VIDEO When Satan Hinders

Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 1 Thessalonians 2:18

In Paul’s day, Thessalonica boasted a population of more than one hundred thousand. It was a busy harbor and a crossroad for land routes. Paul poured himself into starting a church there, but he was prematurely driven away by a combined force of Jewish critics and government officials (Acts 17:5-9). The apostle had been unable to retrace his steps and gain reentry to the city. The young believers at Thessalonica had questions, but Paul had to resort to writing epistles instead of making personal visits. 

He blamed Satan! Commentator Knute Larson wrote, “Paul viewed anything which opposed the work of Christ as spiritual warfare.”

What is hindering the advance of the Gospel in your life or in your church or in your community? Behind all the opposition is the hand of Satan. We can acknowledge Satan’s interference, but let’s keep our eyes on Christ and maintain the fight. Paul’s epistles have encouraged believers for nearly two thousand years. Satan thought he was silencing Paul, but he only gave the apostle a more lasting voice. Don’t be bullied by the devil. We’re on the winning side.

If God were not my friend, Satan would not be so much my enemy. Thomas Brooks


Satanic Hindrances – Charles Spurgeon Sermon

Navigating the Storms of Life

Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me. Psalm 43:3

On July 16, 1999, the small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Investigators determined the cause of the accident to be a common error known as spatial disorientation. This phenomenon occurs when, due to poor visibility, pilots become disoriented and forget to rely on their instruments to help them successfully reach their destination.

As we navigate life, there are often times when life gets so overwhelming we feel disoriented. A cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, a job loss, a betrayal by a friend—life’s unexpected tragedies can easily leave us feeling lost and confused.

When we find ourselves in these kinds of situations, we might try offering the prayer of Psalm 43. In this psalm, the psalmist is overwhelmed and feeling lost because he feels surrounded by evil and injustice. In despair, the psalmist pleads with God to provide His sure guidance to help him safely navigate through the situation to his desired destination, God’s presence (vv. 3–4). In God’s presence the psalmist knows he’ll find renewed hope and joy.  

What are the tools the psalmist requests for guidance? The light of truth and the assurance of God’s presence by His Holy Spirit.

When you’re feeling disoriented and lost, God’s faithful guidance through His Spirit and loving presence can comfort you and light your way.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

What disorienting circumstances are you experiencing? How might you ask God to help guide you today?

Heavenly Father, thank You that You’ve not left me alone in the challenging and disorienting circumstances of life. Please help me to rely on You to guide my steps today.

To learn how to help people who are in pain, visit ChristianUniversity.org/CC205.

Answers in Times of Calamity

Deuteronomy 29:22-29

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, three biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering.

1. The Lord is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them in accordance with His plans.

2. God loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of mankind proves the Father’s love. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior.

3. Whatever god allows is for His good purposes (Gen. 50:20). Though we cannot fully comprehend what He is doing in each incident, every disaster is an opportunity for the world to know God and lean on Him.  

God loves us perfectly and is sovereignly working everything for our good and His glory. This realization should fill us with hope, even in the midst of a crisis. Then, instead of reacting in fear, we will find refuge in Him.

Whom Shall I Fear?

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Think back to your youngest childhood days. Do you remember being afraid of the dark? Were you scared when your parents turned off the nightlight?

Flash forward to more logical adult fears—thieves, natural disasters, negative bank account balances, unemployment, public speaking, shark attacks, political turmoil, and death. While some of those fears may seem far-fetched, there are other fears you might encounter that will truly drive you to your knees in prayer.

How would you respond to life-threatening persecution? What if your children recant their faith and abandon everything you’ve taught them from Scripture? Could you handle the loss of loved ones and all of your possessions?

The Bible is filled with examples of faithful believers who suffered (Hebrews 11:36-38). Many of the sorrow-filled Psalms were written by King David. But he wasn’t the only subject of fear, suffering, and trauma. Perhaps you are reminded of Job. He was a godly man. Yet the Lord allowed Satan to torment him, removing nearly every good thing from his life (Job 1:12; 2:6). How could he respond in faith to the One who protected his soul?

In today’s text, David draws our hearts to what Spurgeon calls “a threefold cord which could not be broken.” The Lord is our light, salvation, and strength. And then he asks two rhetorical questions: “Whom shall I fear?…Of whom shall I be afraid?”

With the Lord on your side, you need not fear anyone or anything. His love for you is sure and steadfast. Nothing in the entire universe—darkness, disaster, demons, or the devil—can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39). MH

The 70 and the Samaritan

Luke 10:1-37

OUR Lord sends out seventy disciples (Luke 10:1-24) with a charge similar to that given to the twelve in Matthew 10. Once in a while, some literal-minded questioner wants to know why preachers do not now go out without purse or scrip, according to these directions. This was local ministry to Israel under conditions vastly different from ours. Later, when His disciples must face a Gentile world, our Lord gave quite different instructions (Luke 22:35-36).

Later, the seventy returned with joy, reporting that even the devils were subject unto them. Our Lord answers, “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” He was with them in their ministry and saw Satan defeated, and here He also sums up in a flash his final defeat—even as he fell from heaven (Isa. 14:12-19) long before, a sight which our Lord doubtless beheld. Revelation 12:7-12 also pictures this fall of Satan. Our Lord is assuring them that as He saw Satan fall at first, so He sees him finally defeated—which is typified by their success in casting out demons.

After giving them power over the enemy our Lord bids them not to rejoice in that, but that their names are written in heaven. The sole ground of our rejoicing is not in our powers or successes, but in the unmerited and undeserved grace of God.

Jesus thanks the Father that the profound truths of heaven have been kept from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes, the childlike (Matt. 18:3). He tells His disciples that they are privileged to see what prophets and kings had longed for. Marvelous truth—that the greatest revelation of all time was made to the humblest, the simple and lowly disciples who received Him gladly! It has always been so through the ages in His subsequent revelations through the Spirit. “More blessed are they that see not, yet believe” (John 20:29) and “not many wise or mighty or noble are called” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

The familiar story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) was given instead of argument to the lawyer who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He thought only Jews were his neighbors, and our Lord makes two Jews pass by in this story while the hero was a Samaritan. This must have been distasteful to the lawyer. Moreover, Jesus did not give the nationality of the wounded man, so that any nationality may be meant. Whoever needs our help is our neighbor, and whoever helps another is a true neighbor, so it works both ways.

It was a masterful presentation of a mighty truth, so skillfully done that the lawyer was obliged to confess the truth so evident. Our Lord then bids him, “Go thou and do likewise.” The truths of the Word are not merely for reading and inspiration. We are to “go and learn what this meaneth.”

“Teaching them to observe”—not merely to know but to do—is His command. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

It’s All Under Control

Rise up, God, judge the earth, for all the nations belong to You.—Psalm 82:8

The salvation spoken of in the phrase “the helmet of salvation” is the salvation we are going to enjoy when God works out His eternal purposes.

The Christian has a hope for the future. He has an understanding that God is working out His purposes in history, and therefore we need not be disturbed when human programs appear to be going wrong. We hear about “new deals” and “fair deals” and “better deals,” yet they end up in disappointment for all concerned.

The Christian expects the world to get worse and worse, for this is what the Bible tells us will happen. He expects false teachings to abound. He expects the world’s systems to fail, for anything that is not built on Christ has no guarantee of success. The Christian knows that wars and international tension are unavoidable, even though every effort is made to avoid them. The world is in such a state and such a condition that the more attention we give it, the more weary our minds become.

What is a Christian to do in such a world as ours? How are we to react when the Devil takes advantage of our sensitivities to world conditions and focuses our thoughts upon them? Shall we give up? Shall we withdraw from life?

No, we put on the helmet of salvation and remind ourselves that in the face of everything that appears contrary, God is working out His eternal plan and purpose. History remains His story! Almighty God is at work in the very events that appear to be filled with darkness and confusion.

Prayer

O God, help me see that although You are apart from the events of history, You are also in the events of history. Ultimately all things are going to glorify You. Thank You, Father. Amen.

Further Study

Heb 6; 1Pt 1:3; 1Jn 3:3; Eph 1:11

What does this hope provide for us?

How does Peter describe our hope?

Writing the Last Chapter Well

Revelation 14:13

Death is inevitable for us all. Sometimes it comes suddenly, but most of the time it is a process, an important final chapter in our lives, critical to the meaning of our entire life story.

That chapter should be completed with an exclamation point, not a question mark. We should be affirming our faith, demonstrating trust, experiencing grace and receiving and expressing love. It is our time to pass on a legacy of courage and to witness that God is present in every circumstance of life and that His grace is sufficient for every crisis.

We are all too familiar with the reality that age takes a heavy toll on faculties and functions and that many people experience a terrible loneliness as friends die, families move away and strength abates. When such people face the prospect of unrelieved physical suffering as well, they may be seized with a feeling of desperation and loneliness. Some may even express a wish to die.

When patients see themselves as “an intolerable burden” or when they see life as “not worth living,” should they have the right to enlist the support of physicians and end their lives? Besides medical, social and moral reasons, assisted suicide is inconsistent with a biblical view of life, death and suffering and accountability to God. Our role with our loved ones, when we cannot cure, is to care for and to comfort them.

Palliative care is a unique form of health care developed for the needs of people with terminal illness. As family members and friends of the dying, we need to understand that caring for such patients is a privilege. “We can foster a good death by repairing relationships, respecting wishes, helping the dying to live as fully as possible, reducing pain and allowing time and space for transcendence and for letting go,” writes Dr. Ira Byock, president of the Academy of Hospice Physicians, in Dying Well.

When family is not available, faith communities can mobilize visitors and helpers to meet emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

Let us help our dying loved ones to write the last chapter of their lives well. Thus will people experience the love of God and the grace of God and the peace of God, and have the opportunity to affirm their faith and leave a legacy of courage in the face of suffering.

With the Apostle John, we affirm, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Rev. 14:13).

Herbert C. Rader, M.D., The War Cry