8-12-17 Rev Fest
Genesis 1:26-28– Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF GOD
Genesis 3:4-5– But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. ALREADY WERE LIKE GOD, BUT THE DEVIL GOT THEM TO FORGET THIS TRUTH
Philippians 2:9-10– Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. GLORY TO JESUS.
Isaiah 43:7– Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.
Romans 6:13 – Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.
Colossians 3:10-11 – and have put on the new selfwho is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
Isaiah 64:8– But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.
Isaiah 29:16– You have turned things around, as if the potter were the same as the clay. How can what is made say about its maker,” He didn’t make me“? How can what is formed say about the one who formed it,” He doesn’t understand what he’s doing“?
Ephesian 2:10– For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.
One of the biggest spiders I have seen this warm season made a nice home at the arborvitaes. Every day I would see this huge web constructed and the large spider just sitting there. I tried to keep my distance. He hung around for days. Eventually, we didn’t see him anymore. I thought we were safe. Little did we know, the spider found a way into my sister’s car. While she was driving to work one morning, the spider decided to interrupt her drive. She shared with me this great excitement. I’ve been there; it’s not fun.
The evils of this world like to hang around, lurking around just as this spider. We often think we are safe because we keep our distance. But just like the avoidance of the spider lurking about, so there can be trouble if you don’t address the nearby evils. When there are temptations lurking, when our friends or family are knee deep in sin, or when we start to even allow sin to take residence in our homes—this keeps the door wide open for the devil to do his work. The devil doesn’t sneak through the front door with a bright neon sign announcing his coming. He sneaks through the cracks. He enters when you least expect it. Remember, he is clever.
We are not always going to be prepared for an attack. We are human—we have our good days and our not-so-good days. To be best prepared, consistency in our walk with Christ is very important. Put on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6), and remember that this is a daily need. Continue to surround yourself with that which will keep your eyes on Jesus (see Philippians 4:8). Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Spend time with godly friends. Remember, the Spirit of God will help see you through to victory.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4 [NASB]
In 1 Timothy, we read a warning against false teaching. Part of this warning is against false doctrines. It also mentions myths and endless genealogies. We are warned against the things as they take us away from the “stewardship of God’s work, which is by faith” (NIV). Paul makes it clear that the aim, the purpose is “love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith” (NLT).
Too often, we get caught up in endless discussions about things that pull us away from a true relationship with Jesus. The devil loves when we get ourselves distracted. While we are distracted, we are handicapped. While we are focused on things that aren’t really that important, we find ourselves missing the most important One.
Today, remember Who you are meant to fix your eyes upon. Do not let the endless discussions distract you from God’s purpose for your life. Do not let these meaningless things keep you from living a life of faith in God. You were made for more!
“Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.” – 1 Timothy 1:4 [NLT]
This morning was a foggy one. As we ventured out on our normal walk, it was difficult to see up ahead. This would not be such an issue; however, Max has post-traumatic stress disorder. If he encounters another dog, he sometimes gets very fearful and the situation escalates. This is not normally an issue on morning walks as no one else is crazy enough to walk their dogs so early. However, every so often there is a chance encounter. Being able to see, allows me to prevent Max from having to undergo a stressful situation. It is hard to properly prepare for something you cannot see.
As believers, we are commanded to be prepared. Paul tells us to, “Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers” (Ephesians 6:18). Peter warns us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This coming week, I will be preaching about the devil and his demons. Some people believe it’s unnecessary to discuss this topic. Whether it be fear, disinterest, or something else—the truth is we need to stay alert, and we need to know what we need to stay alert against.
The devil has been defeated. He has already been condemned (John 16:11). Victory is with Jesus. Even so, the devil is the prince of this world and he is still out and about trying to spread his lies, because he is the father of lies (John 14:30, John 8:44). We need to remember our battle is not of this world (Ephesians 6:12). In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). Put on your full armor of God and pray continually. Do not let the fog prevent you from knowing what is Truth and what is a lie.
I love Spring. I enjoy opening the windows and letting in the fresh air. I enjoy seeing the sun brighten up the sky during our morning walks. I love watching the flowers begin to bloom and the robins seeking out food. One thing that I cannot stand is the invasion of the ants.
Ants are clever and annoying. It is interesting how one day there are no ants and then the next day, BOOM! It is not like you leave the door open. How do they come? It’s as if they slip through the cracks. Slowly one slips through and notes that there’s a good area to investigate. The ant calls for more ants. Before you know it, there are ants galore, and it demands a trip to the local store to get some ant bait to remedy the situation.
No matter how much you try to prepare for the ants, it seems like they come through the cracks. They are not sneaking in right before your eyes. They enter another way. In the same way, as we try to prepare for the attacks from the devil, we find that he sneaks through the cracks. It’s a gradual process. It’s a process that you often don’t see coming. Then it happens. BOOM! Spiritual attack. Today, pray for the Spirit to strengthen you. Read Ephesians 6:10-20. Dress in your armor and pray, pray, pray!
Every year, there is the annual ant season. I get out the ant baits and liquid gel a friend recommended. In a few days, everything is back to normal. But before this happens, there is a time period when the ants come and take the bait. This morning, as I was checking to be sure things were flowing smoothly, my daughter asked me about how the ant bait works. I explained the process.
As I was explaining everything, I considered the plight of the ants. An ant grabs the stuff from the bait contraption and carries it back to his home. He shares this with his family and friends. Together, they fall. It’s a simple process that works each year during ant season. But it’s also a process that is played out with humans.
We, like the ants, can take the bad bait and carry it to our homes, which results in destruction. It is sad, but it happens often. We carry home our acts of sin. We carry home lies the devil has provided. We carry home false teaching. We carry home a lot of things that can cause problems. Today, take back your house. Consider what’s coming into your house. Is it right? Is it pure? Is it truth? Don’t allow the devil to get a foothold.
“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.” – 3 John 1:11 [NLT]
Once as I was reading Matthew 16 aloud, my daughter advised me that verse 23 was her new favorite verse. In this verse, we read, “Get behind me, Satan,” which she thought would be a great thing to say to Satan to tell him to back off. There was a brief pause after she spoke, and then I advised her that Jesus was not even talking to Satan; he was talking to Peter. She was amazed. Why was Peter called Satan?
Yes, Jesus spoke like this to Satan as well. When we look at Matthew 4, we read of Jesus’ time in the Wilderness. After the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit led Him into the Wilderness. Satan tempted Him in three different ways, each way resulting in a response with God’s Word. Satan tempted Him with power, prestige, possessions, and pleasure – the same temptations we face. When He was tempted to bow down and worship Satan, He responded, “Be gone, Satan,” which sounds a lot like, “Get behind me, Satan.”
The reason Peter heard these harsh words, “get behind me, Satan,” was because he was speaking about going against God’s Divine plan. Jesus had just spoken about what was to come—His death—and Peter was against this plan. When Peter heard what Jesus said, his response was “far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (v. 22 ESV). He couldn’t understand what needed to be done, and when he rejected God’s plan, he became a stumbling block.
When I read today’s verse, I consider Jesus speaking this to you and I as we reject the plans of God. Are there moments when we become a stumbling block? Are there moments when Jesus is saying to us, “Get behind me, Satan,” because we are not walking the course set before us? Let us continue to dig deeper into His Word, to walk closely with Jesus, constant in prayer, so that we can keep our steps aligned on the path of God’s plan, and by doing so, may we never be a stumbling block to God’s plan.
“But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” – Matthew 16:23 [ESV]
“Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”” – Matthew 4:10 [ESV]
During one of our evening walks, Marci started to bark like crazy. She saw something dark moving at a nearby house. She went into barking dog mode and it was hard to get her to calm down. Funny enough, she was barking at a black plastic trash bag that was blowing because of the great winds passing through the area. It did not matter how many times I tried to tell her it was fine, she continued fixated on what she thought was an attack.
I see a lot of “little dogs” going crazy at things observed—many times misconceptions, many times judgmentally rooted. The “little dogs” are those people in a church who point out what everyone is doing wrong. A big spoon of legalism is dished out. Oftentimes this is seen between people who have grown up in the church. A person from one denomination, raised with certain traditions, barks at someone else who has been taught that other traditions were more important, or that their traditions are the “right way to do things.” Possibly the barking dog syndrome is a result of someone becoming puffed up.
The Bible talks a lot about unity of the Body. The reason so much time is spent on this topic is because the devil will use anything to try to plant and promote division. The church can often get off course when Jesus is not the most important focus. Whether we are at church, at home, at work, at school—wherever we are at—Jesus should be the main thing. As well, if Jesus is the main thing, we should do whatever we can to promote the unity of the Body. This means the little dog syndrome should stop. Instead, let us love God and love others. May we build up instead of tearing down. The bag in the wind is not something on which to fixate.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 [NIV]
This time of year the mornings are a bit darker. I make note of the spiders beginning webs on my evening walk with the dogs. My hope is to duck each web on the morning walk. I cannot stand the feeling that follows when you walk through a spider web. Instantly you become a ninja warrior, arms flailing in all directions trying to remove the sticky, gross web. Then you feel like something has to be crawling on you somewhere so you continue to move your hands and arms to search. Minutes later you are still feeling on edge. What if there is a spider on me? Do you see a spider on me?
Some mornings I underestimate the spider. I think by ducking a certain amount or by moving in a certain direction that I will miss the web. That spider won’t get me. But I am wrong. The spider’s web was bigger than imagined. Then the “definitely not a black belt” part of me takes action. Sadly, we also many times underestimate the devil. Flailing arms do no good when that happens.
In Genesis, we are told that the serpent was “MORE CRAFTY than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made” (3:1 ESV). Now if the devil is more crafty than all others, it is therefore important that we protect ourselves and put on our full armor of God. We cannot duck and dodge. We need to be armored up—protected with each piece of armor. One piece won’t work. A few pieces won’t cover us. We need to be fully armored. Today, armor up. Tomorrow, armor up. Each day, armor up.
“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” – Ephesians 6:10-18 [MSG]