The Biggest Bullies

The Biggest Bullies

“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Revelation 12:9‭, ‬12 NIV

The biggest bullies in the world are not the kids at school who tease other children causing them much grief. It’s not those governments throughout history who imposed their will on others and committed cold blooded murder. It’s not the boss at work who yells at you constantly. What if I told you that all of these bullies are controlled by even bigger ones? What if I told you that the biggest bullies in the world are spirits, wicked angels? These fallen beings are ancient spirits who have the upper hand on fallen man. They use and abuse people to destroy one another. Ever wondered how can people commit such horrible, inhumane, atrocities? Terrible deeds that defy human comprehension? Answer: it’s not all human. Such behavior is inspired by demons. Harassing mankind and playing with them like toys is what demons do. But that’s not their main occupation. They follow their leader who’s job is:

“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” Revelation 12:17 NIV

That’s who they are really interested in: “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” They attempt to get these to cave in under pressure, and hope they don’t realize the power given them by God through Jesus Christ. We’ll talk more about that in a second. When life situations cause you to feel hurt, frightened, threatened, forced to do something especially opposed to your faith, you’re being harassed by demons. Human beings are like pawns on a chessboard. Evil spirits work through them to attack, “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” Yes people grit their teeth at you in anger, make mean faces, hurl terrible threats and insults, at times even cause us physical pain, but it’s all inspired by wicked spirits. Many people that persecute us don’t even have a clue of what they are doing, or that they’re being controlled.

“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:33‭-‬34 NIV

God says that your and my fight is not with people used by demons to persecute us. Our flight is with the evil wicked spirits themselves?

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 KJV

It’s hard to remember this when your boss is yelling at you, or when someone is making outright or subtle threats, or physically attacking you. But we must remember because it’s the truth. And our master says it is the truth that sets us free. (John 8:32) That’s our weapon, yes, the truth.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 KJV

Jesus Christ himself is the truth, and he is our only defense against demonic attacks. Following his teachings is the only way to defeat Satan and his demons. The battle will be tough, but all who follow Jesus to the end will win:

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 NIV

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24‭-‬27 NIV

Following Jesus’ teachings is the way to win this fight we have been appointed to. Satan has been allowed temporary rule of this world. We are God’s elect promoting the kingdom of heaven (God’s world) right in the Devil’s backyard. Do you really think our work will be just like a walk in the park on a sunny day? No. Your adversaries will throw everything at you including the kitchen sink. But don’t fret, Jesus has given us authority over the demons and all of Satan’s power. Yes, because of him we can win.

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17‭-‬20 NIV

Believe what Jesus says in Luke 10:17-20, not your feelings when under attack. He has truly given us authority over all the power of the enemy Satan. Learn from studying the Bible and applying Jesus’ teachings how to use that authority. Learn how to spiritually fight back and kick some butt when bullied.

It’s All Temporary

It’s All Temporary

“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” 1Corinthians 7:29‭-‬31 NIV

NOT ENGROSSED IN THEM

“Those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them,” hmmmm. You think the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something? God didn’t say we can’t use the things of this world, He simply said not to be engrossed in them. To be engrossed in something means it holds your complete interest or attention. That’s all you care about. The only thing we’re to be that devoted to is God:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29‭-‬31 NIV

Whatever we are engrossed in becomes our god. Only God, our Creator, deserves our complete interest or attention. But people today have many gods. There are many things in this life that holds one’s complete attention. Many of them are various forms of entertainment. Some are physical objects like cars, houses, technology gadgets, food, clothes, and the like. Some have made other people their gods. And many worship all of the above. The saddest part about it is all of these things are temporary. They will all fade away.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1John 2:15‭-‬17 NIV

BUYING STUFF

“Those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep,” hmmmm. How many things have you bought since you were alive? Can you count them all. I know I can’t. Let’s face it, we all need stuff. And unless you’re the world’s greatest pack rat you don’t own most of the stuff you’ve bought in your lifetime. Somehow it all passes away. Whether with use, or whether we lose things somehow, or whether we decide to share our stuff with others in need, or whether the end of this world comes and takes away all of our stuff, know that one day it will all be gone. Some things bring us pleasures and comforts we really don’t need but are nice to have. There’s nothing wrong with that. All God is saying is when you buy something don’t view it as yours to keep. Know that it will one day pass away. Don’t become too attached to anything here. Don’t have a selfish hoarder mentality. When the things we buy hold our complete interest or attention it becomes our god. Be willing to let stuff go. Be willing to share with others in need.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:27‭-‬31 NIV

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44‭-‬45 NIV

The believers mentioned in Acts chapter 2 had the right attitude about stuff. The fella mentioned below did not:

“And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16‭-‬21 NIV

Those who believe in selfishly hoarding wealth to later retire one day got it all wrong. They don’t know just how temporary it all is or this life is. Let’s say you do get to retire later after attaining great wealth. You still have to face death. And there is no rest home or retirement program in hell. That is where the greedy who didn’t help the needy will find themselves. Don’t be a fool, be rich with God by helping others. Everything else is all temporary.

The Chosen The Elect

The Chosen The Elect

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Romans 8:28‭-‬30 NIV

Look at our awesome position in Almighty God! We are created to become like Jesus Christ. Just as God is pleased with Jesus the son in every way, and loves him, you and I are predestined for that same kind of relationship and purpose. (John 3:16-17) Our life experiences on earth are all a part of this process and our transformation.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT

This was foreordained for us by God. God knew us in advance. What blessed people we are! But for many it’s not the same:

“Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” Romans 9:11‭-‬24 NIV

The passage above is very deep. It explain God’s plan of election. It explains too why He has tolerated the vessels of His wrath. God’s ways are much higher than our ways as heaven is higher than earth:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8‭-‬9 NIV

God’s plan of election comes from the greatest mind in the universe. He knows what He is doing and knows things we don’t have a clue of. He knew who Esau and Jacob was before they were even born. And only He fully knows everyone who has ever lived. Remember, He said, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” before they came from their mother’s womb, before they did anything good or bad. The letters “ed” at the end of a word means the word applies in the past tense. Yes, God hated Esau before he even got here, and loved Jacob before he got here. And the same applies to you and I who believe. “How can this be?” some may ask. “What did they do before they were born to be hated or loved?” the mind wonders. “That’s just unfair,” is another finite human thought. All I will say is God knows things we don’t know. And anyone with true wisdom does know that he/she can trust whatever God says though they may not fully understand it. (Proverbs 3:5) God’s answer is, “in order that God’s purpose in election might stand.” It doesn’t go by man’s desire, what they do, how righteous they are (or think they are), but by God’s purpose of election, His choosing. If you are a true believer in God and His son Jesus Christ you were selected for this way before you were born. Being in God’s family is solely based on His mercy, His choice.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8‭-‬10 NLT

As He told Moses “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Do you see why we who believe are so privileged. We are destined by God to be in his family. This doesn’t bode well for many. Because it means that God is in full control of all of our destinies. Mankind believes they are running things. But it’s simply not the truth.

In conclusion listen to what Jesus said in prayer to God about his true followers not being a part of this world:

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by  the truth; your word is truth. John 17:15‭-‬17 NIV

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” Wow! You are not from here. You are chosen. You are God’s elect. Live the rest of your lives here being conformed to the image of God’s son, our King and big brother, Jesus Christ. Fulfill your destiny.

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Pray For Everyone

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Pray For Everyone

“First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity.” 1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬2 CEB

Are we to give up and become bitter because the world around us is so evil? Never. We should be offering up prayers for all people, friends and foes alike. Who knows who’s heart God will soften and change? Throughout history some of the most ruthless people in the world have repented. Check out the passage below to confirm this:

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshipped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. He took the image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and regulations given through Moses.” But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah. He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.” 2 Chronicles 33:1‭-‬17 NIV

Who would have thought a man as wicked as Manasseh would one day repent? Manasseh was a devout practicer of the occult, but God had different plans for him. Who knows how many people God have turned from witchcraft to serving Him?

WE ARE GOD’S PRIESTS

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

Sometimes I think we forget that we are God’s priests and priestesses. Being joined to Christ gives us divine authority and many privileges. When God tells us to pray for someone we should be willing to do it.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43‭-‬48 NIV

Pray for those who persecute you? Yes, that’s what Jesus says. Remember, as God’s priests part of our job is to pray for everybody. This is God’s will. I’m sure people were shocked when they saw the change in Manasseh. Maybe just as surprised when the saw a change in you and me. Even if those we pray for never accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior at least we are walking in love. And there is nothing more powerful than love. God is Love (1 John 4:8) Love wishes good and does good to its neighbor. We are benefitting mentally, spiritually, and physically by obeying God and praying for everyone. This keeps us from ever becoming bitter and makes us better.

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV

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Make Good Decisions

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Make Good Decisions

Living on the edge will tip you over the edge. Good decisions will bring you joy, safety, and lasting peace. In the smallest things make good decisions. Doing so will become a habit that will contribute to your happiness in the short and long run. Any choice that causes unnecessary stress is not a good decision. Heaping anxiety on oneself makes it impossible to serve God.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NKJV

IT TAKES WORK

To make good decisions takes work. Why? Because you must often go against your own feelings in order to make right choices. Our hearts are riddled with sin. Hence our emotions and desires are inherently wicked. And they trick us regularly:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” Mark 7:21‭-‬22 NKJV

Whoever cannot accept this truth about the heart will always be making bad choices. Because they will keep following their deceitful hearts. Their feelings will lead them from one calamity to the next; out of the frying pan, and into the skillet. But those who can accept the truth about the human heart can fight against it. Yes, they can battle themselves and their own evil desires that so often lead us astray.

“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” James 1:14 NIV

“So now this is how I run—not without a clear goal in sight. I fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing. Rather, I’m landing punches on my own body and subduing it like a slave. I do this to be sure that I myself won’t be disqualified after preaching to others.” 1 Corinthians 9:26‭-‬27 CEB

The apostle Paul knew that the number one person he must subdue was not the Devil, nor any other enemy. It was himself. He likened getting control of his own flesh to punching himself, and making his body do what it should like a slave. This was not done through Paul’s willpower but with the help the Holy Spirit provides. Our brother knew he had to get tough with himself so that he would not become disqualified for the prize after preaching to so many others. Though we all fall short often (Romans 3:23), we must still have the same resolve as the apostle Paul; not to listen to our flesh, but rather to make good godly decisions. When we do fall short we know that Jesus will be there to comfort, support, and forgive us if we are repentant. (1 John 1:8-9)

Sometimes our heavenly Father will step in with some loving discipline of His own to help us. (Revelation 3:19) Trust me, this can hurt a lot more than the pain that comes from denying the flesh. (Hebrews 12:4-14) So if we’re on a wrong course pray and beg God for help and strength to get off of it. Tell Him how sorry we are, and ask Him for His mercy and forgiveness. God always helps those who are truly sorry about making wrong choices in life. (Psalm 51:17 Isaiah 66:2)

“For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 NIV

DON’T CHOOSE TO REBEL

Those who choose to continue on a collision course of rebellion even after being corrected many times by God have nothing good to look forward to:

“One who stays stubborn after many corrections will be suddenly broken, beyond healing.” Proverbs 29:1 CEB

“If we make the decision to sin after we receive the knowledge of the truth, there isn’t a sacrifice for sins left any longer. There’s only a scary expectation of judgment and of a burning fire that’s going to devour God’s opponents. When someone rejected the Law from Moses, they were put to death without mercy on the basis of the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think is deserved by the person who walks all over God’s Son, who acts as if the blood of the covenant that made us holy is just ordinary blood, and who insults the Spirit of grace? We know the one who said, Judgment is mine; I will pay people back. And he also said, The Lord will judge his people. It’s scary to fall into the hands of the living God!” Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 CEB

Let us make good decisions. Let us pray for more wisdom so we can do so. Our choices will not only affect us now but our future forever.

“But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.” James 1:5 CEB

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