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Word For You Today

Understanding Satan's role 2

'A messenger of Satan, to torment me.' 2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV

When we're facing adversity on our Christian walk, we'd be wise to allow it to drive us closer to God. That was true in Paul's life: he had been a Christian persecutor who became an apostle chosen by God. He healed the sick, travelled the world, and wrote some of history's greatest documents.

But as he grew in godly fame, he came up against massive trials and challenges, one of which was to ward off pride. 'To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me' (2 Corinthians 12:7 ESV). We aren't told the nature of the thorn, but we're told its purpose - to keep Paul humble. And we're told its origin - a messenger of Satan. Paul says: 'Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in...difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong' (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NIV).

So, another thing that Satan does is harass us on our walk with Jesus, but God's grace is always enough for us to overcome his attacks.

So what now? When you're facing push back from the devil's camp, choose to rely on God's strength, build your faith and get closer to God.

Soulfood: 2 Tim 1-4 Lk 22:54-62 Ps 19 Pro 24:19-22,


Understanding Satan's role 1

'God's Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil.' 1 John 4:4 NCV

God knows everything; angels only know what he reveals. God is everywhere; angels can only be in one place. God is all-powerful; angels are only as powerful as God allows them to be. Satan is a fallen angel who wasn't satisfied to worship God; he wanted God's throne for himself. Angels, like humans, were made to serve and worship God. And they were given free will; otherwise, how could they worship? But Satan said, 'I will make myself like the Most High' (Isaiah 14:14 NIV). That got him evicted from Heaven: 'You are brought down... to the depths of the pit' (Isaiah 14:15 NIV).

Satan wants us to believe that he is an independent force with unlimited power. But he's not. The Bible says that 'he is a liar and the father of lies' (John 8:44 NIV). And Satan hasn't changed. He's as self-centred now as he was then, but he's also still as limited now as he was then. Even when his heart was good, he was inferior to God.

The truth is that God is infinitely more powerful than Satan. We can rely on God's strength and power to help us in every area of our lives. 'But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one' (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV).

So what now? You can overcome the devil's attacks because you have God, not only on your side, but within you: 'God's Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world' (1 John 4:4 NCV). Rest in that.

Soulfood: Mic 5-7 Lk 22:39-53 Ps 24 Pro 24:15-18,


Identity 2

'You are mine.' Isaiah 43:1 NIV

If knowing our identity helps us avoid becoming trapped in the cycle of people-pleasing, then it's crucial for us to work out exactly what our identity is, and see if there are any areas of our identity that we're getting from sources other than God. Satan wants us to identify with who people say we are, rather than who God says we are. And unless we know who we are in God's eyes, we'll be left struggling with feelings of condemnation and unworthiness.

Our identity is not in things like our reputation, our job or our finances. Our self-worth can only be truly found in what God says about us. He says: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine' (Isaiah 43:1 NIV). We are his. That's our identity. We are children of God, fully loved and accepted by him. The Bible says: 'What great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are' (1 John 3:1 NIV)! Once we accept that truth, we can stop feeling like we're not good enough. Knowing who we are in Christ gives us confidence to hold our head high in a society which seems preoccupied with popularity and success.

So, let's be people who know their true identity and can live counter-culturally without worrying what people think.

So what now? Listen to No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David Helser and Melissa Helser. Declare the line 'I am a child of God' over yourself.

Soulfood: Lev 16 Lev 23:26-32 Heb 9:1-14 Heb 13:11-16,


Identity 1

'We are not trying to please people but God.' 1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV

We can fall into the trap of people-pleasing. We find ourselves performing, or acting a certain way, to gain people's approval. When we're trapped in the people-pleasing cycle, we end up being controlled by the opinions of others and it can feel like we're on an emotional rollercoaster.

That's not how God wants us to live. Paul was free to speak the truth in love: to confront people or to be gentle with them. When someone told Paul they didn't like him, he didn't worry about it because his security and self-worth weren't built on their acceptance. He spoke 'as those approved by God' (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV). Paul didn't compare himself with others. Knowing he already had God's approval set him free from worrying about those things and meant he could enjoy the life God had in mind for him.

Remember this: we already have God's approval, and our identity is found in him. Living for God won't always make us the most popular and people won't necessarily understand us or our decisions. Paul wrote: 'If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ's servant' (Galatians 1:10 GWT). But, knowing we have God's approval gives us the strength to deal with criticism and conflict because we're secure in our identity.

So what now? Have you been trying to please people because you think it's the godly thing to do? It's too much pressure to put on yourself! Claim your God-given identity in Christ and enjoy living your life for him.

Soulfood: Mic 1-4 Lk 22:24-38 Ps 78:65-72 Pro 24:11-14,


Good conflict management

'If you have anything against anyone, forgive him.' Mark 11:25 NKJV

No matter how good our relationships with others are, conflicts will happen. And when they do, it's good to be able to manage them well. How do we do that? A good starting point is to learn to exercise self-control, which is what keeps conflicts from escalating in the first place. We also need to learn to manage feelings of hurt, anger and disappointment that fuel conflict.

The Bible says: 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge... but love your neighbour as yourself.' (Leviticus 19:18 NLT). As followers of Jesus, we're called to, 'be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ' (Ephesians 4:32 NCV). This is much easier said than done, especially when we're battling our emotions. Emotional hurt and tension are almost impossible to deal with in our own strength.

So, let's look to God for the answers. He doesn't remember our mistakes or hold them against us. The Bible says: 'I am the one who erases all your sins, for my sake; I will not remember your sins' (Isaiah 43:25 NCV).

So, in order to grow in godly character, let's ask God to help us manage conflict well so that we reflect him.

So what now? Make a list, in pencil, of all the conflict-filled situations in your life that have left you hurt or holding grudges. Go through the list and take each one to God, asking him to help you show self-control, extend grace and offer forgiveness. As you do, erase that thing from your list.

Soulfood: Neh 11-13 Lk 22:14-23 Ps 78:56-64 Pro 24:6-10,


Testing times

'God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.' James 1:12 NLT

Being a Christian doesn't mean we'll have an easy, comfortable life. In fact, we might find we experience more difficulties and testing times than those who don't believe, either because choosing God's way means we must change in our hearts, or because the enemy makes things difficult for us. Each challenge tests and stretches us in different ways. We might go through something that stretches us spiritually and makes our faith develop. There may be situations that challenge our old ideas with newer ones. When we're tested in a relationship, it's a way for us to grow in patience and love, and lose the selfish part of our nature.

God promises to never leave nor abandon us (see Deuteronomy 31:6), so this includes all our testing times. God asks us to trust that he sees the bigger picture at all times. James 1:12 (NLT) tells us that 'God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.' Going through trials is uncomfortable and difficult, but when we trust God through the tough times, we'll be built up to do greater and greater things for him.

So, when we're feeling like we're being stretched to breaking point, let's not give up, but trust that it's all preparation for God preparing you for something amazing, and let him help you through it.

So what now? Think about the last time you felt you were being stretched in your faith journey. Write down all the things you learned from that time.

Soulfood: Neh 8-10 Lk 22:1-13 Ps 78:40-55 Pro 24:1-5,


What are you thinking about

'If anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.' Philippians 4:8 NIV

What preoccupies our thoughts has a huge influence on the way we live. If we primarily think about worldly things, we'll have a worldly focus. Conversely, if we think primarily about God's ways, his ways will determine the way we live. It's easy to say, but not quite so easy to put into practice. So many things can determine how we think: our upbringing; our day-to-day activities; other people speaking into our lives; the enemy feeding us lies that we believe are truths. Once our thoughts are on anything other than godly things, we're in danger of our lives heading in the same way.

The Bible tells us: 'Keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honourable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable' (Philippians 4:8 GWT). If our mind has been distracted from thinking about these good things, we can get it back on track. We can ask God to renew our minds. This takes dedication and effort.

We can test every thought we have against the truth of God's Word, by reading God's Word, the Bible. When we're sure of godly truths, we'll find it much easier to recognise worldly lies. And we'll be equipped to avoid being swayed by things other voices say, and instead be able to focus on God's voice.

So what now? Make a list of your loudest thoughts at the moment. If any of them don't match up to God's truth, ask him to help you remove them and replace them with his truth.

Soulfood: Heb 11:23-28 Ex 3:1-22 Exo 33:7-23 Exo 34:29-35,

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