Encounter: Read or listen to Psalm 23 in a translation that you have never used before. You might try the Contemporary English Version. What do you hear that is new or different. Begin to think about who your enemies might be mentioned in verse 5. Now go to 1 John 3:8, Hebrews 2:14, 1 Peter 5:8 and Ephesians 6:10-20
In Cormac McCarthy’s modern classic, No Country for Old Men, sheriff Ed Tom Bell (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the Major Motion Picture) pontificates on this rising evil that has infiltrated his until recently relatively peaceful existence as a lawman. The rising tide of violence has been caused by drug wars crossing over the southern border into his quaint West Texas town.
Bell begins to question whether or not he will keep serving as a sheriff as the violence swells around him and his neighbors. His monologue, written in a west Texan vernacular, is filled with wisdom, with a recognition that the world he is a part of is not what he once knew. Where God and the devil play into all that is up for discussion. And in the midst of this awful scene, he has this to say about just how destructive drugs are to the communities they impact:
“I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would just bring the human race to its knees what you would probably come up with is narcotics. Maybe he did.
I told that to somebody at breakfast the other mornin and they asked me if I believed in Satan. I said Well that aint the point. And they said I know but do you? I had to think about that. I guess as a boy I did. Come the middle years my belief I reckon had waned somewhat. Now I’m startin to lean back the other way. He explains a lot of things that otherwise dont have no explanation. Or not to me they dont.”
Faith is understanding how things are in God’s revelations and purposes and committing to live our lives in light of that understanding so we start to “lean back the other way.”
Just as we believe in our Psalm 23 Shepherd who has the full capacity and willingness to meet all of our needs, we also need to have faith that there is an enemy of our souls, Satan, who will do exactly what he is intent on doing to divert the plan of God for our lives. His way of doing this is to persuade, manipulate, to tempt and to deceive humanity. God has Satan in his crosshairs, because Satan is the source of all lack and evil.
Dallas Willard writes, “If we are to know the abundant provision of God’s unlimited resources, we must also understand how Satan works to rob us of that experience. He does this through deception; to persuade someone that something false is the truth.
Jesus tells us Satan is the father of lies and works to deceive because he cannot make us do anything we do not want to do. “If it is true that a person can be the devil’s puppet, the strings are Satan’s lies.”
But God! The best two words given to us! No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able . . . 1 Corinthians 10:13
This Sunday we will look at more closely who this enemy of our souls is and how he tries to keep us from living a Life without Lack with our Shepherd and how God has given us what we need to stand firm in our faith.
Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. Eph 6:10-11
Standing with you,
Reflect: If Satan were to target you for temptation or to deceive you, which area of your life would he focus on?
· Physical temptations
· Financial temptations
· My relationships
Encourage: Underline the weapons God gives you in Ephesians 6:10-20 and apply it to those areas of temptations in your life. Is there something the enemy is trying to make you believe about someone or a situation that may not be true. Get some encouragement from a spiritual mentor as you look at these areas in your life.
Gather: In your small group time, talk about how you have experienced what you think is the lies of the enemy and how you stood firm in your faith or how it affected your life when you didn’t. Pray for one another to stand firm against the deception and lies of the enemy.