On The Prowl

A large gray cat has been on the prowl in our backyard looking for some unsuspecting bird or squirrel to devour. Whenever I see the intruder, I rush outside and tell it to scat. I wish the cat wore a collar with a bell attached to warn its prey of its approach.

Reminds me of Satan.

He is constantly on the prowl looking for some unsuspecting individual to devour. If he wore a bell, better still a loud gong to announce his approach, perhaps we’d put up our guard and not fall prey to his attacks.

In the old television series, Lost in Space, a robot often walked around waving his arms through the air shouting, “Warning Will Robinson! Warning!” in an attempt to keep young Will from danger.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had such a robot?

Just think how something like that might have shut Eve’s ears to the serpent’s lies. Or kept Abraham from passing Sarah off as his sister. Twice. Or Moses from losing his temper, Miriam from bad-mouthing Moses’ wife, and Jacob from stealing Esau’s blessing.

An early warning system might have kept Joseph’s brothers from selling him into slavery, Samson from being Samson, and David from sleeping with Bathsheba.

Or kept Judas from betraying Jesus, and Peter from denying Christ.

I’m sure you can think of other accounts.

Then of course, there is us.

What about when we’re tempted to gossip, tell that little white lie, be critical, judgmental, prideful, jealous?

Or when we strike out in anger, are unkind, betray another, look with lust, spew vile hatred, do something we know is wrong to save face?

But you know what? We aren’t defenseless. Far from it.

Although we don’t have a robot warning us when the Tempter lurks, and he for sure doesn’t wear a bell around his neck, we have something much greater.

Those of us who belong to Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in us. He prompts us to do good. To turn from evil, and tells us which direction we should go.

We also have the Armor of God.

As with anything which warns when danger is on the prowl, it does no good if we choose to ignore it.

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Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan.  For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.

 So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.

But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval.  Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God.  In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.   And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Our Declaration of Independence

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4th in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read, voted on, and approved. With that declaration, the Continental Congress announced the thirteen American colonies were no longer part of the British Empire.

Although July 4, 1776 was the day of America’s declaration of independence, those all over the world who claim Jesus as Lord of our lives celebrate Resurrection Day as our declaration of independence from the chains of sin.

The Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson, and approved by committee, justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III. It asserted America had certain natural and legal rights.

Among the most famous words of the Declaration are:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 

My dad was a member of the US Navy when I was born in Morocco on the USAF base near Rabat. Although I was born in Africa, I have a birth certificate issued by the US State Department which proves I am an American citizen born to American parents on a US military base.

While my earthly citizenship is in the United States of America, my eternal citizenship is in Heaven courtesy of Jesus Christ. I am a joint heir with the King. That’s where my first allegiance lies.

America’s freedom from tyranny was purchased at the price of many lives on both sides of the battlefields that spread out across the thirteen colonies.

Freedom from the tyranny of sin was purchased at the price of one life, God’s only Son, on the cross of Calvary.

Jesus Christ is the true Declaration of Independence.

As those of us in the United States of America reflect on the continued sacrifice and cost of our freedom from the chains of tyrannical leaders, let’s not forget what it cost our Savior to purchase our freedom from the chains of sin.

If you live in the States, any special way you celebrate Independence Day?

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But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. Philippians 3:20 (MSG)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Cut Loose the Anchors

 

In a previous post I mentioned the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck. This past week as I revisited this story, I concentrated on what the Bible says those men did.

They cut loose the anchors which kept them from moving forward; abandoning them in the sea. They untied the ropes that held the rudders immobile. They hoisted the foresail to the wind, hung on, and made it to shore.

Thinking about this, I compared it to times in our lives when we’ve thrown out the anchors and refused to move forward in God’s will.

Our anchors, whatever our individual anchors may be, keep us in one place. Stuck. Static. Immobile. We see the shore up ahead, but are paralyzed.

Our frozen rudders render steering impossible.

Our sail does us no good furled.

When we allow our faith to beat out our fears, however, we’re willing to cut loose the anchors, untie the rudders, hoist the sail, and hang on.

At this point we’re committed.

We’ve released our life into the All-Powerful hand of the One who controls the winds and the seas to carry us safely to shore.

Cutting the anchors, releasing the rudders, and hoisting the sail can be frightening. Don’t I know it. We believe it’s safer to stay put.

We know what to expect where we are. The unknown is altogether different.

Our fears can cause us to think of worst-case scenarios, can they not?

Although my fears probably look different from yours, I’ve allowed fear to freeze me in my tracks far too many times. I’ve allowed fear to replace faith in God. I’ve allowed fear to keep me from moving forward in the path God calls me to.

Perhaps you’ve done the same.

The only way Paul and the others on his ship reached the safety of land was to cut loose their anchors, untie the rudders, hoist the sail, and let God direct their path.

Any anchors you need to cut loose?

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Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. Acts 27:40 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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This Is My Doing

In the span of a week I read the words this is my doing, and this is from me in two separate devotions written decades apart.

If we look at 1 Kings 12:24, we read God told the Israelites, “…what has happened is my doing.”

When I read these devotions and scripture in my perpetual time of wait, I felt as if God reminded me everything is under his control. Good. Bad. Ugly. Disappointments. Successes. Wins. Loses. Pains. Joys. Everything. It is all his doing and his will.

A devotion written by Laura A. Barter Snow in Streams in the Desert discusses this theme. In her devotion, Ms. Snow says whatever rough place we may find ourselves in, God reminds us, “This is my doing.”

God’s strength is with us to carry us through whatever we face. He wants us to depend on him, not on our own abilities. He wants us to glory in him, not in ourselves.

Ms. Snow points out God is the God of circumstances. Wherever we are, we did not come to this place by accident. We are exactly where God wants us to be. Whether to bless or humble.

We need to obediently walk in the way God sets before us. When we do, we can be confident wherever we end up, however long it takes to get there, and however many detours, bumps, delays, and impasses, this is God’s doing.

“This is from Me, the Saviour said, As bending low He kissed my brow,
For One who loves you thus has led. Just rest in Me, be patient now,
Your Father knows you have need of this, Tho’, why perchance you cannot see.
Grieve not for things you’ve seemed to miss. The thing I send is best for thee.

Then looking through my tears, I plead, Dear Lord, forgive, I did not know,
Twill not be hard since Thou dost tread, Each path before me here below.
And for my good this thing must be, His grace sufficient for each test.
So still I’ll sing, Whatever be, God’s way for me is always best.”

Laura A. Barter Snow from Streams in the Desert

Wherever we find ourselves right now, it is exactly where God wants us, whether it’s where we want to be or not. Do you find comfort in that thought?

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‘This is what the Lord says: Do not fight against your relatives, the Israelites. Go back home, for what has happened is my doing!’” So they obeyed the message of the Lord and went home, as the Lord had commanded. 1 Kings 12:24 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Our Identity

In one of the devotions in her book, Embraced, Lysa TerKeurst says when the heavens opened and God spoke at Christ’s baptism before his ministry began, God was well pleased with his Son. Jesus’ identity was in being God’s Son not in the great works he was about to accomplish.

Her point in saying this is just as God was pleased with his son before Christ began his earthly minister, God’s pleasure with us is not dependent on what we do.

Before we did a single thing for God, he was well pleased with us. Our identity is found in being a chosen Child of God. His son. His daughter.

Our identity is not found in the amount of good works we do.

It is not found in the number of times we say yes to a request of our time or resources for ministry.

Nor is it found in eloquent speech or Christian-sounding words.

In my present situation as a writer, I remind myself my identity is not found in the number of articles, devotions, blog posts, or novels I have or have not published.

My identity is not found in the number of writing awards I have or have not accumulated. It is not in the number of my followers nor is it in the size of my platform.

I would think in your life you have areas where you can say the same.

When we lean too far one direction in connecting our worth with our accomplishments, it can lead to pride. Lean too far the other direction, it can lead to discouragement.

Our identity is found in God and Christ alone.

God’s voice is the One we want to hear say he’s pleased with us. Sure. Having others say we’re on the right track and doing a good job is nice, but that’s not what defines us.

Do you find it difficult to separate how you view your worth from your works?

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Then John agreed to his baptism. Jesus came straight out of the water afterwards, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting upon him. And a voice came out of Heaven saying, “This is my dearly-loved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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