Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 7)

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 7)

 Rebuking the Devil

11. Deadness

“They think he has leukemia,” my heart stopped as a lump formed in my throat. The news seemed, well, unbelievable, “How can that be?! He’s only thirty years old,” I responded to my sister. But deep down something in me just knew. My brother-in-law was going to die. And in fact, less than a year later he passed away. His death was an awful thing to witness. It challenged my faith and even some of my moral convictions. I left the hospital only hours before his last breath, but that final day was dreadful. I’m not even sure what was worse: watching his chest rise and fall awkwardly, or hearing the wails and cries of his mother and sisters who wept as those with no hope. As much as I loved him and would miss him, I prayed for God to take him quickly during those final, torturous hours. The only comfort came in knowing he was leaving his pain and entering the eternal rest of Jesus’ arms.

But it almost didn’t work out that way.

In the minutes after receiving that first phone call, my world began to change as I wrestled with the way I had lived my life and how my choices could have directly affected the eternity of my brother-in-law. He knew I claimed to be a Christian, he knew I was raised in church, he knew what I said I believed, but he also knew that my actions were the exact opposite of everything I had been taught. In fact, it was only a few months after my “prodigal return” to Jesus that I found out he was sick.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, I fell to my knees in prayer for his salvation. He was not saved, he did not know Jesus, and frankly, I couldn’t blame him with the type of Christian examples he had in his life! Unfortunately, this scenario plays out all too often in many families. We find out a loved one is sick, we worry over their soul; we pray for their salvation, we cry out to God in desperation for their physical healing. But where were we and our prayers before we found out about their illness? Tragically, many of us were Christians whose faith was dead.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead,” (James 2:17, NIV). The Greek rendering for “dead” in the passage is literally, “like a corpse”. It’s like a body without a soul—it’s an empty shell, completely ineffective.**

When I started to witness to my brother in law, he was skeptical to say the least. Sure I had “repented” and been going back to church for a few months, but the whole of my life (as far as what he knew) was nothing but a giant hypocrisy. What was so great about the God I was reflecting in my life? Why should he want that? And now here I was pleading with him to accept Christ before it was too late. Maybe I should have thought about that, oh, say ten years earlier when I was chasing the lusts of the flesh.

In the end, after much prayer and witnessing (and yes, much confession and asking of forgiveness) my brother-in-law did accept Jesus as his Savior before he lost the ability to communicate. I’ll never forget one of the last things he said to me as his face radiated peace during those final days, “I’m going to be with Jesus! I’m going to Heaven!” I had no doubt about his eternal security, but man, that was close! Too close! And for many, sadly, the story does not have a happy ending.

Spiritual deadness is merely the result of spiritual dullness left unchecked. Living as a complacent, lukewarm believer eventually leads to an ineffective faith. What the world needs to see is Christians practicing what they preach (love, grace, mercy, forgiveness), and exuding the peace that passes all understanding in their daily lives. When we choose sin over obedience, self over surrender, and bondage over freedom, our behavior will absolutely reflect those choices—and our choices will affect other people. It may even affect their eternity.

“To suffer deadness is to forget Revelation 3:1,

‘To the angel of the church of Sardis write: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”’”¹

Our lives are ravaged with trial, suffering, and pain, but that doesn’t mean we should lose hope, abandon our faith, and walk away from God when circumstances don’t turn out the way we’d like. A lot of times our spiritual estrangement is a result of an “entitlement” mentality. We believe God “owes” us a certain way of life, and when He fails to meet our expectations we get angry with Him and rebel. I plead with you to take caution with such an attitude. Satan will tempt us to think our influence doesn’t really matter, or that our choices aren’t hurting anyone else, but that is a lie from the pit. Our spiritual freedom matters, our faith matters, and it matters not only for you and me, but for our families and friends, and anyone we come in contact with in our daily lives. The bank tellers, the grocery store clerks, the other drivers on the road (ever see a crazy driver with a Jesus fish or church sticker on their car?)—our decision to choose to pursue truth and live by it matters to the world.

If you’ve struggled with a dead (ineffective) faith, please pray this prayer out loud, “Jesus, my attitude, actions, and choices do not always align with your truth. In the name of Jesus I now choose to believe what your word says about me, and how you see me, and I reject the lie that my choices and behavior do not matter and won’t hurt anyone else. Give me a heart that is willing to walk by faith while boldly rejecting what is false. When I trusted you as my Savior, you made me alive in righteousness and dead to sin, now create an experience in my life that reflects that position of freedom. Help me live every day as one dead to sin and alive unto righteousness. Thank you for your forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. I choose to reject the voices of condemnation and embrace your word of truth that says simply, ‘Go, and sin no more.’² In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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  1. Dr. H.L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, ©1981, 1984 by H.L. Willmington–all rights reserved.
  2.  See John 8:1-11
  3. **Before you send me angry emails or attempt to post argumentative comments, I know this verse is often used to prove that one needs works in order to be “truly” saved. But without getting into a theological debate, I will merely state this: in relation to the whole of God’s word and contextual interpretation, I do not believe this verse says faith without works is not a “saving faith”. In fact, if it did, it would contradict many other passages and examples of “carnal” Christians in the Bible. (And that’s as much as I care to comment on this subject. This post is NOT intended to be a doctrinal debate on soteriology!)

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(To review the previous Deadly Ds of the devil, simply click on the “D” of your choice:

#1—Disappointment; #2—Discouragement; #3—Despair; #4—Doubt; #5—Disbelief; #6—Distraction; #7—Double-mindedness; #8—Dishonesty; #9—Deceit; #10–Dullness)

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I Wanted A Piece Of Fruit; God Gave Me A Smoothie

For the last few days all I have been craving is a good piece of fresh fruit. That doesn’t sound so complicated I suppose….except for one little hitch. I can’t afford to go buy one little piece of fruit right now. It’s not that I don’t have food in my house, or that I have a puffed out bloated tummy like a starving child in Africa. No, I am well fed. It’s just a tough time for us, and right now we have no grocery budget, and have to make due with what we have in the cabinets. None of that happened to be fresh fruit or any type of fruit juice. *sigh* Ok, not the end of the world, I can drink some water and pretend.

When I look at my circumstances, they don’t look desirable. In fact, one could say they “suck”.  Someone told me the other day, “It always seems that bad things happen to good people. And you’re better than me because at least you go to church, and look at all this stuff happening to you. I don’t understand it or think it’s fair. You derserve better.” I suppose if I had entertained that line of thought I could have easily talked myself in to one massive pity party like I have done so many times in the past. But this time I knew it would be different. This time I had trust. This time I was not going to allow my circumstances and the storms of life to affect my attitude and spiral me into a fit of worry. Hey, if I have to live off of cereal and bread for two weeks, then so be it. I’ll live. It could be worse. In the past I would have been freaking out, wringing my hands, upset because I couldn’t eat exactly what I wanted. Upset because I didn’t know how rent was going to be paid or how needs would be met. Having major anxiety attacks and major anger problems. But this time was different. God got ahold of me. I knew that no matter what, I was where He wanted me to be, and He was my Provider. I knew I could trust Him. It might not be what I wanted (No Steak and Shrimp, God??) but it would be what I needed. So I relaxed and let God take care of it. Trusting God didn’t change my circumstances. It changed ME. That’s when the light bulb went on. This whole thing isn’t about crying out to God when I need something and watching him fix it and make my life easier. It’s about trusting Him even when my circumstances DON’T change. It’s about loving Him, praising Him, and fixing my eyes on Him even when everything around me gives me every reason to lose hope. To turn my back and complain. To say “It’s not fair!”  First God wants my undivided attention. He wants my trust in Him, and he doesn’t want that trust to be conditional based on what He is doing for me. Just think…if everything was always so grand in my life, then would I really appreciate or even notice the awesome ways God moves around me? Probably not. God isn’t just in the big things, He is all around me in the little things, in all the details. And he wants me to SEE HIM in it, and PRAISE HIM for it! Every day should be an AWESOME GOD day! Not just the days that are going well, or the successful days or the happy days. God allows these things in my life to show Himself to me in an even more intimate way. What a loving and nurturing God! He says:

“‘I will satisfy with…abundance and my people will be filled with My bounty.’ declares the Lord.'” Jeremiah 31:14(NIV)

Well, you wonder, did your awesome God give you your fruit?? Let me tell you. My dear friend surprised me with a couple bags of groceries, after a day at the park. Along with that was a bag a freshly picked oranges from one of her neighbors trees. When I brought the groceries home and started unloading them, I quickly realized that not only was God involved, but He was ALL OVER this! Every item pulled from these bags was something my family normally eats, and some were things my daughter had been asking for for weeks! Now, mind you, my friend was not aware of any of our normal eating habits, likes or dislikes. All she had was the leading of the Holy Spirit, and she followed it! As my daughter slept during her nap I took one of the bananas my friend gave us, and two of the fresh oranges. Found some ice cream in the freezer, and made myself a wonderfully delightful, fresh fruit smoothie. And as I sat there in the couch in silence reflecting on the awesomeness of my God’s provision I thought, “Hey, all I wanted was a piece of fruit, but God gave me a smoothie!”

What’s my point? Simply this: God allows us to face things in our lives to reveal Himself to us more through our circumstances and through other people. He used a friend of mine today, who I have only known for a few weeks, to greatly bless my family. Her generosity and kindness was God honoring and her faithfulness to Him is no doubt going to be rewarded. But how could she have served unless someone was in need? In the same way, all of us have needs or circumstances, and God makes us, as His children, a perfect match to fulfill those needs in each others lives. We just have to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, and be obedient to His voice. Maybe we should look at trials differently. Maybe we should take a moment to stop, and ask God to show Himself to us. What is it that He wants us to see? Who is it He wants us to help? Who is it that He may use to help us?

The bottom line is that He uses all of us to enrich each other, but ultimately He is the sole Provider, and the sole Caretaker.

“Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust.” Psalm 16:1

Preserve-(Hebrew definition)

a prim. root; to hedge about (as with thorns) i.e. to guard; to protect; attend to…etc.-beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep(-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save, sure, (that lay) wait (for) watch(-man)

If you look at the original Hebrew definition of “preserve” you see all that it implies. We could re-phrase this verse in many other ways to understand it further, based on this definition, and therefore gain a greater knowledge of how God truly cares for us.

Mark me, O God…”

“Look narrowly after me, O God…”

“Observe me, O God…”

“Regard me, O God…”

“Save me, O God…”

“Lay wait for me, O God…”

“Be my Watchman, O God…”

“Put a hedge about me with thorns, O God…”

“Protect me, O God…”

“Attend to me, O God…”

“Be my Keeper, O God…”

He IS our Hedge, our Keeper, our Protector, our Attendant, our Watchman….He regards us, He saves us, He observes us, He looks narrowly after us….

What a God!! What is there not to trust? Even in the small things, in the big things, in ANY thing. HE IS THERE, we need to look for HIM, and He will be found. Allow Him to use your circumstances for His glory, before you throw up your hands in frustration. Ask Him to satisfy your soul with His goodness, BEFORE your circumstances change.

“For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9