Thursday, March 15, 2012


The following is adapted from a lesson I shared in my Women's Bible Study Group. 

Have you ever known a bully or a mean girl? Okay - don't everyone try to talk at once! (It seems that EVERYONE has dealt with at least one or the other.) 

I dealt with a "bully" when I was younger. She kept me in fear, wondering what she would do next. The whispers were the worst...never really knowing what was being said. Finally one day, I had enough. I turned and faced her and said as much. I was terrified because I knew I very well might take a punch to the face, but to my surprise, she backed down. (I'm sure my trembling voice scared her into leaving me alone!) That was the first of many times I've had to face my fears...and the bully creating them.

For some, a bully is someone who pushes you into a locker and takes your lunch money. I find that today's bullies are far more subtle. They rely on intimidation to get what they want. The Oxford English Dictionary defines intimidation as: to render timid; to inspire fear; to discourage; or, suppress by threatening. Wow... that sounds like tactics the devil uses against us!

We have an enemy that truly has no power over us, but through intimidation keeps us cowering in fear. The Bible describes him as a lion that prowls around looking for who he can destroy. He looks for those who are isolated - away from the flock. That makes them easier to attack. The lion is also an opportunistic hunter, doing most of his hunting at night....ever notice how feelings of inadequacy fill our minds at night? And lions go after those who are tired. (See previous blog: Lesson from under the juniper tree ) 

1 Kings 18 tells the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. 1 Kings 19:1-4 tells how he ran from the intimidation of Jezebel. What happened? How could such a man of God who had just seen such victory then turn and run at the words of a woman? He was so intimidated and discouraged by Jezebel's words that he wanted to die! The purpose of her intimidation was to prevent Elijah from completing God's purpose. 

The enemy does the same thing to us today. He couldn't keep you from accepting Christ, so he tries to keep you from completing God's purpose in your life through intimidation. I don't want to stand before God one day saying, "I know you had things for me to do, but I was scared."

To break the bully's power, we have to turn and face him - not in our own power but in the power of God's Word, just as Jesus did in the wilderness. One of a bully's greatest tactics is to keep you on the run...afraid to turn around and face him. You can try and "fly under the radar" and hope he won't notice you, but that won't work for long. At some point, you have got to take a stand.

This doesn't mean you'll automatically "feel" like you're winning. I know when I stood before my bully I certainly didn't feel like a winner. I was shaking so hard my teeth were rattling! But trembling inside, we still stand and declare what God says about us and our situation. We need to get to the point where we've "had enough" of the devil's lies. It may mean praying like the man with the demon possessed son in Mark 9:22-24, "I believe - help me with my unbelief."

Then what? Well, the enemy will usually try to get us to stop or give up - usually with more intimidation. Keep praying. Don't give up too soon. It's not something you can do on your is truly relying on God's power and promises to you. We also have to stop saying negative things into our own lives...stop helping the devil! Instead, we need to start speaking the truth that God has given us over and over in His Word. It's that simple...but it isn't easy.

It's time to end the intimidation. Our enemy really has no power over us. It's time to turn around and take a stand. The results? We will be stronger....and we'll have life - more life. 

James 1:1-12

The Message (MSG)
 1I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello! Faith Under Pressure 2-4Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
 5-8If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
 9-11When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don't ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that's a picture of the "prosperous life." At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.
 12Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

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