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The Scoop on the World

 

The Scoop on the World

 

 

We’re profiling our enemies in this blog series, and your next enemy might come as a surprise to you. It’s . . . the world.

When you think of the world, you might think of exploring Paris and New Zealand and the Ivory Coast (how exciting does that sound?!). The world seems like a neutral space full of endless possibilities for adventure. It is . . . right?

It all depends on what you mean by “world.”

The World as It First Was
I love the poem in Proverbs 8:22–31 where Wisdom is personified as a woman remembering the time long ago when she had a front-row seat as God handcrafted the physical world. I can just hear her excitement as she leans forward, a sparkle in her eye, and recounts,

“I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man” (v. 31).

After Wisdom watched God create the first dust of the world and the earth with its fields and the first man and the first woman, she saw Him put them in a beautiful garden. Then she watched as He talked and walked with the man and his wife (Gen. 3:8).

Unfortunately, she was also there when our first parents turned their backs on Wisdom and chose instead to rebel against God. The whole world was placed under a curse (Rom. 8:20–22).

The World as It Now Is
The sad fact is, you’re not living in an environment that’s for you, like a tomato plant in a sunny greenhouse. Your life in this world is more like a tomato plant that’s been thrown into a pitch-black furnace room in the bowels of a factory.

For now (but certainly not for forever!), Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). What does that mean? S. Michael Houdmann explains:

Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations, and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.

So while God’s created world is still good, the whole world system is not. First John 2:16 warns us,

All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

If you want to learn more about what this means, check out John Piper’s sermon on this verse. Here’s a little taste:

Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world. . . . If your love for God is cool this morning it’s because love for the world has begun to take over your heart and choke your love for God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot coexist.

The World as It Soon Will Be
The next verse in 1 John gives us another reason not to love the world:

The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (2:17).

Did you catch that? This world that feels so solid is really just temporary. It’s going out of fashion. God is going to judge the world (Acts 17:31), and then He’s going to make it brand-sparkling new!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:1–4).

How can you be sure that you won’t be judged with this present world but will live in the new world with God? John 1:9–13 explains:

The true light, which gives light to everyone [Jesus], was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Have you “received” Jesus? Or is your love for this present world keeping you from loving Him? Will you repent and ask God to help you love Him more than this world system?

The Scoop on the World” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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The Scoop on Satan

 

The Scoop on Satan

 

Last week I shared how I was ever so careful not to be eaten by a shark on my recent vacation. It made me wonder if I take my everyday threats as seriously.
 
Over the next few weeks, I’d like to give you the scoop on your greatest enemies, beginning with Satan. I realize most people laugh at the idea that he even exists. Maybe they sport a pair of red horns and a tail for Halloween, but they certainly don’t take him seriously.

I hope you do.

Satan’s Backstory
To understand why Satan is such a threat to you today, you need to understand his backstory.

When God created Satan, he was one of God’s most beautiful angels. Outwardly, that is. Inwardly, he was far from content to worship and serve and enjoy God; he wanted to be God.

"You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you" (Ezek. 28:15).

When Satan’s beauty went to his head, he was intoxicated with pride and he schemed a revolt:

"‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high . . . I will make myself like the Most High’" (Isa. 14:13–14).

His rebellion against God’s authority didn’t go exactly as planned. Instead of kicking God off His throne, Satan was kicked out of heaven (Luke 10:18). And when he fell to earth, he brought his rebellion against God with him.

Satan’s First Appearance on the Scene
Satan sure didn’t waste any time. Open any Bible, turn just a few pages, and there he is, inviting the first woman who ever lived to join his rebellion against God. Oh, he didn’t put it in those words! He’s too crafty for that. He went about the whole ugly ordeal by doing what he does best: deceiving and tempting. Just as he’d experienced a great fall from heaven, he coaxed and pulled off the great "fall" of mankind.

While Satan played a crucial role in man’s fall, God played an even more crucial role in man’s rescue. In Genesis 3, as God is cursing Satan for his role in this rebellion, He offers this cryptic, hope-filled hint of what’s to come:

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (v. 15).

Satan’s Sure Defeat
And that’s just how it happened. Satan bruised Jesus’ heel when Jesus suffered and died on the cross. It looked like a victory for Satan, but not for long. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus crushed Satan’s head. Colossians 2:13–15 puts it this way:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (emphasis added).

Satan knows he’s beat; he knows his time is short. In fact, God’s Word spells out his final demise in Revelation 20 for anyone to read:

The devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (v. 10).

Satan’s Short-Lived But All-Out War
For now, Satan is busy making the most of his short-lived freedom. As "the god of this world," he’s busy blinding the minds of unbelievers "to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor. 4:4).

He’s also relentless in targeting believers in Jesus. First Peter 5:8–9 warns us,

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to be in a war. But when does anyone ever want war? They just do their best when they face it to conquer rather than to be conquered.

How to Stand Against Satan
So how can we stand against Satan?

  1. Acknowledge his very real presence. (It’s hard to beat an enemy you don’t believe in or fear, don’t you think?) 
  2. It’s impossible to conquer Satan if you still belong to his dark kingdom. (All of us did at one time, you know.) Pray that if Satan has blinded your eyes and deceived you, God would give you sight and transfer you from Satan’s kingdom of darkness to Jesus’ kingdom of light (Col. 1:13). 
  3. Realize that Satan has already been defeated by Jesus on the cross. Don’t try to conquer Satan in your own strength; be strong in Jesus’ strength (Eph. 6:10). 
  4. Put on the whole armor of God. Every last piece. (More on that in a future post. There’s not enough space here, and I want to do it justice!)

Check back next week to learn more about your second enemy. And in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Have you considered Satan a serious threat in your life? Any new thoughts after reading this post?

The Scoop on Satan” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Worse Than a Shark Bite

 

Worse Than a Shark Bite

 

This is no Lake Michigan! I breathed as I pulled up to my timeshare on the Atlantic Ocean at midnight this past week. I’d grown used to the calmness of the lake, but this was alive—wild and churning.

That first night was eerie—thirty-five plus miles per hour winds howled under my door as if someone wanted in. Morning wasn’t any different. As soon as I opened my eyes, I threw open the sliding glass door to study the ocean, desperately wanting to go in.

But I wasn’t stupid. Red flags flew, indicating the ocean was not safe. No lifeguards manned their posts; no humans dotted the ocean. The beach seemed a ghost town, with meringue-like tufts of ocean foam blowing about like tumbleweed. Signs posted along the beach warned of rip currents, and while there was no mention of it, I knew sharks hunted those waters.

Other than one evening when I spotted a couple swimmers and quickly pulled on my suit and joined them in a wonderful salty thrashing, I safely enjoyed the ocean from its edge. I wonder-walked along it each day, biked through its surf, and slept with the sliding glass door open so I could fall asleep to its steady pounding.

Then at SeaWorld that Saturday, I learned something surprising. Only five humans die worldwide each year from sharks. Why was I so cautious then? And . . . do I take my everyday enemies as seriously as I took the potential danger of riptides and sharks?

Over the next few weeks here on the blog, I’d like to study our enemies together. More than that, I’d like to talk with you about how we can not only avoid them but overcome them.

Let’s start with this. As a follower of Jesus, do you know who your enemies are? Do you have a healthy fear of them as I had of the ocean? Beyond that, do you know what your "life jacket," "rescue boat," and "lifeguard" are? Do you know how to stand strong against your enemies? I’d love to hear from you.

Worse Than A Shark Bite” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Meet My Love Coach

I’d planned a special day out for my mom’s birthday. We’d tour the Billy Graham Museum, bike the Prairie Path, and sample the food at Manhattan’s.

Only problem was I’d been sick for weeks now, and this past weekend was no exception.

Mom called the morning of her birthday outing to encourage me to stay home and get better. That’s right, the birthday girl—on the day of her party—encouraged me to do what was best for me, not her!

Over the years Mom has modeled that love always chooses what’s best for the other—and not just with words but with her life. It’s 1 Corinthians 13:5 lived out before my very eyes:

[Love] does not insist on its own way.

A couple of days later, I did make it home, still under the weather. Mom met me at the door with a hug, put on a pot of soup, and told me she’d had my brother get the VCR all ready so I could watch The Jungle Book.

How had she remembered? I’d mentioned in passing, months ago, that I wanted to watch this movie again.

Over the years, Mom has demonstrated that love remembers the little things. It’s 1 Corinthians 13:4 in action:

[Love] is kind.

These aren’t a couple of isolated incidents. I could tell you the same story with slightly different details over and over again, because this is the pattern of my mom’s life.

Paula and her momI guess you could call her my “love coach.” I’m watching her, learning from her, making clumsy attempts to love others the way she loves me. The way Jesus loves me.

‘Cause while mom is my “love coach,” I know the One loving me through her is really Jesus. Without Him, she couldn’t love like she does.

But because my mom has first been loved by Jesus, she is now free to love without requiring anything in return.

Because Jesus’ Spirit lives in my mom, she now has the power to choose what’s best for others rather than for herself.

And because Jesus laid down His life for my mom, His is the model she seeks to follow.

For His love, and for her love, I couldn’t be more grateful.

Happy birthday, Momma! I want to be like you when I grow up.

Who’s your love coach? How have they modeled Jesus’ way of love to you? I’d love to hear.

And if you don’t mind, I think I’ll stretch out and watch The Jungle Book while I’m waiting for your reply . . .

Meet My Love Coach” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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