Ephesians 4:26-27 says “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” According to God’s word, we have permission to experience the emotion of anger, but we are not allowed to follow our emotions into sin. Left unchecked, anger can become an all consuming fire which will burn every area of your life, destroying all it touches. As the sun dipping below the horizon gives way to darkness, so hearts that allow anger to set in invite dark shadows to enter. At the point that we allow anger to own us, we open the door of our hearts to the devil. Satan’s whispered lies start to sound credible, and as we accept his lies over God’s truth, the light of God’s word gets pushed out, sinking our hearts down deeper and deeper into utter darkness. God commands us to forgive others for our OWN protection. Letting anger control you is a one-way ticket into the dark pit of resentment, bitterness, envy, jealousy and wrath. Forgiveness isn’t a stamp of approval – it’s a release: When you forgive someone, you release them from the responsibility of healing the pain they inflicted by their actions. The person who injured you cannot heal you — that is something only your Heavenly Father can do. Don’t hold onto anger. Let God’s consuming fire devour it before it devours you.
In Mark 8:27-33, Peter, one the disciples, confesses that Jesus is the Christ (which means “the anointed one of God”), the long-awaited Messiah, or King of the Jews. He has seen Jesus cast out demons, physically heal, and miraculously feed thousands upon thousands of people. But when Jesus plainly tells Peter and the rest of the disciples that he must suffer many things, be rejected by the religious leaders and be killed, and after three days rise again, Peter quickly goes from reverence to reprimand. Peter takes Jesus aside and begins to rebuke him. Then Jesus, after turning around and looking at the other disciples, rebukes Peter, saying “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Peter deeply loves Jesus and has put his faith in him, so why would Jesus call him him that? Although the harsh criticism came out of Peter’s mouth, Peter is only the conduit — not the source — of the rebuke. Ephesians 6:12 states, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. People (“flesh and blood”) are never the actual source of negative Opposition — instead they are the conduits through which the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil speak. Just like God speaks through people to encourage, the devil speaks through people to tear down. The devil is your enemy and his only goal is to bring destruction. The next time someone unleashes a verbal attack, look past their face and start digging — Satan, the Destroyer, is always at the root.
In Daniel, chapter 6, a multitude of men approached King Darius with a plan: anyone caught in the next 30 days praying to any man or god, accept to King Darius, should be thrown into the lion’s den. King Darius liked what he heard and signed the decree. But once the law was activated, Daniel, whom King Darius cherished, was caught praying to God. This caused great distress to the king, and the king tried to revoke his own law. When his efforts failed, and after he ordered Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius went back to his palace and spent the night fasting, no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him. Worldly, unwise counsel will result in anxious thoughts and sleepless nights. So the next time you need direction, find someone who will shine God’s word into your life. Don’t settle for just any counsel – seek Wise Counsel. Talk is cheap, but wisdom is priceless. Wisdom is the GPS system your soul needs to stay on track with God.
Electronic devices like iPhones, iPads and iPods keep us continually connected to the Information Superhighway. So the question is: do you ever disconnect? Do you carve time out of your hectic, full-throttle schedule to be still, sitting quietly, reading the Bible, praying and listening for God’s voice? Or do you spend every free moment being entertained by an electronic device? We are Empty Cups that are filled every day by something or someone. We then pour out what was poured into us. Your cup will be filled with whatever you take in, so if you fill up on gossip, lies or bitterness, that’s exactly what you will pour out. What gets poured into your Empty Cup each day? God wants to take away your emptiness, but he can’t unless you give him permission. Talk to God. Give him permission to fill you with his limitless love, wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Be willing to sit quietly in his presence, and allow his excellent Holy Spirit to flood every area of your life. Low on wisdom? Ask God for a refill – he will do more than just top you off. Your Cup will overflow.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Every day, we are up against the devil and his schemes. He pounds us with lies, hits us with accusations and wraps us up in condemnation, trying to exhaust us so we’ll just submit to him and tap out. The devil wants you to believe that he is so strong he cannot be defeated. But that is a lie straight from the pit of hell. James 5:7 says “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Don’t show up to the fight unarmed. Be Battle Ready. Spend time each day in God’s Word. Gear up and be prepared for the fight. Don’t let the devil smack you around. Hit him with the Word of God and watch him tap out every time.
The devil never comes at you with facts. Instead, he comes at you with F.E.A.R., which stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. As the Father of Lies, he cannot repeat any truth. In fact, he cannot remain in the presence of truth. If you find yourself overwhelm with F.E.A.R., fight back. Wield the double-edge sword of the Word of God. Speak it. Sing it. Proclaim it. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have access to the Lord’s power and authority. The devil wants you to remain in F.E.A.R. and he’ll do everything he can to convince you that you are powerless to resist him. But that isn’t true. You have the power, through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for your sins, to defeat the devil. When he comes at you, come against him with the Word of God. He must (and will) flee because he is the one who is powerless to resist.
We live in a culture focused on the freedom of Choice. But there is one that few are willing to talk about — the Choice to Choose God. Matthew 25:41 tells us that those who reject God will spend eternity in “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Hell was prepared for the devil — it was NOT prepared for you. God wants you to spend eternity in heaven, with him. But God will never force that upon you. He is the perfect gentleman. Will you accept his offer of spending eternity in heaven with him, or will you reject it? This is the one area that God will give you what you ask for. It’s Your Choice.
Romans 8:38-39 states that NOTHING in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. But too often our response to the depth of God is a shallow one: we reuse to believe that God loves us and wants to forgive us and that his word can bring the wholeness, restoration and refreshment we so desperately want. And here is where we start Swimming in the Shallow End. It’s like being in a kiddie pool — it’s too small to stretch out in and it’s too shallow to sink down into, yet we try and try to swim in it. And this is where we get cheated — when we accept Satan’s lies over God’s truth, our disbelief grows and our faith stagnates. God has so much more for you, but you have to get out of the kiddie pool. Don’t settle for the Shallow End of faith. Instead, accept God at his word — let yourself sink down into the depths of God’s love, mercy, grace, compassion, forgiveness, protection, provision and peace. God’s love is never-ending and it cannot be measured. So dive in — you won’t drown in anything but God’s inexhaustable love.
At some point, we all face difficulty: death, divorce, disease, disappointment – the Downpour Days – days of darkness and sadness where lingering doubts expand and hope shrinks. We look for a hiding place, away from the pain and trauma, but that only leads to isolation. And in the midst of the Downpour, if we allow ourselves to lose hope that better days are ahead, we find ourselves Behind The Iron Curtain – the deep, dark pit called depression. The devil will tell you that there is nothing to hope for – that your days will always be dark. But the devil’s words are worthless because he does not have the power to predict the future. Do not be deceived -there is Hope. This Hope wants to be found. He goes by the name of Jesus and He is the only One who can pull back The Iron Curtain and lift you up out of the deep, dark pit of depression and despair. Call out to Him. He will answer your call.
What label are you wearing? I’m not talking about your clothes, your purse or your shoes. I’m talking about the labels that no one ever sees — the ones that keep following you, no matter how hard you try to outrun them. You know, the trashy ones. How many of those are you wearing? Those labels come from the devil — not from God. The devil will always label you, but God will always love you. In fact, God loves you so much that he allowed his very own son, Jesus, to be crucified on the cross so that your sins would be forgiven. Jesus died for you, because he loves you. So if you’re wearing one of the devil’s labels, throw it in the trash where it belongs. And the next time Satan tries to whisper in your ear, tell him to stop his trash talking. Refuse to let the devil remind you of what God has already forgotten.