Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Know Your Enemy




Many people use the phrase “know your enemy” for different professions. A football coach likes to study game film of the team he is about to face. He will learn who the best players are and what plays the other coach likes to call at certain times. By knowing his “enemy” he can form his own game plan.

Generals also have to know their enemy. They need to know what type of weapons the enemy has, what type of terrain they will be sending soldiers into, and what the will and demeanor of the other soldiers may be.

As Christians we know that we are involved in spiritual warfare, and it is good for us to know our enemy as well. The word satan means adversary, and Lucifer is the chief adversary. The Bible twice talks about him in connection with animals: as a snake and a lion.

The snake was literal; Lucifer entered into a serpent in the Garden of Eden to deceive Eve. He didn’t come out screaming about how much he hated her and God. He was subtle and crafty. Snakes today are no different. With the exception of the rattlesnake, serpents are quiet and give no warning of their approach. They are low to the ground, they blend in, and they are quiet.

The lion reference is figurative; Lions roar. They are big and we see them from far off. The Bible says that Satan roars around like a lion looking for someone to devour. There are many times that we are tempted by the enemy in a very blatant way. Peer pressure to do drugs, a sensual image on a magazine aisle, or violent thoughts. We recognize these as tactics of the enemy, and we need to be prepared to fight against them.

But we have to remember that he is also quiet and subtle when he needs to be. Whispering second thoughts into your mind to question your pastor, convincing you that your parents are lame, and slowly turning your heart away from the Bible.

We need to be ready to always stand guard against our enemy. We know how he works; we just need to be prepared for the battle.

One final thought. Let’s not give the devil too much credit. After all, as Romans 1:31 reminds us in this rhetorical question: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The point of the question is not the answer “Satan.” The point is that God is for us, so it doesn’t matter who is against us.

With God on our side, we can not only know our enemy, but defeat him too. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Adopted




I have always thought that adoption is one of the most beautiful things in the world. The idea that a couple would take a child, not theirs biologically, into their family is one of the most compassionate and Christ like things they can do.

But instead of thinking about it from the parents’ perspective, think about it from the perspective of the adopted child. For years the child has lived in an orphanage, or perhaps moved from foster home to foster home, lying awake at night wondering if he would ever be a part of a permanent family. He wonders why his mother gave him up and why his father never stepped up. Then one day a social worker comes and informs him that he is being adopted.

Adoption in America costs around $30,000. This child is being taken in by a family that is willing to pay a high price to adopt him. They will forever pay for his food, clothing, insurance, and birthday presents. They will buy his first car, put him through college, and help make a down payment on his first house. In America, once a child is adopted, he can never be un-adopted.

This child is not being adopted because he boasted the best grades or posted the best stats; his adoption status is based solely on the mercy of the parents.

Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” For those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, God has adopted them as His sons and daughters, making them joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

As Michael Reagan pointed out in his book Twice Adopted, he was just an ordinary kid who was adopted by the President of the United States. When he heard people speak with admiration about the President, Michael enjoyed just being able to call him dad. But, he said, that pales in comparison to knowing that he has been adopted by Almighty God.  

Once you have been adopted by God you can never be un-adopted; and you have access to the King of the universe. Your adoption status is not based on how well you have performed or what you bring to the table. It is based purely on the mercy of the Father. 

(For more information on adoption, please visit Bethany Christian Services here)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Learning the Truth




When I was in school I only wanted to learn the truth. Like most kids, I didn’t always want to go to school, but I figured that since I was there I might as well make the most of it. I didn’t want a teacher to tell me that Abraham Lincoln was the 1st president of the United States, or that two plus two equals five; I wanted to learn the truth.

If that is true for our education, then should it not also apply to what we learn about God or His Word? No matter how much I write about it, it still amazes me that people insist that we cannot know anything for sure. Well, I’m quite sure that Lincoln was our 16th president, and that two plus two always equals four.

I’m also sure that John 14:6 is true. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Father except through Him. But some will say that John 14:6 might be true for me but not true for them, or that I cannot know what is true at all.

So to the person that tells me that I cannot know this for sure, I ask you, are you absolutely sure? If you say yes, then you are admitting that there are absolutes, which means that I can be absolutely sure that Jesus is the only way. If you say no, then you are admitting that you might be wrong, and that I might be right that Jesus is the only way. Either way you answer, you can’t prove me wrong.

As Christians, let us pray along with the psalmist who said, “Lead me in Your truth, and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation…(Psalm 25:5)”

If you are a skeptic, an atheist, or not quite sure what you believe, I encourage you to pray that simple prayer: God, if you are real, please lead me into truth.

If you are a seasoned believer then I encourage you to pray the same prayer: God, please continue to lead me into truth.

He will, and that’s the truth.    

(related blog post: What is Truth?)