Your Enemy is Always Ready. Are you?

“….in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  2 Corinthians 2:11

Phoebe Palmer, raised in New York City, was one of the first women of the 19th century to become a celebrated public figure and speaker.  In her classic work, “The Way of Holiness,” she writes, “But the adversary, who had stood ready to withstand every progressive step [of my spiritual growth in Christ] suggested, ‘Be careful, God may disappoint your expectations….”  This quote by Palmer is powerful not only because of the biblical truth it represents, but also because she includes the enemy’s “suggestion.”  Ever since Eden, Satan has been attempting to plant seeds of doubt in our minds where the character of God is concerned.

Satan is always ready.  God cautioned Cain, “…sin is crouching at your door;…” (Gen 4:7) Peter’s familiar warning comes to mind:   “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

If our enemy is so constantly fixed on us, as believers, what hope do we have?  (Glad you asked.)

Nineteenth British theologian, John Henry Newman, paraphrased the power of the Gospel when he wrote, “While we are found in Christ, we are partakers of His security.  He has broken the power of Satan;…the dragon hath He trod under His feet!  And, henceforth, evil spirits, instead of having power over us, tremble and are affrighted  at every true Christian.”   In short, our enemy is a defeated enemy, terrified that believers will become constantly aware of our position in the Victor, Christ.

This is why Peter continues, Resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith [in Christ].” (1 Peter 5:9)  Satan wants no part of Jesus Christ – which is why he hopes daily that we will mindlessly abandon our commitment to the Lord, becoming more and more entangled with the cares of this world.  The world is full of believers who’ve “fallen asleep at the wheel of their Christian devotion.”  Remember, when Paul exhorted the Ephesians to “be filled with [controlled by] the Spirit,” he was writing to Christians. (Ephesians 5:18)

Be ready.  Be alert.  Abide in Christ.  Meditate on His Word.  The tomb is empty.  The battle is already won.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Spiritual Confusion

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, Message)

The beloved missionary/teacher, Oswald Chambers, wrote,

“There are times in your spiritual life when there is confusion, and the way out of it is not simply to say that you should not be confused. It is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of God taking you through a way that you temporarily do not understand. And it is only by going through the spiritual confusion that you will come to the understanding of what God wants for you.”

I am amazed at how many believers are scared to confess to God that they’re having a difficult time trusting Him.  (It’s not like He doesn’t know this already.) 

Nowhere in Scripture do we read that we are not allowed to be honest enough with God to admit that they have no idea what He’s up to in our lives. 

The Psalms are replete with passages representing this very type of human honesty with God.  David wrote,

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” (Psalm 13:1-2)

Confusion where following Christ is concerned is not only common, it’s normal. Why else would we have so many passages within our Bible like the one cited at the beginning of this blog from Proverbs 3?

Be honest with God.  If you’re confused, tell Him.  Lean on Him.  Trust Him.  When everything in life seems to be screaming at you, “Don’t trust God!”, trust Him anyway.  He’s got you.  As a dear of friend told me after my son took his life, “Nick, if faith was easy, it wouldn’t be called faith.”

Like Chambers stated, “it is only by going through the spiritual confusion that you will come to the understanding of what God wants for you.”

Soli Deo Gloria, nw

“Miracle-Gro”

“Listen!”, Jesus said, “a farmer went out to plant some seed…..”  (Mark 4:3)

Jesus used parables for multiple reasons, one of which was for the purpose of helping the finite human mind connect with the infinite mind of God.  In other words, by using parables God was using imagery we human beings could understand – sometimes. 🙂

The “parable of the sower” is unique because Mark actually records Jesus taking the disciples aside and explaining it to them, scene by scene.  We get to “sit in” on the explanation.  As with anything Jesus spoke about, there are numerous “sermons” in this passage.  Allow me to highlight just one. 🙂

After giving examples of seed (the Word of God i.e. the gospel) falling on varying types of soil (representing different levels of human reception), Jesus concludes with, “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Did you catch that?

Unless one has an agrarian background it’s easy to miss.  But Jesus’ audience, full of farmers, caught every word.

John MacArthur helps bring context:  “A average ratio of harvested grain to what had been planted was 8 to 1, with 10 to 1 considered exceptional.  The harvest to which Jesus refers – 100 to 1 – is simply unbelievable.”

Unbelievable?  In human terms, sure.  Impossible?  Not according to God’s economy.  Jesus told his disciples, All things are possible with God.” 

Need help forgiving someone?  The “seed” of mercy and forgiveness was planted in your heart the moment you professed faith in Christ.  Need discernment and wisdom for an important decision?  That “seed” was planted in  you when you met Christ.  Need strength for the weary?  Patience for the hurried?  It’s there in you.  HE’s there in you.  Allow the Holy Spirit to “bring to harvest” the “seed” planted in you through the gospel of Christ.

As a believer, the very presence and power of God is waiting to be unleashed in your life – a hundredfold.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Miracle-Gro-Logo

What Atheists Wish Christians Knew About Them

In light of various quote/articles/thoughts i post regarding arguments for the existence of God, I thought this video clip was a wonderful resource for remembering that “atheists” are, first of all, people. And, in many way, just like you and me.

Neil Carter is a high school Geometry teacher, a tutor, a swim coach, a father of five children, and a skeptic living in the Bible Belt. A former church elder with a seminary education, Neil mostly writes now about the struggles of former evangelicals living in the midst of a highly religious subculture.

A year ago, Carter was invited to a church to be interviewed in front of their congregation. The video clip here is an excerpt from that interview. You will find he is kind, articulate, and personable. And he does not, in any way, believe in God, that the Bible is true, etc.

Watch the clip (it’s 15 minutes so you’ll need to wait until you have some time). And when he says things that are contrary to God’s Word, try not to roll your eyes, smirk, snicker, laugh, etc. Listen to him. Understand him. Try to see this man as Jesus would see him – as a person God deeply, deeply loves, and died for – a person God wants to reach. Then, when the video clip is over, pray for Neil. Pray he would know the love and power of the risen Christ.

Mary Jane: The Conversation Coming to Every Home in North America

“Mary Jane” is a euphemism for marijuana. (You already know that.)

“Mary Jane” is being welcomed across our country at an alarming rate. A recent Gallup Poll (link below) cited 58% of Americans now favoring the legalization of marijuana.

The link immediately below from USA Today is a solid “Q & A” article about the drug.

Presently, Colorado and Washington are the only two states allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, but I expect the number of states to steamroll ahead as nationwide acceptance of pot increases. Like the legalization of alcohol a hundred years ago, “undoing” the legalization of pot, I suspect, will be akin to trying to put toothpaste back into the tube. It’s just not gonna happen.

Why am I including this article? Because here’s the rub: when all the haze settles, teens are going to discover that marijuana is not necessarily worse than alcohol, a legal drug in all 50 states. For instance, a person who drives, having just used marijuana, is twice as likely to have an auto accident, while a person who drives at the minimum level of legal intoxication from alcohol is FIVE times more like to have an accident. (cited from the USA Today article)

The following conversation is coming to every home in North America that includes teens: “Dad, Mom – you drink. Why can’t I smoke pot? Drinking is as bad, or worse, than smoking pot.”

As one sheriff interviewed recently said, “I don’t have any religious convictions where pot is concerned. My reason for not wanting it legalized is this: the last thing I need on the streets is another legal intoxicant.”

For the Christian, the Bible is unmistakably clear: never allow your mind to be dulled or effected in any way by use of recreational drugs (this includes alcohol).  “Be sober minded,” Peter wrote.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/27/risks-of-marijuana/10386699/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/165539/first-time-americans-favor-legalizing-marijuana.aspx

nw