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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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.

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.

Greater Love

Greater love has no man that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

We often hear bout heroic men who throw themselves on mines or grenades in order to save their brothers. Although most of us are not faced with situations that require a life-terminating decision, we can give our lives for others in other ways. Loving parents come to mind as they often sacrifice materially, and sometimes dreams and ambitions, for the greater good of their children.

Of course, the greatest love was shown by Christ Jesus when He allowed Himself to be unjustly accused, physically put to death, and worst of all, painfully separated from the Father as He bore the sins of both His friends and enemies as the perfect sacrifice of atonement. The Good Shepard gave His life for His sheep.

By this we know what love is.

Turn to the Father

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands (Deut. 8:10-16).

As a believer, when times of trouble come, I immediately turn to God. I stay in His presence whether I am totally focused on prayer or talking with Him while doing daily tasks. It’s easier to trust when we must, in situations where we have no control. But this is God’s desire in the good times, too.

God doesn’t enjoy our pain, in fact, it tears His heart too. In all their distress, He too was distressed (Isa 63:9a). Although He doesn’t initiate our suffering, He uses it to draw us into His fellowship so that He can dispense His love and mercy and bless us with His better plan.

When times are good, it is easier to lean on ourselves and forget the Giver of all good things. If I could only always be mindful of this and avoid what is documented time and time in scripture when pride led to destruction.

May His praise continually be on my lips.

The Law vs Love

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22:37-40).

Did you know that there are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally and may carry criminal penalties? And that is just federal. As we are sitting here right this minute, we may be unknowingly breaking some kind of law or code.

Following Jesus is so much simpler, not necessarily easy, but definitely less complicated. In fact, if everyone followed the two laws outlined by Jesus, we would not need any other law. With the love in our hearts from God (the source of all love), we can turn that toward others. If we truly loved others we would never do anything that would be detrimental or harm them.

Simple, but not easy. Over and over our human nature takes the lead. Even Paul, one of the people throughout history who was most dedicated to the Lord, Jesus Christ said, “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Visualizing life governed by the greatest commandment gives us a little glimpse of one little facet of eternity. Law–less, because we will all be governed by perfect love.

Safe Space

Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91:1).

 Today there is so much talk about safe spaces where people are insulated from, well, just about anything that anyone wants to define as harmful, or hurtful, or even just uncomfortable. God doesn’t offer us that kind of isolation; in fact, His word (and my experience) shows that we grow in character and holiness through adversity.

If we look to Him in trust He offers us, not a safe space, but a fortress (v2). He doesn’t remove discomfort; sometimes we need it to grow, but He promises to be with us (v15). He protects us from the enemy’s snare [what are my personal temptations] (v3); terror by night [what are my fears]; arrows that fly by day [what are my arrows]; the plague that destroys [what plagues me physically, mentally, spiritually] (v 5&6–just read Psalm 91, it’s amazing).

Thank You, Father, that You have my back, in fact, You surround me so that “evil can not conquer me and no plague can come near my tent (v10).”