Monday, January 28, 2019

FOCUS: Who's the Real Enemy?

Be sober, be vigilant, because
your adversary the devil walks
about like a roaring lion...
(I Peter 5:8)
Wow, dear sisters!  The month of January nearly slipped by without me checking on your progress!  How are you doing on those new year's resolutions?

You may recall in my last post I challenged you to look seriously at your plans and where you are putting your time! What are your priorities?   It's a dilemma that is centuries old.  Just ask our bible sister, Martha of Bethany who had to figure it out for herself! (Luke 10:40-42)

January  2019 has been brutal so I'm not surprised if you've gotten distracted.  Whether it was due to severe weather conditions that extended throughout our nation, or those financial woes that come after Christmas.  Perhaps you even experienced situations unexpectedly. Thousands of federal workers and their families are feeling the impact of a prolonged government shut-down.  Two income homes have been reduced to one or even none.  If you are experiencing either of the above scenarios, please know that you are in my prayers! 

All this unrest and upheaval in our lives make for a perfect climate to complain and point fingers.  But I've  just got to tell you, no matter where you're pointing yours and placing the blame, it all boils down to this statement by Dr. Tony Evans:  "Everything we see in the physical realm is caused, provoked, or influenced by something in the invisible realm." (The Battle is the Lord's, Waging Victorious Spiritual Warfare, Moody Press, Chicago).

I believe even the most fundamentally sound Christian will sometime forget that we are living in a fallen world with a powerful enemy lurking about!  We are shocked and distraught at the happenings in our world when really we shouldn't be THAT surprised!  We've been on a downward slide of immorality, violence, and corruption since mankind's fall in the Garden of Eden.  This is where Adam and Eve were both beguiled by our real Enemy, Satan!

A quick re-read of Genesis 3:14-19 will prove that sin and its originator (Satan) is the root cause of every societal woe.  Not one man, Not one political system, Not one particular philosophy! The Face behind all the pain, chaos, perversion and violence we are experiencing is that of the Real Enemy. Until we citizens of the world acknowledge this fact, and deal with it God's way  nothing we do will be effective!

Just think about it!

1.  In the Bible, God exposes Satan as the Liar that he is and relegates him to the earthly realm and the atmospheric heavens, i.e. the stars, moon, and surrounding earth. This is the only place that he can exercise his limited authority and power. (Genesis 3:14-15; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4)  

Greenpeace, is an environmental activist group fighting daily to protect our oceans and forests; devises plans to address the devastating affects of global warming and tries hard to reduce man's carbon foot prints on the earth today.  They see the government, consumer goods manufacturers, and irresponsible humans as the enemy.  They are partially right. We do have a responsibility as stewards of this physical earth to nurture and protect it (Genesis 2:15).  But the main culprit behind the abuse of our natural resources is Satan, who provokes the behaviors and practices of the abusers.

2.   The pain and difficulties of parenting along with issues surrounding violence, divorce, women's rights, employment and the workforce emanate from God's punishment of the sin of disobedience by Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:16-17; Ephesians 5:1-6:1; Colossians 3:17-23)

Satan loves to insert himself into human relationships and cause confusion.  He's very much like the Allstate Insurance commercial character, Mayhem doing his damage and then walking away with a satisfied smirk! Any time he can interrupt the peaceful and orderly function of these relationships or confuse us regarding our godly roles he's happy.  Rebellion, lack of respect, misuse of power and authority, racism and the like all have Satanic roots.

3.  The Opiods and Healthcare Crisis.  Men and women have been self-medicating for years, trying to stave off the negative affects of our aging and dying bodies.  It is a normal thing to crave relief from the physical and emotional pains that come with life.   It has become for many, a lucrative business providing this temporary relief.  We see it in a multitude of pills, shots, herbal and dietary supplements tablets and powders, some legal and some illegal.   But none are able to prevent death (Genesis 3:18-19; Psalms 90 10; Hebrews 9:27)

God never meant for mankind to be sick a day in our lives or to die!  But we know Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy everything and everyone God created (John 10:10). God has always provided what was needed for our health from the leaves and herbs of His garden (Genesis 2:9; Revelation 22:2).   But Satan is a Deceiver and Perverter of all that is good! We can't beat death in this life but Christ has prevented it in the next one (I Corinthians 15:55-57).  It is not rocket science to know that the greed, self pleasure, vanity, and the narcissism we see today was first demonstrated by Satan, the anointed cherub of God in eternity past (Isaiah 14:12-13; 2 Corinthians 11:14).

True, everything that goes wrong in our lives cannot be placed at Satan's feet. The Devil Made Me Do It is a weak and often baseless defense nowadays!  We must acknowledge our own responsibility be accountable.  This is especially important since we have access to a powerful weapon. Sixty-six books of a comprehensive Spiritual Warfare Guide (the bible) to help us diffuse the Enemy's influence.  Why not stop all the blame shifting and take some time to pick it up! Learn how to recognize who the real enemy is in your midst.  It could be Satan but then it just might be you!


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Monday, January 14, 2019

FOCUS: On What Matters Most!!

"...but only one thing is needed.  Mary
has chosen what is better, and it
will not be taken away from her."
(Luke 10:42 NIV)
Happy New Year Sisters!  I'm wondering if you've been as busy as I have since the calendar turned from 2018 to 2019.   We're only a couple of weeks into the month and already I'm scheduling appointments and events that have taken me well into the Spring of the year!

There's lots going on in my part of the world...actually a lot is going on all over the world!  So, maybe that's why I think it's a good time to talk about an old Nemesis of mine, time management!  Actually, the phrase time management is a misnomer.  We can't really manage time!  It goes on no matter what we do!

Yet, we try to get more of it any way we can don't we?  Many of those wonderful New Years resolutions we made were designed to do just that.  Who cares that they very rarely work! But don't be discouraged dear ones.  I believe there  is a way to get, if not more time... more out of the time that the good Lord has given us!

Over the past few weeks, the Word of God has been pounding an undeniable message into my head and heart.  This year focus only on what matters most!  Let me tell you how I know this message is for me; not just for this year but for the duration of my life!

First, this scripture verse screamed in my spirit after hearing it on my church's morning prayer line!  It was only a day or so into the new year:  "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).  To put this principle in context you really need to include what Moses said in verse 10: "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by  means of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away"

If you're like me with more years behind you than in front of you, those verses can stop you in your tracks and make you start thinking about what's important in life, then question how you're spending the gift of time!

Second, our quarterly Sunday school curriculum recently moved us into a new unit of study that began in 2019.  Guess what the study was entitled:  What Matters Most!  These wonderful lessons are giving us opportunities to examine whether we are living out the gospel in our daily lives; if our character is standing up to culture, and if our bible training in godliness can endure to the end!

Third,  each year my pastor casts a vision for our church.  He gives us a theme to meditate on and provide scripture as a focal point for growing spiritually throughout the year.  This year is a very special one for our church.  We will be celebrating 100 years of ministry!  I can only believe that it was the providential will of God that stirred his heart to choose as our theme.....Wait For It!!!!!!  What Matters Most: Leaving a Legacy that Lasts!

Time is elusive, a mysterious and ethereal thing like our lives!  It can appear for a while and then suddenly disappear like a vapor (James 4:14)   It behooves us to treat this precious gift with both wisdom and respect, focusing attention and resources on that one thing that is really needed!  This is the powerful lesson Christ was teaching Martha in Luke 10:38-42.

Her sister, Mary chose the better part...that which mattered most, sitting at the feet of Jesus!  We should do the same. When deciding between what is good and what is best, choose the one thing that glorifies God, makes a kingdom difference, and leaves a legacy of godly wisdom.  Remember my dear sisters:  Only what you do for Christ will last!

Books for suggested reading:  Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver (Waterbrook Press) and Life Management for Busy Women, Elizabeth George (Harvest House Publishers)


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