When God Gets Tough

I want you to imagine Satan standing somewhere nearby with something like a flame-thrower in his hand, except that he only has enough gas to produce a small pilot light, or at best the occasional burn to your flesh.

Now, imagine that he actually burns you just a little with the flame thrower. Remember, he’s limited in his abilities to do you any harm, and in fact, the only harm he can really produce, initially, is a very mild and temporary sting – nothing more.

Now you’re at work, or perhaps you’re at home, or at the supermarket, or walking along the street, or you’re with your child taking him or her to a soccer game (or you don’t have a child and you yourself are going to a soccer game), or whatever, when all of a sudden, you feel a sting at your flesh! In the real world, the “sting” may take the form of one of the following – or something else, even:

– A thought passes through your mind about how your relative or friend treated you recently, and thoughts of revenge start to surface.

– The dog begins to bark or whine at at time when you have to finish an important assignment, leading to frustration, and even an outburst of anger.

– You remember that your bank account is bottoming out, and your thoughts leap back to the time when you did something foolish on the job, leading to your dismissal.

– You remember how about a year ago, the Lord opened up an opportunity for you that you somehow failed to appropriate – you missed the blessing and what it blessing it would have been.

– You think about how your sibling has so much against you. You feel misunderstood, and unappreciated. All you want is their good, but they treat you as an enemy.

– As you are working patiently on an important item, you start to experience pain for whatever reason, perhaps in your neck, your back, or any other area. You become frustrated.

– Your spouse tells you something you did not want to hear. You are inclined to misjudge him or her, feel misunderstood, and want to lash out.

Any of these, and a whole lot more, are what could be termed Satan’s limited “flame thrower”. Particularly when it comes to things of the mind – but even in physical matters like dogs barking and physical pains, Satan can be, and often is at work providing a temptation for us in any given situation.

Initially, Satan does not have the ability to “do damage” beyond a very limited amount – amounting to really what might be termed a mild ineffective burn. But when he does act in any of these situations, if we react in a manner which is ungodly, then its like adding fuel to his flame thrower. All of sudden, that flame thrower begins to throw some SERIOUS FLAMES and the flames come right back at YOU!

Recently, God did an awesome thing in my life, by letting me feel the full force of the “flame thrower”. That’s why I have entitled this message, “When God gets tough.” When I would be tempted by Satan’s thoughts or distractions, and would react in a way CONTRARY to what Jesus would do, I received the FULL FORCE of the flame thrower – and it hurt badly! In fact, I endured an entire day of “extreme pain” in my life, because I acted contrary to what Jesus would do, repeatedly! It was not until that evening, when I attended a prayer meeting, that the “cycle of pain” was broken. Through that prayer meeting, the Lord taught me that I was not responding properly to my circumstances! The temptations were very real that I was experiencing. They were Satanic to be sure. God showed me it was EASY to put out Satan’s arrows, if I only responded in the appropriate manner.

It turns out that the following day was a totally different day! It was a day of complete victory, as I responded to the temptations much differently. And the temptations did come. In fact, the first temptation came around 9:00 in the morning, as I was finishing driving my children to school. A bad feeling came over me and if I had latched onto the bad thoughts and acted inappropriately, it would have led to a very bad day, as it had the day earlier. But this time, instead of REACTING according to the flesh, I ACTED in accordance with what Jesus would have done! I said, in a very calm voice, “Problem, you be gone now because you don’t have authority over me.” And what a difference this had! Acting like this the entire day – whenever any temptation would come along – caused me to have complete victory that day!

Satan is a very real being. And he has a very limited amount of power to afflict us – with minor pain at best. Remember, he roars like a lion but has no teeth! He only has “teeth” if we react inappropriately. If we give into the temptation, it’s like adding fuel to the flame thrower, and you can easily watch an otherwise “good day” spiral into just about the worst day of your life – if you give in by acting in a manner contrary to what Jesus would do! The blessing that God gave me that day (when I failed so much) is that I felt the “full force” of Satan’s flame thrower whenever I added the fuel! It was so painful I never want to go back there – ever!

Perhaps today you are feeling pain. Pain is not ungodly, but there is a pain that we can suffer by acting in ways that are ungodly. You can live in complete victory today by making a decision to do whatever Jesus would do if he were in your particular situation. Do it today. Free yourself from the snares of the devil.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesian 6:16)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)