How the Devil fell

Ezekiel 28:16 records your great wealth filled you with internal turmoil, and you sinned. Therefore, I cast you out of the imagemountain of God like a common sinner. I destroyed you, O Guardian Angel, from the midst of the stones of fire.

What the Christian Church understands about the devil comes mainly from this section of Scripture. Since the Bible is God’s recorded works, will and ways little is mentioned of His enemy but enough information is given to help us avoid the pitfalls he seeks to lead people into. Satan was a created being as men are and as such all that he had came from God.

The fact that he was blessed with great wealth was God’s choice but it lead to his rebellion against God.

The devil’s wealth came in three areas: first, he was wealthy in beauty. Our culture is absorbed in the pursuit of beauty, perfect health and body. This pursuit is not new to humanity but its source is not God. The most beautiful of all is God Himself, when we pursue health and beauty above God Himself we are placing ourselves in the same camp as the devil.

Second, the devil was wise. Another cultural idol is intelligence or education. Again, learning is good but the learned have a propensity to dismiss the Word of God finding themselves suddenly smarter than He Whose foolishness is wiser than the wisest of men. We must guard against becoming too smart to take God literally at His Word.

Finally, the devil was wealthy in money. He offered the wealth of the world to Jesus Who quickly dismissed his temptation by His commitment to worship God alone. The desire to be rich has led many astray from the works and will of God. Making money our pursuit above God Himself puts us in the devil’s camp.

The secret to being successful against all these things is to find Jesus the most beautiful of all, Jesus the Wisdom of God and Jesus our greatest treasure.

Make the pursuit of Jesus your greatest effort and you will keep yourself from being lumped into the enemy’s camp.

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Boasting

2 Corinthians 12:9 boasts I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and imageabilities.

When Paul took the opportunity to defend his apostleship he did so by referring to how much he suffered for Christ not by how much he had built God’s Kingdom. This is the antithesis of the marketing we receive from the television church.

We gravitate toward their message because we want the best life now but this demonstrates our poverty of spirit rather than our love for God.

If we loved the things of God more than the things of this world we would long more for the things of God and even God Himself than we would the trinkets and toys of this world which are destined to perish with us.

Our duty as God’s children is to show the world the greatness of our Father. God seeks His glory and honor in the world not our glory and honor.

We want success so we will be honored by men. Jesus’ success was the loss of His life as a perfect sacrifice.

As we lift up Jesus He will draw people to Himself. When we lift up ourselves we take the attention off from Jesus.

Certainly God uses our abilities to accomplish His purposes, after all, He created us and gave us those abilities. But those abilities are gifts to be used for blessing others while glorifying the Father of all Who gives all good things to people for our benefit and His glory.

As the one who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord, did so by becoming less so that He would become more so too we must surrender ourselves as servants of others so that Jesus is elevated among us.

Our goal is for people to see and experience Jesus through us not that people would experience us and how much God has done for us.

People need more Jesus and less of us.

This will happen as we focus more on Him and less upon ourselves.

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Clarifying Loving God

2 Corinthians 7:1 commands turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit, and purify ourselves, living in the imageswholesome fear of God, giving ourselves to Him alone.

What does it mean to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength? The Word of God recorded through His Apostle Paul puts some meat on that bone in this verse.

First, we are to turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit. Who decides what is right and wrong? The media/culture tells us what they think is wrong. Our own experience, hearts and minds tell us what is right and wrong. Who knows what is right and wrong? God Who is righteous defines what is right and wrong in His sight through the Scripture. It is this definition and none other that God will use to judge people. We must be diligent students of the Bible if we are to know true right and true wrong so we can truly obey God.

Second, we love God by fearing God in a wholesome way. What is that? God is love but God is also holy, He is both. The holiness of God destroyed the world except for Noah and his family. The holiness of God destroyed Israel including the temple and the ark except for a small remnant. The holiness of God crucified the Son of God for the sin of humanity despite His appeal for an alternative means. The holiness of God will send to hell all those who have not repented from sin and submitted themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. God loves us so created the heavens and the earth. God loves us so choose a people through whom He would reveal Himself. God loves us so sent His Son to Save us. God loves us so will create a new heaven and new earth for His children to live forever with Him. The love of God does not negate the holiness of God and the fear of God reminds us of the eternal consequences of disobeying God.

Finally, we are to live for God alone. What does that mean? What is our purpose, what are we really living for? Is the Kingdom of God and His will being accomplished on earth as it is in heaven receive our best time, talent and treasure or does God receive our leftovers?

If God is first and foremost in our lives our time, talent and treasure will reflect that or those things will reflect what is first and foremost in our lives.

It is not hard to understand what it means to love God but it is certainly another thing to do it.

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Proving Your Love for God

2 Corinthians 8:8 states this is one way to prove that your love is real, that it goes beyond mere words.images

How do you prove your love for God and His Church?

Many might say by how they feel about God and His Church, after all, God knows what’s in their heart. The Apostle James likened these people to those whose faith was dead, they would say to people in need, ‘I hope things get better’ but would do nothing to alleviate the situation.

Jesus didn’t love the world by feeling good toward it, He loved the world by giving His life to save it. God the Father didn’t love the world by feeling positively about it, He loved the world by bankrupting heaven with the blood of His Son in order to purchase rebels so He could transform them into children.

Love is never described as a feeling in the famous love chapter of the Bible, (1 Corinthians 13) but rather it is described as action.

In today’s reading Paul says giving financially to help others in the Church is one way to prove our faith. As a whole giving is down in the Church. The under 40 crowd gives the least to the work of God while the over 60 crowd gives the most. While few Christians attend a church that doesn’t promote tithing only about 3% of all Christians adhere to this teaching.

Many young Christians wait until they can afford to give which is the opposite of the woman who was commended by the Lord Jesus as the greatest giver of all for she gave everything she had to live on which was only a few pennies.

Where we spend our money is indicative of where our priorities lay. God said it this way, where our treasure is there our hearts will be also. Too many Christians place their comfort and their pleasure above the work of God and the needs of His people. Few indeed are those who sacrifice material benefit in this world in order to accumulate spiritual benefit in the next.

We tend to dislike the Church’s talk about money unless its about how God wants our best material life now because we know in our heart of hearts that we cannot serve God and money but we really love money. The cure to greed and selfishness is generosity.

No doubt you can easily find a place to give to God’s work if you desire, beginning within your own church.

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How to Serve God

2 Corinthians 6:6 proclaims we have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding thof the Gospel and by our patience.

The world is on fire but what is the solution? The world has been on fire before and the solution then is the same as the solution now: the world needs reconciliation and restoration with God. A simple answer but then we need to know which God.

There is only one God and He is not the god proclaimed among the murderous throng of Muslims. Does that god even make sense to anyone? If there is a God, does it seem like He would bless the murder and rape of women and children and the beheading of men in revenge for whatever? The god portrayed among this group of people is sheer evil, this is not the One True God.

The One True God lived among us in Jesus and said love your neighbor as yourself, forgive and pray for your enemies, remove the log in your own eye so you can see clearly to remove the stick in your neighbors eye. This God is having a hard time however being seen and heard in the world because those who claim to worship Him are failing to prove they are His disciples.

The Apostle mentions three evidences for the follower of Jesus who will impact His world for good.

First, they live wholesome lives. The life God requires is not the same as the good life the world seeks to live. The God centered life is not materialistic, self-aggrandizing nor worldly focused. To live a wholesome life we must know God’s will through the Bible then seek His Spirit to empower us to live it. We must define life by God’s terms then obey His commands. Too much ignorance of God and His will exists among the Church because too few read regularly the instruction manual given to us by God’s grace.

Second, is the ability to clearly explain the love of God and His work in the world. Again, the issue is ignorance of God due to lack of fervent reading and applying the Scripture. Too many Christians have no idea of the true nature and will of God as evidenced by their thinking that all roads lead to heaven, Jesus was a good man, the Bible has errors, people are basically good and evolution was God’s means of creation. The Bible clearly explains Truth, the Truth of Who God is and how He has worked in the world. We can believe God or we can believe those who ignore God but if we want world change we must believe and obey God.

Finally, those who do love God, are praying for the world and are working to see the world reconciled to God through Jesus must remain patient in their suffering. Paul saw fruit in His work but with much trial and tribulation. We should expect no less for the world is becoming increasingly more hostile to the ways of God as a result of previous neglect in doing God’s work by the Church. Those who do obey God should expect resistance to the ways of God among those not obeying God until the light of God penetrates their hearts and minds.

The world needs help and the Church is the source of its healing but the people of God must get serious about knowing God and doing His will.

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God will Judge our Work

2 Corinthians 5:11 indicates it is because of this solemn fear of the Lord, which is ever present in our minds, that we work so imageshard to win others.

Paul described his motivation for preaching the gospel to be based in part upon the fear of the Lord.

When we think of the fear of the Lord we mostly think in terms of the Old Testament where God would discipline Israel through terrible storms, awful plagues or ruthless invaders. Most Christians put that ‘God’ out of their minds and gravitate to the God of love Jesus seemed to embody.

Yet the Bible is clear that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is this God Who will judge all people, including Christians, based upon their work done for His glory. Paul describes this judgment in the verses preceding his statement above.

Paul expected God to weigh and measure him based upon the assignment God had given to him and in light of that judgment, Paul did not want to be found wanting. God will do the same to everyone beginning with those who claim to be in relationship with Him through Jesus the Savior.

The God of the Old Testament should terrify us for we see what He did to Israel, He continued His wrath against sin upon His Own Son Who pleaded for a way out but was denied, and Who promises to once again judge all people. We will be weighed and measured, the question is only will we be found wanting.

The will of God is for all people to call upon Him for mercy submitting to Him as Lord. This will is carried out by those who have already done so and can describe the benefits of such a decision.

God has committed the building of His Kingdom to the faithfulness of His people engaging that work with His Spirit Who also is at work in the hearts and minds of people.

If we want to receive God’s reward we must focus upon God’s work and that is the winning and discipling of the nations in Christ.

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God doesn’t like Suffering either

Ezekiel 18:32 observes I do not enjoy seeing you die,” the Lord God says. “Turn, turn and live!images

Repeatedly those who ignore God question the existence of God because of the suffering of people they see all around them. The existence of suffering does not disprove God but proves man’s need for God.

The true story of Creation is not that all people evolved over millions of years from a cosmic accident resulting in the emergence of single celled organisms able to miraculously develop into human beings. This is the explanation those who hate God give to explain our origin but who wring their hands to explain suffering.

The true story is that God created everything that is by His own good will intending for all to live forever with Him on the earth where He would rule as King. God did allow people to choose whether to obey Him or not, He only gave them one prohibition, but apparently that was too much to ask of our forefathers. The banishment of people from paradise also led to the banishment of the King from His kingdom.

Left in charge of this world are people and evil spirits. The result: bad things happen to good people, bad people, all people because all people are bad.

The King returned though disguised as a servant and sacrifice which was His means for becoming the Savior.

Upon leaving this time He commanded His followers to tell everyone what He has done and that He will return again but the next time it will be as King of kings and Lord of lords. God detests the inhumanity of man to man but it is man’s fault not God’s that it occurs.

Obedience to the One Who commands we love each other as we love ourselves makes injustice impossible but disobedience to His command explains the injustice we experience. We ignore the one true God in our schools, government and media then act outraged when He fails to stop evil in our world.

God commands us to do justice and if we wont then justice wont happen – yet.

God plans to return and when He does all people from all time will be judged according to His will and ways. His will has been written down in the Bible, can be observed through nature and felt within our conscience.

God wants all people to live forever with Him, He has provided the means in Jesus the Savior, the only question remains will we submit to Him or continue in our rebellion?

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Understanding our Identity

Psalm 82:6-7 declares I have called you all “gods” and “sons of the Most High.” But in death you are mere men.image

God was the first to encourage positive self-esteem when He declared those created in His image were themselves ‘gods,’ children of the Most High.

Parenting since the mid 1960’s has been all about positive self-esteem, an over the top praising of children so that they feel good about themselves. Today’s public education has followed this focus placing the feeling of self-worth above the more traditional 3 R’s.

The problem is we don’t understand what it means to be ‘gods,’ children of the Most High.

First, God spoke these things to signify our created value, He did not say them because we lacked self-esteem. Every two year old demonstrates through their temper tantrum inherent, abundant self-esteem. The reason for the rage is because the world is not orbiting properly around their rule and so they break forth in a tantrum.

Self-esteem is not the issue, our feeding our children’s pride and ego has resulted in the most self-serving and self-centered generation ever. Increasingly each successive generation from 1960 has focused increasingly upon themselves, their needs, wants, and desires with increasing less regard for God’s will or their neighbor’s need, at least at their own expense.

Second, what it means to be ‘gods’ is to be like God. This means we get to go first in demonstrating love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, humility and sacrifice. God initiated restoration with the world, God gave His Son while we were yet sinners, God bends over backward to love us, be patient with us and show mercy to us.

God is the most humble Person in the universe, demonstrating daily His willingness to be mocked, scorned and maligned while giving the sun to shine, bread to eat and breath in our bodies. Being like God is being the first to give, serve and love.

Third, being like God is being last. The greatest of all is the servant of all God said. He came as a servant and gave His life so all could be pardoned.

Because we are ‘gods’ we don’t have to elevate ourselves to feel important but can elevate others because we know who and Whose we are. We can go last placing others first because He Who is the First is also the Last and rewards those who are last, first.

Being children of God doesn’t mean an overextended ego but a sacrifice of self for the love of God and the benefit of humanity at personal expense.

Being ‘gods’ isn’t about feeling better about ourselves but helping others feel better about God knowing He lives, He rules and He will return to establish His perfect order where the last will be first.

If we would tell our children they are ‘gods’ lets also tell them what that really means.

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Spiritual Danger

1 Corinthians 16:13 warns keep your eyes open for spiritual danger.image

What is spiritual danger? Spiritual danger are those thoughts that lead us away from God’s truth in our words and actions.

There are many ideas in our culture today that have led the Church astray from knowing God and believing Him unequivocally so that He can be obeyed completely.

First is the idea that the Bible is not true or reliable. This deception is important for creating confusion among those who would follow Jesus as their Savior. If there is a God but you can’t really know what He’s like or what He requires then you can’t really be accountable to live according to His commands.

This is the goal of this deception. But God has made clear Who He is and what He requires so that all generations all over the world can easily and clearly know Him in order to please Him. Doesn’t it makes sense that God would want us to know Him so we could please Him?

Second is the idea that all roads lead to heaven or sometimes framed that Jesus was a good man but not God. God has come to earth to clearly communicate Who He is and what He requires from us. His appearance included the work of restoring people to God through the sacrifice of His life as payment for the evil deeds of humanity.

If all roads lead to heaven there was no point in God coming to earth or sacrificing His life. If Jesus is not God then God never came to earth, for no other religion makes such a claim, leaving all people hopelessly trapped in the futility of ever living the perfect life God requires for entering heaven.

God came so we could know the One True God, all other gods are a mockery of Him and hinder people from following the truth.

There are many other spiritual dangers marketed by our culture but the Christian can keep themselves on the narrow road by reading the Bible as often as possible and staying in community with those who do the same for mutual edification and encouragement.

This is the will of God for His people.

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Our Greatest Aim

1 Corinthians 14.1 commands let love be your greatest aim.image

I find myself more irritable than I have ever been. It seems the older I get the less patient and gentle I am becoming. I am not alone.

Not only do many of the ‘good’ people feel this way but the world around us is in an apparent meltdown. Both within this country and outside to the rest of the world, people are in chaos with people killing, stealing and destroying one another and their property.

In the midst of all this hatred, the gospel, the Christian religion, sends forth a clarion call to all of its adherents to let love be our greatest aim. I confess my own inadequacy at obeying God Who is love in this most fundamental of all the Christian teachings.

God Himself commanded only two things of His followers: love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbor as our self. God is love and those who claim to be His children must also love.

Practically this means turning the other cheek when struck, going the extra mile with those who aren’t so friendly, forgiving the offensive and leaving revenge to Him Who will judge all people upon their transition from this life to the next.

When God lived among us He humbled Himself from His awesomeness as Deity instead becoming a man, and not just any man but a servant, the least of men. He therefore commands His people to likewise humble themselves, surrendering their agendas and instead love others by serving others regardless of their response or feelings toward us.

So easy to understand but so difficult to live. So easy to read but so difficult to remember in the moment of my irritation.

The end is described as a world grown cold in its love for one another.

Perhaps we are closer to that end than we realize but for the people of God love must be our greatest aim making our relationship with God increasingly more obvious so that He can win more to His point of view before His return.

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