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Lies vs truth

God is Truth

I am the way, the truth, and the life… (John 14:6)

Satan is a liar

He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.John 8:44

How do you suppose that Satan can convince so many that he is not as the Bible has described him?

How do you suppose that the lines dividing truth from a lie have faded to the point of being indistinguishable?

How do you suppose doubts about the existence of God has resulted in attempts to remove any reference of Him in our nation?

How do you suppose that we can believe that Jesus is not the Messiah, the Son of God?

How do you suppose that we can live our lives in direct opposition to God’s word and be cheered on by society for those choices?

This is how:

The answer to every question is the same. Remove the influence of God and the truth of His Word, and Satan can deceive and manipulate without restraint. He has the power of the world’s falsehood reinforcing the lies with which he has deceived us. Believing that Satan doesn’t exist or that God doesn’t either for that matter, can be easily concluded if you reject God’s word, the Bible.

Think about it. What are we embracing as truth that formerly was considered a lie? What are we identifying as a lie that formerly was considered truth?

Society changes, but not God. In the not so distant past, certain lifestyles or choices were considered immoral. But not today! Has society or an individual who has thrown off what they labeled as religious restrictions been the better for it? Without the unchangeable truths of God, we will think we are seeking freedom when we are actually seeking license. Doing what we want without anyone telling us we are wrong.

If we don’t know what the Bible says about the choices we make, how are we going to be able to make choices that will gift us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control?

How will be able to recognize what is truth and what is a lie?

Faith Must Grow!

Teach me to believe that all degrees of mercy arise from several degrees of prayer, that when faith is begun it is imperfect and must grow,… quote from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Is our faith growing?

I think the answers to the above questions can be revealed by the following comparison.

When a baby is born it’s expected that growth and development will follow. Let’s say the child starts off healthy and with a nourishing milk diet the expected growth and development ensues. Wonderful, we are off to an encouraging beginning. Yet soon the child needs to transition from milk to solid foods. If the transition isn’t made and the child remains on a milk diet, then healthy growth will be arrested.

That’s exactly the analogy that is made in the following Bible verses:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:12-14

Though, we have been born into God’s family, far too many of us are still on a spiritual milk diet.

Troubles happen and when they do, we find our milk diet insufficient to provide us with the strength and wisdom we need. So we default to whatever source is handy. At which point the enemy enters to begin his deception. As a result our ability to recognizes the enemy’s lies has been seriously compromised.

This is where seeds of deception take root. Our desire to spend time in prayer and God’s word slowly deteriorates. Not being familiar with God’s truth, we filter out thoughts, attitudes, and actions through false assumptions and human reasoning.

Daily spending time in God’s word and prayer is the same as eating a healthy diet for those who desire to be healthy spiritually. But our enemy has convinced us that isn’t required and we can get along just fine without that consistent discipline. Remaining in the milk stage of our growth for too long, we can easily be convinced of such lies (fiery darts, remember).

After we have lived a hit and miss life for so long, we can’t see that there is a better way to live life. Because our growth has been stunted, we are unaware of our desperate condition. We aren’t even aware that a better life exists. A growing faith equals a better life.

Filters and fiery darts

What do filters have to do with fiery darts? Well, recently it has come to my attention that there is a distinct relationship between the use of filters regarding fiery darts. How we process the thoughts that are formed in our minds before they take the form of the spoken word relies on what we use to filter those words. Likewise, how we process those spoken words relies on what we use to filter those words as we ponder how to receive them.

How we use our words or how we receive words depends on the filters through which they pass. As it applies to this post, a filter is what we use to recognize fiery darts so that we can reject them and replace them with truth thoughts.

Allow me to illustrate

Negative teasing when passed through the filter, ‘I don’t really mean that, I’m just teasing,’ justifies the tearing down of another. However, when using the filter of Scripture we are instructed to make sure that what comes out of our mouths should build up our listener/s in that particular situation. Therefore, our words should benefit those who are listening.

Let no corrupting talk (some translations use course jesting) come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Take another example.

I’m 73 years old and the other day a loved one said to me, “Janet, you are beginning to look your age.” Their filter allowed them to express the first thought that came to their mind in expressing their concern for the stress I was under. However, if they had been familiar with the following verse (filter) they would have reconsidered that initial thought. Seasoning it with graciousness. (“Did I look that bad!”)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV

Ever heard of the word, hijacking

as it applies to conversations? Someone is talking and what they says sparks a memory. We can hardly wait for them to pause so we can interject our thought. Sometimes we don’t even wait for a pause, we just blurt it out. That’s hijacking a conversation. What’s happening here is we are not really listening to the other person. We are not thinking about what they are saying. Scripture has a very effective filter for this problem (that often we aren’t even aware we are guilty of it).

“With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…” Philippians 2:3

Additionally, James 1:9a, ‘be quick to hear, slow to speak…‘ exhorts us to focus on what the speaker is saying and give them our full attention.

The Scriptures are designed to filter our words, thoughts, and actions. Just the ammunition needed to extinguish fiery darts!

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?

STORMS! They have a purpose.

Storms are unavoidable. Why on earth do we try to avoid them. It’s a loosing battle.

Storms are no respecter of persons. No one can escape them. Since avoiding them is impossible, where do we find the source that will subdue the storm?

There is no better perspective to embrace concerning storms than what is prescribed in Scripture. Let’s take a look at Luke 8:22-25, only one of the many go to verses during life’s storms.

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

This verse tells us that Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side of the lake.” Now Jesus, being who He was knew there was a storm coming. (Just like he knows about our storms) Storms on the Sea of Galilee come up rather quickly. But Jesus had lessons his disciples needed to learn. The storm was to be their tutor.

The disciples, though seasoned fishermen, panicked at the severity of the storm. Maybe because they saw that Jesus was asleep they assumed he was not paying attention. Well, of course, this was an assumption fueled by fear. Jesus was right there with them. He hadn’t gone anywhere.

The disciples woke Jesus and in response to their pleas, he rebuked the storm. The lesson? Well, they lacked faith and the storm exposed this. I imagine that whenever they experienced fear like that again, they arrested such fear by recalling that day when Jesus calmed the storm.

Let’s not be too hard on those disciples though. Aren’t we much like them when we encounter storms? The fiery darts of fear and even doubt are first at the scene it seems in our storms. So like the disciples we cry out to God.

If we are willing to cooperate with God when we are being buffeted by storms, he will expose the fiery darts that feed our fears and doubts. We will be empowered to extinguish those weapons of the enemy. In their place, depending on our cooperation, He will supply a stronger faith, less self-centeredness, or resolve to focus on the needs of others. He may call us to change our course. Maybe there are others who need a visual example of how they need to turn to God in their storm.

Recently, it seems my storms have come in waves. I find that I am tempted to center my thoughts on myself. I overly focus on how hard things are. I mourn over the things I’ve lost out on. It’s not natural for me to place my focus on God. So I need to cry out to God just as those disciples did and ask for help. God in His faithfulness will supply me with what I need to overcome the fiery darts attacking me. My situation may not ease up any, but my perspective fashioned by God’s truths will calm my storm.

Storms aren’t random oversights of God. They have a purpose. God’s desire is to reveal that purpose so our lives will be characterized by His peace.

Stand and be silent!

Sometimes difficulties can come in unrelenting waves. Every day they crash upon our thoughts like waves on a beach. And despite all our gallant efforts to seek God’s peace in these storms, peace evades us. We stand on the beach, alone and at a loss as to what to do. But when we have searched God’s word for direction, and no specific direction is revealed, what then?

Then we do the only thing left to do:
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13 KJV

And as we stand, what then?

Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

 Yes, stand, be silent and wait 

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:26 ES

The hardest part will likely be to wait (it may be awhile). Although, for some it may be to keep silent! Either way, we must submit to God’s timing.  Because it is in His timing that:

… all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

The Healing Magic of Nature

Two nights of disturbed sleep, and a temporary increase of responsibilities in my caretaking, meals to plan for and prepare, plus cleaning up afterwards, not to mention general house cleaning, made it a bit difficult to find a time to squeeze in a trip to the grocery store for my mom, pick up her meds, mail a package, and drop by the phone store to clear up questions regarding my new phone, left me feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Asking for help has never been easy for me, but asking my best friend for prayer support is. When the moment came, I donned my walking shoes and retreated to a solitary spot on a trail by our house. Sitting down in the chair placed there for such occasions, I spent a few moments in prayer. Then I called my friend and sought her prayers. She suggested I ask for help and named someone I could ask. So, I did as she suggested.

As I waited for the response from the person I had called, I resumed my therapeutical walk. God had designed a picture perfect autumn day. A cornflower blue sky formed the backdrop of a variety of trees each in their own stage of autumness. It was exhilarating capturing many of these scenes on my phone. Leaves were spiraling down all around me. An idea came to me to try and catch one before it landed on the ground. A few failed attempts then I succeeded!

As I resumed my stroll, I pondered on a much used verse of late:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Psalm 32:8 ESV

Before I knew it, my heaviness of heart became lighter. The healing affect of the splendid autumn day had done it’s magic, along with the granting of my request for help. God had given me the promised counsel and the motivation to carry on.

Honoring as we Care…

You tolerate what you must when it becomes your reality. C S Lewis

The dramatic shift in the course of my life (October 24 post?) has brought to the forefront of my thoughts the above statement. As it settled there, the profoundness of Mr. Lewis’s quote sank deep. While my new reality isn’t something I’m excited about it’s encouraging to know that I will be able to tolerate it. Not only will I be able to tolerate what has become my reality, but according to God my life and the lives of my family will be enriched.

Yet even for those of us who have chosen God’s mandate, the actual doing of it is difficult and at best, challenging. We need God’s help in order to honor those who become the recipients of our concern. Having to care for elderly parents, especially within our home, has a huge impact on the family dynamics. Therefore, we must be on our guard for the fiery darts that will be sure to come against us. Fiery darts that are designed to view our caretaking of our elderly parents as a burden prevent us from responding with love, patience, and understanding as we seek to meet their needs

No one desires to be a burden to their adult children, least of all me. But how my future unfolds on this subject, must be surrendered to God. In the meantime, my children and grandchildren are learning valuable lessons in the shaping of their attitudes as they watch and help us care for their grandmothers/great grandmothers. Valuable lessons such as learning to appreciate the elderly as they share their wisdom gleaned through years of highs and lows. The love they are so willing to shower upon their children and grandchildren produces blooms of respect and admiration.

Make no mistake, it’s no picnic taking on the responsibility of someone who like many elderly parents have health and even mental issues. It requires a huge dose of selflessness, strength, and faith. If we seek these from God, then our reality indeed becomes tolerable, teaching us how to honor as we care.

What does it feel like to be a double decker sandwich?

Not so good actually! Blocked in on both sides. Feeling bad about this situation makes you feel bad about yourself. Most days are dark. Most people don’t understand how you feel. Feel taken advantage of! God is the ONLY thing that offers light or hope. And much of that light or hope comes from faithful children.

Caring for an elderly mother and recently an elderly mother in law defines my double decker image. Not a place I ever expected to be but here I am. It’s a day by day of putting one foot in front of the other, or stumbling over my own feet.

Then there are those from whom I need the most help, seem to be clueless as to what that should look like. Thank you’s are meaningless, when really what I need is some empathetic act that will lessen the load, relieve the pressure, or cheer me up. You know like repairing something that’s been broken for way too long. Or completing a task that has been all but forgotten. Oh, and I’m going to be blunt here, doing something nice for me just because they know I like it so much (though they don’t)! Sigh……

While I certainly feel tested during this time (the demands are overwhelming), my grade hovers around a ‘C’ sometimes but a ‘D’ most often. At least, that’s my take on it. Yet Romans 8:1 contradicts those fiery darts of condemnation I am so swift to embrace right now.

I’ll just hang on, though I’m making no great strides. Just can’t muster the strength to handle this like I know I should or like others think I should. So, I’ll just keep getting up in the morning and go through the motions of what is expected of me. God continues to whisper to me that all this will work together for my good.

Well, the only sure thing in all this is God’s truths that apply to my situation. And though the light is dim, I will continue to walk toward that light. Eventually………

Seasons of Contentment

As a 73 year old mother and grandmother, I am finding that the winter season of life is an unbalanced mixture of highs and lows. And, as is too often the case, my perspective is fashioned by the self-centered bent of my fleshly nature. You know, that part of us that we are all born with and until we invite God’s spirit to dwell within us, rules our thinking.

Ever since the last of my 4 fledglings flew from the nest (that was 18 years ago), it’s been an up and down journey for this mom. Contentment was a constant as I was raising my four beloved children. But as one by one they took flight, my contentment began to wane. And was sorely tested when my entire brood moved out and away. Since then while they have moved sometimes closer and sometimes further (even one went to live on the African continent) my contentment ebbed and flowed in concert with their change of addresses . Predictably, the arrival of grandchildren, as wonderful as that has been, contributed to an even greater elusiveness of contentment.

Initially, there were times when I thought, “I just can’t do this.” The reason being, I was brought up on a farm where children grew up and planted their homes not too far away. Therefore, I was predisposed to expect the same future for my growing babes. And even more so since returning to my childhood roots about 40 years ago to establish my forever home.

Yet, the cold reality is that the contentment of my four grown up children is now defined as mine was when we shared the same nest. My presence is no longer necessary to their contentment. Instead,I have become an accessory.

And you know what I am discovering? Being an accessory is as it should be. It’s the way of life. I am learning that only when I allow the lies of fiery darts to interpret my thoughts, will I wander into the valley of despair.

Every season of life is designed for a purpose. God reminds me of this, when I am tempted to allow sadness and my lack of contentment to fashion my attitudes and actions. Plain and simple, my friends, this is nothing but disobedience. Besides, my discontentment will steal the blessings God has for me in this season.

Up until my Winter season there were an abundance of reasons for my seasonal contentments. They were blessings straight from God. And they motivated me in overcoming the hardships I encountered. But in my Winter season the absence of those preferred blessings created a gap in my contentment. That is until I came to terms with the fact that the truest and best contentment can only be found in Christ. This type of God-given contentment opens the door to appreciate a whole new realm of contentments designed to enhance the Winter of my life. Being contented in Christ is the perspective we need to envision all the possibilities for contentment no matter the season of life, but especially in our life’s Winter season.