Battle Ready

The Bible says that satan prowls around like a lion, looking for an opening to devour Christians. Are you battle ready? The Apostle Peter gives us all of the battle preparation that we will need to be victorious!

One of the most important things we need to do is prepare ourselves before the battle even begins. Peter lists two key components: (1) self-control and (2) alertness (1 Peter 5:8-11). 

This Greek word for self-control is only used six times in all of the New Testament. Peter uses it three times in his first epistle, and the Apostle Paul also uses the word three times. It’s amazing to see the similarity in uses between the two of them. 

Both apostles use self-control in the context of the value of prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 1 Peter 4:7). In other words, Christians don’t wear armor to fight; they wear armor to pray. We have to be self-controlled enough to stick to the business of prayer. 

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight 
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright 
And satan trembles when he sees 
The weakest saint upon his knees. —William Cowper

Then both apostles use the Greek word for self-control in the context of using God’s Word as a spiritual weapon (2 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Peter 1:10-13). Jesus used this same strategy in his battle in the desert against satan (Matthew 4:1-10)—Jesus was praying before the devil came to tempt Him, and then He defeated the devil’s temptations by quoting Scripture. 

Peter says the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion.” Notice that important word: like. The devil has always been an imitator—trying to be like God, he was expelled from Heaven, and then he deceived Adam and Eve by telling them they could be like God too. He’s using the same strategy now. 

Augustine pointed out, “Christ is called a Lion because of His courage; the devil because of his ferocity. The Lion comes to conquer, the other to hurt.” 

So Peter encourages us to “resist him, standing firm in the faith.” You resist the devil when you… 

  • …stay submitted to God 
  • …remember the blood of the Jesus—THE Lion of Judah—that won your victory 
  • …stay self-controlled in prayer
  • …remain alert in the Scriptures

Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you battle ready by helping you to develop the self-control and alertness you need. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—The Best Things Are Hard, But Rewarding (Proverbs 25)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Good things—the best of things—usually require hard work. They don’t just come to us but we have to discover them. However, the good things are always worth the effort!

Things like:

  • Revelation, insight, new discoveries (vv. 2-3)
  • Righteousness (vv. 4-5)
  • Recognition (vv. 6-7)
  • Quality relationships (vv. 8-10)
  • A timely word (vv. 11-13, 25)
  • Good gifts (vv. 14, 21-22)
  • Confrontation that leads to restoration (v. 15)
  • Temperance (v. 16)

The opposite is also true: cutting corners, looking for the quick fix, and not considering long-term consequences bring pain. Things like:

  • Frayed relationships (vv. 17, 20, 24)
  • Provoking anger in others (vv. 18, 23)
  • Distrust (vv. 19, 26)
  • Self-promotion that rankles others (v. 27)
  • Lack of self-control that leads to destruction (v. 28)

Good things are hard, but they’re so worth the effort! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—God Is Sovereign (Proverbs 16)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…from the Lord (Proverbs 16:1).

God is Sovereign, which means He has supreme authority. 

The sooner—and more consistently—I acknowledge this, the more joy I can experience! According to Proverbs 16, acknowledging God as Lord and Master means: 

  • having the right answers (vv. 1, 24)
  • living with a clear conscience (v. 2)
  • thinking better thoughts (v. 3)
  • not getting swept away in judgment (vv. 4, 5)
  • experiencing mercy, truth, and atonement (v. 6)
  • peaceful living (v. 7)
  • contentment (vv. 8, 16)
  • divine direction (v. 9)
  • righteous living (vv. 10-12, 31)
  • favor among kings (vv. 13-15)
  • avoiding stumbling (v. 17)
  • avoiding pride (vv. 18-19)
  • happiness (v. 20)
  • having prudence (v. 21)
  • getting better understanding (vv. 22-23)
  • eternal life (v. 25)
  • satisfaction in my work (v. 26)
  • avoiding evil people (vv. 27-30)
  • self-control (v. 32)
  • seeing God’s providence at work (v. 33)

Not a bad list! 

Thursdays With Oswald—Don’t Argue!

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Don’t Argue!

     The reason Paul tells Timothy not to argue [1 Timothy 4:7], and the reason he tells me not to argue, and the reason he tells you not to argue, is that we argue from our own point of view. We argue not for the truth’s sake, we argue to prove we are right. God grant that we may learn to take heed lest we get switched off on arguing. … 

     “Oh, the unmitigated curse of controversy! Oh, the detestable passions that corrections and contradictions kindle up to fury in the proud heart of man! Eschew controversy, my brethren, as you would eschew the entrance to hell itself. Let them have it their way; let them talk; let them write; let them correct to you; let them traduce you; let them judge and condemn you; let them slay you. Rather let the truth of God suffer itself, than that love suffer. You have not enough of the divine nature in you to be a controversialist.” —Dr. Alexander Whyte … 

     For example… “sanctification” is not a man’s term; it is God’s: “the baptism with the Holy Ghost” is not man’s conception, it is God’s, and when a soul begins to argue on these matters, remember, worker for God, it is the Holy Spirit they are arguing with, the Word of God they are haggling about. God grant we may not hinder those who are battling their way slowly into the light. …  

     “Heal me of this lust of mine of always vindicating myself.” —Augustine … 

     If we are living rightly with God, living holy lives in secret and in public, God puts a wall of fire round about us.

From Workmen Of God

How true it is that we argue not because we’re standing up for the truth, but because we want to prove that we are right! This is a tactic of the devil which keeps us focused on less important matters.

Our only line of defense needs to be something Oswald Chambers said earlier: “the Word of God, the Word of God, the Word of God, first second and last.” If we stick to the Word, people who want to argue aren’t arguing with us, but with God. That is an argument in which we never have to participate!

9 More Quotes From “Keep Your Love On!”

Keep Your Love OnKeep Your Love On! is an outstanding resource for anyone who wants to repair or strengthen a relationship. As I said in my book review, I think pastors and marriage counselors should definitely get a copy of this book. Here are a few more quotes.

“If you want to preserve relationships, then you must learn to respond instead of react to fear and pain. Responding does not come naturally. You can react without thinking, but you cannot respond without training your mind to think, your will to choose, and your body to obey. … Powerful people are not slaves to their instincts. Powerful people can respond with love in the face of pain and fear. This ‘response-ability’ is essential to building healthy relationships.”

“If you were raised with a powerless, fear-driven mindset based on the belief that you can control people and they can control you, then you will naturally perceive God as a controlling Punisher. You will take the laws of the Old Testament—all the verses and stories about wrath, judgment, and the fear of the Lord—and conclude, ‘See, God wants to control us, and we need to be controlled.’ … The problem is that the Bible doesn’t show us a God Who is pursuing the goal of distance between Himself and a bunch of scary sinners. Instead, the Bible reveals a God Who is relentlessly closing that distance and paying the ultimate price to repair the disconnection we created in our relationship.”

“Fear and love are enemies. They come from two opposing kingdoms. Fear comes from the devil, who would like nothing more than to keep you permanently disconnected and isolated. Love comes from God, Who is always working to heal and restore your connection with Him and other people and bring you into healthy, life-giving relationships. … When Paul told Timothy that the spirit of love is also the spirit of power and a sound mind, he implied that its opposite, the spirit of fear, is the spirit of powerlessness and a weak, divided mind. When you grow up partnering with the spirit of fear, as most of us do, you learn to simply hand over your brain and your power, letting fear take control. But as soon as you decide to partner with the spirit of love, you have to think and make powerful choices.”

“Do you want to win the battle between fear and love in your relationships? You can start by making these two fundamental commitments: (1) It’s my job to control myself. I do not get to control other people. (2) My number-one goal and priority in relationships is building and protecting connection.”

“Each display of love, no matter how seemingly small, is a powerful act of spiritual warfare that removes anxiety from the environment, replaces it with freedom and safety, and invites each person to bring his or her best self forward in the relationship.”

“True honor is the practice of two powerful people putting one another before themselves, empowering one another, working together to meet one another’s needs, and adjusting as necessary in order to move together toward the shared goal of the relationship.”

“In order for us to practice self-control, we must have a goal. We must have something we are saying ‘Yes’ to, which necessarily comes with things that we must say ‘No’ to. … When we find ourselves with more freedom than self-control, then that freedom erodes the quality of our life and friendships. Self-control is what allows us to manage increasing levels of freedom in our life and relationships.”

“When you put a person in the position of God, you set him or her up for failure. … Mysterious as it is, making ourselves accountable to God and putting ourselves under His authority is the only way we can become powerful and learn to govern ourselves. … When two people are consistently pursuing a connection with the Perfect One, that connection will set the pace for their connection with each other. They will be learning to love from Love Himself, which can only bring the best into their relationship.”

“The faster you can get to the question, ‘What do you need?’ the faster you can start doing something about it. Unfortunately, because many people are not used to being listened to, they don’t know what they need, or how to communicate it. They think they have to present a solid case for someone to help them, agree with them, or change for them.”

You can read the the first batch of quotes I shared here.

My book review is posted here.

9 Quotes From “Keep Your Love On!”

Keep Your Love OnPastors and counselors should definitely add Keep Your Love On! to their bookshelf. This book by Danny Silk is a goldmine of helps for repairing, restoring and strengthening relationships. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes from this book.

“Most people haven’t learned to build their relationships on the premise, ‘I choose you.’ Their premise for relationships is, ‘You choose me.’ … However, if all our relationships are based solely on our natural impulse to return liking for liking, then we are going to have problems. Liking is a conditional state—it changes. Making ‘You choose me’ the foundation of a relationship dooms it to change, and probably collapse, the minute one person’s liking happens to turn south.” 

“A healthy, lasting relationship can only be built between two people who choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice. This choice must be based on who they are, what they want, and what they are committed to doing as individuals. … In order to be able to make and keep commitments like this—commitments to enduring, intimate relationships—you need to be a certain kind of person. You need to be a powerful person. Powerful people take responsibility for their lives and choices. Powerful people choose who they want to be with, what they are going to pursue in life, and how they are going to go after it.”

“Often the first thing that reveals a powerless mindset is powerless language. Frequent use of the phrase is ‘I can’t’ and ‘I have to’ is a hallmark of a powerless person. … Powerless people also throw in ‘I’ll try’ to absolve them if they do not come through on a commitment or promise.”

“Powerless people approach relationships as consumers. They are always looking for other people who have resources of love, happiness, joy, and comfort to offer in a relationship to share with them, because they don’t have any.”

“Powerless people often blame the messes they make on other people. The reason their life, marriage, child, finances, job, or whatever is the way it is has nothing to do with their choices. Someone else—their parents, their spouse, their teachers, society—created the life they’re living. They don’t have the power to create their own lives.” 

“The classic relational dynamic created by powerless people is called triangulation. When you believe that other people are scary, unsafe, and more powerful than you, and when you believe that you need to get them to meet your needs, then you have three possible roles you get to play in relationships: the victim, the bad guy, or the rescuer. If you’re the victim, you’re looking for a rescuer to make you feel safe and happy. If you’re the bad guy, you are using control and intimidation to protect yourself or get someone to meet your needs. If you’re a rescuer, you’re taking responsibility for someone else’s life in an attempt to feel powerful. Powerless people will switch in and out of these roles in relational interactions.”

“In order to stay in relationship, powerless people make an agreement to exercise mutual control over each other. The unspoken pact between them is, ‘It’s my job to make you happy, and your job to make me happy. And the best way to get you to work on my life is to act miserable. The more miserable I am, the more you will have to try to make me feel better.’ Powerless people use various tactics, such as getting upset, withdrawing, nagging, ridiculing, pouting, crying, or getting angry, to pressure, manipulate, and punish one another into keeping this pact. … A relational bond built on mutual control simply cannot produce anything remotely like safety, love, or trust. It can only produce more fear, pain, distrust, punishment, and misery.” 

“Powerful does not mean dominating. In fact, a controlling, dominating person is the very opposite of a powerful person. Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and that it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves. As a result, they are able to consciously and deliberately create the environment in which they want to live. They don’t try to get people to respect them; they create a respectful environment by showing respect. They deliberately set the standard for how they expect to be treated by the way they treat others. As they consistently act in responsible, respectful, and loving ways, it becomes clear that the only people who can get close to them are those who know how to show respect, be responsible, and love well. Life does not happen to powerful people. Powerful people are happening—they are happening all the time.”

“What is the goal in your close relationships? Are you trying to create a safe connection or a safe distance? Are you building a skill set to move away from or control the distance between you and your husband, wife, friend, child, etc.? Or are you building a skill set to move toward them and keep your love on no matter what?”

Stay tuned: more quotes from Keep Your Love On! coming soon…

Poetry Saturday—The Privileges Of The Living

Isaac WattsAwake, my zeal, awake, my love,
To serve my Savior here below,
In works which perfect saints above
And holy angels cannot do.

Awake my charity, to feed
The hungry soul, and clothe the poor:
In heaven are found no sons of need,
There all these duties are no more.

Subdue thy passions, O my soul!
Maintain the fight, thy work pursue,
Daily thy rising sins control,
And be thy victories ever new.

The land of triumph lies on high,
There are no foes t’ encounter there:
Lord, I would conquer till I die,
And finish all the glorious war.

Let every flying hour confess
I gave Thy gospel fresh renown;
And when my life and labor cease,
May I possess the promis’d crown. —Isaac Watts

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