What Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know

Why is a daily devotion/quiet time so vitally important to our spiritual growth.

It’s inconceivable (credit “The Princess Bride”) that a musician or athlete would rehearse or practice once a month or worse, a few times a year. But, that’s exactly what Satan fools believers into doing all the time.

And for good reason.

Read Paul’s words to the Ephesians below to see what we miss out on when we forget to focus some daily attention on God…

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” (Ephesians 3:16)

One author said this about the above passage:

“Spiritual power is a mark of every Christian who submits to God’s Word and Spirit. God’s magnificent power is readily available for all who discipline their minds to study his word, understand it, and live by it. As a result, the Holy Spirit will energize, revitalize and empower you. God’s power, working in and through believers, is unlimited and far beyond our comprehension.”

Becoming clearer why the enemy will do all possible to prevent us from daily intimacy with Christ?

Christ said in John 15, “Apart from me you can do nothing”, and compared those who ignore him – intentionally or unintentionally – to a branch that’s broken off from it’s trunk, eventually drying up and dying.

I heard a preacher a long time ago say something I’ve never forgotten. He said,

“If Satan can’t keep a person from becoming a Christian, he’ll simply keep that Christian busy.”

When I played baseball and football in high school, and took piano lessons – it didn’t matter what – we always began every practice and rehearsal with fundamentals.

Spiritual discipline is no different.

Even if it’s 5 minutes, set aside time daily to “tap into” his might and power.

Love you, Nick

Turning the Tables on the Devil

We all have awful days i.e. our car breaks down, the hot water heater goes out, something frustrating happens at work or school, someone hurts us, the list seems endless.

Pastor/author, Charles Stanley, writing about Joseph (the one with “the coat of many colors” in the book of Genesis), pointed out,

“we are all dealt, in essence, a hand of cards. Some hands are awful. The key is not focusing on the cards, but rather on our response to them.”

In Acts 16, Paul was thrown into the “inner prison and shackled” for simply sharing his faith in Christ.

He was dealt an awful hand. And, like Joseph, had every earthly reason to curse God, remain bitter, and even throw in the towel – which is what Satan was desperately hoping for.

But, Paul turned the tables on the devil in a surprising plot twist.

Verse 25 records, “About midnight Paul and (his friend) Silas were praying and singing hymns (while shackled in prison.)”

The next phrase grips me as much as the one we just read: “and the (other) prisoners were listening to them.”

A friend told me once, “It’s completely ok – and normal – to have a pity party. But make sure and put a time limit on it.”

Translation: when we are dealt an awful hand, pain and anger and frustration will naturally follow. And that’s where Satan wants us to remain – but don’t.

Jesus is whispering to us, “I’ve got this. Trust me.”

And, who knows, just like the other prisoners in the story, it could be that others who’ve been dealt an awful hand are looking for someone – anyone – to remind them that there his hope in the Cross and the Empty Tomb.

Love to you all, Nick

 

The Supernatural World

On the book of Job, chapters 1-2…

From award-winning author, Philip Yancey’s, book, The Bible Jesus Read:

“Nowhere else in the Bible are we more clearly informed of a realm beyond our own – one we cannot see but, nonetheless, exists.

“Like Job, we live in ignorance of what is going on ‘behind the curtains.’ Job reminds us that the small history of mankind on this earth takes place within the large drama of the history of the universe. We are foot-soldiers in a spiritual battle with cosmic significance.

“In the words of C.S. Lewis, ‘There is no neutral ground in the universe – every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.” (Philip Yancey)

nw

The Old Rugged Cross

NOTE: I wrote this four months after finding my 19 year old son after he’d taken his own life…

There have been moments these past months that I’ve wanted to give up on God.

I’m simply being honest.

As one who grew up in a violent, alcoholic home, I witnessed more violence as a child than I care to remember.

As a full-time pastor now for 30+ years, I’ve had, on occasion, the unfortunate opportunity to see the very ugly side of what some have otherwise called “Christianity.”

But those pale in comparison to the events of May 13th, 2013, when my world caved in around me.

In light of the pain we suffer on planet earth, what proof is there that there is a God? More than that, what proof is there that that God really loves me?

From their outstanding work, “Name Above All Names,” Alistair Begg & Sinclair Ferguson write,

It is the cross alone that ultimately proves the love of God to us – not the circumstances of our lives.

We must not allow ourselves to be tricked into thinking that if things are going well with us, Then we can be sure of God’s love. For life can often seem dark and painful. Things do not always go well for us.

Rather, we look to the sacrifice of the cross and the proof God gave there of His love. ‘God [demonstrated proof of] His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8)

This is the proof I need. This is the truth I need to hear. This dispels the lies of the enemy.”

This is the unstoppable, indefensible, indisputable love of God in Christ Jesus.

I love you, Nick

Bewitched

“O foolish Galatians,” Paul lamented. “Who has bewitched you?”

Through Christ, all 613 Levitcal laws given to Israel were fulfilled. Yet Satan – and our human nature – still tell us, “The only way to please God is through human effort.” i.e. living a “good” life, making sure that – at the end of the day – my “good” deeds outweigh my “bad” deeds so that the proverbial scale tips in my favor.

There’s only one problem with this school of thought: it’s completely unbiblical and diametrically opposite of the gospel.

The whole reason Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians was to counter the lies of the false teachers who had slithered into the Galatians’ midst and began filling their heads with works-based righteousness. In other words, the false teachers were preaching, “To be loved and accepted by God, you must keep a list of good deeds and check it off as you go. If you finish the list, you’re good to go – until tomorrow; and then you get to start over. If you fail, just keep on trying. For all your life.” (By the way, righteousness = right standing before a holy God).

Paul’s frustration was that the Galatian believers so quickly bought into the lies of the false teachers. But modern culture isn’t any different. Our default is to swallow the same lies the Galatians entertained 20 centuries ago. (Satan is consistent in his strategies – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.)

As usual, Paul pulls no punches. He writes, “If righteousness could be obtained by the law (human effort), Christ died for no purpose.” (cf. Galatians 2:21; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10)

Wow. Put it in park and think about that for a minute.

“Wait,” you counter. “You’re telling me that Jesus loves me regardless of how much I fail and mess up? I don’t have to keep score of my good vs. bad actions or thoughts??”

If you’ve placed your faith in what Christ has done for you on the cross, the Bible’s answer to that question is an emphatic: “yes.”

From his throne, Christ proclaims,

“I have purchased you with an everlasting love, with my very own blood. I have washed you clean! You are 100% holy and righteous! When you stand before God for judgment, you will receive the verdict: Not guilty! This has absolutely nothing to do with your good deeds and human effort. You have zero capacity to be good enough to stand innocent of sin in my Father’s presence.  I was good enough on your behalf. I absorbed God’s wrath – the wrath you deserved – when I was brutally and publicly executed outside of Jerusalem. Your salvation has nothing to do with your feeble attempts to earn salvation. Rather, it has everything to do with my accomplishing that for you, culminating with the Cross and the Empty Tomb, my resurrection.”

“If this is true, Jesus, why would you do such a thing?”

And the King tenderly replies, “Because I love you.”

Are you, as Paul describes, “held captive” and “imprisoned” by the lie that you must somehow be “good enough” for God to love and accept you?

Lay down your burden. Put your faith in Christ today. And come home. Peace awaits.

In the Roman Catholic medieval church, Satan had spread this same lie (if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.) People we’re spending their whole lives trying to be good enough for God to love and accept them, all the while never knowing if what they had done was good enough. This is an exhausting and frightening existence i.e. “What if I die and I haven’t finished checking off the list??”

In response, the Reformers (Martin Luther, John Knox, etc.), on a mission (a “mission from God” – Blues Brothers 🙂) to counter this false teaching, began proclaiming and circulating phrases that summed up the true and eternal gospel. Among those phrases (the Five Solas) were:

Sola Gratia; Sola Fide, Solus Christus.

“By grace alone; through faith alone; in Christ alone.”

As my friend, Micah Wilder, says, “Jesus is enough.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

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For Those Who Laugh at the Thought of a Real Devil

The Bible is clear: Satan exists,

He is introduced to us in Genesis 3. And, Jesus refers to him repeatedly in the gospels.

Yet, many people – including believers – forget about his relentless pursuit to make us lose our faith or, better yet, prevent us from coming to faith in Christ altogether.

In Matthew 4 and Luke 4, Jesus confronts Satan head-on in the Judean wilderness.

Satan was forced to flee. But he never gave up.

Never.

In his book, When the Enemy Strikes, Charles Stanley asserts,

He showed up again in Nazareth.

He showed up again in the demonically possessed.

He showed up again in public attacks used to assault Jesus’ credibility and authority.

He showed up again in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He showed up again and again pursuing his ultimate goal of enticing Jesus to say no to the Cross.

But Satan failed.  Every time.

So now his fury is directed toward us.

The devil has attacked every person who has ever lived. You and I are no exceptions.

For those who have placed their faith in the risen Christ, the Bible tells us, despite Satan’s relentless attempts to tempt us to live in a discouraged, defeated and worldly state of mind, “we have overwhelming conquered through [Christ] who loves us.”

But for those who laugh at the thought of a real devil…

…he’s laughing at you.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

You are a Saint (and you don’t even have to live in New Orleans)

I’ve sat and listened to some preachers drone on, “We are wicked. We are sinners. We are unworthy.”  The news never gets any better.  It’s usually at that point I stop listening. Why? I already know that. God pulls no punches: “the human heart is deceitfully wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23; emphasis mine)

But, that’s only half the story. (There’s a reason the gospel is called the “Good News.”)

Our sin is why we desperately needed a Savior.

It’s why “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and the angel proclaimed to the shepherds, “I bring you Good News of great joy!” (John 1:14; Luke 2:10; emphasis mine)

It’s why Christ, on the cross, took upon himself our sin, absorbing ever last one of them, making it possible for sinful mankind to enjoy peace with a terrifyingly Holy & Righteous God. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:13; Romans 5:1)

And, by putting our faith in that saving work of Christ on the Cross, we become “children of God.” (John 1:12)

Or – another way Paul describes us – “saints” (cf. Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1) – a word Paul uses to reference everyone who, by placing their faith in Christ, has been set apart from the eternal death sentence of sin. (1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:23)

You are loved, valued, of infinite worth – worthy to the point of God willingly giving his only begotten Son. (John 3:16)

Someone once said, “If God had a refrigerator he would have your picture on it.”

You are one of his beloved saints.

Much love, Saint Nick