Does He Have A Foothold?

With summer here in Arizona, every day is an attempt to keep my little boys busy with the goal of staying out of the heat! Not so much for their sake…but mine! Unfortunately this is not really a possibility considering the number of hours in a day and the max hours I can keep 2 active boys cooped up in the house!

So I recently took Connor and Bryce to a nearby park…at 10am. FYI…for my non-Arizonians…it is already over 90 degrees at 10am!

At the park, there was a huge play structure with numerous slides, monkey bars, swings, and a rock climbing wall. My youngest Bryce was determined to climb this rock wall. It wasn’t very high…but to a 3 year old it certainly looked high and was a challenge to conquer!

I stood behind Bryce as he began climbing this rock wall. I noticed that he had to make sure that one foot rested on a peg before he could reach for another peg with his other foot and both arms. Bryce needed this peg…this foothold… to continue up the rock wall. If he was unable to rest his foot on this foothold…he got stuck and called for me. Resting his little foot on a peg and having this foothold was necessary for Bryce to progress further and eventually accomplish this endeavor of climbing to the top of the rock wall.

A “foothold” is defined as “a secure position, especially a firm basis for further progress or development.”

The term “foothold” and its definition may not sound too interesting unless you are interested in rock climbing…like Bryce. However, there is great importance and implication if you are a Christian.

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV

Ephesians 4:26-27 clearly talks about the devil having a foothold….and even though this scripture specifically talks about anger and sinning in your anger….there are many ways the devil can enter into areas of our lives and have a foothold.

I don’t know about you…but understanding Ephesians 4:27 with the context of the word “foothold”…does not comfort me at all. If the devil has a foothold in an area of your life that means he has a secure position there!

Ok, like that isn’t enough to make you a little concerned….the foothold…according to the definition…also gives the devil a firm basis for further progress or development!

Are you aware of any footholds in your life? Are you aware of any areas in your life that the devil has a secure position?

So why exactly does the devil want to have a foothold in our lives? Because as humans we were created in the image of God…and the devil doesn’t like that!

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 NIV

As Christians, we are God’s children…and if the devil…the enemy…Satan…whatever you wish to call him…can’t stop you from being a Christian, he will try to prevent you from growing…from sharing God’s Word and the truth with others…and from living in God’s promises of peace and joy.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy… John 10:10 NLT

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

The devil is after every area in our lives…marriage, relationships, health, money, employment, business, and ministry. The devil wants it all but in order for him to conquer these areas in our lives, he has to find an opportunity…he has to find a point of entry into these areas.

It’s interesting to note that Ephesians 4:27 says… do not give the devil a foothold. That means that the devil doesn’t just have a foothold but that we give him a foothold!

We can give the devil this opportunity…this point of entry… in numerous ways…without even knowing it. Sin…the most obvious way the enemy is given an opportunity… as well as other such examples listed below are ways that we can give the devil an opportunity to have a foothold in our lives.

Unforgiveness, fear, depression, anxiety/worry, jealousy, insecurity, comparison, pride, anger, bitterness, and resentment are just some of these examples.

…So the activity of the devil demands vigilance and self-control on all occasions, and especially on those on which the devil is most apt to try to get a foothold. The reference to the devil is not a figure, but an obvious recognition of his personality, and of the liability of all Christians to fall under his influence. Pulpit Commentary

Such examples can drive a wedge in areas of our lives…which is exactly what the devil wants to do. He knows that these examples give him the opportunity to enter in our lives and steal our peace and joy and hold us back from walking into the plans and purposes God has for us.

He knows that unforgivenesss holds onto our past hurts and pain and prevents us from God’s healing….

He knows that fear can paralyze us from having faith and moving forward in the plans and purposes God has for us…

He knows that depression brings us to a place of strong discouragement, despair and eventual defeat preventing us from having hope and even carrying out normal day to day functions…

He knows that anxiety/worry focuses on our problems, takes our focus off God, and can also affect our health…

He knows jealousy focuses on the fear of losing something or someone valuable to you and prevents us from having healthy relationships…

He knows insecurity focuses on what we can’t do and prevents us from moving forward and leading with our weaknesses…

He knows that comparison causes us to focus on who and what we aren’t or what we do not have causing discontentment and prevents us from knowing who we are and the unique gifts that God has blessed us with…

He knows that pride focuses on ourselves, our own abilities, and our strengths instead of on God and glorifying Him…

He knows anger is a damaging emotion that can affect our marriages and families with negative consequences…

He knows bitterness and resentment can be deeply rooted in our hearts and ruin our marriages and relationships and prevents us from loving others…

Have any of these examples given the devil an opportunity into areas of your life such as in your marriage, relationships, health, money, employment, business, or ministry?

It is so important that we acknowledge these ways so we can take the necessary steps to close the door on the devil. As Christians we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin and these other areas we may struggle with. It is through God’s power that we can be strengthened to fight against the devil and his schemes. We can’t do it alone!!!

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 NIV

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37 NLT

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2Corinthians 12:9 NLT

If we are in sin, we must ask God for forgiveness and repent (turn away from our sin). If we are struggling to turn away from a specific sin in our life or if we are just struggling in an area of our life, pray for God to strengthen you and help you. It’s also important to turn to other Christians that you trust to pray with you…support you…and hold you accountable.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16 NIV

We can prevent the devil from getting a foothold in areas of our lives. We can prevent the devil from having the opportunity to destroy our marriages, relationships, health, money, employment, business, or ministry!

Turn to God today and ask Him to strengthen you! Let’s not give the devil a foothold!

Reflection Points:

  1. Are you aware of any footholds in your life? Are you aware of any areas of your life that the devil has secured his position?
  2. Has unforgiveness, fear, depression, anxiety/worry, jealousy, insecurity, comparison, pride, anger, bitterness, or resentment given the devil a way to enter into areas of your life?
  3. Has any of the above examples affected your marriage, relationships, health, money, employment, business, or ministry?
  4. If you have recognized any of the above examples affecting any areas of your life…what are you doing to close the door on the devil?

Action Points:

  1. If you believe the devil has a foothold in your life, the first step is to recognize how he has been given the opportunity.
  2. Determine if he has been given an opportunity through sin or other areas you are struggling with. Confess your sin to God, ask for forgiveness and repent (turn away) from your sin. Use God’s Word to be strengthened by studying and reminding yourself of scriptures that are specific to your area of struggle.
  3. Find a Christian friend that you trust who can pray with you, encourage you, and help you overcome your struggles.
  4. Pray and ask God to help you and be strengthened to close any doors that the devil is waiting to be given an opportunity to enter. Be encouraged that you aren’t fighting the devil on your own! You have been given the power and strength of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word! If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31 NLT
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Run In Such A Way

While growing up, I remember participating in all kinds of running races at school, at camps, and with friends just for fun. I specifically recall attending a summer camp at the age of 6 and running in the 50 yard dash and 100 yard dash. The winner of each race would receive a trophy.

With my great love for sports and strong competitive nature, I ran with everything I had to win…Why? I wanted that trophy of course! And guess what? I won! I actually still have these trophies stored away in an old box in my garage.

These days I am not sure if the 50 yard dash and 100 yard dash still exists…but I can tell you that there are many opportunities to run races if you so choose to…from 5k’s to 10k’s…from ½ marathons to full marathons…from mud runs to warrior and neon dashes! Yup all different kinds of runs for the running enthusiasts!

How about you? Do you enjoy running?

Ok, well maybe you are like me and don’t necessarily enjoy running but you run for its physical benefits. I guess you could say I go through periods of enjoying it…and not enjoying it.

But what I ultimately do enjoy is the end result…whether it be the physical benefits…the sense of accomplishment and achievement…or the charitable benefits when running for a cause.

Running races is certainly not a new thing…as it goes way back even to Biblical times.

The Isthmian games …the equivalent of our Olympics…was an event held every 2 years approximately 10 miles outside the city of Corinth. These games brought people from every part of the Mediterranean to compete or just watch. It was the sporting event of the year…drawing the Empire’s best talent. Athletes would compete in foot races, broad jumping, discus throwing, wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, and equestrian contests. They would compete fiercely, each striving for the Isthmian crown…a wreath of wild celery. (Yes I did say celery!)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 1 Corinthians 9:24NASB

I have found this scripture to be quite interesting! When the writer Paul talks about receiving a prize, he is talking about something more than just a crown made of the bland crunchy vegetable celery!

Initially we may think that the “prize” implies salvation…eternal life with Christ. And that is what we do receive when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. However, salvation is not earned…it is given to us freely!

So what exactly is this “prize” that we may receive…or win?

Unlike the Isthmian crown which is perishable and may fade away…the “prize” actually implies the eternal crown…the imperishable crown…the eternal rewards that we can receive. And this is the truly amazing grace of our God. We receive salvation as a free gift and then the Lord blesses us on top of that with temporal and eternal rewards for faithfully serving Him!!

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:25NASB

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 1 Corinthians 9:25NLT

Back to 1 Corinthians 9:24…The words that really capture my attention in this scripture are… Run in such a way as to get the prize. Some bible translations say… Run in such a way as to win.

These words imply that there are different ways of “running”. You can run in such a way as to “finish” a race or you can run in such a way as to “win” a race.

Have you have ever run in a marathon? I have a number of friends who aren’t really avid runners but have trained diligently to run a marathon because they just wanted to run one and experience that sense of achievement when they crossed that finish line.

But how about the runners that are among the first to cross that finish line? Are they just running to “finish?” Or are they running to “win?”

I guarantee you that the discipline and work ethic of the winners are different than those who just want to finish. Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that desire to train and “finish” a marathon. I give you marathoners out there a lot of credit for taking on 26.2 miles… which is certainly an accomplishment!

But as Christians, it’s not about how fast you run but HOW you run.

Have you ever run a race where you ran so fast in the beginning that half way through you were so tired that you just started walking because you didn’t pace yourself??? I can guarantee you that marathon winners have trained diligently to pace themselves…they know HOW to run the race in such a way that they may win.

How are you running? Are you running the spiritual race with the self-discipline and work ethic of a marathon winner? Are you running in such a way as to get the prize?

As Christians, whether we like running or not, we are runners and have entered a race not against one another but toward our heavenly reward…toward the prize…to win. And HOW we run matters.

Just as runners are disciplined in their training, we too as Christians must be disciplined in order to run our spiritual race in such a way as to get the prize. And this requires a number of essential spiritual disciplines.

Spiritual disciplines can be described as those behaviors that augment our spiritual growth and enable us to grow to spiritual maturity. This process of spiritual growth and development begins to take place the moment a person encounters Jesus and comes to Him for salvation. And that’s when we have entered the race.

The biggest difference between running a race in the Isthmian games and running a spiritual race as Christians is that there is only one winner that receives the perishable crown in the Isthmian games whereas we can all receive the imperishable crown as Christians. Running the spiritual race requires a number of essential disciplines which include the following but are not limited to:

  1. Worship
  2. Prayer
  3. Reading and studying God’s Word
  4. Fellowship (attending church and bible studies regularly)
  5. Service

The one discipline I want to focus on here is…spending one on one time with Jesus reading and studying His Word.

Developing the habit of reading and studying God’s Word is necessary to win our eternal crown and will benefit us greatly while we are here on earth as well.

Studying God’s word has a positive domino effect. The more you study God’s word…the more you will know God…the more you know God, the more you will experience his unconditional love for you….the more you experience His love for you, the more you will love and trust Him….the more you love and trust Him, the more you will obey Him….the more you obey Him, the more you will experience His blessings for you here on earth and in heaven.

The intimate and loving relationship that is created with you spending time with Jesus and studying His Word cannot be replaced with anything else. No Sunday service….no bible study…no discipleship or mentorship program can take the place of your one on one time with Jesus. If you are doing all these things that’s great! Keep doing them! But the things that God will reveal to you…the things that He will entrust to you…the things that He will teach you in your time with Him are truly remarkable and amazing! I speak from my own experiences!

Developing the discipline/habit of reading and studying God’s Word is not always easy but is crucial in the spiritual race we are running.

Just as a runner has a specific course to follow when running a marathon…God’s Word is our specific course/path to follow when running the spiritual race.

And when we focus on HOW to run versus how fast to run, we will ultimately finish the race as winners receiving the prize…the imperishable eternal crown!

Reflection Points:

  1. How are you running? Are you running the spiritual race with the self-discipline and work ethic of a marathon winner? Are you running in such a way as to get the prize?
  2. What are you doing to develop spiritual disciplines in your life…specifically the discipline of reading and studying God’s Word daily?

Action Points:

  1. Begin the habit of reading God’s Word daily…Whatever it takes for you wherever you are at spiritually and wherever you at in life.
  2. Purchase a bible that you understand. It’s hard to read God’s Word if you can’t understand what you are reading! My personal preference is NIV Life Application Bible.
  3. There are many resources to aid you such as daily devotionals. Some great examples are Jesus Calling, Whispers of Hope, Jesus Day by Day and Jesus Our Great Hope.
  4. With our world of modern technology, you can download the Bible, apps and reading plans on your phone.
  5. Subscribe to daily devotions such as Proverbs 31 ministries and Our Daily Bread and get emails from them daily. You can also subscribe this weekly devotion at sweeterthanhoneyblog.com.
  6. Begin spending 5 minutes a day…Read a Psalm or a Proverb. If you are a new Christian, begin reading the book of John or one of the other Gospels…Matthew, Mark or Luke in the New Testament. If you can develop the habit of getting into God’s Word daily…you will see your time with Him increase! It’s not about the quantity but the quality of time.