Exposing the Enemy

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

I recently watched a disturbing video based on a true story about a pastor who was definitely on fire and effective in sharing the gospel—a prime target for the enemy. At one point he began questioning God’s character which balances both love and justice. In his words, “We need to re-think God.”

As believers we have no problem accepting God’s love. His justice shouldn’t be a conflict either when we think of it coupled to another of His attributes—mercy. Can you imagine a caring teacher or a loving parent who always demonstrated love without justice? Or justice without love and mercy? In each case the result would be a nightmare. In extremes, the result would be a child or adult who would be an emotionally dysfunctional mess with no direction, and not feeling loved either.

Through His mercy, the penalty for our sin was paid for by ultimate love—God sent His beloved Son, Jesus Christ as our substitute. Compared to the eternal consequences, our part is easy. If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved. And living according to His plan (laws/guidelines) is a benefit to us as individuals and a favor to the human race.

False teachers are not new. They began at the beginning of the first century church. Paul warned that people will turn away from truth and gather around teachers who say “what their itching ears want to hear.”

Today, Hollywood effectively does this all the time.

The above scripture from Peter cautions us to be vigilant. It is so easy to fall into a set of beliefs that seem loving and accepting, but in fact are destructive. And nothing pleases the enemy more than confusing and bringing down believers.

The life of faith in the truths of scripture may step on our toes rather than tickle our ears, but the truths of the scripture bring guidance and stability; grace and mercy; wisdom and comfort…and eternal life.

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The Perfect Plan

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Nellie Bly, a gutsy 19th century journalist, became famous by exposing the neglect and brutality at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum. Her assignment required that she be admitted undercover feigning insanity. This assignment involved trust—trust that someone from the outside would arrange for her release.

I know that this is a very, very, very weak comparison, but I was thinking about Jesus. About how He left His position in glory, at the right hand of the Father, to come into the world and in all humility to assume His human role as the Son of Man. His mission wasn’t to expose, but to defeat the enemy and eternal death, and replace it with an opportunity for us to have fellowship with the Father and eternal life.

When Jesus came to earth as a man, His physical suffering and agony was real, and He also knew first-hand what being one with the Father was like. But the part that Jesus dreaded even more than the physical torture was that once He shouldered our sin, the Father, who can’t be in the presence of sin, had to turn away from Him. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ’Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

But Jesus’s release from the bowels of the earth was pre-arranged. Sin and death were defeated. Our part, to individually trust and believe in His death, burial and resurrection, seems so insignificant in comparison to the torture, agony and then the ultimate resurrection power necessary to conquer death.

Yet it was the perfect plan. And we can share in the victorious results.

Walking in Truth

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4).

I truly believe that after my children took their first breath, they each (yep, all of them) wailed, “Okay world, I’m ready to take you on.” God blessed them by creating in each of them strong bodies, strong passionate hearts, and strong minds to think, will and direct.

Then God, in a manner, stepped aside after creating them, and granted each a free will. He allows them, and all of us, the choices that affect our physical bodies, our emotions, our thoughts. If we choose to submit to the power offered to us through His Spirit, only then can we truly follow the plan He outlines for each of us in His word—the truth (every word of it).

We can’t successfully do it without Him. We’ve seen the distressing results of bodies that have succumbed to every unhealthy desire, tongues that spoke hurtfuln and harmful words, and rampant emotions that led to depression or even tragedy.

Why wouldn’t I want my children to walk in the truth? Today there are more and more people who are living in acceptance of the lies of the enemy and moving further and further away from the truth. In order to walk in the truth, they would be walking against the flow. It may not be as severe as in some countries where believers, even young children, are beheaded for refusing to denounce their faith. Nonetheless, in today’s world, holding firm to unpopular biblical truths can be quite distressing.

To me there is still no greater joy, because living true to the convictions defined in His word can lead to a life without inner-conflict, contented and gratifying here on earth, and a promise that we’ll be together for a phenomenal eternity.

Finished

Now God saw all that He had made, and indeed, it was very good! Thus the heavens and the earth were entirely completed in all their vast array.    By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested (Gen 1:31-2:2).

Although no work by God can be called small or insignificant, the creation of the heavens and earth “in all their vast array” had to be one monumental task. What do you do after you complete an immense work? If I am satisfied with my effort, after a well-deserved sigh, I sit down, put my feet up, and rest—mission accomplished, satisfied that it is good, relax and peacefully rest.

THE most monumental task was accomplished by God through His Son. Let’s look at what Jesus did as noted in Hebrews:

After he had provided a cleansing from sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Highest Majesty.

His mission was accomplished. It was finished, done, totally complete.

Through our faith in the work of the Son, our purification from sin is finished, done, entirely complete. We need not, nor can’t, add one thing more. It is more than enough. We can rest assured that it is very good.

Amazing Love

And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness…for all who look forward to His appearing (2 Tim 4:8).

The place that Jesus is preparing for believers (John 4:2) includes many rewards. Although we are not told what they are, I can’t begin to imagine if the most spectacular things on earth pale next to what is to come.

I am more than glad that salvation is a free gift; that we do not need to earn it. Not one of us could live a sinless life—not the most pious saint, and certainly not me, but we can achieve rewards. The bible calls them “crowns” which I have seen interpreted as rewards, awards and prizes. Anyway, if it’s a reward from God, it’s got to be more than amazing.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Paul explained the crown of rejoicing with these questions—Who is our crown of rejoicing? Is it not you? Can you think of a better reason for rejoicing, a better reward, than by seeing people who are in Heaven with us because we had some part in their being there?!

Studying God’s word, and discovering even parts of His plans for us, gives us just tiny glimpses of His great and incredible love.

What About You?

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29)

Sometimes I hesitate using the word Christian because the term has been so diluted. There are many who describe themselves as Christians who believe that Jesus lived, but do not embrace His death, burial, and resurrection as a personal gift to them from a loving God.

Volumes upon volumes have been written about who Jesus was, but what is eternally important is who Jesus is…to you (see Romans 10:8).

This is the most important question in the universe. The answer can affect our eternal destiny and our eternal destination.

Heaven

People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:39).

Dr. David Jeremiah has been doing a series about life after physical death. He began by reading this epitaph of Solomon Peas who was actually from Girard, PA:

Peas not here

Only the pod

Peas shelled out

Went home to God

 Dr. Jeremiah’s messages direct us to a number of scriptures answering many of our questions about Heaven, but one point that he made I found very applicable. He said that God placed a hunger in our hearts for our heavenly eternity. When we forget, or begin to doubt, that God has prepared a glorious place for us that contains everything (and everybody, I pray) that we love and hold dear, then we try to create a situation for ourselves much like heaven on earth. We can spend every dime on a perfect environment, beautiful surroundings, free of pain, toys, activities, etc., but all we end up with is a cheap imitation that can never come close to what God has in store for those who put their faith in the inheritance that is ours through His Son.