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Posts Tagged ‘Satan’

Hey…Over Here! Distracted?

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Ever ponder what Satan might personally be doing to you as enemy #1?  I have.  I mean, I know there are those weaknesses that we all have.  Might as well put a K-Mart flashing light on top of them and loudspeakers around them because everyone else knows them too.  But what about those things that we don’t see?  What about those subtle things?  What about the little things that keeps us from serving and glorifying God every day?  What about distraction?

 

Here’s a quote from a man who cut a guy’s ear off in a passionate attempt to protect his King, and then late that same night denied he even knew this King…3 times.  Peter says this in his first letter, 5:8, “Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.”  I think Peter knew a thing or two about how sneaky Satan can be and how weak we are in our flesh and bones.

 

So what might this prowling lion like to do with you?  How could he take you down?  How could he easily keep you busy or distracted so you don’t hear God well or see His direction?  How could he, Satan, cause us to think we’re doing “good” things yet neglect the “better” things God wants us to do?

 

Distraction is huge!  It doesn’t seem ‘evil’ does it?  Sometimes we’re distracted with things that seem very worthy in our eyes.  But remember, the devil doesn’t need us evil…he just needs us separated from our God.

 

 

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

 

How would he take you out?

May 25, 2012 5 comments

I was faced with a serious question the other day.  It was from an article I stumbled across while on a Christian leadership website.  I’m going to ask you this question…and you need to answer personally and honestly.  I’m then going to ask you the same question in a couple of different contexts.

* How would our common enemy, Satan, take you out, rendering you unable to serve your family and your community?

That’s a very personal question.  But how would he take you out?  What gimmicks would he use?  What are your weaknesses?  This question isn’t just a “how are you tempted most?” question.  How would he take you out?  How would he destroy your service to God?

*How would our common enemy, Satan, take out our church family, rendering us unable to serve each other and the people around us?

This changes things just a bit because now we’re pushed to take a peek inside our local church family.  How would our enemy try to destroy our church families?  How would he get us off track?  What lies would he tell us?  What goals would he give us that are not what Christ wants at the top of our families’ agendas?

*If he could stop or hinder our discipleship process, our raising up of active believers in Jesus and his purpose, how would he do it?

This question makes one assumption…that we’re active in making disciples as Jesus instructs in Matthew 28:19-20.  Our purpose isn’t just to receive our ticket to Heaven and then decide to sit back and ride life away as though there are no expectations.  Maybe you haven’t looked at Christianity like this.  Satan loves to let Christians sit by without a feeling of daily purpose.  In this strategy, we lose the possibility of influencing others to choose Christ as well.

Bible focus: 1 Peter 5:8   Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.

This stuff is tough!  I’m convicted.  When we forget we have an enemy that wants us to forget about God’s purpose for our lives, we tend to also forget about God.  Peter tells us to be aware that Satan loves for us to forget about him.  He encourages us to be on guard.  Being on guard means we’re also on purpose.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Article referenced, written by Mike Breen, can be found here:

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2012/02/02/obituary-for-the-american-church-mike-breen/

Evil is Real

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Evil is Real – “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  1 Corinthians 13:6

  • Romans 12:21 ~ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
  • Deuteronomy 30:15 ~ See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…
  • Luke 6:45 ~ A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.
  • Psalm 23:4 ~ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…
  • James 3:16 ~ For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • Proverbs 21:15 ~ When you do what is fair, you make godly people glad.  But you terrify those who do what is evil.

Just recently, in our American political arena, the concept of evil was brought up.  A specific American leader, whom I won’t mention by name, said in no uncertain terms that there is evil in the world and Satan’s plan is to destroy us.  Yes, this was said publicly.  The backlash he received from making the assumption that there are things that are evil and things that are good and that Satan is real was amazing…but not surprising.  Many in journalistic circles were really questioning why someone would even think that there is such a thing as evil.  Calling something evil is so mean and callous.  Who gave this political figure the right to call something wrong and evil?  Yes, these were many responses and questions surrounding this man’s statement that evil is in our world.  1 John 5:19 says that if you a Christ follower you are God’s children and that the rest of the world is under the control of the evil one.  Evil is named.  Numerous times Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, point evil out.

The above Bible verses state the concept of evil…and those are just a few of many.  I think at this point we need to define ‘evil’ so we can best understand the verse we’re focusing on.  Evil is that which keeps us from God.  It is the thing that we need forgiveness for.  It creates separation between humankind and their Creator.  Evil prevents us from residing close to our Lord.  Jesus came for a reason.  His purpose was to defeat evil.  Over and over our Bible, God’s word, calls out evil as that which God hates.  And why would God hate evil?  It is the opposite of what we were created for.  Evil pulls us away from God.  The exact opposite of the relationship we see first played out between God and Adam and Eve.  After evil entered the heart of the woman and man respectively, they needed to leave His presence.  Perfection and imperfection cannot mix.  They are like oil and water.

Paul writes that love “does not delight in evil.”  Sounds poetic.  ‘Delight,’ at first glance, seems like a not-so-heavy word.  When I hear this word, my ‘stuck in this world brain’ thinks of someone smiling after eating chocolate pudding.  Delight.  I see a child giggling after opening a Christmas present.  Delight.  I don’t think this is what Paul meant though.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it this way, “…Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.”  Now that certainly spins a different picture.  Don’t get me wrong, I know what our translations are trying to say.  Remember, Paul is giving us a word picture of Jesus in the chapter of the Bible.  Paul is giving us what Jesus is and is not.  And if Jesus is God, and God is love, and God is against all evil, then the mere hint of evil shouldn’t even bring a grin to our face.  But it does…doesn’t it?

How many of us have LOL when a comedian tells a rude joke?  How many of us have ever smiled when we see someone we disagree with fail?  How many of us have ‘delighted’ in something that we know is a sin?  How many of us have intentionally acted selfishly and enjoyed our personal gain at the expense of another?  How many of us have enjoyed a time when we were bashing someone else because of their sin?  Ever enjoyed a good gossip story?  How many of us have used anger to ‘feel’ better when someone did something wrong to us?  Pride?  How many times have we smiled at ourselves when we boast of our wisdom, money or strength rather than knowing God personally?  How many of us claim an arrogance that places us above other people in our minds?  You see where this is going right?  Paul’s little “delight in evil” phrase is completely the right thing to picture when we’re talking about the opposite of true love.

Paul quickly writes the opposite of this statement of evil.  Pure love rejoices with truth.  There is such a thing as absolute truth.  This truth rests in Christ Himself.  The evil one is called the Father of all Lies.  God is real.  Man was created by Him and for Him.  Evil keeps us away.  Christ can forgive our evil sin.  Christ is the only way to return to a perfect relationship with God.  Christ came to serve for this reason.  We are to be like Christ.  That’s the truth.  And if Jesus doesn’t smile at evil, then we shouldn’t either.  We should rejoice, be glad, be overjoyed, jump for joy, be extremely happy in the ways of God … no matter what the world thinks of us.

Simply put, Truth drives us closer to God.  Evil pulls us away from Him.  Now this won’t be easy.  A Star Wars fan I am…here’s a quote from the series, “Evil flourishes where it is not opposed…”  Since our nature is evil, it is easy to sin.  It is easy to delight in evil.  That’s why Jesus had to do something against it.  We just can turn away from it, it is a fight.  It is something we will struggle with.  But the first step in fighting well is recognizing and knowing who or what you’re fighting against.  We are to fight and oppose evil by doing good (Romans 12:21).  Will this be hard?  Yes, it will.  It will because everywhere we see people, even through history, doing good in the name of Jesus, they’ve been persecuted and used and abused.  So will it always be cotton candy and Ferris wheels?  No.  Will there be times of extreme joy?  I think that’s what Paul talks about when he says, “rejoice with truth.”  Throughout the book of Acts, you’ll read of where the disciples were ecstatic about being flogged and thrown in jail!  They knew they were fighting evil and winning when that happened.  They rejoiced.

Are you willing?  Can you commit to this kind of righteousness?  It’s what we’re called to and it’s what we were made for.  We were made for times such as this.  Let’s go, with God moving through us as the church, and confront evil face to face.  Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell will not overcome…” His church.  That’s a promise for you and for me.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Have you ever thought of evil extensively?  By this I mean everything from the slightest grin from hearing an off color joke to murder?
  • What types of evil do you personally fight against?…within yourself?
  • How will you stand up against evil this week?…Can you think of something that will probably happen…a situation that is usual for you to be in, where you can confront evil with good?
  • What ‘good’ will you do instead when this evil approaches? (Defeat Evil with Good)
  • Who will you try to speak truth to this week?  What will you say?

An Epic Week

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

This weekend is marked as Palm Sunday weekend.  It is six days before Passover.  In the Bible, we see two stories beginning to unfold.  Let’s focus on the events surrounding  Jesus as He gets nearer to the time of His death.  I can’t imagine what was going through His mind and Heart.

Jesus had just brought Lazarus back from the dead.  There were those that witnessed this event who thought it best to tell the ‘religious authorities’ in Jerusalem.  You know…the ones who have been trying to trap Jesus in a mistake since after His baptism.  The Pharisees immediately went into discussions about how to stop this Jesus.  Too many people, in their opinion are leaving their church.  They are losing power and influence.  The power of Rome is also playing into their conflict with Jesus as well.  The High Priest, Caiaphas, says, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people that the whole nation perish.”  I’m sure he didn’t know that what he we saying would ultimately be true.  Jesus died, not just for the Jewish nation, but for all nations.  At this meeting, they begin to now not just trap Jesus in mistake, but to ultimately take His life.  They begin watching for Him…they’re sure that He will come to Jerusalem for the Passover meal with “His” people.  Jesus knows.  He pulls back from the crowd.

It is now within 6 days of Passover, and Jesus arrives in Bethany again where Lazarus’ home was.  Mary and Martha throw a dinner party in honor of Jesus.  Lazarus is said to be reclining by the table when Mary takes some very expensive perfume and pours it over His feet.  He later, after some debate about why she did this, says that He is being prepared for burial.  A crowd hears that He is there and that Lazarus is too!  The event some days ago, Lazarus back from the dead, has become huge news.  The Pharisees are in the know about this event as well, and now move to say that Lazarus needs to be killed as well…to quiet the crowds.

The next day, an even bigger crowd hears that Jesus is now on His way to Jerusalem.  They stand and wait, palm branches in hand.  When He is sighted, praises begin to fill the air.  Their hero has come to town.  The Pharisees are perplexed by the sight of the crowd and wonder how their plan can ever accomplish its goal.  One says, “…this is getting us nowhere.  The whole world has gone after Him.”  There is a battle brewing.   In another part of the Gospels it even says that the Pharisees were so flustered with all this that they begged Jesus to quiet down the crowd.  Jesus replied that if he quieted the people, the rocks would cry out praises.  The event that would change the entire course of history for ever more was about to take place.  This wasn’t just a big event.  This was The event.

Jesus and the crowd, after the riding the donkey through palm covered roads, hear from Heaven a thunderous voice saying this day…that very hour…had been glorified by God in Heaven.  Many witnessed this.  Jesus looked at the crowd and said that God had spoken for their benefit…that they might understand more of why all this was happening.

The battle for people’s mind wasn’t just happening between Christ and the Pharisees.  It still happens today.  We know the ending of this story.  Jesus died and rose again.  But the battle rages.  We might not have people with the title Pharisee in our lives, but Satan will still use circumstances and people and temptations to lead us from the truth of what Jesus has done for us.

The devil does not want us to see the plan.  The devil does not want us to glorify Jesus as the coming savior…for us the “second coming.”  The devil does not want us to gather as a family and bring other people with us.  The devil will give us every reason to discount the miracles in our lives.  He will also try to have us doubt that we really hear the voice of God.  No…it didn’t just happen there a few days before the cross.  It happens each and every day of our lives.

When everything boils down, there are two plans.  God’s and Satan’s.  We know who wins.  Satan does too.  Remember, Jesus said the gates of Hell will not be able to stop His plan or His church…you and I.  How does this change how you will choose to live this week?

ed

Questions for Leaders:

  • How do you think Jesus felt after knowing that some of the crowd had left the raising of Lazarus to raise a stink in Jerusalem?
  • Have you ever tried to good to have it pushed back in your face?
  • Jesus was on His way to the cross after the Lazarus event.  This week in the story is epic.  How does all the symbolism through the days after the raising of Lazarus change how you view the power of the cross and resurrection?  (Lazarus, the perfume, Judas’ response, the Pharisees power struggle, the voice from Heaven, Jesus’ response to being asked to quiet down the crowd, Caiaphas’ statement, the one Pharisees statement that their plan was becoming useless)
  • Back to the ending question.  If you are inside the family of God, how does knowing that nothing can stop God’s plan change how you live this next week?
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