Sunday, August 2, 2015

Dealing with our Enemies Through ARCM and Intercessory Prayer

There are many reasons for engaging in Active relational Christian mentoring. The reasons cover thousands of different topics and millions of personal situations. ARCM can help us with our spiritual needs, physical needs, and emotional needs, as well as with the acquisition of skills and information. ARCM can also help with needs that arise from situations within our family life, our personal life and our work life. Whatever our mentoring need, though, ARCM first and foremost promotes reliance upon Christ and an understanding of who we are as children of God. If a mentee can develop or better understand her relationship to God and His Son, then she has a better chance of understanding and dealing with her earthly situations and relationships in a godly, moral and ethical manner.

Often a problem or situation can affect several areas of the mentee’s life at once. This is especially true with emotional traumas that stem from broken relationships. For, what starts as an emotional or relational trauma can eventually cause physical problems or even financial problems as well; like in cases where the woman’s spouse dies or leaves her. Along with her grief she now finds herself in a financial bind. She may need both grief and financial mentoring. The emotional trauma of a broken work-related relationship can also affect several areas of a woman’s life, especially if the broken relationship produces an enemy. In such cases, she may need mentoring on how to deal with the broken relationship, how to protect her family life from the frustration, hurt and despair she brings home, and perhaps even the mentoring of a new skill, if a job change is needed.

Enemies can come from all walks of life. Sometimes a woman's enemy is an unhappy extended family member or fellow acquaintance who suddenly decides to make it their life goal to disagree with everything the woman says or does; delighting in making her life miserable. For another woman, it could be a fellow employee who delights in ruining her day. But whoever the enemy is, both Christians and non-Christians can suddenly find that someone has decided to discredit or hurt them emotionally for no apparent reason.

Although enemies can come from all walks of life, many enemies arise from work-related situations. In fact, most workers will not get through their entire working career without developing an enemy on at least one job. Some enemies are just irritating; while others will do everything they can do to put road-blocks in front of goals, or they will try to hinder outcomes. But, some women can tell horror stories of emotional mistreatment at the hands of a fellow employee. To make matters worse, they may never know why the woman or man decided to become their enemy.

No matter when it starts, though, the constant strain of dealing every day with an enemy at work can take its toll on the human psyche. So, it is important to try and understand or at least cope with the situation in a healing and positive way. Certainly, if not dealt with, this type of emotional hurt can cause many problems including possible physical problems. So, we cannot allow these enemy situations to control our lives, which is what the devil wants. Instead, we are to lean on God. We are to go to God in prayer asking for direction and help.

God often provides emotional support and help in the person of a Christian mentor. A Christian mentor can help a woman view the situation from different angles as she encourages her to not only rely on God for her insight, discernment and answers, but to use godly ways to deal with the situation. The woman may also need an active relational Christian mentor to help her cry out to God; someone to intercede on her behalf. For,

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work.
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

– (Ecclesiastes 4: 9. NIV).

As mentioned, we may not know how or why someone decided to be our enemy. Most of the time, we have not done anything to hurt them or to cause them to be upset with us. Yes, we know that certain countries can be our enemies. Their reasons for hating us are not limited to, but may include: wanting what our country has; wanting us to have the same ideology that they profess; not liking the way we do things; or just not liking our ideology and beliefs.

Christians, too, can develop an enemy because of their personal beliefs or just from acting a certain way. There may be nothing wrong with the way a woman acts and nothing wrong with her beliefs, but it’s just that her beliefs or actions are not the same as the other person’s. Why should that be a problem? Well, unfortunately, the devil messes with people’s minds and can create an enemy for us through the other person’s jealousy, envy, and greed or through any other reason that seems to fit, including just plain meanness. You see, the devil lives to mess with the lives of people, planting negative or hateful thoughts and ideas that can be latched onto. If we are not careful, even Christians can fall for the thoughts that the devil throws out. But God is there to protect us. He also gives us His full armor to wear and His Word to live by, if we will just wear it and read and meditate on the Word.

We usually don’t think about having enemies, even though most of us have felt the barbs of a potential enemy at one time or another. But if we think back, we may remember someone within our lifetime who has acted like our enemy. From the prima donna bully encountered in elementary school to the woman who has undercut us at work, most of us have faced an enemy. Still, as adults and as Christians who care about others, we are usually blind-sided when we realize that we have an enemy.

Enemies, however, come from many different directions and shapes; from the little old lady across the street that just hates the color of your house, to the seemingly confident fellow employee who appears sweet and kind, but behind your back makes derogatory statements to others about you. Most of the time we do not know why someone has decided to be our enemy. Although jealousy, greed and envy may be some of the reasons, sometimes work-related enemies just feel threatened, because you seem to be on the fast track or always appear to have the right answers for the boss. At other times an enemy is made when someone feels slighted; they were accidentally overlooked for an invitation, or they felt ignored at some event. But, unless a woman has gone out of her way to deliberately snub someone, she often does not know that she has an enemy until the enemy makes herself known.

I experienced the devastation and emotional trauma of discovering that I had an enemy about a year after I started teaching in a particular school district. My enemy was another elementary teacher that I came in contact with about twice a week when she dropped her students off at the library media center. Her room was at the other end of the building, and most days we had little reason to interact with each other. But, by the end of the first year at this school, I realized that she was saying derogatory things about me and was trying to get other teachers to dislike me as well. I searched my mind and could not come up with anything that I had ever done to hurt her. I could not think of anything that I said that she could have even misconstrued. Unfortunately, she had just decided to dislike me, and she made it her mission to turn the other teachers against me too. Fortunately, I had friends there who watched my back. Still it hurt terribly. Toward the end of my ten years there, I was finally worn out from her constant meanness and sly verbal abuse. However, I never retaliated. For we are told to:

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will Repay,’ says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

– (Romans 12: 17- 21. NASV).

I never repaid her with hateful comments or retaliation. I was kind and caring. But, this teacher did not respond to kindness. Instead, it seemed to make her worse. Leaving her alone was the best. Still, some nights I would come home frustrated, hurt and close to tears. Fortunately, my husband was my Christian mentor. He constantly helped me deal with the situation through family prayers, and by telling me that she was the one who had the problem, and we just needed to rely on God and pray for help. Had it not been for my husband and God using him to mitigate the emotional abuse that I faced each day, I don’t know that I could have made it the ten years there.

Finally, we went to the book of Psalms and prayed some of David’s prayers that he had prayed against his enemies. I cried out to the Lord for help! At the end of the tenth year, God sent help in His way by having me need to retire for health reasons. I did not want to retire, but the physical pain in my hip from a previous accident would not allow me to work anymore. My husband was the first to point out that God had indeed answered my prayer to protect me from this enemy. It may not have been the way that I would have answered the prayer, but God always has our best interest at heart. Remember God said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” – (Isaiah 55: 8). I wasn’t a quitter, but God knew that I needed to get out of that school. For, this teacher had gotten so belligerent against me that I had actually told friends that if anything untoward happened to me, to tell the police to look at her first. I was becoming very afraid of her. God knew she was getting out of hand, so He got me out of that situation by getting me to retire. 
Using David’s prayers, I had prayed against my enemy. Yes, we can pray against our enemies?  Just look to the book of Psalm to see prayers that King David prayed before God for protection against his enemies. Certainly, we can also pray for our enemies, which is what I did at first. Not only can we pray for the enemies’ enlightenment, but we can pray for their understanding too. However, if the situation is desperate, we can also pray that the enemies’ assault upon us or upon your mentee and the Kingdom of God is destroyed. Indeed, it is through prayer and the Word of God that we can fight the destructive forces of our enemy.

King David wrote many of the Psalms, which are prayers that are sung or set to music. Many of the Psalms are prayers of praise to the Lord. I other times, the prayers of the Psalms were used to glorify God through the recounting of His protection, provision and strength in the lives of the Jewish people. But, David knew that there were also times when he needed to pray against his enemies. He needed God to protect him from people who were trying to destroy him. So, David prayed and sang to God:

O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising against me. … But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory and the One who lifts my head. … Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord… 

-- (Psalm 3: 1, 3, 7-8. NASV).

David even had some very specific requests for his enemies. The following is just one of the many prayers David prayed against his enemies.

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take hold of the shield and buckler,
and stand up for my help.
Draw out also the spear and javelin
and close up the way of those who pursue and persecute me.
Say to me, ‘I am your deliverance.’
Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek and require my life;
let them be turned back and confounded who plan my hurt.
Let them be as chaff before the wind,
with the Angel of the Lord driving them on.
Let their way be through dark and slippery places,
with the Angel of the Lord pursuing and afflicting them.
For without cause they hid for me their net;
a pit of destruction without cause they dug for my life.
Let destruction befall [my foe] unawares;
let the net he hid for me catch him;
let him fall into that very destruction.
Then I shall be joyful in the Lord;
I shall rejoice in His deliverance. …”

-- (Psalm 35: 1- 9. Amplified).

David prayed to the Lord to intercede on his behalf. God knew what David was going through, but through David’s requests, God knew that David was putting his trust and faith in God to care for him and keep him safe from his enemies. At times, too, the entire group of Israelites found themselves in situations where they were outnumbered when they had to go to battle against their enemies. They needed God’s help! So they prayed and relied on God for help. They knew that God could intercede for them, so they would pray to God for direction in the battle as well as for protection from the enemy. Their battles only succeeded when they truly relied on God’s direction, followed and obeyed His commandments, and acknowledged God’s love and benevolence in their lives.

We, too, have to obey God and follow His commandments. The one commandment that covers all our earthly relationships is the one that Christ continually emphasized, which is to “Love our neighbors as ourselves.” Christ even told us to, “… love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” – (Luke 6: 27-28, 31. NASV). Through Christ our Savior, we can pray for our enemies to find the hope of Salvation through Jesus Christ. We can also pray that they may never hurt us. Getting a Christian mentor to pray and cry out to the Lord with you is even more powerful!

We and the Israelites still have global enemies today just as the Israelites had long ago. But, God is still there for all His children today, and He hears our prayers. So, besides always praying for ourselves, we can intercede in prayer for Israel and for our own nation. In fact, throughout Christian history there have been situations that looked dire and impossible. Yet, when a group of Christians, who were spiritually burdened, got together in true Intercessory prayer, the tides turned in their favor. Even during WWI and WWII there were groups of Christians who interceded in prayer for protection and for the events to turn in the war. Indeed, there are marvelous stories of how God answered their prayers in ways that were truly miraculous.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever! So, if God has answered the dedicated prayers of interceding Christians during the World Wars, why do you think that we are not seeing our jihadist enemies stopped today? Could it be that we are not praying believing that God will rescue us from our enemies? Could it be that we are not praying for God’s will to be done in our lives, but are instead always making requests that sound like we are asking Santa Claus for a gift. Could it be that we are not going to God in true Intercessory prayer; passionate fervent prayer? Or could it be that we are still in terrible disobedience to God throughout our nation? Do we really want our nation to become godly again and are we truly praying for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in Heaven?

Although God answers prayers, He answers in His own way, but we can be assured of one thing: God loves us and He will answer. Indeed, He loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so that we can be cleansed of our sins and rid of our guilt. Christ arose from the grave and conquered death so that we can have eternal life. So, whatever God does is in our best interest and in the best interest of His Kingdom. Are you part of the Kingdom of God?  I hope so. If not, please stop right now and pray for Christ to come into your heart and cleanse you of all sin.

“For the wages of sin is death,
But the free gift of God is eternal life
through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– (Romans 6: 23. NLT).

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