Abandoned

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6

If you were ever a freshman in college, you may remember how cool you felt if an upperclassman showed some interest in you.

T. J. Evans lived across the hall from me my freshman year. He was a self-assured upperclassman with that I’ve-got-it-all-together swagger in his walk. It didn’t take long to realize that he was a big man on campus. So you can imagine how flattering it felt when he took an interest in the freshmen on our floor.

Well, take an interest in us he did. But we were soon to find out that he had a sinister agenda up his sleeve. After curfew, he would hang out with us and suggest brilliant pranks that we could pull off under the cover of darkness. He’d help us design the strategy and off we’d go, only to get caught and find ourselves in a lot of trouble. When we got caught, we always noticed that T. J. was nowhere to be seen. He had sent us off and stayed in his room taking great delight in seeing us freshmen end up in a heap of trouble. In retrospect, I can’t believe we let him do that to us—not just once but we were dumb enough to have it happen a lot! It’s the old, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me!” routine.

When I think about it, T. J.’s delight in getting us in trouble is not much different than Satan’s interest in you and your life. He comes along with nifty schemes that look like fun—things he assures will make you happy, fulfilled, and satisfied. When someone hurts you, he has an I don’t get mad, I just get even strategy that makes you feel really good about not being taken advantage of. Instant trips into pleasure-land and debt-increasing spending sprees offer quick kicks of adrenalin. If you have a need, if you have a desire—believe me, he has a plan! But when you execute his strategy, he’ll be nowhere to be found. He won’t be there to deliver on his promise that you will be happy and fulfilled. He won’t even have the decency to help you pick up the pieces and to apologize for messing up your life. In fact, all the time he had a sinister agenda up his sleeve! He loves to see our lives complicated with shame, guilt, and regret. He is the master of ruined lives. As Peter warns us, he’s on the prowl looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5:8)!

We should have known. When he lured Adam and Eve with an offer they found hard to refuse, he didn’t stay around to make good on his promise but slithered off leaving them fearful, ashamed, and full of regret. And that strategy was so good that he continues to find it useful in your life and mine thousands of years later.

Peter Berger said it well when he wrote:

He who sups with the devil had better have a long spoon, because he who sups with the devil will find that his spoon gets shorter and shorter until that last supper in which he is left alone at the table with no spoon at all and an empty plate. But the devil, one may guess, will have then gone on to more interesting company.

Fool us once, shame on Satan! Fool us twice, shame on us!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Think about a specific time when you fell to a suggestion of Satan in your life. Which of the following did you experience in the aftermath of your decision: Shame? Regret? Guilt? All of the above?
  • Is there a plan of Satan that you consistently fall for? Why?
  • Select an area of your life where you repeatedly fail and find Scriptures that address the issue. What plan can you put in place so that you’re not fooled by Satan in that area again?

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/abandoned/

Speak Words of Healing

“The tongue of the wise promotes health.” Pr 12:18 NKJV

Matthew Henry describes grace as “salt that seasons our words and keeps them from corrupting.” Salt has two primary purposes: it preserves, and it adds flavor. So when the Bible says your words should be “seasoned with salt” (Col4:6), it means they should preserve and not corrupt, always be in good taste, and promote well-being. James the apostle says that in the same way, “You can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring” (Jas 3:12 NLT), you can’t fake what’s in your heart. It’s not just a question of learning to say the right things; it’s about having a right attitude, because what you say reflects “the things that are in [your] heart” (Mt 12:34 NCV). Solomon says, “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword” (Pr 12:18 NKJV). Unless you are careful you can end up talking yourself and the people around you into all kinds of problems. One Bible teacher says: “We have the ability to speak words of faith, which cause miracles to manifest…Faith is a law and we operate it with our words, either to our benefit or our destruction…‘The tongue of the wise promotes health.’ We could turn that around and say, ‘The tongue of the unwise promotes sickness.’ It’s your choice. You can operate by the law of faith and line up your mouth and heart with what the Devil tells you. Or you can operate the same law of faith by lining your mouth and heart up with God’s Word, pointing it towards His blessings. Faith works by believing and saying what God says.” So begin to speak words of healing.

http://www.theencouragingword.org/speak-words-of-healing

Are You in the Wilderness?

“He…guided them in the wilderness.” Ps 78:52 NKJV

The wilderness is a place where growth comes hard, water is scarce, and you plod on when there’s no end in sight. You can have a wilderness experience anywhere: at a graveside, in an unemployment line, or in a divorce court. In the wilderness:(1) There seems to be no way out. In Scripture the number forty represents struggle. Noah experienced storms for forty days. Moses spent forty years alone in the desert. Jesus was tempted by the Devil for forty days.(2) You begin to think the worst. The wilderness weakens your resolve. It makes you look for an easy way out. A troubled marriage can make you look the wrong way at somebody else’s husband or wife. It’s the breeding ground for dishonesty, depression, even pornography—things you normally wouldn’t find appealing. “Jesus… was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil” (Lk 4:1-2 NLT). Notice, going face to face with the Devil was God’s idea. Jesus, the last Adam, came to succeed where the first Adam failed. “Because one person disobeyed…many became sinners. But because one righteous person obeyed…many will be made righteous” (Ro 5:19 NLT). Jesus overcame the Devil by using God’s Word. Three times He said to Satan, “It is written” (Lk 4:4, 8, 12). And God’s Word is still your wilderness-survival guide. After using it, Jesus left the wilderness clothed in the power of God’s Spirit, ready to launch His ministry. And God can do the same for you. “He…guided them in the wilderness…He led them on safely, so that they did not fear” (Ps 78:52-53 NKJV).

http://www.theencouragingword.org/are-you-in-the-wilderness

The Treasure Within You

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels.”                     2Co 4:7 NKJV

God has given you talents and He wants you to use them. They may lie dormant under layers of failure, fear, or low self-esteem. You may be aware of them, yet not know how to put them to work. Maybe you’ve been going from relationship to relationship hoping to find someone who will acknowledge what’s within you and draw it out. If so, read this: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” Only the God who placed your talents within you knows where they’re hidden and how to release them. Delayed destiny is the Devil’s delight. By not allowing God to develop your talents you play into Satan’s hands, living far below your potential. The fact is, you have so much treasure buried within you that the Enemy is out to steal it. You never have to wonder about Satan’s motives. Jesus said he comes “to steal, kill and destroy” (Jn 10:10 TLB). You don’t try to rob somebody unless they have something worth taking, right? Your talents may be raw and undeveloped, or buried under years of self-doubt, unconfessed sin, bad habits, regret and despair. But God can take something that looks like nothing, and create something wonderful with it. Just think: He made the earth from nothing—so imagine what He can do when He has something to start with! Today get down on your knees and pray, “Father, help me to recognize and maximize the talents You have placed within me, and use them for Your glory.” That’s a prayer God will answer!

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/the-treasure-within-you/

Winning Your Personal War with Satan (4)

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”               Jas 4:8 NIV

Resisting the Devil is imperative, but it is not the endgame. This is: “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Satan’s goal is to drive a wedge between you and God, so how do you keep him from doing it? By closing the gap between you and God! Observe three things: (1) Distancing from God is done unconsciously. You become preoccupied, self-centered, or over-committed. Before you know it, prayer is limited to grace said over meals, Bible-reading to the pastor’s sermon text, and worship to a Sunday morning interlude. “Pay more careful attention, therefore, to what [you] have heard, so that [you] do not drift away” (Heb 2:1 NIV). Distancing is a subtle drift, not a sudden dash. (2) Distancing from God is dangerous. Satan’s goal is to separate you from God and His blessing. Like a soldier in enemy territory who’s cut off, you become an easy target. The Bible says, “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (Ecc 4:10 NLT). (3) Distancing from God is a choice. But it’s your choice, never God’s! He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5). Whatever your circumstances, He remains faithful. “When you pass through the waters…the fire…I am with you” (Isa 43:2-5 NIV). What’s God’s part? “He will come near to you.” Take one step in His direction and He will close the gap, embrace, secure, and enable you “to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way” (Eph 6:11 TM).

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/winning-your-personal-war-with-satan-4/

Winning Your Personal War with Satan (3)

“Resist the devil…he will flee from you.”                                     Jas 4:7

Once you become self-controlled, alert, and submitted to God, your next step must be to: “Resist the devil…he will flee from you.” When you are properly aligned with Jesus, His power and authority are behind you and at your disposal. Then when you act or speak you do so not on your own, but as His representative. Think about it this way. When a police officer orders you to stop because you’re driving too fast, the entire force of the law comes into operation. If you refuse to stop you are taking on the local precinct, the chief of police and the mayor’s office, bringing down the full weight of their combined authority on your head. As long as that policeman is aligned with and submitted to those who are over him when he speaks and acts—they speak and act through him. Are you getting the idea? In God’s kingdom the submitted life represents the King. So when you speak and act according to God’s will, He speaks and acts through you. Even Satan cannot break this chain of command! Nor can he withstand it. “Behold, I give unto you power…over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Lk 10:19). When you are submitted to God you can resist the Devil as Jesus did when He said, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.‘ Then the devil left him” (Mt 4:9-10 NIV). And when you speak those same words to the Devil, “He will flee from you” (Mt 4:10-11 NIV).

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/winning-your-personal-war-with-satan-3/

Winning Your Personal War with Satan (1)

“Be self-controlled and alert.”                                              1Pe 5:8 NIV

When nations decide to end a conflict their leaders sign treaties that allow for the restoration of peaceful relations between them. Christ’s death and resurrection defeated Satan fairly and squarely. Then Christ the victor “ascended up on high, [and] he led captivity captive” (Eph 4:8). He was welcomed back to heaven as conqueror. But here on earth no treaty was ever signed between Satan and God’s people. You are still his target. He continues to be a thief who comes to “steal, kill and destroy” (Jn 10:10 TLB). He still “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1Pe 5:8 NIV). But Christ’s victory on the cross has positioned you to walk in daily triumph over him. However, winning your personal war with Satan isn’t a matter of brains or brawn; it’s a spiritual battle and you can only win it by employing God’s strategies for victory. For the next few days let’s look at them: “Be self-controlled and alert” (1Pe 5:8 NIV). Being “self-controlled” implies staying in charge of your emotions, thoughts, words, decisions and actions. It requires taking responsibility for your own life: not allowing people, circumstances, or the Devil to take the steering wheel from your hands, usurp your power of attorney and gain control. Being “alert” means being conscious of your weaknesses and Satan’s corresponding ploys. You can’t afford to coast, run on autopilot, or go with the flow. Being alert exposes Satan’s well-laid strategies, enabling you to stop him dead in his tracks.

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/winning-your-personal-war-with-satan-1/