We are in a battle, and the battle is for our minds and our hearts. Satan is our foe, and he is out to destroy us. So, he will come at us from all different angles to try to break us down, to try to discourage us, to try to get us to give in to our emotions and/or to give up hope. But, we can’t let him do that! We have to fight the good fight of faith, put on the armor of God daily, resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. The Lord Jesus led me to read 1 Peter 5 (Select vv. ESV). So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Vv. 1-4 One of the ways Satan will come at us, to try to destroy us, is through false shepherds of the people or through true shepherds who have lost their way and who are following after men rather than after God. These particular shepherds (could be pastors, elders, deacons, teachers) are greedy for power, followers of men, and are being used of Satan, either willfully or naively, in teaching the people mixed messages and half-truths which are persuading people to reject much truth from scripture in order to accept what their itching ears want to hear. Many of these shepherds of the people have bought into the lies of business men in their marketing schemes, and are believing that they must serve more as dictators rather than as servants of the Lord; more as CEOs of corporations, rather than as fellow workers for Christ. So, they will often reject scripture in favor of men’s teachings and will lead the church, the body of Christ, to also become followers of men over being followers of God. So, for the body of Christ, we must be in tune with the Spirit of God in recognizing what is true and what is false; what is of God, and what is of man, so that we can reject the lies, and so that we can follow the truth. And, for those shepherds who have been following man instead of following God, they must listen to the Spirit, and follow the Spirit instead of the flesh of man, and they must see themselves as fellow servants of the Lord, as parts of the body of Christ, and as those who must lead their people by example rather than lord it over them, acting more like they are gods. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” V. 5 We, the body of Christ, are to be subject to those in authority over us, but with biblical exceptions. We are never to subject ourselves to what is false, to what is not of God, to what is of Satan, to man-made religion, and to sinning against our Lord. We are not to be unequally yoked together with the ungodly, and we are not to buy into what are lies, but rather we are to expose them. We are to test everything to make sure it is of God, and if it isn’t, we are to reject it. So, we need to examine what we are being taught to make certain that what we are believing is truth. Just because something looks good or sounds good doesn’t mean it is good. Many lies are cleverly disguised as truth because they are mixed in with truth, but it is twisted truth or half-truth which is still lies. So, we need to know the truth through bathing ourselves in the Word of God daily, through prayer, and through obedience to Christ and his Word. Humility and stupidity are not synonymous. Being humble does not mean we go around just accepting everything we hear or submitting to everything that comes from the mouths of those in authority over us. Being humble does not mean we don’t stand for what is right and stand on truth. Humility means to be God-reliant rather than self-reliant, depending on the Lord, rather than on ourselves or on the flesh of man. We do not demand our own way, but rather we submit to God. We do not take credit for what we have accomplished, but rather we give God all the glory and praise. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Vv. 6-11 One of the ways Satan will come after us is to get us to depend on self or on the flesh of man rather than on God; to get us to give in to the fear of man rather than to stand strong in our faith fully clothed with the armor of God. He will try to convince us that he still has power over us and that God can’t help us, and so we need to be afraid of what is going on in our lives, rather than trusting the Lord with our circumstances. He will try to distract us with all sorts of other things, too, to try to get us to get our minds off of Christ and on to the things of this world. But, we need to give all these fears to the Lord, trusting him with our lives and with our circumstances and with other people in our lives. And, we must submit to our Lord and to his purposes for our lives, being willing to suffer for the sake of his name, and that he might work his purposes in our lives in purifying our hearts, maturing us in our walks of faith, and in teaching us perseverance, and in giving us strength and courage to keep going and to keep fighting off these evil attacks against our minds. So, we have to resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God daily. We have to be wise and discerning, too, so that we do not fall into the devil’s traps, for he will try to bring us down and he will try to trip us up and to get us to give up and to give in to the flesh instead of yielding to the Spirit. There is a real battle going on for our minds and hearts, and Satan and his many hordes are out in full force coming against us, so we need to be aware of this, and we need to put on that armor, and not yield to our flesh. Near the Cross Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane Jesus, keep me near the cross; There a precious fountain, Free to all, a healing stream, Flows from Calvary's mountain. Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and mercy found me; There the bright and morning star Sheds its beams around me. Near the cross! O Lamb of God, Bring its scenes before me; Help me walk from day to day With its shadow o'er me. Near the cross I'll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever, Till I reach the golden strand Just beyond the river. In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever, Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river. Friday, January 12, 2018, 4:44 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. Help us, Lord, to be wise and discerning, and to rely on you and not on human flesh; to resist Satan and to draw near to God.