Stop bullying me!

Has it been one of those seasons where no matter how hard you try to move one step forward, you feel like you are taking two steps backward? No matter what you do, you just cannot seem to break free of whatever it is that is keeping you in the muddle and trials you are in. Sometimes I think this 'muddle' is just my own doing - because I have bitten off way more than I can chew. My plate is overloaded and the only way to be clear of the pressure is to get some of the stuff off my plate which really doesn't belong there in the first place. There are other times when I just cannot tell you why I am feeling a little oppressed and pushed down, but it happens more than I'd like to admit. I think those times might just be when the enemy of my soul wants me to get distracted from what is important in life - adding muddle and mess wherever he can. How about you? Sometimes you just need to push some of the stuff back off your plate, other times you might just need to push back against the one who is "bullying" your soul!

God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

The devil beats us up unnecessarily for he is already defeated - he is just doing his best to convince us otherwise! If we'd learn to put on the full armor we are given and actually use it to resist the attacks of the enemy of our souls, we might just be able to hold our ground against his attacks! Lest we think he doesn't know where to attack us in our lives, be assured of this - there is nothing "uncommon" in our struggles that others have not already struggled with. He just knows how we ALL struggle - so he uses these "common" areas as a means to get us focused on the stuff that gets us down and under the weight of life in general. Lest we think our enemy has no plan of attack - let me assure you, we probably give him some "hints" about how it is we can be attacked! Hints like us not being very kind in our responses when we are tired, or like when we don't plan ahead well and leave late for a specific appointment, then get all bogged down in traffic. We sometimes like to blame him for these events, but in actuality, these are common struggles for all of us, so if he can use them to his benefit, he will! He doesn't necessarily make us tired, nor does he send the traffic - but he will use them to get us to take our eyes off what really matters.

He will often get us to focus on what more can be added into our day, and this gets us into our trouble. If someone does something that we may not normally react to, but in our tiredness, we somehow "read more into it" than we should, we might respond with the feeling a bit of stress added to our day. We "add into" the situation because of our own interpretation of the circumstances viewed through already overextended and over-tired eyes! We know we need to spend time within our relationships - "quality time" - while not being distracted and focused intentionally on each other. Then we get this genius idea to just combine a little work with the pleasure and we somehow no longer have this non-distracted, intentional focus in the "quality time". He will get us to considering the "alternatives" to the way we know we should go, and we get duped again. We could do something this way, OR we could do it another way, often presented as the easier way. We could sweep the floor, or just kick the crumbs under the throw rug! The alternative which seems so much easier is presented to us, usually in such a way that suggests we were entitled to have it be this easy in the first place. Just a little advice here - what appears too easily accomplished or obtained is usually not the best plan!

Adding things into our day adds complications we didn't need. Taking the easy way presents short-cuts which really do little to simplify our lives and usually just delay the original plan. Since the Garden of Eden, our enemy has been using the same two tactics. If we become aware of how he operates, we might just be able to resist his attacks a little easier. God is strong and he wants us strong. What we do with the wisdom we are given will ultimately determine how strong we will stand. What are we given? "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. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out." (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Be prepared. The only attacks which are successful in our lives are when we don't prepare well. If we did a little "up front" consideration of what we put on our plate, or what will impact our ability to finish well, we might take a little less into our grasp! We cannot handle this alone. We need others who will come along side, especially the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We want relationship, but we don't take the time to invest in it. We are robbed of one of our greatest weapons against his attacks whenever we attempt to stand alone. The value of well-developed relationships is best understood in the times of our deepest personal need. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation - weapons in their own right. Truth sets us straight, so we aren't duped into believing our own vain imaginations. Righteousness helps us stand upright when all of our enemy's hosts would want us to look backward at our failures. Peace determines the steadiness of our walk and gives us the assurance we don't walk alone. Faith keeps us directed on what we cannot see, but what we have come to accept and stand on as true in our live. Salvation is the anchor which holds us when we might want to drift.

We need to talk WITH God. Prayer is more than talking TO God - it is talking WITH God. Two-way conversation - open to receive what he gives. We sell ourselves short when all we come to do is TELL God and never stop to LISTEN TO God. Most of the time, it is in these listening times where we discover we have been giving into the "AND" and the "OR" tactics of our enemy. In these moments of being WITH Jesus, we discover we didn't need the "AND" and we cannot count on the "OR". Time to stop being 'bullied' into believing otherwise! Just sayin!


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