Playing With Matches


People can do some funny, seemingly innocuous things that can have serious, even devastating consequences sometimes. 

One of my favorite presidents was Ronald Reagan. I remember hearing how  staff members sometimes ran into situations with First Lady Nancy Reagan because decisions about whom the president would see, when trips would be made and so forth were dictated by astrological means.  My all time favorite president Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln was widely known to have seances in the White House in efforts to connect with her deceased son, Willy.

In the historical context of their lives, these two great men did wonderful things for America and I believe they were Godly men. But what tangled web can a little misrepresentation from the Ruler of this World, Satan, spin in the lives of a nation and its leaders!

In our study last Wednesday night, we saw how the devil makes direct and indirect attacks on mankind in an effort to destabilize the lives of God’s creatures, those created in His Image, so that he can establish ever greater control in the place over which he currently enjoys the dominion Adam handed over to him in Eden. It is a war in which Satan has been destined to lose ever since God cast him from heaven. It is a spiritual war billions in this world are losing and don’t seem to recognize. Lucifer apparently didn’t recognize it either when this occurred in Isaiah 14:12-15:

How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star [Lucifer], son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nation!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

The Father of Lies wants us to live the lie out that we can live like him in the world-a world in which everyday things like horoscopes, seances, fortune cookies-with lotto numbers on the back, rabbit’s feet and the like are harmless things that mean nothing in our relationship with the Lord.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Little things become big things when they interfere with our Father’s loving plan for our lives. We were, after all, created to glorify Him with every thought, every word, and every deed and when we neglect these things, even in small ways, we step away from His guidance and protection.

In Luke 10 we see the result of faithful submission to Jesus’ will and instructions given to 72 of His disciples who were given authority to exercise His ministry:

“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). And Jesus replies that this is to be expected, because of who He Himself is the eternal One who was there at creation, and who has witnessed all of history, including Satan’s fall. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” Jesus told them (Luke 10:18).

This is the nature of our warfare ever since Satan was cast down!  Jesus was there! He not only saw the event, He accomplished the event! It is SERIOUS!

There is a bottom line here. Pastor Ray Stedman laid it out most wisely, I think:

There is no question that there is a great deal of fraud and deception in this whole field of black magic, channeling, and fortunetelling. There are charlatans at work who make their living off the superstitious fears of people, and they use deceptive tricks to fool people into thinking they are genuinely in touch with spirits and occult powers. It is very difficult to tell the difference between the genuine and the false in this field. Great skepticism, care, and clear thinking must be used by anyone attempting to investigate this dark realm. While there is a great deal of smoke and mirrors in the occult domain, the Bible tells us there is considerable fire as well. Despite the existence of fraud, there is a dangerous truth behind the operation of black magic and witchcraft.

The Bible consistently warns us against dabbling in these matters. Here are just a few examples of biblical teaching on the subject:

“Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31).

“I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people” (Leviticus 20:6).

When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Isaiah 8:19).

 

It’s the little things friends, the seemingly harmless things that often require the greatest discernment. God has called us to this level of wisdom, so show yourselves approved and dig in to His Word to get this wisdom. He will bless you most certainly.

What’s Love Got to do With It?


Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.

God is always searching our hearts and motives for those things that please Him,glorify Him, and show obedience to His Word and His calling for our lives.  We can’t fake it. God is not mocked.

Love has EVERYTHING to do with what honors God and shows obedience to His Word and His ways.

What Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1 speaks volumes to what we should do and how we should think and behave towards those we might normally hate (that is if we aren’t guided by the Holy Spirit).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Let me be perfectly clear on this: Wrong motives render righteous acts unrighteous!  What does it mean to be righteous?  When we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who reveals righteousness to us by prayerful reading of the Scriptures, which is the divinely inspired Word of God, we find that righteous motives (1) Spreads the Word, (2) Ends contention and (3) glorifies God. Remember what John the apostle said:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[a] it.

If God is love, and He is, everything that is said in John 1: 1-5 is done out of love, also. It is a logical inconsistency to suggest that anything that is not of God, to possess love. He created the universe, and all things GOOD! And He created them out of love.  This is why what the Lord says to Samuel  in 1 Samuel16:7 is so important for us to remember: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance,but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Take a second look at John 1:5. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it.  We are called to be light in a dark world. Hatred, striving (a form of the word strife),contentiousness, paranoia, and just about every negative emotion you can think of contributes to the darkness and cannot shed light on anything. 

What is in our heart is a key to being light. And motive is everything. Motive shows God whose side we are on.  We need to be careful of unrighteous motivations in our own lives.  Things like:

·        Doing things out of vanity (even things we think are good)

·        Self glorification

·        Worldly ambition

·        Fear of man

·        Greed

·        Demand for instant gratification

·        Approval of man

·        Envy

·        Deception of any kind

Can discredit our testimony and reflect poor intentions to a world that wants to paint every Christian as a hypocrite.  Jesus had this to say in Matthew 6: 2, 5, and 16:

Therefore,when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

16 “Moreover,when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

When we walk closely with our partner the Holy Spirit, none of these things should be taking place. The Holy Spirit is the one that fills the heart of every believer with the Love of Christ whose very characteristics Paul gave us in the“love” passage in 1 Corinthian 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Jesus never hated anyone. He put His love in us to use for the glory of His kingdom and for this He died a horrible death, the greatest example of love ever. He understood this when He patiently answered His worst critics, the Pharisees and correctly identified them as “of your father, the devil”. He took some of those very same Pharisees, particularly Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and gave them insights into what salvation really meant.

Think of these points the next time you go to a meeting, the next time you engage an embittered friend or co-worker, the next time you pray and ask the Lord what to do and then ask yourself, better yet ask Him, to create in you a clean heart and renew the Spirit that honors God first, and loves all to the exclusion of no one. Even when you don’t want to.

We didn’t deserve His grace but we got it anyway. Give it away!

Spiritual Deception and Wisdom for Today’s World


Well at last!  I’m finally getting around to a subject that has been a real sticking point with many of our brothers and sisters since a certain wily serpent conversed with Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Many of these early topics from Wednesday night will be new to many of you, but a few of you have been in our Wednesday group for a couple of years now may find these familiar.

My prayer is that you will be well fed by what the Holy Spirit reveals to you and that you will share with as many of your friends and loved ones as you find receptive.

God Bless You All Mightily!

Let’s start by recognizing the traits and purpose of our enemy, the devil. We also call him Satan. A brilliant theologian and great man of God named Warren Wiersbe wrote a book that is legendary in its clarity and scriptural soundness and he defined these best in his book The Strategies of Satan.

  • Wiersbe said Satan had four main functions on earth and these are supported by Scripture:Satan the Deceiver (Genesis 3)-after God created man and woman and enjoyed communion with them in the Garden of Eden, along came Satan to throw confusion, independence and deception into His perfect creation. The devil, as we know, is the father of lies and this was his first weapon against mankind. What he did was really simple and he does the same thing today: First, he questions God’s instructions-“did God say?”; second, he tells Eve a lie-“God did not say!” and then the final step is his substitution of another lie of his own-“for God knows that when you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will be just like God!”  Satan has been doing this to mankind ever since and he is good at it!
  • Satan the Destroyer (The Book of Job)-God created man in His image, perfect, complete and designed to walk in close communion with Him. He made our bodies to be Temples of the Holy Spirit and this is a prime target of our enemy. Think of all the ways we make ourselves independent of God’s purpose and plan for our lives. Job was righteous in God’s eyes but the devil sought permission to attack his body, but not kill him. The attacks got so bad that Job’s own wife told him, “Curse God and Die!”  No one’s loved ones want to see someone they care for suffer but here is the lesson for us:  Be patient for God’s will, His purpose and plan to be worked out in us before we just give up. Satan loves it when we give up on God and become impatient and independent.
  • Satan the Ruler of this World (1 & 2 Samuel; 1 Kings)-This tale of two kings is the story about what happens when God anoints rulers over His people and then those kings become rebellious and separate themselves from God Himself, Who gave them their position and authority.  Just as all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus by our Father, David and Saul were given authority and power on earth. SO HAVE WE!!  We can be independent of anyone and anything on earth but never independent of God. Anointings from God can be gained and lost, as these two kings learned, but we must always remain close to Him in Jesus’ Name!
  • Satan as the Accuser of the Brethren (Zechariah 3)-picture yourself in heaven before the Throne of Grace. There is a man named Joshua and he is the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem.  He is dressed in his priestly clothes, but they are filthy and not presentable to our Father.  This is a real picture of warfare. Satan has accused him of unworthiness and uncleanness but God doesn’t acknowledge it. Instead, he rebukes the accuser from His righteous throne and Satan remains SILENT for the remainder of the trial. Our Father orders His angel to re-clothe Joshua in clean garments and a new turban to be placed on his head. END OF TRIAL! Here’s the best part: We have a higher place in God’s kingdom than the devil and we may BOLDLY go before the Throne of Grace in faith, knowing that the enemy is defeated. Never forget that! After the trial, God has made a promise to Joshua and this promise is for all of us-Walk in His ways, perform His service and we will govern in His house with free access among those who dwell in heaven.

These are foundational truths in recognizing the tricks and character of our archenemy, Satan. When people are troubling to you, pray for them and remember what we learned in Ephesians 6:12-“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness in this world, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Lollipop Seeds


This is one smart lady! I’m glad I married her!

The Big Gag


Wow!  What a night I had last night at the War Room!  God is so faithful and last night was a real blessing for me and I hope for those who attended the connection group. About half of those who blessed me with their attention last night were newcomers and they dove in feet first on the topic at hand: The Strategies of Satan.

I knew I had to go in fully prepared for what might happen. I have been fighting a head cold and really thought I was pretty well past it by the time class started. About 30 minutes in, I started coughing uncontrollably and was determined that the enemy was trying to throw me off my game. No way. Being prayed up and in the Spirit means you can be attacked but the enemy is already defeated. He wants as many as he can get to join him where he will one day be eternally, and this was the message. 

Back in the War Room, God puts faithful people before me always and last night, one of these faithful brothers, Jack, rescued me in my coughing, runny-nosed message of hope by getting a bottle of water for me so I could finish what God had put in my heart to say.  Spiritual warfare sometimes isn’t pretty, but it is always productive for those who walk close in partnership with the Holy Spirit!

There are many ways that the devil attacks but principally there are four roles he plays in his attempts to destroy us and we covered three last night: First, he is the Deceiver and his tool is the Lie. We see classic examples of this in Genesis 3, where he introduces himself to Adam and Eve and, oh, how subtle he was! He did then just as he does today all over the world and he persuades others to follow suit.

  • he questions God’s Word
  • he denies God’s Word
  • he then substitutes his own lies

Secondly, he is the Destroyer and his tool in this realm is attacks on our body, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. For the faithful, Satan can’t attack what God hasn’t given him license to and I think some of this is what was happening to me last night-no exaggeration!  This is what the devil did to Job and was so bad at one point that Job’s own wife told him to “curse God and die!”  No one likes to see anyone they love suffering but this impatience for God’s will for us to be healed in His perfect time plays right into Satan’s hand.  In my view, Satan lost that battle last night as I was speaking. Hallelujah!

Last on the War Room agenda for the night was God’s command from Matthew 5:16 : “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  This is not be seen by men doing for ourselves like the hypocritical Pharisees did but to do things, ALL THINGS, for the glory of God!  This is the third role of the devil, played out in the life of David-The Ruler.

The ruler refers to the ruler of this world and that is our enemy, Satan. David was a man after God’s own heart but he found himself under devilish influences often in his long life.  His rule, when it was influenced by Satan, led to his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Worse yet, this independence in David led him to take a census of the number of people he controlled in his kingdom. Failing to glorify God at all, this led to a plague that ended the lives of over 70,000 people!  This is a lesson for us-when we fail to walk in closeness with our Lord and Savior, we willingly choose to open ourselves up to destruction. When Israel finally died in 70 A.D. it was nearly 1900 years before God allowed it to return.

Be independent from anyone or anything you like, except God.

See you at the next session and thanks again, Jack!