Listed as Safe from the Evil One

www.bible.com/72/2th.3.3.hcsb

Wow. If there was ever s verse needed, it’s this one. Do you need a verse that guarantees your divine protection from the diabolos? The Evil One? The Devil? I know I don’t talk much about him here, so maybe a few words would be helpful.

I was talking a few days ago to an individual who remarked that God and Satan are the same person. Why? Because they are both blamed for the same things. Cancer. Catastrophes. Calamity. Either or both are often blamed. I get that. I’ve heard it. If a child dies, did God take it or did Satan poison it? Did God make that choice, Or the devil.

Christians have wrestled with these issues for hundreds of years. We still struggle with them. I believe that is on purpose. God demands that despite all we think about why bad things happen to good people, we have to practice faith in His Word. Science and philosophy are not going to help us. This is a region where faith in what God says and faith in the nature of a kind and loving God comes in. He calls us to this faith despite our emotions and our natural anger. Will we believe in Him even when it doesn’t make sense?

It seems Satan’s work is on the rise. The first three verses of 2 Timothy 3 are becoming more relevant with each passing day. How can we hope that God is still protecting us? Try to imagine a world where God didn’t protect us. Which world is worse?

I know by faith that God and the Evil One are not the same. God is good. And I believe good is stronger than evil. Because I believe God is stronger than Satan. To say otherwise is to imagine that Satan is co-equal with God. Satan did not and will never die for me. Satan has no love in his heart for anything but himself. Satan corrupts good people. If I as a human being can know right from wrong, to know the difference, then there is a difference. If I know that there is a good so good that I can never achieve it, how can I possibly know it? Surely there is a good God who gave that insight to me. In my heart, I want good to overcome evil. Why do I want that? Where did it come from? I believe it comes from a good God who placed that in me, because I am made in His image.

This worldview requires faith. It cannot be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. Science nor philosophy is equipped to do this. It must be understood by faith. Fortunately, it is built into us to receive this by faith, because we are made in God’s image. A fact I also know by faith. Convincing others cannot and never will be accomplished through proofs and theorems. But it comes through lives changed, families healed and hope offered.

I apprehend by faith that God will protect me from the evil one. May God protect you today.

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Water and Fire

www.bible.com/1713/isa.43.2.csb

God had proven Himself true with this statement several times, once for the Red Sea and a couple of times with the Jordan River. The other though, passage through fire, wasn’t something that had been tried yet. It wouldn’t be tried for another hundred and fifty years. That’s when Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were cast into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to an idol.

These promises aren’t just figurative. God had already saved them through water and would save some through fire. But this isn’t the greatest promise. The greatest promise is this: “I will be with you.” Both the midst of the sea and the midst of the furnace are extreme circumstances. Do you suppose that God will be with you in lesser circumstances? Would God be with you in the midst of overwhelming responsibility? How about the midst of a dysfunctional family? Or even a Monday?

The greatest promise is one that we enjoy everyday, in tough times or easy. It’s one that we ought to take advantage of as often as we can, for life quickly becomes unmanageable when we try to do it on our own.

Take this promise with you today. God bless!

Future Love

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.14.21.csb

Does it trouble anyone that Jesus promises love to those who obey Him in this verse? The love of the Father and the Son are both placed in the future for the one who keeps the commands of the Lord, rather than the present. The one who loves will he loved. Hmmm.

Now I have other Scriptures, like Romans 5:8 that say God loved us do much and proved that Love by sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. I have John 3:16, same book, where Jesus says God loved the world before He sent His Son, so I am not worried about not being loved. It’s just that this verse places obedience and our own love for Him as necessary prerequisites for His love for us. Out of context this would be troubling. In context it tells me that additional love awaits me for my obedience and love for God. A father loves all his children, but he also has extra love for those on the same page as he is, who share his interests and pursuits.

My children tell me all the things they are interested in. I can follow some of their conversation. I find myself more drawn when they are talking about things I am interested in. It’s human nature. When my children and I share a common interest, I find extra enjoyment sharing it with them.

I believe God loves all of his children equally, proof being Christ Jesus. But I believe He likes spending time with those who share His interests. Those who by their obedience to His commands and love Him in return find themselves loved by Him even more. This is something that I would not understand if I was not a father myself.

What can you and God do together today? What are the things that interest God? And would we be pleased to do the things that bring Him joy?

If you have kids, you know that one thing they like to do, when they are young, is bring you their artwork. I feel like we do that with God, because we want to feel His approval. But our artwork is satisfying what she has told us to do, so that we might present Him ourselves. We don’t do this to earn His love, but because He loves us first. He only loves us more.

Put your stock in this future love. Look for opportunities today to please your Father, and He will love you more.

God bless you today.

Good Morning All!

www.bible.com/1713/1sa.2.2.csb

So glad to be back with you on this Thursday morning. What a great God we serve, Amen? There is no one else who loves us like He does, who expended His own Son for our sins, proving beyond doubt that He loves us. No greater cost for no greater reward than the soul of mankind. Our God is in love with all of us, for when He looks into our eyes, He sees His own image. We are blessed to be His special creation, not a random accident or chance. We are His and today we worship Him as our Father, our Creator and Lord. Will you worship with me today?

Holy Father, thank you for making me. Thank you for constructing my inward being so that I could be your representative and share your love with others. I pray dear Lord that you make today a day that when I lay down to sleep tonight, I will know that I have done your work. I love you Lord. Amen.

It has been a very different year this year putting these vignettes together every day, but I hope you have been blessed by then. God bless you and your work today. There is no one like our God!

Faithful and Just

www.bible.com/1713/1jn.1.9.csb

Good morning. Another selection from 1 John reminds us that confession and forgiveness are an ongoing reality for Christians. Even after we have been forgiven from sin, we still need this reminder of where we come from. We have always been wont to sin. Temptation dogs our heels everywhere we go. While we live, we will always be tempted, and often we sin. This reminder is here to tell us that God forgives sin. If you have sinned, if you’ve fallen, and especially if you think you can’t get up, God offers forgiveness. He is faithful and just. Jesus has paid the penalty for sin. Justice has already been met. We have only to ask and sin is forgiven. Jesus paid for all our sins. Forgiven is guaranteed, but it is not always felt.

If you fail victim to a particular sin, like gluttony or pornography or something equally damaging, it can be hard to experience God’s forgiveness because you’ve gone back to that well so many times. I think this verse here is a reminder that there is still forgiveness. There is still hope for those who think they are beyond help. For those caught in the trap of addiction, this verse is hope. God forgives. God’s chief goal is to have you in heaven with Him. Because Jesus has paid the penalty for sin, forgiveness is guaranteed. But for your sake, for your own sense of need, ask.

A burden shared is a burden lightened. A burden shared with God is a burden lifted. That’s why He tells us to confess our sins to Him. Sins are a terrible burden to bear. He knows all about it. He calls us to share the burden of our sins, to face the reality of them, to be accountable for them, so that we unload that burden to Him. Confession is good for the soul.

I hope you all have a great Monday. Let the worship and filling from Sunday overflow and fill your week. God bless!

What Love the Father Holds for Us

www.bible.com/1713/mic.7.18.csb

I cannot conceive of this love. It is too powerful, too awesome for me to comprehend. It is an overwhelming love, such that I’ve felt from anyone. No human love, not even mother to child, can compare with this love. For this is God’s love for His creation. He enfolds it and envelops it in His Being. He is Love. He inhabits His love. We benefit from this love daily. How great the Father’s love for us, for it is beyond all measure.

On this day of worship, I want to encourage you in your walk. No matter what you are going through, what trials you face, what heartbreak you experience and still labor to be free from, God still loves you with an everlasting faithful love. He holds you in His arms. You are not enduring this pain and suffering alone, but that your Father holds you close. We have but to open our eyes to Him and feel the warmth He brings to our soul. God loves you more than anything, more than the majestic stars and galaxies, more than the heavenly host. He loves you as He loves His own Son, because you are His child. We are co-heirs with Christ.

My kids introduced me to “Rick-roll”-ing yesterday. But Rick Atchley’s famous song is descriptive of God’s love for us. Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. 😁

Love you all. God bless you today.

Protection

www.bible.com/1713/isa.54.17.csb

I am reminded of the monsters going from business to business demanding protection money, so that something bad doesn’t happen to the shop owner or his family. Usually, this payment was protection from the “protectors” who threw in a “or else” statement at the end of their offer. The price of protection was usually high enough to make it a significant part of doing business in certain parts of town.

While the God of Heaven offers protection, it’s not like this. His protection comes at a cost, but it is devotion and obedience to His Word, whatever that costs. His protection is positive, but also comes with an “or else” at the end, followed by a description of calamity and destruction at the hands of others. God offers real protection from the storms of life. But remember that God takes the long view. He sees exactly in the tempering you need to fulfill His purpose.

Yeah, I know His protection won’t feel very protective sometimes. Sometimes you will wish you could pay protection from the mob bosses and it might be easier. But God is not working to protect you from harm. He is working to protect you from Hell. You see it is your eternal soul, made in the image of God that He is working to salvage from sin and restore to righteousness. He loves you and works from that eternal perspective.

There is no weapon formed against you that will hurt your soul. There is no accusation in any earthly court that applies to eternity. God is the last judge that matters. And God will see to it that your eternity is secure.

That said, is there no hope for this life? Should all our hope be focused on eternity that we cannot see until our eyes close in death? Lest you think faith in Jesus is a death cult, remember that the Lord delights to give you what your heart desires. He loves giving good gifts to His children and He protects you in His purposes. If you are working according to His will, He sees that you succeed. He is as much God of this life as the next. God loves you, and He wants you to experience real joy (not merely happiness). He will bless you with family or friends or spouse or children or any number of good relationships as long as you seek to do His will.

Case in point. 26 years ago I met the woman who would be my wife. But t was not by accident. I was to work a week of camp as a counselor at a Christian Camp as part of my internship to become a minister. I really did not want to go, because I’m not a big fan of camp. But, it was something I was required to do, so I did it. If the Lord was calling me to ministry, He was calling me to do this week of camp. I left my comfort zone, and though I had been earnestly praying for her, didn’t expect to meet her for the first time working the same camp as a counselor. We’ve now been married 24 years and have four amazing children. Why? Because the Lord delights to give us joy, but especially as we work out His will.

I want to encourage you today to seek His will in your life. Make His Word and work a daily part of your walk. Who knows. You might find the love of your life.

God bless!