We’re finally at Anything Week 7! Just two more weeks of the study to go!
What did you think as you read Jesus’ prayer for you in Week 6? How did you respond to Project Two? Remember to join the conversation on the Anything study pages! We want to hear from you!
For Week Seven, we’ll:
- Watch the video
- Read Chapters 16-18 of Anything
- Study Ephesians 6:12-18
- Answer the questions and projects on pages 249-255 in the Study Guide at the back of the book.
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Picking a Fight with the Devil
It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. — J. R. R. Tolkien
The devil is real, and nothing ticks him off more than people waking up from the numb stupor he has crafted to keep us harmless. — Jennie Allen (Anything, page 155)
Especially in western cultures, evil and the devil seem like antiquated ideas. Outdated thoughts from pre-scientific and educated times. Sometimes, even in the Church, it may seem odd to address the topic of evil. Just the word alone can bring Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady to mind as she pronounced it eeeee-villl. “Well, isn’t that special?”
But, once you do choose to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and pray, “Lord, I’ll do anything!”, you actually have picked a right old fight with the devil. And, you’d better believe you’ll encounter troubles straight from hell.
I’ve already shared here about what happened when I prayed my first truly heart-felt and serious anything prayer and the devil stepped up his game to high boil. It was a full-blown blitzkrieg. The battle had been increasing over the previous several years, but all hell broke loose starting in the summer of 2011. Spiritual warfare unlike I’d ever known. Oppression so intense that I literally (or spiritually, however that works) smelled stink and sulfur on several intense occasions. So much evil was going on in the earthly realm that I didn’t know about yet, but spiritually, I was very, very aware of the war. Every night the devil would hound and harass me with fear, inexplicable noises in the house, creaking on the staircase, strange lights, and on and on — the whole atmosphere felt weighted down with demonic presence like guerrilla warfare. I prayed wandering through the house, prayed laying hands on my kids, prayed over every area of our lives that I could think of, and often ended up on the floor absolutely begging the Holy Spirit to intercede because I had no more words and no more strength, but undoubtedly a lot more of the fight ahead. It was utterly overwhelming. Every day, the sun rose, the oppression lifted (or seemed to lift), and I had a full day of mothering and homeschooling ahead of me despite the fact that I was an exhausted and frazzled mess.
And, it felt like it would never end.
I got so tired and fried out from it all that I didn’t think I’d live through it, however long it lasted. I didn’t want to live through it.
That is why praying anything again was a fearsome surrender… because I’d already been through a war that nearly took me out!
But, I can honestly say now that that season was worth what lay on the other side because on the other side was more of Jesus, more faith in Him, more willingness to follow, and more boldness to preach the Good News no matter what! And, you will be able to say that, too!
We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day. But, remember at the time they didn’t know they were heroes. ~ A. W. Tozer
Knowing that we’re at war changes our perspective. Knowing that if we forget about His love and we can fall away brings a new vigilance to our faith walks. Knowing that some will fall away around us and choose easier paths, selfishness, and the world causes a fresh fierceness for prayer to rise up and exhort others. Knowing that some in our Band of Brothers will be struck down — with illness, tragedy, and even death — develops a soberness of mind and a strength of fiber within us. Knowing we can miss it — not follow and completely miss out on both the agonies and the gorgeous, deep beauties that are tucked inside the brave path of obedience… That’s the worst of it. We don’t want to miss it! We must choose to war on!
Looking back now, I have an entirely different perspective. Instead of just agony, battle, and fear, I also see mercy, mercy, and mercy! In the way He does in His upside-down kingdom, He used chaos to bring peace, death to usher in life, losing everything to bring an awareness of great wealth in the non-material things, and heartbrokenness to develop compassion.
Like Jennie’s friend Laura and her precious baby (page 146), redemption came. Everything changed. Today I can proclaim that my life is screaming of a God too good to ever leave.
I heard this great message from Charles Montgomery last week at Vineyard Columbus (Abel: A Faith That Worships). He shared that Serena Williams is his all-time favorite tennis player. One of his friends had called while he was watching Wimbledon. This friend wanted to get deep in conversation and Charles was trying to get off the call when his friend asked, “Why do we have to end this call? I’m your boy! And we haven’t talked in a long time!” Charles responded, “I know you’re my boy, but Serena’s my girl, and we’re trying to see if she can win Wimbledon!”
“Boy, why are you still sweating Serena? Serena played six hours ago! What you’re watching is a tape delay!… Serena already won!“
That’s what faith is. Faith says, “Why are you getting ready to have a nervous breakdown? Why are you sweating all of this stuff? Your blessing is in the next chapter and in Christ Jesus you have already won!” Look at the devil and say, “Tape delay because I already won!” God has already worked it out! ~ Charles Montgomery
Be prepared for the devil, but don’t forget, friends, he’s already been defeated!
Scripture for further study:
1 Chronicles 29:17 (King David near the end of his life)
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Jennie asks, “Have you found it to be true that the enemy has tried to attack you — through conflict, temptation, suffering, distraction or discouragement — as you’re going through this study? Or was there another time when you felt like “all hell was coming against you? What perspective do you have today about that time?” How does this week’s Scripture study, Ephesians 6:12, change the way you see spiritual warfare? We invite you to respond to any of these questions in this week’s discussion. Share your stories or comments about what you’re learning about spiritual warfare through this week’s study!