Why Satan Stalks People and How You Can Stay Safe (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 310

“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it’” (Job 1:7, NKJV).

Yesterday, we talked about satan’s stalking endeavors and why he does what he does. We will conclude the message today by looking at how you can stay safe and not become the devil’s prey. To do this, we will briefly examine examples from the lives of Job and Peter. Today’s opening Scripture confirms what we read yesterday from 1 Peter 5:8. Satan, by his own admission, goes to and fro on the earth, and walks back and forth on it. Interestingly, the author of the Book of Job did not tell us why satan roams the earth. But Peter did. Satan’s purpose for roaming the earth is to find someone to devour.

In the Book of Job we learn that satan attacked Job twice (Job 1:6-22; 2:1-10). The enemy had stalked and scouted him. As a result, he knew details about Job’s life (Job 1:8-10). Unfortunately for him, he could not enslave Job as he had other people. Desperate and frustrated, he sought God’s permission to launch an assault on Job in hopes of getting him to abandon his faith in God. But he failed. Job maintained his integrity and emerged victorious. He proved to be a man of faith, faithful to God in happy times and in difficult times. The lesson here is the following:

 You can’t stop satan from roaming around or from looking into your affairs. But you can stop him from defeating you. And you do this through a life of faith (faithfulness). Faith repels the devil. This is what Peter meant when he said, “Resist him [satan]steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9; see also James 4:7 and Ephesians 6:16). John confirms this when he writes, “And this is the victory which has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). Victory over the world is tantamount to victory over satan. To overcome the devil, you need to adopt a posture of resistance. This posture is the posture of faith.

The next example is from the life of Peter. This man knows a thing or two about being targeted by satan. Satan knew how close Peter was to Jesus. More importantly, he knew that Jesus had chosen Peter for a position of influence in His Church (Matthew 16:16-19). Finding a vulnerability in Peter, he prompted him to dissuade Jesus from going to Calvary (Matthew 16:21-22). Jesus’ response was timely and revealing: “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).

Satan was not done with Peter, yet. He had a more sinister plan in store for him. But for the intervention of Jesus, he would have thoroughly shattered Peter’s faith. Unfortunately for Peter, he had no clue about what was happening behind the scenes. Thankfully, the Lord revealed it to him and cautioned him, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

The lesson here is this:

Prayer destroys the devil’s plans against us. At the same time, it gives us strength to stand and endure. In this instance, it was Jesus’ prayer of intercession which saved Peter. This means your prayer can save someone from satan’s evil schemes. If this is true (and it is), then it is equally true that your prayer can save your own life, too. I pray that one of these days, God would open your eyes to see the positive influence your prayer has on others and on you.

To sum up: Combine faith and prayer to keep satan from messing up your life or the lives of those you love. You have the advantage. Use it, and stay safe.

For further studyEphesians 6:10-20 and Psalm 121:1-8

Take Your ‘Receipt’ When You Pray

Daily Devotion | Day 299

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). 

When you purchase an item online and the transaction is successful, you see a confirmation receipt printed on the screen. They’ll usually tell you to print and keep a copy of your receipt. At times they’ll email your receipt. The receipt is evidence of successful transaction. The rest is just a question of delivery.

In the meantime, because you have the receipt you feel assured. You’re even excited. You can imagine the package being dropped at your door. You can almost smell the freshness of the item you ordered. You can see and feel the item in your hands. The receipt you obtained gives you assurance that the thing you ordered shall be delivered according to your wishes. And indeed, hours or days later there’s the package at your door with your name on it.

We will use the above analogy to illustrate the main point of today’s message:

The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The past few days, we’ve talked about the effect faith has on our prayer. Today, we’ll delve deeper into the following words of Jesus: “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24, ESV). When Jesus says, “believe that you have received it,” He means have faith that you already possess it. In other words, when you pray for something, it is like making an order. You need to take your receipt with you. 

Faith acts like a receipt.

If you’re in possession of the receipt, it means you have evidence that what you requested shall be done according to the details on the receipt. This is why faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Think of the “substance” and the “evidence” as a spiritual/invisible receipt. It is an image or visual in your heart and mind which shows you the result of what you requested.

This receipt assures you that you will have what is indicated on the receipt. Without the receipt/substance/evidence, you’re groping in the dark, simply hoping to get lucky – like in a lottery.

Faith is not blind as some suppose.

Faith has its own pair of eyes. They are the (spiritual) eyes of faith. With these eyes you can see the result of your prayer. And Jesus says, believe that you have received it and you will have it. It means when you pray (and believe) for something, you should ‘see’ yourself in possession of it. This step represents the substance of the thing you hope for and evidence of what is not seen.

Let’s conclude today’s message by looking at the example of the woman who was miraculously healed of 12 years of hemorrhage (Mark 5:21-34). She said to herself, “If I touch even his [Jesus’] garments, I will be made well” (v.28). Notice what happened here. The woman ‘saw’ an image of herself made well before she even touched Jesus. In her spirit, she saw an image of herself healed before it became a physical reality. In other words, she possessed faith: the substance and evidence of what she hope for, and evidence of what she did not see (physically).

Next time you pray for something, take your ‘receipt’ with you and hold on to it. And may the Lord’s word be fulfilled in your life, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 11:1-30

Removing Prayer Barriers: Doubt

Daily Devotion | Day 295

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:5-7, NKJV).

Yesterday, we started looking at barriers to prayer. We identified unforgiveness as a barrier based on Jesus’ teaching on the subject. Today, we will examine a second barrier to prayer, namely doubt. We will look at how doubt blocks prayer from being answered, and what we can do to keep doubt at bay. Before we proceed, let us note that we can put doubt and fear in the same category. Although they are distinct, they are two sides of the same coin. They have the same root, which is unbelief. And, they produce the same result by preventing prayer from being answered. This means we can use doubt and fear interchangeably. However, for the sake of consistency, let’s stick to doubt.

When you look at today’s Scripture passage, it’s self-explanatory. James couldn’t have been any clearer. He says, if you need wisdom, ask God and He will grant your request. James used wisdom as an example. You can replace wisdom with anything else you need and the rule still applies. James tells us why God will answer your prayer. He says, it is the Father’s nature to give plentifully and without reproach. Our Father is neither cheap nor stingy. He is all about abundance, excellence and munificence.

Next, James tells us how to ask and how not to ask. This is where Christians need to pay attention. Getting prayer results is not about merely asking; it’s about how you ask. We should ask in faith, because only faith will produce the desired result. God gives to those who ask in faith. He honors faith and despises doubt.

When you ask God for something and you have doubts about it, this is what you’re (unconsciously) saying: “God is not who He says He is. He is not faithful. You can’t depend on Him. Maybe He doesn’t love me. Sometimes He is good; other times, who knows?” James adds that the one who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. This last point sums up everything we need to know about the effect doubt has on our prayer requests. 

Doubt is a form of faith. But it is faith that moves in the opposite direction. In other words, doubt is negative faith. If faith is “F,” doubt is “-F.” When you doubt, it means you have faith that what you’re asking will not happen exactly as you asked. Let’s consider an example of how we can express doubt without realizing.

Let’s assume that I, Stephen, am in college. I’m fascinated with astrophysics. I’m applying for a graduate program in Astrophysics, and I’ve heard that ‘Heaven University’ has the best program available. I’m excited, because this is exactly the program I want. Before submitting my application, I went on my knees and prayed to the Father to open a door for me to be admitted. I concluded my prayer with “Amen,” which means “So be it” or “Let it be so.”

Two days later, I met some friends who told me how extremely competitive the program was. I learned that each year the program receives close to 30, 000 applicants, of which only the top 50 candidates are selected. When I heard that it suddenly dawned on me how slim my chances were. When I got home, I Googled the program to verify what my friends said. They were right. Then I said to myself, “Wow!”

Consequently, I started looking at other programs I didn’t want but which offered a more ‘realistic’ chance of admission. At this point, my initial faith had turned to doubt. My attitude showed I had lost faith in my prayer. I failed to respect my own “Amen.” I chose to believe statistics over my Father in heaven’s ability to give me what I ask.

In spiritual terms my actions translate into something like this: “God, sorry for putting you in an awkward position. The first time I asked, I didn’t realize the magnitude of the challenge. Let’s forget about my earlier request and move on to something You can deliver.” Of course, Christians will not open their mouth to say these exact words, but often their actions do the talking. Actions speak louder than words.

You can think of other examples, but I hope you get the point. Don’t say, think or do things that will negate your prayer. Be consistent in what you believe. Faith is powerful. But so is doubt. With doubt, you can move your life in the wrong direction.

If you doubt, don’t ask. And if you ask, don’t doubt.

BlessingMay God bless you and energize your faith, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyMatthew 14:22-33 

Done: From Asking to Receiving

Daily Devotion | Day 293

“Therefore, I [Jesus] say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24, NKJV).

The goal of asking is to receive. Unfortunately, many people are stuck with the reality of asking. They can’t seem to move beyond asking and receive what they desire. They ask a lot, but they receive little, if at all. Why? The Bible gives us the answers, but we won’t attempt to tackle all the possible reasons here. From my experience, people focus too much on asking but they neglect everything else Jesus said about the subject of prayer. Yes, Jesus told us to ask (Matthew 7:7). But that’s just part of what He said.

Today, we want to look at two keys Jesus gave us for receiving what we desire. They are not the only keys, but they are critical, especially the second one. They are as follows:

1. Ask. This is obvious. If you want something, ask for it. Here, it’s important to know exactly what you want and make your request accordingly. But, as already noted, many Christians are stuck at this stage. They sincerely ask, but they sincerely don’t receive. And they keep asking, hoping that one of these days they’ll prevail. What they forget is that asking goes with other things. 

2. Believe you have received: Few ever make it to this point. Yet, this is the most crucial stage of the prayer request. Jesus says, “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them.” This is huge. Jesus will not believe for you. His job is to supply; yours is to believe that you have received. Don’t stop at asking, Jesus says. Right after you’ve asked for something, believe that you’ve received it. If you skip this step, you’re likely not to receive what you wanted.

What does it mean to believe that you’ve received? It means when you pray for something, take it for granted that it’s done. From that point, let your thoughts, your words and your actions indicate that you believe it’s done. You need to start acting as though you already had what you asked. Consider the following example.

You remember what happened at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Mary asked Jesus to ‘supply’ wine to save the wedding. At that point, Jesus wasn’t ready to perform a miracle, and He made that clear to Mary. Someone would have turned away. Mary, however, wasn’t shaken by Jesus’ response. She went ahead and told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do.

The point here is, Mary asked Jesus for something and she believed she had received it regardless of Jesus’ initial response. Mary had not seen wine with her naked eyes, yet she took it for granted that wine had been provided. Right after asking, she started acting as though her request had been granted. In the end, she got exactly what she believed.

This is the point Jesus is making in today’s passage. He says, if you believe you’ve received it, you will have it. Asking is good, but believing is better. Asking doesn’t produce results. Believing does.

It’s time to move past asking. Start receiving.

Blessing: May the Lord surround you with songs of deliverance. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Luke 18:35-42, John 2:1-11 and Romans 4:13-22

Elevate Your Value

Daily Devotion | Day 287

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you have more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

Fear does a lot of things to people. If people knew in spirit what fear does to them, they would do whatever it takes to eliminate it. On multiple occasions, Jesus addressed this problem, because He knew that fear hurts our cause. Indeed, fear is the enemy of progress. Fear is a form of bondage. To be truly free in life, you need to overcome fear once and for all. In the devotional message sent out a few days ago, I stated that fear interferes with faith. I mentioned also that whatever you fear, that thing has power over you. We scratched the surface on this last point. Today, we want to expand it by looking at what Jesus said in our opening Scripture passage.

Jesus addressed fear by using an example familiar to people of His time. For two copper coins, one could by five sparrows. At that time, a copper coin was worth very little. That one could buy five sparrows for two copper coins shows that sparrows were very cheap. In using the example of sparrows, Jesus wanted to put across the idea of worthlessness. Then He says that despite their cheap market value, not one of the sparrows is forgotten by God. Sparrows have vale before God. And, it is why God does not forget or neglect them. Things of value are treated with care.

Jesus is now ready to draw a lesson from the life of sparrows and apply it to the people. He says, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” God has numbered the hair on our head, because every detail of our life is of value to Him. To conclude His point, Jesus says, “Do not fear therefore; you have more value than many sparrows.” Notice the point Jesus is making. He wants us to realize that there’s a close relationship between fear and self-value. What does this mean for us?

In God’s eyes, you are of great value. However, your attitude can affect your sense of self-worth. God has given you the power to set your self-value. You do this through your choices, especially through the things you speak and the things you do.

Fear lowers your value. When you entertain thoughts or feelings of fear, panic and anxiety, you reduce your worth. And when you reduce your worth, you reduce your strength. To borrow an expression from modern parlance, fear is an “energy vampire.” It will drain you of energy, life and inspiration. You should, therefore, eliminate fear and replace it with faith and serenity. While fear lowers your value, faith elevates it.

Learn to inspire yourself. The most inspiring people are those who have learned to self-motivate. You can’t always rely on others to motivate you. The best motivation comes from within you. Reject fear. Embrace faith, and elevate your value.

BlessingMay the angels of God guard you today in all your ways. Amen.

For further study1 Samuel 17:4-58