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A Perfect Substitute

3 Apr

PeepDynastyI love Peep “creations,” like this “Peep Dynasty” diorama (left) created by Minnesotans Liz, Maddie, Drew, Matt and Ryan Mulcahy to resemble the “Duck Dynasty” TV show.

My sister-in-love, Janice, loves Easter “Peeps” candy and we’ve shared some of those squishy, sugary chicks or bunnies with her every spring. But they don’t belong in her healthy diet, so she firmly told my husband and me last year, “No more Peeps!”

JansBirthdayPeep_2015_croppedWe complied, until we saw this huge stuffed “Peep” (right). Jan’s birthday is two days before Easter, so Miss Pinky Peep was her special gift this year!

LOL indeed!

The stuffed Peep was a good substitute in place of her more tempting marshmallow version, don’t you think? It brought nothing but joy.

I’ve been thinking about “substitutes” lately — how the Bible mentions at least two kinds of substitutes. Here’s what I’m thinking . . .

1. It’s a good thing to find acceptable, even beneficial substitutes when we are tempted. The reason temptations are successful is, when they connect so deeply with our desires, we often choose to give in. As James, one of the disciples, wrote,

“Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin” (James 1:14-15).

Actually, temptations arise from the world (1 John 2:15-17), our sinful flesh (Galatians 5:16-21) and the devil (1 Peter 5:8). So we can’t just say, “The devil made me do it,” or blame the culture. We are responsible for our choices.

Our example of dealing with temptation is Jesus Himself.  He was tempted as we are, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). When tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus substituted God’s truth for Satan’s lies.

God wants us to do the same.

When tempted, we must not rely on our own skill, our own wisdom or our own strategies. We must appeal to, quote and rest in the sure Word of God.

The Lord uses His Word to correct and transform us (Romans 12:2; 2 Timothy 3:16). We can rejoice in that!

And we can ask the Lord to show us how to stand against temptation, perhaps by choosing an alternate activity or a godly option. Remember:

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 Corinthians 10:13)

When faced with temptations today, we must learn to use the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and the Word of God (Psalm 119:9, 11), to defeat our enemy. We must be watchful in prayer, discovering and becoming more alert to Satan’s strategies (Matthew 26:41). [A good resource for this is Warren Wiersbe’s book, The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him.]

We must not be ignorant of Satan’s tricks (2 Corinthians 2:11). Our crafty adversary twists scriptures (Genesis 3:1-5) as he masquerades as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). He seeks “opportune” times to tempt us (Luke 4:13). We need the Holy Spirit to show us how to recognize and defeat the devil through the power of the Word.

We can always rely on the truth of the Scriptures to show us how to substitute healthy, godly, wise choices for spiritual growth and victory.

And then . . .

2. Jesus is my PERFECT Substitute. That’s another “substitute” concept that truly blesses me this Easter season.

God promised Adam and Eve a Savior would come (Genesis 3:15), but ironically, He spoke those words to Satan. From that moment, Satan knew he was headed for defeat. He likely sensed it again, before the cross,  when Jesus defeated him in the wilderness through the power of the Word. But that doesn’t keep Satan from trying to destroy God’s children. We must remember the promise of Genesis 3 and how God fulfilled it in John 3:16!

Yes, every believer has counted on God’s promise of a coming Savior since the Garden of Eden.

The blessing of Good Friday and Easter is that Jesus kept the law perfectly his 33 years, then died on the cross and rose to victory as our gracious Substitute.

JesusTheLambOfGod_OurSubstituteThe perfect Lamb of God died for our sins and rose that we might have eternal life, if we trust in His substitutionary sacrifice for us.

He took what we rightly deserved, and gave us what we could never deserve in ourselves. This was spelled out in Isaiah 53:5, which prophecies Christ’s “substitutionary atonement,” as well as many New Testament passages, like:

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God . . . He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness . . . For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. to bring you to God . . . “ (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).

Yes, Jesus, our Champion — Jesus our Substitute — rose from the dead and won the victory. And by faith, the victory is ours as well.

In summary, remember:

1.  To find victory over besetting sins, learn to substitute God’s truth for Satan’s lies.

2. We cannot save ourselves; we need a substitute to take our place. We must rest in God’s grace . . . in our Holy Substitute, Jesus.

Have you placed your trust in the perfect Substitute? Are you learning to find victory in the Word of God?

– Dawn

 

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Incongruous

5 Jul

Back in the 70s, my boys watched Sesame Street, and we’d sing this song: “One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong….” They learned early on to recognize incongruous things.SandSnowman_HoHoAloha

You’ve probably seen some incongruous things in life.

One of my favorite “incongruous” sightings is a sand snowman on the beach.  We certainly don’t expect to see a “snowman” there! Vacationers in beautiful Hawaii, Aruba and other tropical isles get creative building and decorating these sand snowmen in December.

[A side noteJenn, a dear woman who still grieves the loss of a little baby, Noah, built a happy little snowman on vacation some time later. She allowed me to adapt it for this photo.]

Some other incongruous things:

A pig wearing lipstick (made famous by Sarah Palin) … a baseball player pitching an avocado … a cake mix box in the middle of a row of cookbooks … a kitty in a lineup of Meerkats … a very loud belch at a formal dinner….

You get the idea.

Congruous means “what is suitable or proper.” It’s things that make sense together. When something is incongruous, we might say it is “not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings” or other aspects of something.

Incongruity is a key element in good humor, but it’s not such a good thing in life.

I was thinking of the word “incongruous” as I read some familiar scriptures.

Romans 6:2 says, “… How can we who died to sin still live in it?” This entire chapter reminds the believer that we no longer need to obey our passions and impulses to sin. We are to consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11).

It was incongruous to Paul that a Christian should “continue in sin that grace may abound” (v. 1),  present their bodies to unrighteousness (v. 13) or live as slaves to sin (vv. 17-18).

Yes, there is an ongoing struggle with the presence of sin (Romans 7:15-23), but the power of sin over us is broken (v. 25) because Christ has redeemed us. We have life in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-11) and are heirs with Christ (8:12-17).

Our reality is, we are headed for glory with Him (8:18). We are “conquerors (overcomers) through him who loved us” (8:37) and will never be separated from God’s love in Christ (8:38-39).

I’m grieved by Christians’ light-hearted attitude toward sin today.  I grieve that I accept my own sinning so easily. I forget I’m a foot-soldier in the Lord’s army, obliged to obey His every command.

We need to remember the battle we’re in. We need to:

  1. Take Up Our Armor (put on every piece, Ephesians 6:11-13);
  2. Endure Hardship and strive to please our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus! (2 Timothy 2:3-4, 9-10; Matthew 16:24);
  3. Fight the Good Fight (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12), proclaim the truth of God’s Word and living for Him – no matter how difficult;
  4. And Stand firm against the attacks of Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 Corinthians 10:12; James 4:7; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

The world needs to see Jesus’ life manifested, demonstrated, in our day-to-day circumstances. Too often, all it sees is an incongruous picture – “Sinning Saints.” This should not be.  The Holy One calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-17a; Leviticus 11:44-45).

Yes, I know. We won’t be perfect until we get to heaven. But that’s no excuse to continue in disobedience. We have hundreds of opportunities to decide for God every day, and we need to stay engaged.The battle is the Lord’s, but He expects us not to slink away from the battlefield!

What could be more incongruous than a soldier sitting out the biggest battle of his life, fiddling with lesser things and failing to obey his Commander’s instructions?

You might want to ask, with me: “Father, is my life a picture of incongruous living? Where am I a hypocrite? Where am I not obeying your commands?”

Let’s recommit to taking those four steps to become victorious in Christ!

  – Dawn

Privacy Issues

5 Feb

I’ve sighed many times at all the “privacy issues” that come up with social media, but Pam Farrel sent me something she saw on Facebook that made me LOL!

“New privacy issue with Facebook! As of tomorrow, Facebook will creep into your bathroom when you’re in the shower, smack your rear end, and then steal your clothes and towel. And it’s all gonna happen when you have soap in your eyes.

“To change this option, go to Privacy Settings > Personal Settings > Bathroom Settings > Smacking and Stealing Settings. Then, uncheck the Shenanigans box. Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and Paste on your status to alert others.”

That’s funny, but for many, real privacy issues are no laughing matter. With all the “hacking” and viruses trying to invade our privacy, many of us are searching for ways to guard against those who want to destroy our computer efficiency or, worse, steal our identities!

This made me think ~ how like Satan, the enemy of our soul. He wants to destroy our effectiveness for God, and he is the “Father of Lies” (John 8:44) constantly feeding us lies about our true identity.

Like a sneaky cyber worm, Satan “hacks” into our lives for weaknesses, foolish choices, and sinful behavior that he can throw up against us at the most inconvenient times.

  • He invades our thoughts and tries to shut down spiritual growth.
  • He relishes opportunities to make us feel guilty.
  • He rejoices when we feel unworthy to follow and serve Christ.

Temptation of Christ - Scheffer

We need to establish some strong “privacy settings” by changing the options Satan has in our lives.

Just as Jesus made the enemy flee by quoting appropriate scripture zingers (Matthew 4:1-22; Luke 4:1-13), we need to know and skillfully use the Word of God to guard against Satan’s tricky attacks. We need to be alert and guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) with biblical truth so the enemy cannot steal our joy in Christ and we can experience true freedom (John 8:32).

We reinforce those settings every day as we spend time reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the truth of the Bible. We also are wise step up our protection by putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

If we have some “privacy issues,” it may be because we’ve failed to be faithful in saturating our hearts and minds with the heart and mind of Christ ~ loving the things He loves, and obtaining His wisdom.

So ~ quick check ~ are your “privacy settings” up to date?

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