It's no surprise that the enemy has plotted such great destruction through the evils of terrorism during this very week. Because it's Holy Week. And you can be assured, he's well aware of that.
The most significant celebration of the year for believers all around the world, the time for remembering Christ’s journey to the cross, the celebration of his Resurrection, and the gift of new life.
The enemy knows. And he hates it. Since the beginning of time, he's worked and plotted his evil ways, to lure people away through tactics of fear, anger, grief, and dread. We see him at work more than ever this week, stirring up his evil, distractions, defeat. His main mission is never complete, he's constantly on the prowl, seeking only to "steal, kill, and destroy," all that is in his path, all that resembles godliness, and seeks to draw near to Christ.
But we have the power to choose whose voice we listen to, this week and every week. No matter what darkness and turmoil the world seems to face right now, we don't have to let the enemy win in our lives. We can live aware, stand strong, and believe in the Power of our King. The One who holds the final victory over evil. The One who conquered death.
No matter what goes on around us, God desires that we press in close to him, so close that we can hear his heartbeat, know his voice, and feel the peace of his presence surrounding us.
Yet it’s often a struggle. Many other things, even the good things, can call us away from the most important. Sometimes in the midst of busy lives, the constant headline news, and political banter back and forth, the real significance of this week may get missed. Or we find ourselves constantly distracted, forgetting Who and what we’re even celebrating.
3 things to remember this Holy Week:
1. Live aware - Know that there will be distractions.
Life can be full of distractions on any given day, but yet this week in particular, the enemy would love nothing more than to pull us away from the most important. He is a deceiver and twister of truth, and if we’re not careful, we may step right into his plans. Here’s a few ways he may try to lure us:
- Through fear - This is one of the enemy's most powerful weapons he uses against us. This world can be a dark place. And when terrorism and evil strike, it can shake us up, attempting to get us off course.
Be aware of the enemy's schemes and tactics. Rise above and find steadfast security and confidence in the God who is in control. He knows our way, and we are never alone.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Is. 41:10
- Through busyness - If he can't tempt us through fear or falling away from God, he'd be happy to just keep us busy. So busy that we forget about God. It's easy to get caught up in the moment of it all, the busy rush of the week, activities, mad dashing, wheels spinning all directions.
Yet, God’s voice cuts through all the busy, calling us to peace.
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed--or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42
- By distractions of other things - Distractions surround us in the high tech world. We're constantly wired to electronic devices and headline news. Life swirls around us. The enemy has a myriad of ways to try to lure us away from what matters most.
God offers wisdom in keeping our priorities in order and staying focused on the most important.
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Col. 3:2
- Creating disunity among one another - He's done it since the beginning of time, stirring up trouble, causing hurt feelings, creating division. Don't fall for it. Be alert and walk wisely.
Stand strong in your love for Christ and one another. Let the love of Christ richly dwell within you. He calls us to do all we can to walk in unity and love.
"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Eph. 5:2
- Overly focusing on oneself - If he can't divide us in relationships, he'll taunt us with our own problems. He loves us to focus on the negative and sink right down into his deep pit. He'll remind us of our troubles. He'll whisper lies and bring up our past. He'll drag us down, and leave us defeated.
But here’s the good news - we have the power of Christ dwelling within us. We don't have to listen or give way to his defeat, he holds no power over us. God has set us free, his truth is the one we can trust. He reminds us that he covers our past, he’s with us in the present, and he holds our future in his hands.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Rom. 8:1
- Through temptations - Satan's traps are always before us, he knows our weaknesses and would love nothing more than to see us stumble and fall. You can be sure he's working overtime, especially during this Holy Week, for he's directly opposed to Truth, forgiveness, and redemption found through Christ.
Stay aware, walk with His wisdom. God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure. He will faithfully guide us in all of his ways if we’re listening to his voice.
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13
2. Stand Strong - Determine to focus on what's most important.
In the midst of all we face this week, there remains the amazing story of Christ, who never changes. Without him, we have nothing. He is what it’s all about. And though we may know this in our heads, how we live through our week might tell a different story. It’s a choice each day, to focus in, on the true meaning.
- By opening up his Word, reading, meditating, especially about the story of Christ’s journey towards the cross and the Resurrection. All 4 Gospels give an account. Dig deep, ask questions, seek to learn all he has to say to your heart.
- By spending moments with him in prayer.
- By taking time to be quiet and still before him, just listening for his voice.
- By reflecting, remembering, thanking him for his gift of sacrifice made on our behalf.
- By praising God for the power of the Resurrection of Christ, for the promise of new life.
- By celebrating together with other believers.
“He must increase but I must decrease." John 3:30
“...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death...” Phil. 3:10
3. Remember the Power of Redemption - He gives us beauty for ashes.
Those ashes that marked the foreheads of millions of believers on Ash Wednesday held a reminder for us. We are but dust. Gen. 3:19
Yet his story reminds us of more - we are redeemed. We have been given new life, an open door, through Jesus Christ.
The ashes are a clear picture of the frailty of human existence. And though many times we may somehow think we’re invincible in this life, or even led to believe that we are not “needy” of a Savior, when hit with life’s struggles or face to face with painful events, we quickly remember, we need help. We need a Savior.
We have One, who also was broken, in ways we could never fully comprehend, yet he remained strong, and chose to endure it all - for us.
He extends grace to remind us we don’t have to stay stuck in our struggle and pain. He holds good in store through it all, able to bring greater purpose, greater beauty, greater strength. He never intends for us to remain in the pit of our despair. For he breathes fresh life.
God brought beauty out of the brokenness of the cross, he gives beauty for our ashes. His sacrifice offers forgiveness for our sin. The power of the Resurrection gives hope for our future.
He will…“provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” Is. 61:3
There’s such power there.
Grace. Love. Freedom. The focus of this Holy Week. May God help us to live aware and stand strong in Him...
“Behold, I am making all things new…" Rev. 21:5
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Cor. 9:15
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page, DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at Twitter and at http://debbiemcdaniel.com.