And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. (Ezra 4:7)
One of the ways that Satan uses to get us distracted, is by seeking to get us to focus on those things that we cannot change. It is true, that God has taken care of our past by forgiving, forgetting, and placing it out of reach (Psalm 103). But Satan does not forget, neither does he want us to, so he brings up the dirty laundry of the past and causes us to focus on that. That seems to be a never- ending- battle, but the good news is that every temptation that we face, has a purpose in God's economy. Satan's purpose is to steal, kill and to destroy, but temptation has a greater purpose in God’s plan. It is through these temptations that we find our faith challenged and through the challenges we learn how to trust.
Lately, my thoughts have been occupied over this matter concerning the trial of faith. I am learning so much about this and it causes me to want to share with others the difficulties are not the end of life and neither are discouragements. Difficulties are Satan's purpose to destroy but the same circumstances are God's purposes to develop. Whether our trials are developers or destroyers depends upon how important God is in our lives.
If we are to live a life of confidence and joy, it is important that the word of God and fellowship with God become our priority. I spent many hours in the week seeking ways to develop my Christian life so that I have something practical to share with my friends who face discouraging times. So, what do we want to discover in this study this morning?
Satan is in the business of trying to destroy us. We must never forget that whenever we face temptations or difficulties; Satan's purpose is to destroy us and to do something irrationally. But when we view these, we discover that discouragements, from a Christian perspective cause us to welcome them and even laugh at them at times, especially when we find God sufficient for them.
In our last study, we saw some of the tactics of Satan to cause the people to stop building. When deceitfulness did not work, the people moved forward and continued building. But Satan was not finished. He had another strategy in his bag of tricks to cause the people of Israel to stop building the temple and this trick, worked for sixteen years while the building of the temple discontinued. What is it that he did this time?
He caused the enemies of God to manufacture a false report. They challenged the King to search the archives to see if what they were saying was true. Upon searching the archives, the King found documents of Israel's failure and past destruction. Upon that information, the King issued a decree causing them to stop the building.
Now that was a problem that the children of Israel could do nothing about for the moment. They falsely concluded, because of this opposition, that it was not God's timing to finish the job that he called them to do. The king of Persia did not know about the decree of Cyrus, and did not know about the new beginnings that God intended for the children of Israel.
When the people were at wits- end- corner, God raised up both the prophet Haggai and the prophet Zechariah to cause the people to begin building once again. It is through these messages which are forthcoming, that we will deal with the ways that God pulled these people out of discouragement and cause them to continue the work of God. So, what is our closing message from all of this?
Difficulties and temptations are all a part of God's plan to develop us into strong, healthy, trusting followers. But the problem with temptation is that it causes us to focus too long on the problems at hand, and if we do not take the way of escape (by changing our focus) they eventually become more than we can handle. Instead of turning to God, we often seek outside sources to find relief. As we study the history of Israel, constantly they were going to either Egypt or Assyria to find solutions to their problems, when a simple matter like trusting God, is all that the needed to do. This is not to say that trusting God is an easy matter, when it seems that it takes a lifetime to learn.
Satan always causes us to focus on things that seemingly are outside of our ability to change. When we think about the circumstances and compare our ability in light of them, we often get discouraged, but we close with the words of Peter that tell us "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (I Peter 4: 12,13)
This is a ploy by say in using the area of politics to destroy God's people. Self- righteous people who fail to be truthful about their own limitations, will seek to find past failures in others and elaborate upon them in order to hinder progress. But God is above politics. The strategies of men are just tools by Satan who, in the end will be the ultimate loser in the battle of life.