Luke 22:31 CEV
Luke writes: “Jesus said, ‘Simon, listen to me! Satan has demanded the right to test each one of you, as a farmer does when he separates wheat from the husks. But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others'” (vv. 31-32 CEV). Satan’s attack proves you have an important part to play in the plan of God. That’s why he’s trying so hard to defeat you. The truth is, the intensity and duration of his attack is an indication of your value to God and the level of blessing that God has planned for you on the other side of the attack. So if you belong to Christ, view the attack as a sign of respect. And remember Who is in control. Satan needed God’s permission to attack Job. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18 NIV). And this is proof. The purpose of this test is to provide you with a testimony to God’s goodness. Jesus was allowing Peter to experience a trial so that he could encourage his brothers. Perhaps God is doing the same with you. He knows that the church, and the world, need living testimonies of His power. So your difficulty may be preparing you to be a voice of encouragement to others who are struggling. Remember what Joseph said to his brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20 NAS). Since God loves you and is in control of your life, good things will come from the difficulties you are going through right now.
Soul food: 1 Cor 1-3; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 13; Prov 25:4-8
Luke 22:31 CEV
Luke writes: ‘Jesus said, “Simon, listen to me! Satan has demanded the right to test each one of you, as a farmer does when he separates wheat from the husks. But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others”‘ (vv. 31-32 CEV). We often face the most spiritual attack when we’re living out God’s plan for our lives. When we’re determined to make a difference in the world for His glory, and to advance His kingdom, we’ll most likely face more intense attack from Satan as he doesn’t want us to be doing kingdom work. But we need to remember God’s in control. Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matthew 28:18 NIV). So when we’re feeling under attack, we shouldn’t give up. In actual fact, when we’re going through tough times, it can lead to us having a testimony to God’s goodness. As we see in Luke 22, Jesus was allowing Simon Peter to experience a trial so that he could encourage his brothers. Perhaps God’s doing the same with us. He knows that the church, and the world, need to see and hear real stories of His power. So our difficulties may be preparing us to encourage others who are struggling. Remember what Joseph said to his brothers: ‘You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good’ (Genesis 50:20 NASB). Since God loves us and is in control of our lives, good things will come from the difficulties we’re going through right now.
1 Cor 1-3; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 13; Prov 25:4-8
1 Corinthians 5:5 CEV
Satan’s attack can be a wake-up call. Do you know that when you refuse to acknowledge your sin and repent of it, the wall of protection around you is breached and Satan is free to come in and attack you? Paul writes to the Corinthian church: “I have heard terrible things about some of you. In fact, you are behaving worse than the Gentiles. A man is even sleeping with his own stepmother. You are proud, when you ought to feel bad enough to chase away anyone who acts like that” (vv. 1-2 CEV). Then Paul instructs the leaders of the church, “You must then hand that man over to Satan. His body will be destroyed, but his spirit will be saved when the Lord Jesus returns.” Later the man repented of his sin and Paul said he should be restored to fellowship in the church. So what Paul was saying, in essence, was: “Let him be driven to despair that he might be driven back into the arms of God.” Again Paul writes: “Some people have made a mess of their faith because they didn’t listen to their consciences. Two of them are Hymenaeus and Alexander. I have given these men over to the power of Satan, so that they will learn not to oppose God” (1 Timothy 1:19-20 CEV). Does God enjoy seeing us suffer? No more than a parent enjoys disciplining a child. But holy love makes tough choices. (Remember, discipline should result in mercy, not misery.) Some of us are awakened by a tap on the shoulder, while others need a two-by-four on the head. And whenever God needs a two-by-four, Satan gets the call.
Soul food: Prov 25:1-3; Jam 1:2-8
James 4:7 NIV
The Bible says that Satan is like a thief who ‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy’ (John 10:10 NIV). Sometimes we can feel like things in our lives have been taken away and destroyed. Maybe that’s a dream we once had, a relationship that’s gone wrong, or feeling like hope for the future has vanished. But the truth is, we’ve got God on our side and Satan can’t overcome us. God can restore the things that have been taken away. And we can strengthen ourselves in Him to avoid anything more being taken. In James 4, it says: ‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ (v.7 NIV). When we’re under attack, resisting the devil is easier said than done. Prayer is a great way to submit ourselves to God in the moment. But we can also prepare ourselves beforehand, so that when we face attack, we’re ready to resist Satan. Keeping connected to God is one way of strengthening ourselves, especially by reading His Word and being able to declare His truth over ourselves. Another way is to put on the armour of God. ‘Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11 NIVUK). From the belt of truth to the helmet of salvation, God’s armour can help us withstand the enemy’s attacks. The Message translation puts it like this: ‘Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet’ (Ephesians 6:13).
Prov 25:1-3; Jam 1:2-8
Romans 8:28 NIV
As we saw yesterday, Satan’s attack can strengthen our faith. The devil dared to question the strength of Job’s faith, so God gave him permission to test Job. ‘The LORD said to Satan, “All right then. Everything Job has is in your power, but you must not touch Job himself”‘ (Job 1:12 NCV). God allowed the test, but He set the boundaries that Satan had to abide by. Job passes the test and Satan complains that Job would have fallen had he been forced to face pain. Again God gives permission, and again He sets the boundaries: ‘Job is in your power, but you may not take his life’ (Job 2:6 NCV). Though Job faced a great deal of pain and ended up asking God a lot of questions, in the end his faith and health were even better than before. We might not understand the things we’re having to face, or why we’re facing them, but what we can know for sure is that God will bring good from it. ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28 NIV). That good might be a restoration of the things we’ve lost, even more blessings than we started with or a stronger relationship with God Himself. When we feel under spiritual attack, we can confidently say that God will bring good in the end. His plans are ultimately for good. Job said: ‘The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised’ (Job 1:21 NIV). Whether we’re going through good or bad, we should be praising God too. His goodness and faithfulness remain the same whatever happens.
Zech 12-14; Mark 14:43-52; Ps 54; Prov 25:1-3