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Monday, January 13, 2020

Swans in snow (Lamar Dourte)
Swan Couple that resides at Pleasant View in Manheim, PA
(Last week our friend, Lamar Dourte, took this photo of swans that blended in nicely with the pure white landscape. Lamar is a gifted musician who leads the choir at Pleasant View Retirement Community and shares his ministry talent with senior care homes in our area and other venues as well.)

"Sin's Crouching"

Message summary: Stand firm, my brothers and sisters. Resist the enemy who seeks to do evil and engage the Holy Spirit who seeks to mature us in the faith.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it'" (Genesis 4:6,7).

Last evening I, Brooksyne, had a long distance phone conversation with a godly mother whose daughter, Sue*, has been an alcoholic for many years resulting in her being cut off from any contact with her former husband and three children over the last decade. I had met Sue in the context of our chaplain service at a local hotel where she served as a housekeeper.

But over the past two years she was on a good track and was experiencing the good things that come from choosing abstinence and once again was visiting with her children and now her grandchildren. I had learned about this change in her life some time back but had overall lost touch following her move to another state.

Sadly, I learned during my lengthy phone conversation with her mother that Sue is once again caught up in the agony of alcoholism, even attempting suicide, and once again in bad relations with her children. Her mother, ever hopeful that Sue will once and for all lay down the poison, grieved aloud that her daughter has never made a confession of faith though she attended church from childhood into her young adult years. She even attended Christian schools growing up.

Sue had told me the same thing during our counseling sessions years ago. Somehow she just can't bring herself to acknowledge that she needs the Lord to guide her life and show her how to overcome the evil one. Not only is there forgiveness when one comes to Christ, but the Spirit teaches us how to discern that which is from God for our good and that which comes from Satan who is bent on destroying our lives, along with those we love most.

I prayed over the phone with this dear mother believing God to remove the strongholds in Sue's life so that she will finally come to a place of repentance and acknowledge her need for Christ in her life. That would be a great start for dealing with the wiles of the enemy.

This first record of temptation and sin among Adam's fallen descendants is our daily text. It provides a pattern of how sin works in the lives of all of Adam's children and reveals the tragic consequences for the transgressor, Cain.

As we note the progression we see a caution for our own lives as redeemed believers. We are again so powerfully reminded of the need to stand firm in our faith. We must call on God for His sustaining grace to resist the sin that results when we give into the daily temptations Satan hurls at us.

"If you do what is right" - God has revealed His will for our lives so we can know the right way.  We have many other Scriptures telling us the right way, "He hath showed thee" (Micah 6:8); "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21); "This is the will of God" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Truly His "Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

"Will you not be accepted?" Foundationally being accepted by God begins by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. This is God's appointed means of beginning to "do what is right." Then we pursue the things of God, growing in His grace and knowledge. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14).

"But if you do not do what is right." God's warnings are expressions of His love. When we violate God's will as revealed in His Word, we give the enemy a foothold in our lives for further activity and progression of sin.  A grim outcome is revealed in Ephesians that describes the latter stages of this progression: "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Ephesians 4:19). With the flood of evil, pornography and sexual perversions of all sorts sweeping through our world many are at this stage. Deeper and deeper depths of depravity can be expected and the evil acts that accompany it.

"Sin is crouching at your door." The word for "crouching" conveys the posture of a four legged animal as it prepares to attack its prey.  That's the nature of sin and its crouched position is persistent. We must ever be alert, practice self-control, and stand firm, for our "enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

"It desires to have you."
Sin continues its desire to enslave you and me. A foundational step in overcoming sin is realizing this. You do well to recognize the enemy's tactic since he desires to have you as well.

"But you must master it." In the New Testament Paul wrote, "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14). In the pursuit of godliness we must, by God's grace, master our sinful nature, something as descendants of Adam we all share.

We often hear the phrase, "No one is perfect" and, yes, that is true. Only God is perfect. But we can be a righteous people if Christ lives in us, if we apply the Scriptures to our lives, and if we resist the "charm" or deceit of our enemy. Stand firm, my brothers and sisters. Resist the enemy who seeks to do evil and engage the Holy Spirit who seeks to mature us in the faith.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, thank You for Your indwelling Spirit that replaces my sinful nature with that of a spiritual nature. I no longer desire the temporary pleasures the world offers, but even as I walk in Your ways year after year, I'm keenly aware that sin is crouching at the door of my heart, always ready to make habitation if invited to come in. Alert my eyes to the strategic warfare of Satan. I want to be vigilant in guarding my heart against his cunning assault. I want to heed the many warnings You give us in Scripture as well as godly messengers who keep watch over my soul. With Your blood applied to the doorpost of my heart, I am purified by Your holiness, and want to stand firm to the end! Amen.

*Sue is a fictional name but a very real person.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Rescue Story"  Video   Zach Williams

"Jesus, Only Jesus"  Video  Closing song yesterday at Calvary Church including Pastor's prayer.

Finally today:

Sadie's mess 1/13/20
This morning Sadie decided to tear open the package of New Year's napkins and set up a party for her and Mollie. Either she's decided to have a late New Year's party for 2020 or a very early one for 2021. She may have also been hinting at receiving a few dog treats in the middle of her napkin spread!

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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