Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Special Guest Minister: Rick Renner

This is a great devotional by Rev. Rick Renner. Whether you are in ministry or a church member, this is an important point to remember.

Taken Captive by the Devil To Do the Devil's Will!

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
2 Timothy 2:26

Every once and a while in the local church, someone gets so bent out of shape and upset with the church leadership that he behaves in a way that is shocking to everyone. Often this person has served faithfully in the past; yet suddenly he becomes a raging torrent - accusing the pastor, getting upset with the pastoral staff, and trying to stir up as much trouble as possible. The amazing thing is that this person is usually blind to how ugly and ungodly his behavior really is. Often the person even thinks he's doing the will of God by pointing out the flaws of the church leadership!

Timothy was having similar troubles with several people in his own congregation. Paul referred to this predicament when he wrote that some people in his church were "taken captive by him [the devil] at his will" (2 Timothy 2:26).

The words "taken captive" are from the Greek word zoogreo, which means to take an animal alive. It is the picture of putting an animal in a cage or behind bars at the zoo. This means people who are behaving this way are themselves victims - somehow caught and trapped by the devil, caged in resentment or bitterness that drives them to act in a fashion that is inconsistent with who they really are!

When Paul says "taken captive by him [the devil] at his will,"
it could be better rendered:

"who are taken captive by him [the devil] to
carry out the devil's will."

Here we see a picture of a believer whose emotions the devil has manipulated until the person himself becomes the source of strife, discord, and subversion in the church, all the while thinking that he is doing the will of God. This is a deceived believer, captured by the enemy and now working for the devil to disrupt the local church!

Offense is usually the entry point the devil uses to seduce a believer into this behavior. And it's amazing just how quickly a dart of offense from the enemy can be thrown into a person's heart. Equally amazing is the speed in which just one of his evil darts can change that person's perspective of someone he used to honor and respect! In a matter of seconds, his entire view of that other person can become adversely affected.

Like the dripping of water, the devil begins to repeatedly strike a person's mind with accusations against the one who was once so revered. Let's say the one accused is the person's pastor. The enemy might pound that person's mind with false allegations such as these:

•He is so arrogant and proud!

• If other people saw what you see, no one would attend this church.

• He doesn't appreciate you.

• He doesn't deserve to have you serve on his staff. Leave him!

• The people in this city need a pastor who really loves them.

•It's time for you to leave him and go start your own church!

• Do I want to let the devil build a wall between me and that other person over something that won't even matter one or two years from now?

• Do I really think that person intended to hurt me?

• Wouldn't it be better to forgive that person and preserve our relationship that has taken so long to build?

• Is what happened really so serious, or am I blowing the whole incident out of proportion?

• Have I ever been guilty of doing the same thing to someone else?

I have discovered from my own experience through the years that the devil is constantly seeking opportune moments to wedge bad feelings between people. He is a master at embellishing real or imagined offenses until they become inflated and larger than life. And he knows just when to "sock it to you"!

So slow down, calm down, and give yourself a little time to think and pray before you start accusing someone. It would be a good idea to find a friend who will be honest with you. Ask that friend to tell you the truth about what you are feeling and about how you are behaving. A good dose of honesty from a truthful friend might be exactly what you need to wake you up to what the devil is trying to do in you and through you!

My Prayer:
Lord, I never want the devil to take me captive to do his will in my church or place of employment. He is an accuser, so if I am tempted to accuse and slander, it means that the devil is trying to work through me. Give me the ability to recognize this strategy of the enemy as soon as it starts, and to put on the brakes before I get so embroiled in a conflict that I can't see or think correctly. Holy Spirit, You are the Spirit of Truth, so please enable me to both see and to hear the truth about myself, because I want to stay free!

I pray this in Jesus' name!

My Confession For Today:

I confess that I am free from the deception of the devil! My mind is renewed to the truth of God's Word. My mind thinks straight and clearly, and I am sound and balanced in my perspective of the situations I face in life. I am teachable when my friends tell me the truth, helping me see when I am getting too upset about things that aren't so important. Therefore, I'm able to walk free of the devil's snare and stay balanced in my emotions because of the Word that works mightily in me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus' name!

Questions To Consider:

1. Has there ever been a moment in your life when the devil trapped you emotionally and used you to stir up trouble? Were you later very regretful for your negative role in that situation? Did you ever go back and apologize for what you did?

2. Have you ever seen someone else fall in this trap at your church or place of employment? At the time this incident occurred, did you recognize that the person acting so destructively was literally captured in his mind and emotions?

3. If the person being used by the devil won't listen to those who are over him, what actions do you think his authorities should take in response to his or her behavior?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who Is Your Author?

Here's a great quote, "What kind of world would this world be if everybody were just like you? Your life is a book that is telling the world about its author... who is your Author, your own flesh or the Lord?"

We all think that "We are right." Sometimes we will even argue that point with our friends. There is nothing wrong with being right. But in a world where faithfulness, loyalty, character and integrity are fading, we should examine ourselves on a personal level. In regard to the partaking of the Lord's Supper, Paul told us as believers to "...examine himself..." in 1 Corinthians 11:28. Check your heart. Check your heart and see if what is in there reminds you of Christ Jesus. We are examples of Christ to those who walk on this earth. Our lives tell a story about WHO our Author is in us and through us. It's the Author of the Book that we need to get into. Read the Book and don't wait for the movie!

Think about it all in perspective. Bad character will always snuff out your zeal and desire for the things of God. The examples that we present will either encourage others or deter others away from the the example of Christ in our lives. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 says, "Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits. Awake to righteousness, do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

Our lives truly speak. I'm not saying we have to be perfect. Sure, we all make mistakes, but we should be quick to "get it right" when we do mess up. We need to remember that we will give an account one day. So many believers tend to "drift" in their relationship with the Lord. Let me encourage you, set your anchor sure. Don't drift away from the shore. It's harder to swim back the further you are away. Set the example in your life daily so that you can boldly proclaim as Paul did, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1). That is a testimony to daily reach for in our lives. Amen.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It Always Gets Better

Aren't you glad that God never peaks? It gets better and better with Him! God’s plan is that you and I live the good life! He supplies all our needs. The Bible says that the Lord is my shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me, I shall not lack.

Look at Psalm 23 out of the Amplified. Let this encourage you right now! “The Lord is my Shepherd (to feed, guide, and shield me), I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in (fresh, tender) green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (myself); He leads me in the paths of righteousness (uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but) for His name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the (deep, sunless) valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod (to protect) and Your staff (to guide), they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my (brimming cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord (and His presence) shall be my dwelling place.”

If all you had was the 23rd Psalm, you’d walk in victory every day! If all you had was the 23rd Psalm, you’d know that you know that God is a good God and has provided His blessing on your life, His protection, and His goodness. Yes, there will be times where you will have to stand and believe His Word. Know that you are just "walking through that valley", you're not staying there! God created you and me to live the GOOD LIFE that He made for you and me! You ought to say it to yourself every day: “I am living the good life.” "Something good happens to me every day!" Do you believe that? It’s yours if you will follow after Him and His Word and yield yourself to live His ways. Amen!

True Refreshment

Notice what 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." It would do us all a lot of good if we would quit wrestling with our cares. We cannot beat them! The Hebrew word for "casting" means to "SLAM" your burdens on the Lord and HE WILL SUSTAIN you. I love that! If we get our eyes off the Lord, we are trying to do it all ourselves! Really, that's what true "burn out" is, getting our eyes off of the Lord. Some people think working too much creates burnout, but it's you and me getting our eyes off of the Lord! You see, that is what leads to the whole burnout deal. Being weary and tired doesn't come from the work that we do or the amount of the work that we do; it comes from you and me not keeping our eyes on Jesus and trying to solve our own problems. If you want true refreshment all the time, then look unto the Lord!

Isaiah 40: 28-31 tells us, "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."

Come on! "Slam your burdens, cares, concerns, circumstances and problems over on HIM." He is THE ONE WHO takes care of everything you need. Amen!

Mouth Impact

The Bible tells us that, "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10) Over in 2 Corinthians 4:13 it says, "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak." Our mouths are containers of power. What we speak has impact either for good or bad. Pay attention to what you speak. Speak what HIS WORD says about you and your situation. Believe it and speak it. Remember, confession builds the road over which faith carries its mighty cargo!

True Happiness

Jesus told us in John 10:10 (Amplified) "The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." He said to "Seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness and then all these things would be added to you (Matthew 6:33)".

For you see, true happiness and contentment can never be found in people--your spouse, friend or anyone else. It is only found in walking closely to the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving all that His grace has already provided. That is truly what living an abundant life is all about!