Defeating the Devil in Three Easy Steps – Three in a series Songs of Ascent

Facebook Post 1-30-2018
Psalms 122

Defeating the Devil in Three Easy Steps

            Good morning Facebook friends.  Today is third in a series of 15 posts on the “Songs of Ascent. Across the pages of Facebook, news outlets, and various other media sources, we see riots, discontent, people burning the US flag, and general discord at the cost of the nation, the families within the nation, and the communities that serve the nation. Various people have been blamed for the trouble like President DJ Trump, the DFL, the GOP, and people groups. Yet, I challenge you today as you read the Psalm to stop and consider that no one person can be the blame for all of the woes of the nation but, one person can be the instigator of the trouble – the grand Orchestrator of War, the Devil himself.
The enemy of our soul, Satan, as you will see in many of my writings is many things to many people. To some, he is the embodiment of all the woes of the nation; to others, he is the instigator of trouble; and others, he is the champion of revolt. In these three different views, a part that is missing is that Satan is one being; he is not omniscient nor omnipresent. How is one being whether physical or spiritual able to do the damage that is done without one time stepping up to the front to lead? The simple answer would be, “The world may or may not believe in the Devil primarily because he is not seen nor is he heard; because the cloak of anonymity is his greatest weapon. As an analogy, in an orchestra, the main focus is always on the flow of the instruments and less on what the orchestrator looks like. In the orchestra, there are many musical instruments each has a particular sound or resonance that adds to the completed musical score. If each instrument or section played solo, the music might be, well. Yet, put all of the pieces together and the music would enthrall the audience like one would under a spell. In the same way, the enemy has many minions, spirits, and levels of leadership that entice people to do different things to lead the listener to do the enemy’s bidding. What the Devil is aware of, but the man may not be, is that we can defeat him if we are willing to follow these steps.
Step 1 – Go to the House of God (Vs. 1-2)?
Throughout the word of God, we see many snippets of God calling his people to come out of Babylon and be separate. In going to Beth El, our minds are turned to the God who can clear the confusion away and bring stability to our paths; this requires us to stop what we are doing, and purposely change the course of our path 180 degrees. In going to the house of God into the word of God, we may hear things and read things that do not agree with us and so we leave.  The Devil uses our views to drive a wedge between God and ourselves. Or, he creates a situation like the case of Jacob and his sons that causes us to stay away from God (Genesis 34). If we are willing to challenge our views and forget about the perceived issues of our life, we will find that God is able to bring stability.
Christians like non-Christians can be misled by the enemy by playing on our sense of devotion; it is the reason many never come out of addictions or overcome problems in their life. King Hezekiah, as an example, made an honorable decision, albeit a faulty one, to involve his kingdom in a war that did not involve him or his kingdom. When he heard the words of Micaiah son of Imlah, he should have left Samaria and returned to his kingdom but, he did not and, it almost cost him his life (1 Kings 22). As a child, I listened to a musical score called “Peter and the Wolf”; the characters in the play were depicted by varying instrument. I remember being mesmerized by this piece because in my mind’s eye I could see each character and the part they played[1]. The Grand Orchestrator likewise uses each person in a play to make the impossible possible and the bad seem worst by playing on our senses.
In the 2nd and 3rd verses, the depiction is a community closely linked together.  Matthew Henry’s commentary used the word “esteem” or “national pride”. When we hold our homeland, family, or life in low esteem, we are in fact telling the world “I have very little respect for what God has provided.  When Nehemiah was commissioned to rebuild the walls, his opponents used every trick in the book to stop the work. The Orchestrator knew that if the walls got rebuilt and the Temple restored, nothing would be impossible so, he used his minions to do the dirty work and it was effective.  The Temple and walls were repaired ahead of time and there was a grand invocation after the work was done.  However, as things usually work for mankind, after the time of Nehemiah and his family, the walls and Temple once again fell into disrepair and the nation suffered a great loss.
Point 2 – Take a Count of What You Possess (Vs. 3 – 5)?
In our history, we have seen places that once flourished with church growth; now, many of those towns have ceased to exist or have become ¼ of what they used to be simply because we stepped into the Devil’s trap. For a while now, the big entry on Facebook is “In God We Trust” being eliminated from our currency.  On one side, the argument is “violation of church and state”. On another, “it is part of our national heritage”.  The problem on both sides of the coin is that if God is not first in our heart, then what we put on the currency is superfluous.  God does not care what is on our currency so much as he is concerned about what is in our hearts.  It is from within our hearts that good or evil flows (Luke 6:45).
It easy to lose sight of what God has invested in us and become more concerned about changing the outside influences. When the prophet Elisha was confronted by the Widow over the dire situation she was facing, the first question out of his mouth was “what do you have in your house” (2nd Kings 4:1-7). When the woman was given the instructions, she had two choices: follow or forget.  The woman’s faithfulness led to a tremendous boon for her and her sons. Each of us has one or more gifts and, more often than not, they are not utilized and as such get lost or die on the vine.  When I look through scripture, every answered prayer always begins with something from within the requester’s house. Rarely if ever does a great blessing begin from the outside in?  In the book of Exodus, we read “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt” (Exodus 3:7). The implication is that Moses had been praying about the mess the people of Israel were in.  In the book of James, it says “You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so, you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so, you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God].  You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires” (James 4:2-3). God gave Israel Jerusalem, a community of peoples, and a national heritage. God gives us things for our house to be utilized in service to Him and to those we serve.  If we take those items and carelessly use them, they will dissipate, and we’ll not be prepared for the day he calls us, or we need an answer to prayer.
Point 3 – Whatever you do, Pray for the Peace of Your Home and Homeland (Vs. 6-9)
We have a God-given mandate to pray for home, our homeland, and for our families. When we say, “but I don’t agree with ___ then I will walk away”, we are unintentionally saying “Devil, you can have ____ at no cost”. In the book of Ezekiel, God speaking through the prophet, “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for [the sake of] the land, that I would not destroy it, but I found no one [not even one]. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; I have repaid their way [by bringing it] upon their own heads,” says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 22:30 amp). Across America today, we see our values eroding before our eyes. The Devil uses this problem to frustrate us so that by our decision, we walk away or cave into sin.
 We cannot change a nation’s attitude toward God until our heart is fully linked with his.  As we pray for the nation, let it be the prayer of our hearts “God please change us so that our hearts become pliable for your use”.  Then pray for the peace of the nation. We will never win every battle, nor lay claim to the best way to live. But, we can make peace with our world so that in our world we have peace. It is true that not every person in our world wants peace at least not the peace that the word of God is referring to; for them, we must pray and seek the peace that comes by honoring God in all that we do so that they see the good that we do and give glory to God. I think of Jesus who during the three very chaotic years of ministry struggled with the obstinate leaders of the Sanhedrin yet, he served his Father with unswerving loyalty, honor, and respect. In the end, Jesus’ death on the cross, the Sanhedrin had a brief period of peace (about an hour or so) and then a lifetime of dealing with thorns in their side. From one man’s three-year ministry, great multitudes would eventually call on the name of the Lord. So, too with us, we will not win the souls of everybody immediately, but, we will win one or more eventually.
Father, may your good Spirit indwell your believers today and strengthen them to fight the good fight. Truly, we as the man cannot see into the heart of our fellow man but, we can see the pain in their eyes and can pray for them. Thank you for each of the readers of these writings.
Please come walk with me up the steps to the Temple of God.

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