There are some things we must watch for to keep Satan and the forces of darkness out of our lives. In Mark 4:14-20, we see how the devil works to steal from us:
Twenty-years later I found out that it was closing. This once-proud institution was now meeting in their Fellowship Hall, unable to pay to clean or heat the sanctuary.
Do you get it? WE are God's new address! He works IN us, WITH us, and THROUGH us to advance His Kingdom to the benefit of ALL people because He's a loving Father.
Each day as we step outside, we are surrounded by people wearing masks. There's the woman who, as a little girl, was never validated by her daddy. So, she jumps from man to man hoping one day to meet her knight in shining armor. There is the little boy trapped within a big, burly man’s body who’s been dragging around with him all the years of loneliness, the pain of not measuring up, even trying to fill his God-shaped void with a woman. Having repeatedly failed, he's tried drinking, porn, drugs, big-boy toys--in some cases, the ministry.
To many people, God is no more than a visitor in their homes, a passenger in their car, and a spectator in the affairs of their lives. Rather than run to God in their time of need, their first port of call is usually the ears of a fellow man. This explains why many crash with reckless abandon in the journey of life. The bottom line is, if you treat God like a guest, a spectator, or a passenger and expect to have it great at all times, you are definitely in for a shock!
Growing up we all heard our mother say, “What are you up to in there?” Clearly the sounds she was hearing were cause for concern. And, like all kids, we gave the classic reply: “Nothing.” Oh, we were so far from the truth, but with good reason. We were having the time of our lives and didn’t want to stop.
Years ago, I felt compelled to write letters to several wealthy business people. Among them were the president of Walmart, the founder of Chick-fil-A, and a businessman in Mansfield with a reputation as a Christian philanthropist.
“Give me life according to Your Word.” Psalm 119:25
I stared at the coffin. The pastor’s voice could be heard, but my mind seemed to interpret nothing. Though my family considered the last five years of my dad’s life as borrowed time, his death came unexpectedly. I had imagined that a surgery or perhaps months of illness would take his life. Instead, he died on a day when he felt his best. He and my mom were headed to their car from a routine hospital visit. A beautiful day. My dad’s comments on the day’s sunshine were his last words. He fell to the ground.
Life is never what you expect. I’ve met no one who can testify that the life they mapped out went according to plan. Instead, life is made up of high mountaintop experiences and low, dark valleys with curves throwing you in and out of pitfalls and unexpected ditches.
My oldest son's wife was pregnant. Sadly, he called me one afternoon at work to report that she had just been to the doctor and they were unable to locate a heartbeat. He said the baby would either be expelled or absorbed into its mother's body. I visited the couple on my way home from work. She was weeping in a fetal position on the couch. He was sitting on the patio and muttered, almost inaudibly, "I really wanted this baby, Dad."
Most of us have only one person to blame for the tough times we go through: Ourselves.
Peggy was flabbergasted that anyone could be so cruel to another person. “Just when I was finally getting my life together, all of a sudden I have nothing again!” she bawled.
How quick we are to blame the other guy. We ask aloud, “But I’m a nice person. Why would anyone treat me that way?”
You walk through the doors carrying a small slip of paper and slowly move to the back corner of the store. There you find a woman in a white coat and you hand her your slip of paper. She drifts behind a screen and you hear the sound of tumbling tablets. You have been here before and recognize that you may have to wait a while. Eventually you will receive what only she and people like her can provide. You give her money or a credit card and make your way out of the store with a little white bag. No one but you and she know what that little white bag contains.