Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Center
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 6:10-20 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 6:10–11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Schemes. Strategies. Wiles. Tricks. Tactics. Deceits. Stratagems. I looked at 29 versions of Ephesians 6:11. These are all the words translators used to describe what the devil is devising and using to trip the faithful up, to knock them off the narrow road.
There’s nothing wrong with a good strategy. Nothing wrong with being wily or using tricks, tactics, deceits (in the right context), or stratagems. (OK, I admit it—I’d never seen that word before today.) I played quarterback for flag football teams for years. Looking off a receiver was one way to be wily or deceitful. The defender saw me looking one direction so he would lean that direction, then I’d quickly turn the other direction and hit a more open receiver. In sports, having a good strategy is smart—if you want to have a chance at winning. Can you imagine the advantage it would give a team to have a microphone in the opponent’s huddle so they would know what they were planning? It would make the game so much easier.
In baseball, a pitcher will get hit all over the park if he tips his pitches. In other words, if he uses a certain motion or body language before he throws a curveball—and the opponent has noticed this—BAM, the ball is hit out of the ballpark. Tipping his strategy gives a good pitcher a trip down to the minor leagues in a quick hurry.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to know what the strategies of the devil are to damn humanity to a life without God? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know his schemes, tricks, wiles, and stratagems? I would think so. And to be sure, this is no game. So what are they? What’s the devil’s plan to fool humanity into an empty existence?
Revelation 12 tells us that the devil is bent on deceiving humanity about the very character of God. He wants us to think that God is something He’s not. He’s bent on filling the church with lie after lie about the goodness of the Father.
That’s why Jesus came. His main purpose on earth was to clear up the lies the devil has filled our minds with and show us the truth about the Father. Check these verses out:
John 17:3-6: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.
1 John 3:8: He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
So, if we know that the devil is trying to get us to think wrong things about the Father, how do we fight that strategy? How do we arm ourselves against this battle? By getting as close to Jesus as we possibly can. If we know Jesus, we know the Father, and no lie that appears in the form of a doctrine, action, or idea can penetrate that armor.
Recalibrate: Have you ever had an opinion about someone that you later, after you got to know them, changed your mind about? What brought you to change your mind?
Respond: As you take time to pray today, be open to repenting of any false ideas you may carry about the Father.
Research: Read Revelation 12.
Remember: “Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need” (Ephesians 6:18, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
The Words to Remember passage for this week is, “Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need”( Ephesians 6:18, ICB). This week, talk to Jesus with your little one. He is not an imaginary friend, He is a very real Savior. He is ready to listen to every word, especially baby talk and exhausted parent mumblings. He understands it all, and knows what to do when we have no clue. Pray with all kinds of prayers.
Work on memorizing The Words to Remember: “Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need” (Ephesians 6:18, ICB). Challenge: Try to find a plant with roots or a book that shows you plant roots very clearly. (Try not to kill a plant you may find, but see if you can see its roots!) Examine the roots closely. Try to identify different parts of the roots. As you know, roots help move food to a plant from the soil. Without roots, plants don’t stand upright, or get food or water. Very rapidly, a plant without roots will die. Just like plants, we also have a roots system of sorts that connects us to Jesus! Prayer is like a root system in that we communicate with God who can give us all we need to live and thrive! Today, talk out loud to God and tell Him what you need, and thank Him for what you have. You might want a private place to do this, or you can try it with your family.
I teach seventh and eighth graders and I absolutely love it. I love having discussions and laughing and getting to know my students every day. If you ask my kids what my favorite thing is to teach, they’ll tell you right away that it’s space. I love space. Stars, planets, nebulas, and black holes fascinate me and truly get me to think about God and how awesome He is. As I teach lessons on space, they almost always turn into Bible talks. It is still amazing to me that a God who has the power to create such an immense universe cares deeply for our daily needs and wants more than anything to get to know us. We have a direct connection with this astonishing Creator through something called “prayer.” We can literally just think a prayer and He can hear it. Try talking to God sometime today that isn’t before a meal or before bed.
From a young age, I have struggled with nightmares. I remember as a kid one of my teachers in Sabbath School told the class a story that scared me to death and from that point on I was terrified of the dark. I would jump onto my bed and have my dad sleep with me every evening. This became less and less frequent the older I got, but when the nightmares and thoughts entered my mind they would terrify me. During my freshman year of high school, someone spoke for a Week of Worship about similar struggles they had. Their story brought back a flood of memories and that night once again I was afraid to sleep. The next day, I confided in a friend about how I struggled to sleep that evening. She told me something I will never forget. “Emily, this is God’s battle. You don’t need to fight; He’s already won. He will equip you and He’s stronger than any thoughts you may have.” What she said planted a seed in my heart. I no longer felt I had to be strong. I no longer felt I needed to fight these battles because I knew that God was stronger. God has defeated darkness and He offers me that same victory. What battles are you trying to fight today? What things are you holding on to that God wants to fight for you?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.