When Satan Tries To Steal Our Joy

When Satan tries to steal our joy we don’t have to let him. As difficult as it is some days, we can choose joy over despair. Not in our power alone, but in Christ’s.

Sometimes it takes a concentrated effort to block out the joy-stealers in our life and dwell on the joy we can have in knowing Christ instead. It takes practice to trust in the One who holds every tear we’ve cried to take away the sorrow. It takes faith to know the same God who created the world and has our names engraved on his hand won’t allow anything to reach us he didn’t plan or permit.

Current events are enough to make us hang our heads and run for cover. Every time I read the newspaper or listen to the news and feel my joy slipping away, I have to consciously remind myself God is still on his throne. He is still in control. Nothing happens he isn’t aware of. Even when I question what happens, I am determined to fight back against the joy-stealers.

I admit that is often easier said than done. Especially when I’m faced with yet one more health concern.

There may be moments when we stand tall on mountains of faith, then plunge to the valleys of doubt, deep fear, or depression the next.

It’s not like we go around tossing ourselves into those dark times on purpose. Our peace, happiness, and joy are not things we willing throw away. Those are things Satan, the deceiver, joy-stealer-extraordinaire delights in snatching right out from under us.

Stealing our joy is what the father of lies is good at. Satan really cannot stand for us to enjoy the life our Creator God provides for us to the fullest. He loves to drop us into a pit of despair. But Jesus is the rescuer who pulls us out of the slimy pit, puts our feet on solid ground, and restores our joy.

Satan wants us to live in joyless misery. He works very hard to fulfill that desire. His tactics are many. He uses people. World events. Natural disasters. Sickness. Death. Loss. Wars and rumors of wars.

When he attacks, we must remind ourselves he is defeated by the mighty resurrection power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When we find ourselves in a place where we feel something in our lives is missing, like we’ve lost something important, perhaps our joy in the knowledge we are a beloved child of the One True King needs reaffirmed.

Perhaps we need to sing the song many of us learned as children.

Perhaps we need not only sing the song, but believe it with all our heart.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart.
Down in my heart;
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart to stay.

I’ve got the peace that passeth understanding,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart.
Down in my heart;
I’ve got the peace that passeth understanding,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart to stay.

I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart.
Down in my heart;
I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart to stay.

And if the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack
Sit on a tack,
Sit on a tack,
Sit on a tack,
And if the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack to
Stay.

George W. Cooke

Or perhaps you would like to listen to Zach Williams’ hand-clapping toe-tapper, Old Church Choir. Either way, praise God and don’t let Satan steal your joy!

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Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart.  Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too. After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever. To him be all power over all things, forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11 (TLB)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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We Are Aliens In This World

Although this post first appeared October 4, 2016, I felt it worth re-posting.Hope you agree.

Last month during our trip through the Southwest, Pilot and I went through Roswell, NM on our way to Carlsbad Caverns. Although our intent was to visit the International UFO Museum Research Center to see if the truth really is out there, a tornado threatened to send us sheltering beneath the Roswell Museum and Art Center where Pilot soaked in the history of the Robert Goddard exhibit, so we decided to get out of town. Fast.

It seemed everywhere I looked between Roswell and Carlsbad there were aliens.

And this got me thinking about those of us who belong to Jesus.

We are in this world, but not of it. We are aliens, if you will. Sojourners traveling through this world, waiting for the day Jesus takes us to our eternal home in heaven.

To quote Henry David Thoreau, we march to the beat of a different drum. At least we should. People should be able to look at what we do, what we say, where we go, how we treat people, and notice we are different.

We are to reflect Jesus, not the world.

The patriarch, Abraham, was called out of the land of Ur to travel to a place God would take him; Canaan, the land the Israelites called the Promised Land. Abraham was an alien in a foreign land. He was just a-passin’ through.

We are called to be different from the world around us. We are called to a higher standard. A standard set by God. Not a standard set by the culture that surrounds us. God has chosen us to be holy and pure. We belong to him, as such, we are his ambassadors to people who do not yet know him.

This world is not our home. We are aliens. And that’s a good thing, don’t you think?

The truth is out there, and it isn’t found in a science fiction tv show. It’s found in the Words of Truth recorded in God’s Holy Bible.

Have you visited the International UFO Museum Research Center?

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But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls. 1 Peter 2:9 & 11 (TLB)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Trees Chose a King

One of the worst eras in Israel’s history was the time of judges. It was during this time everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes. A quizzical story in the ninth chapter of the book of Judges tells of the time the trees chose a king.

The story comes after Gideon’s death. Finding a successor among Gideon’s seventy sons was no easy task. To solve this problem, Abimelech, the son Gideon had with a concubine from Shechem, went to his uncles and asked them to go to the leaders of Shechem. Abimelech wanted his uncles to convince the leaders he should become the next king since his mother was from Shechem.

The leaders agreed. They gave Abimelech money from the temple treasury to do as he pleased to make it so. The future king used the treasury money and hired some worthless loafers, as The Living Bible translation calls them. These hired guns slaughtered sixty-nine of Abimelech’s half-brothers. Only the youngest, Jotham, escaped.

When Jotham heard the citizens of Shechem declared Abimelech king of Israel, he stood at the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted across to the men of Shechem. There he told the tale of how the trees chose a king. In his tale, the trees who sought a king represented Shechem. The king the trees selected represented Abimelech.

Jotham’s story follows.

The trees sought a king, but the most important and productive trees refused to accept the position. The olive tree was busy producing oil and couldn’t be bothered to rule over unproductive trees that simply waved their branches in the wind.

Next, the fig tree said it would rather produce sweet fruit than rule as king over useless trees.

The grapevine refused asking, “Should I give up producing wine to hold sway over trees?”

In desperation the trees pleaded with the prickly volatile thorn bush to be their king. The thorn bush agreed. With conditions.

“If you want me as your king, come and take refuge in my shade.” (Rather ironic since thorn bushes produce limited shade.) “But if you won’t choose me as your king, then let fire come out of the thorn bush and consume you.”

Three years after making Abimelech king, the Shechemites revolted against him. As was predicted in Jotham’s story, Abimelech destroyed them with fire. (9:47-49)

The people got what they asked for. A prickly volatile thorn bush who destroyed them. In the end, however, the actions of a woman with a millstone standing on a rooftop put an end to the thorn bush king.

Perhaps something we can gain from the inclusion of Jotham’s story of how the trees chose a king is when God’s people abandon him, and do whatever is right in their own eyes, the consequences of their decisions lead to disaster.

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 “Go and talk to the leaders of Shechem,” he requested, “and ask them whether they want to be ruled by seventy kings—Gideon’s seventy sons—or by one man—meaning me, your own flesh and blood!” (Judges 9:2 TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Dave Peever is taking a break from writing his “I Am” series which posted here the last Tuesdays of the month.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Listening To The Voice That Matters

Noise. Confusion. Doubt. Chaos. So much bombards our life making it difficult to know which way to go sometimes. A devotion from Streams in the Desert says we are to be still and listen for God’s clear direction when our path seems uncertain.

“When we are in doubt or difficulty, when many voices urge this course or the other, when prudence utters one advice and faith another, then let us be still, hushing each intruder, calming ourselves in the sacred hush of God’s presence; let us study His Word in the attitude of devout attention; let us lift up our nature into the pure light of His face, eager only to know what God the Lord shall determine—and ere long a very distinct impression will be made, the unmistakable forth-telling of His secret counsel.”

This devotion tells us to take our questions to God. It says if we will get alone with God where the lights and shadows of earth cannot interfere, where human opinions fail to reach, and wait there silent and expectant, even though all around us insists we make an immediate decision or action, the will of God will be made clear.

The world clamors for our attention in light and shadow. Everyone has an opinion and advice they aren’t afraid to share, whether the sharing is done in a healthy way or not.

The world works hard to pull us away from following closely after Jesus. Voices all around us tell us what we should do and how we should do it, often against what God’s Holy Word tells us we should do. At those times, as the Streams in the Desert devotion writer suggests, we are to shut out the intruders, and calm ourselves in God’s truths.

God doesn’t shout to be heard. He doesn’t rush us toward a decision. He doesn’t keep us so active or agitated we can’t hear from him. He doesn’t frighten or push us. Those are the deceiver’s tactics, not God’s.

Just as the sheep know the shepherd’s voice by being still and listening to it, we can know Jesus’ voice in the same way. But first, we must shut out the imposter’s voice.

“STAND STILL,” my soul, for so thy Lord commands: 
E’en when thy way seems blocked, leave it in His wise hands; 
His arm is mighty to divide the wave. 
“Stand still,” my soul, “stand still” and thou shalt see 
How God can work the “impossible” for thee, 
For with a great deliverance He doth save.

Be not impatient, but in stillness stand, 
Even when compassed ’round on every hand, 
In ways thy spirit does not comprehend. 
God cannot clear thy way till thou art still, 
That He may work in thee His blessed will, 
And all thy heart and will to Him do bend.

“BE STILL,” my soul, for just as thou art still, 
Can God reveal Himself to thee; until 
Through thee His love and light and life can freely flow; 
In stillness God can work through thee and reach 
The souls around thee. He then through thee can teach 
His lessons, and His power in weakness show.

“BE STILL”—a deeper step in faith and rest. 
“Be still and know” thy Father knoweth best 
The way to lead His child to that fair land, 
A “summer” land, where quiet waters flow; 
Where longing souls are satisfied, and “know 
Their God,” and praise for all that He has planned.
—Selected

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And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you will hear a voice behind you say, “No, this is the way; walk here.” Isaiah 30:21 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Have We Grown Complacent?

Complacent. That was a problem with the people of God during the time of the Old Testament prophets. Has complacency become a problem with the people of God today?

According to Dictionary.com’s definition, complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”

I’ve gone back to reading the prophets again. Not that they are books of overt comfort, but books of warning. Warning to God’s people to stop being complacent, wake up, take a thorough inspection of our lives to see how we line up with God’s word, and make necessary changes.

The prophet Amos was burdened over the sin of the northern kingdom in the eighth century B.C. He was outraged at the violence God’s people did to the justice and righteousness of God. He felt social justice inseparable from true piety. He believed, based on what the Lord showed him, you can’t have true piety without the social justice and vice versa.

You can’t be complacent.

Previously, I wrote a post taken from the book of Amos titled Fat Cows. This post discussed the women of Bashan. Women who were content with the way things were. They were unconcerned with the events going on around them. As long as their husbands continued to bring them what they wanted, they were fine. Who cared about the oppressed, poor, or needy? Certainly not them.

They were complacent.

Another post from Amos talked about God’s plumb line, saying one day God will take out his plumb line, hold it against the walls of our lives and judge accordingly those who become complacent.

Looking at the book of Amos, we see the Lord roared like a ferocious lion from his Temple on Mount Zion against the sins of his people. God states he will not leave the people unpunished any longer. The Lord asks, how can he and his people talk together with their sins between them?

How indeed.

God tells his people to seek him and live. Stop chasing after idols. He says the evil men make justice a bitter pill for the poor and oppressed. Righteousness and fair play are meaningless fictions to them. The Lord says evil men hate honest judges and despise people who tell the truth. They trample the poor and steal their smallest crumb.

The Lord says he hates show and pretense; the hypocrisy of honoring him with solemn gatherings. He will no longer accept hymns of praise because they have become mere noise to his ears.

Instead, God wants to see a mighty flood of justice, a torrent of doing good.

The closing chapters of Amos predict destruction. The final chapter ends with restoration.

As the Lord spoke through his prophet Amos against the complacent sins of his people, I believe he speaks through the same prophets to his people today.

There is much to learn from God’s prophets of the Old Testament. Wouldn’t you agree?

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I am the Lord, and I know your terrible sins. You cheat honest people and take bribes; you rob the poor of justice. Times are so evil that anyone with good sense will keep quiet. If you really want to live, you must stop doing wrong and start doing right. I, the Lord God All-Powerful, will then be on your side, just as you claim I am.  Choose good instead of evil! See that justice is done. Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful, will be kind to what’s left of your people. Amos 5:12-15 (CEV)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Are We Living In Laodicea?

In the beginning of the book of Revelation, the apostle John records Christ’s words regarding Christ’s letters to seven churches. In Chapter 3, Christ’s letter is to the church at Laodicea.  This city, about forty miles east of Ephesus, has been called the “city of compromise.” The Laodiceans tried to be neutral regarding their faith, giving no real commitment to following Christ.

Laodicea was a place of great wealth with a prosperous center of banking. It manufactured clothing made from the wool of black sheep raised in the area. It was a major center of commerce situated on trade routes.

It was a place of science and literature. It boasted in having an excellent medical school. In fact, the Laodiceans developed a salve using Phrygian powder which cured eye diseases.

Although the Laodiceans boasted in their wealth, fine black wool garments, and salve to cure eye diseases, Jesus condemned them. He said they were really miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

They were spiritually poor in the midst of their worldly wealth.

Jesus suggested they buy from him gold made pure in fire so they could be truly rich. Buy from him white clothes so they could be clothed and cover their shameful nakedness. Buy from him medicine to put on their eyes so they could truly see.

The Laodiceans built an aqueduct which brought cold water from the mountains. By the time it reached them, the water was lukewarm. Likewise, in a valley nearby were hot springs. As boiling water was brought to the city, it cooled on the way and was only moderately warm.

Neither hot nor cold.

I like ice cold tea. I don’t like it once the ice melts in my glass. I also like hot tea. I do not enjoy it once it cools and grows lukewarm. Perhaps you can say the same about food or drinks you enjoy. We want them one way or the other. Not something straddling the middle.

So I wonder. Are we living In Laodicea? Are we walking around like we’ve got it all together? Saying we’re rich. We don’t need anyone’s help, including God’s.

As was true with those living in Laodicea, it is true with us today. A life of compromise and lack of commitment to Christ does not appeal to Jesus. It makes him want to spit.

Neither hot nor cold.

Unaware of spiritual poverty and blindness.

Clothed in darkness, not light.

I don’t believe any of us want Jesus to spit us out because we’ve let the fire that once burned bright for him grow dim. Perhaps we need to get rid of lukewarm attitudes and turn up the heat in our commitment and relationship with Jesus, so our eyes can truly see how he desires us to live.

And then live it.

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 I know what you do, that you are not hot or cold. I wish that you were hot or cold!  But because you are lukewarm—neither hot, nor cold—I am ready to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich, and I have become wealthy and do not need anything.’ But you do not know that you are really miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.  I advise you to buy from me gold made pure in fire so you can be truly rich. Buy from me white clothes so you can be clothed and so you can cover your shameful nakedness. Buy from me medicine to put on your eyes so you can truly see.

 “I correct and punish those whom I love. So be eager to do right, and change your hearts and lives. Revelation 3:15-19 (NCV)

 

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Get On Our Knees and Pray

In Billy Graham’s devotional book, Hope for Each Day, he mentions a time at the early beginnings of the formation of the United States of America when our founding fathers prayed during a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The purpose was the ratification of the constitution.

The delegates to the Congress became angry with each other, and because they could not resolve their conflicts or agree on anything at all, the delegates gathered their belongings and headed for the door.

Reminds me of the attitude children have when they can’t get there way. If I don’t get my way, then I’ll take my ball and go home.

Fortunately for our country, one man had enough sense to offer the correct solution.

Benjamin Franklin spoke to the delegates. It is reported these were his words.

Wait a minute, gentlemen. This country was conceived in faith in God. Many of us here believe in prayer. Let us get upon our knees and pray to Almighty God and see whether God shall give to us the answer to our dilemma.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention put aside their differences, and for the good of our country surrendered their egos to God, got on their knees and prayed. The Constitution of the United States of America was the result of their prayers.

We have no lesser challenge today.

God still sits on his throne. He still listens to the prayers of his children. He still reigns supreme and is the Lord who answers prayer.

As Christ-followers we have the unbelievable privilege to approach the throne of God with our petitions and thanksgivings, yet I fear too many of us take that privilege too lightly.

As a collective of believers, we can come boldly before the throne of God and offer our requests on behalf of our country.

Let’s not be like those who decided nothing could be done, so we’re going to walk away. Instead, let’s humble ourselves, seek God’s face, acknowledge he is the One in control, not us, turn from our wicked ways, yield our selfish pride and will to God’s sovereignty, present our requests, leave them at God’s feet, and watch how he works among our midst.

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Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Stress Of Life

The stress of life can be good or bad. It isn’t the stress itself that is either harmful or beneficial. It is what we do with that stress that matters.

There is a Greek Proverb that says, “You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.”

During the archery class I took my sophomore year of college, we strung and unstrung our bows before and after each session on the archery range. To some that may seem like a waste of time, especially since classes followed ours that would use the same bows, but this routine had its purpose.

If the bows were left strung, they might break under the constant stress it took to bend the bow and keep the string taut. While this amount of stress could be detrimental if left unstrung between users, this same stress served the necessary purpose of allowing the string on the bow to be tight enough to shoot a straight arrow.

The stress of life behaves in the same way. Too much, and we might break either emotionally or physically. Too little, and we may not be able to work at top efficiency.

One of my psychology professors explained stress as being similar to the strings on a violin. Too much stress, the strings will break. Not enough stress, the strings won’t perform as they should.

When we encounter certain potentially dangerous situations, like a child dashing out in front of our car, the stress produces an adrenaline rush that causes us to avoid the child. That’s good stress.

More times than not, though, we carry stressful things around with us, allowing them to keep us worried, anxious, and unproductive. For me, I tighten the muscles through my shoulders and jaw when overly stressed. When I sense that happening, I have to tell myself to relax and unstring the bow.

If we constantly put ourselves in situations we know will create unhealthy levels of stress, perhaps we need to re-evaluate those areas and look for ways to unstring the bow.

One habit I’m trying to rid myself of is allowing stressful scenarios to keep running around and around in my brain; worrying about things I cannot control. Instead, I need to recognize them for what they are and do what I can do; turn them over to God.

How do you manage your stressful situations?

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Give all your cares to the Lord and He will give you strength. He will never let those who are right with Him be shaken. Psalm 55:22 (NLV)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Learning To Be Still

Learning to be still is difficult for me. Perhaps it is difficult for you as well.

I don’t think I’m ADD. Maybe. But probably not. I know I’m definitely not ADHD. Not with my low energy level. If I’m not ADD, then why do I have so much trouble being still and content with doing only one thing at a time?

In the 70s, I remember multitasking came into vogue. You weren’t productive unless you could accomplish not just two things at once, but three or more.

As the decades passed, this multitasking business seemed to worsen.

When I taught elementary school, you for sure better be able to multitask an extreme number of things at the same time. If not, you were sunk. Never to rise above the foaming waves until the school year ended.

You’ve seen pictures of plates balanced on poles? Yeah. Sort of like that. Drop one and they all fall.

I need to work on learning to be still before God. I need to learn to listen to God without talking to him. I need to sit before God with no agenda or plan. I need to learn how to clear the clutter in my brain so I can hear from God when he speaks.

Instead, I allow my thoughts to bounce all over the place. I fill in the quiet space with prayer, petition, or praise. I think of things I need to do before I can be still. Things I must get out of the way so I can be still without feeling guilty about it.

Often in our world people who produce a product every waking minute, or believe they need some physical sign to show how they spent their time, are somehow considered more worthy than those who do not.

Why is that?

My worth is not dependent on how much I accomplish in any given day. It is not dependent on how much product I churn out. Nor is it dependent on how many good works I do. Those things do not define who I am.

Nope.

My worth is in the fact I am a child of God. Joint heir with Jesus Christ. Beloved.

Doesn’t get much better than that.

What about you? Are you able to block out the world so you can be still and know God without any input on your part? No praying. No singing. Just listening.

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Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God. I am the God above all the nations, and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth. Psalm 46:10 (TPT)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Who Do We Imitate?

During a re-enactment of Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico, I couldn’t help but notice a small boy and his grandfather. Precious is the word that comes to mind. It seemed to me this little boy desired to imitate his grandfather. This in turn caused me to wonder who I desire to imitate.

This grandfather and grandson clothed themselves alike and appeared inseparable throughout the entire weekend. It appeared the little boy dearly loved and trusted his grandfather, and desired to be wherever the grandfather went. Even as the re-enactment wound down, the little boy looked to his grandfather and imitated him.

Come to find out, the boy’s grandfather, mother, and aunt were re-enactors with the Mexican cavalry. His father was part of the Texian cavalry. I wonder which side the little boy will represent in re-enactments when he grows older. I’m guessing he’ll stick with Grandpa.

The Bible tells us those who are baptized into Christ are clothed with Christ. We are children of God through our faith in Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-27)

Since we are clothed with Christ, our desire should be to follow wherever he leads. Those of us who call ourselves Christ followers are to be imitators of Christ. We are to follow his example. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

In life we might have people who imitate us. When they do, I wonder if imitating us leads them to imitate Christ? Does Jesus shine through our robes of righteousness? Is there proof in our words and actions which show we follow in Christ’s footsteps? Are we pointing others to Jesus?

As I prepared this blog post, I received an email from a dear friend. She mentioned posts she recently read on a social media site. After I reigned in my anger over the posts, my heart grieved.

You see, the hateful social media posts were not written by someone you’d expect would write such things. They were written by those we both know who wear the name Christian.

Being a Christ follower means being an imitator of Christ in EVERY area of our lives. Not just in our Go-to-Church-on-Sunday, or Go-to-Bible-Study-on-Wednesday lives.

So I ask each of us to take a look at our lives. Is there evidence to show who we imitate, which side we fight on? Could those who look at us tell whether we fight on the Lord’s side, or the world’s?

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Follow God’s example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Ephesians  5:1 (TLB)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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