Stay the Course

It’s late and I’m tired. Physically, emotionally and mentally. I guess you could say that I am also spiritually tired; after all it has been a long day and I have been wrestling with the dark side since early this morning. I know that this sounds a little dramatic, but I believe it to be true.

Several people I know and care about have had trouble recently sticking with their decisions. And the more I thought about this, the more I was inclined to think that it is something that I should write about. Because from time to time we all wrestle with second guessing ourselves and whether or not we should “stay the course.” Most of the time, we make a decision and then as soon as the going gets a little tougher, we re-visit the decision and somehow convince ourselves that the parameters have changed and we should go another direction.

Most of the time, our original impulses are the correct ones. Those of us who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit sense a leading as to which way we are to go in a given set of circumstances. Now most of the time, this is not some lightning bolt, knocking us to the ground, or some life changing “come to Jesus” sort of redemptive event. Rather, it is a gentle whisper, a sense of urging, one of those feelings that you have to be looking for – reaching out to God to guide you in the right direction, eventually leading you to the correct decision. And when you present yourself to God in a posture of submission and humility, with your palms up and open to God, chances are that you will get the direction you are seeking.

The problem is that when this happens, you can become susceptible to the dark side – the influence of Satan, if you are not careful. The reason for this is that the dark spiritual forces tend to leave those people alone who are not advancing the kingdom of God. But when you are in alignment with the wishes of the Father, Satan suddenly has a more serious interest in the outcome. I’m not kidding here – I’m sure that you have felt this tug from time to time. After all, we are only human, and the Scripture clearly lets us know that Satan is the Prince of the Power of the Air. In other words, his domain is the earth; and he even has access to the throne room of heaven.

If you don’t believe me, go read the opening chapter or two of Job. Satan actually goes to God and asks Him for permission to test Job’s loyalty to God. It’s quite a book, and the theme of spiritual warfare extends from the beginning of Genesis until Satan is banished eternally into hell. In fact, it is not until Rev. 12:7 that Satan and his fallen angels are thrown out of heaven after a battle with Michael and his legions of angels.

Another confirmation of the presence of the dark side is right in the Bible itself. Do you know when the greatest number of verses about Satan and demonic angels occurs? It’s in the New Testament after the birth of Christ. Know why? Because God takes on human form and invades, yes, invades, the dominion of Satan. And Satan doesn’t like that. Look at the story of Herod trying to kill the baby Jesus. Or how about the temptation of Christ in the wilderness after His baptism by John? Or many other instances when the forces of evil have tried to thwart the entrance of Christ and His followers into this world.

And to this day, negative influences continue to prompt us to behaviors that would have us second guess what God wants us to do. We are all subject to these influences from time to time. Even Paul, one of the greatest converts to Christianity in the history of the faith, had his struggles with the flesh and his earthly desires being in conflict with what he knew he should do.

Ephesians 6:11-13, 18 warns us about being prepared to do battle with the forces of evil. Paul teaches us, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand….. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

So Paul teaches us that it is not enough to just worry about ourselves. We should be praying for each other and holding one another accountable so together we can make inroads against the powers of evil – and thereby advance the kingdom of God on this earth. My encouragement this evening is to “stay the course.” When you have prayed and decided on a course of action, stick with it. Listen to the still, quiet whisper of God. And my prayer is that God will always guide your heart and nudge you in the direction that He knows is right for you; and consistent with His will for your life. Of course, I also pray that God will protect you from the influence of Satan and that you will successfully navigate the challenges of your life and “stay the course.” Grace and Peace,

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