Monochrome

Destroyer

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Satan’s deceptive cunning is highlighted by Paul’s statement that he becomes an angel of light, disguising evil as good (2 Cor. 11:14).  His destructive ferocity comes out in the description of him as a roaring, devouring lion (1 Pet. 5:8) and as a dragon (Rev. 12:9).  As he was Christ’s sworn foe (Matt. 4:1-11; 16:23; Luke 4:13; John 14:30; cf. Luke 22:3, 53), so now he is the Christian’s, always probing for weaknesses, misdirecting strengths, and undermining faith, hope, and character (Luke 22:32; 2 Cor. 2:11; 11:3-15; Eph. 6:16).  He should be taken seriously, for malice and cunning make him fearsome; yet not so seriously as to provoke abject terror of him, for he is a beaten enemy.  Satan is stronger than we are, but Christ has triumphed over Satan (Matt. 12:29), and Christian’s will triumph over him too if they resist him with the resources that Christ supplies (Eph. 6:10-13; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9-10, 1 John 4:4).

Acknowledging Satan’s reality, taking his opposition seriously, noting his strategy (anything, provided it be not biblical Christianity), and reckoning on always being at war with him-this is not a lapse into a dualistic concept of two gods, one good, one evil, fighting it out.  Satan is a creature, superhuman but not divine; he has much knowledge and power, but he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent; he can move around in ways that humans cannot, but he is not omnipresent; and he is an already defeated rebel, having no more power than God allows him and being destined for the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Commentary from, Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer, page 70.

“Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present.  With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past.  But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity.  It is far better to make them live in the Future.”  The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, page 76/chap. 15.

Made Perfect in Weakness

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In reading in the Bible in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 about something that tormented Paul, we see that although God did not remove Paul’s physical affliction, He promised to demonstrate His power in Paul.  The fact that God’s power shows up in weak people should give us courage.  When we are strong in abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God’s work on our own, and that leads to pride.

We must rely on God for our effectiveness rather than our own energy, effort, or talent.  Our weakness not only helps develop Christian character, it also deepens our worship; in admitting our weakness, we affirm God’s strength.  When we are weak, and when we allow God to fill us with his power, then we are stronger that we could ever be on our own.  We must depend on God-only His power makes us effective for Him and does work that has lasting value.  We must daily be mindful that God is our source for every need.

Give us this day

our daily bread.

Matthew 6:11

Commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional New Testament, May 14. Tyndale House Publishers (2003).

Stop Giving Up On People

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Consider the command in Ephesians 4:32 to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving.  When we carry resentment in our hearts, it’s like a little pocket of poison that pulls down our personalities and sours our spirits.  But when we’re kind and pleasant, it lightens our burdens and brightens our days-not to mention what it does for others.

God knows how we best function-He created us-and He’s an expert on the care of the soul.  Obedience not only glorifies Him, it blesses our lives.

Commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, May 10.

Becoming Whole

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Romans 8:33-39

Modern society has many “solutions” for unhappiness.  For example, a lot of people turn to prestige, love, or various substances to counteract emotional emptiness, but the happiness these things offer soon drains out again.  Only God’s transforming power can change someone with a broken spirit into a content Christ follower who understands his or her value.

To find wholeness, a person must start by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior-the sin that stands between him and God has to be removed.  Then, with the Holy Spirit’s strength, he will be able to find the courage to confront past disappointments, hurts, and sins that may have contributed to his feeling unworthy of the Lord’s love.

Someone with a sense of wholeness feels satisfied with life.  He knows he is loved, which leads to a good self-image and the ability to love others.  Hardship is inevitable in this world, but it doesn’t devastate him or cause him to grumble or cast blame.  Why?  Because the born-again believer knows that God has promised to work everything out for his good (Romans 8:28).

In contrast, someone who feels fragmented or empty often has the opposite experience.  He may look okay on the outside while struggling within.  This can be the case with Christians who haven’t learned to experience God’s love.  In fact, I (Charles Stanley) was a pastor for several decades before I really felt the Father’s love for me; only then did I become truly complete.

The Lord will make His love known to believers who ask.  And through it comes the wholeness they have been seeking.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, March 26, 2017.

Transformed, Not Conformed

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The Apostle Paul lived in an age when sensuality, the pursuit of pleasure, and rebellion against the Lord were prevalent.  In response, he wrote letters urging Christians not to follow in the ways of the world.  Like those early believers, we are to pursue godliness by…

Presenting our bodies to God.  Our total being-mind, will, physical body, personality, and emotions-are to be turned over to our heavenly Father (James 4:7).  Submitting ourselves to the Lord requires both a definite decision to give Him control and a daily commitment to remain under His authority.  By surrendering to Him, we position ourselves for godly living.

Becoming living sacrifices.  The Christian life is built around the concept of sacrifice.  Jesus left the perfection of heaven to dwell among a sinful people so He might reconcile us to God.  He offered up His life for our sake-to make payment for our sins (1 John 3:16) and to bring us into His family.  And as believers, we are to follow His example.  Paul called it a living sacrifice, because it is ongoing and repeated daily.

Life is full of options.  Many decisions involve a choice between following God’s way or our own.  Maturing Christians will increasingly sacrifice their own desires and embrace His will.

A life of godliness is characterized by a heart and mind bent toward the things of God.  Although we will live imperfectly, our aim should be to obey His will and please Him.

Commentary from In Touch Devotional, by Charles Stanley, May 1, 2017.