"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Manipulator!

Have you ever known someone who is so crafty, that they can take the values and beliefs that you have, and begin to make you second guess your feelings, thoughts, and emotions? Have you ever known someone who will stop at nothing until everything is going their way and everything is under their control? Before you know it, you are thinking and acting out of your character because of that being. And, sometimes it takes something drastic to make you see that you are being manipulated and controlled. I like to call this presence that pops up in my life the manipulator! Who is this person you ask? Well, he is also known as Lucifer, Satan, the devil, etc... Whatever you call him, he is nothing but an enemy and we must be able to recognize when his craftiness is trying to manipulate our lives.

Just this past week, I began to look all around me. I began to notice the "riches" that others have that I didn't. (Which is not something that I normally exert my energy on.) One of the aspects of my life that I am proud of and that I know God guided me through is earning my college degrees. Education was always stressed in my home, and I do have a testimony behind why I am so proud to hold my degrees. You see, my mother was unable to attend college, and me living and growing up and seeing her struggle placed the desire in my spirit to attend college. And, I did receive scholarships, but still ended up with a significant amount of loans to fund my education.

As I was getting out of my car, I received one of my monthly statements for my school loans in the mailbox. As I opened it, I sighed and that was all the manipulator needed to hear to try and wedge his way into my thoughts. I began to regret one of the plans that God had for me, which was attending college. I began to think about my schoolmates who appear to be living better than I who went to work right after high school. I began to think of the time I thought I had wasted in school when I could have been working and living well too. Oh, how crafty is he!!! I sobbed in my car for a while and then I began to pray. I confessed to God how I felt and asked Him to help me to focus on His presence in my life rather than the stuff that I didn't have that I thought I needed.

It is amazing how God will remind you who He really is. Over the past few days, I have watched numerous cities and towns in the state of Tennessee that have been ravaged with flood waters, including Clarksville, Tennessee where I teach elementary school. I watched places where parents of my students and even friends of mine work; I watched parks that my husband, children, and I have spent countless hours of family time; I watched restaurants where we have enjoyed meals and quality time together all go under water. Totally submerged! I could hear God saying, "Look at how blessed you are! I have once again covered you! Don't focus on the "stuff" that you think you need in this world, but focus on the joy that I have placed within your heart." I was lead to the book of Job.

Job is a very familiar story in the Bible. My husband preached Job in his very first sermon because he felt like he could relate to Job so very much. You must take the time to delve into this wonderful book yourself. See what God has in it for you! To make a detailed story short, Job had everything that anyone in his day could want. The manipulator came along and wanted to challenge God, so God offered Job. God stated that Job would worship and love Him no matter what and allowed the manipulator to alter Job's life in any way he wanted except for death. Of course, the manipulator began to conjure up his plan and got right to work. Job lost everything! But, he never cursed God. Job knew that everything that was happening and had happened only did so because God allowed it. He knew God had everything under control. When the manipulator saw that Job was not going to budge from his dedication to God, he finally gave up, and God blessed Job with more than he had before for just staying with him and depending upon him as he endured the tough times.

We have a lot to learn from Job. I think that everyone at some point and time in their life feels the way that I felt. (What if....) Sometimes the manipulator makes us think that if we had done things our way, then our outcome may have been better. My pastor always says, "What God has for me it is for me." That includes our paths, plans, struggles, and blessings. The manipulator wants us to focus on what others have so we take our eyes off of our Master and His Master Plan. Watch out, because he is always busy. Pray and ask God to help you recognize what form the manipulator is showing up in your life, and then use prayer to send him packing.

Spiritual Reflections

1. How is the enemy working in your life at this present time? Do you recognize his crafty ways? What is he up to, or is getting ready to do?

2. Ask God to help you gather yourself a few scriptures to speak when you feel his presence. List them below.

3. Pray a special prayer and ask God to help you recognize and defeat the enemy when he comes your way, and remember to pray this daily.

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