Archives

What does it mean to show Christlike love to others who have rejected God and/or His ways?

Even as we lived a life of disobedience, even as we rebelled against God’s standards of living, even as we rejected the existence of God, even as we refused to take God and Christ’s death seriously, God allowed Christ to be sacrificed for us. He didn’t wait for His ways to make sense to us before He offered us a solution.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8

Admittedly, it’s hard to have loving feelings toward those who boldly reject God and His ways. Our world is upside down these days. Right is wrong and wrong is right! And what is more alarming is this deception has seeped into some of our churches! We Christians struggle to figure out how to stand strong in our faith without alienating those who have rejected God’s ways.

This is a prime dilemma that Satan eagerly takes advantage of. Ever hear the silent voice that says, “If you are kind and accepting of this person who lives in a way that mocks God and His ways, then that’s the same as condoning their sin.” You see, Satan has us focus on this fiery dart in order to deter us from verses like Romans 5:7-8.

What we fail to understand is that we can be kind and forgiving towards those who have fallen prey to the enemy’s deception, without compromising our faith values. How can we be kind and forgiving? By understanding the complex truth of separating the person we have issues with from the sins they have embraced!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,… Matthew 5:43-44

It’s a slippery path to find ways to separate the sinner from the sin, of course. And our upside down world has made it even harder. But acknowledging that God loved us while we were still living in our sin, should empower us to do the same for others living outside of God’s will. This will provide us with the motivation to care enough about that person to deliver God’s truth to them with kindness and compassion. (Perhaps, we have been guilty of delivering the truth without the compassion?)

While we may be rejected and even persecuted by those we have attempted, with loving kindness, to be honest with, we must be prepared for this. Courageous love demands that we be truthful, whether they reject us or not or whether they reject God’s truth or not.

Personally, I don’t think there’s ever been a time when God’s truth has been so distasteful to so many. And these days we must count the cost before delivering His truth, for we could be made to suffer for it. We must keep in mind this world is not permanent; eternity is. And where we spend eternity is determined by what we do about God’s truths while we live here on earth.

What does it mean to live like a Christian? Learn to tell the difference between what freedom is and what it is not…

By leaning upon God’s will, we are granted new and remarkable freedoms. The outside world sees us as chained. We go where they choose not, we see what they prefer to ignore, we dress in a manner they call severe. They hold up to us the so-called freedoms of this world and declare themselves happier for it. They live in blindness, both to the pains of others and the remorse and strife within their own souls.”

Quote by William Wilberforce, 1759-1833, A British politician and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade

A venus flytrap (picture left)is like a spring-loaded trap that transforms into a ‘cage’ after responding to stimuli, such as when an unsuspecting insect contacts the surface.

Now you may be wondering what a carnivorous plant has to do with this post? Read on to discover the answer!

That fly was enticed by a sticky sweet juice emitted by the venus plant. This juice smells like a bouquet of fruit and plant flowers to the fly. Something quite familiar to the fly. Not realizing the danger it was in, it decided to check into what looked familiar to it. Thus it got mired down into the sticky substance and the teeth of the venus snapped shut and became a cage. Eventually the venus consumes the fly.

Christians who are not familiar with how the Bible defines truth are much like this fly. Their confusion about what is freedom and what is bondage leads to their entrapment.

A Christian whose search for freedom lies outside the boundaries of biblical truth, are venturing into a wilderness of deception. A wilderness where lies are disguised as truth and truth is disguised as lies. The side effects of living in this wilderness is blindness. A blindness that prevents them from seeing that the freedom and happiness they think they are experiencing is nothing more than license. And that happiness is nothing more than the thrill of getting their own way and getting pats on the back for it from others who wander about in the same wilderness.

But for a Christian, this fake freedom will eventually deteriorate. The Bible puts it rather succinctly.

 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 NIV

Christians who adopt the freedoms that run contrary to God’s word are entrapped just like the fly in a venus plant. Yet, unlike the fly there is a way to break free from such bondage before being consumed. By returning to God’s word, we will grow in wisdom and understanding as to the difference between true freedom and bondage. God’s light will illuminate the path of their escape. As the disciplining love of God turns them around and brings them to their senses, they will be restored to the fresh and cleansing winds of true freedom.

Replacing lies with Truth thoughts…

We have Recognized. We have Rejected. Now it’s time to replace!

Replacing fiery dart thoughts with Truth thoughts

Something that often gets overlooked, is the necessity of replacing the lies of a fiery dart. For the empty space left when the lie was rejected, needs to be filled. Otherwise when the lie returns, and it will return, the lie gains reentry. This is when Truth thoughts come into play. For thoughts about what is true are required to fill the void left by the rejected lie. And to know what Truth thoughts to call upon, we must be familiar with the source of where they are contained. That, of course, is God’s word, the Bible. Therefore, we must be prepared and stand ready to wield this Sword of Truth, if these lies are to be extinguished.

Doubt and confusion, resided in the background of my thoughts. Every ready to spring into action when given the opportunity. Even though I had been a Christian for many years, I had allowed too much of the world’s concepts of truth to influence my attitudes, perspectives, and actions. It was easier to listen to the world rather than take time to delve into the Bible for answers. Needless to say, doubt and confusion were given many opportunities to inject their poison. Plain and simple – I didn’t know enough of what the Bible had to say, in regard to my doubts and confusion. As a result, my skill in the use of my Sword of Truth was sorely lacking.

My only hope to gain strength and successfully fight off the lies of the enemy, was to daily expose my thoughts to the Truths of Scripture. It is the main food for any soldier in God’s army. In my weakened state, God nourished me with a simple but powerful Truth to rebuff the enemy. By applying the Truth of Isaiah 54:17a, “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed;” to refer to the weapon of fiery darts, the lies were thwarted.

This verse has become the first swipe of my Sword of Truth in my attack. This affords me the opportunity to search for a specific word from God to extinguish a specific lie. Thereafter, I could wield my sword with tailor made precision to attack and extinguish the lie.

The benefit of searching for specific scriptures to add to our weapon cache, is obvious. The more our weapon supply is increased, the greater our victories over the enemy. That translates into our becoming more knowledgeable of the Truths of God’s Word. Knowledge that empowers us to be equipped with the weapons needed to counter Satan’s attacks.

This taste of victory over the manipulation and deception of the lies is sweet. It is the one thing that guarantees our release from the bondage we have been tricked into believing is freedom. This Truth sets us free from the lies that have created our bondage.

It’s Up to Us!

Many, especially for those of us who are Christians, are familiar with the following verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

There are some particular points contained in this verse that should require our focus.

-It’s written to God’s people, the Church (all of us Christians). We, not the unsaved, are required to humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked way!

I think the key requirement here is to ‘seek God’s face.’

But what does that mean actually? It means we want to get to know God, understand Him better, and become accustomed to His voice. How do we get to know Him better? By spending time with Him in prayer and His word. In getting to know God, we will have a more honest view of ourselves. That’s humbling. Knowing God better through His word, allows the Holy Spirit the freedom to point out areas where we need to repent and seek His forgiveness.

Repenting is more than just feeling sorry for our sins. It must go further to be genuine repentance. This kind of repentance focuses on God and how our sins affect Him. Remember our sins drove Jesus to the cross. A genuinely repentant heart desires to please God. And when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, we will do whatever we must to achieve God’s pleasure. Obviously turning from our sin.

On a personal level, our lives will be characterized by love, joy, peace as we get to know God better and understand His ways. Even as we experience trials and storms. This applies to the Church as a whole also.

But while we are familiar with verse 14, what about verse 13?

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,

Does a plague among my people sound familiar? It’s one of those things God wants to heal our land of. And not only are we physically sick from the plague of COVID, we are spiritually sick as well. America, our land, needs to return to her Christian roots?

As individual Christians, we must grasp the truth that God isn’t waiting on the unsaved to humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and repent. No! It’s up to us to come to our senses and seek God’s forgiveness. Then the healing will come! On an individual basis and as the corporate Church.

Do we want our land to be healed?

What to do?

Version 2

What do we do when in spite of all that we know and believe, the darkness continues to stalk us? We wait and wait but the hoped for relief remains a no show.

Instead of giving in and sinking lower and lower, try putting one foot in front of the other. Whatever we do we do not give into the hopelessness.

Instead we hold up our shield of faith and extinguish all the fiery darts of the enemy. (based on Ephesians 6:16.) One fiery dart at a time.

We replace every fiery dart thought with a Truth thought from God.

We keep moving forward, depending on God’s strength.

 

And if in spite of all of this, the darkness remains?

Remember, God’s way is the only way. There is no other way that will bring the help we need. Focus on trusting God to come through for us.

This will require faith. Maybe more than we have at the moment. Trust God to supply what we lack.

Ask for help to shut out the negative debilitating thoughts; to replace them with God’s thoughts. .

Maybe it’s been lingering far longer than we could imagine.

That doesn’t make God’s Word any less true.

Yet the stalking negativity sometimes keeps hanging around.

Then just keep putting one foot of faith in front of the other. Looking neither to the right or the left. 

Keep in mind, everyday won’t be like this. There will be better days here and there. We won’t drown in just one day. 

Hebrews 10:36, You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

God’s plan to extinguish Fiery Darts

FD's bk & me (6-23-19)

     Today it was my pleasure to share the message of Fiery Darts to an endearing group of ladies at Mt Lebanon Baptist Church during their Sunday school hour. We dealt with how fiery darts relates to the following questions:

1 – Am I free from trying to win the approval and acceptance of other people, even those who are closest to me (such as spouse and children)?

2 – Have I learned what it means to take every thought captive and make them obedient to God’s truth that is clearly revealed by His Word and His Spirit?

3 – Am I well equipped to fight battles in my thinking, circumstances, and relationship and as a result stand strong in my faith?

 

     We learned that our answers to the above questions are largely determined by where our thoughts dwell, the carnal realm or God’s Word.

 An excerpt from Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice added a foundation for our discussion.

When a person becomes a Christian they are given a new nature, one that is the direct opposite of their old nature. Formerly, their will was directed by their old nature, but at the point of salvation, their old nature was dethroned. Their will is now directed by their new nature. (This civil war is fully explained in Romans 8:1-11, see page 95.) With this comes a hunger to study the Bible and to maintain consistent communication with God through prayer. The old nature, the flesh, resists such desires. Eventually, Satan arrives on the scene with his first and most formidable fiery dart—tempting their old nature with powerful distractions, making it harder and harder for new believers to commit to consistent Bible study and time in prayer. P 43

     Satan knows that our sinful nature (flesh) is set against God, as well as the values and priorities of the unsaved world. He uses that to deceive and manipulate us.

      A sure fire way to avoid his deception and manipulation is found in

Rom. 12:2, Do not be conformed to (the world), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

     How are we going to renew our minds and become discerning as to God’s will?  By devoting ourselves to prayer and the study of the Bible.

     As we mature in wisdom and understanding, what we learn from spending time with God in prayer and His Word will expose the enemy’s plan (John 10a, the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy) and reveals God’s plan (John 10:10b & Jer. 29:11)

But in God’s Word in particular Ephesians 6:16 reveals God’s plan to undo Satan’s plan,

In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the evil one.

Something to keep in mind

Jesus convicts in order to restore.

Satan condemns in order to destroy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God goes before us!

image ps 94 19

There are times when our thoughts seem to become more anxious by the moment.

   Recently, anxious thoughts took center stage in my mind. They indeed appeared to multiply. The fiery darts of worry and fear joined forces with doubt and confusion. The problem loomed large. My ability to handle it grew smaller. I was close to feeling overwhelmed. I needed peace of mind.

Then God gave me a Truth thought that settled me down.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

As I meditated on this verse, I gained a new perspective on my problem.

God had gone on before me. You know out there where that problem was.

When I get to the point where I have to face the problem, I am not going to be by myself. God assures me He will be with me the whole way!

Fear and discouragement get left behind!

Now that’s what I call Consolation!

   I asked God for a physical sign that He would protect me and not allow me to be taken advantage of. Normally, I don’t ask God for a sign. But this time, I felt it was necessary, considering my weakness. He gave me that sign!

   So every time, the fiery darts of doubt, fear, discouragement, etc., attack, there’s my sign reminding me of God’s promises from Deuteronomy. That’s when the verse from Philippines 4:6-7 comes into play.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. NIV

   Did you notice God’s peace (which I am sorely in need of) will guard my heart and mind, surpassing all those multiplying anxious thoughts!

   Now, I must focus on these verses whenever I’m tempted with anxious thoughts. If I take this approach, I will face the future, where my problem looms, with confidence in God. He has gone on before me, remember!

 

 

 

 

 

GOD’S DESIGN

   Too often our minds are cluttered with thoughts not of God’s design. Cluttered thinking prevents us from hearing God’s quite voice. Life get’s confused and complicated. Solutions to problems evade us. Our vision becomes clouded and we loose our direction. Thoughts such as these are what I call ‘fiery darts.’ Designed to undermine the work of God in our lives.

   If you have ever been plagued with such thoughts, perhaps the following will give you a lift:

God’s Design

Photo on 5-15-17 at 11.51 AM

 

Beyond the boundaries of my front porch view, lies a world troubled and confused.

A world full of people who have lost their way.

People who can no longer recognize the beauty of truth.

Peace escapes them, in spite of all their grasping.

Solutions to problems remain unfound.

Life is lived at a fast pace, so, little is heard of God’s voice.

Loosing sight of what’s valuable, is the result.

IMG_6084

But here on my front porch, time stands still.

Allowing me to pause and experience His quietness:

A dove cooing in the distance, joins the bird chorus nearby.

Hummingbirds buzzing near my porch feeders.

Silky, gentle breezes offers accent to my reverie.

I feast on the green of the hay fields, and mown lawn laid out before me.

Trees in the spring freshness of their green bordering my view,

Allow me to bask in a morning set at the perfect temperature.

Photo on 5-15-17 at 10.38 AM.jpg

As I gaze upon the scene before me,

Disturbing thoughts of worry and fear give way to thoughts more sublime,

Thoughts more in keeping with God’s design.

Parent’s Alert: Fiery Darts of “The Stirring”

 

  When our children begin to experience this stirring, if we parents haven’t availed ourselves to the connection between it and God, then we become prime targets for Satan’s fiery darts. Therefore, for lack of knowledge, we will usher our children along a path that we never would have desired. We will  assume, right along with society, that our children are reaching the ‘dating age’ (and alarmingly, in our culture this happens earlier and earlier) when the search for ‘true love’ naturally begins.

Just what Satan has planned!

But wait, here’s what he is attempting to keep us (especially Christian parents) from realizing:

The Stirring – According to God

Remember in Part One, I said that Satan has a plan for our lives and that is to kill, steal, and destroy whatever it is that God has planned for us. Let’s go back to that “stirring” I mentioned earlier. Could it be that the stirring in our heart that initiates a search for true love is the Holy Spirit calling us to a love relationship with our Creator? I think so! Why else would Satan enforce a plan to do everything he could to make sure that we misunderstand what this stirring encompasses? FD, p. 54-55

   As parents, if we buy into this misconception of ‘the stirring’ then our focus regarding our children and dating will be completely out of balance. We will think how else are they going to find that one that God wants for them. For in the process, they will grow in their understanding of love and how to recognize the real thing, right?

Sounds logical, doesn’t it!

   Indeed, we do need to help our children learn how to recognize genuine love. But the place to start is in committing their lives to God then sitting at Jesus’s feet as He teaches them about the love He displayed for them. They then go from there putting into practice what they have learned from Jesus about genuine love, but first within the context of their own families; romantic love following much later.

If in those early years we set our focus on cooperating with God as He teaches us the true meaning of love, then our future attitudes and actions will reflect an appropriate definition of love because our textbook was God’s Word; in particular, verses like 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. . . We could do nothing better to prepare us to live life and love others, especially a future spouse successfully, by studying and applying the truths about love from the Book written by the Author of love!  FD, p. 55

   There’s much more on this subject in my book. If you are interested then check out the sidebar about how to order, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice. (By the way, it would make a great Christmas gift!)

Refusing Admittance!

canstock6137839

     In observing the effect fiery dart thinking has on people, I am drawing some disturbing conclusions. I have listened and observed as people (whose lives exhibit some semblance of Christianity) describe a lifestyle that is in direct contradiction to the one given to us by God. They attend church ( perhaps not regularly) and know all the familiar Christian lingo. But they live as if there is no contradiction in their lifestyle.

How can this be?

     Could it be that they have lost their sensitivity to sin? They seemingly are not bothered with conviction about their lifestyle. Even though their lives are marked with pain and unfulfilled dreams, the realization that their disobedience could be the source of their disillusionment never kicks in.
     I know that when we are first convicted about sin in our lives, the temptation is to ignore it, deny it, or to begin justifying it. And though this is where the Enemy is most easily conquered, this is where for many Satan gains full entry.
“Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. . . .Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.” p. 46 FD (Thomas Kempis)
     This, I conclude, is how an individual can live contrary to God and in alliance with the world without apparent guilt! The fiery darts that justifies their sin, if not resisted, will eventually release so much poison into their thinking that they become blinded to God’s Truth. Therefore, they may be convinced they are something they are not! You know, right becomes wrong!

But there’s good news!

These poisonous thoughts (fiery darts) CAN BE conquered dear reader! Not overnight, but by attacking one thought at a time, as directed by the prayer and Bible study I refer to in Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice! It will take some longer than others depending on the amount of poison that has infected their thinking, but there is a future for them that is free of this bondage! It’s God’s plan:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (NIV) Jeremiah 29:11