Do you have enemies?
Have you ever had someone working against you? A nemesis. An enemy. Someone undermining your work, your study, your goals in life? Hopefully not! It's not nice to have someone making every effort to undo everything you are trying to do in life.
We expect some competition in life, but we don't really expect people to work directly against us. Sometimes we see it in business - one business might seek to undermine a competitor to ruin their business.
But imagine having a personal enemy directly targeting YOU and YOUR WORK?
God has this.
Satan is the deceiver. He is the one always seeking to undermine God's good work. And in the book of Acts, we see it again and again. In Acts 13, we first see the work of Satan in a sorcerer, Elymas. He opposed the apostles and tried to turn people from the faith. And look what happens:
8But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord
In an extraordinary action, Paul speaks directly against him and he is struck down blind. And what was the result for others? The proconsul believed.
Then right after this, Paul and his friends are invited to speak at the local synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. They do. Many are converted...
42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
Then the enemies come...
49The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
The enemies raise up trouble and persecution for the apostles. And what's the end result? Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the city and they were filled with joy. Filled with joy because God was STILL at work converting people through the power of his Holy Spirit.
Doing God's work in this world will always meet opposition, because Satan is always personally at work against God. Always. But being with God is like going onto the soccer field with a team who CANNOT lose! Ever. The game might be difficult. The injuries may be severe. The battle may be fierce. But we have NO chance of losing. The apsotles knew this. Even when some of them faced death. They knew they could not lose. And neither can we.
The battle is fierce because Satan is always set against the work of God, every single day. But we cannot lose because the battle has already been won in the cross and ressurection of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, help me to stand firm in my faith each day. Help me to recognise the challenges I may face each day, living as a disciple in this world. But help me never to give up. Strengthen me for the guaranteed win that I have already through Jesus. I pray also for those facing extreme persecution in our world at this time. Comfort them and protect them, but most of all, give them a firm trust in you and your unchanging promises, knwoing that Satan has no chance against God and his people. He has already lost.
In Jesus' name I pray and trust.