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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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6: 12-13
And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
2 Corinthians 2: 10b-11
Knowledge is power.
Each week when our coaching staff prepares the game plan for our next opponent, our top objective is to know how they will attempt to attack us in each situation over the course of a game. Our goal is to be so familiar with their schemes that we can predict their next call before it happens. Our players don’t have time to think on game day….
They must simply react to their training.
When the dust settles, how we play on game day all comes down to how well we trained and prepared during the week. If we do all our thinking as we prepare, we will react well in the heat of battle. By equipping our players with the necessary knowledge of the opponent, and then training them how to use that knowledge all week long, we put our team in the best possible position to succeed on game day.
A good scouting report is essential.
Each day, whether you know it or not, you are in a battle—of eternal proportions—with an opponent who is constantly on the offensive.
Are you well prepared?
The Apostle Paul offers some wise coaching on how to prepare for this daily eternal battle:
- Know your opponent
Paul tells us “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.” Our opponent is Satan and his spiritual forces.
Paul not only tells us who our opponent is, but he presents the scouting report on how Satan likes to attack us when he writes, “….that Satan will not outsmart us.” Satan is a trickster. A deceiver. A manipulator. He plays mind games. He lies. As Jesus said at the end of John 8:44, Satan “is a liar and the father of lies.”
- Prepare for his schemes
So how do we prepare for Satan’s game plan of lies and deception?
First, Paul writes: ”…we are familiar with his evil schemes.”
In other words….know where Satan likes to attack you…..BEFORE it happens!
Is lust a struggle? Is greed a weakness? Is forgiveness a bitter difficulty? Does jealousy and envy consume your mind? Is negativity a snare? Does judging others have a stronghold on you?
Understand where he is going to attack you before he strikes!
Then pray for God’s help, guidance, and strength. Ask him for the protection of his “full armor.”
Second, Paul instructs: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
After you have done everything.
There is action required on our part. Activity. Preparation. Action. Training.
We must be rooted and saturated in God’s Word. We must study it. Meditate on it. Memorize it. We must be strengthened through prayer—growing in a deeper and deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father. We must worship him. Give him the honor and praise he is due. Be in community with others who know Christ. Holding each other accountable.
And we must think. A key part of the Christian faith is thinking through the Gospel and how it applies to every part of our lives. We need to think how the Gospel applies to our family, to our work, to our friendships, and to our finances. It must become central to our very being, moving, and living in this world.
- Confidently play the game
If you’ve prepared well….go play! Enter the battle with confidence! You have absolutely nothing to fear! You are ready! You know your opponent, you know his schemes, and if you’ve taken action…..you are prepared!
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!” (James 4:7) In Christ, the victory is yours!
Who Are You Fighting?
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. […]For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Acts 5: 34-35 & 38b-39
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go.”
The words seemed to hang in the air in the office of the Player Personnel Director.
“Here is your contract termination. Please sign here and here and date here.”
It was almost an out of body experience. Was this really happening?
“Thank you. Make sure you turn in your playbook and the equipment guys will give you a garbage bag on your way out to clean out your locker.”
I had just been cut by an NFL franchise. And I had a garbage bag of my own stuff to show for it.
For the next six months after my release, I fought. Fought for a roster spot—for another opportunity to keep playing football. I trained relentlessly. I was on the phone with my agent constantly. I scoured the NFL transaction wire each day.
A call from another team came. Away I went, only to be sent home again. More fighting. Another call came. Another chance. Another rejection. Fight some more. One more call. One more opportunity. One more refusal.
I had been doing everything in my own power to make my plans work just as I envisioned. And nothing was working out.
Because I was fighting against God.
You can’t negotiate the will of God. You can either obey it, ignore it……
….or fight it.
My “purpose” was “of human origin” and, as the wise Pharisee Gamaliel predicted—it failed.
But what comfort we can find in the words of Acts 5:39—If our plans are “from God” then anything or anyone that opposes us will be “fighting against God”! When we are pursuing God’s will in our life, God + Us = A MAJORITY ! (See this past devotional for more on this formula!) With God, we cannot be stopped!
Sometime soon you are bound to face opposition. Consider who you are fighting…..is it your own will “of human origin” you are pursuing? Or is the opposition from someone or something that can’t possibly stop you, because you are seeking the will of God? If we are seeking The Lord’s will, take courage! With Him, we cannot be stopped!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
I read an interesting article about the power of our “yeses” and our “nos.”
When meeting new people, the author suggested that we should always come from the viewpoint or stance of: “How can I help this person?” He then challenged the reader to think about their “default setting”—Are you quick to say “yes” to things, or quick to say “no”?
According to the article, someone who is quick to say “yes” and willing to take on tasks has more options, builds more rapport, and will develop a better network of trustworthy people.
Conversely, someone who is quick to say “no” tends to impede progress. The options are stopped, the next step cannot happen, and relationships are more difficult to develop.
As I reflected on the author’s astute words, my mind began going down another road:
When God asks something of me, what’s my “default setting”?
Am I quick to say “yes”, or quick to say “no”?
When it comes to being busy, serving others, and taking on new tasks, I am definitely a default “yes” person. I like a full calendar, I’m confident in my abilities to get the job done, and I enjoy the opportunity to serve in a variety of capacities.
But when God asks for my time, talent, or treasure….
….my “yes” reaction time slows way down.
I tend to think of excuses. I tend to seek comfort. I tend to hold onto the things He’s asking me to let go of.
I tend to take a while before I say “Yes, Lord.”
Does this sound familiar in your life?
If we are truly desirous of serving our Great God, we need to be as willing to say “yes” to Him, as we are to other lesser things.
How do we do this? His word offers us two simple coaching points:
- Maintain a willing relationship
Obviously, we want to quickly and willingly say “Yes, Lord” like Isaiah did.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
But this does not happen over night. Isaiah was able to do so because he had been in the presence of the Lord, seeking His face, listening to His direction. When we are in right relationship with our Heavenly Father, it is that much easier to willingly say, “yes” to His call.
- Keep it simple
In Jesus’ day, many citizens, leaders, and religious leaders were relying on sworn oaths, full of jargon and excess conditions, in order to say, “yes” to doing something. In Matthew 5, Jesus cut to the chase:
“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)
Jesus’ message is clear. When God calls—just answer Him! He doesn’t need excuses about your calendar. He doesn’t need to hear about your tight budget. He already knows these things. He’s the provider. He has a good and perfect plan. And He needs your help to carry it out!
What a privilege!
That is….if we say “YES” to the opportunity.
Today, consider your “default setting” when God comes calling. Are you quick to say “yes” to Him? If not, pursue a willing relationship with God so you are in sync with Him and ready to serve. And when He does call keep it simple. No excuses. No explanations. Just a servant’s heart, ready to say, “Yes, Lord!”
Strive: The Book
In Strive, former collegiate and NFL quarterback Tim Hiller leads you on a year-long journey, taking small steps each week on the path to making your life matter, developing into the person God designed you to be.
Our lives are short. Together, let’s pursue what matters.
From his platform as a champion, Tim has a natural gift for connecting with a wide range of audiences—from schools, youth groups, and churches, to student-athletes and business leaders. Submit a speaking request to invite Tim to inspire your group, team, or organization.
Next Level Performance
Co-founded by Tim Hiller, Next Level Performance develops the total athlete through elite sports performance training, club teams, and Beyond The Game™ Conferences. NLP’s proprietary leadership development process helps student-athletes succeed, both now and in the future.