Satan is a Thief

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I learned this verse a very long time ago.  I have said it many times but mostly the part about Jesus coming that we might have life and “have it more abundantly” (KJV).  The first part about the thief was, “yeah, that’s true but what does that have to do with me?” Until recently, when I realized that Jesus is talking about Satan.  I just finished a two part message on “Know the Enemy” and “God’s Armor.”

Satan is a crafty fellow who uses his demons to do his bidding.  We first see him in the Garden of Eden where he lies and tricks Eve and Adam into disobeying the Lord God.  He stole the paradise from them.  He stole Job’s health. He tried to steal Jesus’ throne. He is indeed a thief.

His work is not done.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Satan is the ruler until Jesus returns to put him in his place.  But until then, He is a “roaring lion seeking those who do not follow close to Jesus.”

Satan wants to steal your joy, your peace, your hope, and your love.  Remember this passage from Paul the apostle who encountered many difficulty from the advosary.  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Satan can’t steal what is sealed in the blood of Jesus.  He can’t steal your soul but he will try.  Just say no to the Devil!!! Well, that’s my (short) point for today.  Enjoy!

His Grace is Sufficient

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

It has been a while since I have written here.  Life seems to get busy as summer comes along.  I hope to be more diligent with writing posts to my blog.  Let’s look at the verse above.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul is defending himself against the attacks of those who would discredit him in his work for God.  He begins in chapter 11 listing all of his qualifications then moves into chapter 12 where he is reminded of a thorn in his flesh.  What was this thorn in the flesh?  Conjecture is all we can do to answer this question, so we will leave it alone at this point.  Let’s just say that what ever the thorn was, it was used to help Paul develop humility.

It seems to be something that was at times debilitating because he asked that it be taken away at least three times.  It was then that Jesus speaks to him about His grace.  This kind of grace is what God gives us to sustain us in times of needs, struggles and heartaches.  Jesus tells Paul that it is through these times of weaknesses that His “power is made perfect.”  So Paul then states that whatever happens he will boast now in his weakness so that Jesus might be lifted up.

You know that it is easy for us to blame God when things go wrong in our lives.  After all, when we became a Christian all the woes and troubles of this world will never hurt us, right?  Not completely true.  You may disagree with me and that’s ok but friends we are living in fallen world with sin, sickness, and problems.  Here’s the key, if we trust that God is on His throne, that Jesus is making intercession for you (giving you His grace to sustain you), and the Holy Spirit is ministering to your heart you will see God’s hand in your life.

Here is what I hope you remember as each of us face the struggles of this life…whatever happens, give God the Glory because He is working through your life to witness to others about the grace that Jesus has in store for all.  Share His word and love with those around you in spite of what you are facing because His “power is made perfect in our weakness.”   That’s my point for today.  Leave a comment if you want and let me know what you think.  Thanks for reading.

Redeemed by Jesus

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  Romans 3:23-24 NIV

Not too long ago, my wife, Anna, and I were going through some of our book shelves doing some cleaning.  We came across a tin can that had not been opened in a very long time.  To our surprise, we found some old S&H Green Stamps.  Some of you may remember that Anna posted on Facebook about our discovery.  Well, we just stuck them back into the can and put it back on the shelf.  We don’t have enough to do redeem them for merchandise so they will stay in the can until they fall apart.  Our inheritance to our kids.  Your welcome.

The first verse above is very familiar to everyone (I think) so I want to go to the second verse and look at some key words that are there…justified, grace and redemption.

The word “justified” (in this context) means “declared or made righteous in the sight of God.”  Wait a minute.  Didn’t he just say that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?  Yet he says that we are all justified freely.  Here’s what I believe this is what we must understand…Yes we are sinners, yes we are separated from God because of our sin yet God choose to “justify” us and make us “just as if I’d never sinned.”  How is that possible?  It’s called GRACE.

This word, grace, has been alliterate as “God’s Richs At Christ’s Expense.”  Another way to understand this word is “Grace is God’s favor given to those who trust in Jesus.”  Ephesians 2:8 puts it this way, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  This grace is given to all who will come to God believing that “God loved them so much that He gave his one and only Son (Jesus) that we should not perish eternally.”  So how did this grace come to be made available to all (even you)?  By redemption.

Like with the S&H Green Stamps which were given to purchase an item so Jesus gave his life on the cross to “redeem” you and me from an eternity in hell.  The writer above says that this justification comes through God’s grace through the redemption of Jesus.  Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we could be made “righteous” in God’s sight.  It’s because of the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice that paid the debt that you and I could never pay.

Have you placed your faith in the one who has paid the price for your redemption?  If not and you would like more information on how to be saved just leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  If you would like to follow my blog, just click the “follow” button below and you will be sent a notice when I update my page.  Remember, God’s grace is free to all who will believe.  That’s my POINT for today.  God bless.

Thirst for God

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalms 42:1-2 NIV)

Do you ever get thirsty?  You know, those times when your mouth is dry and your lips are parched. There have been times when I would be mowing the lawn and would have to take time to drink a bottle of water just to rehydrate.  A thirst that can only be quenched by those drinks of water is what the writer is talking about in the above verse.  Here’s what is happening in this section…

We find in this Psalm a man of God who has been removed from the temple in Jerusalem.  Later in the passage he refers to Mount Hermon and Mizar which are to the north of the Sea of Galilee.  King David often found himself removed from the temple and longed to be in the presence of His God.  In a later Psalm, David says, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”” (Psalms 122:1 NIV)

Because of the distance from the temple and the formal form of worship the writer (maybe David or someone who knew him well) falls into depression.  He says that his soul is downcast, perhaps a feeling of despair or a deep longing to worship his God.  He asked “why are you downcast”.  In verse 8, he recognizes that it is God who directs His love to the writer, who gives him a song in the night.  Yet he seems to be filled with hopelessness.

Maybe you have felt that way, too.  Have you felt that you are apart from God, that he doesn’t care about your situation?  It happens to the best of us…it happened to David and Jesus said from the cross, “”Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34 NIV)  Things happen in our lives that we do not plan or the plans that we make don’t work out the way we want them to.  We may wonder, “why is this happening to me?”  It can cause us to fall into depression, a place of hopelessness.  What are we do to when this happens?  Here are some suggestion that I found to help me.

  1. Say to yourself, “Soul, put your hope in God.”  The writer says this three times in Psalms 42-43.  We need to seek after God with our whole heart.
  2. Stay in the Word.  Many of the Psalms are fill with encouraging words to lift you up to a place where you are close to the Father who loves you.
  3. Stay close to fellow believers who will hold you up in prayer.  It is when we are in those situations that are hard for us that we need their prayers and love.
  4. Remind yourself who you are in Christ.  You are his child, his chosen treasure.  He loves you more than anything else.  You have the hope of eternal life abiding in you.

When you find yourself in the desert of deep despair try the preceding suggestions and see what happens.  “As the deer pants for the streams of water, thirst (long for, seek out) after the living God and put your hope in Him.”  That’s what I have found to be true in my life.  I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future.  That’s my POINT for today.  Blessings!

 

God never takes a nap

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no-one can fathom.” (Isaiah 40:28 NIV) (verse of the day from YOUVERSION Bible app)

You may or may not know (I didn’t know before this week) but there is a “National Nap Day.”  William and Camille Anthony created National Napping Day in 1999 to highlight the health benefits of taking a short afternoon nap.  They choose the day after Daylight Savings time to help others catch up on their missed sleep.  So napping is not just for kids but a good thing for everyone.  This year it was March 12–did you get your nap?

Today’s focus verse from Isaiah points to the fact that God doesn’t need a nap or sleep.  The writer points out some important things about our God that I want to call to our attention.

First, the Lord (Yahweh) is everlasting, meaning that He has always existed and will never cease to exist.  This concept is hard for us to understand because we wear out, get old and die physically.  But the Lord our God has been there from the beginning of our time and He will continue to be there until the end of our time.  That’s what it means when we say that God is eternal.  So the first statement the writer makes is that God is not trapped in time or space.

Then we see that this everlasting God is the creator of everything we see today.  Looking at Genesis 1, it was God who spoke everything (sun, moon, stars, earth, oceans, plants, animals and mankind) into existence.  The Apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3 NIV)  The Word here refers to Jesus so we see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit at work in creating the world and all that is in it.  So not only is the Lord an everlasting God but also the creator God.

Third, our God never grows tired or gets weary…He never takes a nap.  There is the account of Elijah and the 400 prophets of Baal found in 1Kings.  After the prophets marched around their altar Elijah began to tease them, “At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up!”” (1 Kings 18:27 HCSB)  Later, after a simple prayer, the God of Israel, the God of Elijah, sent fire from heaven to consume the offering that was placed there.  Our God was not sleeping or gone a trip.  He is always ready to hear from us.  So not only is the Lord an everlasting God and the creator God, He never gets tired or takes naps.

So the thing I want you to understand today is that even when we sleep or grow tired, when we feel like giving up, God is always ready to hear from us.  Don’t stop praying for His direction and strength in your life.  He will hear and carry you through whatever trouble you might be facing at this very moment.  I am trusting Him desperately in the situation that is just ahead of me.  Don’t ever forget that “He never sleeps nor grows weary.”  That’s my POINT for today.

 

Through the waters

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God…” (Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV)

A friend of mine sent a text stating that he was praying for me and gave the passage of Isaiah 43.  As I began to read the passage my thoughts went instantly to the above verse.  Understand that Isaiah is speaking to Israel of a glorious future time when Israel would be delivered from all their oppressors as He did from Egypt.  I think this also applies to Christ followers in our world today.  Let me explain.

When a person accepts the salvation that Jesus has to offer, they are given the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen them during times of trials.  Be sure that times of trials will come to each of us (the loss of a spouse or child; illnesses; cancer).  Now here’s a shocking revelation for you…Pastors are not immune to these trials either.  I know personally pastors, great men of God serving in often times lowly places, who have experienced the loss of a wife, the loss of a child and the sufferings associated with illnesses and cancer.  Just recently, it has become a personal situation with me.

Anna and I have faced other situations when times were tough and God has brought us through causing us to be closer to each other and to God.  Now a big challenge has come into our lives.  I have been diagnosed with “Myelodysplastic syndromes which results from something amiss in the spongy material inside your bones where blood cells are made (bone marrow).” To say the least, this has been a shock to us.  We do desire your prayers for God guidance in what lies ahead for us.

Here’s where the verse above is so important to me.  As God delivered the Israel from Egypt, I believe He will deliver me also.  Yes, He could completely take this away but sometimes we have to go through the waters–those times when other trials come along that may not be as tragic–the shallow waters or streams of life–yet we see God at work in them.  These are to prepare us for the rivers that we often have to cross–raging currents–yet God said he would be with us there, too.  These both prepare us for the fire that will come our way.  Because God has been with us in the little trials of life, we can have confidence that He will be with us when the tough times come.

You, too, may be facing one of the stages of trials in your life right now.  You might be in the middle of the stream or the raging river or even in the midst of the fire, therefore, as fellow believers we need to hold each other up in our prayers.   Your husband may be recovering from heart failure or you may be going through your own battle with cancer.  You may have lost your dad or mom or child.  Trials will come (see my earlier blog “What if God says, “NO”)  Let the words of Isaiah 43:2-3a comfort your heart at this very moment.  That’s my point for today and I am praying for you.

A Matter of Self-Controlled

“A man who does not control his temper is like a city whose wall is broken down.” (Proverbs 25:28 HCSB)

What causes you to lose your temper?  What buttons does someone have to push to send you over the edge and causes you to go “ballistic?”  There are things we do (yes I have lost my temper before) when we are out of control that can be long lasting in its effect.  Here’s a situation that happened to me.  We had a Dodge Dart.  The window on the passenger’s side kept falling off its track.  I spend hours working on it.  I took off the window crank (that was before I got a car with push button windows), the arm rest and the panel cover to expose the area I needed to work on.  The simple solution was to put super-glue in the track then set the window back into place.  The problem was not so simple.  There was only a little space to work in so I had to struggle with the window to get it into the right place.  I finally got it together, closed the window tight so the glue would set up, then I put back on everything I had taken off.  I then shut the door at which point the window fell down making me have to go the whole process again.  It was at that point I turned around and in my temper I kicked the door like a donkey.  Needless to say, that action caused a big dent in the door.  That’s just one example, I could have shared more but I will resist.

Look again at the verse above.  It may sound a little strange because cities don’t build walls any more.  But if you can remember the old western movies you watched where a fort had been built.  One of the major things to do to protect the inhabitants of the fort was to build a wall around the compound.  There would be one point of entry that contained the gate.  When the gate was closed the fort was secured.  The goal of the attacking enemy was to make a breach in the wall so they could gain the advantage and win the battle.

The same is true of our enemy, Satan.  He is looking for the weak places in our wall.  The goal of Satan is to apply pressure on our weakest place (our temper) to gain control over our thoughts and actions, such as kicking the car door.  It is important to understand that dealing with our temper is a matter of self-control.  Stepping back and counting to 10 is a good way to bring the situation under control.

Let me share two more verses from the Proverbs.  “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s emotions, than capturing a city.”  (Proverbs 16:32) “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person holds it in check.” (Proverbs 29:11)  So let me encourage you and myself to build up that self-control so that the enemy can’t break through.  The best way to gain self-control is to turn your life over to the Lordship of Jesus the Christ.  It is only through Him that we have any hope for an abundant life.  That’s my POINT for today.