[Thought Starters for Victory Over Evil Forces November 7, 2012]
1. Religious power. What wars can you think of that were fought in the name of religion or religious values? How much persecution had its roots in religious zeal? Have you seen the battle between Christ and Satan raging where you live and work this week? this year? What about the conflict in your own mind about what is wrong, what is right, and what you should do about it? How do the evil forces that surround us approach us? Do they identify themselves for what they stand for?
2. Forces of evil. Since God is more powerful than anything in the cosmos, why must He wrestle as He does with the devil and the forces of evil? On the other hand, as weak and frail as we are, why does God allow us to be tempted and tossed in this sinful world? How powerful are you compared to an ant crawling on the screen? a tropical storm raging from the ocean? to God? How much power did it take for Jesus to be resurrected from the dead and seated by His heavenly Father? How much power does it take for God to rescue us from the evil one? Where and how can we obtain that power?
3. Victory. At the edge of the world’s history, the population of earth will be on one side or the other as the total destruction of evil begins. Do you ever feel nervous when you think about end-time events as foretold in Scripture? Are you worried that you might have neglected a sin and thus disqualified yourself for eternal life? Is that the way God wants us to feel? Have you read Romans 38:26-39 lately? Is God on your side? If He is, how much power and love does “your side” have in the battle against sin? Is there enough to put each of us in the winner’s circle if we so choose?
4. Seeking to devour. Is the evil one also powerful? Do you ever picture Satan as an evil-appearing monster with razor-sharp teeth and claws coming after you? Could he be just as effective in causing us to stumble if he appeared in an attractive, human form? How are child abuse, sexual molestation, beating, robbery, alcohol and drug abuse, careless driving and other evil activities used by Satan to snatch us from victory in Jesus? Must we participate in these sinful practices to be affected by them? Can we force Satan to flee from us? If so, how?
5. Victors from the past. Imagine being sent by Jesus to proclaim the gospel to a people who have just crucified your Lord. How confident would you be? What would it take to bring you to your feet and walking down the path to share your beliefs with others? Would you smile a lot? What about taking a few steps to share a few friendly words with a neighbor who doesn’t believe as you do? Or lending a helping hand to a family who is in serious financial straits? Can we “preach” the gospel without “preaching” at all? If so, how?
6. What about today? Do you believe Tropical Storm Sandy was created by the devil? Or was it just a natural working of the laws of weather and physics? Or does it matter? How does the Holy Spirit help us confront bad times? The lesson states that we will be engaged in the conflict between good and evil until the end of time, especially as we seek to fulfill the gospel commission. Have you had a personal experience in this battle as you lead others to Jesus and His love? Would you like to help tell the gospel story? Can you count on being misunderstood, ridiculed, and maybe even hated if you say something that others do not accept? Can the Holy Spirit come to your rescue? Or should we stay clear of conflict and let the Lord guide us to safer areas of witnessing to His love? Or does it depend…?