More than Beautiful Dust

27 Aug

PigsWallow_PigForumI saw a picture of two pigs (a hog and a sow) in a mudhole.

The hog, with an exasperated expression, turned to the sow and said, “I think I’m having a mud-life crisis.”

In another picture, a huge Daddy hog placed his piggy arm around one of his piglets and pointed to a mudhole.

“Son,” Daddy Hog said with obvious pride, “In a few years, this will all be yours.”

Dr. David Jeremiah tells the story of a conversation between an atheist and God. The atheist challenged God, saying, “I can make a man, just like you say you did.”

“Ok,” says God. “Go for it.”

The atheist thought and said, “OK, first we’ll need some dirt.” 

And God said, “OK … but get your own dirt.” 

LOL!

Now this is going to feel like an odd transition, but stick with me. It’s all about dirt, mud and more.

Psalm 103 is an incredible testimony to the wonders of God’s mercy and grace. God loves His children, forgives their sins, and cares for those who fear Him with great compassion. It is God’s steadfast, eternal love, David said, that continues to sustain and blesses us.

But it was verse 14 that recently spoke to me in a deeper way:

“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (ESV).

Dust.

In The Message, that verse reads this way:

“He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”

Mud.

It was hard enough to read that I am dust … but MUD!

God does not forget what we are made of. He remembers He formed us from the dust, dirt and mud of earth (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). He remembers why He shows us such pity, such amazing mercy and grace.

Even the strongest of us have frail bodies, souls and minds compared to His matchless wonder. He understands our misery. God knows we are subject to decay, that we will be buried in the earth from whence we came.

Were it not for God’s great mercy, we would all be destroyed under the wrath we so completely deserve, for there is not one soul who seeks after God (Romans 3:11) without His touch from heaven.

And in His compassion He brings strength to our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

During our short time here on earth, as Christ-followers, we are being transformed.

I had a funny thought today. Yes, we are still dust, but …

As we are sanctified (made holy) with the truth of the Word and the Spirit as our tutor, we are becoming beautiful dust.

And we are destined to be MORE than beautiful dust!

We are becoming like Jesus, and in the final resurrection, our bodies will be changed. Glorified! Just as Jesus, in his resurrected body, retained the scars from His crucifixion (John 20:25, 27), even so our recognizable bodies will be resurrected.

We will receive transformed, “glorified” bodies like His (Philippians 3:20-21).  Our ‘perishable” body will be raised “imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42, 51-52).

I sometimes forget I am destined for heaven, that I should live for eternity. I know I’m not alone in this forgetfulness. As the poet and author Carl Sandburg wrote (and not even in a theological sense):

“There’s an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”*

Ouch, right?

God wants me to mount up with wings as an eagle (Isaiah 40:31), but I keep sloshing around in the mud. I forget where I’m heading. But I rejoice God does not.

While I live on earth, I am the recipient of His incredible mercy, forgiveness and grace. And I am thankful this sinful, decaying body will be changed in eternity.

I am destined to be far more than beautiful dust.

 – (Note from Dawn: I know I have changed the imagery several times in this post. One minute I am mud; the next I’m sloshing around in mud. But I hope something, somewhere in this rambling spoke to your heart and encouraged you to live for the Lord today.)

 – *http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/mud.html

Graphic: Pigforum.com/Why-Wallow.html

 

No ‘Under the Radar’ with God!

5 Aug

I have to laugh when I see pictures or videos of dogs who think their owners can’t see them. Here are three trying to hide “under the radar.”

DogsHiding_ISeeYou_LOLwithGod

It’s been said radar had a huge impact on how World War II was fought and won. Radar helps ships “see” with radio waves. It helps the crew of a ship know where enemy ships and aircraft are located, see through the fog in the daytime and navigate at night.

I always love it in military movies when a crew technician alerts the ship captain, “Sir, I see something on radar!” Then the captain can take appropriate action.

I’m reminded that God sees me in the great sea of humanity, even though I feel like a tiny blip on His radar screen.

In the story of Hagar, in Genesis 16, Sarai’s Egyptian slave was cast out from their presence, but the angel of the Lord “found” Hagar near a spring in the desert and gave her a message of promise and hope.

Then Hagar said (v. 13, NIV), “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” In fact, the name of the well where Hagar rested was then named Beer Lahai Roi, meaning “a well to the Living One Who sees me.”

God always sees us. We can never fly “under the radar” of His presence (Psalm 139:7; Jeremiah 23:24).

But Hagar, in Genesis 16:13 (Amplified version) adds, “…have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him Who sees me?”

God not only sees us, He sees us with purpose. He not only sees our current situations or predicaments, He also sees our potential and what He will accomplish in and through us.

As I contemplated these verses, I thought, “Am I concerned about seeing others, or am I too fixed on my own life, unable to “think on the things of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:4, 21). Oh how we need the mind and eyes of the Savior! (Philippians 2:5)

It’s convicting to ask, “Do I see others with the same love, concern and grace that Jesus sees me?”

The Lord says to me,

“Beloved Daughter, I see you and I am presently working in your life. Now go see others with my eyes. See who they might be as I work in their lives.”

This means rejoicing when others rejoice and weeping when they weep (Romans 12:15), bearing the infirmities of the weak (Romans 15:1), and responding in love and kindness without drawing attention to myself (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). It means seeing potential in people instead of judging them, and encouraging rather than simply passing by.

I have much to learn about God’s eyes. I can see Him “seeing” others all throughout the scriptures, and He continually adjusts my vision.

These days, more people are showing up on my “radar” and it is my joy to love and serve them as the Lord leads.

God sees. Do you? What might seeing with God’s eyes change about your responses to our hurting, confused world?

– Graphics of dogs, courtesy of pexels.com (static.pexels.com/photos/9440/light-dog-lamp-kitchen.jpg) and http://theverybesttop10.com/dogs-hiding/

 – Dawn

That Old Schemer!

29 Jul

There all kinds of schemes in life: Pyramid schemes, financial marketing schemes, romantic schemes, parenting schemes, and so on.  A scheme that made me smile recently was this one: “I’m working hard not, so my future daughter does not have to sell protein powder on Instagram.”BatManParatrooper_1942_Listverse

I am probably a little strange, but I enjoy reading about military schemes and battle plans throughout history. One of the craziest schemes was the “Bat-men” paratroopers who joined the California State Guard in 1942!

Their plan was to use modified jumpsuits with “diving wings” to evade enemy fire by swooping through the air like bats! Oh yeah, that would work.

Did you know we all have an enemy who never gives up trying to attack us with diverse schemes? Have you encountered him lately?

The apostle Paul, addressing believers’ need for forgiveness, added these telling words: “to keep Satan from taking advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11, Amp).  [Other scripture versions say we must not be ignorant or oblivious to Satan’s evil “designs,” “devices” or “sly ways.”]

The word “Satan” means “an adversary” and that he is (1 Peter 5:8)—an adversary seeking for someone to “devour.” He showed his adversarial nature when he first rose up against the Lord in prideful rebellion in heaven, and now he prowls earth, looking for people to destroy.

He first laid in wait for the first humans (Genesis 3:1-5), and in this sinful, disordered world after The Fall we’ve been tempted by this schemer every day. He tried to destroy the Patriarch Job (Job 1:6-12) . Throughout the Old Testament he rose up against Israel, and, as an example, 2 Chronicles 21:1-2 says the evil one provoked David to sin. The king foolishly fueled his pride by taking a census (2 Samuel 24:1-10).

In the New Testament, the adversary also goes by other names, such as “the evil one” (Matthew 13:19) and “the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2). He is a liar (John 8:44) and the chief of the devils (Luke 11:15)—full of hate, revenge, envy and a host of other sinful attitudes.  In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we learn Satan blinds unbelievers so they can’t see the glorious light of the gospel.

Satan also delights in sidetracking and sidelining believers through his sinful strategies. Luke 22:31 says Satan desired and demanded to “have” Simon and “sift” him—to separate Him from the Lord. And it was Satan who first put thoughts of betrayal into the heart of Judas (John 13:2).

Although Satan will never have power to overcome the Lord within us (1 John 4:4), he does have great (but limited) power and he cleverly uses it for evil purposes. And it is this cleverness that trips us up. The devil waits for opportunities to tempt us to sin; he uses tricks and deception to catch us off guard.

We are perhaps as much or more in danger from Satan’s subtle seductions as his outright power plays.

Satan uses a number of schemes to defeat believers. Let’s expose a few of them:

Scheme #1. He tempts us to doubt God when we suffer.

We’re all going to suffer at some point. Jesus told us we would (John 15:20). So did the disciples (Acts 14:22; 1 Peter 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:12). We’re going to face trials and tough circumstances; no one is immune from the effects of The Fall.

Satan wants us to doubt God’s love and goodness. This is especially tough when our prayers seem unanswered and we do not feel God’s love, or when our spiritual life seems dry.

Our strategy to combat this is to consider Christ and His sufferings—how he continued to trust His Father in heaven in spite of His circumstances (Hebrews 12:3)—so we will “not grow weary and lose heart.”  We also need to understand how Satan desires to use circumstances to distract us, disappoint us and draw us away from the Lord. Our Father, on the other hand, uses circumstances to make us more like Jesus. He is with us in the midst of our struggles, working out His purposes for this world and His purposes for us.

Scheme #2. He troubles our thought life.

One of the ways Satan tries to get advantage over us is through our thoughts, and he uses impure thoughts, unbelieving thoughts and even rebellious thoughts. Sometimes it may feel like those thoughts are as frustrating and tormenting as a physical attack. The Bible talks about Satan’s “fiery darts”—those weapons he uses to attack us. Thoughts of doubt about God are attacks from within.

Satan also wants to confuse us and make us afraid. I remember a morning I woke up with absolute panic. My thoughts seemed totally out of control. A rush of wicked and impure thoughts made me cower in shame … until I realized it was an attack. Those thoughts were not part of me, although they likely used past thoughts for ammunition. I had to wrestle with Satan using the truth of Scripture.

Our strategy to combat this nasty attack is to recognize God can overcome all our evil, doubtful, wayward thoughts with the power of His Word. We must take action to prevent the devil from using abominable thoughts to make us faithless or fearing. We must conform out thoughts to the Word (Romans 12:2). We must persevere in doing right as we submit to the Holy Spirit, even while resisting the enemy’s suggestions (James 4:7).

Scheme #3.  He tempts us to live in spiritual pride.

This is a biggie. This temptation comes after we’ve had some spiritual victories, or when we begin to see how the Lord is transforming us by His grace. We must be careful not to allow pride to compromise our walk with God (1 Corinthians 10:12).

The temptation is to think we accomplished our change—that we in our own power or by following some self-improvement plan are now “better” than others (hence the sad description the world gives us, calling us “holier than thou”). We become puffed up with pride, arrogant, and perhaps judgmental of others.

Our strategy to combat this scheme is to keep humble hearts. We were chosen by the Lord for His purposes and we are nothing and have nothing apart from Him. God opposes us in our pride, but He gives abundant grace when we humble ourselves (James 4:6, 10). We must learn to emulate Jesus’ humility (Philippians 2:7-8) and consider others better than ourselves (Romans 12:3Philippians 2:3).

Scheme #4. He attempts to distract us with others’ ungodliness.

It’s not always Satan directly who attacks us; sometimes he uses others. It’s a tricky, artful scheme. Satan tries to use the wicked influence of carnal friends or family members to tempt us to live ungodly lives. Friends can become stumbling blocks, and family members can draw our hearts away from our First Love. Families can be divided over the Gospel (Matthew 10:35; Luke 12:51). Our best friends may mock us when we stand for holiness—and it is usually in their own area of struggle (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Our strategy to combat this is to be sure we get our advice from godly people, stand against the unwise suggestions (temptations) coming from carnal believers, and be sure any counsel we seek out and follow aligns with the truth of scripture.

Scheme #5. He lies in wait for the right moment and then springs for an attack.

Have you figured out yet that Satan is a sneaky devil? He might ignore us for a while, but then he comes from secret places to attack when we’re off guard—when we least expect it! He left Jesus “for a season” (Luke 4:13), but then doubled up on his efforts as Jesus set his face toward the cross. Why should the enemy’s attacks on us be any different. This is a dangerous strategy because we’re not always prepared. Don’t be fooled that just because you have a victory, he’s not waiting in the wings to advance against you at a more convenient time (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Our strategy to combat this is to “watch and pray.” Jesus cautioned his disciples to stay awake and be fervent in prayer so they wouldn’t “fall” into temptation. Guard your heart; wake up; be on the alert! (Proverbs 4:23; Ephesians 5:15-17). Look for God’s “way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Use the full Armor of God to stand against him (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Scheme #6. He tries to make us forget or doubt God’s mercy.

One of his greatest lies to the Christ-follower is, “This is a sin too far.” I’ve dealt with this attack many times. My besetting sin can drive me to despair when I listen to and believe Satan’s steady chant: “You’ve blown it for the last time. There’s no more mercy.” I have to battle this scheme with strong truth!

The truth is, it’s not the overwhelming amount of struggles we may have with sin that should concern us, but only whether we have confessed (agreed with God about) them, repented of them and are positioning ourselves for victory—in Christ!

Are we really setting ourselves up to fight Satan’s strategies with strategies from the Word of God?

Our strategy to combat this is to rest in the truth of God’s loving mercy (Psalm 51:1-2; 103:8; Ephesians 2:4-5). Christ-followers are secure in the One who overcame Satan and died for every single sin. And our Lord still intercedes for us when we are floundering (John 17:15; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

We don’t have to worry or despair; we only need to believe the truth: God’s mercy to us, in Christ, is complete.

Which of these schemes has Satan used in your life lately? Ask the Lord to help you become more aware of Satan’s tactics. Abide in Him and His Word so you will be properly prepared with biblical strategies!

 – Dawn

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