January 23, 2008

 

Cheer Leading or Cheer Leaking?

 

By Tracie Miles

 

“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. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)

         

Devotion:

Both of my daughters have had a passion for cheerleading for eight years. This year the league was recruiting new coaches and I volunteered. The opportunity for new coaches resulted from a change in leadership. The change was embraced by many parents, but rebuked by others.

 

Although I had prepared my mind to handle the conflicts that were sure to arise, I was not prepared in my heart for the hurt inflicted by those not embracing the change. I unknowingly entered into a battle, which I was not prepared to fight – a battle of spiritual warfare.

 

The term “spiritual warfare” is not mentioned in Scripture, however, the Bible clearly identifies the concept. You may think it sounds silly that the enemy would use cheerleading in his war games, but the enemy will use any opportunity to pull us away from God.

 

I gradually became distracted by the obligations of coaching and I was too busy for my own good. Each week presented a new problem, and I started feeling consistently discouraged. The harsh words of a few people deeply hurt my feelings. My hurt soon turned into anger and resentment. Then I became frustrated and started questioning God’s purpose for my being a coach – to be a cheer “leader” for our team. The enemy used many strategies to weaken me. He even succeeded in causing the cheer” to leak from my soul. Although I tried to wear a smile, on the inside I felt confused, defeated and broken.

 

Eventually, I realized I had let a handful of hurtful people steal my joy. I knew that two key pieces of God’s armor are prayer and His Word. I decided to daily pray Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me(NIV). I asked for God’s grace in helping me sustain joy in the midst of this challenging situation. I also prayed Proverbs 17:22, A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” asking God to rekindle cheer in my heart.

 

Over the next few weeks, through various sermons I heard and Bible passages I read, the Holy Spirit began to fill my heart with cheer. God showed me that my struggles were not with flesh and blood, but with the spiritual thief who wanted to steal my joy.

 

Although I temporarily allowed the enemy to crush my spirit through the ungodly actions of other people, through this experience I learned some great lessons. I learned that I had to purposely choose perseverance when I wanted to quit; choose happiness even when people were unkind to me; choose to forgive those who didn’t deserve it; and choose a heart full of cheer during difficult times.

 

Most of all, I learned that I have to choose to keep my eyes focused on Jesus when the trials of life begin to distort my spiritual vision.

 

I am not capable of doing any of these things on my own, but only by relying fully on Jesus and allowing His supernatural power to abide within me. God could have changed my circumstances at any time, but His desire was to change my heart during the circumstances.

 

Jesus was my coach, and I once again became His “cheer” leader.

 

Dear Lord, help me to recognize when the enemy is at work in my life. I acknowledge my desperate need for Your love. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and help me to be a cheerleader for Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Related Resources:

Reinventing your Rainbow by Trace Miles

 

God Calling by A.J. Russell

 

The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do by Reimer and Whittle 

 

Application Steps: 

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full into His face; and the things of earth will go strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace” (from Hymn by Helen H. Lemmel, 1922). Look to Him today.

 

Reflections: 

Have people hurt you? Is your heart in danger of being filled with resentment towards them? How is it affecting the condition of your heart?

Have you allowed these problems to pull your focus away from God?

 

Power Verses:

Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (NLT)

 

Philippians 3:12-14, “I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.” (Message)

 

John 10: 10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (NAS)

 

Proverbs 31 Ministries

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