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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Discipline Training

www.bible.com/1713/heb.12.11.csb

How is your life enriched, made deeper and more fulfilling?

Some folks work on their lives by physical discipline, training their body to endure and become resilient, running, walking, weight training and exercise. In this way they find out more about themselves and deepen their ability set.

Others travel, often to as far as their skills and abilities will take them. Whether it be on the well-trod path of hotels and interstates, or deeper into the backcountry and wilderness. They discover much about the world and the creatures that live in it.

Others, like me, don’t get out much, so we read. We like to read, expand our mind’s limits, live someone else’s life for a little while, or deepen our understanding of the world around us, even the unseen world of the Spirit.

I can’t tell you which of these is better. I think we all need all three, and the many more options that are out there. But there is one area that I know no one wants any more knowledge about: suffering.

The Lord chastises those He loves, but He seems to have favorites, doesn’t He? I have heard some of the worst tales of woe a person can hear. Man’s cruelty to his fellow man knows no bounds. But hard times are not always evil done by others. Sometimes God chastises is for our good, giving us the oxgoads and the pricks instead of honey and milk. Have you ever made a decision without God and immediately regretted it? Took a job without holding it up in prayer and realizing you have made a terrible mistake? Joshua and the Israelites did that once when the Gibeonites deceived them. Joshua was so confident in the rightness if his decision the text says very pointedly that he did not consult God. The Gibeonites became servants, but were also a thorn in their side.

But the discipline of the Lord can also be preemptive, because He knows what’s coming, so he prepares us ahead of time with hardship. Like when Joseph was sent to Egypt by his brothers. What they intended for evil, God intended for good, through His slavery and imprisonment, Joseph learned and became Prime Minister of the most powerful country in the world. Why? So he could save his family from the coming drought. He learned through hardship the discipline needed for hard times.

Not everything you suffer from is your fault. In fact, I suspect the majority of it is not. I believe suffering can be punishment from God, but it it can also be training. It can be God punishing someone else and you are caught in the crossfire. It can be the evil of this world, through which God will see you through.

Whatever you are going through today, let us pray with you, not only to hear through it, but to learn from it, if there must be anything to learn.

In talking with many caught with medical issues after a long period of health, I’ve found that many blame God for their illness. They say, “I’ve been good. Why is God punishing me?!” My response is often, “Maybe God wants to know if you will love Him no matter what happens to you. Is God only worth loving when life is going your way? Does He deserve your praise only as long as He gives you what you want?” Many of us are learning the lesson Job: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

I do not presume for speak for God, as He is fully able to do this for Himself. But may I suggest that the discipline of the Lord is always a good thing. It produces a harvest or righteousness and peace for those trained by it.

God bless you today!

Woe

www.bible.com/1713/rom.8.18.csb

In a shot across the bow against the Health and Wealth Prosperity Gospel, we have this verse that very clearly says suffering is for the present time. Suffering? You mean like pain and sorrow, grief and loss? All the above.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all pain and suffering. There are times of great and surpassing joy that cannot be compared. God is good and He is good to His children. But the promise here isn’t for health and wealth. The promise here is not made dependent on your faith. The promise here is that we can expect suffering in this life because there is incomparable glory waiting for us. We must be tried and tested in order to shine. We must be polished and refined before we can reflect Him. All of our rough edges need to be worn away.

An ordinary piece of gravel is nothing to admire. It’s a rock. It’s common and ordinary. You take that same piece of gravel and put it in a streambed for 30 years, or in a rock tumbler and turn it for a week, what emerges is a smooth stone, a shiny stone that you will want to admire. It’s fine crystalline structure will dazzle your eyes with detail you couldn’t see before. That is the power of trial and suffering.

This present life is filled with such trial and testing. We don’t what we will look like, but it will be amazing. If we balk at God everytime bad things happen, if we complain and resist His change, will we be as stunning? All the beauty we will ever receive in this life or the next comes from God.

Let God work in your life today. Trust Him for the outcome. God bless!

Ancient Wonders

www.bible.com/1713/psa.77.11-12.csb

What has God done for you lately? The Psalmist is lamenting that God’s attitude toward Israel has changed. He is going through a hard time right now and He feels God has turned away from them.

But then he remembers that God was not always like this. God did great and ancient wonders for the people of Israel. For them, it was the crossing of the Red Sea when the Egyptian army was pursuing them. He remembers fondly the great stories from Israel’s last when God was gracious and faithful. The Psalmist doesn’t satisfy his question though, as if he is still writing in the midst of his sorrow before God at last lifts the burden. No.

So the question he lays before God and the same question that we lay before Him is this: have you forgotten us? His answer to his own question is this: He did not. There were times in Israel’s past when their situation seemed dire. And God redeemed them, saved them from their peril. God has been faithful.

Will you trust Him now? You are in a situation now where it seems you are in peril. If God feels far from you, what miracle can you remember in your life that reminds you that He remembers you? The caption above include a view of an opened tomb, a reminder that Jesus rose from the dead for you. He died for your sins, offered you forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God can’t forget you. He lives in you. God can’t ignore you. He is present with you. Remember what He has done for you and whose you are. God is very jealous for His own. He will not lightly let you walk away or suffer trouble. If you are going through something right now, there is a reason for it. “Now God . . . will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Peter 5:10) did you see that? Suffering is part of our growth. Remember that this world is not our final destination. We have much to do before He calls us home. Our journey will be fraught with peril and difficulty. But to whom will be given the greater crown? The one who called God foul every time they stubbed their toe? Or the one who persevered through many trials, depending on God to help him through?

You say the suffering is greater than I can bear. I empathize. And I’m sorry. But can I tell you that that kind of suffering was not designed for you to bear alone? God sometimes calls us to lay our burdens on Him, trust Him through the suffering, allow Him to bear the burden with you. That requires faith, and is usually what I need to work on when I feel this way. Faith that is isn’t tested isn’t faith at all.

If we trust Him, especially in the great and precious promises He has made, them can we trust Him in the ordinary day to day stuff we labor with?

I know this is long, but this is something that has been on my heart lately. I want to encourage you. If you are going through something right now please comment below so that we can pray together about it. You are not far from my thoughts dear reader.

God bless!

Prayer of Petition

www.bible.com/72/psa.51.1-2.hcsb

Nothing hurts like a broken conscience. It’s when you can’t look a person in the eye anymore, or stand straight before others. When the burden of sin is a constant reminder that you are not a good person. It staggers the walk and stutters the speech. It points to depression and self-harm as the best answers for inner pain. Guilt will force you into decisions that you never thought you would make, and circumstances beyond your control. Who will save us from this body of death?

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! He heals the broken conscience and forgive even the hidden sins. He gives joy for sorrow and love for guilt.

Make today the day He heals your broken and contrite heart. Don’t carry your burdens any longer. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

God bless!

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

www.bible.com/72/psa.23.4.hcsb

“Darkest Valley” may be a better translation, but it will always be “valley of the shadow of death” for us reared on the King James. I’ve seen a few of these valleys in my my life, and counseled many others going through the same thing. It isn’t a pleasant place, but everyone’s road goes through this valley. David spoke to common experience, not just to his own.

Note here that David says we are not alone in this valley. The Shepherd is here. He carries both rod and staff. The rod to keep us on the path, and the staff to show us the way. When Christ is lifted up, He draws all men to Himself.

As sheep, we are apt to go astray and get lost in this valley. We get stuck here in grief and sorrow. We get caught in a niche or a corner and can’t see to get out. But the Shepherd will come, He will find us, and He will pull us away from danger. He is always looking for us, always working to keep us together where we are strong, rather than alone and weak. The Shepherd knows when our place goes missing in the flock.

Are you lost?

Are you alone?

Are you in the valley?

Then maybe it’s time to look for the Shepherd. He’s not hard to find. He’s the one carrying the staff. It looks like a cross sometimes.

✝️ = ❤️

It’s not all Puppies and Rainbows

www.bible.com/72/jas.1.12.hcsb

Sometimes it is trials and suffering. Sometimes it takes a longer perspective than what I am enduring in the moment. Long suffering isn’t just a circumstance, it is a life perspective. Why? Because this world is not our home. The minute we think it is, we’ve been deceived. Oh sure, it’s a nice place to visit. /’c we have many good memories here, but it isn’t home.

Had the conversation yesterday about suicide. Some people will tell you that they have a plan and a means to kill them selves. Those are the folks that need need immediate attention. But then there are the faithful believers who tell you that they don’t mind dying, and that they are ready to go. They are not suicidal, they are simply prepared to die. There is a difference.

As a Christian, you know there is a better place for us, and this world loses its appeal. We look forward to what lay ahead because He is waiting for us. That makes death an unwelcome but necessary transition. And we get that. And that becomes our perspective.

So when you encounter various trials, you don’t like it, but you know the testing of your faith, since you have been found worthy to be tested, will benefit you, and you will see the benefit once the trial is over. Even more, a crown, the sign of victory, waits for you at the finish line. We endure these temporary, light afflictions, light compared to the glory to come. For when we’ve been there a thousand years, the 80 odd years we suffered here will only be a memory.

I grieve with those whose only life here is suffering, and I pray that God will give them glimpses of joy. Help us to know Lord that all of this we endure is worth the price of victory. Help us extend our joy to others. Father this world is so dark, sometimes it is hard to see your purposes, the good that you’ve promised. Help me be light to someone today.

God bless you in your walk with the Lord today. May you shine brightly in this world as a beacon of hope. May others see Him in your eyes.