December 18, 2011
The Gift of Victory over the Enemy
This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians.
Desert Storm. The Iraqi Desert, just north of Kuwait. 1991. You may remember this first of the most recent wars being fought with American troops in the oil-field rich Middle East. Saddam Hussein had pushed into neighboring Kuwait. And the United States and its Ally nations were not going to let Iraq set a precedent of bullying smaller nations. As the US Forces surged north across the desert sands, one defensive strategy used by the dictator was to set on fire all of the oil pumping units. A large, oil rich, toxic smoke began to form. Our troops were puzzled and worried. Gas masks were issued to all soldiers, none of them really sure they would work. The weather forecasters studied the skies as the black cloud moved its way toward the ground troops.
Heavy casualties were predicted. However, 15 minutes before the beginning of the largest ground assault of the attack, just before 4 a.m. on February 24, 1991, the winds changed and began to push that toxic, black, oil rich smoke north, instead of south. Many troops say that God had performed a miracle on their behalf.  One of countless miracles He performed during that war. And as anyone who has been on the front lines of any battle can tell you, God regularly shows up in battle situations.
He shows up in our daily battles too… when we ask for His divine intervention… and when we take the initiative to gear up and fight!
Today’s Advent gift from God is the gift of Victory over the Enemy.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10)
Paul is starting the conclusion of his letter to the church at Ephesus. He has encouraged them, instructed them, taught them, prayed for them. Now his last words are to charge them. “Be strong!” Reach into that inner core… rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen you. Because, really, this is not pretty.
He describes a battle here. A vicious, ugly, full of blood, sweat and tears battle.
This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. (6:12-13 The Message)
Paul says that our life is not merely a short-term event. Not a 15 round boxing bout or a 60 minute football game. Our lifelong struggle is “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness.” This is real. This is for keeps. Satan hates you and everything you are doing for God’s glory. And he wants to take you down. He wants to take your marriage down. He wants to take your family down. And he’ll use whatever is going on in your current situation to beat you up.
Perhaps, you’ve had a misunderstanding with your spouse, so you start daydreaming about what it’d be like to not be married. You bounced a checked, so you start fearing any and every decision that has to do with money. Your mom yelled at you and you start thinking how great it’d be if you never talked with her again. You have two choices… take the lazy way out and acquiesce and give in and say “so what?” and just ride the tide… or you can fight. I’d like to encourage you to fight. Fight for what is right. It’s worth it. You are worth it. The people in your life are worth it.
The rest of this week we’re going to look further at the tools and gifts God gives us to fight the enemy, so stay tuned.
Father God, thank you for the Gift of being able to defeat the enemy. Give me what I need to stand fast and firm and strong. Holy Spirit, help me make right decisions that honor God so that the enemy will not be able to defeat me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2011. Rich Ronald
 Personal meetings and email messages from Ken Mahnke, USAF retired, a member of the Desert Storm ground troops.