I haven’t written my blog for a while. I’ve been in a bit of a spiritual slump. I’ve still been doing my daily Bible reading, but nothing seems to sink in. I’ve been doing my SOAP . . . but the “A” (Action) has been lacking. I’m distracted.
I read the Bible on my phone on the YouVersion app and lately in the middle of reading I’ll get a text (or remember a text I “need” to send) or receive a Facebook notification and soon I’m 20 minutes deep into social media and my Bible reading is forgotten. And then by the time I get back to the Bible my mind keeps wandering back to social media.
Looking back over my journal the last few weeks some lines I’ve written stand out:
“I am irritable” (July 7th)
“I am worn out” (July 6th)
“Sometimes I’m embarrassed to say that I am a Christian . . . not because I’m ashamed of Jesus but because I’m ashamed of the terrible job I do showing His love to others” (July 5th)
“My mind is distracted by social media, TV, etc. I don’t have peace” (June 29)
“I am having a hard time focusing and praying right now” (June 27)
Interestingly, just a few days before my “slump” started I had attended a Bible Study on “The Invisible War” by Chip Ingram. The study I attended was on prayer. We are in an invisible war and we need prayer at all times. Our prayers should be constant, intense, and focused.
Satan hates when we pray.
Satan wants us distracted. He wants our Bible reading and prayers to be a half-effort. He wants us to just go through the motions or not at all.
When I let myself slide in my prayer life and Bible reading I can see the effects in my actions and attitudes. I become irritable and unloving. I don’t have peace.
Is it a coincidence that I made a conscience decision to get more focused in my prayer life and then – BAM – suddenly a million distractions seem to pop up every time I sit down to pray and read the Bible?
I doubt it.
Satan doesn’t want me praying and applying what I read in the Bible. He knows that amazing things will happen if I do. This race is not a sprint . . . but a marathon. I will have distractions and pains along the way. But I need to push through. Persevere. Run the race before me.
Knowing the schemes of Satan and putting on the Armor of God. #armorofgodstudy #DailyBibleReading @PriscillaShirer
Last night I read an article about a man whose teenage daughter went missing. After an extensive search, involving the police and the FBI, they found her. The girl had been sold into the sex industry. Her father explained that several years ago a man had found her online and started to prey on her. The man figured out her strengths and weaknesses. He lied to her about his identify. He groomed her. He was patient and cunning. This complete stranger spent two years building a relationship with her for the sole purpose of getting her to willingly follow him. This was his full-time job – recruiting kids to be sold into the sex industry. Grooming and selling one child into sexual slavery meant a $150,000 – $300,000 profit for this predator.
This father told his story as a warning for other parents. He implored them to be vigilant in guarding their children’s online activity and to become educated on the schemes of online predators. These predators are smart, manipulative and secretive. And many parents think their children are safe at home when there is actually terrible danger lurking behind their screens.
My #DailyBibleReading this morning included 2 Corinthians 2. Paul was writing to a church and one line in his letter really stood out to me – especially in light of the story I had read last night:
so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
2 Corinthians 2:11 NLT
Satan is like that online predator – patiently manipulating and lying to us. Tempting us. Trying to outsmart us.
Paul said that the church in Corinth was familiar with Satan’s evil schemes.
But am I familiar with Satan’s schemes? No. Usually I am completely unaware.
How often do I look at a person or a situation as the enemy? I usually blame a human – or even God – as the cause of my hurt or temptation or frustration; without ever considering that my real enemy, Satan, is behind the screen, manipulating the situation.
To another church Paul said:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NLT
How can I be fighting against and protecting myself from evil forces if I don’t even know their schemes?
One thing I love about my #DailyBibleReading through Bible.com or the YouVersion App is the easy ability to study deeper into a topic. In the “Search” bar I looked up “Satan” and started reading through the Bible verses that came up to have a better idea of Satan’s schemes so I can identify them in my own life. This link will take you to the search if you’d like to read through the list on your own. Some of my observations are below the picture.
Just like the father whose daughter had been sold into sex slavery explained, intellectually knowing the schemes of predators isn’t enough. I need to act. I need to protect myself and my family.
How can I protect myself from the schemes of the devil?
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:11,13-18 NLT
Truth: Satan is the father of lies. We need to know what is true and what is a lie. And not fall for his lies.
God’s righteousness: To protect my heart, I need to obey God. I need to flee sin. And cling to God’s goodness.
Gospel of Peace
Word of God: #DailyBibleReading, meditation, memorization
Prayer, Prayer, and more Prayer
Priscilla Shirer is one of my favorite Bible Study authors and speakers. Recently I had the opportunity to see her in person during her Fervent Tour (which I highly recommend). She talked quite a bit about the Armor of God during the event, which was very helpful in better understanding the Armor of God and recognizing Satan’s strategies and combating them.
I haven’t done the study, but hope to. Here is a link to a video with the first lesson of Armor of God Bible study. The promo is below:
I’ll be keeping my eyes open for this Bible Study taking place locally – I would love to participate with a local of group of women studying how to put on the full armor of God and be ready for battle.
How about you? What has been your experience in putting on the Armor of God and being aware of and combating the schemes of the devil?