On Bondage And Nobility

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 NKJV

As a rule, people don’t fall into bondage overnight. They don’t just wake up one morning and discover they’re addicted to food or can’t control their temper. There is a progression that leads to bondage. And it begins when we start listening to and pondering things that aren’t true.

That’s how it all began in the garden of Eden. Eve listened to the lies Satan told her. She had no idea where those lies would ultimately lead her and her family. Perhaps it didn’t seem particularly dangerous just to listen to the serpent, to hear him out, to see what he had to say. Listening in itself wasn’t disobedience.

But here’s the thing. Listening to a viewpoint that was contrary to God’s Word put Eve on a slippery slope that led to disobedience, which then led to spiritual and physical death. Listening with an open mind to things that are not in accord with God’s Word is the first step toward bondage and destruction.

That’s why it’s so important to monitor the input we allow into our minds and hearts and to reject that which promotes ungodly thinking. A steady diet of worldly influences, from television, magazines, movies, music, friends, and novels, will seductively shape our view of what is valuable, beautiful, and important in life.

There are no harmless lies. We cannot expose ourselves to the world’s false, deceptive ways of thinking and expect to come out unscathed. Eve’s first mistake was not eating the fruit; her first mistake was listening to the serpent and considering his worldview as a valid option.

Mindlessly absorbing counsel or reasoning that is contrary to the truth will lead us to develop wrong beliefs that eventually place us in bondage and create barriers in our fellowship with God.

So, what is the question?

Can you think of something you heard recently that appealed to your interests or desires but, as you think about it, is not consistent with God’s Word? Did you listen to it (i.e.receive it mindlessly) or did you consciously reject the lie?

Adapted from The Quiet Place, Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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The Invisible Enemy

A member of our Discipleship Group recently noticed an interesting thing. In his daily COVID-19 briefings, President Trump started calling the virus “the invisible enemy” and suggesting that Americans should consider themselves “warriors” in the fight against it.

As a Christian, Sandy immediately thought of Satan and his demons and the similarities between those evil ones and the virus.

Here is a summary of Sandy’s observations and supporting Scripture readings:

“What has happened to us because of the virus?

  • We have been divided, alienated, separated, forced to suspend corporate worship.
  • We have been overwhelmed with unemployment, shortages, poverty, discouragement.
  • We have been killed and our security has been destroyed.
  • We have been confused by conflicting information.
  • We have given in to fear and it is controlling us to the point where we are willingly giving up our freedom.

If this sounds like evil personified, you are correct. What do Satan and his demons seek to do? They seek to:

  • Divide the body of Christ and alienate worshipers. Satan hates unity. Jesus prayed for unity.
  • Overwhelm our spirits into concentrating on our problems. Jesus gives us His peace.
  • Steal, kill and destroy. Jesus gives us life.
  • Use lies to confuse us. Jesus is truth.
  • Instill fear in us, turning us to man-made solutions rather than God ordained ones. Jesus sets us free from all fear.

If God were to open our eyes, even for a moment, to see the battle around us, the spiritual forces of wickedness and the enemy coming for us, our understanding of Ephesians 6:12-17 would never be the same. The flesh is useless in this battle.

Take heart. We know the outcome.”

From The Word:

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Psalms 10:7-9

His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; under his tongue is mischief and wickedness. He sits in the lurking places of the villages; In the hiding places he kills the innocent; his eyes stealthily watch for the unfortunate. He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair; he lurks to catch the afflicted: He catches the afflicted when he draws him into his net.

Psalms 143:3-4

For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

1 Peter 5:8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:13-17

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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The Christian Mission Statement

To know Christ (1) and to make Him known.

(1) To know Christ is not simply to gain more and more knowledge about Him, but to share an intimate communion with Him. To have fellowship with Him in the style of Moses.

Sometimes the footnote is the most important part.

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Racism. Riots. What Now 2 Do?

If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. 1 Corinthians 12:26 MSG

We don’t have to choose sides. Here is what God asks of us; No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. Micah 6:8 GNT

Act justly, love unconditionally (mercy), and walk humbly before our God, to wit:

  1. Admit that racism is real, that it is evil, and that it breaks the heart of God. We cannot be a part of a solution to a problem we don’t acknowledge exists. Talk about it in your house. And remember everyone is created in the image of God.
  2. Listen. Ask questions and listen. It may be painfully uncomfortable. Do it anyway.
  3. Pray, which by definition includes more listening. Prayer is powerful. We can’t do this repentance alone; we need help from Heaven (“For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. Ephesians 6:12 GNT)
  4. Love:
    • overtly;
    • recklessly;
    • boldly;
    • generously;
    • bravely; and
    • unconditionally.

Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12

Adapted from a message by Craig Groeschel, Life Church, 6/06/20

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God’s Faithfulness, And My Own

I can never repay the gift of God’s grace that saved me from my wretchedness. But what I fear is ever denying the gift. Or of not heeding God’s call with a “Here I am. Send me.”

I take for my example Noah. Noah was a righteous man who “walked with God.” Genesis 6:9 suggests that he may have been the only human being of his kind on earth in that age, the only man who sought to follow God’s will and who could be trusted with God’s mission to preserve human and animal life on earth. Noah was faithful. In the face of probable derision and scorn from his community, he built an ark and preserved life on earth.

Noah’s story raises this question: If God looked for one person who would be faithful to Him in a specific task, would His eyes rest upon us?

“I know of nothing which I would choose to have as the subject of my ambition for life than to be kept faithful to my God till death.” Charles H. Spurgeon

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On Joy

This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 NASB

And then there is this:

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11 ESV

Selah.

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A Beautiful Surprise

Lord, catch me off guard today. Surprise me with some moment of beauty or pain so that at least for the moment, I may be startled into seeing that you are here in all your splendor, always and everywhere, barely hidden, beneath, beyond, within this life I breath. Frederick Beuchener

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On Repentence

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NKJV

But God. So this promise, made to David’s son Solomon, remains operative for the people called by His name today:

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT

Go forth.

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On Vocation

God has also planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (AMPC, Paraphrased)

We have two vocations in life, our labor by which we earn a living, and our covenant vocation (sometimes “covenant of vocation”). Our covenant vocation is the “task” given to every human being: Reflect the glory of God into the world and the praises of creation back to Him (see also the Christian Mission Statement “to know Him and to make Him known”).

The primary difference between the two vocations is that one is temporal and the other is eternal. While our earthly vocation can be part of our covenant vocation as we work “heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23), it will inevitably come to a close. But our vocation as image-bearers for God (Genesis 1:26-27) is an eternal one. As we transition to a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1) we will continue our eternal vocation of glorifying God.

God put eternity in our hearts for a reason – to remind us of our eternal purpose of honoring Him.

“Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. ” E. H. Chapin

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The Christian Mission Statement:

To know Him and to make Him known.

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