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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We are all like little lambs.

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"Evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).

Photo of Fireproof promo image
In the movie "Fireproof" the main character has an addiction to internet pornography. In one scene he is looking at a boat he greatly desires and a popup for a pornography ad appears, pulling him into sinful desires. The scene captures the luring temptation as he struggles to resist.  A most memorable scene in the film is how he deals with this by destroying the computer!

I am sure most of us who have done any work on the internet have experienced the disgusting annoyance of the popup ads. These are windows that automatically open up as you go to a particular webpage. Just by clicking on the window you may unintentionally install malicious programs on your computer or set your phone to dial a number with a fee.  The most morally obnoxious are the ones bordering on soft porn. Thankfully for the last four or five years I have some protection blocks so I don't get these anymore.

Life is full of similar popups, although not necessarily the computer variety. These are our enemy's persistent attempts to get us off the right track even while engaging in worthy pursuits. It began in the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent. Martin Luther describes the sinister craftiness of our enemy as "an ancient foe that seeks to work us woe."  He is very adept at modern technology and will use whatever means at his disposal to accomplish his purpose.

The daily verse says "evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse." I often comment in this series on what a beautiful view I have as I prepare this encouragement each morning. When I look outside my large window I see what God at creation said was "good." Of course I need to keep my focus on the Lord and His goodness, yet evil is ever lurking in the midst of His vast expanse of goodness. Certainly the evidence of evil men going from bad to worse is seen in current events, whether it's a popup ad to allure me to sin or scores of other methods, both ancient and brand new.

"Deceiving and being deceived."  When people get off the right track it creates a circular dynamic of both deceiving and being deceived.  Bible Commentator Stephen Slocum observes: "When one begins by deceiving others, in so doing they lose their sense of distinction between truth and falsehood, and with their moral compass thus distorted, eventually end up by being deceived by the deceptions of others. Sin sown, reaps its own punishment.  This is the general law of depravity - that if men are not converted, they are always growing worse, and sinking deeper into iniquity. The breach between light and darkness, so far from being healed, becomes ever widened."

But in a sense the reality of evil can actually build our faith, although this is a concept very difficult to develop in a paragraph. The Scriptures are quite forthright in regard to evil and its consequences. When I see a luring popup I am reminded of the enemy's desire to "sift me as wheat".* God has told us the truth in regard to the reality of evil and we indeed recognize that it is all around us.  But it is an individual choice we make to keep it from luring us to entrapment and we do have the power of the Holy Spirit to resist.

I consider a portion of an old hymn written in 1901 that speaks truth to my heart today: "That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet. This is my Father's world; the battle is not done. Jesus who died, shall be satisfied, and earth and heav'n be one."

In hope we await that time when "the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:21).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, in this decadent world where imposters are increasing in number and in their menacing deception we can easily be lured into their schemes or we can stand our ground for purity and holiness.  Help us to always be on guard by familiarizing ourselves with Scripture, and arming ourselves in the attire of a Christian soldier as we do battle with the enemy of darkness. 

And, Lord, for those who are dear to our heart; those who have taken the enemy's bait and now are entrapped in sin's deadly tentacles, we prayerfully intercede on their behalf as we cry out to You.  Free them from the deadly strangle of Satan's influence.  Grant us wisdom, discernment, and favor as we interact with them.  Send others to bring light to their darkened paths and to help us bear this heavy burden.  We will not be defeated, for Your power that is within us is greater than the power of our enemy.  We will not despair in our problems, but we will delight in Your promises. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

* Brooksyne's note:  It is a wonderful blessing to remember that not only are we praying for our loved ones who are not walking in the faith, but Jesus is also interceding to the Father on their behalf.  I'm reminded of this when Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31: "Satan has asked  to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail."  Though Simon did fail when he denied Jesus, his faith did bring him back to his spiritual foundation and reinstated his standing as a devoted follower of Christ.  It's reassuring to know that God knows the journey of which our loved one will take, sees the detours and dead ends, but is working all the while through our prayers of faith and Jesus' intercession on their behalf.

Photo of Walter Kember Scripture print
Yesterday I shared about the Walter Kember Scripture prints which I have seen in many churches. My brother Pat, a veteran pastor in the Lehigh Valley sent me a photo of the print he has in his office, which he received many years ago.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

Today we would like to share links to several songs that remind us of our eternal home.

"This Is My Father's World"  Video
 I used a portion of this song in today's message.  This is a beautiful Fernando Ortega version.

"I Must Tell Jesus"  Video
  I realize I used this song with a message last week, but a great line from this hymn came to mind today in the course of preparing for today's topic:
What must I do when worldliness calls me?
What must I do when tempted to sin?
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the vict’ry to win.

"I'm Waiting On You" Video  A powerful song from "Fireproof" dealing with waiting on the Lord as we overcome and wait for His answers to our prayers.

Fireproof, DVDFireproof, DVD  By Provident Music Distribution
The latest theatrical blockbuster from the creators of Facing the Giants, Fireproof is an action-packed love story about a firefighter, his wife, and a marriage worth rescuing! At work, inside burning buildings, Capt. Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) lives by the old firefighter's adage: "Never leave your partner behind". At home, in the cooling embers of his marriage, he lives by his own rules. His job is to rescue others. Now Caleb Holt has to face his toughest job ever, rescuing his wife's heart.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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