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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Window Shopping

It was almost a ritual.  Sunday School followed by morning worship that lasted most of the day (so I never understood why they called it morning worship) then home to a dinner that my mom had actually prepared just after breakfast, a nap for dad and then a short drive into town just as the sun was setting to go window shopping!

Those of you under the age of 50 probably have never heard of window shopping – looking at the goods displayed in shop windows, especially without intending to buy anything. If you have heard of it, your probably can’t understand it. Well, think of it like shopping online. You put a lot of stuff into your cart, but you never check out! Researchers (yes, someone actually studied window shopping) say that there are great benefits from window shopping – exercise, relieved stress and raised aspirations are just a few, not to mention you save money!

For us, it was a great family time. It was almost a kind of “date night” for mom and dad as they walked along whispering to each other, gazing into the windows of the furniture store, reminiscing about old times and making plans for their future – and ours. For my sister and I, it was a time of dreaming. Our favorite window gave a gaze into the local 5 and dime. As we grew, our interests shifted to the clothing stores. Sometimes we would stop for ice cream and enjoy our cones and sandwiches as we walked, talked and “shopped,” our imaginations running wild.

That’s what window shopping is really about – letting your imagination run wild. You imagine all the things that you could have, the life you could live. Imagination can be a good thing. And not. Especially when it comes to living the Christian life. We were not meant to live a life of imagining what could be, what we might have. John 10:10 teaches us that Christ came that we might have an abundant life, here and in the hereafter.

When you window shop you never go into the store, you never try on the goods, you don’t even get to touch them. You simply watch from a distance, separated by that pane of glass and separated from the joy of touching, holding, knowing, having. When we window shop God’s word, we read of all that He has promised – rest, power, strength, peace, victory, life eternal! (Matthew 11:28-29; Isaiah 40:29-31, Proverbs 1:33; John 14:27, Romans 8:37-39), but we separate ourselves from possessing these gifts and knowing the full joy of them. Just as we cannot really imagine owning some of the possessions behind the glass of the store windows, we tell ourselves that we cannot really receive God’s blessings. For certain, we don’t deserve His love.

We look with our human eyes and think with our human thoughts, so it is difficult for us to comprehend. God does not love us because we are lovable or because we deserve His love. Our hearts are innately deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We are evil and we do evil (Romans 3:10-12). But it is not just God’s nature to love; He is love, true love, not the sappy movies and Valentine’s Day kind of love but agape love, love that sacrifices, and He chooses to lavish His love on those who need it the most, those who least deserve it, those who rebel even against Him (1 John 4:10; John 6:44; Romans 5:8).

Unlike the cold panes of glass that separate us from the stores’ goods, God invites us to come – come drink, come eat, come live (Isaiah 55:1-2). Don’t let Satan trick you into thinking you are unworthy. He will have you forever on the outside looking in, nose pressed against the glass, desiring what you think is beyond you. Come. Come into God’s covenant. Come into His love (Isaiah 55:1-3).