Posts tagged ‘Bible’

Predestination

Christmas Eve found me visiting at the church of a family member this year.  While the message was not about predestination, the topic was raised.  I had never heard of the doctrine of predestination until my teen years when my parents began attending a church that adhered to it.  What a disturbing thought!  The idea that God handpicks a certain few people out of the world to be his children, and tosses the others aside really bothered me.  It left me with this terrible uncertainty…how could I know if I was one of those chosen people?  There was no guarantee!  Even though I had asked Jesus in my heart as a four year old, I might not know if I was actually going to Heaven until I got there…or didn’t.  It was an awful feeling, and a weight that I carried until someone outside of that church described it to me this way:  God calls all people outside of the gates of Heaven to Him.  A sign above the gate says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden.”  Those who chose to come to God enter the gates.  When they turn to look back where they came from, they see a sign above the inside of the gate that says, “You were chosen before the foundation of the world.”  As a teenager, that was enough to settle the matter for me.

On Christmas Eve I sat in church with my four boys, and several nieces and nephews, and cringed when the pastor made it plain that the doctrine of predestination was still alive and well in that church.  I missed the rest of the sermon because I was busy researching my Bible.  As the Lord has taken me through the past few years of my walk with Him, I have learned a very important lesson…read the Bible!  The context of verses is so important to understanding their true meaning, as is researching what the Bible says in other places about the same topic.  I have said this before in more than one post, but it is so important!  I don’t think I can emphasize it enough!  As I researched the predestination topic, I also prayed…the other vital part of learning what God says in His Word.  If you don’t have the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you read and study, you cannot understand the Word (1 Cor. 2:14).  There is my sidebar soapbox:-)

Let me show you the verses the pastor read.  Ephesians 1:4-5 (NKJV) – just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

The predestination doctrine is the view that God picks those whom He chooses, as He pleases, to be those who are called sons of God.  The first verse that came to mind in rebuttal to this was John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“That whoever believes in Him….”  Doesn’t it bug the bajeebies out of you when the Bible appears to contradict itself?!  How can it be both ways?  Does salvation come to anyone who believes, as Jesus said in John 3:16, or is salvation given only to those favorites chosen by God, as some understand Paul to say in Ephesians?  Allow me to mix things up a little bit more for you.  John 1:12-13 – But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

If you read those verses just right, you might be able to see the messages of both Jesus and Paul!  But I didn’t put that verse in here to confuse you, I put it in to clear things up.  Lets take a moment to break this down.

John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Jesus would have eternal life.  That means the door is open to anyone and everyone, so long as they believe.  The call to salvation is to the world, the whole world…also stated in the same verse.  John 1:12-13 also states that anyone who receives Jesus has the right to become a child of God.

John 1:13 seems to indicate that becoming a child of God is through the will of God only, and could be seen as God choosing.  Put that together with Ephesians 1:4-5 and the idea that people are predestined to adoption as God’s children, and it appears that indeed only an elite few chosen by God will be His children.

Here is the problem.  John 3:16 is a direct quote of Jesus Himself…and the words of John 1:12-13, and Ephesians 1:4-5 are words written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of the same Jesus through John and Paul.  And yet, none of these three lied, or were wrong.

Salvation, adoption as children of God, is available to anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus (Jo 3:16, Jo. 1:12.  That is the plain fact of the gospel.  That salvation/adoption is offered and provided by the will of God, as opposed to the will of man (Jo. 1:13).  It is not something man can do for himself in any way, shape, or form.  So God chooses to adopt those who believe.  He doesn’t chose who will believe.  This is true.  It is established in the Scriptures, and it is our base.

Consider for a moment the audience.  Jesus’, and John’s audience in the book of John, are people who have not heard the gospel message.  The intent was to share the path to salvation.  This is what it is, this is how you get it…believe.  Paul’s audience, however, is a church of already-believers.  Their salvation has already been established.  So why talk about predestination, unless it is not their salvation that is predestined, but rather what comes with the salvation that is predestined for those who chose to believe.

God decided, from the foundation of the world, that those who would accept His plan of salvation (the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for their sins), would be predestined to adoption as His children.  First you believe.  Once you believe, then it has already been predetermined that you would be adopted as God’s child, but you, and every person to ever live, is first given the opportunity to chose whether or not to believe.  Conversely, those who do not chose to believe would then, by a natural assumption, be predestined to not become children of God.  But it always starts with the personal choice of each human.

In the beginning God knew that sin would enter the world that He had created, and that He would need to have a plan to save it from the natural course of destruction that came with it.  He also knew that not everyone would chose to accept His plan, no matter who much He loved them and wanted them to.  And He would not force them to.   So He decided, then and there, before any of us were here, pre-decided…predestined, that those who did accept His plan, who chose Him (not the other way around), He would adopt as His children, to be holy and without blame.

So going back to the illustration of the heavenly gates…God calls all people to Him.  The sign above the gate saying “Come to me…” is accurate.  Some turn away and choose not to enter.  But those who do enter turn to see, this:  I decided long ago that, if you entered these gates, I would adopt you…welcome my child.

 

The Center of God’s Word

The very center of the Bible is a short Psalm. Did you know that? Psalm 117, only 2 verses. And I bet you can’t guess what it talks about. What did God chose to put at the very center, perhaps it could be said the heart, of His Word? Praise.

“All you nations, praise The Lord. All you people, praise Him because The Lord loves us very much, and His truth is everlasting. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:1-2, NCV)

Is this a coincidence? A mere happinstance? NOT A CHANCE!!! The Bible is God’s Word. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16). If God gave the words to write to the writers of the Bible, why would He not also guide those who put all the writings together into one Book? I cannot believe that any of the Bible happened by accident. It all happened by the hand of God.

Did God know the center of the Bible would tell us to praise Him? You bet He did! Did He know that someday, someone would figure out what the very middle of the Bible was? Of course! The core of our faith is in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and as our Savior. The core of our response must be PRAISE!!! On this Thanksgiving day, remember from whom all things come. Direct your thanksgiving to Him in praise and worship. All glory and honor and praise be to the God of the Bible!!!!

What is Holding You Back?

It has come to my attention (thank You, God) that it is time to share my testimony with you.  But not necessarily my salvation testimony.  I don’t have a dramatic salvation story…I was only 4 when I invited Christ into my life, after all.

Like all Christians, I had my ups and downs trying to figure out what this Christian life was all about.  One thing I always had, though, was someone who was a true faith warrior.  It wasn’t always the same person.  Sometimes there were more than one.  But these were the people who always gave God the glory.  Always held strong to their faith.  Were deep in the Word, and anchored by prayer.  For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Christian like them.  I wanted that relationship with Jesus that filled every part of my life.  I wanted to be in love with Jesus…but for some reason I just could never seem to get there.  I prayed.  I read my Bible.  I went to church.  I always served God in some capacity through my church.  Nothing seemed to work.  So what was holding me back?

Two things.  The first was the belief that God could not use me.  I’ve heard people use this argument when they have led a rather sordid life.  They have skeletons in their closet that would scare ghosts.  Not me.  For the most part, I was a pretty good kid growing up.  The kind of trouble I got into was fighting with my brother, and talking back to my mom.  No drugs.  No alcohol.  No illicit sex.  Even as an adult, I was tame.  I married, had children, and settled down to make the good Christian home.  We took the boys to church on Sunday.  Went to Sunday School and made sure they did, too.  I taught in Vacation Bible School every year.  Still, I didn’t believe God could use me.  Why?  Because I knew my heart.  I knew the thoughts that ran through my mind.  The judgments I made of others.  I knew how frustrated and angry I got with my boys when they misbehaved.  I knew the bitterness I held in my heart for some.  All the little secrets held inside me that no one else could see…but God.  God could see them.  I’m not perfect.  I’m not holy.  I’m pathetic.  There is no way God can use me.  I’m a living, breathing example of a hypocrite.

The second thing holding me back from that love relationship with Jesus was fear.  Oh yes!  Fear.  I was scared to death of what He would do in my life.  And maybe not even that as much as how He would do whatever He wanted to do.  What trial would He ask me to bear?  What pain would I suffer?  What, or even who, would He ask me to give up?  I guess I was afraid of the process of learning to love Jesus, more than the end result.

Still, I watched the faith warriors in my life, and longed for that same relationship.  That longing just became greater and greater over the years.  It never waned.  Always at the back of my heart was the call to draw closer to Jesus.  I know now, of course, that He was calling me.  Never giving up.  Because even though I couldn’t love Him completely, He loved me more completely than anyone else ever could.  A few short years ago God’s pull finally overcame my push.  And I realized that the only way I was going to have that relationship with Jesus was to completely surrender to him.  I had to believe that Almighty God could actually do something with my life that would bring glory to Him.  And I had to give over to Him all of me, and all those people and things that meant so much to me, and trust Him to do whatever He knew to be the best.  I had to lay it all on the line.  And I did that.  One day as I sat in a room alone, with the door locked shut, I cried out to God.  “I want that relationship with you, God.  The one that so-and-so has.  Please, take me and make me Yours.  Do with me as You please.  Just use me, please.”

Then came the change.  It wasn’t instantaneous.  But it has been steady.  I have found a deep desire to learn more and more about the God I serve.  I am drawn to read His Word like I am to eating sweets.  I crave the Bible, and find myself looking for opportunities to read it, even outside of my devotion time.  I have the same craving for my prayer time.  You might say I have a sweet tooth for Jesus.  And I finally have that I’m-in-love-with-Jesus kind of relationship with Him that I have longed for since I was four!  It has been a long time coming!

What about my fear and belief that God can use me?  The fear God has taken care of with His peace that passes all understanding.  Now and then I will hesitate, or even find myself gripped by fear, but I have learned to recognize that as Satan trying to pull me away from God.  The Bible tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear.  So praying and praising will quickly dispel that trouble.

As for God not being able to use me, well, that is another story.  And it is one that you are reading right now.  Since my cry out to God, I have learned that He has given me the gift of prophecy.  And I am learning how He wants me to use it to lift up, encourage, and edify His people.  This blog is a direct result of His calling to me, and a demonstration of how God is using me.  Am I any more perfect or holy than I was before?  No.  Just ask my boys:-)  I still lose my temper.  I still wrestle to keep my thoughts controlled.  I still say and do things I shouldn’t.  And I’m sure there are still people who could look at my life and call me a hypocrite.  But I’m trying.  And I continually give myself over to God, asking Him to change me and make me the person He wants me to be.  God is using me in spite of myself.  I guess that is what makes this relationship so humbling.  God knows me better than I know myself, and yet He still loves me, wants a relationship with me, and wants to use me for His honor and glory.

The thing I want most in this world is what I hope to hear in the next.  I want desperately to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Someone out there is reading this blog post and longs for a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Someone is wrestling with the same fear that I did, and believing the lies that Satan is telling them.  I want you to believe that God can use you!  Heed His call in your life.  Cry out to Him!  He is waiting, longing to ease your fear, give you peace, and shower you with Himself.  And He will use you.  I don’t care who you are, what you have done, or what sins you still wrestle with.  God is God, for Pete’s sake!  Of course He can use you!  Nothing is impossible for Him, including you.

My prayer for you today is the courage and faith to surrender to God, and then all the blessings that come with being in love with your Lord and Savior.

I Don’t Get It! How Can God Use ME??

The Israelites never cease to amaze me.  They were the chosen people of God Almighty.  He spoke directly to them, and performed one incredible miracle after another to, through, for them.  He demonstrated His power time and again, and showered them with blessings.  God Himself gave them the best land, a land filled with milk and honey.  He defeated their enemies on countless occasions.  He was actually present with them in a tangible form (in a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire, and on the seat of the ark of the covenant).  Yet, over and over and over again, they rejected Him.  They refused to obey God’s commands.  They worshiped false gods.  How in the world could they turn from the presence of the God who communicated directly to them, whom they could see was alive and well and all-powerful, to worshiping a chunk of metal or rock?  I don’t get it!

Still God used them to bless the entire earth!  He used this group of ungrateful, back-stabbing, faithless people to send the Messiah, the Savior for all, to this sinful world.

While I ponder this miracle, I see a reflection…an image that looks all too much like the Israelites…me.  My life is a mess.  Oh, I don’t mean that my marriage is on the rocks and my children are all out carousing and getting in trouble.  I mean I’m a sinner!  I am selfish.  I have a quick temper.  I am impatient.  I can be judgmental.  I falsely accuse.  I fight my attitude all the time.  The list goes on.  Yet somehow, in an amazing miraculous way, God has chosen me as a vessel.  He shares His messages through me, the pen in His hand.  I don’t get it!

I am so grateful that “God does not see the same way people see.  People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).  Thank God He knows my heart!  Thank God he knows the depth of my desire to serve Him!  Thank God He understands that I am a sinner, saved by His grace!

Unfortunately, people don’t know my heart.  They see the outside.  They see the mistakes I make.  They see the sinful me.  And I am certain that it is far too easy to believe that I cannot possible be used by God, after all, look how frustrated and impatient she is with her children when they are goofing off in church, or messing around in the store.  Look at how she lost her temper with that teacher when something happened to her child at school.  They can’t imagine how God can use me.  They don’t get it.

But God is using me.  I don’t deserve to be used of God!  I know that all too well.  But I want to obey Him, more than anything.  And so I keep struggling through everyday life, making mistakes, committing sins and seeking forgiveness…and remaining open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I know that I need to look different.  My witness, and God’s message, are tarnished by my sinfulness.  I must seek to serve Him, and obey Him in every area of my life, not just my calling.  Titus 3:1-2 (NCV) – “Remind the believers to yield to the authority of rulers and government leaders, to obey them, to be ready to do good, to speak no evil about anyone, to live in peace, and to be gentle and polite to all people.”

I am so thankful that God knows my imperfections, and that His work is not complete in me…it won’t be until the day Christ returns.  I can’t expect perfection from myself, or anyone else, for that reason alone.

If you believe God can’t use you because of your sin, you are wrong.  Remember that all things are possible with God.  Just ask Him to use you, be open to His leading, and be obedient to His call.  Being used by God is not up to you, or your abilities.  It is up to God and His abilities.  You, my friend, are an open slate!  Rejoice in that!!!

If you are obeying God’s call, as I am, and think your sins shout “hypocrisy” from the highest mountain, don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  Do work on it!  The Bible tells us in many places the kind of behavior we should exhibit as followers of Christ.  We must work to look and behave differently.  We will fail.  Get used to it.  But, by the grace of God, our failures will be less and less.  Do not lose hope because the Spirit will help us…we just need to listen, and obey.

If you are a person standing at the foot of the mountain and hearing the cry of “hypocrisy,” be discerning.  Remember how God used the Israelites (and so many other flawed and sinful people in the Bible).  Listen to the message.  Weigh it against the Word of God and pray for God to reveal His truths to you.  Remember that the message, the lesson, whatever it is that is coming to you through another person, perfect and holy or not, comes from the Holy Spirit, not the person.  Look past their failures, and look to what God wants you to know.

“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.  How marvelous!  How wonderful!  And my song shall ever be:  How marvelous!  How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”

Use Your Noggin!

As I am reading through Paul’s epistles to the early churches, one of the themes I see over and over again is the warning against false teaching.  Often it is in reference to the increase of false teachings as the end times approach, but it is a general warning for all times as well.

After my first son was born, I went through a lengthy period of time where I battled postpartum depression.  I was awake many, many hours during the night with a premature baby who needed to be fed regularly, but did not wake easily.  As my husband snored beside me, I would turn on a Christian television station.  God used the programs on that station to lift me, and remind me of His constant presence with me.  Yet I was bothered by the extreme flashiness of the shows and the people on them.  The jewelry they wore looked large enough to tip people off their feet.  The rings alone certainly had to weigh enough to make lifting their hands in praise to God a literal work-out!  The furniture was covered with gold.  It was a virtual paradise!  Perhaps they were broadcasting straight from heaven itself!  They obviously had plenty of money, but still they would plead for more to support their ministry and their missions.  I’m sorry, but are you kidding me?????  Sell your jewelry and your fancy furniture!  Use something more practical and you won’t need to beg for so much assistance…is our money even going towards a ministry and mission?  Or is it going to line your pockets and create a life of ease for you?  Where is your heart?

In 1 Timothy 6:3-10 (NCV) Paul warns Timothy to watch for those who teach things that are against what Christ taught and use them to become rich.  “Anyone who has a different teaching does not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that shows the true way to serve God.  This person is full of pride and understands nothing, but is sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words.  This brings jealousy, fighting, speaking against others, evil mistrust, and constant quarrels from those who have evil minds and have lost the truth.  They think that serving God is a way to get rich.  Serving God does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have.  We brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out.  But, if we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with that.  Those who want to become rich bring temptation to themselves and are caught in a trap.  They want many foolish and harmful things that ruin and destroy people.  The love of money causes all kinds of evil.  Some people have left the faith because they wanted to get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow.”

God taught me this lesson long ago.  While He used that “Christian” television station to comfort me, there was always a question about their true faith, and their motives.  I am grateful that God allowed me to discern the falseness in their teachings.  It is vital, especially today as we see the time of Christ’s return upon the horizon, that we cling to our Bibles and seek the wisdom and discernment of the Father when it comes to the teachings we are exposed to.

I listen to Christian radio a lot during the school year when I drive from school to school, some more than an hour away.  I am always cautious of what I am hearing.  I weigh it against what I know of God’s Word, and what He has taught me through the Spirit.  If I hear something that is suspect, I take the time to check it out.  I look in the Bible for verses that support what was being taught, and I pray.  When I hear consistent false teachings from a radio pastor, I turn them off!!  And I don’t go back!  I do not want to open myself up to teachings that would lead me astray.  I must guard myself with the “belt of truth,” the “shield of faith,” and “the sword of the Spirit!”  I expect you to weigh my words in the same way.

Be careful, too, of the specifics of the false teachings.  Is it a particular Bible verse that is taken out of context, but still teaches truths that align with the teachings of Christ?  Then perhaps it is a simple matter of the teacher misunderstanding the leading of the Holy Spirit.  These times happen to us all because no one understands fully the entire truth of the Scriptures.  We learn as we go, and as the Spirit reveals those truths to us.  Are the false teachings occurring consistently?  If this person teaches falsely on a regular basis, it is time to shut them off.  They are not led by the Spirit, and so the teachings are not of God.  How serious are the infractions?  Recently I learned of a prominent teacher who has declared that Jesus quit being the Son of God when He took on our sins.  This is huge!!!!  That would mean that He was not God, that the Trinity became a duo, that Jesus, as God, ceased to exist!  Uh-uh!  No way!  I don’t care how many other good teachings this person gives.  This is major, and I will not open myself up for more.  Finally, what are the motives of the teacher?  Is there evidence to show that their heart is to follow God’s leading and not a personal desire for fame or fortune?  Be careful!  Use the noggin God gave you, with a healthy dose of His wisdom and discernment, and the Bible and Holy Spirit as fact-checkers.  God doesn’t want you to be led astray.  If you seek Him, He will guide you on the right paths.

One additional note for those who are, or have been led to believe that becoming a Christian will automatically bring you into a life of wealth and abundance.  You are being deceived!  This is a false teaching!  God never promised wealth and abundance in return for your belief in Him!  He promised forgiveness of sins, salvation from eternal damnation in hell, and eternal life with Him in His glorious presence.  If you look back at the passage from Timothy that I copied above, you will see that Paul says the richness we have in serving God is being satisfied with what we have.  If we have food and clothing, and are satisfied, then we are rich.  Choose to believe in and serve God for HIS promise of eternal life, not for a man-made deception of earthly wealth that will decay, and be left behind when we leave here.

May God bless you, and guide you to His truths today!

Cutting & Pasting the Bible: What Are We Missing?

Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

We cut and paste the Bible all the time.  How many verses can you quote from memory?  I don’t know nearly as many as I should.  And the ones I do know I often don’t recall where they are found.  But one thing I am discovering as I have been making my way through the Bible for the 2nd time is that many of the verses we use as our go-to verses are taken out of context, or at least not used with the full context intended.  We miss the full meaning by doing this.

Let me give you 3 examples from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, all in the same chapter, too yet:-)  As a side note, I have learned that Paul likes to make one-liner points, but throws them in the midst of a bunch of other wording.  I think we often miss the true point, so I will show you what I have seen this morning.  Watch for those italics and bold markings.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NCV) – Be full of joy in the Lord always.  I will say again, be full of joy.  Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.  The Lord is coming soon.  Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I saw 3 verses, or part verses, that are quoted all the time.  I’m sure you caught them, too.  There are two things I want to point out in this passage.  Let’s look at the bold print first.  There is a definite link between what we do, and what we receive.  What are we to do?  Do not worry.  Pray.  And give thanks.  What do we receive?  The peace of God.

Second.  Did you notice the italics?  What is that doing in there?  It totally doesn’t fit…does it?  Yes!  It absolutely does!  In fact, it is the overall point!  Allow me the liberty of expanding on Paul’s words, if you will.

Be full of joy in the Lord always.  I will say again, be full of joy.  The Lord is coming soon.  Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.  The Lord is coming soon.  Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  The Lord is coming soon.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  The Lord is coming soon.

In other words, the Lord is coming soon!  Keep your attitude in check.  Be joyful, don’t worry, pray, give thanks, and experience God’s peace…because…the Lord is coming soon!

Passage number 2:  Phil. 4:8-9 – Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise.  Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.  Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do.  And the God who gives peace will be with you.

Point?  This is not just “the God who gives peace will be with you.”  There is a condition to that.  First you must “do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do.”  Now the example Paul set for us to follow…”think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected” (obviously not all-inclusive, but a good place to start…with our minds).  [I swear, Paul writes backwards!  From bottom up!]

Passage number 3:  Philippians 4:11-13 – I am not telling you this because I need anything.  I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens.  I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough.  I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.

There it is folks, the secret to happiness…contentment.  But contentment why?  BECAUSE CHRIST GIVES US EVERYTHING WE NEED  (as He sees it) FOR EVERY SITUATION!  Contentment that stems from total reliance on God.  When we are relying on God for everything we need in every situation, good and bad, we are content…and happy.  There is so much more in those verses than just a moral booster!  It is a lesson, an attitude, a way of living, and what happens when we follow it.

The next time you see a verse on a shirt,  or a framed picture, or hear it quoted, I encourage you to pull out your Bible and read the verses surrounding it.  What more is there to glean from further study?  And what message from God will you be able to carry with you for the next time you hear that verse?  God’s Word is such an amazing blessing!  But it is so important to read all of it, not just single verses that we cut and paste into our lives when we think they fit.  That is like trying to put the pieces of two puzzles together to make one picture.  Our picture and God’s picture.  It doesn’t work that way.  Take the pieces from God’s puzzle and see what picture He makes.  

May God reveal Himself to you in His Word today!

Making Enemies

Nothing makes an enemy faster than seeking God.  A Christian can be a Christian and coast through life with nary a problem.  La-de-de, la-de-da, life goes on.  Until they make the decision to commit fully to God.  Then WHAM!!!  They get broad-sided by a speeding locomotive!  I like trains, so I hate to compare them to Satan, but what else moves as hard and fast as a train, and can completely demolish something in its path?  Turning your eyes toward God can be like standing on the railroad tracks with a blindfold on and ear plugs in.  You are perfectly fine until you are smashed to pieces.

Is this any reason to not turn your eyes to God?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  But you better be prepared when you do.  Unfortunately, far too many of us don’t recognize the risk and are sucked into the devil’s schemes.  Nothing makes him happier than stealing our God-given joy, hope, love, peace, contentment, and strength, and leaving us crumpled in a heap wondering what in the world happened.

When we are in that crumpled state, what do we do next?  Do we turn to God and ask why?  Don’t we often expect to be continuously filled with His joy when we are walking in HIs ways?  And when we are digging into God’s Word, studying, learning, praying without ceasing, don’t we expect life to be easier?  So what happened?  Satan.  As long as we are coasting through life, not really giving God the time of day, except on Sunday morning, the devil could care less what we do.  We are not a threat to him or his plans.  He does not consider us his enemies.  That in itself is a very scary concept.  If we are not enemies to the enemy of God, than what are we to him?  Yikes!

As soon as we realize that we want more from our relationship with Christ.  As soon as we decide to truly to commit to God and seek His ways.  As soon as we dust off our Bibles and get on our knees, red flags go up in the enemy camp.  Satan sits up and takes notice.  He sends out the troops with their battle plans tucked under their arms, and weapons at the ready.  LOOK OUT!  His goal is not to slow you down, or stop you.  His plan is to obliterate you.  He wants to destroy you so that your faith is derailed permanently.  He takes no prisoners.  He is an executioner!

In many of my posts I have encouraged you to read your Bibles and spend time in prayer.  Do not view the imminent attack as reason to neglect your relationship with God.  Don’t think that God is unable to defeat Satan in this battle for your loyalty.  God has always been mightier.  The battle was won on the cross as Jesus died.  At that moment the victory was secured.  I don’t know if Satan knows he doesn’t have a chance in the world, or if he believes his own lies and thinks he can still win.  Either way, he is going to take down as many people as he can, and praying, growing Christians are top on his list.

I want you to pray.  I want you to read God’s Word.  I want you to desperately seek Him, to learn His ways, to recognize His will, and to strive to live in obedience to Him.  But I want you to do it with eyes wide open, and prepared for battle.

Ephesians 6:10-13 (NCV) – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His great power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks.  Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers  of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.  That is why you need to put on God’s full armor.   Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong.  And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.”

If you are like me, the first thing you will want to do on your new journey to seek out Christ’s will in your life, and deepen your relationship with HIm is to read through the whole Bible.  This is admirable, and a worthy goal.  Absolutely aim to do this.  There is so much to be learned about our Father in every part of the Bible.  But be sure to pray for protection (recall the “deliver us from evil” part of the Lord’s Prayer).  Pray for wisdom and discernment so that you will know what is truth, and what is a lie from the devil.  And make sure you spend some of your Bible reading time looking up Scripture verses and passages that will help you to fight against the devil’s attacks.  A lot of Bibles, and Christian web-sites and apps, offer lists of verses to read in particular situations (when you are depressed, when you are afraid, etc.).  These are great places to start finding verses that will help.  Write them down!  Keep them close at hand.  (Thank you to my spiritual Auntie for this suggestion that has helped me so much;-)  Speak them out loud when you are under attack.  I have taken to reading several aloud after I post a blog because Satan attacks me immediately afterward.  I go back to prayer.  Seek the presence of the Holy Spirit as you pray.  The presence of the Spirit is a mighty, mighty force.  That is why Satan cannot attack me as I write.  The Holy Spirit of God Almighty is so strongly present in me during that time, that Satan can’t come near me.  But afterward, I have to be very careful to not let my guard down.  I need to continue in prayer, and speaking God’s Word in defense.  Reminding myself, and Satan, of the power of the God I serve.  CHRIST IS THE VICTOR!!!  PRAISE, GLORY, AND ALL HONOR BE TO HIM!!!!

Ephesians 6:14-18 – “So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest.  On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.  And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.  Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need.  To do this you must always be ready and never give up.  Always pray for all God’s people.”

Never forget how very much God loves you!  He will not leave you.  He will not let you fight this battle alone.  But you must fight it, if you are to draw closer to Him.  The battle is worth it, my brothers and sisters.  Knowing God in a deeper and more intimate way is worth any battle I have, or will face.  I pray that you will find that, too.  May God be your strong tower today!

walking on the narrow path.

walking on the narrow path with Jesus

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It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightest weapons. ~ William Gurnall

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