Tug of War
Most of us have played the game Tug of War. The purpose is to get an equal number of people and strength on opposite sides of a rope. To make things interesting some people put a pit of mud in the middle. Those who lose the battle fall into the miry pit.
We are in a tug of war every day. The war is with our hearts. We have Satan and his demons on one end of the rope and the Lord and His angels on the other. So you may think, “Oh that is easy; Jesus will win every time.”
Each day there is a tug of war in the spiritual realms for our soul. Ephesians 6:10-12 says:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV)
You feel this tug of war in your spirit. Sometimes you choose to side with the Lord and sometimes you take sides with Satan and his demons. I don’t have to tell you when you take Satan’s side; you already know.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV)
You see, it is our choice what side of the rope we are on each day. Also, each day we can waver back and forth to what side of the rope best fits our desire. The rope represents our life and that there are forces we cannot see struggling for our minds. Everything we do is a condition of our heart.
Since we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and our hearts are deceitful, we can easily wind up on Satan’s side of the Tug of War game. But the Lord’s side is the only side we will have victory.
Today, Satan and his demons desire for our hearts to be self-centered. We may gravitate to do what we feel we deserve, no matter what the cost to others. We may take shortcuts and not be entirely truthful. We are all a selfish group of men and women who need a heart transplant every day. But in order for anyone to get a heart transplant, they need to go to the hospital.
Most of us wait too long to get the help we need and Satan wins another battle. No matter how deep we are in the pit, no matter how far we have fallen, it is never too late to get on the Lord’s side of the rope.
And that is just the beginning. When we get on the Lord’s winning side, we still need to fight. We still need to pull our weight on the rope. Fight for purity and righteousness. Fight for the desire to be on the winning team and not get lulled onto the losing team.
All of us have a choice in every decision we make today. Today has enough decisions of its own; don’t get bogged down with the future. The future is in God’s hands. Right now, as you are reading this, you are already in the war for the day. Do you know whose side you are on? Please don’t be on the side pulling against Jesus and other believers. It is easy to do when we are leading a sinful life and don’t care. Plead your case to Jesus. He always hears you and wants to restore you to His side. Remember, in one breath Jesus can obliterate the other side if he so chooses.
Go Ahead, Shine
by: John UpChurch, crosswalk.com
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” – Philippians 2:14-16
The quick-burning desire to be an astronomer came during year three of my college experience. That was after philosopher, writer (the first time), and English professor, but before anthropologist, high school teacher, and writer (the second time). You can’t blame a guy for wanting to wring every cent out of his scholarships.
So, in year three, I became convinced that I would study space because… well… because I loved planets and stuff. With the same gusto that had carried me through my philosophy phase, I charged into star charts and calculated orbits with fury and fine-tipped lead pencils. I pored over research on black holes and quasars and stared intently into the night sky trying to figure out how in the world someone could think that a certain cluster of stars could look anything like a person or a goat or whatever.
Then, reality hit in the way of astrophysics. The funny thing about studying the stars is that you have to be able to calculate distances, luminosity, parallaxes, and more fancy terms. I could crunch equations just fine, but that doesn’t mean I found it more satisfying than, say, ripping off a bandage from my legs.
Before I came to know Christ, all that nadir gazing did produce one substantial result in me: deep, deep emptiness. You can’t help but feel how small you are when you peer into the infinite-seeming inkiness of space. The more you see how incomprehensibly expansive everything really is, the more you feel speck-like in the cosmic order. The weight of eternity came crushing in on me.
And in that darkness, I needed light. This “crooked and depraved” man groped about for anything that would shine, some embers of hope. Not finding them in philosophy or books or even astronomy, the pressure just got worse. I kept feeling my way through the darkness into whatever classes the university offered, but through each of my potential career paths, I found nothing that could illuminate the road around me.
Of course, I wouldn’t have put it in those terms back then. At that point, I just knew something was messed up, and I couldn’t figure out what. I needed the “word of life.” But I didn’t know I needed it, and I didn’t know where to find it.
Intersecting Faith & Life: That’s where we come in as Christians. People like the old me don’t always even know what gnaws at them. Some have so subverted the pain that it plays out in pursuits of passion: They mute it with noise, clutter, medicine, or flesh. They prefer to find ways to ignore the crushing weight.
And then they see the stars. At least, they should see the stars. I don’t necessarily mean the stars in the night, since city lights drown them out for most of us nowadays. I mean, they need to see the stars around them who shine through their Jesus-emulating behavior. That light has the power to both expose their blindness and help them see.
So, shine. People like the old me are counting on it.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. — Luke 12:7
Never take for granted My intimate nearness. Marvel at the wonder of My continual Presence with you. Even the most ardent human lover cannot be with you always. Nor can another person know the intimacies of your heart, mind, and spirit. I know everything about you — even the number of hairs on your head. You don’t need to work at revealing yourself to Me.
Many people spend a lifetime or a small fortune searching for someone who understands them. Yet I am freely available to all who call upon My Name, who open their hearts to receive Me as Savior. This simple act of faith is the beginning of a lifelong love story.
I, the Lover of your soul, understand you perfectly and love you eternally.
What does God’s “ultimate nearness” mean? Do you take His Presence for granted? How?
What comfort does God’s loving knowledge — even the number of hairs on your head — provide?
We are not only fully known and understood but also eternally loved. What assurances does this give?
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. — Hebrews 3:1
I am renewing your mind. When your thoughts flow freely, they tend to move toward problems. Your focus gets snagged on a given problem, circling round and round it in attempts to gain mastery. Your energy is drained away from other matters through this negative focus. Worst of all, you lose sight of Me.
A renewed mind is Presence- focused.
Train your mind to seek Me in every moment, every situation. Sometimes you can find Me in your surroundings: a lilting birdsong, a loved one’s smile, golden sunlight. At other times, you must draw inward to find Me. I am always present in your spirit.
Seek My Face, speak to Me, and I will light up your mind.
Do your thoughts “tend to move toward problems”? Why?
How have you seen the truth that “a renewed mind is Presence-focused” in your own life?
God is always present with us. When do you feel God most near?
Streams in the Desert – July 31
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
David cared for them with pure motives; he led them with skill. Ps 78:72
When you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one…Meanwhile keep on as you are, and consider the absence of indication to be the indication of God’s will that you are on His track…As you go down the long corridor, you will find that He has preceded you, and locked many doors which you would fain have entered; but be sure that beyond these there is one which He has left unlocked. Open it and enter, and you will find yourself face to face with a bend of the river of opportunity, broader and deeper than anything you had dared to imagine in your sunniest dreams. Launch forth upon it; it conducts to the open sea.
God guides us, often by circumstances. At one moment the way may seem utterly blocked; and then shortly afterward some trivial incident occurs, which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks volumes. Sometimes these things are repeated in various ways, in answer to prayer. They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of circumstances in the direction in which we would walk. And they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights do as we near a populous town, when darting through the land by night express.
—F. B. Meyer
If you go to Him to be guided, He will guide you; but He will not comfort your distrust or half-trust of Him by showing you the chart of all His purposes concerning you. He will show you only into a way where, if you go cheerfully and trustfully forward, He will show you on still farther.
As moves my fragile bark across the storm-swept sea,
Great waves beat o’er her side, as north wind blows;
Deep in the darkness hid lie threat’ning rocks and shoals;
But all of these, and more, my Pilot knows.
Sometimes when dark the night, and every light gone out,
I wonder to what port my frail ship goes;
Still though the night be long, and restless all my hours,
My distant goal, I’m sure, my Pilot knows.
—Thomas Curtis Clark