Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thrown by the Devil


  In the familiar account of the Upper Room, the Bible says that, “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him…” Most Christians rightly understand this passage to be the time where Satan convinced Judas Iscariot to become the traitor.

     But if we take a closer look at the word “put” we see something interesting. When it says “the devil had already put it into the heart,” that word means “to throw.” So we could say, “The devil had already thrown it into the heart of Judas Iscariot.”

     This is not exactly a subtle move on the Accuser’s part. Satan is violently and aggressively throwing ideas Judas’ way. And if this strategy worked 2,000 years ago, you had better believe that Lucifer has only gotten better at what and how he throws things our way.

     So how do we withstand what is being thrown at us? Paul told us. In Ephesians 6:11 he said to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes) of the devil.” Paul then gets more specific.

     Listed among the armor of God are the shield of faith and the breastplate of righteousness. When we put our faith in God we are also raising a shield of defense that can ward off enemy artillery, and even if something happens to get past the shield, we can be girded with the breastplate. Satan threw his schemes at the heart of Judas, which is exactly what this plate protects.

     This passage reveals to us that it is not enough to simply have faith in Jesus. That is what saves us, but our righteous living is what becomes expected of us. Satan will throw some schemes at you today, so you better put on your armor, grab your shield, and get ready to do battle.  

(Read this post about the armor of God)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fearing God and Aslan

The last two weeks we have been looking at what it means to fear God (here and here), and I think that author C.S. Lewis illustrated this fear perfectly in his beloved series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Some of the modern movies have added to the conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Beaver and the Pevensies, so I want to look at part of the conversation from the original book.

When the Beavers are telling siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie about the White Witch (who symbolizes Satan) and the lion Aslan (who symbolizes God), they are naturally very inquisitive. Aslan is described as one who is “the Lord of the whole wood,” and yet he is absent while the Witch is ruling over Narnia. The Beavers tell how Aslan will come and destroy the Witch and set all wrongs right.

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I though he was a man. Is he—quite safe?”

Mrs. Beaver replied, “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then, he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” [1]

And with that simple discourse Lewis beautifully illustrates how a Christian should fear the Lord. Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. He is the Creator of hell, the One who will destroy Satan and his minions, and the One before Whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.

But He’s good. He’s the King. And if God is a good King then I can also trust Him. Yes, Jesus has called me His friend, but that doesn’t make Him my homeboy.

A healthy fear of God is found in the one who, like Queen Esther, comes boldly before the throne of grace, but never forgets that God is just.

[1] Lewis, C.S., The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harper Collins Publishers, p.86 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Worldly Wisdom

     There is no shortage of information available to us these days, especially regarding the written word. What is astonishing is the rate at which the amount of written information doubles in our world. For example, in the 1930’s it took 30 years to double the amount of written information that existed, while today it takes only 11 hours.

     As author Mark Gregston points out, that means that by the end of the day you will be half as wise as when you woke up![1]

     Furthermore, wisdom is no longer being measured by retaining information, but by the ability to research and find an answer. Why is this true? With the overwhelming amount of information, from Google to Wikipedia, we all can do our own research, and if we find an answer we like, we go with it.

     Doctors’ diagnosis takes a back seat to our online searches. The pastor’s exegesis is rejected because we found a blog that said something to the contrary. Politicians’ policies are doubted because of a funny Facebook picture.

     And good luck talking someone out of something they read on the internet. It has to be true!

     Take heart! There is a source of information that remains a constant in our lives, and that is the timeless Word of God. On it’s pages we read that God’s Word is forever settled in heaven, and that even the smallest punctuation will remain unchanged; we read that God is the same in the past, present, and future, and that all words will be fulfilled. And what does this timeless book tell us about wisdom?

     It says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Do you want to be wise? Then fear God. Put your faith, trust, and respect in the Lord, and as you do, you will humbly acknowledge that His ways are best.

(Read last week's message about the fear of the Lord here)

[1] Gregston, Mark, Tough Guys and Drama Queens, Thomas Nelson Publishers, p.6

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bad News

Does anyone like bad news?

And yet that is the majority of the news we hear. Pick up a newspaper or turn on the nightly newscast and it is car wrecks, murders, missing persons, and political scandals. If there is a little good news, it is usually the last story or on the last page.

We don’t like to hear bad news, and we certainly don’t like to receive bad news about our own lives, but when we hear so much bad news we can have a tendency to become fearful of it.

But in Psalm 112, speaking about the man who fears the Lord, the Bible says that “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord (v.7).”

How is it possible to not fear bad news? As a believer (whose heart is firm, trusting in the Lord) I know that no matter what happens to me in this life, God either authored it or allowed it. Whatever happens to me happens under God’s sovereignty, so there is nothing I can do about it anyway; why worry about that which I cannot control?

I also should not worry because if some bad news does befall me, even to the point of death, I am reminded that heaven is my final destination. Leaving this world, for a Christian, is a good thing.

According to this verse we will fear something, either bad news or the Lord. To fear the Lord means to have a holy respect for Him (more about this here).

Are you afraid of bad news, or is your heart firm in the Lord?