When Did Love Win?

 

Love Wins! 
What an awesome slogan. But there is a problem with it--it comes a little late. It's as if today's headline declared victory over Nazi Germany. The battle for the supremacy of love took place over 2000 years ago, but not at the moment you may think. 
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For love to win, it must have an opponent. Since God IS love, then his ultimate opponent is Satan. The showdown came on a lonely desert hillside when the Son of God was at his weakest. We read about it in Luke 4. Satan came at Love from a dozen angles, but they all had the same theme: Forget God's will and satisfy your flesh. Satan's goal was to forever enslave the people God loves, but he cloaked it as a simple compromise. The temptation sounded much like this:"You have a need. I can satisfy it. Maybe God's way isn't the only way." 
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His theme hasn't changed much. He still promises that his alternative to obedience will satisfy our need and God won't mind. He still insists that sin is no big deal and that love wins if we say it did. 
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But on that day of the ultimate showdown, true Love won with the words:"It is written..." 
Love refused to compromise the plan of God for His own fleshly desires. 
Love had a bigger goal in mind. He was going to offer His victory to anyone who would join Him in declaring it. 
Love won when He allowed men He'd created to nail him to a cross. And it shouted final victory when He kicked the stone away from the tomb and sent the demons running for cover. Love won when He broke the chains of slavery from the very sins that many now celebrate. 
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Love always wins when we defy Satan's compromise with the words, "It is written..."
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Love did not win with the Supreme court decision. Love has already won for any person who is willing to stand beside Him on a lonely hillside and declare to our Enemy: "No, Satan! I will not be enslaved by you any more. You have no power over me because love already won!"

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Would God Admit to Knowing You?




At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father Isaac. Genesis 28:13

Sometimes we introduce ourselves to new people in reference to someone we both know. “Hi, I’m John, Becky’s friend.” There is sudden recognition, a smile, and a handshake. They don’t know you, but they know Becky. Whatever trust and respect they have toward Becky is transferred to you. We often validate a new relationship because of someone we both know.
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How fascinating that the Lord of all creation introduced Himself to Jacob by identifying with people they both knew. Jacob had grown up with the stories. He knew of the successes and failures of parents and grandparents, but he also knew whom they had worshiped. The Lord could only introduce Himself to Jacob in reference to his ancestors because they had not been hypocrites. They had not worshiped God with their lips while their hearts were far from Him (Matt. 15:8). Children notice whether our words match our actions, whether our obedience to God is complete or partial. We teach them about God and how they should respond to Him by living it out before them.
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If the LORD appeared to your child, would He want to introduce Himself as your God?
 
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The Only One Left






Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you… I am the only one left...” 1 Kings 19:10


Elijah had just about HAD it. The nation he was called to serve had thrown themselves into idolatry and pagan worship. They had redefined what it meant to follow God and were quite defiant about it. Even the king and queen were rotten to the core. He had stood like a champion on that mountain, calling down fire from heaven to demonstrate the power of God. He’d stood firm and won, but now he was on the run from Queen Jezebel. And he was all alone. It just felt like too much. But the Lord’s quiet answer to His weary servant was this: “No, there are others. I’m sending one to you now.”

 Have you ever felt like Elijah? Maybe you are the only one in your family, workplace, or peer group who cares about serving God. As we watch our world throw itself into idolatry and pagan worship, as we see so-called Christians redefine what it means to follow God, we can start to feel very alone. When standing for biblical truth means that peers mock sexual purity, coworkers scoff at honesty, and headlines threaten our freedom, we can be tempted to check out. Forget church. Forget standing alone. Forget following God. But His gentle answer to His weary warriors is this: “No, there are others. I am sending them to you.”



Lone Sheep Don't Make It



 

A wolf paces at the edge of the woods, eyeing the flock of sheep grazing just out of reach. He’s in no hurry. He knows that to attack the whole flock would be suicide. The shepherd and the angry ram would defend them. He’d been on the receiving end of those horns and that shotgun and had no intention of tangling with them again. So he waits and watches as a lamb inches away from the flock, enticed by the tender blades of grass near the woods. As the flock moves slowly away, the lone sheep pays no attention. When the flock is too far away to interfere, the wolf makes his move. The poor lamb never saw it coming.

The Bible often compares us to sheep (Is. 53:6; Ez. 34:32). We are vulnerable to attack and often defenseless without our Good Shepherd and our “flock.” Satan, the wolf, prowls at the edges of the flock, waiting for the one who wanders away. He’s ready with his false doctrine, false promises, and false confidence to entice that lone sheep into his lair. “You don’t need them. They hurt your feelings. You’re too good a Christian for that bunch. No church is spiritual enough for you.” He has an endless supply of traps that a lone Christian will fall for without others to pull him to safety. Just as the sheep need the flock, we need each other. God has given us His church, His family, to keep us safe from predators. Only foolish lambs wander away.

Have you fallen for one of your enemy’s traps? Stay with the flock so the Shepherd can protect you (John 10:11).

Promises or Good-Luck Charms



"This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


In verses 6-9, the Lord told Joshua to "be strong and courageous" three separate times. In between those commands, God gave the reasons that Joshua could be fearless. Read these
qualifiers that would ensure God’s presence and Israel’s success: "Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." These verses about courage were not good-luck charms. They were promises from God that were dependent upon whether or not Joshua and the Israelites obeyed His instructions.

We sometimes pick apart the Bible to find verses we like, without reading them in their proper context. We can treat scripture like a collection of sound bites or good-luck charms, never considering the qualifiers that make them applicable to us. For us to know that “the Lord our God is with us wherever we go,” we must align our lives with God’s word. But before we can live it, we must know it. God has written an entire book to give us instructions for life. If we ignore those instructions, we forfeit the right to claim His promises.  


Before God’s promises can encourage us, God’s truth must define us.  

When we are obeying Him, then we have the confidence to be strong and courageous, knowing He is with us. We can fearlessly stand on God's promises when our live are defined by His commands.

The Color of Shame



 
 

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no… shame will darken their faces. Psalms 34:5

What does shame look like? If you had to draw a picture of shame, what colors would you use? 

Dark colors come automatically to mind, even in the Psalms. Shame darkens our faces. No one who carries shame is radiant with joy. Shame shows up in hollow smiles, lowered eyes, and even our complexions appear dull and lifeless. When we wear our shame, it is as though a label is plastered across our foreheads announcing our unworthiness.

This verse contrasts those who wear shame vs. those who look to God for help. But how do we do that? How can we look God in the face knowing what we know about ourselves? 

Notice this verse does not say “when we look to God,” it says “when we look to God for HELP.” Often we look to God with excuses, with justifications, or with explanations for why we did what we did. We can pray all night, but the shame remains because we are trying to negotiate. However, God offers a full pardon to everyone who comes to Him for help. His help means we that accept that Jesus shed His blood for sins such as these. We humbly accept a forgiveness we don’t deserve. And if He can forgive us, He expects us to forgive ourselves. To refuse to forgive ourselves is to exalt our standard over His. When we come to Him for His help, He replaces our shame with joy.

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