Is God Asking the Impossible?

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Philippians 1:1-4

Value others above myself? I tend to focus on me. Paul, writer of much of the New Testament, admonishes us to do nothing from a self-first or prideful attitude. It feels like he’s asking us to achieve the impossible. Does God expect Christians to always be unselfish? He knows we’re incapable of living this way in our own strength. 

Trying to live like Christ by sheer effort leaves me frustrated and ineffective. I continually default to self-focus. This passage usually discourages me because I struggle with pride. I’m unable to imagine what a world of humble people would look like. Too often, even when I’m able to obey and act charitably, inside I’m still thinking of self. 

So how can we value others over ourselves? We achieve such kind-hearted living one step at a time as we look to Jesus and depend on His Spirit in us. If we could make a one-time decision to be humble, we wouldn’t need God. He wants us to listen to Him and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in each encounter. I must make this choice step by step, seeking to have the mind of Christ day after day. 

Paul reminds us that we are one with Jesus: The One who gives us encouragement, comforts us with His love, and fills us with His Spirit. Because His Spirit lives in us, He gives us the grace and humility to unite with other believers in spite of our diversity.

God calls us to choose to consider others before ourselves: not in the sense of being a weakling, but by acting from the love we’ve received. 

When we’re tempted by selfishness, we find freedom not by our own goodness but by relying on God. We connect to Jesus through prayer, read His Instructions in the Bible, and ask for the grace to obey. He then works through us, helping us to have the same mind as He does.

We won’t live up to this perfectly, but as we focus on Christ and yield to His Spirit, we will grow in loving others. 


Excerpt from the Wholly Loved Bible reading plan: Philippians: 14 Days of Hope and Encouragement  found on YouVersion

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Don’t Slander the Messenger

Read Philippians 1:12-18

Stunned, I read a blog post listing many well-known female Bible teachers labeled as false prophets or unacceptable. Seemingly, the blog’s author was the only one to be trusted.

I’ve read terrible accusations about popular ministers, many of whom I admire and enjoy listening to. Too often Christians are quick to judge and label each other. We easily nit-pick about who should be respected and work to make sure everyone knows who to avoid.

Paul, a first-century Christ follower who wrote much of the New Testament, was perhaps the best-known and loved spiritual leader of his time. Pride and self-seeking probably tempted him. Yet, the news of those preaching Christ out of selfish ambition and to cause him trouble didn’t lead him to stop them. His one desire was that Christ be exalted.

He rejoiced when the truth was spoken no matter the situation. Of course, we are to be on guard against anyone who preaches a different gospel than salvation through Jesus Christ alone. We must stand firm on that. But when Scripture is taught, we’re to praise God no matter our opinion of the messenger.

For Christians to intentionally slander or malign others’ teaching about Jesus does not honor God or fulfill the great commission Christ gave when He told us to make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20).

As believers, we should focus on promoting the message of salvation through Jesus in any way possible and cheering on all others who do the same. Like Paul, may we say when the truth is told, “I rejoice and will continue to rejoice” even when the one sharing is not our favorite or we don’t agree with some of their methods.

May our focus always be on taking the good news to the world.

Excerpt from the Wholly Loved Bible reading plan: Philippians: 14 Days of Hope and Encouragement found on YouVersion

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Why Should I Choose Thankfulness?

Gratitude is appreciating the blessings in our lives. It focuses my attention on the giver rather than myself. There’s an element of humility to gratitude in that what we’re thankful for wasn’t necessarily earned, deserved, or expected. If we demand something from God or others, then it’s not a gift. Thankfulness is acknowledging all we have, realizing no one is obligated to give it to us. 

The greatest Giver is our Creator. Scripture reveals, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV). All good things in our lives, from the next breath we take to food, drink, the sun above, and the oceans below: everything in creation is a blessing from Him. Love, peace, joy, laughter, and all we care about are gifts from God. Our family, pets, art, and all things we find fulfilling are from above. 

We always have a choice to focus on what we have and be grateful or fret about what we don’t have and be discontented. There are many reasons to choose gratitude. As we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving Day, consider how gratefulness blesses us in spirit, soul, and body:

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Seek God

Yearn
Seek
Know
Believe
Hunger
Thirst
Search
Trust
Call
Ask
Knock

He will answer.
He will reward.
He is calling.
Listen.
Follow.

Hebrews 11:6

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Five Most Subtle Ways the Devil is a Liar


The devil’s first strike against God was to deceive man, God’s wonderful creation made in His image. The devil has been a liar from the day he lied to Eve, the first woman, until this moment. Scripture teaches “he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Who is the devil

God created the devil, also known as Satan or the ancient serpent as an angel to serve Him in heaven. Scripture also calls him Lucifer, son of the morning. Instead of glorifying God, he rebelled and said in his heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned...I will ascend...I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-15). 

Because of his pride and rebellion against God, the devil was cast from heaven. When he fell, he took many angels with him who now exist as his demons, doing his work. They are enemies of God and all His creation.

Why does God allow the devil to roam free on earth?

God is sovereign, all-knowing, and all powerful. We can’t grasp why He allows the devil to continue lying and deceiving. We can only trust that God is good and will work everything to His glory. We learn from the Old Testament book of Job that God puts limits on how far the devil can go. Otherwise, he would have destroyed all mankind by now. 

Recognize the subtle ways the devil lies.

Scripture describes the devil as a  schemer, wily, and tempter among other names. He also sometimes appears as an angel of light. One of his favorite devices is deception. Let’s look at 5 subtle ways the devil lies so we can be prepared to thwart his attacks:

1.	The devil lies by subtly twisting truth.

Being crafty, the devil often approaches us with truth intertwined with a lie. He uses just enough truth to make us doubt. When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them freedom to eat from any tree in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil stating if they did, they would die (Genesis 2:16-17).

The devil appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent and engaged her in conversation. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1). When she told him why they couldn’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, the devil replied, “You will not certainly die...for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). 

The devil subtly wove lies into the truth. It was true they would not die physically but they did die spiritually and though their eyes were opened to good and evil, they did not become like God. Because of the devil’s deceit and Adam and Eve’s sin, all mankind was separated from God. 

2.	The devil lies by planting seeds of doubt.

The devil wants us to doubt God’s word. He said to Eve, “Did God really say...” (Genesis 3:1). When the Lord Jesus Christ was led into the wilderness to be tempted, two times the devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God...” (Matthew 4:3, 6).

The devil plants thoughts like:

“How could God love someone like you?

“Does God hear your prayers?

“If you’re truly a Christian...”

He gets our focus on ourselves and our inadequacies, distracting us from the truth that no one can meet God’s standard of perfection. That’s why Jesus came to die for us. He lived a sinless life and willingly died to pay for our sin. 

3.	The devil lies by subtly suggesting no one will know of our sin or it won’t hurt anyone.

The devil often snags us with whispered words, “Come on, no one will know.” He argues that as long as the thought, attitude, or action doesn’t hurt anyone else then it’s not a big deal. I wonder if that’s how he tempted Ananias and Sapphira. Their story is told in the New Testament book of Acts. They sold some property and gave the money to the church claiming to be giving it all yet holding back some for themselves. 

Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples, said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to human beings but to God” (Acts 5:2-4). 

Scripture doesn’t reveal how Satan tempted Ananias but perhaps he lured him with the idea he could get the praise and recognition for giving all the money yet have the benefit of keeping some for himself. Who would know? Yet God knew and revealed it to Peter. 

God always sees and He’s the one we’re to serve and honor. We’re His beloved children and when we injure ourselves through wrongdoing, we hurt Him. 

4.	The devil lies by appealing to our pride.

Pride was Lucifer’s downfall. He was cast from heaven because he wanted to exalt himself above God. Self-adulation is putting ourselves before God. Submitting to Him is an act of humility. 

The devil comes with subtle lies like these:

“Look how much better you are than them.”

“How dare they treat you this way.”

“Look what you did!” 

The tempter will use anything he can to lure us to focus on ourselves instead of God. He knows arrogance will be our undoing. This isn’t the kind of pride one experiences for a job well done. This is the conceit which causes us to exalt ourselves and blinds us to our faults. The great Christian writer and apologist, C. S. Lewis, wrote, “For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense” (C.S. Lewis).

5. The devil lies with false promises.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Scripture records, “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you bow down and worship me’” (Matthew 4:8-9).

The devil offers temporary pleasures here on earth and claims they will fulfill our deepest longings. He suggests we can find the fulfillment we long for without seeking and obeying God. He promises riches, fame, freedom to indulge our every desire, or power but he doesn’t tell us that path leaves us empty, alone, and dead inside. The devil’s purpose is always to steal, kill, and destroy.

Bible commentator, David Guzik, writes, “Essentially, this vision invited Jesus to take a shortcut around the cross. Jesus came to win all the kingdoms and their glory back from Satan’s domain, and Satan offers them to Jesus, if He will only fall down and worship him.” 

The devil suggested Jesus could avoid the cross and still achieve His goal. A promise impossible for the devil to make happen.

Jesus responded, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written; ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ Then the devil left Him” (Matthew 4:10).

We also can rebuke the devil in the name of Jesus while standing on truth.

How are we to respond to the lies of the devil?

I believe the first action we must take is to yield to God. Scripture teaches “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). 

If we attempt to fight the devil in our own strength, we may have some momentary victory but ultimately, we will fail. For the Bible teaches “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). It’s essential we submit in humility to our Father, then resist the devil. A person caught up in pride can’t fend off Satan because they’re standing with him.

Ephesians 6:10-18 is perhaps the most well-known Bible passage concerning how to stand firm against the devil and his demons. The Apostle Paul instructs us to put on the “full armor of God.” The first protection of this spiritual armor listed is the “belt of truth.”

Our main weapon against the lies of the devil is the truth. We find truth when we study and meditate on Scripture. In order to identify lies we need to be intimately acquainted with God and His word. When we understand who God is and who we are in Christ, we can recognize when the devil is attacking us with lies. 

First published at iBelieve.com

 

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Death By Tupperware? Do not fear.

Eyes widening, I read the warning: Your vintage Tupperware is releasing harmful chemicals into your food! I’ve owned many of these colorful kitchen helpers for decades. Have I harmed my family? Will Tupperware kill me?

This alarming news was one more in a long list of threats: 

My cell phone might give me a brain tumor. I could shorten my life because of chemicals, pesticides, and sugar in my food and drink. The beauty products I use might give me cancer. Air-freshener is ruining my lungs. Will I be the victim of a shooting or die from COVID? The last straw: my wedding gifts from years ago are poisoning me. 

It’s easy to become obsessed with how to stay alive as long as possible. We can allow fear to take over as we struggle to control all the threats and guarantee some kind of long life. 

How do we respond to these daily messages of doom?

Accepting these five truths helps me find peace in troubling times:

Continue reading at iBelieve.com: 5 Truths To Help Us Live in Peace and Not Fear

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7 “Nevers”

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Forever Loved

Never know hunger.
Never know thirst.

Let your deep aching loneliness 
go to Him first.

Never walk in the dark.
Never  be alone.

Let His pure, cleansing light
keep you known.

Never be abandoned.
Never see death of your soul.

Live forever in His celestial home.

Never again know shame.
Never turned away.

Forever loved.
Forgiven and clean.

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Peaceful Moments

Speak to me Father
in the stillness
in the quiet.

Speak to me.
Keep my heart close to You.
Thank You for the gift of  peace.

Thank You for...
Sunshine
Breezes
Flowers
Birds
Patterns on the deck
Sleeping cats
Gurgling water
Tea
Colors
Hope
Peace
Truth

Help me live in this moment.
Help me connect to the Vine.
Help me live in Jesus.

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Seek What Will Last Forever

My mom would have been 92 today. She’s been with Jesus for about 5 1/2 years. What would she say to her family? 

Love each other!
Help each other.
Forgive.
Seek Jesus.
Show mercy.

Life is short! Live for what’s eternal.

What matters is God, people, and living for Jesus. Everything else will be gone in the blink of an eye. Earthly things will turn to dust. Money, accomplishments, possessions, honors, success will last as long as a flower in spring. Seek what will last forever:

Intimacy with Christ.
His truth revealed in the Holy Bible.
Loving people.
God’s will above all.

Help me Father! Help me live for what is eternal. Life is so brief. I don’t have time to waste. Lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Change my heart where it needs to be changed. 

Holy Spirit help me submit to You and resist selfish living. I can’t live this way in my strength alone. Thank You for Your promise in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

Thank You that one day I will be with my mom in heaven. Until then may your will be done in and through me. 

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