Tuesday, November 8, 2016

3 Little Lies: About Pain

Last week, when I mentioned three lies Satan tells us about himself, I said we would talk about three lies about sin this week. But I’m going to save that for next week because I feel I should talk to you about something else instead.

You see, yesterday I had to put my cat Smokey to sleep.

And I prayed that God would give me strength because my heart was breaking.

I mentioned in a previous post about my cat MeMe, who was not doing well. By God’s grace, her health is much better, and I thank you all for praying for her and me. Smokey was her brother, a sweet little boy who I called “the cat of instant purr.” You practically just had to look at this cat and he would purr. Even in his last minutes, when my dad held him before the vet gave him the final shot, my beautiful little buddy was purring.

I thank God that by His abundant mercy Smokey didn’t suffer long. It was really only the last three or four days of his life that he seemed like he was suffering at all. But even though it was the kindest thing we could do, my heart still aches.

You might think I’m crazy, caring so much for a cat. But there’s no shame in loving God’s creation, and I pray God uses my pain to minister to you, in whatever is going on in your life, whether your own heart is breaking, or whether it is rejoicing right now.

Because the truth is, we all face pain, in one form or another, and Satan has told us numerous lies about it.

So let’s look at three lies he tells us about pain.

1. Pain is bad

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes."
~ Psalm 119:71, NKJV

The truth is, pain never feels good, but it is always for our good.

God uses pain to strengthen our ministry.

He uses it to draw us closer to Him.

He uses it to get our attention when we’ve sinned against Him.

None of these are pleasant experiences, but they all have one common purpose: our good.

2. Pain is always because I sinned.

"Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?' So Satan answered the Lord and said, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!'  And the Lord said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.' So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord."
~ Job 1:8-12, NKJV

This lie I believed at first with losing my cat Smokey. I blamed myself. Did I idolize him, so that God had to take him away to convict me of my sin? Did I put him before God?

Pain is sometimes because we have sinned, but not always. And while I think it’s a good first step, when you’re going through pain, to examine your actions and ask God to show you if you have unconfessed sin in your life that could have led to it, to believe that all pain you’re experiencing is because you’ve done wrong is to believe the devil over God.

God allowed Job to go through a lot of pain, but not because Job had sinned. He allowed Him to go through that pain to strengthen him, to draw Job closer to Himself, to show Satan that Job loved God enough to worship Him despite the pain he didn’t understand.

3. My pain doesn’t bother God.

"Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!' " 
~ John 11:33-36, NKJV

Honestly, it hurts Him more than we can comprehend.

People give different reason over why Jesus wept at Lazarus's, but a common thread is that He wept over their pain.

Parents who love their children never enjoy inflicting pain on them, whether it be in the form of punishment or denying them something they really want because it’s not good for them. And God loves us more than the best parents love their children. But just like parents discipline their children because they love them, just like parents deny their children things that are bad for them because they love them, so God allows us to feel pain, even though it hurts Him to watch us go through it.

My father never enjoyed punishing me when I was a child, but he did it because he loves me enough to endure the pain it cost him to discipline me so that I would grow up to be a young woman of character.

My mother never enjoyed denying me something I asked for when I was a child, but she did it because she loved me enough to endure the pain it cost her to deny me so that I would grow up to be a young woman of self-discipline.

God never enjoys inflicting pain on us, whether it be to strengthen, draw us to Him, or to convict us of wrong doing, but He loves us enough to endure the pain it costs him so that we grow more like Him each day.

I wanted to share this with you today because of another lie Satan tells us: that we should bottle up our pain. He tries to get us to believe that we should go through life with a smile painted on, that pain denotes weakness. But the Bible tells us of God’s pain, and God is the Source of true strength.

Don’t let yourself be convinced of any of these lies. Satan would have you think that pain is destructive, but God is His power and goodness always turns it into something constructive, if we just let Him. Trust God to use your pain to make you more like Him.

And next week let’s tackle those lies about sin. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

3 Little Lies: About Satan

Satan has a repertoire of "gifts," including inciting rebellion and convincing Christians and the unsaved alike that they should care about themselves more than they should care about others.

One of his greatest skills is lying.

Last week's post was about some lies he tells us about God. But it doesn't stop there. Satan tells us multiple lies about himself.

1. He's as powerful as God.

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because
He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
~ 1 John 4:4, NKJV

Don't get me wrong. The devil has great power.

But it's nothing compared to God's.

Remember the story of Job? Satan wanted to crush him, to hurt him so badly that Job would take it out on God and say all kinds of rotten things against Him. But Satan couldn't lay a finger on him unless God gave the green light.

Job lived thousands of years ago, but that truth remains unchanged. Satan would have you think that he's on equal or greater standing with God, when in reality he can't do anything unless God gives him permission.

In the four Gospels, we read about Jesus banishing demons a lot. He could do that because of His power over Satan. Because God is way way way way way way more powerful than Satan ever was or ever will be, we don't have anything to fear. Whatever Satan throws at us, God knows about it because He gave permission for it to happen (so we know that according to Romans 8:28 that God has some awesome plan for how He's going to topple all Satan's schemes to harm us).

2. He's not so tough.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." 
~ 1 Peter 5:8-9, NKJV

The other trap we'll fall into is thinking we can deal with him on our own. Satan is no where near as powerful as God is, but you can bet your last pink-frosted donut he'll beat you every time you go up against him without calling on God.

And God gave us a super powerful weapon to use against him. Namely, the Bible.

God even gave us an example of how to use His Word to duel it out with Satan. When Jesus was tempted, He answered each temptation with a Bible verse (direct quotations from the Old Testament, no half-memorized verses here).

3. His tricks are easy to recognize.

"But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity
from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the
things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers,
transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder!
For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into
ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."
~ 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, NKJV

Actually, they're not.

Satan has no problem playing dress up.

He and his minions will do whatever is in their power to disguise themselves and their tricks as being rather good.

Forget the pitchfork and horns.

The #1 reason we fall into the devil's snares is because we're not prepared, because we're trying to fly solo without God.

But a close second is because we don't see Satan coming until it's too late.

Instead of digging deep in the Bible, shellacking every possible chink in our armor with God's truth, making sure our "sword of the Spirit" is ready to go, we cruise around like the Babylonian Guard on the night of Belshazzar's Feast (and that didn't end well for them).

Satan is not more powerful than God, no matter how hard he tries to convince us.

But he's no weakling either, and we can only stand against him through the power of God and His Word.

And Satan will use whatever trick he can to make us think his way is a good way.

Why does Satan lie? The reasons are plenteous but one big one is that he wants to get us to sin. Next week, we'll talk about some lies he tries to get us to believe about sin.