Jesus Suffered So That We Might Live – Pt 2

Leave a comment

“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 10

At the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences.

                                          

Chapter 5: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
YOU WON’T BE FORSAKEN

Question #1: What does “forsaken” mean to you?  Share a time in your life when you felt forsaken.  How did someone encourage you?

The word “forsaken” to me has got to be one of the loneliest and saddest words in our English vocabulary.  It would be one thing to go off by yourself and feel alone.  It would be similar if say perhaps you had an accident, like a boat crash, and you were marooned and isolated on a remote island.  Yet these two kinds of experiences would not be as bad as “forsaken”, because you could either choose to join people again, or at least have the hope that you could be rescued and be with people again.

But to be forsaken means that there were plenty of other people around, but they all left for one reason or another, and then you were completely left by yourself.  You were abandoned, and you had no hope of rejoining the group.  I recall very vividly the few times that a baseball game or football game was started in our park or school ground, and I was not chosen to be on a team.  Everyone lined up, and they took turns picking team mates.  I was the last one, and even then, neither captain of the two teams wanted me.  They left to play the game, and I was forsaken.

    

Thankfully I have matured past those silly old ball game days.  But at that age I do remember feeling left out of life itself and didn’t seem to be accepted anywhere.  I praise my God that He found me, and I found Him, and invited Christ into my life.  Ever since that, I have always known that I am accepted by God and would never be alone again.

As a Christian adult and aspiring missionary though, there was still a moment when I felt rejected and forsaken.  Jill and I had made a tentative start with one mission group, and had submitted our application.  But just as I thought they were going to accept us, they told us that “we were not ready yet”, and that there were some life issues and finances to get straightened out first.  I felt so rejected.  But again, I praise God that a caring friend a few years later said, “I thought you were going to be a missionary?”  So we moved forward again, and that time we were accepted and we have been doing Bible translation work ever since.

Question #4: How crucial is the cross to your personal story?  In what ways has the fact that Jesus died on the cross changed your life?  How would your life be different today if Jesus hadn’t died on the cross?

This is an easy question for me in some ways.  Simply put, without Christ and His offer of spiritual life through His death, I would be so truly lost and messed up, not just in this life, but for eternity.  I now know as I look back over the years, that if I had not accepted Christ, then I would have become such a self-centered and self-serving person.  But knowing that Jesus, God’s Son, gave up his life for me so that I could live, that helps me to give up my life to serve others in order that they too might live eternally with God in the glorious Kingdom that He will usher in one day.  All I can say is “Thank you, Jesus!”

                                          

[Editor’s Note:  In the “Ideas” part in this section for Chapter Five at the back of his book, Lucado challenges his readers to consider what we used to be like and how we felt before we knew Christ and accepted Him into our lives, and then what our lives became after we invited Christ into our lives.  He suggests making a list of the two sides, a “Before” and an “After” shot.  He provides some good examples for us.  I challenge my readers to look this chart over and then make a list.  You can use some of Lucado’s examples if they fit, but try to think of other features so you can reflect well on your true identity as it stands now by being “in Christ“.]

OLD

NEW

I was alone because of sinful choices.

I am complete in Christ.

I was accused and ashamed.

I am free from condemnation.

I was fearfully running from God’s purpose  for my life.

I am established and anointed.

I was lazy and unmotivated.

I am God’s co-worker.

I was harming my body with my actions.

I am God’s workmanship.

I was living without care or responsibility.

I am a royal priest in God’s eyes.

I was unethical.

I am honest and hard-working.

I was a bad parent.

I am a good, intentional parent.

I was feeling forsaken.

I am forgiven.

I was prone to wander.

I am a faithful spouse.

I was addicted.

I am dependent only on God.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

                                           

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Advertisements

Jesus Suffered So That We Might Live – Pt 1

Leave a comment

“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 9

In John 10:10, Jesus tells his disciples (and by extension He tells all of us too) that He came into this world in order that people might truly live and have an abundant life.  Most Christians understand that this refers to the renewed spiritual life we can have with God once we accept Jesus as our Lord and have our sins forgiven.  But that is not all that Jesus is talking about.

Sadly, there are still many believers in Christ who have accepted Jesus into their lives, but also believe that there still must be something that they must “do” to really experience complete forgiveness of their sins.  This wrong thinking not only robs the cross of Christ of its full meaning and impact, but it also robs the person of experiencing the fuller life which they can live in the freedom that has been purchased for them on the cross.

    

 Max Lucado points out very well in chapter five of his book “GOD’S STORY, your story” that we tend to hang on to our faults and mistakes and that this is like putting on old clothes that declare “We are sinners!”  And since we are the ones who keep putting these old clothes back on, we think that it is also up to us to “do good” to be able to remove these old sins and faults.

Listen to how Lucado sums this up on page 83:

Welcome to the vest system.  Hard to hide it.  Harder still to discard it.  But we work at doing so.  Emphasis on the word “work”.  Overcome bad deeds with good ones.  Offset bad choices with godly ones, stupid moves with righteous ones.  But the vest removal process is flawed.  No one knows what work to do or how long to do it.

When we really understand the message of the Bible as it speaks about how we are all flawed and sinful people (see Romans 3:23), we also come to realize that there is nothing that we can do to fix this and become righteous people in God’s sight.  That is the bad news.  But the good news is that we don’t have to “do” anything, besides accept Christ and His death to be our substitution for the penalty for sin (see Romans 6:23).

    

Hooray!  Wonderful!!  We can’t take off our dirty rags of sin, but Jesus can!!!  That’s great news.  And it gets even better.  Lucado says on page 87:

You can remove your vest.  Toss the thing in a trash barrel, and set it on fire.  You need never wear it again.  Does better news exist?  Actually, yes.  There is more.  We not only remove our vest; we put on His!  He is “our righteousness”  (1 Corinthians 1:30).

How incredible and amazing is God’s love!  When we were sinners, God still loved us (see Romans 5:8), but as a holy God, He could not bear to look at us in our state of sinfulness.  If that were the end of the story, then God would have to leave us abandoned and forsaken, something that happens all too often in families today.

But as Jesus was dying on the cross, not for any crime or sin that He had committed, He took our sins upon himself (read Isaiah 53:12) and exchanged his robes of righteousness with us so that we could be considered holy by God.  In that brief but climactic moment before Jesus died, as He carried all of our sins to the grave, He exclaimed “God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Jesus allowed himself to be forsaken at that moment in order that we might no longer be forsaken by God.

    

At that moment, we passed out from under the curse of sin and death and entered into the light and life of God.  As I said near the beginning of this article, this life definitely refers to the gift of eternal spiritual life with God as people freed from captivity to sin.  But Scripture also promises us so much more richness of life while we are still living on this earth.

Perhaps the word that can sum it up best is the word “freedom”.  By placing our lives under the authority of Christ, He releases us so that we are free from sin, free from the power of Satan, and even free from self as we are so apt to keep ourselves bound to our old habits and behaviours that trip us up and end up creating more misery in our lives.

    

Once we embrace all of this, then we can truly live.  We will live to love our neighbour, to love our God, and even properly learn how to love and forgive ourselves.  It is at this point that we will then begin to really experience great family lives, great marriages, and great friendships with others.  At this point, we will be content and even prosper in our businesses and careers in life, because God’s blessings will be upon us.

And then when the end of our lives do come, we will graduate from a great life here to a fabulous life there.  As Lucado says, our names will be “written in the Book of the Lamb.  Not in pencil marks that can be erased, but with blood that will not be removed.  No need to keep God happy; He is satisfied.  No need to pay the price; Jesus paid it ALL!

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Jesus Is Someone You Can Trust – Pt. 2

1 Comment

“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 8

At the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences.

                                          

Chapter 4: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
YOU HEAR A VOICE YOU CAN TRUST

Question #1: Create a list of the voices that compete for our attention today.  Discuss how we respond to these voices.

There are so many voices today that cry out for our attention.  There are the needs of one’s family and friends; there is the constant pressure of work; we are bombarded by advertisements to draw us in deeper into our commercial capitalism; and then there are so many voices that cry out to us hedonistically to simply sit back and enjoy the pleasures that this world has to offer.  It can be too much for some of us to bear at times.

That is why I truly believe in the need for a quiet time with God.  I read my Bible most every morning while I eat my breakfast.  I have to eat every morning, and so this helps to give me a routine for spending time in God’s Word.  I also shower just about every day.  And in those 20 minutes of alone time, I keep my eyes closed and allow God to speak to me about what I should do with this day and things I should do in the future.  If nothing else, I do these two things to stay in regular touch with God to help His voice to come through louder than the voices of the world.

Question #4: Some scholars say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  Look up Scriptures that relate to the identity of Jesus.  How do such passages influence your view of who Jesus is?

Mark 2:27-28  And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Luke 5:20  And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

John 1:1, 14  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 11:43-44  When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Philippians 2:8-11  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ThereforeGod has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesusevery knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ isLord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hebrews 1:2-3  But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

2 Peter 1:16-17  For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”

Not only did Jesus claim to have authority over religious ritual and over the right to forgive sins, He proved himself by healing many, even bringing Lazarus back from the dead.  He then himself died and rose again from the dead (there is just too much evidence to not belief something supernatural happened at the tomb of Jesus).  And then those cowardly disciples go on to write the other New Testament books that describe Jesus’ Lordship and most of them died for that belief.  I have no other choice but to believe that Jesus really was who He said He was, the very Son of God.

Question #5: What is the best way to have constructive conversations with someone who thinks Jesus was just a good moral teacher?

It is important to help these kind of people to see that Jesus made great claims to divinity.  The verses above, plus much more will show that.  If this is true, then we cannot just say Jesus is a good moral teacher and ignore His claims.  As C.S. Lewis has so aptly pointed out (see Question #3 in the book), if this claim were not true, Jesus would have to either be a lunatic (with self deranged thoughts of grandeur), or He was a liar (and pulled the greatest deception of all time), or He is really the Lord of the Universe.

So a good moral person cannot be also a lunatic or liar.  That leaves us with Jesus being Lord.  If a person can accept what Jesus teaches as being very good for all mankind, then one must also come to the conclusion that Jesus is also able to be the Lord of all mankind.  I have accepted this, and my life has been changed positively ever since.

                                          

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Jesus Is Someone You Can Trust – Pt. 1

1 Comment

“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 7

TRUST: “A relationship bond that takes a great number of good deeds to earn, and only one bad deed to lose.”

Trust!  Who do we trust these days?  We trust a mechanic to fix our car when it is not working.  Or do we?  Are we skeptical when we see the estimate and wonder, “Do I really need to fix all these things?”  We trust the professor of a class to impart wisdom and knowledge to us, right?  But what if they are wrong, or biased in what they teach?  We trust the pastor or the priest because they are “men of God”, but then we hear about the various scandals that rock the churches and we realize that they are just as human and flawed as we are.

All of us can identify with this question of “Who can I really trust?”  In the consumer market world that we live in, we are bombarded by advertisements and the voices of many who are asking us to trust them, and trust the product or service that they are trying to offer us.  Now for the most part, these many voices are asking us to make decisions that are somewhat trivial, like what shampoo to buy, and where to take our vacation, etc.

But what about the really important questions of life?  For example, “Why are we here?”, “Is there a God?”, and “What happens after we die?”  These are the questions that really matter in life, and so we must be careful as we choose whose voice to listen to regarding eternal and spiritual questions.  There are still many voices out there crying for our attention, but one voice above all must be given a chance to be heard.  And that is the voice and the words of Jesus in the New Testament.

    

 This is now the 7th article in this series, “GOD’S STORY, your story” as we look at the book with this title written by Max Lucado.  In chapter four, Lucado starts by sharing a true story about a pilot of a small aircraft who had a mild stroke while flying and lost his sight.  An air force jet pilot was sent up to help guide the man down on to an airstrip by voice alone.  It took eight attempts, but the blinded pilot was able to safely land his airplane.  How did he do it?  By listening carefully to the voice of the man who he literally had put his life into his hands.

Now many good things are said about Jesus.  Many say he was a good man who helped others.  They would say that Jesus is one of the best teachers of morals and ethics.  Look at the “Sermon on the Mount” for example in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Some world religions other than Christianity would even say that Jesus is one of their prophets.  This is not new, for even in Jesus’ day there were people saying that Jesus was perhaps Elijah or John the Baptist come back from the dead, or another great prophet.  (Matthew 16:13-15)

But Jesus challenged his disciples even more (and us today) when he asked the question, “But who do you say that I am?”  And to answer that for ourselves today, we would need to look very carefully at what Jesus did and said so long ago.  Certainly we notice, even in just a casual reading, that Jesus was one who performed great miracles.  He healed many people.  In fact, he made the blind to see again, the lame could walk, and even those who had died and were buried were raised back to life.  (Read 11:38 – 12:11 and notice how even Jesus’ enemies admitted that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.)

    

Now follow along with what Lucado says about Jesus on pages 72-73:

Jesus commanded people to pray in his name (John 14:13-14).  He claimed to be greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6), greater than the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8).  He claimed his words would outlive heaven and earth (Mark 13:31) and that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him (Matthew 28:18-20).

And what about his “I AM” statements?  “I am the light of the world.”  “I am the bread of life,” “the resurrection and the life,” and “the way, the truth, and the life.”  And most stunning, “Before Abraham was born, I am!”

By claiming the “I AM” title, Jesus was equating himself with God.

 It is interesting how some people can be okay with Jesus being a good moral teacher, and maybe even credit him with the ability to perform miracles.  But when we look at the verbal claims made by Jesus, we are faced with two stunning and opposite choices.  Either Jesus was an egomaniac and delusionally deranged!  Or, Jesus was who he actually claimed to be, namely, the very Son of God come down to live among people.

    

Given these two choices, I have chosen to believe that Jesus is God’s Son.  And not just because he “claimed” to be God’s Son, and not even because he did perform some great miracles.  I rest my faith in Jesus ultimately on the fact that he rose again from the dead after being crucified on a cross.  There is just too much proof in the New Testament that this event of Jesus’ resurrection was not a hoax, or just a misunderstanding of his physical condition.  No, Jesus rose from the grave and proved himself to be God in the flesh.

And so, when it comes to the question of who do I ultimately trust with my life and my eternal future?  There is only one really excellent choice, and that is to trust in Jesus.  We may not be able to see into our future (like not seeing the runway), but Jesus will safely guide us to our eternal destination.

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Heaven Is Our True Home – Pt. 2

Leave a comment

“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 6

At the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences. 

                                          

Chapter 3: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
YOU FIND YOUR TRUE HOME

Question #1: In what ways do you long for the kingdom of God and heaven to come?  Instead of talking about what you imagine will happen, talk about why you want it to happen.  Share reasons you have for anticipating the day when all will change for eternity.

Many people ask the question about “Why is there evil?”  Or more specifically, they ask “How can God be a God of love when so many bad things happen in this world?”  I recognize the significance of these questions, but I believe the focus is wrong.  When these questions are asked, the focus is very man-focused, or can I say “anthro-centric”.  The Bible makes it clear that God created mankind with freewill and they exercised it and rebelled.  That is the primary reason for the broken world that we live in.

When I look at the picture this way, it does break my heart to see all the suffering and sickness, disease and death we have in the world.  It is not easy to live in developing countries like I have and not be affected by the suffering that goes on all around us.  And it is for this very reason that I yearn for the Kingdom of God to be fully realized here on earth.

Scripture promises us that all of our suffering will one day be gone completely.  Revelation 21:4 says, “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  As someone who himself carries the burden of a muscle disease, I long for the day when not only will I not have pain, but I will be able to “run and not get weary, walk and not get faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

Question #5: Why is it important that we not only enjoy the journey but also long for the destination of eternity with God?  How does this adjust the way we talk about “journey” and “destination” as Christians?

As I said in part one of this article, there is certainly a lot of beauty and good things in this world.  And there is no reason why we should not enjoy this world.  Isn’t it natural to want to take our family on a trip out to the mountains (that’s what I like) or to go swimming at a beautiful beach (that’s what my wife likes)?  Of course!  And it is good to want to share all of God’s glorious creation with those whom we love the most.

But let us remember that there is One whom we ought to love even more than our spouse; there is Someone who ought to be our closest most intimate Friend.  And that would be Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour.  So now let me extend my thought from above.  While we are on our journey through life here on earth, we can and need to share our joy with Jesus in our daily affairs.  But think about how much more special it will be to explore the universe and share that joy when we are with Him forever in heaven.

Everything that we thought was beautiful and glorious here and now will pale in comparison with how beautiful and glorious they will be in the new heaven and the new earth.  And we will have the privilege of sharing that joy and that experience with Jesus face-to-face.  Wow!!  I can hardly wait to go roam the galaxies with the Creator of it all.

Question #6: Describe how it might affect one’s life to believe there is “no more beyond” this world.  How should it change us to believe there is “more beyond”?

Paul said it very well in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 when he said, “And if Christ has not been raised [from the dead], your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep [i.e. “died”] in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”  The entire Christian faith rests on this one central belief that Jesus died for our sins, but He also rose from the dead to prove He is God and can forgive us our sins and offer us the hope of life after death.

But if that is not true, then we will have lived a life of lies and we can only be thought of as fools.  If our belief is wrong, then all our self-sacrificing and serving others is pointless.  We might as well do as the agnostics and narcissists would do: “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  If there is no “life beyond”, then we might as well get all we can for ourselves while we still can.

But we have such good grounds to believe that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, that all of our sacrifice and service to others has meaning and purpose.  And in fact, knowing that all of us have such a short time to live here, and that an eternity awaits all of us, we ought to be even more concerned about the spiritual welfare of others before it is too late.  Therefore, believing there is “life beyond” becomes the motivation for evangelism.  Are you with me on this?

                                          

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Heaven Is Our True Home – Pt. 1

Leave a comment

“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 5

Do you know what amazes me?  What I find real astounding is just how attached most of us are to the things of this life.  We slave and work hard to earn money.  Some people inherit it, others cheat, lie and steal to get money.  And what do they do with it?  They buy more and more stuff that is bigger and “better” than our old stuff.  Or we use our money to pamper ourselves and make “improvements” to our bodies, in hopes that we might live just a little longer.

Seeing the danger of money, some Christians inaccurately quote the Bible and say, “Money is the root of all evil.”  Actually, it is not the object (money) that is the problem, it is the love of it and pursuit of what it can do that is the problem.  Look at how it is actually quoted in 1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

We need to ask ourselves why we allow ourselves to get caught up in the “deceitfulness of wealth” (Mark 4:13).  For many of us, it is not our intention to get caught up in the things of this world.  But as this parable of Jesus states in Mark 4, many people hear the Word of God and would gladly follow its teachings, but the good things of this life and the worries about protecting our possessions that go along with it choke out the possibility of spiritual fruitfulness in our lives.

Max Lucado speaks to this issue in chapter 3 of his book “GOD’S STORY, your story.”  It really is easy for many of us who live in the affluent culture of North America to get wooed into thinking that “this life is a good life” as we are able to surround ourselves with our comfortable materialism.  Lucado says that we can get to the point of actually believing that this life is the “real life”.  That is why we can be so shocked when reality does puncture our bubble.  Listen to Lucado from pp 58 – 59:

But then the flies come out.  People die, earthquakes rumble, and nations rage.  Families collapse, and children die of hunger.  Dictators snort and treat people like, well, like pigs.  And this world stinks.

And we have a choice.  We can pretend this life is all God intended.  Or …  We can come to our senses.  We can follow the example of the prodigal son.  “I will set out and go back to my father” (Luke 15:18.

Perhaps part of the problem for us today is that there is so much to choose from these days.  Our supermarkets abound in food choices, our closets are overflowing with clothes, there are hundreds of interesting places that we can choose from to go have our vacation, and if we don’t do it this year, we will just wait and do it next year.

This world is a beautiful world, no doubt about it.  But we must not get so enamoured by the things in this life that we forget that we are just passing through this life and are being prepared for our eternal life that still lies ahead of us.  We must not lose sight of where we are truly meant to be as we look around at the pretty things in this life.  Lucado paints the picture well in an airplane analogy on page 59:

 Suppose this announcement were heard: “Ladies and gentlemen, this flight is your final destination.  We will never land.  Your home is this plane, so enjoy the journey.”

Passengers would become mutineers. We’d take over the cockpit and seek a landing strip.  We wouldn’t settle for such an idea.  The journey is not the destination.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I think Jill and I get reminded of this frequently as we move back and forth between Canada, the US and Papua New Guinea in our ministry work for God.  We do have a condo, or should I say a mortgage, back in Canada.  But every year, we are packing our bags up again to travel across the world to do our Bible translation work in PNG.

When we get overseas, we will try to set up our home there for the couple months that we are there.  But it is so obvious that this is just a temporary residence and not really our own home.  The silverware drawer got moved again.  The pictures, if there are any, are not ours.  We have trouble finding a matching sheet set for the bed.

And yet, we keep on coming back over here.  Not for what we can get out of it, or the fact that PNG is a tropical paradise on earth.  But rather, we are trying to make a difference in people’s lives with the translated Word of God.  Because there awaits an eternal home for all of us, and we want to share that Good News with the people here.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So here is what I am trying to say: for some of us like Jill and me, we will never be able to settle down and “make a home”, while others do have the means to make themselves a very comfortable home.  But for all of us, this should not be our ultimate goal in life, for there is a heavenly home awaiting all who are God’s children.  Let’s not forget: Heaven is our True Home.

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Satan Is The True Enemy – Pt. 1

Leave a comment

“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 3

In Chapter Two of “GOD’S STORY, your story,” Max Lucado reminds us of how dangerous our true enemy is, whom we call “Satan”. Lucado gives us an overview of the great battle that occurred in the Judean desert so long ago between Jesus and Satan. Jesus is tempted to “look out for number one” (to turn stones into bread because He was hungry).

Then Satan encourages Jesus to show off His great powers and impress the religious people by jumping off the Temple pinnacle and having thousands of angels swoop in and rescue Him. And finally, Satan tries to bribe Jesus by offering to Him all the riches of the world, if only Jesus would bow down and worship him.

But as Lucado says, “Satan just showed his cards. He wants worship. He wants you and me to tell him how great he is. He wants to write his own story in shich he is the hero and God is an afterthought.” (p. 50)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What Lucado does very well in this chapter, is to give us a clear of how devious Satan is, and how much we must remain on guard against all of his crafty schemes and strategies to tear us away from God. In fact, as Lucado points out, the root word for “devil” which is a character trait of Satan carries within it the idea of “splitter” or “divider”. And he will use any means possible to do just that, keep us divided and separated from God.

This all reminds me of one of C. S. Lewis’ most famous best seller books called, “The Screwtape Letters.” In this book, the main character is Uncle Wormword, one of the senior demons of Satan, who (fictitiously) wrote letters to his much junior demon Screwtape, who happened to be his nephew.

What is fascinating about Lewis’ book is that he suggests that some of the best strategies of Satan are not the all-out-frontal attacks that we might expect. But rather, Satan often succeeds the best if we end up being complacent about our spirituality and do nothing to pursue a relationship with God. But if Satan must step in, he will use such sly tactics as materialism, self-centered egos, or just plain old busyness of life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Listen to how Lucado points out these very same thoughts on pages 42 – 43:

Distraction would work better. I hate spiritual focus. When you or one like you gazes intently on God for any length of time, you begin to act like Him. A nauseating sense of justice and virtue comes over you. You talk to God, not just once a week, but all the time. Intolerable.

So I’d perch myself on every corner and stairwell of your world, clamouring for your attention. I’d flood you with e-mails and to-do lists. Entice you with shopping sprees and latest releases and newest styles. Burden you with deadlines and assignments.

If I were the devil, I’d so distract you with possessions and problems that you’d never have time to read the Bible.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I believe this last sentence of the quote above should be sounding an alarm for all of us who are believers in Christ. If we think that there is no time in our lives to read God’s word on a regular basis, then our lives are out of balance with what is truly important. Even worse, if any of us think we don’t need to be reading God’s Word as part of our daily and weekly lives, then Satan will find it that much more easy to bend us to his will, rather than God’s Word bending us to God’s will.

Here, let’s get even more clear and specific about who we are up against. Scripture describes Satan in the following ways (quoted from pages 45 – 46):

Serpent (Genesis 3:14; Revelation 12:9; 20:2)            Enemy (Matthew 13:25, 39)
Tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5)               Father of Lies (John 6:44)
Evil One (Matthew 13:19; 1 John 2:13 – 14)                Deceiver (Revelation 12:9)
Dragon (Revelation 12:7, 9; 20:2)                               Roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:5)
Prince of Demons (Mark 3:22)

These are only some of the names that are used to describe what Satan is like. I’m sure we can find much more in Scripture to tell us just exactly who our true spiritual enemy is.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So what is the point of all this discussion? Namely this: if we are to really understand how the story of our lives fit into the bigger story of God’s life, then we need to also realize that while we are in this life, and this world, Satan too is a part of that picture. We should not be taken by surprise as much as we are when bad and terrible things happen. There is an author behind all this — Satan.

What we need to do is to follow the example that Jesus gave to us when He faced off with Satan in the wilderness. We must be confident of who God is. We must continually be reading God’s Word and putting it into our hearts so that we have the spiritual tools to fight back against Satan. And we must trust that God can and will bring us through these times of spiritual wilderness experiences as well as the spiritual battles that come our way in life.

An excellent preacher I know has said that research into spirituals habits show that reading the Bible up to three times a week shows little improvement in the overall wellbeing of a person (emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise). But those who read the Bible on average four times a week or more, have better marriages, families, church experiences, general health and success in business. So what are you waiting for. Get out your Bibles, turn to God, and resist Satan and his ways. He is the Enemy.

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Older Entries Newer Entries