One of the main goals of the enemy is to attempt to set the agenda for our day. He does this through tactics like offense, confusion, attacking our financial resources, or physical well being. While these attacks are real and require real solutions we must never respond by putting our focus on problems. A Christian who is problem focused is living in response to the author of the problems – Satan. This causes us to be darkness led instead of spirit led which can unintentionally cause us to miss the will of God for our lives.
So how should we respond to the problems of life? We should respond by living in response to the Father and not the problems. I’m going to share three practical examples from the life of Jesus below, but I want to start by saying this is a way I actually try to live my life. I don’t do this perfectly yet, but this isn’t an unlivable theologic point. This is practical.
For example, as a Pastor, I can’t tell you the number of times where Satan has attempted to use someone’s opinion about the type of worship music we do, how long I teach, how a church member is dressed, or how much focus we put on reaching the community to shift my focus from the assignment God has given me at Grace Life Church to focusing on making people happy. This is not to say every criticism is from the devil. Many criticisms are valid, but if I put my focus on the criticism and become offended or try to become a people pleaser, I will subconsciously shift my focus from God to people and Satan will end up running our church.
That’s pretty heavy stuff isn’t? But the principles I try to live by as a pastor also apply for you in situations with your boss, spouse, children, and so on. So the question is how do we respond? Let’s look at the life of Jesus.
The first example I want to examine is when Jesus was hanging on the cross after being found guilty in a mock trial. He had been beaten, had the hairs on His beard plucked, and had to carry a wooden cross up a mountain. All this before having nails placed in His hands and feet as He was hung on the cross. As He hung, the people made fun of Him and shouted for Him to prophecy. If we are all honest, any of us would have wanted to call angels from heaven to loose us from the cross and then call down the fire of God on all of the persecutors. But what did Jesus do? He responded to the Father and said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus responded to light instead of allowing offense to set the course for his future and our futures.
The second example is when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus and asked what He thought they should do. They gave Him two options. The first was to follow the law of Moses and have her stoned to death, which would have caused him to lose his following since he proclaimed a message of love and grace. The other option was to let her go which would have then allowed them to accuse Jesus of not following the word of God. It appeared the Pharisees had Jesus trapped. It had to be a confusing situation. He had to be thinking, “What do I do?”
Jesus’s response to the Pharisees was interesting. It’s interesting because He didn’t immediately respond. In John 8 it says as they continued to ask him questions Jesus stooped to the ground and wrote. No one knows what He wrote, but what we do know is He didn’t respond immediately. Why? He took time to pray. When He heard from the Father, He gave His response, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” and then all the woman’s accusers left. Jesus didn’t let confusion set His agenda. He lived in response to the Father and walked in victory in a trying situation.
The third example is the feeding of the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes discussed in Matthew 14. Imagine being in that situation. You see more people than you can possibly count and all you have to feed them with is a little boys lunch. But what did Jesus do? The Bible says He took the five loaves and two fish and then looking up to Heaven, He blessed and broke. As He looked to Heaven’s provision, He got a vision for how the multitudes could be fed. As Jesus looked past the limitations of humanity and looked to His Father in Heaven, He saw a new way of encountering limited resources. This allowed the Father to set his agenda instead of the weakness of humanity.
Some will say these are great examples, but this is Jesus. I can’t do what He did. That’s not what Jesus said. Look at John 14:12:
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Jesus sees past the limitations of our flesh. He sees that He went to His Father and put us in right standing with Him. He sees that He put the same Holy Spirit in us that raised Him from the dead. And Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father right now making intercession for us. Part of what He’s praying is that we will look past our limitations, look past Satan’s attacks, and believe what the Father says about us. When we do, we are positioning our hearts to live in response to the Father so we can become a world changer in the earth.