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zac-durant-302752 (1).jpgMake no mistake.  We ARE in a battle!  We’ve been made privy to our enemy’s agenda:  to kill, steal and destroy.  The battle lines are clearly laid out in verse 10 of chapter 10, the book of John.  The Captain of our Army has also declared his own agenda regarding us:  I am come that they may have life and that they might have it to the full.

Going into battle with the King of Kings is a definite confidence builder but because we are at war with a master deceiver, we would be wise to strategize. To give it our full effort.  To train.  To prepare.  To bring our A game.  All out war.  Nothing held back.  Ephesians 6:12 pulls the camouflage off the face of our foe to reveal this, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Encountering these “other world” forces requires more than lifting weights, mastering martial arts or learning to fight with a sword.  It requires inner strength, a focused thought life and a spirit which can discern between evil and good.  Fortunately for us, our Combat Manuel, (aka the Bible) has some great information on how to build up our inner man and to defeat the rival forces.  

 It requires inner strength, a focused thought life and a spirit which can discern between evil and good.  

A  secret weapon is found in Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”    There is a joy which comes from HIM which defies reason and circumstance.  This joy gives us a broader perspective on a situation than the narrow focus of the trouble that is at our front door.  Finding and keeping that joy is a major coup in defeating the enemy of our souls.

Several years ago my sister, who lives in Georgia, was asked to come and speak to the women of the church I attend in Little Rock, Arkansas.  After much prayer, she decided her topic would be “Having An Attitude of Gratitude”.  Now my sister is perhaps the least militant person I know, but that night she presented those women with a weapon which would cause much destruction to enemy forces in the days to come.  She taught those women to dwell in praise!

Having a heart of thanksgiving all year and not just at the Thanksgiving table on the fourth Thursday of November is a sure mark of victory!  Our enemy would love to see us dwell on what is lacking in our lives rather than what we love about them.  Choosing to focus on things that are “honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report” ((Phil. 4:8) can reboot an ungrateful and negative spirit and help us live in honest joy.

Our enemy would love to see us dwell on what is lacking in our lives rather than what we love about them.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says that “The sense of thankfulness, appreciating the grandeur of everyday life, just the ordinary day, and really taking the time to take it in is absolutely, crucial.  And then when you have that thankfulness, so many other negative emotions get washed away – resentment, anger, grievances, and grudges – because you’re just so thankful for what you have.”

I love the story of Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.  When finally captured, she and her sister, Betsie, were sent to Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp for women.  While there they witnessed many women being raped by guards who would take them at will.  Because the beds where Corrie and Betsie slept were infested with fleas, they both had extensive flea bites which were apparent on their skin.  In an attempt to avoid becoming flea infested themselves, the guards left these two women alone.  Corrie says there are many things for which she is thankful and fleas is one of them!

You may have some “fleas” that seem to only provide irritation and aggravation to your world but when we follow the tactic suggested in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks,” our gratitude becomes a weapon of war.  The Master Strategist is always at work for our good and even though we don’t appreciate the inconvenience and discomfort of those scratchy bites at the time, if we could see the BIG PICTURE, we might be thankful for those fleas!

Whether or not we are given a glance at the full screen this side of heaven, when we choose to trust God and approach each day with an attitude of gratitude not only do we get to live in joy but we also get to help wreak havoc on the plans of the evil one.  Psalm 34:1 is our war cry, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Aaron Shust sings the song “Ever Be” in which the refrain is repeated “Your praise will ever be on my lips.”  I encourage you to listen in, sing along, and slay some enemies with your thankful heart this day!