The enemy wants to crush you. He wants to steal from you everything you value. He wants to kill everything in your life that’s good. He wants to destroy you. If he can claim the victory over your life. But you don’t have to let him get a foothold. For you have been invited to an intimate relationship with the Almighty. Your Good Shepherd has set a table before you… and the enemy has not been invited to join. ~ Louis Giglio (from Chapter 1 of Don’t Give The Enemy A Seat At Your Table)
Have you ever sent a text in the heat of the moment? Maybe you are dealing with a situation where someone at work takes credit for your idea. Or perhaps you are facing yet another argument with a family member. Or maybe it is neighborhood gossip, divisions in your church, or aggressive online posts that cause you a level of angst.
Whatever the situation, it stirs up feelings of defensiveness, insecurity, frustration, or even anger within you. So you reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or confidante with a text to recount the latest strike in your battle. Your hope, of course, is that the person will come alongside you in your dismay and frustration and offer a show of support. You want to be affirmed… and you know you can count on your supporter to reinforce your viewpoint.
You’re eager for the validation your ally can provide. You stare at your phone as you see the signal that your text is being read. You wait for the response to come through. But when it does, it is not at all what you expected. Your wise confidante simply tells you to not allow the other person to lead you into harboring feelings of hostility, resentment, and bitterness.
Your initial reaction is disappointment, followed by anger and confusion. What is your friend talking about? Didn’t they read your message? Doesn’t your friend understand how you are feeling? But suddenly, your perspective shifts. You recognize the gift you’ve just been given. Your friend’s response may not have been what you expected, but it was certainly what you needed. The roiling emotions and jumbled thoughts weren’t really about the situation that caused your rant. No, they were about what is going on in your soul.
You are in a spiritual battle, and the enemy is trying to wedge his seeds of doubt, fear, anger, and distrust into your consciousness. He is trying to get a seat at the “table” of your mind so he can lead you down paths he wants you to travel on.
The good news is that you don’t have to go there. You can win this battle. But first, you have to recognize what you’re up against.
If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to get things started, discuss one of the following questions:
- On average, how many texts do you send or respond to each day? Is texting more of a convenience for you or an intrusion?
- Have you found yourself in a situation like the one described in the opening story? If so, how did you react? What was the result of your actions?
Have someone read aloud Psalm 23. While these words may be familiar to you, try to imagine that you are hearing them for the first time.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
What image or description stands out the most to you in this psalm? Why?
Did you grow up hearing this psalm or perhaps memorize it when you were young? What personal associations do you have with this passage?
What is it about Psalm 23 that people find so comforting and reassuring? How did it make you feel when you heard it just now?
Play the video segment for session one. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.
“Don’t give the enemy a seat at your table.”
Those nine words can change your life. Don’t allow the enemy access to your conversations, thoughts, attitudes, or emotions. Don’t allow the enemy into your story. You will only end up having a conversation with a killer.
Psalm 23 is perhaps the most beloved and well-known psalm of all time. But this is not a soft, fluffy, spiritual lullaby. David, a warrior and the king of Israel, drew on his gritty experience shepherding sheep as a youth to express a powerful metaphor about how we relate to God.
“The LORD is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). You were created to be led. If God is not leading you, it means you are being led by someone else. If you think you are leading your life — calling the shots — then congratulations… you are your own shepherd!
“I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23:1 NIV 84). David didn’t always get what he wanted every day. But he never lacked what he needed any day of his life.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). When Jesus makes you do something, it’s for your own good. You — His sheep — need guidance and rest. Sometimes, He uses His shepherd’s crook to get you moving in the right direction.
David’s words in Psalm 23:3-5 describe your faith as you learn to trust your Good Shepherd. He will guide you in paths of righteousness. He will be with you as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. His rod and staff will comfort you. He will anoint your head with oil.
“Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6). This is the capstone of the psalm. You can count on God’s goodness and love to follow you all the days of your life. This is what you get when you trade whatever shepherd that you’ve been following for Jesus leading your life.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). God will not extract you from a broken world. Rather, He sets a table for two in the presence of your enemies. You have been invited to dine with the King in the middle of the battlefield.
Take a few minutes within your group to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.
- According to Psalm 23, what are the attributes of your Good Shepherd? What does He promise to provide? How have you seen these traits in the way that Jesus leads you?
- How do you feel about being compared to sheep in this psalm (see also Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:4-7; 1 Peter 2:25)? In what ways does this comparison ring true based on your life experience? In what ways do you struggle to accept this comparison?
- What are some of the “bad” shepherds in your life? Why is it often so tempting to follow after them? In what ways are you tempted to be your own shepherd?
- David didn’t always get what he wanted every day of his life. But he never lacked what he needed any day of his life. How would you define the difference between the two?
- How does your Good Shepherd make you lie down in green pastures? What does this look like in your life? Are you allowing Him to lead you in this area?
- What comes to mind when you imagine the Good Shepherd preparing a table for you in the presence of your enemies? What does your “battlefield” look like at the moment? Why is it important that your enemies are present but not invited to sit at your table?
Briefly review the outline for the session one teaching and any notes you took. In the space below, write down the most significant point you took away from this session.
End your session by sharing any requests that you would like the group to lift up in prayer. Thank God for bringing you together for this study so you can draw closer to Him and win the battle for your mind. Ask your Good Shepherd to help you recognize his voice in your life and focus on his ways instead of your own — and definitely not the enemy’s ways.
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