Do I recognize my enemy?
I recommend reading Acts chapters 6 & 7 along with this short devotional
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Lies, jealousy, fear and greed. These things are the destroyers of life. Those men who heard Steven, a man filled with the Holy Spirit, must have felt these things in order to turn them against a man of God who was simply sharing the truth of His words. They plotted against him in secrecy and found others willing to lie along side them. All to remove a man who made them uncomfortable with his knowledge and the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life.
Remember that old saying that goes, “misery loves company?” The enemy loves to whisper half truths and spread fear like a plague from one heart to another. This infectious hate that festers in their eyes and blinds them to the truth can lead to the most unspeakable acts of violence. In the end, Stephen was stoned to death. Attacked by a crowd of accusers, each one carrying a rock fueled by hatred and a heart strangled by the desire to follow the crowd.
It’s so easy to follow along when others inspire jealousy, anger, and discontentment. Sometimes in the stirring of emotions it’s hard to think clearly and remember what God tells us about judging to condemnation, and becoming angry to the point of sin. As believers, especially those who reside in a country or community that welcomes christian beliefs and lifestyles, sometimes we forget what it really means to be a martyr. It’s not a fairytale ending where everything goes back to normal. The princess doesn’t thaw a frozen heart, a genie doesn’t save the day, nor can true love break any spell. In this life we are battling the very real darkness and lies of the devil. Not a pitchfork carrying cartoon demon, or a handsome devil played by a Hollywood star, but a cunning foe once called the morning star, and the most beautiful among the angels. We must know our enemy and descent his lies in order to not be deceived by him.
Strengthening our faith day by day and staying in the word of God is how we ought to prepare ourselves to fight the battles ahead, the ones we have been warned about in the book of revelation as well as the ones we can’t see coming. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are fighting a battle until we look up and see that we have fallen into a pit and we’ve been struggling a long while to escape. Don’t wait until you are tired of struggling and fighting on your own to ask God to send down a ladder. Sit in the quiet and listen for His voice. When the battles plunge us into the darkness we should pray for the protection of Daniel when he slept among the lions. Remember that even though God saved him from being eaten, Daniel still had to stay in the lion’s den for the entire night. Sometimes we have to ride out the battle and have faith that we are not alone. Learning to recognize the blessing and gifts of God, will help us to better discern the lies and tricks of the enemy.
Don’t let your heart sit and fester with greed, anger, or jealousy to the point of blindness. When you allow yourself to fall into your emotions, you can become a tool for the enemy. Instead, today I encourage you to start out with thankfulness for the blessings in your life and look for the fingerprints that God has left behind in your life. Seek Him and His desire for your day and He will teach you and keep you under the shadow of His wings. This doesn’t mean we won’t have trials, but, like Daniel, we won’t be alone when the lions surround us. Though Daniel survived to share the gospel another day Stephen was killed for his faith. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so sharing our faith and living for Him ought to be our priority every day.