How often do you reflect on your reactive responses in life that create division in your relationships? The next time you find yourself feeling triggered, pause, pray and ask the Holy Spirit: what’s this about? What is really going on here?
“Wake up oh sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14
“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Matthew 13:15
In last month’s blog, Don’t Take the Bait, we focused on the bait Satan uses in our lives to create strife and division in our relationships. Today we will learn 2 of 4 specific ordinary activities that the devil uses to gain ground in our relationships. Remember, he prefers to ride under the radar of our conscious awareness in order to connive his way into our thinking unnoticed. As soon as we shine the light of our awareness on his very unconventional and repeated strategy to hijack us from God’s love and peace, we regain the ground that he has stolen.
Leading like Jesus requires us to stay awake at the gate of our thoughts, a willingness to examine the motives of our heart and humility to respond to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we are led to inspire the people entrusted to our care. As we open our hearts to the love God has for us, our minds begin to transform and renew for God’s work which He has prepared in advance for us to do (Romans 12:1-2). This transformation spills out into our hands and habits that glorify God. Know this, in the midst of it all the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
How exactly does the devil devour us? He is using the same strategy today as he used in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Same theme, different stage. As we equip our awareness around the strategy he is using, we increase our ability to stand against it and remain in God’s purposes. I recently had the opportunity to interview Father Vincent Lampert on the Edge God In Podcast: Spiritual Warfare Wisdom from an Exorcist. Father Vincent wrote a book entitled: Exorcism, The Battle Against Satan and His Demons. In the interview he shares 4 ordinary activities of the devil that are important for us to know so that we can stand against his trickery. In today’s blog we will focus on the first two: Deception and Division. Next month we will focus on the remaining two: Diversion and Discouragement.
The first ordinary activity the devil uses in our relationship with God, ourselves and others is to deceive. “Did God really say that?” the serpent deceived Eve by placing doubt in her heart around God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. He is using this strategy today to hijack identities, using deception to create confusion and chaos. Watch out for it in your own life. Seek a knowledge of the truth through the Holy Scriptures, prayer and our Christian tradition (What did the followers of the disciples do, say and pursue?) so that you can discern with the help of the Holy Spirit good from evil, truth from falsehood. If you are wondering about a choice to participate in an activity, including conversations, simply pause and pray: God does this choice of my time and attention draw me closer to you or push me away? The devil is all about attacking our union with God. Do not touch, do not taste. Obey God, stand firm in faith and the devil will flee (Colossians 2:22).
The second ordinary activity the devil uses is that of division. As soon as the serpent deceived Eve and Adam, they were separated from each other and God (Genesis 3:7-11). Keep watch on this tactic because it has gone viral in our society today. Declare Holy Scriptures over your relationships that speak truth: In the end times people will take offense, betraying and hating one another, stand firm so that your hearts do not grow cold (Matthew 24:10-12). Forgive one another as God has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). Love one another deeply from the heart, be devoted to one another in brotherly love, honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10). The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6). The other night my husband and I got in an argument over something that was so ridiculous. As we unpacked it the next day, we both agreed that we were hijacked by division and discouragement, two of the 4 ordinary activities the devil uses to kill, steal and destroy our union with each other and God. (John 10:10).
Deception and division often slither in through the archway of strife and pride. Seek counsel and wisdom from the Holy Spirit of God in humility as you lead and interact with the people entrusted to your care.
Take time this week to reflect and journal on the following questions: Where are you experiencing deception and division in your life? Within your relationship with Jesus? Yourself and others? Refuse to participate. What are you believing that is resulting in fear? Self-doubt? Worry, anger or resentment? What is the upside of holding onto those negative emotions? What would you notice to be different if you released them and replaced them with the love Jesus has for you? Practice the presence of Jesus in your life. Whatever you do, whether you eat, drink, clean, pack lunch, teach, encourage, listen, work, lead, speak…do it all for the Glory of God (Colossians 3:23). Need more guidance to practice the presence of Jesus? Listen in to the podcast: Practicing the Presence of Jesus with Joni Eareckson Tada.