Archive for August 12, 2012
Tags: Bible, Christ, Christianity, Eve, God, Jesu, Religion and Spirituality, Satan
On a recent vacation, Tom was casually bobbing around on a raft just offshore. He closed his eyes, basking in the warm sun. Before he realized it, he had drifted too far from shore. He hopped off the raft to get back to the security of the sand, but the water was now over his head. He didn’t know how to swim.
The drift of our lives away from God is just as subtle. And just as dangerous. We drift one thought at a time, one small choice at a time, and often one damaging doubt at a time. In fact, our adversary is delighted to help our rafts drift from the protection and presence of God by casting doubt on God’s goodness to us. If you sense that your life has been set adrift—that God is not as close and precious as He used to be—then you may have just been in the riptide of an old trick of the enemy of your soul. The same trick he used to sever Eve’s heart from the joy of her relationship with her Creator.
Satan’s opening volley was not a blistering attack on God; it was a simply a question that he wanted Eve to think about. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1). Actually, God had said that she could eat of every tree but one. But Satan twisted the facts to suit his purposes and to lead Eve’s mind to the conclusion that God was not the generous God she had known Him to be, but rather a stingy, restrictive, joy killer. Once she had let her heart drift to the wrong conclusion, it was easy for her to believe Satan’s lie that God just wanted to keep her from being as knowledgeable as He is and that the threat of them dying was just God’s way of scaring them into compliance with His stingy ways.
Satan still sets us adrift by planting doubt about God’s Word and spinning the facts to his own evil advantage.
Once we begin to suspect God instead of trusting Him, we inevitably drift away from Him. So, beware! Your life is full of scenarios where Satan can put his deceitful twist on your experiences. He is the spin-doctor of hell, and as Jesus said, “When [Satan] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
With that in mind, keep a lookout for some of Satan’s favorite spins:
- Lie #1: God is to blame for the evil that Satan has inflicted on our lives.
- Lie #2: God has not rewarded me for being good. I’ve been used, not blessed!
- Lie #3: God’s rules are restrictive and oppressive. He just wants to take the fun out of my life.
- Lie #4: God is good to others but not to me. He must not love me!
And there are many other lies, all custom-made for your head and heart. If you believe them, you have begun to drift away from the safe shores of God’s love and protecting provision. You’ll soon discover that you are adrift in the middle of nowhere, bobbing dangerously over your head. And count on it, as Eve was soon to learn, Satan won’t stay around to make you happy and fulfilled. He’ll be slithering off to more interesting company, leaving you in the deep waters of shame and regret.
- Are you drifting in a sea of doubt? Make an appointment to talk to a trusted pastor or friend and ask that person to help you find your way back to God.
- Pray and ask God to reveal the lies that Satan is using in your life. Find Bible verses that contradict the lies and recite them when you are tempted to believe what is not true.
- Do you suspect God, or do you trust Him? How can faith shield you from the pitfall of suspecting and doubting God? Read Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 6:16; Galatians 2:20; 1 Timothy 6:12; and Hebrews 11:1-40.
Tags: Breaking wave, Christ, Christianity, God, Gospel of Matthew, Jesu, Lord, Matthew
Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? —Matthew 8:26
“. . . O you of little faith!” What a stinging pain must have shot through the disciples as they surely thought to themselves, “We missed the mark again!” And what a sharp pain will go through us when we suddenly realize that we could have produced complete and utter joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, in spite of what we were facing.
There are times when there is no storm or crisis in our lives, and we do all that is humanly possible. But it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to place our trust in Him, the crisis will reveal that we can go to the point of breaking, yet without breaking our confidence in Him.
We have been talking quite a lot about sanctification, but what will be the result in our lives? It will be expressed in our lives as a peaceful resting in God, which means a total oneness with Him. And this oneness will make us not only blameless in His sight, but also a profound joy to Him.
Tags: Angel, Earth, God, Human, Jesu, Psalm, Righteousness, Truth
The Angel of Love said: “Create man, for he will do acts of lovingkindness.”
The Angel of Faithfulness argued: “No, do not create man – he is all lies.”
The Angel of Righteousness countered: “Create man, for he will do righteous charity.”
But the Angel of Peace claimed: “Do not make man, for he is quarrelsome.”
What did God do? He took the Angel of Faithfulness and flung him toward the earth. With that, the angels in favor of the creation of man outnumbered those who did not. Man was created.
The Sages explain that the Angel of Faithfulness is concerned with truth and felt that human beings would be incapable of living honestly. When God threw him down to earth, so to speak, it was as if he were throwing down a challenge to mankind. God says: Prove him wrong! Show him that you can live truthfully!
Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk, a 19th-century Hassidic master, comments on the following phrase: “Faithfulness springs forth from the earth.” He says that in order for truth to flourish, we must first bury the lies. The deeper we bury the lies, the more truth will spring from the earth.
Rabbi Mendel explains that the lies that abound on this earth keep the truth from filling the world. We all know that we live in a world filled with crookedness, dishonesty, and deception. But the mission of humanity is to dispose of these lies and bury them deep underground. When we do that, integrity, truth, and faithfulness will thrive. We will have proved the Angel of Faithfulness wrong.
Rabbi Mendel explains that in messianic times, the angels will reconcile. The dispute over man’s creation will be over. When humanity succeeds at filling the world with truth and faithfulness, the angels will come together in agreement, and then the words of the psalmist will be fulfilled, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
Tags: God, Holy Spirit, Jerusalem, Jesu, Jesus Christ, John, Peter, Saint Peter
By agreement the believers met together daily in the Temple. They had their meals from house to house, eating their food with gladness and simple-heartedness, praising God and having the good-will of all the people. Day by day God added many to the number of the saved.
One day Peter and John were on their way to the Temple for the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. A man who had been lame from birth, and who was placed daily at what was called the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, was being carried there to beg from the people who went in. When he saw that Peter and John were about to go in, he asked them to give him something. But Peter fixed his eyes on him, and John did also, and said, “Look at us.” And the man looked attentively, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up. And immediately his feet and his ankles received strength and he leaped up, stood on his feet, walked about and went with them into the Temple, walking, and leaping and praising God.
When the people who saw him walking about and praising God knew that he was the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him; and as he still kept close to Peter and John, the astonished crowd rushed to them in what was called Solomon’s Porch.
Then Peter said to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this? Or why do you stare at us as though we had made him walk by some power or goodness of our own? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has honored Jesus his servant, whom you delivered up and denied before Pilate when he had decided to let him go. But you denied the Holy and Just One and asked that a murderer be set free and put to death the One who brings life to men! But God brought him back from the dead, as we bear witness. Jesus, through faith in his name, has given strength to this man whom you see and know. Yes, it is faith in him that has made this man perfectly well in the presence of you all.
“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. Turn then to God and live right lives that your sins may be forgiven, so that God may send you strength. After raising his Servant from the grave, God sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wickedness.”
While they were speaking to the people, they were interrupted by the priests, the officer in charge of the Temple, and the Sadducees, who were angry because they were teaching the people and telling how Jesus rose from the dead. They arrested the apostles and, as it was already evening, put them in prison until the following day.
The next morning a meeting of their rulers, elders and scribes was held in Jerusalem at which the high priest Annas, and Caiaphas, John, Alexander and all the members of the high priest’s family were present. They made the apostles stand before them and inquired, “By whose power and in whose name have you done this?”
Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we are being examined this day for a good deed done to a lame man, to find out how he was healed, you and all the people of Israel should know that this man stands before you completely cured through the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead. He is the stone despised by you builders that has become the chief corner-stone. And salvation comes by none other, for there is no other name under heaven revealed among men through which we can be saved.”
When they saw how bold Peter and John were and found out that they were uneducated and ignorant men, they were astonished but they remembered that they had been with Jesus. Ordering them to go out from the council, they said among themselves, “What are we to do with these men? All the people who live in Jerusalem know that a wonderful miracle has been done by them, and we cannot deny it. But to keep this thing from spreading any farther among the people let us stop them by threats from speaking in the future to any one in the name of Jesus.” So they called them and ordered them not to teach nor speak a word in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Decide for yourselves whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God; for we cannot give up speaking of what we have seen and heard.”
Seeing the man who had been healed standing beside them, the rulers could say nothing. So, after further threatening them, they let them go, being unable to find any reason for punishing them on account of the people, for they were all praising God for what had been done.
Tags: Christ, Christ Jesus, God, holyspirit, Jesus, Lord, Satan, Sin
Beware of unconscious deterioration! Grey hairs may be here and there upon us without our knowing it. The Lord may be gone out on feet so noiseless, that we are not aware that His Spirit has glided along the corridor, and through the doorway, whispering, Let us depart.
Deterioration is unconscious because it is so gradual. The rot that sets in on autumn fruit is very gradual. The damp that silences the violin or piano does its work almost imperceptibly. Satan is too knowing to plunge us into some outrageous sin at a bound. He has sappers and miners engaged long before the explosion, in hollowing subterranean passages through the soul, and filling them with explosives.
Spiritual declension blunts our sensibility. The first act of the burglar is to gag the voice that might alarm, and poison the watch-dog. So, sin blinds our eyes, and dulls our keen alertness to the presence of evil. Thus, the stages of our relapse are obvious to all eyes but our own. We are drugged as we are being carried off captives.
The progress of evil within us is a matter of unconsciousness, largely because we are quick to discover reasons to justify our decadence. We gloze over the real state of affairs. We call sins by other names. We insist on considerations which in our eyes appear to justify our conduct. We still attend to our religious duties, and try to persuade ourselves that it is with us as in times past. To avoid deterioration we must ever watch and pray, and realize that we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. Then shall the peace of God as a sentry guard our hearts and our thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Tags: Christ, Christianity, God, India, Jesu, Lord, New Testament, Thomas
Can a believer in Jesus who has occasional doubts about matters of faith ever be effective in serving the Lord? Some people think that mature and growing Christians never question their beliefs. But just as we have experiences that can build our faith, we can also have experiences that cause us to temporarily doubt.
The disciple Thomas had initial doubts about reports of Jesus’ resurrection. He said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, . . . I will not believe” (John 20:25). Christ did not rebuke Thomas but showed him the evidence he asked for. Amazed at seeing the risen Savior, Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (20:28). After this incident, the New Testament is silent about what happened to Thomas.
A number of early church traditions, however, claim that Thomas went to India as a missionary. It is said that while there he preached the gospel, worked miracles, and planted churches. Some of these churches in India still have active congregations that trace their founding back to Thomas.
A time of doubt doesn’t have to become a life pattern. Allow God to lead you into a deeper understanding of His reality. Renew your faith. You can still accomplish great things for Him.
Tags: Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, Jesu, Organizations, Prayer, Prayer Request Pages, Religion & Spirituality
God‘s Gentle Whisper
There are truths that can never be learned except in the noise and confusion of the market place or in the tough brutality of combat. The tumult and the shouting teach their own rough lessons. No man is quite a man who has not been to the school of work and war, who has not heard the cry at birth and the sigh at life’s parting. But there is another school where the soul must go to learn its best eternal lessons. It is the school of silence. Be still and know, said the psalmist, and there is a profound philosophy there, of universal application. Prayer among evangelical Christians is always in danger of degenerating into a glorified gold rush. Almost every book on prayer deals with the get element mainly. How to get things we want from God occupies most of the space. Now, we gladly admit that we may ask for and receive specific gifts and benefits in answer to prayer, but we must never forget that the highest kind of prayer is never the making of requests. Prayer at its holiest moment is the entering into God to a place of such blessed union as makes miracles seem tame and remarkable answers to prayer appear something very far short of wonderful by comparison.
Tags: Christian, Epistle to the Romans, God, Greek, Greek language, Jesu, Lord, United States
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1 urged us to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. As Christians, we honor God by living for him each day, devoting our bodies to his purposes. Romans 12:2 begins with a negative exhortation: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.” Literally, the Greek might be translated, “Do not keep on being conformed to this age.” “This age” includes “the behavior and customs of this world” insofar as they are contrary to God’s truth and will.
The verb meaning “do not be conformed” appears in the present tense. In Greek, the present imperative mood conveys a sense of ongoing action. Romans 12:2 assumes that not being conformed to this world isn’t something we do once and then we’re finished. Rather, we are to keep on resisting the patterns and ways of the fallen world. This is a daily, even an hourly choice to say “No” to this world so that we might say “Yes” to God.
Increasingly, Christians are feeling the tension between “the behavior and customs of this world” and the biblical vision of human flourishing. This has been true for a long time for believers in many parts of the world. In the United States, however, it was once fairly easy to think of oneself as an ordinary Christian and an ordinary American. But this time is quickly passing. More and more, we who name Jesus as Lord find that we must reject the “lordship” of our culture, wherever we might live on this globe. Such rejection requires careful, Spirit-led attention to the ways in which our world contradicts the ways of God. Then we need courage to say “No” to this world so that we might say “Yes” to God. Yet this doesn’t mean withdrawing from the world. As countercultural people, we live in this world for God’s purposes and glory.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Where do you feel this world seeking to press you into its mold? What if the “world” you need to reject includes the values or practices of your workplace? What helps you to see the godless aspects of your world with clarity?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I confess that I feel the lure of this world in so many ways. Even though I seek to live for you and think your thoughts, in so many ways I am conformed to this world. Forgive me, Lord.
Today I hear your call not to “copy the behavior and customs of this world.” You are instructing me to reject the ways of this world that are contrary to your ways. If I’m to do this, Lord, I need to see myself and my world as you see me. I need new clarity of vision to see through the lies and pretenses of my culture. I need especially to see where I have bought into these without even knowing it. So help me, Lord, to see with your eyes, so that I might say “No” to the fallen ways of this world.
At the same time, I ask you to keep me from the temptation of withdrawing from this world and its people. May I continue to live in this world for you and your purposes. Use me, Lord, as a channel of your grace, truth, and love wherever I may be. Amen.