Friday, July 22, 2016

Three Lies Satan Tells

My study this morning was in Matthew 4.  It was on the heels of God giving me a battle cry yesterday: “This is war, I know my enemy, and I will not retreat.” I must have heard that come through my head a dozen times yesterday.  In some ways I did retreat, I walked away from a battle I think I could have fought and won with God on my side.  But sometimes, during the battle, the victory isn’t seen so clearly.  I believe what I read this morning uncovered some of what I was facing.

You see, in the midst of spiritual battles, satan will lie to you.  He did it to Jesus on the mountain, and his tactics have not changed.  This morning while reading about Jesus’ temptation by satan, I saw three lies he tells us.

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” – Matthew 4:3

The first lie he tells us is in questioning our identity.  He said to Jesus “IF you are the Son of God”.  If he can get you to believe this lie, that God is not with you and not concerned about you as His child, the battle is over my friend.  With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) and without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

“and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” – Matthew 4:6

The second lie he used was to question God’s word.  He used it to tempt Jesus, but he also twisted God’s word ever so slightly.  The truth is in Jesus’ reply: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.  If satan can get you to believe his version of God’s word, it soon will all fall apart, and you’ll question God in entirety.  Be careful what you believe to be truth.  If it’s not in God’s word, it’s not truth.  God warned us to study to show ourselves approved, as a worker who does not need to be ashamed and is able to use the truth (2 Timothy 2:15).  God’s word is the full measurement of truth and in it you will find all your answers.

“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:8-9

Ah, satan is such a liar!  The earth and the fullness thereof belongs to God (Deuteronomy 10:14). There’s NOTHING here that he can give you but grief and pain.  Ask yourself, what did he give Job when God allowed him to invade Job’s life? 

Yet, he tried to tempt Jesus with riches.  Friends, many of us fall in and out of that trap on a daily basis.  But in Jesus own words in Mark 8:36 He warns us, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”  No doubt Jesus was reflecting on satan’s attempt to make him sell out on that mountain.  But satan can not give you what he does not own.  Instead, God offers us the riches of this world and beyond.  Read Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and the blessings of obedience to God, or Malachi 3:8-12 regarding the blessing of tithing.  If you want all the things in this life that will make you happy, my friend, they are in God’s hand, and He is willing to give them.  But He will not give them at the risk of having you worship them above Him.  He knows your heart.  When you put God first, blessings abound, because that is His will towards His obedient children.  Ephesians 3:20 tells us He is able to do more than we can even imagine. 

Yes, this is a war.  It is a war in the soul.  But my friends, we must stand our ground, remember who you are, remember what God's word says, remember who he is NOT, and tell the enemy “I will not retreat.  Not today satan, not today! And tomorrow’s not looking good for you either!"  With God with us and within us, there is victory.


Friday, July 8, 2016

The Division of ONE

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  that they all may be ONE, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be ONE in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be ONE just as We are ONE:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in ONE, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” – Jesus Christ, John 17:20-23

Some days I just grow tired of hearing all the hate in this world.  But the problem is, I don’t grow tired enough of hearing about it to do anything consciously different.  Father, do not let this day be one of those.
Waking up this morning and hearing of the sniper shots that has killed and injured 10 police officers in Dallas, Texas, is heartbreaking.  It is always heartbreaking when the innocent suffer at the hands of those filled with hatred.  It hurts when it’s children in a school, when it’s women at the hands of their spouse, when it’s children at the hands of their own parents. 

We hate others for so many reasons.  We hate them because they’re different than us, whether it be their gender, their race, their social status, their sins, or even their tattoos.  It seems that as a society, we can look at any person and instead of finding reasons to love them, we find reasons to hate them.
I know ya’ll get tired of hearing this from me, and to be quite frank about it…that doesn’t bother me.  What this world needs is love, and God is LOVE in its purest form (1 John 4:8).  Love is the ONLY thing that will conquer hate.  It is the ONLY thing that will unite us as ONE again, and remove these divides in our society.

Jesus prayed for exactly that.  Before His death, He went to pray alone, and prayed for those of us that are living today – you and me.  His prayer wasn’t that we be rich and famous, have everything we need, be healthy, see the world, or even live happy lives.  What He prayed was far better than ALL of that.  He prayed that we would be ONE as He is ONE with God, “I in them and You in Me”.  That is the solution to the hatred of the world.
“I in them” is His Holy Spirit coming to live within us when we accept Him as our Savior.  “You in Me” is His Holiness as the Son of God, which He has always been (no, Jesus didn’t just come about when He was born into this world).  The closeness He has with the Father makes them ONE.  For us to share that closeness as a society, we need to be ONE with Him.

Does that mean all saved believers huddle together in a church three times a week and thank Him for our oneness? No!  Absolutely not!  In fact, if that is what we call Christianity, friends, we’ve got it all wrong.  Every one of us is to be a disciple to those around us who need His love.  That means YOU.  That means ME.  If you only show your Christian love in church, well, that’s more like showing up at a club meeting and showing off your membership card.  It doesn’t add to the society of ONE.  It doesn’t share God’s love.  It doesn’t change anything in this world.
And I’ll go a bit further and say that if all the world hears of your Christianity is how horrible they are and how much they need Jesus, well, that’s a turn off.  There’s no love in that at all.  How would you like it if that was the message you got from those you respect.  “Sister Dogooder, you just need to change your ways and be more like me.”  “Brother Betterthan, you need to stop that lifestyle you’ve chosen.”  Notice the focus is on criticism, not love.  See friends, those who we find fault in don’t see their faults.  Pointing out what we see is nothing more than pointing out what we don’t like (hate) about them. 

Your job is to love them. Let God change them.  That’s how your sanctification works.
The clock is ticking.  Hatred is ruling.  People are being killed because of their choices in sex partners, because of the color of their skin, because they wear a badge, because they watch a movie, and yes, occasionally because they are Christians as well.  I say occasionally because the truth is, unless we’re all huddled up in a church building somewhere, it’s hard for anyone to identify us to hurt us.

Our love for others must become our identity.  When John said “God is love”, he wasn’t saying God is a big read puffy heart.  He was saying that was God’s identity, His character, day in and day out.  LOVE overcomes hate like water overcomes fire. 
So now I ask you, when did you last show love for someone completely different than yourself?  Will today be different?  It will for me.  I do solemnly swear to you that hatred will not rule in my life. 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if we don’t show love to the world, who will?  Without our example, why would they choose to become ONE with us?  It was Jesus’ prayer.  Let’s not be an obstacle to grace.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hidden Manna - White Stone - New Name

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the HIDDEN MANNA to eat. And I will give him a WHITE STONE, and on the stone a NEW NAME written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’- Revelation 2:17

When Jerusalem was taken over by the Chaldeans, King Josiah hid the ark of the covenant, which contained the tables of the commandments, a pot of manna, and Aarons rod. Prior to that, these were in the tabernacle behind a second veil in an area called “Holiest of All”.  The priest would go in there once a year carrying blood as a sacrifice to offer for the forgiveness of the sins of the people that were committed in ignorance (Hebrews 9).

Jesus is now that “Holiest of All”, our sacrifice for all sins, who overcame the laws on the tablets of stone, who is our “Bread of Life”, who is our blood sacrifice.

The white stone has two meanings.  Judgments were passed on people using black or white stones.  A white stone was an in innocent verdict, and a black stone was a guilty verdict. Those that overcome sin through belief in Christ are forgiven all their sins, and given a white stone.

But it’s not JUST a white stone.  It has a name engraved on it.  This also has ancient meaning.

Those who were winners in the public games (think Olympics, but far before) were given a white stone with their name inscribed on it.  It was an honor bestowed on them that gave them the privilege of being taken care of by the public for the rest of their lives.  It acted as the keys to the city, an open invitation to sit with Kings and great officials, to be fed, clothed, given transportation, and provided for in every way.  This was called as “Tesserae”.  The white stone we will receive grants us the provisions of life at the cost of someone else, namely Jesus Christ.  We have become children of God through His sacrifice, heirs to all that He has to offer.

Will all the names on the stones be the same?  No, for God knows His children individually.  Each of us will be given a name that only we know by God.  Oh, I cannot wait to hear what He calls me, but I most definitely know that He knows my name.