Gaining victory over the darkness

Monday afternoon, a day off from ministry for me, while taking care of household chores, a dark mood started to settle over me.  When I am tired and alone I know that I am vulnerable to thoughts that include sorrow, fear of the future, and self-doubt. I am not simply at the mercy of the emotional winds that blow over me, however.  

It is within my power to choose to resist the devil and to ‘take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’  That is why, that afternoon, I made a choice to change the atmosphere!  I stood up and walked about the house while I prayed aloud, reviewing the many gifts of God that I enjoy. My prayer started in lament and ended in praise.

I thanked God for my godly heritage, for the grace of Christ Jesus, for my eternal hope. I thanked him for the privilege of Christian ministry, the opportunity to love others in His Name. I thanked Him for 41 years of love that I shared with Bev, for our children and His grace gifts to them, for friends, for my home, for abundance in so many ways, for His faithfulness through the trials …. And on it went.  

Memory is like a web, one story woven with another.  On the shelves of my memory, there are stories of changed lives, celebrations, milestone achievements, and God’s wonderful works. In remembering my faith was strengthened. (If you know me, you know I shed some tears, too!)  The light of God’s love brightened the day and my heart rested in Him.

Is your faith taking a beating in life right now?  Does it seems that God is far away, that some difficulty is too big to overcome? Does doubt cloud your mind? Take charge of your thoughts! With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of his name.” (Hebrews 13:15, NLT)  

Foster calls it the ‘discipline of celebration.’ You can do it.  It need not be silly, nor insincere. Victory over the darkness is not won by shouting louder than your enemy, but rather by refocusing your thoughts on the Eternal Goodness of God!  It is not a mental trick that we do.  We invite the Holy Spirit to come as our Comforter, as Jesus promised.

Bring to mind a victory or two from your past and give thanks to God. If you can’t remember one from your own ‘faith story’ then borrow a testimony of another and thank God for His faithfulness.  If that fails, go find a story in your Bible – Daniel in the lion’s den when God showed up and closed the lion’s mouth; young David on the field of battle confronting Goliath in the name of the LORD of Israel; or Paul and Silas in the jail in Philippi singing worship songs at midnight until God rocked the house! Read one of those aloud and thank God that He is with you in your struggle. Praise that is authentic brings the defeat of the demons of despair.

We must memorialize, in appropriate ways, those things that help us to remember that God answers prayer, that He grants peace, that He will gift us with His joy. The Bible tells us about many times when the people of God paused to build a memorial or to write a record for the purpose of reminding future generations of the goodness of God. 

  • Malachi tells us that “those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.” (Malachi 3:16-17, NLT) They remembered, praised, and found renewal of faith!
  • After a spectacular miracle at the crossing of the Jordan River, Joshua instructed Israel to “choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’ … We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:2-7, NLT)

Christian, this of which I speak today is more than positive thinking. To be sure there is an element of positivity here, but the true key to our personal victory is PRAISE and WORSHIP. Choosing to humble ourselves before the Lord, to surrender our need to know ‘why,’ and to choose, instead, to offer Him our praise, renews our appreciation for His greatness and increases the faith that allows us to experience His providence.  Praise renews our hope given to us through Jesus Christ. We bring our worshipful praise to Him as a sacrifice, which He finds deeply pleasing.

You can change the atmosphere! You can take charge of those thoughts. The word from the Word tells us that “we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT)  

Go ahead, offer a sacrifice of praise right now. Make it sincere, even if it’s simple. Then, add another and another. Soon, you will have discovered the amazing power of praise, for praise ushers us into the Presence of God.

______________

10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)

(this song is a great one for praise-filled worship)

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul!
Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before
O my soul.
I’ll worship Your holy name.

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning.
It’s time to sing Your song again!
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.

You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger.
Your name is great and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul!
Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before
O my soul.
I’ll worship Your holy name.

And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come.
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.
Worship Your holy name
Worship Your holy name

Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Said And Done Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) SHOUT! Music Publishing (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) CCLI License # 810055

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