“Submit yourselves, then, to God.Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you…”James 4:7-8a
Watch the dance of a spider and fly and you will be reminded of the cunning ways of Satan.
Sitting at an unobtrusive distance, I watched the foolish fly move closer and closer to the spider’s web.Maybe the fly couldn’t see the spider, or she was feeling cocky because she was twice the size of the pretty innocent looking spider.
The spider remained motionless, watching for the moment when the fly would get just a little too close.
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“ ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“The Spider and the Fly” by Mary Howitt-1829
The intriguing dance continued for several minutes.Closer and closer, the fly moved toward the web of the spider.When she spread her wings to fly away, it was too late.She struggled mightily against her sticky prison, shaking her winged body from side to side, desperately trying to escape her entanglement.Meanwhile, Spider waited until all movement stopped.
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour – but she ne’er came out again!
“The Spider and the Fly” byMary Howitt-1829
Temptation is the silent enemy of presidents and governors, men and women, young people and children alike.So inviting is the lure of it, that those who are strong in the faith foolishly believe we cannot become entrapped by it.So we inch closer and closer to the precipice of disaster.That’s the way Satan works, by giving us something exciting and pretty and then convincing us (as he did Eve) that God would not be so cruel as to deny us the pleasures we deserve.
Now is the time for disciplined living.Jesus scolded the sleeping disciples, “Could you not watch with me for one hour?Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation…”(Matt. 26:38)
Beloved, the hour is fast coming when every Christian will be needed to stand strong against the web of the spider.Resist the allure of those things which the Bible warns about…flee evil.Do not fall prey to sin because you are too cocky, too self-willed, that you think you can dance with the devil and be OK.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, give me wisdom to recognize evil, and strength enough to flee its temptation.Protect me from the trickery of Satan, whether it is clothed in political garment, dressed up as the chance of a lifetime, or presented as a diabolical prosperity non-gospel.Remind me always that I am one temptation away from total destruction, and that my strength to resist comes only from You.Amen and amen.
11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11 (Amplified Bible)
"Barren or Beautiful?"
I recently returned from my first vacation outside of Houston in a couple of years. A dear friend and I traveled to Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps. With my cousin as our tour guide, we experienced more than the usual tourist traps and had a great time.
One of my favorite sites was a visit to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – a 13-mile scenic drive surrounded by mountains. I absolutely love this breathtaking view of God’s majesty. One can hike or bike, horse-back ride or have a picnic. We noted some visitors to the area partaking in a number of these activities.
Peering out the car window something else caught my eye – cacti – as far as I could see. In this hot and dry climate, vegetation was actually growing. Some looked pretty withered and worn, but most were green and lush and there were actually pretty flowers springing forth in the seemingly barren land.
While we know cacti don’t require much water to survive and thrive, we could only make it a short while without it – we would perish and our bodies and lips would be dry and parched.
There have been times when my heart has been hardened like this land and my lips were parched and dry, and I’ve wondered how anyone could see the beauty within me. When I thirst, do I crave worldly things or do I look to Jesus Christ, “the spring of the water of life?” (Rev 21:6) Am I satisfied with my barren life or do I joyously appreciate the beauty that God has placed in my life?
GospeLines Prayer: Father, it is so easy to dismiss the simple things – those that don’t come in the packages we expect at a certain time. May we learn not to be satisfied with anything other than You – continuing to thirst for You and Your word. Help me, Lord, not to become as Socrates wrote so long ago, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” May I always make You first in ALL things!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, July 1, 2009
“In the last days… the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established… and all nations will stream to it…”(Isaiah 2:2) c. 800 BC
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah2: 4)
If not now, when?Many folks believe that we are living in the last days, just as Isaiah described.Through the years there have been a lot of predictions about when Jesus will return, some which have sounded almost plausible and others have bordered on the ridiculous.Needless to say they have all been wrong, and I don’t say that with delight.There are many times when I wake up in the morning and pray that this will be the day!
The earliest known prediction was found written on an Assyrian clay tablet, 2800 BC.It said, “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.Bribery and corruption are common.”
Even though that quote is not from the Bible, we certainly have our share of bribery and corruption today.One of the keys to knowing that we are living in the last days is that things will continue to get worse and worse.The moral fiber of the globe will decay at a rate that will be shocking.Even those nations which many call “Christian,” will dismiss their godly standards in favor of political rightness and global plurality.People will be forced to downplay the public expression of their Christian beliefs in order to appease other religions.The laws of our land will no longer favor Christianity, but they will favor every religion EXCEPT Christianity.
Jesus said that Christians would suffer the ultimate challenge when “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”(Matt. 24:9)It may seem to everyone that these are the last days.If that is true, then we need to prepare for the greatest challenge of our Christian lives.The Bible clearly teaches that the “Day of the Lord” will come suddenly, “so that this day will surprise you like a thief in the night.”(I Thess. 5:1)
My dear friend, pastor Jones Mahaffey, tells this story:
During our first pastorate, in the village of Mercer, ND (1971-73), the pastor of Mercer's First Baptist was a brother of Jewish descent, named John Silvey. Late one summer evening, I was sitting on the back steps of the parsonage when John rode up on his bicycle. While we were chatting, I said something about Jesus' return, and probably mentioned I Thess. 4. John said, "I'll tell you when I think He's coming back--when everybody's saying that He's not coming!" Well, John, it looks like we arenow in the time that you spoke of!
If you really knew that we were living in the last days, and that Jesus would come back tomorrow… what would be on your agenda for the next 24 hours?Would you tell as many people as you meet to prepare for the Day of the Lord before it’s too late?
Why aren’t we doing that now?
GospeLines Prayer:Heavenly Father, thank you for your love which will carry us through these last days, because “no one can separate us from the love of Christ”; I praise you for your wisdom to know when the time is right for Your return, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom”; I beg you prepare us for “The Day of the Lord,” and to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have…with gentleness and respect.”Amen and amen.
Someone recently said, “We must remember that “No” is also an answer to our prayers.”Who would disagree?Didn’t God say “No” to the Apostle Paul three times when he asked to have his “thorn” removed? (2nd Corinthians 12:7-10)
Actually, God didn’t say “No” to Paul.He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2nd Corinthians 12:9)God gave Paul something else – Grace.
Jesus said, “All things are possible with God” (Matthew & Mark )He didn’t say all things would happen; but, that they were “possible.”
He also said “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) and “If you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21)
How can we reconcile these Words of our Lord?Does God sometimes say “No” to His children?If all things are possible, what determines if the answer is “Yes” or “No”?
I do believe that sometimes God says “No” to our requests.However, the Bible clearly explains the determining factors.“He listens to the godly man who does His will.” (John 9:31)“If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1st John 5:14)“If you have faith and do not doubt…” (Matthew 21:21)“If you have faith… Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
Sometimes the answer may be “No.”However, His Words should teach us not to simply say, “I asked and He said “No” so that’s it – it must not be His will so I’ll give up and move on.”We should first look into our hearts.Are we asking according to His will?Are we asking in faith with no doubt; or, do we have some anxiety that He will not really answer our prayers.Sometimes we may be too quick to pass off an unanswered prayer as “Not His will” when; in fact, the problem is with our heart, not with His Grace.
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
The church had just gone through the persecution at the hands of Nero. John, the only surviving apostle, continued his ministry to a small group of Christians near Ephesus. They were distraught and disillusioned about their faith, not sure if what they believed was the cure for their woes or the cause of their persecution.
It was in that setting that John said, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life." (I John 5:13)
There are days when we just need to know! This timeless verse speaks an indelible word of truth for this century as well. No one is able to snatch us from the hand of God. Our salvation is secure in the one who gave His life for us.
GospeLines Prayer:Everlasting Father, from Eden to Patmos, the story did not change. You walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, and you sheltered your servant John, exiled on the island called Patmos. Your Word is the same from Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to end, and it is fresh everyday. Hallelujah! You live in my heart right now!! I give You honor, praise and glory for all that You do for me and for the way You will provide for me tomorrow and forever. Amen and amen.