November 11th 2016
I remember my teen years when everything seemed so simple and clear-cut. Authority was always corrupt or out of touch. Parents were always an obstacle to my pursuit of the good life. Money was the answer to having a successful life. Pink was a girl color I would never wear. Rock-n-Roll was the only music worth listening to. The popular girl would only go out with a cool guy. Shortcuts were the way to success.
With this week’s elections and the crazy social policies, it seems the same distorted, black and white thinking is everywhere today. Both sides will use those “always” and “never” words making everything so extreme. Some issues certainly have moral standards of right and wrong that are fairly absolute and clear – everyone has the right to choose and peacefully practice their own faith, babies in the womb have a right to life, doctor’s shouldn’t be allowed to kill anyone, marriage is between a man and a woman, the gender you are chromosomally born with is your gender – to name a few. But as we examine these issues, we need to recognize we all struggle and have made mistakes, done bad things, and need compassion from each other and especially God’s grace.
A significant part of maturing is the ability to integrate the good and bad in the same entity. It’s actually a psychological developmental milestone everyone needs to master. Like an Oreo, black and white need to be seen together to “get” the whole picture. Other than God, nothing exists that doesn’t have an upside and a downside, good or bad, to it. We have to understand when we extend compassion and grace, that doesn’t mean we are condoning the person’s sinful behavior, just like God isn’t condoning our sins when He extends grace and protects us from consequences we surely deserve every time we screw up. We need to integrate the good and the bad of each situation to appropriately understand and manage it.
Similarly, there are two sides to being a believer, one of light and one of darkness. As a believer, I spend most of my spiritual energy on the “light” side of things. The promise of salvation, the grace and mercy of our Father, and the power of His forgiveness are just a few of the “light” elements. But to be a “whole” believer we need to accept the dark side as well. We must believe that Satan, the Prince of Darkness, is as real as Jesus is. It’s an ugly, scary fact. I bristle at even having to write about him. However, we need to accept and believe that Satan’s primary mission is to thwart God’s plan by tricking us into thinking God doesn’t love us, didn’t send Jesus to die for us, and all His revelation in the B.I.B.L.E. (Best Instruction Book for Living Everyday) isn’t true or applicable to our present culture, science, and society.
Let me make it perfectly clear. Each day you are embroiled in diabolical spiritual warfare. This is especially true for followers of Christ. Satan not only wants your attention, your family, your job, and your relationships, he also wants your soul – more than anything. His strategy is to create constant confusion and distraction in your mind. This confusion attacks every sphere … your brain chemistry, emotions, will, personality, needs, gender identity, sexual orientation, and your relationships with others. But Satan’s primary goal is disrupting your relationship with God. God calls you to renew your mind, not destroy it. But your mind is where the battle is fought, so you must protect it no matter what.
Today, become a “Whole” believer. Integrate the light and the dark by accepting and being aware that there is a never-ending war between God and Satan, and the trophy is your soul. Be more victorious in this war by identifying a negative thought pattern that smudges your lenses. Instead, look at Christ’s teachings for the truth. When you are stressed, remember the enemy isn’t your spouse, boss, money, job, or anything else … it is always Satan. Use the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, manifested in God’s armor and taught practically through these Stepping Stones devotionals to be victorious. Whether you have a winning strategy for the spiritual battle or you cross your fingers and just randomly wing it every day is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, My focus is on You. I believe and accept Your promise. I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, so that my sins may be forgiven. And I believe there is this diabolical creature, Satan. Your word tells us of his desire for death and destruction. I reject Satan and all his works. Help me, Father, to be constantly aware of the spiritual battle that wages around me. Help me remember that Satan tries to push my fleshly buttons, tempting me to believe his lies about You. Thank You for the process that renews my mind, biologically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually: sending Jesus and giving us your instruction book, the Bible. I pray in the name of Your Son, the True Light of world, Jesus Christ; and all God’s people say – AMEN!
He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:8-9
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:11-12