Friday, October 25, 2013

One-Two Punch

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

Have you ever noticed that when you’re facing a trial, it seems the devil is right there waiting to pour salt in your wound? I call this the devil’s “one-two punch.”

For example, you find yourself out of work, and there’s the devil, beating you down and belittling you with lies. Or you’re suffering from illness, and Satan decides to throw depression and anxiety into the mix. Like they say in boxing, “If the left one doesn’t get you, the right one will.”

While we need to be careful not to see a “devil behind every bush,” let’s be real: The devil would love to see us go down in a ball of flames.

We need not be discouraged or fearful about his schemes, however. According to the Bible, although the devil is the current “ruler of this world,” he was created to serve God, and in the end he will be destroyed.

So if you’re facing a trial and you suspect that the Devil is at work, take heart. The Scriptures tell us that “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Simply ask Jesus to help you in your battle.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Love is a Decision

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

Like most families with teenagers, some conversations with our kids are so repetitive. It seems like there are certain talks we have over and over again. One of those conversations at our house has to do with dating and the opposite sex. I want to prepare my kids to have a healthy marriage, and I want them to understand that the typical dating habits of most young people don’t prepare them for commitment-based love. The infatuation and warm feelings during a typical teenage romance are so unlike marriage – at least marriages that last.

I want my kids to know that some day when they’re married they will need more to go on than feelings of infatuation because marriage takes commitment, love, and hard work. The promise at the altar is to love in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. My kids hate to hear me say it, but I want them to understand that sometimes in marriage you must choose to love because it’s right…not because you feel like it. Ultimately, I want them to know that love is a decision not a feeling. Feelings will change, but if they have predetermined to love their spouse through thick and thin, their marriage will have a much greater chance of lasting.

Really, love works this way in all relationships. If we only love others when we feel like it, this world would be a pretty sad place. And if we were naturally inclined to love others all the time, then why did God give us so many instructions in the Bible on the matter?

I find I need lots of encouragement and reminders to choose to love. After all love is so much more than a feeling. It’s a choice.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Sinful Woman

Luke 7:50 (NIV)

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

es:Luke 7:5 : S AcShe is held as an example of the kind of humility and service that God loves.  We’re never even given her name and she’s only known as the sinful woman; the assumption is that she has lived an immoral life.  We have few details of her existence before or after her meeting with Jesus but we know her life changed because she met Him.

As the scene opens we see her at the feet of Jesus.  She is weeping and her tears are falling on His feet and she’s wiping them with her hair.  She has brought with her expensive perfume and is pouring it out on Jesus feet as an act of blessing and honor.  She is broken and wounded. 

There is no place set for her at Simon’s table; she is an intrusion.  We have no idea what drew her to Jesus.  Had she met him earlier that day?  Did she know of His character and love?

Simon, the religious leader who was hosting the event, took offense to the presence of the woman and the spectacle she had created at his dinner.  Jesus, perceiving his grumbling, turned to him and pointed out his hypocrisy and actually contrasted him with the woman who he had judged. 

Jesus compliments her humble heart and acts of worship as the kind of service that pleases God.  She is the uninvited guest and Jesus treated her as the guest of honor. 

Jesus had only two things to say to the woman.  First He said, “Your sins are forgiven.”  He set her free!  Gone were the chains that had defined her life.  Then He said, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

Perhaps, like this woman, you feel as though you don’t belong at Jesus’ table.  Yet humble worshiping sinners are Jesus’ honored guests.  He gives them new life and sends them with a reason to serve Him.