Offensive Praying

(Day 9 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13)

How easy is it to be caught up in our amoral culture of constant stimulation and instant gratification? When we visit a local restaurant where large screen televisions in every corner are projecting bigger than life images of supermodels, sports heroes, the latest electronics gadgets and medicines, how can we focus on the person sitting across the table from us? On a trip down the interstate, the billboards have become graphic, scrolling, electronic, multi-media message boards touting the newest liposuction or a happening nightspot. We don’t have to go to the movies to see the exotic imagery. We don’t even have to turn on our television anymore. We don’t need to open an evening newspaper. Our once innocuous cell phones have become a prime marketing tool and daily we are bombarded by text messages, advertisements, unwanted email, social feeds, videos and more stimuli than we can possibly sort through in 10 lifetimes. Movies, television, Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon… the deluge never ends.

Peter warned us that our enemy prowls about like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). This has become a horrifying reality in our day. Now more than ever, we need to put on the full armor of God and pray the offensive prayer as Jesus instructed us. “Lead us not into temptation that surrounds us and cries to us with every chirp of the phone and Facebook ad. Deliver us from the clutches of the evil one who has his trap set out for us.” We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, remain vigilant in our quest for purity and ask God daily for protection as we pursue the Kingdom adventures.

As we pray our offensive prayer, we can take courage in the fact that Jesus also prayed for our deliverance from the enemy. He told His Father,

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)

I cannot imagine that we will ever return to the simpler times before the daily deluge of Internet marketing, phishing scams, instant pornography and the vile onslaught of immorality. Our alternative is to squirrel ourselves away from media devices and make time for quiet communion with our Lord where we ask Him to put a hedge of protection around our hearts and minds and deliver us from this rampant evil of our time.

Dear Father, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one.

By Lisa Fulghum

Fruity Fridays: Seen Peace

by Jeremy Nixon, a nobody fireman trying to do it right, but mostly getting it wrong

Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… 


We’ve walked through what love and joy means over the last couple of months; but today, today we enter into peace. At least my prayer is that you can enter this day, week, month and year with peace, a true peace. With the election being over and hate crimes surfacing, racism, discrimination, x vs. y, red vs. blue and everything else going on in America, to say that tension is like cutting butter with a knife is an understatement. So my prayer for you and me this year is that we could have peace. The God-sized peace that is talked about in the Bible. But, what is peace?

 

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, and Paul writes that if we live by the Spirit then we are free and we can stand firm knowing that we are doing what God has called us to. Peace is supposed to rule in hearts. (Col. 3:15) In 1 Peter we are called to cast all of our anxiety on the Lord because he cares for us. He also calls us to seek peace and pursue it, turning away from evil and doing good. James tells us that peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. Proverbs 12 tells us that those who promote peace have joy…and we all know how important joy is.  

 

I see a trend of the fruits. One leads right into another. They go hand in hand, and I don’t believe that you can have one without the other. Psalm 29:11 says the Lord gives strength to his people and the Lord blesses his people with PEACE.  

 

Paul calls us, in Romans 12, to live at peace with everyone. WOW. That seems like a hard statement living in the world we are in today. It’s easy to get anxious and worry about different things in our lives: our children, our homes, making ends meet, or work. And the media seems to show that there is so much hate in our world, but I believe and trust that God is up to something BIG. If we can stand firm and let the fruit of peace happen in our lives, it will overflow into the world. It has to start with you. It has to start with me. You all know about the snowball effect. God wants to use you, and me, to spread his peace to all nations, and I believe that if we are seeking first His kingdom and listening to what the Lord says, he will give us peace. He promises it.  

 

When we need peace, He promises to give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. The best thing that we can do when we are filled with anxiety and worry is to find a quiet place to pray and seek His kingdom. God wants us to live a life that is full of peace. He wants to do BIG things in your life. Let your fruit be seen.

It’s Always Election Day

Fear is a powerful emotion. And for some bizarre reason, we are drawn to it. We are intrigued by it. And if we are not paying attention, we can be controlled by it.

Think about which political figure you are drawn to or disgusted by. That drawing or disgust is most likely rooted in fear(s) of what the future holds for you, our country, and the world. And they know it; thus we have the fearmongering onslaught from every media avenue possible.

But this isn’t new. It’s just the largest example currently put in our face. Reality is, we face fear every day whether it’s an election year or not. Reality is, it’s always an election year. In fact, every day is Election Day.

We elect every day what fears to believe, where to place our fears, and whom we will allow to influence us with fear. This is exemplified by something as simple as your cell phone. When you get any kind of notification-text, email, social media, or call-what is your response time? Does it even cross your mind that you have a choice as to how quickly to respond? If you don’t respond when that person wants, or if you don’t reply to the latest post, or if you let that call go to voicemail, it is highly possible that fear has somehow found its way to your heart and mind. You’ve elected to live in fear.

Paul wrote in the New Testament that God doesn’t give us this type of fear. Instead, he gives us power, love, and a sound mind. But, again, every day is Election Day. God’s fear replacements are offered and accompanied by his presence, but we have to elect to give up our other offerings of fear and choose to live in his image.

Is this easy? It’s like anything else that requires growth; it takes practice. There’s a reason it’s called exercise or discipline. If you’ve been choosing fear every election day, then it’s going to take discipline to change your choice every day. It starts one Election Day at a time. It’s always Election Day.