Enemy Invasion-A Fresh Perspective

The Garden of Eden was a peaceful place. Everything was there that the first couple needed to survive and thrive. Adam (man) had been given dominion over the earth and the animals. He had named them all–the only thing lacking was a suitable helper for Adam. When God noticed this, He formed a woman from man’s rib for his suitable helper. By the end of the Sixth day, everything had been set into place for a successful first family. On the seventh day, God rested; instituting a day of rest for mankind.

Enter the Enemy

“Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

There is always something coming along to shake up the status quo! In chapter 3 of Genesis the enemy enters. He comes in slyly and stirs up some trouble. “Did God really say?” How was this even possible? Why would such a creature even exist and what possessed him to question the Creator? What did he hope to accomplish?

Only God Himself has all the answers to the questions we could possibly ask about this intrusion into the peaceful garden. Chapter 3 brings out all kinds of questions and the more you ask, the more that seem to come to mind. Here are some of my observations about his entrance and tactics:

  • The enemy is cunning – definition: artful subtlety and deceptive; exhibiting ingenuity, delicately pleasing, pretty or cute; adeptness in execution or performance. thefreedictionary.com
  • The enemy was a wild animal
  • The enemy used words to inquire and incite – Did God really say…

Results:

  1. Self-doubt – Eve: Did I hear God correctly?
  2. Questioned her understanding – you surely will not die but will be like God.
  3. Called God’s goodness into question – implying that God’s holding out on you.
  4. Usurps the peaceful balance that was found in the garden.
  5. Insights fear – fear of missing out; fear of being less than; fear of God’s reaction/rejection
  6. Stirs up blame and defensiveness.
  7. Causes strife and disruption of unity.

First, the serpent called into question God’s Words by cunningly asking “did God really say…?”. This was most likely designed to call into question either God’s precise words or Eve’s understanding or lack of understanding of God’s words establishing doubt in her mind. (Most battles are fought first in the mind.)  Eve repeated back to him what God had said to them.

Next, the serpent directly contradicted the result associated with eating the fruit. Maybe knowingly or not that the direct results would not be death but regardless; the end result would be sin which would ultimately result in death. Then the serpent spoke truth – the fruit consumed would make them aware of the knowledge of good and evil; what he did not tell her was that once aware, you are now responsible for consequences of your behavior on a whole other level. If you know good and do not do it; it is a sin. If you know it is evil, and yet you do it; you are also guilty of sin.

Results of sin:

Guilt

Shame

Consequences

Broken Relationships with God

Broken Relationships with man

The enemy of God always seeks to bring into question God’s provision, His protection, and His goodness. He goes after our mind subtlely, trying to bring everything we think we know and understand about God into question. Our mind is the enemy’s primary target, and that is why we are told many times in Proverbs to seek wisdom and get understanding. His goal is to destroy our relationship with our Creator and Father by disrupting our faith in God’s goodness, His protection, His provision, God’s faithfulness and anything else that we place our confidence in where God is concerned. His desire to steal our faith, turn it to doubt and incite fear; to tear down love and stir up division and hate; to destroy any peace and unity in our lives; encourage blame and finger pointing rather that finding common ground and working together toward common goals and finding unity.

Best News Ever

Jesus Christ defeated the enemy of our souls more than 2000 years ago on the hills of Jerusalem. His blood and His resurrection have given us the victory and the power to overcome every single attempt that the enemy throws our way!

In Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness!

Lord, I pray that you will grant each of us wisdom and understanding that we need as we travel through life. May Your peace that passes understanding surround Your children and Your grace – which is sufficient surround us and be our companion. May we never lose sight of the wonder of Who You Are – for You are the Great I AM. No enemy can stand up to You, and You are always with Your kids. Your Word says You never leave us and You never forsake us. You have gone before us, and You walk beside us. Even when our paths take us to places and situations we do not understand, and we do not like, You are more than able to take those situations and over time use them to produce good in our lives. They may not feel good right now, but somehow You have a plan to redeem those things just as You did with Job troubles and with Christ’s persecution and death. Teach us to trust in Your goodness even when we can not see it with our own eyes. In the mighty and steadfast name of Jesus Christ! Amen

Grace and Peace be with you!

Are We Really Who We Think We Are?

 

Have you ever considered how we develop our worldview?  The formative years of our lives are considered to be between birth and age five. What we are exposed to and taught during early childhood has great influence on who we become, how we see ourselves, and our motivation in life. That, however, does not mean we are limited by those influences and mindsets; yet is can be where we get stuck in our thinking.

In John 3, Nicodemus, a prominent leader of the Pharisees, came to Jesus at night to ask Jesus about His teaching on second birth.  He is seeking to understand something physically, “how can I again enter into my mother’s womb to be born again?”  Rebirth is not a physical phenomena, Nicodemus is looking from an earthy perspective not from a heavenly one.  Jesus explains:

“Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” John 3:5-8 (MSG)  

     Jesus describes rebirth as our submitting to God and His original plan for us. He is speaking of us placing our faith and our lives in Jesus Christ; accepting His death, burial and resurrection as the payment for our short-comings, mistakes and rebellion against God and His Word. Salvation covers our faults by Jesus sacrifice on the cross. His resurrection conquers death and gives us new life. When we make the faith decision, we then become part of the Kingdom of God. We are now born from above. But what does that really mean?

Imagine for a moment growing up in a very small village in a meager household with only one parent, an aunt, or a caregiver.  Suddenly, when you’re almost grown, two people come into your life and claim they are your long lost parents. You were taken from them when you were quit small. It is apparent that they have been searching for you, they love you, and missed you very much. They sweep you back to this grand palace with everything you could need at your disposial.  Might it take a while before you actually are comfortable with your new situation and what is available to you? Are truly ready to step into your new role? Are you up to the challenge of what is expected and how you are to act in your new role? Would it be east to fall back into the ways of your old life? How do you break the old mindset? Can you fit into this new place?  First, you have to want it. Even so, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, it is a transforming process.

Stepping into a new role effectively requires a new mindset; a renewing of one’s thinking and perspective, otherwise we will be less than effective in our new life.  We must know who we are and what is expected of us.  Mastering this requires us to be intentional, surrendered and patient because it is a process. It is possible as believers in Christ, for us to be quick to enjoy the benefits of being part of the Kingdom; yet be much slower to renew our thinking and become Kingdom thinkers. We must desire and seek Him and His wisdom. As we walk by His Spirit, we begin to look more Christ-like and be transformed from glory to glory.

“To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”            2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NABRE)

God has call us kings and priests and ambassadors. (Revelation 1:6) (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) How do we renew our thinking to think and act from the Kingdom perspective in order to represent Him will?  When in a pinch, do we respond as Jesus would rather than from our nature? Have we learned to respond in love, rather than defend ourselves or retaliate when pressed?  Most of us know that His Word is part of the transforming answer but do we understand the Holy Spirit’s roll in the transformation? Do we believe 1 Corinthians 2:16? We can have the mind of Christ in our situations!

For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?  But we have the mind of Christ. “ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (HCSB)

Lord, give us grace, strength and desire to: Make our own attitude like that of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 2:5)  and “Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:15)

 

Well Placed Confidence

This morning I woke up still trying to unravel a puzzle. Most Sunday evenings, a couple of friends and I get together to fellowship and study God’s Word. Currently we are working our way through the Book of Ezekiel and are focused on idolatry and Israel’s problems with it and punishment for it. Prophecy can be a interesting study but It can also be very challenging. As we read the commentary on this particular passage, the section about original meaning was helpful and clear but as we read the sections bridging context and application for today we were perplexed by some of the statements we read. Perhaps because we were looking at it from this side of the cross and his focus was more from just the Ezekiel context. Next, I opened my Bible to Psalm 49; captioned “Misplaced Trust in Wealth” (HCSB). The NASB captions it “Confidence in God Rather Than Riches”.

Just what is it that we humans are tempted to put our trust in? Could it be that we are trusting in something other than in God; even those of us who confess Jesus and profess to be Christians? When something comes up, small or large, do we first try to fix it ourselves before seeking Him and His wisdom for the situation?  Maybe you haven’t, but I have. At one point in my thirties, I was suffering with some undiagnosed  joint pain and walking at that time was pretty painful. We were running low on groceries and I had a family to feed. Shopping was imperative and I had to go.  The only parking spots were about thirty-five cars out from the door. I had a nudging that I should pray. I ignored it at first thinking that’s silly to bother God with this. It seems strange now when I am not suffering the malady that I would have considered this small.  Over-working the joints at that time had the potential put me in bed for a day or two afterwards, yet still I considered it small and not worthy of bothering God with prayer.

I repeatedly circled and nothing was available.  As I thought of walking that far, as well as around the rather large store; I became concerned about being able to accomplish the task at hand. I felt that nudge again, so I prayed driving down the lane. I proceeded up the next lane. As I rounded one more time, back-up lights switched on and the very first spot became available and it wasn’t a handicapped spot. That day proved to me once and for all that God is concerned about even the things we consider small in our lives.

Through Paul, God tells us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:6-7 NJKV 

     Where do we place our confidence? In ourself? Our family or friends? Our financial standing? Our position or lack of position? When struggles, trials or troubles reach our way, where do we tend to turn first? Wisdom tells us to seek God first; pray. How often do we run to Him first? In light of these questions, the next one that comes to mind is: If God is not the first place we run as believers; is it possible that the place we choose to run may actually be an idol in our life? I have heard it said anything that we exalt over God in our life or anything that keeps us from placing Him first in our life is an idol. If that is true, is seeking to solve our problems ourself outside of prayer and His wisdom for the situation idolatry? Hmmm, Selah. (pause and reflect)

How about when someone does something and the gut reaction is to call a trusted friend rather than hit my knees? Or just react with a knee-jerk reaction? Oh, I guarantee that I have been in each of these places more than once. Yet as I study wisdom as defined by scripture, I am challenged to run not walk into a quiet place and seek God first. I am not saying it is easy or convenient but I will say that when I manage to follow through and do it things turn out a great deal better.

It is far from easy to hold your tongue in a volatile situation and say let me get back to you so that you can take time to seek His face about a situation. Nor is it easy to have the mind to not panic when you get some really bad news. I vividly remember one sunny afternoon answering my phone. It was my daughter, who had only been driving for a short time. She had an accident on a winding, hilly road fifteen minutes away from our home. She had run off the road and hit a tree. A young lady a couple of years older came along and saw the wreckage. She stopped and let my daughter sit in her car until I arrived.

That call sucked the breath right out of me and all I could do was pray! I had to get to my baby girl and fast! I didn’t know if I could drive I was shaking so badly. God got me there quickly and safely. Thankfully, other than some bruises and scrapes, she was fine. Those who saw the car damage were amazed she walked away with little injury.  The car had actually jumped a big culvert rather than careening into it. A tree finally stopped the car.  The scar in that tree remains even to this day! God’s protection and provision was very evident. He got me to the scene safely and even before the officer arrived to question my very shy daughter. It is easy to run straight to God when you are in crisis mode but will we choose to seek His wisdom more routinely? Will we seek to make it more and more a part of every day life?

Just a few wisdom scriptures to ponder today:

“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” 

Psalm 90:12

“The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel: That people may know wisdom and discipline, may understand intelligent sayings; May receive instruction in wise conduct, in what is right, just and fair” Proverbs 1:1-3

Proverbs 2

“Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold.” Proverbs 3:13-14

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!

 For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?” Romans 11:33-34

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” Ephesians 1:7-9

May wisdom and understanding be ours!

 

Abundant Wisdom-Only One True Source

Greetings!

I just Googled wisdom and who knew there are “about 230,000,000 results for wisdom in 0.32 seconds”! From dictionary definitions to blogs to Psychology Today, the web is full of  information on wisdom. Everyone has an opinion. One article gives us the thirty-two key dimensions of critical thinking. You can find information on wisdom from many differing religious views, from scientific views, from the educational community and almost any view point you could possible hold. Can you imagine researching wisdom by this method? Suppose you are truly looking for wisdom in a particular situation. You could spend several lifetimes searching and never get through all of the information if you are depending of the web because more and more information is added daily. It was exhausting just reading a few of the things available.

I ask myself:

  • Is this  wise use of my time?
  • Did I learn anything beneficial?
  • Was it worth the time I spent; effort in proportion to outcome?
  • What percentage of my time was wasted?

James 1:5-6 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Most of us have times we are stumped and in desperate need of wisdom and often need it “yesterday”. The last resort many times even for believers is to ask God; to earnestly seek Him in prayer for the very thing we are standing in need of. Whether we think it is too small to bother God with,  that He is too far away, or that He has much bigger things to deal with; often we just do not seek His help. Sometimes we are just too self-sufficient, too stubborn or just lack the faith to take God at His Word. Yet James if very clear in it’s promise; God’s promise! Ask Him and do not doubt, when you lack wisdom. He gives generously (simply, openly, frankly, sincerely-Strong’s G574-BlueLetterBible); and without reproach or shame.

Solomon made the choice to ask for wisdom because of his young age, for understanding and the ability to discern between right and wrong in order to judge rightly when it came to God’s people.  (1 Kings 3)  Just as James promises us wisdom when we ask; God was pleased to grant Solomon’s request. in fact, God was so pleased that in addition He gave Solomon riches, glory and a long life and promised there would never be another among the kings like Solomon all of his days.(verses 10-16)  Then Solomon’s wisdom was tested…beginning in verse 16 conflict arose. Two women living in the same house, three days after one had given birth the other also gave birth. There were no others in the house to witness what happened next. One of the women’s son died during the night because she laid on it and she switched her baby for the other, leaving that lady to think it was her child that died. After closely looking at the baby, she realized that it was not her child but the baby of the first woman. The dispute was taken before the king for resolution. what came next though quite harsh sounding was actually quite genius and a great example of God giving Solomon discernment and wisdom. The king declared, “divide the child into and give each woman half!” all the while knowing that the true mother of the child would never agree to that arrangement but would rather give her child up altogether than to allow that child to be killed and divided between them. The mother who had lost her child had nothing more to loose and agreed with the King, the child should be divided. By this declaration, it became clear who the mother of the living child was and he was returned to her. Justice was served.

Depending on the translation there are at least two hundred and twelve different scriptures on wisdom throughout the Bible. That number increases if you include similar words like wise, understanding, learning, justice, insight,knowledge, reason, etc. Even so, it is no where near as overwhelming as 230,000,000 entries and you can bet the wisdom you find within the covers of the Bible will be much more helpful than what you find any other place.

That being said, here are a few more words of wisdom that I have uncovered today, I hope that they will bless you!

  • Job 28:22-24   “Abaddon and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a report of it.’ “God understands its way, And He knows its place. “For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.”
  • Job 28:26-28   when He established a limit for the rain and a path for the lightning, He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it.”
  • Job 28:28  “He said to mankind, “The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.”

  • Psalm 37: 29-31   “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it permanently. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just. The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.”

  •  Psalm 90: 11-12    ” Who understands the power of Your anger? Your wrath matches the fear that is due You. Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Lord—how long? Turn and have compassion on Your servants.”

  •  Psalm 104:23-25  “Man goes out to his work and to his labor until evening. How countless are Your works, Lord!  In wisdom You have made them all;

    the earth is full of Your creatures. Here is the sea, vast and wide,
    teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.”

    Proverbs 2:1-9  “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding,
     if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity so that He may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of His loyal followers. Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity—every good path. For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart.”

     May 2016 be a year of seeking true wisdom from above and may God’s goodness, mercy and grace be apparent all along the journey!

 

It Started in the Garden

The search for wisdom is an age old search. In fact, we are told it began in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 tells us, ” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” NABRE   The search for wisdom is apparently as old as mankind itself.  His Word tells us that “He (God) has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB  Is it possible that our need to learn and grow, to seek wisdom, is innate to us? Could it be that this is just a part of that eternity that God has placed in our heart? A yearning to know more about God? To seek and understand Him? It certainly seems reasonable to me. God created us for relationship; with Him and with others and if there is one thing needed in relationships, I submit to you it is wisdom! Wisdom when to speak and when to keep quiet; wisdom in decisions that must be made; wisdom to know and understand each other; and wisdom to know and understand ourselves.

Where does wisdom originate? According to scripture, wisdom or more specifically the spirit of wisdom comes from God. “You are to instruct all the skilled craftsmen, whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, to make Aaron’s garments for consecrating him to serve Me as priest. Exodus 28:3  Also, “I have filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft. Exodus 31:3 (Also, Exodus 35:31; 36:1 & 2)

Wisdom is sought after, it’s not automatic. We must desire and seek after wisdom. Here’s an interesting example. When King David, known as the man after God’s on heart, died; his son, Solomon began his reign as king. One night God appeared to Solomon in a dream telling him He, God, would give Solomon whatever he asked. This was Solomon’s reply: ““You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. Now, Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act— I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:6-9

God was very pleased at Solomon. Not only was he granted wisdom and discernment beyond any man prior to Solomon or after; but because of his unselfish request, God also gave  him riches, glory and a long life. Not only proving God as the source of wisdom but also wisdom is quite important to God! There are many things recorded about the great wisdom of Solomon through his reign.

Job tells us this about wisdom: “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life. Wisdom and strength belong to God; counsel and understanding are His.” Job 12:12-13  HCSB  “When He established a limit for the rain and a path for the lightning, He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it. He said to mankind, “The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.” Job 28:26-28 HCSB

Psalm 111:9-10   “He has sent redemption to His people. He has ordained His covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.”  

We learned with Solomon and Job that wisdom is a gift from God and begins with the “fear of the Lord”. What is the fear of the Lord?  The original word for fear in this verse is yir ‘ah, meaning fear, terror, awesome, terror (object causing fear), respect, reverence, piety, and revered. It’s root word, yare, is an adjective meaning fearing, reverent, afraid.  Basically, God wants us to have an understanding of who He is; His sovereignty, character, goodness, and power. Our job is to view Him appropriately for who He is and have reverence and respect for who He is and consequently see our selves in comparison to His greatness and might. In our culture that is often hard to do. We have been programed over many years to think of everyone as equals and no one greater than another. In a democracy, we are encouraged to think this way.  Even in the Word we are told: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28  We are equal in Christ, but we are not equal to Christ or to God.

If you are in a conflict of opinion, action or ideas with an equal, compromise or a meeting of the minds may be in order; however, if it is with a superior, most likely the superior will prevail because of his or her place of authority.  Typically, authority comes because of a measure of wisdom that has been gained bringing recognition to our abilities in a particular area. God, as the Creator and Designer is the ultimate authority and expert. Wisdom belongs to Him and it comes from Him, there is no greater authority; therefore with great respect and reverence our job is to acknowledge His position and seek His wisdom.  His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Blessings, Grace and Peace to you!

Psalm 90:12                                                                                                                                                    “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”