Tag Archives: satan

Encouraged by Discouragement

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I came across a beautiful little encouragement in 2 Chron. the other day:

“But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”

2 Chron. 15:7

This was a much needed encouragement for me as lately my work-life has felt rather fruitless. I’ve had several ‘what am I even doing this for’ moments and been tempted to give up more than once. This verse came as a very blessed reassurance.

But there’s more to it than that. As I read it, similar verses of encouragement sprang to mind and I was reminded of the many times men and women throughout the Bible – great heroes of the faith – needed and received encouragement. But why?

Really, go with me on this. Why would those great people, who saw God’s amazing works first-hand and left behind such powerful testimonies, ever feel like quitting? Didn’t they realize God was for them and everything would work out according to His perfect will? Didn’t they have faith that was strong enough to banish all doubt?

But that’s coming from the perspective of someone who’s looking back on the situation, not as someone who’s caught in the middle of it.

Here in the midst of my discouragement, surrounded by the fears of failure, I quickly fall prey to the delusion that I alone ever feel this way. Everyone else has it figured out, everyone else is two steps ahead, and then there’s me… floundering. See how I could wonder why the great heroes of the Bible, the men and women I aspire to, ever needed encouragement?

Then came the revelation: on the battleground, in the midst of the fighting, obeying God is hard. And confusing. And often times, it feels completely fruitless.

And what happens when it gets tough? The enemy sweeps in and whispers that we’ve got it wrong.

“Did God really say…?”

“If only you could go back and make that choice over again…”

“You’ve strayed so far outside of God’s will. Now you’ll never have His best for you…”

“Things aren’t going right, you must have done something wrong…”

“You’ve messed up; now you’re useless, fruitless, barren…”

These whispers, these doubts, are not indicative of failure. Quite the opposite.

Think about it: if you were headed in the wrong direction, would satan want you to quit and turn around?

Of course not! He would want you to walk as far down that wrong-way road as he could get you! Then he’d try to have you wallow in complacency, relax, and fall asleep in the shade.

And I can promise that those doubts and fears are not from God. That is not what Godly conviction looks like.

See, growth hurts because we don’t really want it. Anything worth having must be fought for and, far from being a good excuse to give up, the struggle is actually a good sign that we are on the right track.

That’s why God’s followers have always needed encouragement. It’s normal to feel discouraged and confused when things don’t go as we planned and when growth hurts more than we expected. Just because the going gets tough, that doesn’t mean we took a wrong turn. Giving into the doubts and fears is what will lead us to make a wrong turn.

So if you, like me, have been feeling weighed down and discouraged by the rough trek, don’t fall for satan’s lies that you aren’t right where God wants you. Go ask your Father if there is anything holding you back from complete obedience, then do what He tells you to do.

Don’t give into discouragement. Instead, see it for what it is: a good sign that you’re on the right track. 

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-8

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Checking Your Pockets

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We were watching The Fellowship of the Ring last night and I noticed something interesting. When Bilbo is preparing to leave, Gandalf asks him if he intends to leave the ring to Frodo. Bilbo replies with an affirmative and informs the wizard that the ring is on the mantle. Then he has a moment of confusion and realizes, “No. It’s here in my pocket.”

What a good metaphor for sin.

Sin can be very difficult to keep track of. One of the reasons for this is that all wrong doing is sin, but not all sin is innately wrong doing. Sometimes wonderful things, when used out of context and against divine intention, can become sin.

A good example of this is sex. God designed sex to be between a man and his wife. Used within this context, sex is a wonderful gift. When it is taken outside of the boundaries of marriage, however, it can do untold damage and becomes sinful. Money is another example. I often hear the quote ‘Money is the root of all evil,’ but what 1Tim.6:10 actually says is ‘The love of money is the root of all evil.’ Money can be a gift if used properly and not turned into an idol.

Because so many good things can be warped into sinful things, it can be easy to fall into the trap of self-justification and excuse our behavior. It’s also incredibly easy to slip into addiction and sinful habits. I’m so prone to the ‘I can stop whenever I want’ mindset that I don’t even realize habitual sin until it’s too late and it has a grip on me.

Something else to notice is that the ring sat quietly in Bilbo’s pocket for sixty years. Sometimes sin will do that too. Just because sin isn’t causing major damage at the moment, doesn’t mean it’s harmless. There is no such thing as harmless sin. Sometimes, satan is perfectly content to let us be, well, perfectly content. Sometimes sin gets taken for granted and left alone for so long that the real damage is going unnoticed.

We can grow complacent and lukewarm, lazily fingering the sin in our pocket. Meanwhile, we aren’t growing closer to the Lord, we aren’t winning disciples, and we aren’t advancing the Kingdom. And that sin is becoming a stronghold that will eventually cause damage to ourselves and those around us.

Can you imagine what would have happened if Bilbo walked out onto the road with the ring in his pocket? The ring could have fallen into the wrong hands, or it could have corrupted Bilbo as much as it did Gollum. Or it could have sat quietly for several more years, still biding its time. But it’s unlikely that it would have been destroyed. Then all of Middle Earth would have paid the price for Bilbo’s secret sin.

If you are a born again Christian, then the Holy Spirit lives within you and you have everything you need to combat sin. But we all need to be on our guard against the ‘little, not so bad’ sins that we think we can handle. All sin is dangerous, so make sure to check your pockets regularly.

(Originally published 9/12/13)


When Everything Goes Wrong for the Right Reasons: Part 1

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(Originally published 8/21/13) 

If you have ever tried to walk in God’s will for more than a couple of minutes, you’ll know firsthand that it is hard. I’m talking really hard. Sometimes doing what you believe God is telling you to do can feel like swimming against the tide.

My husband and I believe there is a calling on our lives to write books that glorify God. Much of our first three and a half months of marriage has been spent in front of our computers, typing away and trying to find agents and publishers. So far, we have very little to show for our work. We have even questioned whether we heard God right. I’m sure we are not alone in our almost automatic assumption that if we do not seem to prosper, it’s because we have misheard God and He is not in it with us.

But I’m actually coming to believe that trials and adversities mean the stark opposite. If we are truly walking according to God’s will and striving to glorify Him, than satan can’t be too happy about it. He won’t want us to succeed in this; he won’t want us to accomplish what the Lord has set us to accomplish and he won’t want God glorified, even a little. So it makes sense that he would send his minions to oppose us at every turn.

If you never have the opportunity to read C. S. Lewis’s ‘The Screwtape Letters,’ I highly recommend that you read even just a snippet of it. The book is about a demon who is writing letters of advice to his nephew on how to trip up and discourage the human his nephew has been ‘assigned.’ It’s a real eye-opener to the weapons of the enemy.

2 Cor. 10:3-4, 1 Pet. 5:8-9, Eph. 6:11-12, and many more verses make it clear that we are involved in spiritual warfare. The devil does not want you to walk in victory and he will hinder you and plague your every step. He will show you your faults, others’ faults, and everything that is going wrong. He will do his best to blind you to all the blessings in your life and all the little ways God is loving and encouraging you.

One of the main things he will try to belittle is your perseverance. We humans are impatient creatures and satan will use that. When we start to think we did something wrong because life isn’t adhering to our time line, the devil will pounce on that and agree with us wholeheartedly. He will grow those feelings of angst in the hopes that we will give up and leave God’s will in favor of trying things out on our own.

Satan will also try to distract us with this shiny, pretty world of his. He’ll point out all the new toys and all the rainbows we ‘should’ be chasing. He’ll try to fool us into thinking this world is it, and distract us from the truth of eternity. When we buy into these lies and chase after the things of this world it won’t take long at all for us to grow discouraged because earth’s treasures will never be enough to satisfy.

So really, hard times can be a very good sign that you are on the right track and getting under the enemy’s skin. Honestly, if we’re not ticking him off and starting a fight, we’re probably doing something wrong. We need to be vigilant during the rough patches. We need to be able to recognize the lies of satan so we can rebuke him in Jesus’ name and press on towards the goal.


Getting Sifted

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Peter. He is my very favorite disciple and of all the people I’m looking forward to meeting in heaven, he’s at the top of the list.

One of my favorite stories of Peter is when he denies Christ three times. I drink deeply of this story not because of what Peter did, but because of how Jesus loved.

When Jesus and His disciples participate in the Last Supper, Jesus tells Peter a test is coming.

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Luke 22:31-32

Jesus tells Peter, “I’m praying for you.” Rom. 8:34 and Heb.7:25 both tell us that Jesus is interceding for us. He is going to the Father on our behalf.

It’s a great comfort to me to know that Jesus is praying for me. But if I got to choose the type of prayer, I think it would be more of a ‘live long and prosper’ prayer.

“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail.”

If I were in Peter’s place and I’d just found out that satan was asking about me, I think I would prefer that Jesus say, “I have prayed for you, that satan may not touch you,” or “that satan would leave you alone.” After all, the best battle is one you don’t have to fight, right?

But Jesus doesn’t pray that Peter be totally delivered from his coming trial. Why? So that he can “strengthen his brethren.”

Imagine what it must have felt like to mess up as badly as Peter did. The Scriptures say he ‘wept bitterly.’ Imagine the tears that fall because you just saw the look of hurt on your Savior’s face, and you know you put it there.

Then imagine the feeling of total grace. Think about how it must have felt for Peter, when he saw the Lord again and knew he was forgiven. What an awesome gift.

Fast forward a bit and picture Peter ministering to someone who thinks they are too far gone for Jesus’ love. Peter would have responded, “You think that’s bad. Wait till I tell you what I did.” The Bible says those who are forgiven much, love much.

No matter how hard we try, we’re all going to fall short. We’re all in need of that grace. And when we can have a brother or sister come up to us and say, “I’ve been there. God’s grace is sufficient,” it comes as a tremendous encouragement to us.

My favorite bit: “When you have returned to Me.”

Jesus doesn’t say ‘if,’ He says ‘when.’

Jesus is telling Peter, I am praying for you. Your faith will not fail. When you return to Me…”

He’s not telling Peter that if he tries really hard he might make it to the other side. No. He’s assuring him that there is another side.

When you have won this battle… When this trial ends… When you’ve passed the test…

We are already more than conquerors through Christ Who loves us. Our hope is secure in Him. He has already won the war.

We don’t have the promise that trials will never come, or that we will pass each test with flying colors. Peter didn’t, and look how mightily he was used by God.

“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33b

There are hard times right around everyone’s corner. But take heart. Jesus is praying for you, and when the battle is over, when you stand before the Lord in eternity… that’s when you’ll know it was worth every faith strengthening second. 


A Scientific Explanation for Evil

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My apologies for not knowing the origin of this piece. It’s something I came across years ago and have been fascinated by ever since. I know it’s a tad long but it’s SO worth the read! Enjoy =)

“Let me explain the problem science has with religion.”

The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.
‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’
‘Yes sir,’ the student says.
‘So you believe in God?’
‘Absolutely ‘
‘Is God good?’
‘Sure! God’s good.’
‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’
‘Yes’
‘Are you good or evil?’
‘The Bible says I’m evil.’
The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible! He considers for a moment. ‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’
‘Yes sir, I would.’
‘So you’re good…!’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’
‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?’
The student remains silent. ‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. ‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’
‘Er..yes,’ the student says.
‘Is Satan good?’
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one.. ‘No.’
‘Then where does Satan come from?’
The student falters. ‘From God’
‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?’
‘Yes’
‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’
Again, the student has no answer. ‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’
The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’
‘So who created them ?’
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them?’ There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. ‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?’
The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I do.’
The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’
‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’
‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’
‘No, sir, I have not.’
‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’
‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’
‘Yet you still believe in him?’
‘Yes’
‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist… What do you say to that, son?’
‘Nothing,’ the student replies. ‘I only have my faith.’
‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat? ‘
‘ Yes.
‘And is there such a thing as cold?’
‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’
‘No sir, there isn’t.’
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. ‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy.. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’

‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’
‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?’
‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’
‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains.. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?’
‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.’
‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. ‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’ The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into laughter. ‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so.. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?’
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’
‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’ Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’
To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’
The professor sat down.


Procrastinating

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This is a story I’ve heard before a couple times and I thought I’d pass it along.

One day, satan decided to hold a meeting with his top three advisers. The soul quota for the month was down and he was eager to find more ways of trapping humans.

He explained the issue to his minions and they all pondered it for a few minutes.

Finally the first one spoke up and said, “I know! Let’s tell the humans there is no God!”

satan shook his head at the demon. “That’s pathetic. We could never pull off a lie that big. Every human is born with a basic understanding of the truth that God exists. He set up creation to testify to His existence.”

The demon fell silent and there was more thinking.

Suddenly, the second adviser exclaimed, “I’ve got it! We’ll tell them there’s no hell.”

satan sighed in disgust. “Of course there’s a hell. A basic knowledge of right and wrong and punishment is built into every human. They all know, at least a rudimentary level, that there are consequences for wrong doing.”

Silent thinking resumed.

At last, the third demon said softly, “Let’s tell them there’s no hurry.”

“Brilliant!” satan exclaimed. “We’ll catch souls by the thousands!”

Don’t put God off until tomorrow. It may not be there.  


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