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“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” Romans 11:3 (NLT)

Ever noticed how a campfire dies out more quickly if you spread the coals out? Once the coals are spread out the lack of heat generated drops the fire dies out much sooner than if you’d left the coals together.

The enemy knows that your spiritual, emotional and even physical well-being is much like the coals in a campfire. He knows that there is strength in numbers and that believers banded together in unity and love are disastrous to his cause. The best way for him to defeat you is for him to break down your endurance.

The lie he wants you to believe in the battle for your endurance is that you are all alone in your struggle. He wants you to believe no one else in your church struggles with pornography and if they knew about your struggle they’d surely ostracize you from the group and make you feel second rate.

He wants you to believe you are the only one that struggles with debt and he’ll remind you of the many sermons you’ve heard about tithing and not using credit cards and not borrowing from the future to acquire the toys of the present.

He’ll tell you that if you were responsible and gifted you’d be hosting the small group Bible Study at your home or at least going to one.

He’ll tell you the addictions, the thoughts and the feeling of being overwhelmed all the time is YOUR problem and if you were living by the Spirit you wouldn’t be going through this.

Once again, the problem with all of this is that in each statement he tells you there is a small element of truth. Remember, he is a master at telling you just enough to keep you down, distracted and discouraged.

His tactics aren’t new. He’s been discouraging God’s people since the beginning of time. The first murder was the result of Cain being discouraged because his offerings weren’t acceptable to God. He felt alone and left out. He became enraged and killed his brother. From that point on the story remains the same. Satan tells us we don’t measure up.

Even the great prophet Elijah experienced it and fell victim to the lie for a short time. He’d just seen God work mightily as a result of Elijah’s prayers. He’d just been empowered by God’s Spirit to kill over 400 false prophets. His prayers brought rain to a parched land. But when Jezebel threatened to kill him Satan whispered in his ear, “You are all alone. There is no one who will come by your side. You are doomed.”

Satan’s attacks seem to come at us at times when God’s been the most real to us. Pastors will tell you that the hours and days after a great outpouring of God’s Spirit, Satan will attack with a vengeance. We see it in our homes as well. When God works, Satan works overtime!

It’s what we do with his lie that makes all the difference in the world. If we believe we are all alone in our struggles we withdraw from others. We feel guilty when we can’t measure up to the standards Satan tells us we need to measure up to.   We compare ourselves to others and realize we can never be like them. The more negative the thoughts become the more we withdraw and the more we begin to believe we are total losers in the game of life.

The Truth Statement God wants you to remember is that “The struggles you endure today are not a sign you are alone but God’s call on your life to trust him more.” Just as Elijah discovered that there were many who were waiting to come alongside him, there are many who will come alongside you in your struggle.

Elijah’s ability to endure came after he took some time for physical rest and then found others who would support him. Our trust in God and ability to endure comes as we build around us people we can trust. Like-minded people who will pray with us, dig into God’s word with us and understand our short-comings without judgment. Endurance grows as trust in God increases.

PRAYER: Father during the storms of life I often feel very alone. What I see as my weakness keeps me from experiencing your strength. Empower me by your Spirit to keep from listening to Satan’s lies so I can hear your voice through those you bring into my life to encourage me. Amen.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

Few Jews would take the shorter route through Samaria even if it was a shorter and easier route along the Jordan River. The Samaritans and Jews had been enemies for years and the biggest point of contention was where and how to worship God.

One day Jesus took the short route (John 4) from Jerusalem home to Galilee. John’s account of the story said he ‘had to go through Samaria’. He didn’t have to go through Samaria for physical reasons. He ‘had to go through Samaria’ because someone had a meeting with destiny and he ‘had’ to be there for that.

It was noon when he arrived at the small hamlet of Sychar. All the respectable women of the town where home tending to family. Everyone knew it was cooler and easier to fill the water jugs in the morning. Besides, it was a great time to catch up with the gossip and connect with friends.

So why did Jesus meet the woman at the well at this odd time? She was avoiding people. She was the talk of the town. Married five times, living with a man that wasn’t her husband. We aren’t told how many families she’d broken up. How many children were fatherless because she came into the picture? She’d evidently given up on the concept of marriage after five times and decided to live ‘in sin’ with man #6.

She was a tenacious woman. Even after all she’d been through she still had an edge to her. Jesus asks for a drink and she snaps, “Who are you, a Jew, to ask me for a drink.”

Jesus mentions God and the woman tries to pick a fight. “We Samaritans worship the right way. You Jews are wrong about Jerusalem.”

Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly what she said, but think about how often our first step, when it comes to spiritual things, is to defend our doctrine, theology or denominational affiliation and distinctive.

Jesus dodges the issue. “Worshipping God isn’t about a place, or about a style. It’s about the heart. If you’d asked me I could give you something to fill that huge hole in yours.”

Now he had her attention. Six men. Six relationships. Six chances at being filled and still nothing. You know the rest of the story. After her talk with Jesus she goes into town. Everyone knew her because of her reputation. After her testimony, everyone knew Jesus because of the change he brought into her life.

The enemy lies to us about our Testimony. He tells us that our identity comes from our religious affiliation. (I’m a Baptist; I’m a Lutheran; I’m Methodist) He urges us to skirt the real issues of the heart and concentrate on externals. The Lie: Good Christians are known by their noisy Stand.

The word testimony comes from the word root word meaning witness. It carries with it the idea of a firsthand authentication of a fact, or of evidence of something seen or experienced. Effective testimony is an outward sign of an inner change.

Many believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony. It wasn’t polished. It wasn’t backed with scripture and training. It didn’t direct people to a particular denomination or religious persuasion. It was a simple message, Come and See:

  • Come and See the man that knows me;
  • Come and See the man that loves me;
  • Come and See the man that understands me;
  • Come and See the man that respects me (no other man ever has);
  • Come and See the man who is more interested in relationship that religion.

The Truth Statement in the battle for our testimony is this, “Our testimony steers people away from religion and towards a personal, passionate love relationship with Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, I sometimes get so caught up in myself and man-made rules that I forget that all you really want is to have a relationship with those around me. Empower me by your Spirit to refrain from steering people to religion. May my life show others the relationship I have with you. Amen.

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:39-40 (NLT)

Trust: To place confidence in and rely on the truthfulness of something or someone.

Trust has to earned, usually over the passage of time. The enemy wants you to believe that during those times when God is silent it’s because he is either unable to provide the answers you need or is able but simply doesn’t care. God’s silence leaves us feeling abandoned and questioning why? Why, when he promises to be with us always, does he leave us when we need him the most? Why, when we seek his power to handle life’s most difficult problems does he seem distant or non-existent?

In a word, the lie the enemy wants us to believe is that God’s silence indicates Apathy. The lie comes to us in different ways. Religion tells us that God leaves us because we have sinned. As sinners before an angry God he refuses to listen to us. In order to offer us some relief religion gives us a list of rule and regulations, dos and don’ts that will hopefully appease him.

The humanist version of the lie is that IF there is a God he is only available to those who help themselves. This version of the lie puts the onus of our success emotionally, physically and spiritually on us. We fail to achieve. We try harder and fail more miserably. Once again the negative spiral continues. The deeper it goes the more desperate we feel.

The version of the God is apathetic lie given to us by society is that we are crazy for even seeking him. He’s dead after all. The Bible is nothing but a meaningless set of stories and outdated writings. Society tells us that science and education are the answer, not a distant concept of some supreme being.

The second aspect of trust is that it is earned over a period of time. Take a look a few other people who trusted God when he seemed absent, distant or apathetic.

  • Noah built the ark and warned a people that had never seen rain that it would soon rain and a flood would come. Finally, God’s promised judgment took place, but only after Noah and his family suffered verbal abuse for their actions.
  • Abraham was promised a son and yet that son didn’t come until he was long after child-bearing age. When the son finally came, God called on him to execute this ‘son of promise’.
  • Joseph waited for God’s promise to deliver the Israelites fromEgypt. He never got to see the fulfillment of God’s promise, yet he never lost hope.
  • David was anointed king but was subjected to humiliation, verbal and physical attack and attempted murder for years until he was finally able to ascend the throne.
  • Job lost his family, his money and his health. He was maligned by alleged friends and his wife. Yet even though God eventually restored him to health and gave him more wealth than he had before, no explanation was given for the struggles he endured.

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us all that many have gone through life enduring trials that seem insurmountable. They lived holy lives of faith and trust yet never saw God’s promises fulfilled in their life times. Our human nature leads us to think that God’s promise of blessing will happen in our lifetime, but the real blessing comes after we leave this earthly shell we call a body.

The Truth Statement in the battle for trust is: Trust in God allows us to live at peace in present difficulties with hope built on the future.

PRAYER: Father God, during the times of darkness and struggle I sometimes lose sight of the fact that you never promised my life here would be easy. During the times you seem distant keep me from listening to the lies of the enemy. Empower me with your Spirit to trust you regardless of earthly struggle. Amen.

[From the series: “Lies that Keep Us from Loving Ourselves”

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