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The Real Opponent

Read this message transcript from the "Proven Playbook: God's Plan for Family" message series

Matt Sturdevant: You’ll find a listening guide there in your program if you’d like to follow along. One of the things we have done each week is we’ve listed at the top of your listening guide what our approach to the series is going to be. It’s there again, and I want to just quickly review. Our approach to this series is that the Bible is God’s Word to us and that God doesn’t think like we do. Then also, we’re going to acknowledge this tension that exists for us. It’s a tension between God’s ideal, the way that He planned things, what His plan was, and then the broken world’s real, which has to do with after we rebelled against God and sin entered into this world. Everything got messed up, so what we experience today is the broken world’s real, although the Playbook, His Word to us, has the plans and the plays that He intends for us to run. We live in this tension that is a real tension.

What I want to do this morning is I want to begin by directly taking a look at the Playbook. I want to look at a passage that’s interesting; some might even say that it’s strange or peculiar. It’s a sequence of events that occurs right after Jesus is baptized. I want to take a look at Matthew chapter four starting in verse 1. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he…” The he is Jesus. “... answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”’ Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

What we just read happened right after Jesus was baptized. He comes up out of the water; He is affirmed by God the Father saying, “Behold, this is my Son, whom I love and am well pleased.” Then immediately, He is led out into the wilderness, out into the desert, and He experiences this temptation by the devil. So you might be wondering, “What in the world is going on here?” What does this have to do with family or with football? If you’re like most people, the first time you read or hear this passage, it’s not something we usually talk about as Americans. You can’t read this passage without leaving with a question of, “Maybe, just maybe, there’s one more category out there that I haven’t been aware of?” With this series that we’ve been taking a look at the Playbook, the Playbook is God’s Word to us. It is the Bible. We’ve been taking a look at what the Playbook says about the family.

In the first week, we looked at teaming in marriage. The purpose and the point of marriage according to the Playbook is that we team together in doing God’s will in this earth. Then, what’s God’s will? God’s will is honoring Him through the mundane. As we just go about the mundane things of life, we want to honor God. God’s will is about loving God and loving people. Then, finally, God’s will is about advancing God’s kingdom here on this earth. The next week we looked at training next season’s players. What’s the purpose of family and parenting according to the Playbook? The purpose and point of parenting is to raise up another Godly generation who will do God’s will in the earth. Last week, we looked at communicating to win, and we looked at the root of conflict and how it’s our hearts and what’s in our hearts that’s the problem for us. In our hearts, we are selfish and arrogant, and we have the ability to be damaging towards others. That’s the root of the root of the conflicts we experience. 

Today, we’re going to wrap this whole series up, and we’re going to take a look at our real opponent. Now I can tell you, as you’re sitting here today as much as at times you might feel like it, your spouse is not your opponent. Your children are not your opponents. You in-laws are not even your opponents. In football, it’s really easy to tell who your opponent is. I mean, you just look around, and it’s the people on the other side of the line of scrimmage. It’s pretty easy. My team is here with me, and the other guys are my opponents. Plus, they have a different colored jersey on, and that makes it really simple. I picked this picture in honor of our “cheesehead” friends in our tailgate party that we had earlier this month. It’s really easy to tell who’s who and who the opponent is. Depending on who you are, one of them are the good guys, and the other of them are the bad guys. Right? I mean, that’s easy to tell in football. 

In our lives, it’s not quite the same. It’s not quite that simple. The reality of the world that we live in is that it is both physical and spiritual. The world around us is physical and spiritual. There is a physical, natural world that we can experience with our senses. We can see it; we can look around with our eyes and see it. We can hear it; we can listen to the world around us. We can also smell it. You can use your sense of smell  and smell the world. Then, you can taste it. There are things that taste really good. But, there’s also this unseen spiritual or supernatural world that is also around us, and it’s just as real as the physical, natural world that we can see and experience with our senses. Although with this supernatural, spiritual realm, we can’t experience it with our senses.

If this concept is something that’s new to you, I want to give you the same challenge that I’ve issued at other points in this series, and that is, “Don’t check out, but check it out.” Perhaps this is your first time at Hope or maybe your first time in church in a long time, and I want to challenge you that my job today... what I want you to do is just take one step with me, if this seems strange or weird. That step that I’m asking you to take is simply to move from unaware to aware. There could quite possibly be going on more than what you are aware of. In our Playbook when we look at the Playbook, and remember that is His Word to us and He doesn’t think like we think. When we look at the Playbook, He is clear that there is an opponent. There’s an adversary that we have. 

This opponent lines up on the spiritual line of scrimmage of our lives. If we don’t know that this opponent is there, we’re going to get hammered every time the ball is hiked. I want to bring you, if nothing else, from unaware to aware today. We do have one great opponent, and his name is Satan. Revelation chapter 12 gives us some insight into this opponent, and I want to look at verses 9 and 17 with you. “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him...Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus…” This verse right here, verse 17, is speaking specifically to those who are followers of Jesus. What you’ve got to know, even if you’re unaware of this, is the devil is there making war against you simply because you are a follower of Jesus. 

In addition to football, which we’ve been using throughout this entire series, we’re going to introduce a new image. That new image is war. Many have talked about the fact that football is like war, although minus the guns and the shooting. Football at the end of the day is just a game. It’s a serious game for some, but it’s just a game at the end of the day. It doesn’t quite fit the seriousness of what we’re talking about. As we read in Revelation 12:17, the devil is making war against us, so we’ve got to bring this imagery of war into our conversation. Also when we look at 1 Peter 5:8, we’re told, “Be sober minded, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” Our problem as Americans, as American Christians, is that we read this verse, and we hear the word, “lion.” But, this is what we really think about.(Pic of a kitten)  I mean, he can’t be that bad, right? Sure, he’s there, but that’s not what the verse is talking about. This is the image I want you to have in your mind when you read that verse. (Pic of ferocious looking lion ready to eat) A lion that is there to devour someone...that’s the seriousness of this. 

Can you imagine trying to play football against an invisible opponent? You line up with your team, you look out, and there’s nobody there. It would be nearly impossible to score any points, to defend yourself. It would just be impossible to play against an opponent that you can’t see. What I want to do today is help you be aware of the bigger picture of what’s going on all around you even if you don’t see it. Even if you’re not aware of it, I want you to be aware of the bigger picture. Our opponent, Satan, is a fallen angel. He rebelled against God. He led a great rebellion against God, and he was cast out of heaven. There were other angels that rebelled with him that were a part of that, and now we refer to them as demons. So, there is the devil, Satan, and his own demonic forces. That is who our opponent is and what it’s all about.

The first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve just got to know that you have an opponent, right? The next thing is to know where we’re going to face this opponent. In football, it’s pretty clear where you face your opponent, right? You face them on the football field. That’s where we meet our opponents. However in war, it’s possible that you can face your opponent in any number of different fields of battle. In fact if you think about World War II, there were sort of two main fronts, two main battlefields. There was the front going on in Europe, as well as the Pacific. Well with us, it’s even more complicated than that. We’ve got three battlefields that we face our opponent on, so I want to outline those battlefields for you. You can know that they’re there and what they look like. 

The first battlefield is an internal battlefield. That is our flesh. The flesh is this desire to sin that remains in us after we choose to follow Jesus. Because of the rebellion that happened long ago in the Garden, each and every one of us is born into this world a sinner, a rebellious person. We’re rebellious by nature, but then we also rebel on and on in our lives. I want to show you a chart here and the progression of what this looks like. The natural man is this rebellious sinner; the way we are born into this world. When we decide to follow Jesus, we decide to make Him our Lord, the Boss of our life. We decide to accept the forgiveness of our sin so that we can be made right with God. When we decide to follow Jesus, we become a spiritual baby, and being a spiritual baby has nothing to do with our age. Some of us became spiritual babies when we were children, others in our teens. Some become spiritual babies when they’re in their sixties. 

Then over time as you learn what it is to walk with Jesus and you learn more about who He is and how He operates, you spend time in the Playbook, and you understand. We start to grow, so you grow from being a spiritual baby to a spiritual child to a mature Christian. But notice there’s still that outer ring of the natural man; we don’t fully become like Christ on this side of eternity. The flesh, then, is that outer ring. It’s the desire within us that still remains to sin. It’s when we have that arrogance and the selfishness and the willingness to hurt other people when that starts working. That’s what this internal battlefield of the flesh looks like. 

What does it look like in our families? How can we be aware of it, and what does it look like in our families? Well, it could be as simple as this. You have a husband who grew up in one type of family and has these types of customs. This is just what his picture of life is all about. Then, you have a wife who grew up in a totally different kind of family. Each of those, husband and wife who are selfish, arrogant, and damaging, get together, and that’s just ripe, fertile ground for conflict, as the flesh comes out. If they’re goals are blocked and they’re not able to do what they want to do, that’s how the flesh can occur in the family. How do we overcome the flesh? We stay in the realm of the Holy Spirit, and we walk in His resources. Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” That’s the first battlefield, the internal battlefield. 

The next battlefield is an external battlefield, and that’s the world all around us. What we mean by “the world” is the system of worldviews and values, the ways of life, that are embedded in the culture and people who are opposed to the ways of God. In fact, Ephesians 2:1 says to us, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…” The world is moving in this direction that is opposite God and His ways, and there’s this strong pull because of the flesh desires on the inside. There’s this strong pull to go the ways of the world. In family, it can look like, “What is the goal that we’re after? What are we really trying to do with our kids?” 

We talked about this a couple of weeks ago. The world says that your child or your children should really be number one, and you’ve got to run yourself ragged all over town to make sure that they’re happy and that they get into a good college. That’s what your goal as a parent is. That’s not what God says our goal as parents is. That’s not what the Playbook says. That’s an example of being pulled to that because we see what other parents are doing. How’s my kid going to get into that college that they should get into if I don’t do these things? There’s this pull. That’s what it looks like with the world, so we overcome the world by knowing the Playbook, by using it to revise our thoughts, our goals, and our values and our behaviors.Don’t align them with the world’s doing, but align them with what God has in the Playbook. That’s how we overcome the world.

Then the third battlefield, the one that maybe we’ve not been aware of, is the supernatural battlefield. That’s where we face the devil. This comes in through attacks by demonic forces that will do assaults against us. But, they’re subtle. Maybe planting the seeds of thoughts or feelings or whatever it is that are in line with the ways of the world because our flesh is drawn to that and not to the ways of God. What does this look like in our families? This is not...this is the one that we don’t see with our eyes. We don’t use our physical senses to understand this, so I want to give you a picture of what this looks like in our families if we are under attack in this third battlefield. For starters, it’s just looking at the physical world around us. That’s all we see; that’s all we look at. We don’t even consider the fact that there might be more going on, that the sequence and the timing of things is not just coincidence. Things are lining up. 

One of the great tools he uses here...I call it pile on. That’s where things just keep getting worse. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you or some part of this, but let’s say that you’re sitting down to enjoy dinner with your family at the end of the day. Something little, small, petty, and you get into an argument with your spouse at the dinner table. This is after you have had a really long, hard day at work or a really long, hard day at home with the kids. Then, dinner’s over, and this is just not what you were wanting. This was just not what you were expecting, and you go to put the dishes in the dishwasher, and the dishwasher’s broken. So, you go in the other room to cool off, and just as you’re sitting down in the chair to try to catch your breath for a moment, the chair breaks. At the same moment, your children are in the room, and an epic war has begun for something as petty as, “He looked at me!” Why is that a thing with kids? You know, I mean, just looking can start World War III for children. I don’t understand, but that’s going on. 

At the same time, you get a phone call from a friend, someone you’ve really been trying to love and serve and reach out to, and they call you and tell you that they’re in some type of a family crisis. Then, there is the very teachable moment that you have been praying for so that you could share the Gospel with them, and it all comes at the time when all you want to do is sit in the pile of that broken chair in a pile of your own self-pity and just think about how much the world hates you. You ever had one of those days? Do you think that might, could maybe, be an attack from the enemy and not just coincidence? That’s what I’m talking about here. That’s what this attack looks like. 

We overcome the attacks from the devil by using the armor of God and by rebuking and dealing with spirits, as needed. That’s what we do. Now if you’re sitting here this morning and light bulbs have started going off, you’re starting to say, “You know what? I think I’ve experienced one of those battlefields or two of those battlefields or maybe all three battlefields!” Then, you have realized something that’s going on in the world around you, and in the words of G.I. Joe, “Now you know, and knowing’s half the battle.” Right? It’s hard to do something about something that you don’t know about, but if you know about it, you can start to get traction. In football, football teams scout other teams, right? There is someone or even a team of coaches, depending on the resources, that their sole job is to go out and look and see what the other team’s doing. How’s the other team running their offense? How’s the opponent running their defense? Our job is to stop the other guys from making points and to put as many points on the scoreboard when the clock runs out.

This morning what I want to do is be your scout. I want to be your scout and give you some common plays of our opponent. We’re going to look at a couple of these here. The first one is the three-point attack. The three-point attack is a common play of our opponent. It involves discouragement, slack, and indulgence. It plays together something like this. Something happens to discourage you, whatever that is. You know what your triggers are; you know how you get discouraged. Something happens, and you get discouraged. Then because you’re discouraged, you just pull over into the slow lane and then park on the side of the road. You’re not moving forward anymore because you’re discouraged, and you’re not advancing God’s kingdom. You’re not advancing against the enemy, so you’re just right there on the side of the road; and you’re discouraged.

Then while you’re in your discouragement, you start to get tempted and just give up and get slack-handed with your responsibilities. “I don’t really want to work that hard. I just really want to sit here. I’m so discouraged.” So, you stop moving forward in your responsibilities, and now you’re actually moving backwards. The enemy is damaging you, because what we know as responsible adults is that if you don’t take care of your responsibilities there are consequences. Right? So we get discouraged; we start getting slack-handed. Then, he comes in with the third part of it because we’re so discouraged and don’t feel like doing anything. We’re tempted to indulge in just a little bit of sin, nothing big or major, but just a little sin. So, we go ahead, and we give in. Now we’re actually damaging other people because we’re an example for them. As parents, we’re damaging our kids because we’re setting the wrong example. This three-point attack is one of the common plays of our opponent.

As I work through these common plays, why don’t you circle or star the ones that you feel like, “Hey, this is how he attacks me quite often.” The next one is isolation. We get separated from the herd. God actually made us for relationships. He made us to be in community with others, so that we can encourage them, so that we can be encouraged by them, and then so that we can team together to advance God’s mission to advance God’s will on this planet. But when he gets us isolated, we’re not doing that. In fact, one of the things that’s really interesting as you take a look at buffalo. They travel in massive herds across the plains. There’s just a picture of a ton of buffalo, but if we could zoom out even further, there’s just this massive herd. When they’re together in the herd, there is great protection. They can even protect against the lions coming after them. This lion’s trying to find a way in, and they’ve got this protective wall. They’re going to agress against the lion that’s seeking to devour them. But when they get pulled away from the herd when they get off on their own and they’re by themselves, that’s when the lion attacks, and there’s nobody there to encourage and to pull them back. That’s one of the strategies, one of the common plays of our opponent. 

I’ve listed some common lies for you there in your handout, and maybe some of those are favorite ones he likes to use against you to isolate you. Another common play is distraction.  Just simply distract us from anything and everything, so that we are not doing God’s will. In fact for me personally, I think this is one of the greatest plays that the enemy uses against American Christians. He wants to distract us to the point that we are focusing totally on ourselves, totally on our families, and nothing on the things of God. Because if we’re distracted, we’re not advancing against the enemy; we’re not advancing the cause of the Kingdom. We’re not a threat; he keeps us distracted, so that we’re not a threat. 

The final common play that I want to mention is the five enemy thoughts. These are thoughts that come up in our minds because a major portion of the battle is in our minds, the internal battle. We looked at that battlefield, and how we respond when circumstances and challenges come up is going to determine what happens. So there’s these enemy thoughts that go through our mind. It’s too hard. It’s not fair. It’s not what I want. I’m too tired. I’m the only one. You ever thought one of those? Wondered where it came from? You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I’ve listed some verses for you next to those enemy thoughts, and those are the verses to combat this. So if one of those is the favorite one that the enemy uses against you, memorize the verse next to it. When that comes up, you can quote the Truth from scripture to fight that enemy thought.

This is something that we’re teaching our children in the NRG Zone. I figured if our kids are learning this we probably ought to learn it too. Right? We probably ought to have this ability and this knowledge of how we can fight against our opponent. So, we have reviewed the scouting report. We have looked at what are some of the common plays of our opponent. Now what I want to do is enter into the locker room, and I want to get suited up. I want to talk about the equipment that we use and the plays that we use to face our opponent. But we’re not getting suited up for football; we’re not putting on pads and helmets. This is war. Right? So, we’re going to suit up in our spiritual armor. We’re going to put on the spiritual armor. The apostle, Paul, uses this warfare imagery, and he uses the tools and the equipment of a Roman soldier to talk about the ways in which we can do battle against our opponent.

I want to take a look at Ephesians 6:13-17 with you and then quickly look at each piece of the armor and what we’re supposed to do with it. Ephesians 6, starting in verse 13: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of Truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace, and in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Each piece of the armor is designed to help us in a specific way. The belt is the belt of Truth. Practically for us, what does our belt do? They hold our pants up; the belt keeps everything together. It’s a place where the soldier can put his sword. It keeps everything ready because if you’re going to run in battle, you don’t want your pants to fall down. You don’t want to lose your sword, so it keeps everything together. For us, it’s about tightening up on the Truth, the Truth from God’s Word in our thoughts, in our words, in our deeds. It’s about having total commitment to God’s Word and HIs Truth in our lives. 

The next piece is the helmet, the helmet of salvation. Ancient soldiers would wear a helmet; modern-day soldiers wear a helmet. It’s why we want our kids to wear helmets when they ride their bikes. Because a blow to the head can be a serious, fatal blow, and the helmet of salvation is about nailing down the fact that you actually belong to Jesus, that you’ve actually had a moment that you’ve decided that you are going to repent that you are going to turn from the way you’ve been going to the direction of God. You are going to ask for forgiveness, and then you are going to commit from that day forward the best you know how to live and walk with Jesus, making Him your Lord, making Him your Boss. That’s what the helmet is about; it’s about knowing that you belong to Jesus. Whatever the enemy throws at you, whatever doubts he brings into your mind, you know that you know that you know that you belong to Jesus. That’s what the helmet’s about.

Then we have the breastplate of righteousness. Breastplate is like the body armor. It protects the vital organs from getting hit, and there’s two aspects to the breastplate. One is that we count on the righteousness of Christ to be made right with God. It’s not about our own righteousness. After we’ve counted on the righteousness of Christ, we build righteous patterns into our lives. That means we say, “What does the Playbook say about what is pleasing to God and how we should live?” Then, we build those into our lives. 

Then we’ve got the shoes, which is the preparation for the gospel of peace. The interesting thing about the Roman soldiers and one of the reasons why they would dominate against others is they actually had shoes. Those don’t look like much for what we wear today, but the fact that they had these shoes was a big deal when they were fighting against people who were barefoot and don’t have things like this. A soldier has got to be able to stand firm on his ground whatever the terrain is like. Two aspects about the shoes...One is forgiving others and being at peace with them, but another part is that we are ready with the gospel of peace so that in that moment when God brings that person along, we are able to share the hope we have in Jesus with them. We’ve got the gospel, and we’re ready to share it in a moment’s notice. 

Then there’s the shield of faith. The shield is for blocking things, those flaming arrows that are coming in. We hold up that shield, and what the shield does for us is that when thoughts comes that say, “God’s going to rip us off, and He’s not going to come through.” Then, we stand firm with the shield, and we say, “NO! My God will not rip me off regardless of what these circumstances look like right now.” That’s what the shield of faith is all about.

Finally, there is the sword, which is the Scripture. The sword is an offensive and a defensive weapon. The Romans preferred the gladius, the short sword. This is not the William Wallace claymore sword. This ranges anywhere from 18-27 inches, and it would work in tandem with your shield. So as they are blocking the attacks that are coming, they’ve got this short sword, and they’re right up there next to their opponents. They’re attacking or defending specifically, and this is exactly what Jesus did in the wilderness. We looked at Matthew 4 earlier. When the devil tempted, Jesus said, “It is written…,” and He quoted God’s Word. In case you were wondering, Jesus didn’t have what we have today as our Playbook. Jesus knew God’s Word in the form that they had it. He quoted from Deuteronomy. He said, “It is written…,” and He gave the Truth specifically from God’s Word in the moment. Then, you notice the second time that the devil said to Him, “Well, it is written…,” and he twisted God’s Truth. But Jesus knew the Truth, and He knew how to use it. He said, “No, it is written…” So, we’ve got to do the same thing; this is why we’ve got to know God’s Word. We’ve got to use it in the moment when there are challenges and temptations coming.

This is the armor that God has given us. The next way that we can fight against our enemy and use some equipment and plays that He gives us is simply walking in the Spirit. We’ve already looked at Galatians 5:16; it says, “But walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The first step to walking in the Spirit is that we just commit that Jesus is at the center. Put Jesus at the center; learn what it is to walk with Him. Learn what it is to walk in the Spirit, and that in and of itself will save us from so much grief and so much attack that the enemy brings our way. This is why we talk about next steps so much. A lifetime of obedience with God is made one step at a time. What is the next step of obedience that you need to take, and you take it. As you do that, you build a life of obedience, which is walking in the Spirit. 

Each week we’ve been taking a look at some game changers. In football, the clock is running down, you need to get some points on the board, so how can we have some major plays to make a difference in a short amount of time? I want to share a couple of game changers with you. First game changer...want to guess what it is? Pray! That’s right. I say if you don’t know what to do, pray. If you do know what to do, pray. We’re going to pray from two angles. There’s offense, and there’s defense. The first way that we pray is an offensive, preventative prayer, and this is what Jesus modeled for us in the Lord’s Prayer. It is “...and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” You want to pray that each and every day when you wake up and when you go about your day. Pray that you’re led not into temptation and that God delivers you from the evil one. That’s your offensive prayer, but then if you feel like, “There’s an attack coming,” or “I’m in the middle of it,” you can pray defensively. 

You want to use this selectively based on where you are. If you’re driving along in the car by yourself and you’ve just had an amazing day, maybe you just closed this great deal at work or the kids made a wonderful advancement in their learning and development. Then, all of a sudden you just have this overwhelming sense of discouragement coming on; it’s probably the enemy. There’s no reason to be discouraged, so you pray out loud, in the moment, “I refuse those thoughts of discouragement in the name of Jesus Christ.” That is a defensive prayer. If that happens while you’re out at a restaurant this afternoon, maybe don’t pray it so loudly and vocally in the restaurant, but just more quietly under your breath. In any case, it works, so we can pray.

The next game changer is another thing that we’re teaching our children in the NRG Zone, and they’re getting real traction with this. So, I want to make sure that you have this tool available, as well. It’s called “Hey, Say, Pray, Obey.” It works like this. “Hey! What’s going on here?” You’ve got to identify this attack that’s coming. It’s a thought; it’s a feeling, whatever it is. I think, maybe, I’m starting to lose my patience with my children; I feel that coming on. Then, SAY; you say a truth from Scripture. “I don’t know any truths from Scripture that relate to this. Okay, ‘Love is patient. Love is kind.” Okay, I need to be patient. I need to be kind.” Then, you pray a simple prayer. Some of the most effective prayers are the simplest ones. It’s, “Oh, God, please help me right now. I’m starting to lose my patience with my children. Please help me to be patient with my children right now.” 

The last part is just obey. Just do the Truth that you know you need to do. Do it before you feel it; just do it. For me, if I’m starting to lose my patience with my kids, it’s often because I’m going too fast. I’m trying to do more than they actually are ready for. “Just put your shoes on!” Okay, another 60 seconds to put the shoes on is probably not going to make that big of a deal. “We gotta go! We gotta go!” Just slow down and be patient; that’s what I’ve got to do. 

As we wrap up, I want to invite the band to come back out and join me on stage. In just a moment, they’re going to lead us one more time in a song of worship. They’re going to lead us through the song, “God, I Look to You.” If you walk away from this series and today with just one thing, this is what I want you to know. God loves you, and He’s for you. He’s for your family. He wants to bless you. He wants you to prosper, but the way that that happens is that we run the plays that He has for us in His Playbook. It means we live life according to His Word, not on our own and the way that seems right to us. I know that family is often a place where it is really easy to get overwhelmed, whether you have small children or medium-sized children, or you have adult children that you’re not actively involved in their lives. But, there’s pain for you because of the choices that you now see them making. I want to invite you, as the band leads us in this song, to really make this your prayer as we wrap up this series. Whatever problems or difficult circumstances or whatever mess that you have right now in your family life, that you would take that mess and give it to God and you would ask Him for help. Ask Him for wisdom; ask Him for insight that as you decide to do life His way that He will meet you and help you in your moment. I want to invite you to make that your prayer.