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Freedom | Trapped

#storychanging

Freedom | Trapped

MONDAY— Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion… 1 Peter 5:8

The roar rattled the windows of the jeep and the members of the safari tour gasped as they grabbed their cameras. “Whoa, was that a lion?” one asked. Their guide flashed a brilliant smile. “Yes. You are fortunate you get to hear it. It sounds like it is right beside us, but a lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles.” Mrs. Dundy sank lower into her seat. “That sound is scaring me. Will he attack us?” The guide shifted the jeep into second gear and they bounced back the way they’d come. “Probably not,” he shouted over the noisy engine. “Lions roar to frighten their prey and to announce ownership of an area. We’ll stay in the jeep.”

Satan roars for the same reasons. He uses threats, peer pressure, persecution, and doubts to terrify God’s blood-bought children. He roars through temptation, through addiction, and through twisted thinking designed to make us give up. As a male lion roars to let other lions know that he is king of the region, Satan screams at us, reminding us that he once owned us. “You know you haven’t changed,” he roars. “You still belong to me. Might as well give up.” Peter warns us to stay alert. Stay vigilant because we have an enemy who will stop at nothing to drag us into his lair. Those who dabble in lion territory, ignoring the Guidebook, are easy prey. So our Guide tells His children to listen to His instructions and stay in the jeep.

Final Thought: Fear, temptation, addiction, and worldly thinking are all snares set by our enemy. Have you been trapped?

Prayer: Father, sometimes I let Satan’s roar frighten me away from obeying you. He threatens loneliness, rejection, financial ruin, and other disasters if I don’t listen to him. Help me stay sober and vigilant so I don’t get off course. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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TUESDAY— Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people. Proverbs 28:15

November elections loom before us prompting a wide array of emotions: Fear. Dread. Hostility. Sorrow. So…let’s go there. Yeah, there. Politics. Over the last few decades, politics has evolved from debates over roads and bridges into moral and spiritual issues. Politics is no longer political; it has stretched long fingers into the biblical arena so God’s people must educate themselves and understand the times. Since history began, wicked rulers have brought judgment on themselves and the people they influenced. Israel’s evil king Jeroboam appeared to bring peace, but actually brought severe punishment on the nation because he led them to normalize wickedness (1 Kings 16:26). So when no candidate seems godly, who do we vote for?

Ravi Zacharias had wise counsel for us: “When you’re choosing between leaders, none of which will give you a groundswell of the Christian faith on which their life is built…you have to go for the person who will help a nation provide the best moral soil on which the freedom to believe and disbelieve can actually function. It is on a moral soil that the freedom to believe actually works best and truth can ultimately triumph. If you have an immoral soil created, then the truth is evicted and you’re not even given the opportunity of voicing your ideas in the…public setting…Any leader who will create the moral soil to make it possible to proclaim that, that may be the kind of leader we have to ultimately work with, no matter what kind of tag they wear… You have to choose the one that will give you the best moral soil in order to allow you to live for Christ and live out your faith.”

Final Thought: When voting, ask yourself: Which candidate will create the best moral soil in which I can live out my faith?

Prayer: Father, what influences me in forming political opinions? Is it tradition? Social media? Popularity? Help me apply Ravi’s words and vote for the people who are most likely to protect the freedom to live out my faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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WEDNESDAY— Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

What might an “angel of light” look like in 2020? Think about the ideas and causes that ungodly people are championing. Don’t they make sin sound righteous? “Reproductive freedom is a woman’s right!”… “God created some people gay so they should celebrate it!”… “Love wins!”… “God created sex so He understands why my boyfriend and I are sleeping together.”… “Marijuana is a plant God created so it’s fine if I get high every night.”… “I don’t need church. I worship best on my own.”
If Satan came at us with flaming eyes and a pitchfork in his hand, we’d recognize him and run. But he’s smarter than that. He takes a good idea and twists it so that we don’t realize what happened. He presents wickedness as a human rights issue. He suggests that tolerance is superior to God’s absolutes. He hints that sin is freedom and surrender to Christ is bondage. If we’re not grounded in God’s word, staying accountable to godly mentors, we become another statistic. Satan’s agenda is now ruling the world, embraced by entire denominations who call themselves Christians. Millions are fooled by Satan’s masquerade and the double-speak of his agents. Only time spent in God’s presence can protect us from the seduction of Satan’s masquerade.

Final Thought: How will you keep yourself from being deceived by Satan’s masquerade?

Prayer: Father, I’ve been so arrogant in assuming I could spot evil when it comes. I’ve been duped in many ways just like the rest of the world. I commit to seeking your answers, not mine. If an idea contradicts your word, it is not from you. Amen.
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THURSDAY— (Moses) chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. Hebrews 11:25

Why do we sin? It’s fun! It’s exciting. Someone dared us. It feels good. We want to fit in. We’re addicted. We just wanted to.
Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden because she wanted to. Adam sinned because a beautiful woman talked him into it. They both wanted to experience something forbidden because they had REASONS. We all have reasons for sin that sound good to us…until we try them on God. However, nowhere does God relent on His commands based on human excuses. He never says: “I told you drunkenness, immorality, lying, and greed were wrong, but I see that you have REASONS. So never mind.”

If sin wasn’t fun, exciting, and made us feel good, we wouldn’t do it. That’s why we have to be commanded to stay away. Our sinful flesh naturally gravitates toward whatever looks good and, like Eve, we want to experience something new despite what God says. But the foundation for every sin is this: I will decide what’s right for me. That attitude got Lucifer kicked out of heaven. It’s still the attitude that keeps us from God. A flashy brand of pseudo-Christianity tells us we can obey our lusts AND have God, but it’s wrong. Dead wrong. Hell-aciously wrong. Sin is pleasurable—for a while. Then the bill comes due. The fun evaporates and we’re drowning in consequences. Judgment. Shame. Despite how desirable it appears, sin is our enemy.

Final Thought: What excuses do you use to justify your favorite sins? Are you calling them “reasons?” God doesn’t.

Prayer: Father, it’s easy to point at other people’s sin, but what sin am I justifying in my own heart? Search my heart and reveal my blind spots. Am I calling “reasons” what you call rebellion? Help me be honest with myself. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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FRIDAY— Let there be no sexual immorality…among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Ephesians 5:3

What is sexual immorality and why is it a big deal? After all, God created us as sexual beings, so why is it wrong to fulfill our needs? When the Bible refers to sexual immorality (or fornication) it uses the Greek word “porneia.” Sound familiar? Porneia is usually coupled with the word akatharsia which mean ceremonial uncleanness. Those are stronger words than our English equivalents. Listed together, they mean that when we violate God’s sexual boundaries, we are unfit for His presence.

Sexual immorality is any sexual activity outside the boundaries of marriage. God views sexuality as a sacred gift, a wedding present for a man and woman He unites in marriage. And that is the ONLY place for it. Our culture is sex-obsessed and we assume God will look the other way. But when we hook up, move in, visit porn sites, and sleep around, we vandalize God’s priceless gift. Imagine smearing tar on a Vera Wang wedding dress. Spray painting graffiti on a Porsche. Dumping manure on a newborn baby. Those actions should shock and repulse us. But instead of being repulsed by sexual sin, we justify it with excuses: “We’re getting married later.” “Times have changed.” “We can’t get pregnant.” “God understands.” But it’s ALL sin. And God says sexual sin has no place in the life of one who professes to follow Him. Jesus made it clear: We cannot follow Him AND sin. He says die to it or we cannot be His. Period. No excuses. No compromise. Such sin has no place in our lives.

Final Thought: Discussion of sexual boundaries is not popular in our culture, but God has not changed His mind. Have you?

Prayer: Lord, if I’m going to call you that, I need to be honest about what it means. Am I allowing you to be Lord of my sexual behaviors? Am I justifying what you condemn? Reveal to me whether I am a true follower or only fooling myself. Amen.