FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Bump and Lift

Pickpocketing is one of the oldest and most widespread crimes in the world. It happens around the world! And in a matter of minutes, it can rock your world! Lifting your money, credit cards, identification and other valuables can take mere seconds. You, however, may not realize until much later how much you have lost and how vulnerable you were and are.

How does it happen? A common technique is “bump and lift.” An approaching thief will walk toward you, intentionally bump into you and, while you are distracted by the “bump,” lift your wallet or other items from your person. Just like that, you’ve been robbed.

Would it surprise you that Satan, who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), uses the same technique?

Your days are joy-filled. Your branch is producing an abundance of fruit. Too much fruit for Satan. Bump!

Life is good. You are happy. All is going well – very well! You dwell in peace. Your peace robs Satan of his. Bump!

You are growing in your faith – going to church, attending Sunday School, joining Bible Study… You actually look forward to spending quiet time with the LORD each morning and have committed to rising early to meet Him. Satan cannot allow this! Bump!

Your witness is strong. Opportunities to share the Gospel abound and you obediently welcome and respond to each one, ready to share your testimony and God’s Word. Satan must put a stop to this. Bump!

Joy, peace, spiritual growth and intimacy with God, sharing the Gospel – these are the things Satan seeks to rob from us. How? Through a distracting “bump” followed by a quick “lift.”

Your days are joy-filled and you are bearing much fruit. Satan “bumps” you with a bit of gossip, a need for recognition, desire for the approval of others or some negative self-talk – anything to “lift” your joy.

Life is good; you are at peace. Satan “bumps” you with relationship discord, abandonment, family dysfunction, problems at work – anything to “lift” your peace.

You are growing in your faith and have committed to spend more time with God and in His Word. Satan “bumps” you with insomnia so that you can’t get up in the morning. He “bumps” you with sick or whiny children, a needy husband or a dog that escapes the house and has to be chased – anything to “lift” your time with God.

Your witness is strong; you welcome opportunity to share your testimony. Satan “bumps” you with a medical diagnosis, financial disaster or some other tragedy that seems to come out of left field – anything to shake your faith and “lift” your trust in God.

Satan is cunning (2 Corinthians 11:3); he is clever (2 Corinthians 4:4). Just like the pickpocket, Satan is often coming right toward you; you see him. You might even smile at him and give him a nod (especially if you are a good Southerner). He likely will smile back because he knows how to distract you so that he can “lift” your joy, your peace, your growth, your intimacy, your witness, your testimony – your power!

And just as you may not readily know that the pickpocket has robbed you, you may not readily recognize what Satan has “lifted” from you because he is also subtle.

How do we protect ourselves from our enemies?

A Google search yields tons of ideas for outsmarting pickpockets – wear money belts, secure your bag across the front of your body, leave your valuables at home, steer clear of commotions, stay vigilant in crowds… These are all good ideas, and we might even be tempted to try to apply some of them in our war with Satan – especially staying vigilant. In fact, 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be alert and sober-minded because our enemy prowls, looking to devour.

But a good thief knows how to pick his victims. He’s watching. Satan knows how, when and where to come for us. He looks for the chink in our armor.

But God.

Satan looks for the chink in our armor, but God has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit to indwell, to guide, to keep, to help through all the “bumps” of life.

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Was I Robbed or What?

Make no mistake about it. Satan is a liar (John 8:44). He is also a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

He came last Tuesday.

But he did not steal, (kill or destroy) my joy. I gave it to him!

Yes, as soon as he showed his face, I threw up my hands and gave it to him. Without a fight.

Of course I didn’t recognize that right away. As a matter of fact, I spent several hours and engaged in several conversations discussing how he had robbed me. Interrupted an otherwise glorious morning and stole my joy! It was a beautiful, sunny day. I had a plan and a list, and I was working both. The skies were blue, my steps were light and peppy, I had checked two things off my list and was well on my way to number three.

Then, out of the blue, Satan showed up bringing with him several demons from the past.

What?

I handed my joy right over to him. I let him take me back to a dark place. A sad place. An overwhelming place. For a few hours I settled into that place – rolled around in the muck and mire, had a pity party and resigned myself to the fact that “this” would never be over, would never go away, that there was just no end to “it.” I even texted my girlfriend that “this” was a gift that just kept on giving.

So what?

Thankfully, my Father reminded me of some things!

First, He reminded me of Who He is – all powerful, almighty and all knowing (Psalm 147:5, Isaiah 40:28, Luke 12:7)! He was not caught off-guard or by surprise. He knew just what was going to happen every minute and moment of Tuesday, and He already had a plan.

Secondly, He reminded me of who I am and where I am – that He is mindful of me (Psalm 8:3-4) and that He is with me, upholding me (Isaiah 41:10), protecting me (Psalm 20:1, 140:4), helping and delivering me (Psalm 46:1, 34:19).

Thirdly, He reminded me that while He fights for me (Exodus 14:14), I am to always be alert and am to resist the devil and stand firm in my faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). I am to be dressed in full armor at all times so that when (not if) Satan comes, I am ready and able to stand (Ephesians 6:11-17) not turn tail and run and not surrender! I am to remember that in all “these” things I am more than a conqueror through Him (Romans 8:37) and I can be strong and courageous not trembling and dismayed (Joshua 1:9)! My enemies have been subdued under me (Psalm 18:39).

Now what?

I reclaimed my joy!

And I encourage you to do the same. When we belong to Christ, the enemy never has the final word over our lives. We are secure in God’s hands (2 Chronicles 20:15).  He fights for us but we are to be ready at all times so that when Satan comes, we stand!

 


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Peace on Earth (Part 2)

NOTE:  We’re vacationing, so Monday’s post is early!

There’s a saying that’s been going around, “Every family has that one crazy relative. If you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.”

Here’s another saying, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

What do these two sayings have to do with peace on earth? Well, in our last post we discussed that before there can be peace on earth we must individually have peace within, so without a lot of extra words, let me just jump to the point. Might you be the one robbing yourself of peace? “No way!” you think. Well, let me just offer you three more quotes.

“Nobody screws me up better than me.”

“Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself.”

“Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your two ears.”

Again, are you robbing yourself of peace?

There are events and seasons that seem to thrust us into deep self-evaluation and self-reflection, and Christmas is one of them. This can be a good thing – pausing to consider the love of family and friends, the blessing of health, the satisfaction of a prosperous and fun career, the joy of children… It can also be not so good – dwelling on the loss of loved ones, failing health, the stress of unemployment or job disappointment, the fear of miscarriage…

The latter (and similar) thoughts can quickly launch one into a depression that robs one of personal peace.

What are you telling yourself? What script do you keep running through your head? “I’m no good.” “I’m all alone.” “I can’t make it.” “Nobody loves me.” “I’ll never – have children, get that job, leave this town, be able to afford a house, get married, be in love, go to college, be healthy again…”

It’s time to replace those thoughts. It does no good to simply try to just stop them; you have to replace them. Craft some new thinking based on Philippians 4:8 (NKJV): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

What does this mean? What does it look like? Sound like? The Message translates the same text: “…filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from Me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Do that, and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7b NKJV)

THIS WEEK: Make note of the thoughts that rob you of peace. Write substitute thoughts then practice using them. (e.g. THOUGHT: I’m just no good – always have been, always will be! SUBSTITUTE THOUGHT: In Christ I am a new creature – old things, thoughts, ways and deeds are passed away! (2 Corinthians 5:17)