Deliverance

Have you ever been held up in chains? Taken captive by the lies of the enemy? Been controlled? 

Have you ever prayed for something, devoutly, I might add, and the Lord never brought it to be? It’s not that He ever said a clear “no”, but just led your life in another direction. Or, maybe He did say “no”, but you don’t want to let go of that desire. But in the midst of actually trying to make an effort to let that desire go, or maybe for the chains to be broken, you are tempted to continue praying for it. After all, we are told in scripture to have faith of a mustard seed right? 

This is something I have been going through. 

Let’s start with a Bible passage. If you have the word of God near you, please open it to Matthew 4. Read verses 1-11. In this passage, Jesus is drawn into the wilderness by the Spirit… to be tempted by the Devil. 

I know what you are thinking because I am thinking it to… what the devil? why would the Spirit draw Jesus to the wilderness for that particular reason? We will get to that in a moment, but continue reading with me. 

Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights. Then, Satan comes along and begins to tempt Him. The first thing to notice here is that the Devil calls Jesus by His identity. He recognizes that Jesus is the “Son of God”. Interestingly, in the last verses of Matthew chapter 3 after Jesus is baptized the voice from Heaven says “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3.17). Take note of the fact that the Devil knows who Jesus is. 

Then, the Devil goes on to say, “command these stones to become loaves of bread” (vs. 3). Jesus responds by the one thing He knows by heart (literally). He states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (vs. 4). 

Recognizing that Jesus was not going to fall into that specific temptation, he tries again. What he does next is risky on his part. He quotes scripture thinking that it will most definitely get Jesus to stumble. He takes Jesus up to this very high point and tells him to jump off. He says, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (vs. 6).

Jesus, was not having any of this. Knowing the Word and the heart of the Father, Jesus states, “Again, it is written, ‘you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (vs. 7). Satan was not giving up just yet. 

He took Jesus to the top of a very tall mountain that overlooked kingdoms and cities. He told Jesus that if He bowed down to worship him, he would give Him all the kingdoms. But, our faithful Jesus responds with, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve’” (vs. 10). 

Then, the Devil gave up, recognizing that Jesus was not going to give into the temptation.

So, back to my introduction questions. . .

When you feel bound up in chains, or when you are trying to “let go” of that one desire  the Lord is clearly saying is not for you, do you ever feel tempted? 

When the Devil tries to tempt you does it sound somewhat familiar to what he said to Jesus? 

He may say, “if you are a son/daughter of Jesus” or “if your God really is all powerful” then “can’t He makes this happen?” or “then why would He withhold something so ‘good’ from you?”. 

This is true. God is all powerful and can do the impossible (Matthew 19.26). But maybe your impossible is not getting this one thing you have been praying for. Maybe your impossible is setting your eyes to Jesus and letting go so that God can bless you in other ways. 

Friends, the enemy is just as relentless as God. He knows who you serve. He knows who he’s up against Heck, he knows your name. If he can recognize that Jesus is the Son of Man, then He knows you are a child of God too. And sure enough, he’s going to use that to his advantage. After all, doesn’t it sound more appealing when someone calls you by your identity or name then just “hey kid”? 

Another important thing that we need to look at in this scripture and how we can apply it to our own lives is how Jesus responds to Satan each time. Jesus is consistently responding with the Word of God. He’s not just pulling some random knowledge out of nowhere, nope, He’s quoting the very word of God. Specifically, He pulls scripture from Deuteronomy 8.2 in verse 4, Isaiah 7.12 in verse 7, and Deuteronomy 6.13. 

Do you know what is so significant about the Word of God? Look at Ephesians 6. In this chapter, Paul is telling the church of Ephesus to put on the armor of God, because they are going into battle. Not a battle with flesh and blood, but a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6.12). Throughout verses 14 to 17, Paul is telling them to put on things that will protect them, a belt, a breastplate, shoes, and to carry a shield. But lastly, he states to pick up the sword. This is what they will be doing their battling with. It is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (vs. 17). 

Jesus used His sword when battling the temptations of the Devil. He is setting a perfect example of what and how we are supposed to overcome and begin to step into deliverance. 

Now, back to the reason Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Do you remember in the Old Testament where the Israelites were delivered from Egypt? If not, please glance over Exodus 14. In this chapter, Moses parts the Red Sea and the Israelites are led into freedom. 

You may recall, however, that things were not “la-dee-da” fine and dandy after that. They were promised this land of milk and honey. But, they were disobedient to the law of the Lord and led into the wilderness for 40 years (woah, that’s a long time). They still had a hard time gripping this concept of the Ten Commandments. They continued to live in their sin, casting up idols and worshiping other gods. In other words, they were unsuccessful in being tempted by the Devil. 

That is why Jesus, the perfect image, the Son of Man, the one that reconciles us to the Father, had to go into the wilderness before starting His ministry. He had to be victorious because the Israelites could not. 

With all of that being said, friends, we are all going to be tempted. We are all going to be thrown into the wilderness, there’s no doubt about it. How we respond is the key. We need to pick up our armor, including our swords, and fight this battle before us. And we can pray the part in the Lord’s prayer that states “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, knowing that Jesus already reigns in victory! 

Hunting for God’s will

{November 6}

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? I do. They are TOMS brand Cordones. My mom got them for me for Christmas my junior year of high school (that was four years ago). They were not cheap shoes, even with the coupon I had for Journeys (one of the most popular shoe stores in the mall). This was my first pair of shoes that I had ever gotten from Journeys. This is the shoe store that all the cool kids shopped at. It’s the shoe store that when I was a kid I thought I would never be able to afford a pair of shoes from.

Well, my favorite pair of shoes have just about had it. There are holes everywhere, the inside soles have just about ripped out, and I cannot wear them on just any occasion anymore.. I have to wear them when the ground is not even the slightest bit damp or else I will have wet, cold (probably smelly) feet. That being said, last weekend I set off on an adventure to buy a new pair of shoes.

Now, I was not looking for anything too significantly expensive. I had a specific pair of shoes in mind, however. There is a pair of black, ankle high, slide on booties. I thought, those would be perfect for the upcoming fall/winter season. Plus, they would look adorable with my flannels and cuffed jeans. So, I began the search that ended up being the search for the impossible.

First, let me tell you how rainy it was. That automatically put a “damper” on my day (no pun intended). I thought that maybe I would get lucky and find a nice pair at a hand-me-down store before I went to a more expensive store. So, I started at Goodwill. Apparently, I did not read the sign, because when I walked in I looked about as lost and confused as a polar bear in the middle of Hawaii. It was a distribution center and I did not know how to “work it” or shop there. I did a quick loop and was on my way.

Next, naturally, I went to Plato’s closet. Surely, they would have SOMETHING. Well, I did end up getting a new pair of New Balance tennis shoes because my Nikes have also just about had it (if you are guessing that I probably hate shoe shopping you have guess right). I took that visit as a win.

There was a Burlington Coat Factory right around the corner, so I thought maybe I would stop in there and see what they had. As I was browsing the shoe selection, I noticed how anxious and anticipating I was. Everyone knows that you have to start at the beginning of your shoe-size section, look through every shelf and shoe, and then work your way down the aisle. I was just so excited that this might be the place that has the shoes I want. I wanted to peek ahead, but I didn’t want to spoil it for myself, and I didn’t want to miss anything.

Eventually, I got to the boots section. And low and behold, they had my shoe. But there was one problem, they were in the wrong color. These shoes were brown. I wanted black (because everyone knows black matches everything). So, it was a no deal there. There was a TJ Max next door and I thought, well, while I’m here I might as well look. Now, this store also had my shoes. BUT they were like $150. That was certainly well over my budget. So, again, another no deal.

I proceeded to go to Target, where I had done previous online research and knew they had a pair similar to what I was looking for. But once I tried them on, I was not impressed. This simply would not do. The price was right, but my overall satisfaction in the shoe was not. They were not what I was expecting. So, I continued on my hunt for the pair of impossible shoes.

I went to Kohl’s, which usually has every shoe known to man, but apparently, not mine. Then I went to the mall, where I looked at Sears, Payless, Journey’s (where the store clerk commented on my now drenched TOMs), Bath & Body Works (obviously I did not find shoes here, but I did get a new wallflower for my dorm room and a car air freshener that smells like flannel), Macy’s, and then accidentally stopped a skater store and almost bought a $15 hat and a long board for $150, but realized that if I did that, I would most definitely not get my shoes. I left the mall disappointed.

Then, I drove to 5-Below, looking for some type of hope that maybe they would have a cheap pair of rain boots that I would make-do with. But, again, I left in disappointment. That’s it, I thought. I had decided to go to a somewhat expensive shoe store. I looked at Famous Footwear before heading into DSW Shoes. They had nothing, so I proceeded to the store that I knew I would gasp at the prices, but I thought maybe, just maybe, if I found the right shoe I would be willing to put the money into them.

In DSW Shoes I was getting to the end of the aisle and getting worried, but then I saw them. In the flesh. The exact pair of shoes I wanted. Another lady was looking at them. Immediately, I marched right up to the shelf, pulled the size 8 off, found a seat and tried them on. I stood up, took one look in the mirror, and I gasped.

I did not like these shoes one bit. They did not compliment my legs like I wanted them too. They made me look shorter than I already am, even with a cuffed jean. They were what I was looking for, but they were $59.00 (on sale). I was not in love. So once again. I walked away empty handed.

Sad, full of disappointment, near starvation, and ready to give up, I thought I would give old faithful Walmart a try. But, that was a quick in and out. Now, my focus had changed from “get these exact boots” to “get the shoes that are going to keep your feet warm and dry”. I did not like Walmart’s selection of rainboots. So, just as I was about to give up and head back to campus, I thought it might be worth the slightly distant drive to the nearest Shoe Dept. I walked in, praying to our God who created all things, that they would have shoes I would like. Sure enough, they had a decent pair of paisley black and white rainboots. I was so content, that I even bought two pairs of socks to wear with them. Now, I could sleep at night.

SO, you’re probably like okay, is this post just a rant about your horrible shoe shopping experience on a rainy Saturday? The answer is no.

You see, shoe shopping is kind of like trying to figure out God’s will for our lives… except one is a little more important.

We might go out on this hunt, knowing exactly what we want and being willing to go to the ends of the Earth  (or for me Canton, OH), to get what we are looking for. We tell God that we are open to anything and willing to abide by whatever He says, but in the back of our minds we know exactly what we want to happen.

Sometimes, we want to peak ahead and anticipate anxiously what might be up there, but then we are scared that we might miss what is in the moment, or directly in front of us. We might find what we are looking for, but not be satisfied. We might think we know what we want and need, but then when we finally get a glimpse of it and see what it might be like, we are instantly dissatisfied.

I thought these booties would be perfect. I thought they would do their job and would mesh well with my style, but when I saw them, I was not happy. I was disappointed that I let myself get so carried away trying to find these “perfect” shoes that I didn’t even like once I saw them. But then, eventually, I found an alternative. I found a pair of boots that did the job. They were also satisfying when I wore them through puddles and a rain storm.

Sometimes, we think we know what we need/want in our lives. But then we might get a taste of that and not like it. If we are so open to go to the ends of the Earth to seek God’s will for our lives, then we need to be accepting of what the will might be, no matter what. We need to just give up control and trust the God of the universe with the outcome.

Because He knows just what we need. He knows how to fulfill those needs. God is all knowing and all powerful, so why not put our trust in Him?