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What would Satan do?

Listen. Sometimes you have to give an article a flashy title to get people interested, okay? In this case though, this is exactly what I’m going to be talking about.

If you have ever read the biblical account of Job, then you may know Job went through hell on earth by being tested through several trials, like disease, loss of family, loss of wealth, loss of respect and all at the hands of Satan. See my old post “What Happened to Job“, if you care to read about this great story. We learn in the book of Job that Satan has been allowed many “abilities”, some of which allow him to do great harm and manipulation in our world.

First, let’s backtrack and set the stage. Most of my readers live in the USA and for the most part we live in a culture that epitomizes the American Dream. The dream that we can make ourselves into whatever we want. We can work hard and get whatever we want. We can make it happen if we try. Sounds good on the surface doesn’t it?

Now, let’s dig into this ideology. We see words like ourselves and we in the definition above which equates to me, myself and I. Are you with me? Good. I thought this would be easy for you. Moving on, we can easily see that this American Dream concept has also translated into an “I want this”, and an “I want that” mentality. A mentality of materialism.materialism

Next, we can look at how we live. Why do we dream? Isn’t it to make money so we can buy something or earn respect in someone’s eyes or provide a grand lifestyle? I like a statement I’ve heard my pastor and others proclaim.

We work so we can buy something we don’t need, so we can impress the people around us that we don’t even like or even care to know.

How sick and wrong is that? Can you honestly deny that you’ve taken part in this mentality? Now let’s transition to the meat of this rumination. What does the church look like in your neighborhood?

Let’s think about all of the church splits, church arguments about money, doctrinal battles and overall strife among denominations. Where does this come from? Obviously in the church, it comes from having an attitude like that of Christ and the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself, right? Ha! LOL! Where does it come from people? You tell me. How about, “I want this”, “I want that”? Hmm.

Sorry to say this, but I contend that the idea of the American Dream is a tool that Satan has used VERY well to get us to forget the real mission of the Church (with a capital C), so that we would spend our energy worrying about MY church (little c) and what type of music SHOULD be played. Our churches have become materialistic, our attitudes revolve around this concept and it shows.

In the bible Job was a righteous man and he was tested in oh so many ways. He passed the test and came out better in the end. How are we doing in the midst of our testing?  What do our attitudes truly show?

Jesus said, GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS

….oh, I’m not called to do that…I can’t, I have a church meeting about the building project…isn’t that the job of missionaries?…here, have some money so I feel like I’m a part of the work…this year I’m going on vacation maybe next year…I can’t give now because I have a cable bill, cell phone bill, car payment and credit card bill due.

What would Satan do?

In this case does he even…..need…..to do…..anything..…else?

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Who ‘dun’ it?

We have a mystery.  It involves fear; fear of the truth.  Who did it?  Can we be honest?  Do we have to gloss over it?  Let’s give credit, where credit is due.

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. (Job 2:7)

Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:16)

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (Matt 4:10)

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matt 16:23)

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? (Acts 5:3)

Have you found the common denominator?  Satan?  Why do we blame everything else first, and often never even speak of the obvious cause for much of the evil in this world?  Jesus did not back down and speak meekly about it.  Jesus didn’t skirt the line and say, “I don’t know why she is sick.”  It wasn’t, “Away from me, man who might be demon possessed!”.  Jesus, rightly, gave credit where credit was due.

If we ignore the spiritual battlefield that surrounds us, we will fall to the flaming arrows.  If the troops ignore the fact that there are terrorists trying to kill them in Iraq, what will happen?  Will it make the bombs and bullets go away?

Do you put on your armor everyday?  If not, why do you enjoy living with all the spiritual wounds that are being inflicted on your soul?  Read Ephesians 6:10-18.  I know I need reminded of these powerful tools.  My soul is wounded.  How ’bout you?

The Soils, Down and Dirty…

I’m digging into the Parable of the Soils (or Parable of the Sower as some call it) today.  I’m going deep and plan to get a little dirty.  Wield your shovels with me.  Let’s walk the path together.  From Matthew 13:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed.”

That would be any Christian fulfilling the Great Commission to “GO” and make disciples…

As he was scattering the seed,

I like this analogy to evangelism.  Too often we think too hard about what we are going to do, or what we are going to say, or who we are going to speak to, and we just need to STOP and START SPEAKING!  We need to scatter the seed and let God do the rest!

some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Jesus explained that this seed represents those that heard the message but did not understand it.  Satan snatched the seed away and it was not sown into the listeners’ hearts.  Can we do anything about this?  Do we just sit back and let these listeners go to hell?  No!  We repeat ourselves, we ask questions of our families, loved ones and strangers who may be listening or reading, and we offer answers to their questions so they CAN understand!

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

These seeds are the most distressing to me.  The listeners who hear, get excited, BELIEVE!  They go home and finds out they lost their job, have cancer or lost a loved one, maybe they get made fun of for being a Christian, next, turn on God and hate Him and are even worse off now than before hearing the message.  How do we combat this scenario?  Easily!  We have to explain the WHOLE message, as well as the CORRECT message!  When you are saved and you place your faith in Jesus Christ, life WILL get harder!  We now have hope though.  We now have an eternal future that isn’t crispy bacon in hell.  The Bible is clear that “picking up your cross” and following Jesus IS difficult.  More importantly, it IS worth it!  Explain the whole message and help get any new Believer plugged into life with other Believers so they can support each other and hold each other accountable!!!  CHALLENGE: Is your life harder now that you are a Christian?  If not, it should be on some levels.  If you truly walk the walk, there will most likely be persecution of some sort.  Look at your life, if you don’t see persecution on some level, then you need to evaluate whether you are truly living for God.  Don’t be a pansy, think about this and be REAL with yourself.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.

These listeners are the worry warts and those that are consumed with wealth, status or getting ahead.  The thorns are the things they can’t seem to let go of because they perceive that they NEED these things.  These people NEED to worry, or NEED to have the next best thing, or NEED to have the best job.  They hear the message, but it isn’t as important as hanging onto these other life goals and problems.  It may sound nuts to some, but it is so true.  I bet we could all think of something that we truly would have difficulty letting go of….can you stop worrying?  Can you stop thinking about buying that new TV?  Is that laundry done?   I bet you just forgot about what I was saying….REREAD this paragraph.  See how easily the worries of life supersede the truth of God?

Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Ah, here we are, where the rubber meets the road.  The seed falls, grows and we get a GREAT crop.  You’ve heard of many of these stories.  Billy Graham, Paul (Saul), Jeff Love (haha, just checking to see if you were paying attention).  We must be careful.  Even those producing a good crop can eventually fall to any of the above calamities.  Persevere, seek accountability and, most of all, be sure the seed is sown in your heart!

Atypical Temptation?

popcornWhat do you think of when you hear the word Temptation?  Chocolate?  Putting butter on the popcorn?  Swiping a nice pen from work?

I was reminded, or rather challenged, today while reading through Matthew 16.  Jesus is encouraged and it comes from someone who apparently cares for him deeply.  Can we blame someone for caring enough to warn against something that could hurt us?  Let’s see:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:21-22)

Now, at first glance, it just seems like Peter is a bit emotional, maybe saddened by what he has just heard.  Maybe he is confused.  Maybe he is zealous and feels Jesus is meant to conquer and not die.  He cares.

Personally, I’ve had many instances where I have explained how I am about to do something and people who care about me, friends and family, speak up and question my intentions.  I’ve heard the same words…

“You can’t do that.  You shouldn’t do that.  Why would you do that?  Are you nuts?  What about your family?  It could be dangerous!  What about your career?”

Have you ever made the choice in favor of God’s will and felt the resistance in a caring way?  This too is temptation.  How did Jesus respond?

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:23-24)

So, we must recognize that Satan can even prompt the most “religious” person to worry, your thornsbest friend to try to change your mind, and even your family to question your decisions.  Go back and read what happened to Job.  It comes down to being sure you are following God’s will, picking up that cross, and heading out to discover the challenge that He has placed before you.  Now, every challenge isn’t dressed up in roses and smelling good.  Even roses have thorns that bite.  The cross has splinters, but the Christian is not worried about that.

Now, how do you handle temptation?

My Confession and Redemption

WOW, after writing that last post, “What happened to Job?“, Satan must have asked God if he could mess with me (ala Job but on a smaller scale).  I had written that blog entry and it was originally twice as long.  Yep, I had saved it multiple times, yet when I went and hit the Publish button something happened and the published entry was completely blank.  I admit I went ballistic in my head and slapped the chair in frustration!  I told my son to go see Mommy since I needed to figure out what went wrong….sooo….I just sat in the chair and stewed.  Finally, I started typing again.  Thoughts of “I am pathetic” entered my head, afterall, I just wrote about all the suffering Job went through and Job didn’t curse God, and I caught my mind trying to say the G## D### curse.  AMAZING!  Well, I calmed down and decided that Satan wasn’t going to win, and that God simply intending for me to write a shorter blog about Job.  And, as they say, “That’s all folks”.  I tell ya, it’s no joke that you will be spiritually attacked when you do the things of God.  After 9 years, you’d think I would know that.

Peace only in Christ!

Jeff