That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Down Days!

I'm not a person who typically shares a lot of personal things with people.  By personal I mean some of my inner emotions and feelings and struggles.  I have lots of personal beliefs and opinions which I usually have no problem telling others.  In fact, I like giving my "opinion" about things :).  Sometimes that gets me into trouble, and I need to learn not to be so "right" all the time!  I'm still working on that my-way-or-the-highway attitude I sometimes have.  

Anyways, I wanted to write about a personal struggle I went though a couple of weeks ago.  I'm not writing it because I want to sound super spiritual, or like I have it all together, and I hope no one takes it that way.  In fact the outcome of this trial was very close to being something quite disastrous.  My hope is to be an encouragement to someone else who may also be struggling.  

Satan is very subtle.  It's amazing how he can attack you, and you don't even realize it!  I believe one of his most effective tools against the Christian is discouragement, and he nearly got me with it!  

Without going into a lot of personal detail (mostly because it's irrelevant to what I really want to say), I recently went through a huge battle with discouragement.  However, it was only when I started to come out of it that I realized what had been going on.  I had been going through a bit of hard time.  Lots of out of the ordinary circumstances in my life, some trials, some big decisions, things to do, church stuff, work stuff, and it was all starting to catch up with me.  I was beginning to feel down, discouraged, and just plain yucky!  This really bothered me because I'm not usually a grumpy person.  I've gone through much more difficult things before than this, and I hadn't felt nearly as discouraged.  What was different?   I couldn't figure out why, but my attitude was rotten.  I hadn't realized yet that Satan was at work.  

I really don't like being grumpy!  After all I'm a Christian, and I should be living in the joy of the Lord!  I began praying, and then I began looking at what had changed in my life that could have caused these bad feelings.  Almost immediately I knew what it was!  I had been spending a lot of time on the internet reading "Christian" websites and articles.   I love to read, so I was enjoying reading websites, blogs, and even some online books.  However, some of these "Christian" articles were making me start to question some of my beliefs.  That's how the devil works.  He will take something that is good, and twist it, so that it becomes a hinderance in our lives, and he will make you question God.  Genesis 3:6 "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat..."  Notice how Satan gets Eve to think that the fruit is good and pleasant! That's certainly not how God wanted Adam and Eve to view the fruit! That's how deceitful and subtle Satan is.  He always tries to make the bad look good.  

At first my reading didn't really bother me, but like I said, I soon began to question some of my beliefs.  That caused me to be discouraged.  The discouragement and questioning led to confusion, which caused more discouragement and questioning.  It was a terrible cycle!  Bible study is one of my favourite things to do, but I was seeing that there are a lot of people out there who call themselves Christians and they are so far from God's truth!  I was also seeing good people who believed that they were right, but the things they were saying were contrary to what I have been taught and to what I believe.   One thing about taking a stand for what you believe is that it's easy when you have a lot of people on your side.  For instance, when I was in Bible college it was very easy to believe things like the KJV is God's preserved Word, in English, without error because EVERYONE else believed that too!  But when you are all by yourself, and many other "Christians" seem to be attacking your beliefs, it's a lot harder to stand!  A LOT harder! 

I began to think that maybe I was making a bigger deal out of some things than necessary.  Then I wondered, what happens if I'm wrong?  What if these things I believe really aren't the truth?  What if I am misinterpreting what I'm reading in the Bible?  After all, can all these other Christians really be wrong?  Who am I anyways, that I can think I have this all figured out?  Who am I to think that I'm the only one who is right?  Are there others who believe like I do?  If so, why does it seem like I'm all alone in this fight?  Why does this battle seem so hard?  Why is being a born again, separated, Bible-believing, fundamentalist, modest dressing, non-Calvinistic, non-Armenian, pre-millenial, non-drinking, non-movie going, saved by grace alone through faith, (and the list could go on) Christian so hard?!  And why does it seem that other Christians just don't care about these things!!!?

Wow, I just re-read that last paragraph, and I almost can't believe I was actually in that place, but I really was!  That is how subtle Satan is (Gen 3:1, I Peter 5:8)!  He knows when we are weak, and he knows where the weaknesses are, and he will attack!  He wants nothing more than to defeat the Christian.  He can't have my soul, but he can make me an ineffective witness by ruining my testimony, or by making me apathetic.  He will try to get me to question God, and then it's just a downward spiral.  I'm so glad I prayed!  

The battle was raging full out!  Satan wanted me to keep reading those sites because he knew he could keep me discouraged if I did.  God wanted me to get rid of them, and He was prodding me to do so.  I admit I didn't stop reading those blogs right away.  God had revealed to me that they were the cause of my discouragement, but it took a few days for me to get away from them.  What I was reading wasn't even that bad.  Most of it was good things, but there were little subtle doctrinal errors that were mixed in amongst the good.  I knew the error was there, but I figured I was a mature Christian, so I would just take the good and ignore what I knew wasn't biblical.  That's exactly what opened the door to the devil to discourage and try to deceive me.  Then I thought that maybe since I had realized what was causing me to be discouraged I could keep reading those websites, but I'd just be a little more cautious about what articles I would read.  It didn't work.  I knew exactly what was causing me to be discouraged, and I knew that God wanted me give up those sites. Finally, I came to the point of surrender, and I stopped reading.  I am SO thankful for Philippians 4:13.   I needed the strength of Christ to give them up and live for Him.  I have not missed reading those websites one bit!  Even though nothing I read was terrible, God wanted me to give them up.  I don't completely understand why, but the fact is you don't question God when He wants you to do something.  Even when it's something that really doesn't seem that big of a deal, or that seems perfectly harmless.  If God says don't do it, then just stop.  It's not worth battling Him over it!  God know that perhaps Satan would keep using those sites to make me question my faith, and therefore, it's best for me to put them out of my life.  Another Christian might be able to read all the same things, and not question his beliefs one bit, but that was my weakness, and the devil used it.
Satan is the master deceiver.  The scary thing is that I didn't even realize what he was doing at first.  I'm so thankful for the good teaching I have received that led me to pray about my discouragement.  I could have let it consume me, but I poured out my heart to God and allowed Him to search and reveal what was going on.   I really don't question what I believe because I know I can trust in God's Word.  I don't need the opinion of a biblical scholar to validate what God has taught me.  Psalm 118:8 "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."  The Bible outranks the scholar every time!  I can know that what I believe is right and I do!  I think some Christians struggle with this constantly.

Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
Hebrews 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
Psalm 119:114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield; I hope in thy word.  

God doesn't want us to doubt.  He doesn't want us to be double-minded (James 1:8).  He gives us assurance.  It's in His Word!  I can truly say that it's only when my faith and completely in Him and His Word that I am at peace.  Questioning leads to discouragement, but trust leads to rest.  I thank God for this trial, and for my renewed faith in Him!  

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