THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE -SUFFERING AND SATAN’S DEVICES – Part four

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD HELPS

It always amazes me at how quickly I can forget God is with me.  When life’s winds blow in my face, I feel those more than I think of God.  Let’s face it, we are all infallible!  We are not perfect and it shows up the most in the trials of this life. Our desire for comfort, relief, and happiness seems to overrule the truth we know about God.  How do we prepare for this battle against truth when we suffer?  Our preparation takes place in everyday life.  This has been a season of strong winds for me.  This season has brought about many changes in my life and many opportunities. As we face the strong winds of disappointment, discouragement, pain, and sorrow, God sees opportunities for us to grow in him.  We can be preparing each and every day for strong winds that may come our way.  Here’s how we do it!  WE PURSUE A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD!

  1.  The Word of God is our food!

We must feed our belief. It’s easy to say “I believe”, but when the winds of the life hit us in the face, we’re empty.  The way we feed our belief is to be in God’s Word each day seeking to learn who God is.  It’s this pursuit that helps us when suffering comes.  Satan wants us to curse God and forget about his presence.  We must fight Satan with what we know to be true about God.  The problem is we won’t know these things if we are not in his Word seeking him.  Sometimes we focus on God’s Word as words for us to live by, all about us.  The truth is, the Word of God is all about him.  “…seek, and you will find…” Matthew 7:7b Jesus reminds us to seek him.  Don’t wait until life is hard, seek him now in preparation for what is to come!

2. Knowing God is HOPE!

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:21-23

This is a portion of scripture written by Jeremiah, who was struggling with rejection from his own people.  He had been through much suffering and yet, in the middle of it, he preaches to himself about God.  He could do this because he knew God’s character. Bringing to mind who God is when we are suffering can help us to have hope.  As I was sitting in the hallway of the hospital after my husband had been rushed back into the operating room to have fluid from his heart drained, I needed to preach to myself.  I was so grateful for the character of God.  The sermon I was preaching was God’s sovereignty and goodness.  He knew, and He is good!  Those two things sustained me as I sat in ignorance of what was happening.  What was worse is they forgot I was there and didn’t come and tell me anything!  This made the time seem slow and full of anticipation.  But God is good and sovereign. He wanted me to learn to wait, and rely fully on him.  Know God’s character and believe; that’s hope!

3. Knowing God is TRUTH!

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal.” 1 John 5:20

Our God is the one and only true God!  There is none like him!  When suffering comes upon us, Satan wants us to doubt our true God.  The biggest thought is that God doesn’t really care or is not involved in my life.  But God is true to his word and we know he will never “leave or forsake” his children.  When I was in the hallway alone, the truth was, I was not alone.  Did I have to remind myself of that?  Absolutely!  Knowing that God is truth and all he says is true encompasses what we have to believe.  As followers of Christ we must know the truth and be set free from the lies being thrown at us by our enemy.  I’ve thought about this since my husband’s heart attack.  It would have pleased Satan for me to throw in the towel and allow the changes in our circumstances to weigh me down.  This could have become my life as a victim of the winds of life.  I know God is truth and I can trust all he has said about himself and about me.  That’s what I hold onto each and every day.  Jesus said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32  How do we know the truth?  We eat the food of the Word daily, which is truth and will give us hope!

The winds of life may blow in our faces but we can withstand them as we pursue knowing God.  In fact, these winds may turn into a tornado or hurricane in your life but knowing God will remind you how he is greater than even that!  Our calling is to get fat on the Word of God so that we will know the hope and truth that will guide us in this life.  Pass the chapter and verse, please!

SINGING, ANNOYING AND LAUGHTER

Originally posted 11-17-2015

I have always loved to sing!  There was a time, when I was very young, when I would have singing contests with my imaginary friends.  We would all gather around (well, I would gather around) to enter into a singing competition.  My imaginary friends were Tinka, Winka, Sinka and Betty. As each of them would sing, they would sound terrible.  In my pretending, as each of my friends sang, they would never be able to sing the right key or the right words.  But the world looked on in awe when Denise took center stage.  I sang my heart out and then bowed to the audience that wasn’t there knowing that I had “nailed it” so to speak.

That love of singing continued as I grew.  I was in the children’s choir at church singing my first duet with another 10 year old who just happened to be a boy.  I think his name was Dennis.  The director wanted us to stand closer to one another but there was no way!  I didn’t want to get cooties which could have caused me to miss a note.  As I continued to progress, I made my way to the adult choir.  So as you see I’ve always loved singing in church.  It is such a joy for me to praise the Lord in song.

Singing became a part of my everyday life.  When I drove my car, I would sing.  When my children came along, they joined me as we went from one place to another.  When my daughter was just 20 months old, she could sing the ABCs.  Her tune was perfect, the letters not so clear.  I loved it!! I have it recorded on one of those old cassettes and listened to it recently.  The quality was not great but it was clear what she was doing.  We connected with our singing.  It was fun!

Now I have grandchildren and I sing with them as well.  My granddaughter, Addy, thinks I’m a bit annoying when I sing to her. But she keeps asking me to sing with her so I can’t be that annoying.  However, she did tell my intern, Joanna, that she was praying for her because she had to spend so much time with her singing grandma.  My grandson, Tristan likes to ask me if I know a song about_____________ and then he fills in the blank.   It has become a game with him.  All of this singing brings forth much laughter among us.

What’s the deal with singing?  It is about lifting our voices to God.  He gave us the ability to sing to Him.  “…Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:2b  We are to sing before the Lord.  What are we to sing about?  “For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:4  We’re to sing for joy as we acknowledge the work of God.  What does worship have to do with singing?  Everything!  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…” Acts 16:25  In the midst of a difficult situation singing can be a way to bring our mind back to God in worship.  Singing is a very important part of the Christian life.

There are times that through a song we can impart truth to someone.  I remember a lady in my office completely down on herself for her sin.  She was saying to me that she was such a sinner that God would not be able to forgive her.  She professed belief in Christ so the only thing that came to my mind was to sing.  I began to sing, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.  It was at that moment she looked at me and got it.  Christ took it all, all her punishment, all her shame, and all her sin.  The Lord was pleased to use the words of the song to open the eyes of her heart.  “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,”  Ephesians 5:18 

The Lord delights in His people with singing when they seek Him and follow Him.  “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  The Lord sings!  This is such good news.  Because we are called to imitate God, singing is a must in our lives.  Are you singing enough?  Are you singing praises?  Are you singing with others and to others?  I hope you are.  Don’t think you get out of singing because you can’t carry a tune.  God’s ears are perfect!

There are times when I sing that I annoy, times when I laugh, and times when I worship.  My prayer is that the times I worship will be with a heart devoted to God in joy and laughter praising His holy name!  As for my granddaughter…annoying may still be the song that I sing.

“O you who love the Lord, hate evil!” Psalm 97:10

 Originally posted 10-7-2016

God gets our attention in many different areas by using His Word.  We read about our sin nature, our justification, redemption, forgiveness, and adoption in Christ in the pages of Scripture.  We are encouraged, comforted, enlightened to truth, and challenged to change.  “O you who love the Lord, hate evil!” Psalm 97:10   Today this verse jumped out at me as one that needs to be thought through as a follower of Christ.  So many times we read things but do not consider how to put them into action. Let’s look at the “how” which will move us in the direction of obedience.

  1. We love what we know.

The challenge here is know God, his character, and his attributes.  If we don’t spend time seeking to know God, how in the world can we love Him as we should?  Think about what you love.  Whether it is people or hobbies, you have an affection for these things.  This affection comes about because of the knowledge you have of these things.  That knowledge came about by your pursuit of it.  If we are going to love God then we are going to have to pursue knowledge of Him.  This pursuit comes through the Scriptures, sermons, books, and gospel conversations.  Our verse makes the assumption that we love the Lord; but do we?  Are we seeking to know Him?

  1. We love what we believe.

As we take up the challenge to know God then we have to believe what we find out about Him.  There are so many times when we doubt what we know to be true about God.  When we doubt these things, we don’t love because we don’t believe.  The Scripture tells us, “Love…believes all things,…” 1 Corinthians 13:7a  If we love God we will believe who He says He is.  Even in difficult times, we still believe and His love will carry us through.  Do you believe that God is who He says He is?

  1. To hate evil is to be aware of the attraction of evil.

Remember Eve at the base of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,…” Genesis 3:6a  In this verse we can see the attraction evil is presenting.  Her eyes saw that it was good fruit.  The fruit itself did not look unappetizing but looked tasty.  She was also attracted to it because it was a delight to her eyes which probably means there were no bumps or bruises to mar its appearance.  Then she was very attracted to being wise.  Why wouldn’t she be?  She would want to gain as much wisdom as possible.  Isn’t that okay?  You can see that evil can be very attractive.  We have to look beyond the attraction to see the real danger of evil. Not all attraction is evil, but when our affection for something is greater than our affection for God, then it becomes evil.  This can be a good gift from God that we make an idol of our hearts.   Are you on your guard so that you are aware of the attraction of evil?

  1. To hate evil is to reject the attraction.

We could start a “just say no” campaign but that probably wouldn’t work.  The reason we don’t reject the attraction of evil is because we aren’t aware of the dangers.  Eve didn’t think of the dangers of her disobedience; she was deceived. (1 Timothy 2:14)  We don’t reject because we are easily deceived by our own desires.  We can justify our actions until we believe our own justifications.  In other words, we can deceive ourselves.  We can’t fall for the world’s slogan, “If it feels good, do it!” because feeling good is not always obedience.  Do you reject the attraction of evil or do you justify?

As Followers of Christ we are called to love God and hate evil.  We can love God because He first loved us.  Because He loves us we can trust Him when He calls us to hate evil.  He knows what He’s talking about.  He loves so He will never do anything that will harm us nor does He call us to do anything He doesn’t equip us to do.  Our challenge is to know God, believe God, guard our hearts, and reject the attraction of evil.  He is trying to get our attention…are you listening?