Demolish strongholds

"For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

I was hurt by my best friend this week. Deeply.

This was not an instance where she forgot my birthday or was insensitive about my children. She looked me straight in the eye and told me she hated me. "I love you, but I hate you so much," she seethed.

I cried all night. I cried for two days after that. I have been replaying the "courtroom questioning" in my head like a broken record:

"Do you really believe God cares about you?"
"Do you really believe in the Old Testament stories?"
"Do you honestly believe that God could fit two of ALL the animals in the world on a boat?
"Do you really think my mom has a new body and is in heaven?"
"Do you really believe God had a son just to kill him?"
"How can you believe in Jesus?"

And then the verdict came with a pointed finger:

"Everything you believe is ridiculous."

Isn't it interesting my Bible study just happens to be studying Isaiah and the prophesies of Christ right now? Isn't it interesting that my Bible study question the night before this happened was, "How would you explain that Jesus is the promised Messiah to someone who doesn't know the Bible well?"

I gently spoke to my friend of prophesy in Isaiah and as far as my theology classes would allow. I would've been under the table sobbing and nervous if it weren't for the presence of the Holy Spirit in me. The conversation lasted for two hours. As we walked out, her words jumped on me like a heart attack: "I love you, but I hate you so much."

Living in America, it is hard to pinpoint major times in my life where I have been "persecuted" for my faith. As I sat for two hours being verbally whipped for my "ridiculous" beliefs, I felt God with me. I felt Him whispering two main things while I prayed for wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to pour down onto the restaurant.

First, God impressed on my heart: "Where is your fruit, Daughter?" I wanted so badly to lash out and tell her how blinded by the world she had become. I wanted to tell her how she was hurting me. I felt ME rising up in my stomach  trying to escape out of my mouth. At the same time, I felt God asking me to allow HIM to rise up in me instead. "Show her My fruit, Daughter. Show her the fruit of the Spirit I have given you." I was to respond to her hate with His love. I was not to "wage war as the world does."

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

Second, God confirmed in me: "This is demonic. This is persecution. This is what it means to stand for Me." God wanted to evidence his good fruit in my words, but He did not want His truths watered down with niceties to be accepted by my best friend; I was to stand firm in Him. I was to stand firm in His Word and truth; because "the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world." I was not standing firm against my close friend; I was standing firm against Satan. Every time she questioned what I believe..."Do you really believe...", it felt like she was loading her gun, ready to shoot depending on my answer. God gave me a picture of all His children around the world, literally at gunpoint. Not just abroad, but even at a Community the United States of America!

Persecution is ugly and heartbreaking. Persecution is also an honor and a blessing.

I drove home so hurt...the ME was rising up. I got home and my husband wrapped his arms around me as I sobbed, "I can't believe she hates me like this. Her words were vile and so hateful."

My husband prayed over me and said, "Oh, Honey. She doesn't hate you. She hates GOD in you. Darkness cannot stand the Light."

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." John 15:19

I never thought, in this verse, the phrase "the world hates you" would be replaced with "your best friend hates you." Someone you love, hating Jesus in you, cuts much deeper than an undefined "world" hating Jesus in you. A best friend is so personal. But, our God is so personal, too.

This is a reality check for me. Only God knows the hearts of people. And God cares about each and every heart there is on earth.

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people." I Timothy 2;3-6 (see also I John 2:2)

God works in all the details of our lives to prepare us for HIS good works. He cares so deeply about us. He cared enough to use my Bible study to prepare me for spiritual battle! He cares deeply about my best friend. He gave Himself as a ransom for her. He knew she was lost and hurting way before I did. He saw the demons whispering lies into her heart as she watched her mom die of brain cancer.

He and His angels have been in combat over her salvation while I casually texted her about what she got on sale at Target. This was a wake up call for me! People are dying and going to Hell everyday. And I'm not just talking about an undefined "people" or "world" going down the tubes. This is happening in the lives of our friends...our neighbors...our family!

Who is God asking you to go to battle His mighty power? Who has God given Himself as a ransom for in your life, who doesn't know Him yet?

God wants to use us. He graciously invites us into His epic salvation story. The other night, I had the honor of engaging in spiritual warfare over the heart, mind and soul of my best friend. God had gone before me to prepare the way. God was with me when I felt evil spew out from across the table. This conversation was a much, much bigger deal than me getting my feelings hurt. This was not about me at all. Satan would like me to sit in that pain and anger. But, Satan does not win the war. This battle is not over!

In the meantime:

We are called to hope. (Ephesians 1:18-21, Ephesians 4:4, Psalm 25:3, Psalm 33:20-23) We never have the right to pull the plug on hope. We never have the right to stop praying for someone's salvation. Think of Paul (before meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus).

We are called to know the Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Matthew 4:4, Romans 15:4, Hebrews 4:12, I Timothy 4:13). The Word of God is the only offensive weapon listed in the armor of God (Ephesians 5:10-18). Since God has given us a weapon to use in this world, we have a responsibility to wield it responsibly and effectively. Commit to studying the Word of God.

We are called to be co-laborers with Christ. (I Corinthians 3:9, Matthew 9:37-38, Ephesians 2:8-10). God does not have to use us...but He wants to. This is an honor and a calling. There is work to be done. The LORD asked Isaiah: "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Isaiah's answer: "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

We are called to pray. (I Timothy 2:1-6, Romans 10:1, I Thessalonians 5:17. James 1:5, Matthew 5:44) If we desire to be true followers of Jesus, prayer is essential. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, "Yet not as I will, but as You will." If we want to know the will of God, we best be taking the time to humbly ask and listen for it. If we want to fall more in love with Jesus, we need to spend time with Him.

The morning after the battle, my Bible study question for the day directed me to read Ephesians 6:10-18...the inspiring message to put on the armor of God! Amazing! God had written an overarching theme throughout my story. 

God prepared me for battle through studying the Word of God.
God comforted me after the battle through studying the Word of God.

Dear LORD,

Thank you for Your Word. Thank you for the freedom to study it. Empower us to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is The Word Of God. Let us hold tightly to your word and bravely dive into spiritual battle over our loved ones. God has placed them in our lives for a reason. Remind me daily that you gave yourself as a ransom for all. Give me the urgency to pour Your extravagant love over others, so that they might come to know how beautiful You are and be saved. 


by Jenna Masters