"But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, 'Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that [giving Jesus praise for all He was doing and for coming in the name of the Lord]!' He replied, 'If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!'” (Luke 19: 39-40)
Listen, rocks, you my not take away my song to my Jesus because, talented or not--definitely NOT, I'm shouting my praise!
Last week, God revealed Truth so powerfully from Revelations 12:11. "Our brothers conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to their lives even in the face of death." Jesus conquered Satan, He conquered death by His blood. Jesus is the Victor. Incredibly, God also chooses to use our praise and testimonies to spread our Lord's Gospel and defeat Satan's battles on earth. We are challenged to praise, shout, give testimonies about our Lord.
Our God is good and His timing is perfect. My dad, who is battling cancer, went back into the hospital recently due to complications from his medications. Major surgery once again loomed in his very near future. Dozens, if not a hundred, prayer warriors went into action, and literally minutes before Dad was to go into the operating room, his doctors changed their course of action and performed a much more minor procedure. Although he is still weak and recovering, after a week in the hospital, he was able to go home. Another opportune time to give testimony resulted. God had mercy on Dad, heard His people's prayers, and said "Yes". "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16)
I'm not one to focus on Satan's attacks, but I also know that we have to prepare ourselves for them. I don't believe it was any coincidence that soon after I began focusing on the power of our testimonies that I entered into a time of arduous mental battles--and some physical ones as well.
Satan attacks us using orderly and meticulous procedures. He often hits where we are weak, where we haven't healed, or where we are called to serve. He wants to disable our testimony power. He wants us to shut-up about Jesus. He wants to destroy us.
God has called me to be a wife and a mom. He has also called me, all of us, to share the Good News; for me, this is often done via my writing and/or teaching--I'm able to get past my odd social idiosyncrasies when I write better than I can when I speak (except when I'm talking with children--for some reason then I can freely speak; perhaps because we share a common maturity level :) ). When Satan attacks me, it is often in these areas so that I will be ineffective. He desires to destroy me/us so that God won't be glorified. It has been shocking for me to witness the obstacles that appear when I am writing out my "Lessons from the Gym" of life. Often, I just don't think Satan wants me to be able to testify. Now I know that not every obstacle that comes along the path is an attack. Sometimes it is God saying "no" or "not yet", and other times the obstacles are from me becoming too ambitious and running ahead of God's timing. Sometimes they come because I've sinned. But other times, and I think this week was one of them, I do believe the trials are attacks.
I desire to serve God and be faithful "...to lead a life worthy of [my] calling, for [I] have been called by God." (Ephesians 4:1) I want to be a wife who respects and honors my husband the way God wants me to. I want to be a mom who, above all else, guides my children to love the Lord with everything. I want to proclaim His Good News. I want to love God and others a bit better each day. I want to have eyes that are mission and ministry minded. Satan wishes to destroy these, but "...you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people [false prophets], because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world." (1John 4:4) "But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you." (2 Timothy 4:5) So whether I am attacked in my calling or in telling the Gospel News, I won't shut-up. I will keep testifying--I'm absolutely sure I won't do it perfectly, even Peter couldn't stop himself from denying Jesus, but by our Lord's grace and His strength, I will keep on.
Satan not only wants to disable our testimony, but he also wants us to stay quiet about our struggles; he feeds us lies telling us that no one will understand our trials and that our issues are just too embarrassing to share. We have to let go of pride and take a chance being vulnerable, with someone we trust--our spouse, a best friend, someone in a small group Bible study--so that we have support and accountability during our test. Pastor Jim, during his sermon on Sunday, only somewhat facetiously said that we should begin our worship time like an AA meeting by saying, "Hello, my name is [Amanda]. I'm a sinner..." We have to remember that, "the temptations in [our lives] are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1 Corinthians 10:13) We need to trust others to pray for us; we need to trust someone to share our burden knowing that our trials and temptations are not anything that God hasn't dealt with thousands of other times. He's not surprised by our weaknesses. And we all have them. Easy to say to share; hard to do.
I was trying to take my thoughts captive as I struggled this week in my most recent trial; I was trying to focus on the Lord. I was trusting Him as my Victor. But I hadn't shared my battle even with my husband. So I shared. I have to admit that even after 21 years of knowing Ben, I was scared what he would think of me. But I bumbled my way through and asked him to pray for me. After several moments of him saying little, I asked if he thought ill of me. I love my husband. He is my anchor and my rock that connects me to realty. He shows me God's grace and points me towards THE Anchor and THE Rock. He answered me by saying he was quiet because he was trying to figure out why I would even question his thoughts about me. He reminded me that everyone struggles with something or another and that I worry too much that others may think ill of me...true, I conceded. One thing I've always so appreciated about my husband is the grace of the Lord that he shows those around him--I think I need most of the grace that the Lord funnels through him. I can have a bit, perhaps more than a bit, of a melancholy and critical spirit. In jest I say that I may bankrupt Ben's grace reservoir at times. He is one of the most patient, kind, forgiving people I know. And God knew what He was doing, go figure!, when he placed him in my life. True, we are two sinners, saved only by the blood of our Savior, trying to not stick each other too badly with our porcupine quills (as Pastor Tom says!) but I'm pretty sure my quills are often sharper than Ben's. And for that, my love, I'm sorry. And also for that, I thank you once again for the grace you give to me.
I know that sharing my struggle with my best friend turned the tide. Yes, there is still learning to be done, but I have someone sharing the battle with me. (I am also very thankful for another faithful friend who is praying for me in this trial as well. So blessed by her friendship.)
God allows us to go through trials to grow us and to teach us to really understand and have mercy for those around us going through difficult times. "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4) And when we learn from them, we have another opportunity to give our testimony of God's faithfulness, goodness, provision, and grace.
And so I will praise God once again. And the rocks may not steal my shouts of praise to my Savior.
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! (Psalm 150:1-6)
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:2)
Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. (2 Samuel 22:50)
Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, ... (1 Peter 1:3)
I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! (Deuteronomy 32:3)