God is not in competition with anyone or anything in the world. He will not accept the position of the leader in the race, The only position He will accept is being the only One in the race. He is not in some game to be the first on our list, He wants to be the only One on our list. He wants us to love Him so much that there is nothing or no one that we would not give up for Him. After all, that is exactly what He did for us. He gave up His glory and His position in heaven and finally, His very life. Why should He accept anything less in return? The world and satan tempts us with things that please the lusts of the flesh, they tempt us with our desires for beautiful possessions that please the eyes and they tempt us with power and positions that cause pride in our lives. We cannot love both, either we love Jesus or we love mammon. The time for the return of the true Christ is closer now than ever. We see and will continue to see wickedness in the world and more wickedness in high, spiritual places. We see people that we have respected in positions of leadership who have failed and we must arrive at the same conclusion that John did. If they had truly been one of us, they would have remained with us, but their going showed they did not belong with us.
God, in His great love for us, wants to relieve us of all of our grief and distress. It is not His desire that we should suffer. No parent wants to see his or her child suffer. We want to reach out and comfort our children even when they may have caused their discomfort by a bad decision that they made. Love says help them, but Godly compassion says that there are times when they and we must endure those times of distress and grief so that we learn not to repeat our mistakes. As parents, we want to deliver our kids from the storm. The lesson that we need to learn and that we need to teach our children is that God doesn’t always need to deliver us from the storm, He is able to comfort us in the storm. Rough seas may come and destructive winds may blow but nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. When God doesn’t immediately deliver us from the storm we must seek His comfort in the storm. Then we will be able to pass that comfort, peace and joy on to those around us.
Spiritual battles are fought in our minds. The thoughts that we allow to linger in our minds long enough will turn into words and actions. That is why the mind must be guarded at all times. In the early days of computers, there was an acronym that was used quite frequently when computers spit out garbage or nonsense. That acronym was “gigo” , garbage in, garbage out. Our minds are the most fantastic computers imaginable. It is said that most of us never even use ten percent of the capacity of our brains. So, if we feast on visual and oral garbage for hours every day, then that is what is going to come out of our minds. We need to be God-focused, not sin-focused. Don’t fall into the enemy’s trap of remembering and rehearsing your sins and mistakes. Rather, focus on what you know to be true. God fulfills every promise. He forgives us every time we fail. When satan tempted Jesus, Jesus responded with scriptures. We must fight evil the same way. That is the example we are to follow. If satan whispers in your ear that you are not forgiven, just quote 1 John 1:9 to him.
9 If we tell Him our sins, He is faithful and we can depend on Him to forgive us of our sins. He will make our lives clean from all sin.
22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. — Acts 2:22-24 NLT Acts 2:25-41
Our story never changes. It is the old, old story that is new every morning. It is our anthem, our song, our strength and our hope. Jesus voluntarily gave up HIs glory in heaven temporarily. He was born into the world, He was fully man and fully God. He went about doing good and God performed miracles, wonders and signs through Him. Not everyone believed the story then and not everyone believes the story now. But God, knowing what would happen, already had a plan in place. Jesus came to this earth to redeem a fallen people from their sins and nothing, no one, nor any force of any kind would prevent that from happening. Over and over, the religious leaders conspired to kill Jesus before His time and in a manner that would not be sufficient for redemption. God would not allow it. Jesus was the perfect man, God had the perfect plan and now we are redeemed. Just as God had a plan for Jesus, He has a plan for each of us to participate in the redemption story. We are not perfect, God already knows that, so when we fail, He understands. But His plan for each of us takes our weaknesses and failures into account. He is never surprised by our failures and He never gives up on us. We are chosen, we are called and we will succeed in the plan Jesus has for each of us. So, when satan, the father of lies, comes to shame us with all of our failures, we just need to tell him to take it up with Jesus, stand up. let God clean us up and press on. The battle is not ours, it’s the Lord’s and He won the war years ago at the cross. We may suffer losses and temporary setbacks, but we cannot be defeated. Romans 8:38
17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? — Mark 8:17, 18 NLT
Depending on what version of the Bible you are reading the word “remember” appears between 148 to 168 times. Moses used it quite often when the Israelis would murmur and complain. He asked them to remember how God had delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt. Not only did He deliver them, but God brought them out with an abundance of riches that the Egyptians gave to them. Still, every time they got tired of the manna or they got thristy, they would complain and wish they were back in Egypt. The disciples, even after seeing all the miracles that Jesus had performed up to this time, were concerned about food for their physical needs. They had just witnessed Jesus feeding thousands of people with a few loaves and a few fish, yet they were concerned about what they would eat. Jesus admonishes them for not remembering these things. Had they remembered them, they would have been at peace with their situation, knowing that Jesus could provide for twelve people very easily. Jesus, the Bread of Life, wanted them to be conerned with Spiritual things and allow Him to be concerned with their physical needs. They needed to stay focused on Jesus and be content with what they had. The same thing applies to us. When we are in a rough patch, we need to stay focused on Jesus and what He has delivered us from in the past. We need to remember the situations He has carried us through. If nothing specific comes to mind, then just remember this — satan would like to kill us right now and he would, if Jesus allowed him to. Whether we draw another breath or not is dependent on the goodness of God and nothing else. So, every breath that we take brings life and when that breath goes out, it should carry a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for God’s goodness and protection for it is “in Him that we live and move and have our being”.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 5:8-11 NIV
We must remember that we are in a war at all times. We must continually resist the devil and not give him any hold on us in any way. That means that our daily lifestyle should be one that “shuns the very appearance of evil”. We must stand firm in the faith, not murmuring or complaining about the situations we find ourselves in. If we are where we are because of our own bad decisions, we certainly don’t need to complain. If God has put us where we are, there is a reason for it and we should endure it with joy. We are not experiencing anything that thousands before us have not already experienced and remained faithful. Our sufferings are to make us strong and steadfast and to bring glory to God. As Paul said.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. — Romans 8:18, 19 NIV
Our suffering here is but a very short time, then God will deliver us from it all. He has all power and authority to do so and He has never failed on a promise to us.
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.— Jude 24, 25 NIV