Resist the Devil

Uncertain times provide the devil with a host of opportunities.  We tend to become depressed and discouraged.  We’re worried about what might happen next.  We begin to doubt.  Is God really at work?  Can we trust Him?  The book of James tells us:

”  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ”  James 4:7

What does it mean to resist the devil?  Well, for one thing, maintaining our spiritual disciplines, as I discussed in a previous post (Coping With Uncertainty), study the Bible, attend worship, celebrate the sacraments, pray, seek guidance from Christian leaders and friends.  Martin Luther, who was a musician and wrote many great hymns, had a strong belief in the power of music. Here’s his suggestion!

“The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God….Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.”
Martin Luther

If you can’t sing in church these days, sing at home!  Hum your favorite hymn.  Dwell on the comforting words.  Sing with your children (my kids and I used to sing in the car all the time when they were little).  Turn on the radio.  Get out your LP’s (if you still have them), your CD’s or subscribe to Spotify.  Do whatever you need to do to put some music back into your life.  It will lift your spirits, focus your mind on God and foil the devil.

For more on music, see these posts:

Music as a Dynamic

Music as Prayer

Lutherans and Music

For more Martin Luther quotes on music, see these posts:

Why We Should Give Thanks for Music (according to Martin Luther)

Martin Luther on Music

Martin Luther on Music #2

For some inspiring music, check these out:

God Will Take Care of You

Just a Little Talk With Jesus

Built On A Rock

 

 

 

When Times are Uncertain — Stand Firm

In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to lose focus and be swayed by what seems expedient in the moment.  We’re stressed — we need to make a decision — we give in to worldly pressure even when we know it’s wrong.  That happened to King Saul in the book of 1 Samuel.  In chapter 13, Saul and his army are waiting for the priest, Samuel to arrive and offer a sacrifice to the Lord before going into battle.  Samuel did not arrive in the time expected;  the soldiers were getting restless;  the enemies had mustered;  Saul, in a panic makes the sacrifice himself.  He knew it wasn’t God’s will — but he did it anyway.  He didn’t know what might happen next, so he decided to take control of the situation himself.  In the end, he is punished by losing his kingship.

We’re all capable of making bad decisions like this.  It’s always hard to wait, and waiting when the situation seems volatile is even more difficult.  Those are the times when we need to take a breath, and stand firm.  Maybe that means waiting for God’s direction;  maybe it means doing what seems counterintuitive;  maybe it means going against the way of the world.  Here’s what Paul says in the book of Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make 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 world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:10-12

Satan loves to make us uncertain.  He whispered lies in Eve’s ear (“Did God really say, you must not eat of any fruit in the garden?” Genesis 3:1) and he does the same to us.  He sows doubt.

Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17

For more on the armor of God see these posts:

The World, The Flesh and … oh yes, THE DEVIL

A New Suit of Clothes