Flip the page! Another week has flown by and we are now in May. Sunday, we looked at the fact that God has a Master Plan. Any builder, engineer, or artist knows, if you want to be successful in your outcome, you need to have a plan of some kind. Some people have the idea that God created the world, the universe and just turned it loose. They paint Him as an overseer Who is just seeing how it ends up, like an objective observer with a laboratory experiment. We see from scripture, that is not so. Jeremiah’s relationship with God, like many prophets, was one in which God would reveal His intentions and ask the prophet to be His messenger. Part of His message to Jeremiah included these words, “For I know the thoughts [or plans] that I have toward you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Now does that sound like God isn’t involved past creation? Does that sound like an impersonal cosmic overseer? You see, God is involved in the very minutest of details and being Who He is, why wouldn’t that be true? He knew the beginning and He knows the end and all that would transpire in between those bookends before anything was brought into being. His plan involves all the good, the bad, and the ugly that has gone on and will go on in this world. He has given humans a will to choose, and what He does with our choices is astounding. He can use the choices born out of our free will and mold and weave them into His redemptive plan. He can alter history in any way He chooses. He can make the largest or the smallest adjustments and every combination in between, all for the benefit of you and I. Wow – that is mind-blowing. Just think, 7 billion plus lives intersecting, diverging, colliding, opposing, and everything that we humans cannot possibly see or experience, He can and does and in the midst of all that, He thinks about each of our lives personally, individually?
I also wanted to make sure to remind everyone that we have a real enemy. It’s not popular anymore to talk about “the devil.” He’s more of a caricature now, a cartoon character of myth and legend. One of the greatest tactics of Satan is his ability to mask himself, or to cause people to believe he doesn’t exist at all. Scripture tells us that our three main oppositions will come from the world around us, the world within us (our own flesh) and our enemy, the devil. These three things are always at odds with God’s plan for us. Satan goes for our minds to control our heart. That is one of his best weapons and his favorite playground, our minds. He can turn us around until we’re so self-centered, we live in a “me time,’ “my way,” world of me-me choices. Life becomes about “my wants/desires and my feelings and my emotions.” We turn inward when we should be turning outward toward God, and then toward others. Once he makes us turn inward, Satan then can manipulate us better. He has a field day as long as that mindset is allowed in our lives. Our hearts will follow our minds shortly after and we will make the most abysmal choices. Our world is so confused today on the most basic truths. We don’t even know who or what we are anymore. This is not the way God works in our lives. He is not the author of confusion, nor is He a liar.
When Christ was asked what the Greatest Commandment is, He said, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!” (Mark 12:30) Think about the order in which Christ works here. He begins with loving God (outside of yourself) and giving yourself, you heart over to Him with all yourself–heart, soul, mind, strength. Jeremiah 29: 13 tells us that if “…we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him!” That’s different than Satan’s attack on our mind. God goes for the heart and causes change in the heart to control the rest of of lives. When our heart is only controlled by our minds, our reason, our intellect, most of the time it trumps God’s best for our life. Paul wrote about, “the renewing of our minds” in Romans 12. The word renewing means “a renovation of” or in the case of our minds “a rewiring of” our mindset. The Greek word, metanoia, or a “change of mind” is used here. We can see, ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has appealed to human reason. He tricked Eve into questioning what God had already told the couple about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan still does this today because it’s a tactic that works. Not so with God. God will always appeal to the heart of man and why? This important–God appeals to the heart of humans because He desires relationship that is born out of choice to love, not control over the mind and actions of humans. You see, God didn’t have to give us a will. If He simply desired control, He already had it, over all things. He doesn’t need control over us in the way Satan desires control. God loves, He is love and He desires relationship.
There are some really great books that will educate you about our enemy, not so you can concentrate on him, but rather so you can learn to recognize his tactics. Warren Weirsbe wrote a book called, “The Strategies of Satan” and of course, there’s the classic C.S. Lewis work, “The Screwtape Letters.” I want to encourage you to read one of these. You can buy them online in paper or digital form.
This coming Sunday, we will celebrate and remember our mothers. If your mother is alive, celebrate her, honor her, call her, kiss and hug her, buy her a card, some flowers, dinner, or something special to let her know she is appreciated. If your mom has passed on, you can honor her by the way you live and the way you parent your own children or grandchildren. Lastly, if you don’t have a mom or your relationship with your mom has been troubled or damaged, make sure you love on the woman or women in your life that have been “like mom” to you. Let’s let these women know we are grateful God has placed them in our lives to nurture, teach, and be examples to us.
See you Sunday!