September 7

Mark 1-2, Psalm 96

Though a Christian for nearly 30 years, for many of those years I quietly practiced my faith. I continued to read and grow personally, but I was rather weak in living out my faith. Though I shared in a limited fashion, I wasn't truly serving the Lord. Around 7 years ago I began to turn my profession into a ministry in which I actively evangelized patients, employees, and colleagues for Christ. Then 2 years ago I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to begin this ministry, The One Year Bible Challenge. It was shortly after that when the attacks from the enemy began. They have been relentless and intense. Like many others, when the attacks begin, the first question is "why me?" But that is an earthly response to the reality of the spiritual world that surrounds us. When I asked my pastor, Lloyd Pulley, for advice and prayer, he explained that it is to be expected whenever we step out in faith. When we make a choice to live out our Christian faith we place a bullseye on our backs for Satan and his demons. Our part is not to ask why, or to allow ourselves to get beaten back from what God has called us to do, but to realize the source of the attack and lean on our source of strength, our God and Savior and His Word.

Though perfect from His birth, Jesus lived a fairly quiet life in a quiet little town for the first 30 years of His life. He began His earthly ministry by being baptized by John the Baptist in Mark 1:9-11. Just like when we step out in ministry, notice the next event in the life of Jesus in 1:12-13, "Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him." We get a little more context in the book of Matthew surrounding this temptation in Matthew 4:1-11. We realize He was not just by Himself but fasting for forty days, therefore in a physically weakened state. Notice 3 attacks by Satan are recorded which attack His provision, His protection, and His promise. Notice Satan's tactics have never changed since the Garden of Eden when he tempted Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:1-5. He will always question God's Word and change the Word ever so slightly. Notice in Matthew 4:3, we read, "Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God,...". Notice when attacked by Satan, though Jesus was the most ingenious, the most clever, the most powerful Man to walk the earth, He chooses not to rely on this, but instead He meticulously beats back and silences Satan with the Word of God. He quotes Deuteronomy three times, as we read in Matthew 4:10-11, "The Jesus said to him, "Away with you Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him."

When Satan attacks us he might say, "Are you really a child of God?", or "Are you really saved?", or "If so, why are you not happier, healthier, richer, more problem-free?". When we choose to listen to these lies we can do one of three things: some may actually believe the lie and walk away from the faith, others make the mistake of taking on the enemy in our own strength and ingenuity only to get beaten down. Others will do what Jesus did and fight back in the power of God's Word. This is one of the reasons for the One Year Bible Challenge, we can only utilize God's Word if we are in God's Word daily and have the entirety of His Word at our fingertips, not just a few verses. We all make a serious mistake when we minimize the reality of spiritual warfare. Paul said in Ephesians 6:11-12, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Paul goes on to describe the armor and concludes in 6:17, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit , which is the word of God." We should never underestimate the strength of our opponent, but we should also never forget what John said in 1 John 4:4, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in You is greater than he who is in the world." When we are being attacked, and as we step out in faith we will probably all be attacked, may we never forget where our strength and resolve come from. I am only a ministry leader, I can only imagine the attacks leveled by the enemy against our pastors and church leaders. May we take time in our daily prayers to pray for our pastors.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster