Recognizing the Enemy

For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).

In one of Priscilla Shirer’s studies she notes that there are two mistakes that we make concerning the enemy. One is that we overestimate his impact on our lives and are therefore laden with much fear and anxiety. The other is that we underestimate the impact of his influence.

I would guess that in our sophisticated culture that we don’t recognize that many of our societal and personal problems are coming from Satan, the father of lies, the master deceiver. How many “forbidden fruits” are now thought to be not only acceptable, but even worth pursuing? In our culture, he doesn’t work in black and white, but in shades of gray, slyly whispering, “How could this be wrong?” or “Don’t you have rights?” or “Did God really mean that?”

Our relationship with the Lord is vital for a clear vision and the only way to evaluate situations with discernment. As a child of God, we have defensive weapons to protect us, and offensive weapons to unleash power through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.

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Guidelines for a Joyful Life

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Col 3:23).

The other day I heard the following part of a sermon preached by the Reverend Martin Luther King:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

I did not check the rest of his message to identify the scripture about which he was speaking, but when Colossians 3:23 came to my mind, I began thinking that every success principle discovered by man can be paired with a principle from scripture.

Our God is good. He wants us to be joyful even when we are hard at work. In fact, His joy gives us strength (Neh 8:10).

So instead of reading a list of the 10 Best Things to Do for a Contented (Successful, Joyful…) Life, search The Book and you can write your own.

Faith vs Religion

Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32).

Whenever I am referred to as being religious, in my heart I feel insulted. I am not offended by the person who said it because most likely he/she meant it as a compliment, but I would prefer being thought of as a believer whose faith is in the Lord, Jesus Christ. To me, religion is man-made and filled with man-made restrictions.

Jesus Himself had nothing good to say about the religious. He called them vipers and described them as white-washed tombs.

Religion equals constraints, limitations, and the guilt that comes with never doing or being enough. Religion adds hundreds of thou-shalt-nots to the freedom and assurance that we can experience in living in the grace that is freely given though faith in Christ Jesus.

And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Self-Examination

Each one should test his own actions then he can take pride in himself alone, without comparing himself to someone else (Gal.6:4).

Since this was written about 60 A.D. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who compares myself to others. Whether I’m better or worse than anyone else is so very meaningless. Both the vanity or the self-condemnation—totally meaningless.

We are told a number of times in scripture to examine ourselves, not to compare ourselves with others, but to examine ourselves by God’s standards. Where is my heart? What are my motives? Am I seeking to do God’s will? Am I trusting Him? Am I living and moving in the faith in Christ whom I profess?

Should we fall short (not if, but when), we still have the assurance of salvation as a safety net. But also what joy comes at times when we examine ourselves and know that we are on track.

Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Vicki for suggesting practical applications

Random Thoughts

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (I Cor 13:4-8a).

Today’s discussion is not exactly about relationships; it is about prayer. It has been said that in order to communicate with God effectively, we need to discipline our mind. I know that personally I like to start with a prayer of thanks, but often I end up with random thoughts a thousand miles away. My question today is, “How do we know whether or not a thought comes from God.”

This is why I chose Corinthians 13 as the verse. God is love. Any communication that comes from Him follows the principles outlined in these verses. If our thoughts are selfish, revengeful or even prideful, they did not come from the Father.

We can certainly be honest with God about our feelings, but His answer once we leave our “secret place” (Matt 6:6) will never direct us toward any idea or action but love.

These are just beginning thoughts on understanding God through prayer, but it seems that time and time again, the right answer to most questions is love.

Walking with God

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Gen 5:24).

There are so many principles in scripture that sound so simple, but because of our human nature and the attacks of the enemy, are not easy. This verse tells of one. One translation says that Enoch walked in close fellowship with God.

Now I have days when I feel very close to God—when I spend time with Him in prayer and scripture, and when we “text-talk” while I’m doing daily tasks. But many days, when I pray at bedtime, I think to myself that I only spent a few minutes out of today’s thousand, even thinking about Him.

Hebrews 11 tells us that Enoch was commended as one who pleased God. We know that there was only one perfect person who walked on the earth. Enoch lived for 365 years. There had to be times when Enoch fell short.

It is my desire to please God, and I know that my forgiveness is a done deal. I pray that when He looks at my heart, as with Enoch, that He will be pleased.