Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy

“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  (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

Know Your Enemy

Coaches of all sports will study game film of their upcoming opponent. Their goal is to understand their opponent and the better you understand them, the better you make the necessary adjustments and preparation to defeat your opponent. It’s much the same in the game of life.  We often mistakenly label our neighbor as our enemy when they are not our enemy at all. You may wonder how can that be – my neighbor deliberately does things to upset myself and my family.

First, you must understand that your neighbor is your brother or sister and is just as loved in God’s eye as yourself. Your neighbor is a sinner, as are you, but you both are saved by the blood of the Lamb. You must first remove the splinter from your eye before you criticize your neighbor for the plank in their eye (Matthew 7:5).

Now, this does not mean that you should not protect yourself or your family from danger. I am speaking of your heart, not your physical safety.

We all have experienced frustration.   Sometimes we are frustrated with ourselves and sometimes with others, including God.  Our frustrations present an opportunity to either deepen our relationships with others or divide us.  Regardless of the nature of our frustration, our response will determine if good fruit comes from the situation. 

Back to our coaches example: In this case, their opponent is easily identifiable — it is the other team. However, our opponent is so often unseen. We may think it is our neighbor or the guy that cut us off in traffic.  However, our brothers and sisters are not our enemy.

St. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “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.”

The enemy walks among us and uses lies and treachery to create division among God’s people and to tear down the body of Christ. I think this is why God asks us to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute us. Because He knows that these people need the love of Christ to overcome their wicked ways. Every knee will bow in response to the love of Christ. It is so easy to act out of the flesh and return rudeness with rudeness. Next time, I pray that you return rudeness with a kind word and smile and then when alone, pray that God will touch his/her heart. If God can turn Saul into Paul, He can certainly help you with your problems with your neighbor. Seek Him first in prayer and carefully examine yourself. Then, go out and be the light of Christ. The light always conquers the darkness. Know your enemy and pray for your enemy. Be blessed!

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to realize that 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 realm. Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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A Joyful Life

A Joyful Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).

Our society has achieved a point of technological advancement that was unthinkable a mere 10-20 years ago.  In the Western world, we have freedoms of speech and access to clean drinking water that are unheard of in other countries.   All of us, even those barely out of diapers, have smart phones.  However, many Americans are without joy and are seeking answers from pharmaceutical companies to the bottom of a beer bottle.  I have found a few universal truths that can help bring about joy.

1. Read and BELIEVE God’s Promises

Reading the Bible is a great thing to do.  However, you must do your part.  James 1:22 reads “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” The Bible is a road map to peace and joy.  We should all pray each day for God to remove all that is bad from within us and replace it the light of Christ.

2. Recognize the connection of mental, physical, and spiritual health

Great strides in mental health can be achieved by improving our physical health.  My mental health improves after a walk in the woods or by a stream.  Nature has a great calming effect.  Our mental health can also be improved by focusing on our spiritual health.  Studies have shown that people that engage daily with the Word have a better spiritual life.  The Bible is a love book from God to us and full of his promises of forgiveness and desires for our happiness.

3. Smile

Even if you don’t feel happy you can think of a happy memory and smile.  Smiling has a proven health benefit on your health and happiness.  Natural hormones that make us “feel good” are released when we smile.  I  like the old song “Smile and the whole world smiles back at you.”

4. Surround Yourself With Positive People

Life is hard and we need positive people to yoke up with and support us.  Positive people will have a positive effect on you.  Eventually, they will be in need of support and it will be a blessing for you to support them.  If you are married, communicate with your spouse.  The two of you are one body.  If half of your body is unhappy, you are unhappy.

5. Guard Your Brain

 Focus on positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts drain our energy and lead to negatives thoughts and actions.  Proverbs 4:23 tells us “More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.”  Life represents happiness and joy that originate in our mind.  Negative thoughts of self doubt and worry are tools of Satan and should be rebuked in the name of Jesus.

Always remember that God loves you and walks with you every day.  Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to to be thankful not for all circumstances but through all circumstances.  May we find our joy in You, and peace knowing that nothing can separate us from Your love.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV ).

We learn at a young age that there are two things certain in life – death and taxes.  I would add a third to that list:  adversity.  We all have experienced some form of adversity in our life from death of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, etc.  My first real experience with adversity was when I was 9 years old and my sister died in a car crash.  My Christian roots were shallow and so my coping skills ranged from very limited to non-existent. 

Thirty-one years later my father died and I began to hear a calling which I discerned was from God.  I attended the Walk to Emmaus after wandering this earth for 40 years.  The Walk is a three-day spiritual retreat with talks by laity and clergy and lots of fun and fellowship.  I left that weekend on fire for Christ and with a strong desire to learn more about God through the Bible, small groups, and being the hands and feet of Christ.  I learned that Christ does not want His people to suffer.  The Psalmist writes in 149:4, “For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; He adorns the humble with victory.”   I am comforted that the creator of the universe takes pleasure in me and knows every detail about me but yet loves me anyway.

If you are dealing with adversity now, I encourage you to meditate on this scripture from Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and learn not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”  We are made for community and this is never more true than during a time of adversity.  Speak to your pastor, yoke up with a close friend, spend time alone with God, and cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Remember God’s strength often begins when our strength ends.  Once we submit to God, His promises will come true in His perfect time.  My favorite promise is found in Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   May God bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give you peace.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to cast all of our anxiety on You and abide in Your love and grace.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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