It’s Demons!

www.bible.com/1713/jas.4.7.csb

Once in a while you come upon one of those cases where nothing works. Meds don’t work. Sound reasoning from the Scriptures does no good. What’s left? Behavioral modification, psychoanalysis, extended rehab, nothing is effective to change the heart. If you know Jesus, you know that Jesus is the only one who can change the heart, but a person must also choose Jesus. Jesus wants to change everyone, but only those who let Him can receive that change.

But you know who doesn’t want that change? Do you know who wants you to stay just the way you are in depression and anxiety, in anger or self-destruction? It’s Demons! The devil has every interest in seeing you destroy yourself. He wants to take you away from God and will do all in his power, as God allows him, to destroy your sense of self-worth, your feeling of forgiveness and grace, especially your peace. He will sense his henchmen to take you down, through whispers, through oppression, through others who will hurt you.

And yet here is this promise in the Scripture. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. You must choose God. And in that choice you have the power to resist the devil. You have the power to choose not to listen to him or his minions. You have the power to resist him and his spiritual poverty. It is in your power to choose, and in that choice, many find healing. Because sometimes it isn’t a biological problem or a thought problem, but it’s demons. Demons will steal your joy and impoverish your spirit. They constantly tell you that life isn’t worth living and that you are alone. They will isolate you and corral you to believe that you are the only one with your problem.

You must choose to believe the truth. Jesus loves you and had died for you. Jesus has given everyone because He loves you. Even now He longs for you. He calls to you. Amidst all of the voice of sorrow and despair, Jesus’ is the only one speaking hope into you. Resist the devil. He will flee. Resist the darkness, and light will flood in. Resist the voices. They don’t love you. Submit yourself to God and enjoy His love and grace.

Dear Father, I know I’m not much. But with you, I am something. All my life the enemy has tried to tear me down and make me feel like I am worthless. I know that’s not true. I am valuable because your Som died for me. I have been bought with a price, far more valuable than gold or silver. Help me see that today, to resist the darts and wiles of the devil, and embrace your grace in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Blameless

www.bible.com/1713/pro.13.6.csb

Having a good reputation, whether in person or online is an extremely precious commodity. You can’t help what others think of you, but what others think of you can damage you for life. And being blameless may be the worst kind of reputation to have. Just ask Jesus. That got Him killed.

But like all proverbs, we need to take this as a general rule, instead of absolute. In most situations for most people this is true. If you work to give no one reason to blame you, you are in a good way. A good reputation is priceless among good people. A good reputation is a result of being godly and righteous. If you are fair and just, compassionate and holly, you will have a good reputation. Hold on to that.

But also remember the corollary. You cannot entertain sin. Many a good reputation has been marred and stained because of a single sin allowed to be fostered and sheltered in the life of a Christian. If you let Satan have but one piece of your life, He will take over. You cannot give him a inch or territory in your life. Not one!

May we pray this morning that God will direct our paths, show us the way, and guards our hearts as we work to serve Him today. May His blessings be on your life today as we serve and obey. In Jesus’ Name.

Thoughts and Prayers

www.bible.com/1713/psa.19.14.csb

While it is always in vogue to mock Christians, non- Christians were unusually brutal in mocking the Christian habit of sending “thoughts and prayers” when disaster happens. Yesterday saw the death of a celebrity basketball player. Though I have not seen then, I have no doubt that many sent “thoughts and prayers” to the family. Is there anything wrong with that?

That is the subject of today’s text, for the Psalmist asked the Lord about it. He was concerned both for the words of his mouth (prayers) and the meditations of his heart (thoughts) would be acceptable to God. As a Christian, we better be sure that the thoughts and prayers we send are likewise.

What the non-Christians mock is hypocrisy. It is very easy to type “thoughts and prayers” and go on about your day. It would be a sad thing to offer both and do neither. To which the non-Christian rightly responds that you have done nothing. In fact, it is worse than nothing. Because you have offered to intervene before the King of the Universe on their behalf, praying for their comfort and peace, and done neither. It is akin to apathy to say such a thing of love and compassion and then forget it. Words mean things. If your words are empty, then your faith is hollow.

If you offer thoughts and prayers for the hurt and grieving, then follow through. Pray for that family. Put their needs before you and meditate on them. What if it was you. What would you need right now? Pray for that if you cannot offer it yourself.

Dear Father, if we have been hypocrites when it comes to interceding for others, please extend Your grace to us, but also with our repentance the reminder of this lesson. We have an important role in this world. From our lips the world hears the gospel message. Let that message be pure and undefiled. Let it be free from denominational dogmatism. Let it flow purely from Your grace into the hearts of men. Help us to be more like You dear Father. Help us today we pray, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Care in the Pruning

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.15.2.csb

Pruning feels a lot like discipline. Pruning feels like punishment. Pruning is not pleasant. And yet, the Lord sees fit to prune our lives from time to time. Things, people, professional possessions, from time to time God sees fit to prune away from us because they are not beneficial to us. Of course, we can’t understand this at the time it occurs. To us it feels like God is punishing us. It feels like He doesn’t love us. Yet God does it anyway, and demands that we simply trust Him. He is the Master Gardener. He sees our whole life at once. He knows what will help us grow. Like a good Gardener, He prunes back the branches from time to time to help us bear more fruit. He isn’t interested is us bearing more branches, because they can cause us to fall over in the storm when we are overbalanced. He knows exactly how big we need to be, what shape we need to be, because we don’t.

“Why did God allow this to happen?” People ask. How could a loving God let such things happen? Pruning is a painful act. But it is. Loving act. Discipline is a painful act. But it is a loving one. And sometimes they are the same. Bad things happen. Do not be surprised that the world hates you. You belong to the Lord. The world hated the Lord. They will hate you too. Sometimes God uses that hatred for your pruning.

When you are overcome, overwhelmed, and in need of hope, remember that this world is not our home. We are not judged on our possessions. We are not judged by our bank account. We are not judged by which church we attend. We are judged according to our faith in Christ and the works we have done in His name. We are judged by our fruits. And God wants to give us every chance to grow them.

God, help me understand why you are so hard on me. I have heard that I will not be given more than I can handle, but it seems You have an awful lot of confidence in me right now. Father I am not strong enough. On my own I cannot do this. I need you to empower me, to draw me to you. I need you. Please Lord. Amen.

Plans Within Plans

www.bible.com/1713/pro.19.21.csb

You ever watch one of those movies where there is a vast conspiracy to take over the world or something? It’s kind of fun to watch the heroes figure out the conspiracy and either unravel it or be overwhelmed by it. Because sometimes that’s how the world feels. It feels like big brother is always watching you or there is some vast conspiracy to ruin your life.

In truth, there is. His name is Satan and He wants to ruin your life. Everyone who serves His ends are His unwitting accomplices. But we all have parts to play in this drama. Whether you serve the side of Heaven or Hell, we are all pieces to be played or sacrificed. Sound dark?

Consider this, as stated in the verse above, we can make plans. But we can only see the road just a little bit ahead of us. God alone has the map. We try to best the best decisions we can based on the information we have, but God has given us enough guidance to steer us in the right direction. But the enemy also has an agenda. He can see little of God’s plan, but he does know how to derail as much as can.

Satan was responsible for the crucifixion and death of Jesus just as much as man. No doubt Satan rejoiced at God’s predicament. How could God start a new religion with a dead messiah? But God had a bigger plan. God had already prepared all things just as He had predicted through His prophets. That Jesus died was according to His plan. Jesus did not remain in death, but God raised Him in three days. And no greater joy was felt.

Jesus was sacrificed for God’s greater plan of raising Him from the dead. If God would do that for His own Son, imagine what wonders He will do through you? If you are going through a trial now, God already has a plan for experience in your life. If you are suffering, there is a reason for it. He has not abandoned you. You too will rise. But there is no greater darkness than the midst of that trial. He has not abandoned you or forsaken you. Be patient and He will lift you up. Wait on the Lord and you will not be disappointed.

Father God, you know I’ve been through some dark days. You’ve been there with me. Right now feels like one of those times. I can’t see far enough ahead Lord to know what direction is best. All I can do is the best I can in obeying the word You’ve given me. Please help me know what You need me to do. Please help me know you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me. Give me strength for the trial. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

www.bible.com/1713/eph.6.11.csb

A couple weeks ago, my phone was acting up. Battery wouldn’t charge and I just couldn’t get it to work. I need my phone for work especially as the hospital uses it to call me when I am on call like this morning. I didn’t take my cell phone to work with me that morning, thinking I would would come back and take it to the store to get it replaced. As I was walking to work that morning, I realized it was the farthest I had been from my cell phone in a long time. It’s been such a habit of taking my phone with me wherever I go that it’s second nature. I wish I had the same feeling about the armor of God.

I need this armor more than I need my cell phone. The helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, the belt of truth. I am having flashbacks of Bibleman right now. If you don’t know who that is, don’t worry about it too much. He was a fictional superhero who armor sequence, like a Christian Batman, was all about putting on the armor of God.

Every day, we need this protective armor to secure us against the wiles of the devil. It is invaluable, and you can’t just leave it behind. It must be around you, on you and in your hand. It will protect you unlike your cell phone. Your cell phone will respond to your need, while the armor will help guide your feet, your thoughts, and your faith.

Even now as I compose this, I am holding my cell phone. Perhaps that phone can be a reminder that I need the armor of God everywhere I go. I hope today brings you exactly what you need. May God bless you.

Dear God, I am humbled before your majesty this morning. It is no small thing to be granted Your Own Armor to defend me from the wiles of the devil. And unlike Saul’s armor, yours is a perfect fit. Thank you for thinking so much of me as to deserve your personal protection. Please help me to remember it today to bring it with me wherever I go. In Jesus’ holy Name, Amen.