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Posts Tagged ‘devil’

Abiding and Abounding

August 5th, 2014

“I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5.

The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abiding and abounding.”

England has long been one of my favorite places to visit. I especially enjoy having lunch in British pubs, the older and authentic the better. I enjoy seeing signs on businesses, such as, “Established 1868.” Such information evidences pride in history and heritage, implying promise of reliability.

Several things have prompted my thoughts today. A few days ago, I came across the notes from my first sermon as a young pastor at Trinity Church, “The Life That Is Established,” May 25, 1975. I knew that was a Biblical principle I wanted to visit again. And over the weekend, I officiated at long-time friends’ Renewal of Vows on their 70th Anniversary. Then Sunday, I dedicated our great grandson, Carter, as Gayle and I also celebrated our 51st Anniversary. I guess I like people, places, and things that have been and will continue to be around a while. Your faith in Christ should be like that.

Paul was intent on Christian life being lived with confidence and security. I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in [the faith] with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:5-7. Paul refers to both “your faith,” which you are to exercise and be “steadfast,” as well as “the faith” in which you are to abide and be “established.”  Your faith abides upon the greater faith. See John 15:7, 9-10/1 John 2:24. What God begins in grace He continues in faith and concludes in thanksgiving. That process results in your being “established and abounding with thanksgiving.” The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

The world is a complex state of flux, symptomatic of shifting politics, international alliances, erratic economies, disintegrating marriages, and dysfunctional families. You need a place of emotional, moral, and spiritual equilibrium. David wrote, “He set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God.” See Psalm 40:1-3. Such a place is only found in God and His truth. There you recover direction and determination.

A proper outcome requires much more than good intentions and optimistic beginnings. A final outcome results from what you do between where you begin and when you finish. Keep God as “the Author and Finisher of your faith,” at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. The Bible provides a practical guide for abiding and abounding. Read Hebrews 12:1-4. There is much that will oppose and discourage you. The Bible describes those oppositional forces as, the world around you“every weight and the sin that ensnares you” (vs. 1-2), and the flesh within you “weary and discouraged in your souls” (vs. 3), and the devil against you“striving against sin” (vs. 4). After Paul’s lengthy and practical discourse about the Resurrection, he logically concludes, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Today, my prayer for you is that you abide in Christ and abound with thanksgiving.

Christian Communications, Inc.

(All Bible references are NKJV unless otherwise noted.)

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Distractions and Diversions

May 28th, 2014

“Anyone who starts to plow, then keeps looking back is of no use . .” Luke 9:62 TEV.

The devil is the master of distraction and deception.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions and diversions.”

Distractions happen. Distractions waste more of a person’s time than we realize when they occur. Ironically, while writing this, I became distracted. That happens easily to any of us. Interruptions occur; misdirection results. Here’s the problem. Typically, you are not interrupted by more important matters. Usually, lesser things crowd into your life and crowd out of your life things you cannot afford to procrastinate. Your success results from setting priorities, maintaining focus, and avoiding distraction.

A distraction can be a brief, pleasant diversion. However, any diversion has potential for a misdirection you may not intend. That can be costly if not noticed and corrected. Unfortunately, distractions come in all shapes and descriptions, some in the pretense of responsibilities or others disguised as opportunities. The devil is the master of distraction and deception, using love of the world, desires, worry, regret, greed, anger, offences, or temptations to dissuade you from being the person Christ means you to be.

Jesus spoke of the danger of spiritual distraction, “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God.” Read Luke 9:57-62 TEV. See John 6:66-69 NIV. Jesus’ clearest teaching on distraction is found in a parable He told. Read Matthew 13:3-8 NIV. The same seed – with incalculable potential for good – had differing results, according to the reception of its truth. Jesus was not talking about farmers and fields, nor seed and soils. In His story, Jesus was describing people into whose hearts and lives the Word of God was sown, inefficiently in some but effectively in others. Read Matthew 13:18-23 NIV. Whatever diminishes your obedience to God’s Word, His will, and His ways is a distraction you cannot afford.

Beware; distractions preempt attention from what God is saying and doing in your life. “The evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” Vs 19. Your spiritual life requires priority and focus. Distractions dull God’s calling in your heart and diminish His dreams for you before their time of harvest.

Be careful; distractions prevent the Word of God from becoming rooted in your heart. “Since he has no root, he lasts only for a short time. When trouble comes . . he quickly falls away.” Vs 20-21. Avoid shallow convictions and superficial faith. See Colossians 2:6-7 NKJV.

Be watchful; distractions preoccupy your mind with worries and fears instead of God’s Word. “The worries of this life choke [the Word], making it unfruitful.” Vs 22. Worry ignores God’s Word while consuming thoughts and emotions with fear, suffocating hope, and destroying expectation. See Philippians 4:6-8 NLT/2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV.

Jesus’ conclusion is, “. . the man who hears the Word of God and understands it. He produces a crop yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” Vs 23. Paul was neither distracted nor dissuaded, “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . . one thing I do, forgetting . . reaching . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Acts 20:22-24/Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding.

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Condemnation and Conviction

December 19th, 2013

Whenever our hearts condemn us . . God is greater than our hearts.1 John 3:20 NIV.

Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “condemnation and conviction.”

There are times when you will behave badly. A sadness of heart results, maybe even degrees of shame. You try to ignore it, but an internal uneasiness makes that difficult. The real issue is not that you failed to measure up to others’ criteria; the sadness or shame you feel is rooted in a diminished expectation of yourself.

That recognition is a good sign of a healthy, God-given sensitivity, “[demonstrating] that God’s law is written within their hearts, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.” Romans 2:14-15 NLT/NKJV. What is more important than to know right from wrong? God does not leave such to personal interpretation. Read James 4:17 NIV.

The Holy Spirit, who is within you, is grieved when you violate your innate knowledge of right and wrong. Yet that is an experience common to all. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NKJV. The Spirit is God’s gift, and arbiter of the Word of God as well as the Law of God, written on your heart and expressed in your conscience. See also Acts 24:16 NKJV.

Paul admonished the Christ-followers at Ephesus, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NKJV. Those who continually disregard the pleadings of the Holy Spirit risk what the Bible describes as, “having their conscience seared [as] with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV. To a stubborn heart wrong appears right and right seems wrong. Believe me; that is not a place you want to find yourself. John 3:19-20 NKJV.

Ignoring the discomfort within yourself or refusing the pleadings of the gentle Holy Spirit who comes to “convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness” (See John 16:8 NKJV),you will feel guilt and its resultant shame. Be advised of the distinction you must understand between condemnation and conviction.

The Bible is clear, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-2 NKJV. God convicts; the devil condemns. They can feel similar, almost indistinguishable, though they are not alike at all. The difference is in their intent and result, not in the regret or emotions you feel.

(10) Examine the intent. Without equivocation, I assure you God did not send His Son to condemn you; He came to save you! The Bible declares, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17 NKJV. Whereas, the devil is described as, “the accuser.” Revelation 12:10 NKJV. He wishes only your harm. See John 10:10 NIV.

(2) Consider the results. “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the One who died for us and was raised to life for us . .nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God . .” Romans 8:33-39 NLT. Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation. “This then is how we . . set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20 NIV. Conviction creates repentance; condemnation only produces impotent regret . . but “God is greater than our hearts . .”

My prayer for you today is that you heart remains at rest before God.

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Temptation

May 5th, 2010

“I fear that somehow you will be led astray from . . devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NLT

Your strategy for success over temptation is very simple; choose to do what’s right.”

My thoughts today are about “temptation.”

No one is exempt from temptation. The area of temptation may vary, but the reality of it is common to all. I have been bit more careful about my diet lately to strengthen my health. Have you noticed how all of the wrong things look and sound so appetizing when you are on a diet? Sometimes when you try the hardest to do right, you still struggle with thoughts that oppose that, in spite of your best efforts. Paul understood that human dilemma, “So I discover this principle, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Romans 7:21.

So, is that evil around you? Yes, most definitely. The Bible calls that the “world,” a spiritual gravitational pull that draws you down and away from doing right. But isn’t there evil also within you. Yes! The Bible calls that sympathy for sin, the “flesh.” And be aware, evil is also against you. The Bible calls that very real and sinister power, the “devil.”

Jesus warned Peter, “Satan has desired you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail.” Luke 22:31. Temptation does not just happen or only occur when you are not being careful. There is a purposeful and evil strategy for your failure and its entry point is your mind. Peter knew well what he was talking about when he later wrote, “Be sober. Be on the alert! Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion. “ 1 Peter 5:8.

As there is a complicated and committed strategy for your failure, you can have a simple strategy for victory over temptation and sin. You may have little choice in the temptation you face, but you have everything to say about whether or not you sin by yielding to temptation!

Your strategy for success is really very simple. Don’t invite temptation by enticing yourself with evil. Read James 1:14,15. Don’t join in others’ evil. Don’t hyperventilate about NOT doing wrong; simply choose to do what’s right. Keep your focus positive, and positively on Jesus. Always depend on Jesus’ victory over sin on your behalf. “But thanks be unto God, Who always causes you to triumph in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 2:14.

“But God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape that you may be able to be victorious.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.  Yes, temptation is common, but use that very moment to look for God’s “exit sign,” which He has promised as the avenue for your escape. Do everything to maintain “your pure and simple devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NLT.

My prayer for you today is: remember Jesus said He was praying for you. And so am I.

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Willing

April 12th, 2010

“Your will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NIV

To know God’s will all you have to be is willing!

My thoughts today are about being “willing.”

Your will is a powerful thing, a wondrous gift given to you by God. God meant for your will to serve you, to give you strength of determination and direction. Your will is at its best when in submission and agreement with God’s will. When you allow your will to wrongly rule you, it replaces determination to do what’s right with stubbornness to do only what you want.

Once I shared a teaching that I titled, “The will of man, what every man has that the devil wants. The devil would take it if he could, but he can’t; God could take it if He would, but He won’t.” Quite a lengthy title, but a good summary of the teaching.

The devil tries by every deceit and cleverness to turn your will away from God. God waits for you to yield your will to His. “A final word: be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil . . lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of His devices.” Ephesians 6:10-11 NLT/2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV. Be warned, others may try that as well. Don’t be fooled for a moment; it is an enemy not a friend who would seek to coerce your will to do wrong.

Your will is given to empower you to serve God with loving wholeheartedness, not because you must but because you choose. Who but a loving God would give such a gift and trust you to use it wisely and well? God does not usurp your will even when you use it wrongly. He will not coerce nor control your will, against your will; He desires to rightly direct your will through your trusting cooperation. King David’s Godly advice to Solomon would be my encouragement to you: “Serve God with wholehearted devotion and a willing mind!” 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV.

God wants your pure and voluntary love, not forced, involuntary love. Can you imagine the empty dissatisfaction of love that was not at all genuine? Someone loving what you do, what you have, or what you give, rather than loving you? Someone loving you only for what they personally benefit by doing so? Extremely wealthy, exceptionally beautiful, or famous people can often feel unsure of love for just that reason. Do you think that might be why there are so many serial marriages in the entertainment industry and world of high finance, or even a lot of ordinary people like most of us are?

The Bible says, “I plead with you . . that you present your body a living sacrifice – holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service . . not conformed to this world, but transformed . . that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 NKJV. Notice the honest description of God’s will – good, acceptable, and perfect. To know God’s will all you have to be is willing!

A willing heart will discover how true that description actually is. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.” Isaiah 1:19 NIV. See also Hebrews 13;18 KJV.This is the question to answer: am I doing the will of God for my life as I understand it? Your answer determines so much about your life, here and now and there and then!

My prayer for you today is that God finds your heart willing to know and enjoy His will always.

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