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Weekly posts and an opportunity to ask questions or give your perspective. Let's study the Bible TOGETHER!

31 October 2012

Spiritual Warfare - October 31

On Monday we saw Satan tell Eve a half-truth. Eve ate the fruit and offered it to Adam and he also ate. Their eyes were opened and they saw they were naked. They were ashamed and sewed leaves for garments. God asked what happened and they each tried to place the blame elsewhere. Now God will have something to say to Satan.

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen 3:14-15 (ESV)

In this first Messianic prophecy, God clearly tells Satan that he is now the enemy. Remember that the “offspring” of the woman is Jesus! Satan has been cursed since he was thrown from heaven.

The serpent played a role in one of the first events recorded in the first book of the Bible. He will also play a role at the end of the age, and the war he participates in is recorded in the last book of the Bible.

 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Rev 12:7-10 (ESV)

That passage makes me want to stop, bow down, and worship!

In Genesis, Satan is portrayed as a serpent. In Revelation, he is called a serpent, a dragon, the great dragon, the deceiver, the accuser, Satan… God wanted to make sure we knew who He was talking about! According to this passage, until this war is fought Satan accuses us night and day before God.

Thinking about your own life and rereading the two passages today, can you see ways that Satan works? What does he accuse you of? Do you think that his angels also accuse – you?

In what ways does Satan deceive?
·         Advertising that seems to promise happiness by purchasing certain products;
·         “You can do that just once.”
·         “The Bible contains God’s word but it’s not perfect because men wrote it.”
·         “No one will ever know.”
·         “You deserve it.”
·         “Go ahead and get saved, but wait awhile. You’ve got all the time in the world.”
·         __________________. Send me a comment and tell me what you’ve thought about.

In what ways does he accuse?
·         “You’ve done too much wrong for God to ever love you.”
·         “You will never be good enough.”
·         “You aren’t loveable.”
·         _______________________

If you’re the list making type, take some time to write down the lies you’ve heard from Satan. What does he say to you, personally, that hinders your life and your walk with God? Take that list to Jesus and ask Him to help you overcome the lies spread by Satan.

Predictably, Jesus had a teaching or two regarding Satan and his way of working. We’ll read about that on Friday.

29 October 2012

Spiritual Warfare - October 29

Spiritual Warfare. What does it mean to you? A red cartoon guy with a tail and a pitchfork? Do you envision a demon behind every rock? Hidden messages in music played backwards? Conservatively dressed “hill-folk” dancing with snakes? Scary music, thunder/lightning and priests/pastors exorcising demons? While all of these elements have been popularized and trivialized in today’s society, that’s not the purpose of this study.

We’re here to learn more about our enemy, the devil. He’s neither a cartoon nor a power to be fearful of. He’s the ruler of this world, but he is not the ruler of the universe, and in the end, God wins.

Satan’s been around since before the world was made. He was an angel whose pride got in the way. He wanted to be like God and created an insurrection. He and the angels that fought with him were cast out of heaven, and although we see Satan at God’s throne (Job 1), we know that he has a permanent home in hades.

Satan is a liar and a prevaricator. Satan will do anything to get us to turn away from God. Satan is crafty. Our first indication of Satan’s craftiness comes in the first book of the Bible.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Gen 3:1-7 (ESV)

The serpent was right! Eve ate and she didn’t die. Her eyes were opened.

She didn’t die right away, but her sin caused her death and the death of every other human being.
She shared her good fortune with Adam. He could have said “no”, but he listened to his wife and the serpent.

Her eyes were opened. So were his. She saw that she was naked. So did he. They clothed themselves because they were naked.

WooHOO! They were alive and free. But…

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Gen 3:8-13 (ESV)

For the first time mankind felt afraid because they knew they were naked – and they knew that they had done wrong. It’s interesting to note that even the first sinners did their best to avoid personal responsibility, pointing fingers at each other and at the serpent. Things haven’t changed much! We still point fingers of blame and avoid personal responsibility today.

Was that “bite of the apple” worth the penalty? Is any sin worth the penalty?

Satan doesn’t care much about a person who is living a sinful, lustful life. He already has that person in his net. He does care about those who are doing their best to live pure and righteous lives. He went for Eve because she was holy and pure. Eve didn’t care what God said. Her interests were in the glittery promises of Satan.

Satan told Eve the truth, but he didn’t tell her the whole truth. The ramifications of Eve’s sins reverberate today. Likewise, Satan may tell us that it’s okay to look…just this once, or to try…just this once. Maybe one look, one taste, or one touch won’t hurt this once. But what Satan forgets (conveniently) to tell us is the ultimate ramification of that one look, touch or taste.

God has talked to Adam and Eve and they’ve blamed everyone but themselves. On Wednesday we’ll see what God has to say to the serpent.

26 October 2012

Listening to God - October 26

We are at the last day of this study. We’ve learned many things about how our attitudes and life experiences can hinder our communication with God and we’ve asked Him to help us remove those obstacles. We’ve learned about the different ways that God speaks to us – and ways that He does not. We’re learning to be still before God and we are remembering to remember what God has done for us. We’re not rushing to petition God because in our rushing we might miss His still small voice.

After remembering what God has done for you and sitting still in His presence, how could we bring trivial requests to Him? By now, I hope you realize that God desires to give us the desire of our heart, but He wants us to ask Him for things that are within His will. When you ask within His will, you will probably have a sense of peace. When you want something that’s not in His will, you will have to justify yourself.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 (ESV)

Examine your heart before you petition God. Are you asking pridefully (so you can testify to what God did for you as opposed to testifying about the mighty deeds of God)? Are you telling God what to do or asking Him for His perfect will? Ask God to remove all traces of pride.

Do you believe that God will answer you? Will you examine the answer you receive under the lens of Biblical truth and obey the answer?

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24 (ESV)

Are you looking at your conversations with a new perspective? Do you know that God has your best interests at heart?

What are you waiting for? It’s time to put this knowledge into practice. Make an appointment with God today and every day. Let me know how this study has enhanced your relationship with God!

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! Psalms 20:4 (ESV)

See you next week to take on a new topic – spiritual warfare.

24 October 2012

Listening to God - October 24

How easy or difficult is it to be still before God? Were you able to take the time to try? Did you find that more distractions came your way as you sought stillness before God? Satan will do everything he can to destroy our closeness with God. You must actively focus on God and not on external distractions.

The Bible is filled with story after story of prayers and speeches which recalled the goodness of God. Israel was very good at remembering. It’s time for us to take time to remember God’s goodness to us.

Look back to specific times that God has protected you. Possibly you were ready to actively sin, and you felt that conscience – the Holy Spirit – telling you that you were in the wrong place. This happened to me just a few days ago. I was ready to walk into a deliberate sin, but the Holy Spirit kept after me. The chances of a human discovering the sin were small, but if it had been discovered, the consequences would have been great. God protected me from myself!

Look back to specific times when God has provided for you. Did you need a new job, and one came to you? Has He provided you with a spouse, a place to live, a church family?

Look back to specific times when He has blessed and cared for you. If you are the journaling sort, use this as a time to journal your blessings. You will be astounded at what God has done if you take the time to remember.

Reflect on God’s promises. During that moment of extreme temptation I mentioned, I recalled this promise:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Cor 10:13 (ESV)

Without the remembrance of that promise, I would absolutely have fallen into the trap of sin. This is why it’s so important to continually read God’s Word – if you don’t know what His promises are, then how can you reflect on them when you’re having quiet time with God? And how can you recall them when you’re in time of distress?

Think about God Himself. How great is He? How does His grace affect you? How does His goodness manifest itself in your life?

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. Deut 10:17 (ESV)

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:2 (ESV)

Can you take some time to list, in writing so you can refer to it during your quiet times, several times when you have personally seen God’s goodness? Then, sit quietly and talk over your list with God. Make time to praise Him for Who He is. Acknowledge the times that He has helped you. Be like Israel! Recount His mighty deeds in your life.

On Friday we will wrap up the study and discuss making your requests and waiting for His answer! Between now and then,