righteousness can all cause dissention in the body. Brother against brother..all sure they are right! Keep your eyes open for all the ways satan turns brother against brother, sister against sister in the body of Chirst, causing strife and dissention. But the Bible tells us to love one another, forgive, bearing with one another's faults, idiocyncrasies, and weaknesses in the body of Christ. We are to esteem others as better than ourselves, gently admonishing one another in the Lord.

Bitterness...Rather than bitterness toward others we are to love, and forgive, not being easily offended. Be on the alert for all roots of bitterness...

"Pursue peace with all people, and holines, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled." Heb. 12:14,15

Legalism...Drawing our attention away from Christ and what He has done for us and in us and wants to accomplish through us by His Spirit alone, and to a law and our outward performance. In doing so we are unable to let the Holy Spirit reveal our flesh and our hearts truly as He sees them to us. When our trust is in His righteousness, His law written in our hearts, living by faith in His Spirit, He then deals with the heart - leading it to the cross and our hearts are humbled and His righteousness, rather than our own self-righteousness, is formed within. Then our outward performance is genuinely an outworking of the Spirit within us. If our eyes are on our outward performance and a law we are keeping, we become puffed up in self-righteousness and fail to see our heart.

When we have seen and learned to recognize his schemes we must be diligent to resist, steadfast, remembering that we are to stand, not in our own power but the power of "His might." Eph. 6:10. Remembering we don't struggle against flesh and blood, but against powers, principalities, rulers of darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. Eph. 6:11,12.

We must put on His full armor...Eph. 6:13-18, and we must stand at all cost, remembering to pray for our brothers and sisters in the world who are also suffering the same tribulations and testings as we are.

We have a wonderful promise at the end of all these trials, sorrows, and sufferings, when we've done all to stand...1 Peter 5:10... "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered awhile, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen."

He will do it!

Even through all the testing, resisting, struggling, and suffering, falling and getting back up again, He is perfecting you, establishing and strengthening you, and settling you once and for all in His eternal glory, which you will share with Him!

Sharing His Consolation

One dark day in my life, about 25 yrs. Ago, I was struggling with spiritual problems I could find no answers to. I had only been a Christian for 5 yrs. And hadn’t yet learned so many spiritual truths that would have helped me through those times. If only I had someone! A mentor, anybody that could relieve the spiritual distress I was going through! I knew nobody, though I had friends, and a strong Christian husband, that I felt would understand the darkness in my heart. I kept it to myself. I cried out to God one day, “God, why has this happened to me? Why am I going through this?” A verse came into my head immediately – Just the reference – 2 Cor. 1:3-7. I looked it up and read it…

2Co 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,
2Co 1:4 He comforting us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in every trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2Co 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.
2Co 1:6 And if we are troubled, it is for your consolation and salvation, being worked out in the endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer; if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
2Co 1:7 And our hope of you is certain, knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also of the consolation.

God spoke to my heart that what I was going through would prepare me to give His consolation to others one day. At the time it seemed hard to see that I would ever find my own answers, let alone be able to ever to console someone else with God’s consolation! But God promises when we seek, we find. When we ask, we receive. But too often we give up before we reach the point of praying through and finding His consolation in our trials. We settle too often for the help of the world rather than God’s comfort and way through our suffering.

Just remember when you are in that dark trial of your faith – God intends to console you! He intends for your victory and your good. He is making you His vessel of honor, so that His fragrance can flow through you to console others in the trying of their faith.

I can point to times in my walk with the Lord, that I saw no end to the trial. I saw no hope. I thought I had lost my faith for good at other times. I thought God had abandoned me. Then there were times I failed God and denied Him. There were times I thought He’d never forgive me again. There were times when I wanted to die. The pain in my life was too much! Times when temptation was too overwhelming and I was sure it was indeed more than I could bear. But through it all, God showed me, every time, His grace, His love, His forgiveness, His keeping power, His compassion, His strength in my weakness, His long-suffering and patience. He has an endless supply for all our need, whatever it may be.

Wherever you are at now in your journey with Him, ask Him how He can show you His consolation and grace, that you might share it with another; and this is how the body of Christ is strengthened. We continue to pass on His consolation after consolation, helping others to endure to the end, not giving up the hope of His calling. Ask God, if you are in turmoil, suffering, pain, or whatever, how you can learn from this, His grace and comfort, so you too can share His glory with others. Can you say with Jesus – “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world?” Jesus has given all of us, in Christ, those people He brings in our lives to manifest His name to – or to reveal His very nature to. Let’s learn to find, then His consolation for ourselves in our suffering, rather than man’s, that we can manifest Christ to others He has given us.

Have others shared His consolation with you? Pass it on! It wasn’t only for you, but for others God brings into your life who are suffering the same trials and fears, doubts, and temptations. We are a body, growing together, nurturing one another and growing stronger and stronger, even by the sufferings we go through, together in the Lord. No gates of hell shall ever prevail against us, as we walk in the consolation He provides through every hardship, every weakness, every trial of our faith!

Did you know that our sufferings are a gift? Phi 1:29 For to you it is given on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

J, F, & B commentary - it is given--Greek, "it has been granted as a favor," or "gift of grace." Faith is the gift of God (Eph_2:8), not wrought in the soul by the will of man, but by the Holy Ghost (Joh_1:12-13).

believe on him--"To believe Him," would merely mean to believe He speaks the truth. "To believe on Him," is to believe in, and trust through, Him to obtain eternal salvation. Suffering for Christ is not only not a mark of God's anger, but a gift of His grace.

So the sufferings we share in Christ serve only to drive us to the blessed consolation of Christ, receiving more of His grace and glory, and by doing so we also are made a consolation to others.

2Co 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, so that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;
2Co 1:10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver; in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us,
2Co 1:11 with you also helping together by prayer for us, so that the gracious gift by many persons be the cause of thanksgiving through many for us.

Abba, Father, our God, I ask that You would remind us when we suffer to thank You for the consolation that You have to bring Your joy to our hearts. You have prepared it already for us ahead of time, and there is nothing we suffer that You cannot console us in and have not already planned ahead for. I ask that You will remind us to be that consolation in the lives of others with the comfort You have brought us, that Your love and glory may spread through out the body of Christ. In the name of Jesus, may it be so….amen!

In The Surgeon’s Hands

Ps. 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.

Ps. 119:75 I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

Psa 147:3 He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.

Psa 103:3 who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases;

Early in my Christian life, one day, I was sitting at the dining room table enjoying a time with my family. My children were small and they were playing in the next room close to us as my husband and I were chatting. I had my Bible opened and was flipping through it not really looking for anything in particular, when suddenly my eyes fell on Psa. 147:3 above, and it jumped out at me from everything else on the page. A still small voice spoke to my heart these words, “Ginny, I am going to heal your broken heart. I’m going to bind up your wounds.” I sat there in awe and thanked God, not really knowing what He meant. We had begun having trouble with our son Jesse, at that time, who by the age of 11 was finally diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome. The years ahead of me were full of many heartaches and pain in my spiritual life and in my family.

Then one day a few years later, we were all staying in a cabin by the shore of Lake Superior. We were walking along the lakeshore and I told the kids whoever found me a heart shaped rock would get a quarter. Soon one of them came to me with a heart shaped rock, but it had one little flaw in it - sort of a gash on one side. I had wanted to paint a scripture verse on it and decorate it for my end table. I prayed, “Oh Lord, it’s too bad it has that gash on it. What verse can I use?” Then Psa. 147:3 once again came to me and I knew the gash was the wound in my heart that He promised He would heal. This stone became a memorial to God’s promise to me.

So much turmoil lied ahead in my life. There were spiritual battles, depression, heartache, and unsolvable problems. I kept wondering when God was going to heal my broken heart! It seemed He was breaking it more and more! When would it finally be healed? When would I see His promise fulfilled?

Then I learned that I was in the hands of the Surgeon all along! Oh Lord! It is You who have afflicted me and You Who will heal me! I discovered that I had been in the process of spiritual surgery. In my life, all the diseased things, the things that were keeping me from being all God wanted me to be, the things that separated me from Him and were of my flesh life, were being cut out. One by one, the hand of the Great Surgeon was removing them. The process was a painful one. It was very dangerous, indeed! But this surgery was for my life. It was for my healing.

When you are finding that life has given you lots of affliction and pain everywhere you turn, remember that you are in the hand of the Great Surgeon. He will never leave you or forsake you and He promises that He will not leave you lying there bleeding and wounded. He will heal that wound and bind it up. This you can be sure of. Never doubt it! Going into surgery is a scary thing. I just had surgery a little over a week ago. I had to trust myself into the hands of a strange surgeon, and believe that what he was about to do to me, though it would bring me pain, and I would have some recovery time, would ultimately end up in my healing and I would be better off for it in the long run. I’ll tell you! It has not been easy! I have doubted my decision, and have had a miserable recovering time and wondered if this surgeon did the right thing to me! But now, finally, I am beginning to feel just a little bit of the healing process. I am beginning to have faith that I will be better off and I will finally heal.

With our Great Surgeon, Jesus Christ, we have no doubts! We know that…”.all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28 We can be assured we are always in His hands and when He wounds, He also heals.

I you are a Christian, do you trust yourself in the hands of this Great Surgeon? Do you trust Him completely with all that comes into your life each day, and all the heartaches, all the pain, and sorrow? Lay it at His feet, and ask Him to use it all to remove all the diseased flesh from your life. Ask Him to use it to make you more like Him and trust Him to take it all, and even in the pain, to heal the wound and bind it up.

Before His spiritual surgery, we tend to go astray from His way. We tend to walk our own way and live to please ourselves. Oh yes, even as Christians – don’t we? Even the way we serve Him is usually by our own fleshly ways, until God’s surgical hand removes the flesh from our hearts and we have been put to death with Him that we may also be risen with Him. Then we are able to walk truly in His ways, and by His Spirit.

Col 2:11 in whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ,
Col 2:12 buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from the dead.
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

By faith we come to Him for that removal of our flesh. We accept that He has done it in Christ. We put our trust in Him to work it into our lives. The hand of the surgeon goes to work. We must trust His hand. We must trust the power of His cross to do the complete job in our hearts, working into us His righeousness. We must also trust the power of His resurrection to raise us up again to newness of life.

Put your life in the hand of the Surgeon today, Jesus Christ. Let Him have His way in you, completely. Don’t be afraid of the pain! Remember that the pain will bring the healing you so desperately want. You cannot have the healing, without the pain. There is no other way. You must let the surgeon do His job completely. Trust Him! Yield to Him! You will not be disappointed.

Abba, our Heavenly Father, we come before You, our great Surgeon, and ask that You would please help us to yield our lives into Your hands. You are a Surgeon full of love Who we know will take the greatest care of our souls. How can we doubt You? But, oh, we do, because we are so afraid of the pain. But help us not to be. Help us to trust Your wonderful loving hand in our lives, no matter what it allows or brings. Let us not shun that loving hand. We know all things that come to us must pass through those beautiful nail scarred hands first. Thank You, our wonderful Savior!

The Power of His Grace

2Co 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me.
2Co 12:9 And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me.
2Co 12:10 Therefore I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am powerful.

Can we really glory in and be pleased in our weaknesses, and necessities, distresses, and all those things that plague our lives each day in this body of flesh? Is it possible?

It would seem an impossibility, and yes, I think it is outside of being in Christ.

Well, I’ve had some lessons this week in the power of God’s grace in my weakness, which I would like to share with you, in hopes that it will encourage you also in your weakness, to cling to Him and rely on Him for that grace. It is not in ourselves we get through these things! Never! It is by His grace alone. Oh what power we have at our disposal that we too often fail to call on! We even get mad at God because of our own failure, at times, to cling to and rely on the power of His grace in our weakness. We may think He has not come through for us, but maybe it’s because we did not trust Him to do so.

Two and a half weeks ago, I had surgery on my nose. For two days after, I couldn’t breathe at all through my nose, and because of a reaction to the anesthesia was short of breath, so I couldn’t breath good through my mouth either. In my struggling to breathe and get air, I would hyperventilate, and then panic would set in, and I would come to the point of feeling myself black out. I was in the emergency room twice that day, and the whole experience was one that I would never ever want to go through again for anything! I felt for two days that I was suffocating. I had to cling to my Lord to stay calm through the whole thing, and take shallow breaths, and relax, every minute seeming like an eternity, and ended up most of the next day sedated to the point where I slept through the day in order to get through it. The rest of the week was gradually better, but through it all fear set into my heart and didn’t want to leave me. For no apparent reason, I began struggling with fear and depression. I had many friends praying for me.

God gives His grace to us through the prayers of others. Oh what a lesson I learned in how powerful God’s grace is through the prayers of others! I will never again, doubt that my prayers are not important on behalf of my brothers and sisters and their trials! God is so gracious to dispense His grace, or ability and power in our lives through those prayers. Because of His grace I was able to stay calm, and rely on Him through the worst, drawing close to Him and receiving His peace.

God gives His grace to the humble. Sometimes it's so hard for us to admit we have a weakness, and need God's grace. But when we quit striving and realize that we need God's grace - it is there for us. When we try to overcome in our own strength, it is our pride, saying we can do it without God.

Just when I thought things were clearing up, and I was healing, finally, I ended up being brought to the emergency room by ambulance for a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. Again fear set in. Fear of having my nose packed, more days of suffocation, panic, and all of the worst imaginations coming to my mind of what could happen. What if they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop? What’s causing it? Why is it bleeding now when it should be healing?

The bleeding stopped by the time I got to the hospital and I was fine. But the next day another one came. I was able to stop the bleeding, but not the fear. Again I was reminded that this is beyond me, but not God. The fear was to the point of being irrational now. I could not control it. I would try to reason with it, but it wouldn’t listen! I would try to brush it off, but it wouldn’t leave! I would try to pray but the more I prayed the worse it got.

Finally, in desperation, I cried out to the Lord, “God, this is beyond my ability! This is my weakness, and You promised that in my weakness You are strong! Be strong in me now! Be my peace! Be my courage! Be my strength!”

And He was. I had to commit myself into His hands – into His perfect care. I had to not rely on my own faith, but on Him alone. I had to rely on His truth and His promise of grace and ignore my feelings and my own heart. But soon, God’s grace filled me and took over. I learned that His grace indeed is sufficient.

There is no sufficiency in ourselves when we are faced with our own weaknesses and inabilities. We all, sooner or later, will come face to face with them. No matter how sufficient or spiritual we think we have become, no matter how much understanding we have attained, we still live in these weak bodies of flesh. We still will discover we must live by the power of His grace and not our own. That will never change. We have a tendency to think that if we have gotten through a trial in our lives, that we no longer will need to rely on Christ is that kind of testing comes our way again. We have conquered it! But we will find ourselves again and again faced with our weakness, until we realize that each and every time, it is Christ alone and the power of His grace that makes us sufficient. We should immediately rely on His grace to get us through them.

And His grace will never fail us. He has promised, that it is sufficient in our weaknesses. He will never fail us or forsake us. His grace is so much more than the unmerited favor we receive from Him. It is also the power and strength for our daily walk with Him. We must remember that it is by that grace that we live the Christian life, and not on our own power. The power of His grace is sufficient for all you need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus. It is sufficient for all you need to overcome and live with your weaknesses. It is sufficient for all you need to live an abundant life in Him. It is your help, your hope, your power, your joy, your peace, your strength, and your resting place in Him.

2Pe 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
2Pe 1:3 according as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue,
2Pe 1:4 through which He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Don’t forget to come boldly to His throne of grace and mercy! Yes, we tend to forget until we come to the end of ourselves. But we can come immediately, right away before we are at that point, all the time, for whatever we need. His grace is always available to us.

Heb 4:14 Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.
Heb 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Abba, I thank You and praise You for Your grace today! You have given me grace sufficient for my need today, and not for tomorrow. Tomorrow You will provide the grace that is sufficient then. I need not fear what tomorrow brings, because You hold tomorrow in Your hands, and have already been there. Thank You that Your grace will never run out, and will always be sufficient for all my need, all the time! I pray that You will help us all to receive that grace when we need it coming boldly to Your throne, where You are waiting there to give it to us right on time. In the name of Jesus our Lord and Savior, amen.