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God protects his own

“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31‭-‬32 HCSB

I find this interaction between Christ and the disciples fascinating and very comforting because of the truth that is being revealed here. Holy Spirit is speaking and I pray we are listening.

Upon further study, due to dual use of the English word 'you', in most English translations, it seems as though Jesus is only talking to Peter, but he is speaking to all the disciples. Although Jesus begins by calling out Simon Peter to listen up, when he says "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat", the Greek word for 'you' here is plural!  It's more like our 'you all' we use when we want to be clear we're referring to everyone. This is why the NET Bible translates it more clearly saying this in vs 31, "Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat ". Then in the next verse he is redirecting his words back to Peter again, because the next 'you' is singular! This would be hard to detect in most more literal translations without Greek study notes. But some more dynamic translations help by adding the clarifying words...as you can see above. Also we can deduct Jesus is redirecting to Simon Peter with the second you because we read the following context of Peter denying Christ. But the NET makes the true Greek stand out better saying vs 32 like this  in saying Simon's name," but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." These are the reasons it's good to read multiple Bible Translations if you are able...and in the English language we are truly blessed with many!

holding

Now why is this important? Well because a major truth is being made known here; an important reassuring one at that! Jesus is saying that the devil has to get permission for what he does against us. If Satan had his way, he would totally destroy and torment every Christian alive! But Jesus said Satan came to God seeking permission to put all the disciples through serious tribulation and temptation; to "sift them like wheat! " Jesus then reassured Simon that he interceded for him and he would come back from his failed testing. Implying that he gave Satan permission to go after Simon Peter only for reasons God determined. That in itself is faith building. But this is even more blessed...Jesus is telling us that Satan has no power to act, except that which God allows him to do! (Luke 10:17)

If you face trials and temptations from the devil, God not only knows, but He has allowed it!  And for his good purposes in our lives!

While some may be upset at this statement of truth that God is allowing our sufferings to happen; those who haven't really "tasted and seen that God is good",  I for one, as many of you, have come to see the way our God is our Savior! He makes beauty from ashes; He humbles us, helps us to die, breaks us down, in order to raise us up in glory, and give us new Life to make us beautiful in His time.  His perfected members of his Bride, the Church!!

Psalm 84:11 declares, "For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right."

I believe this!  I know this in my own life! God is our sun, meaning our source of provision for all our need, and He is our shield, meaning our defender, our protector!  And nothing is withheld from us that is good and right!  Now this is usually only thought of in the most pleasant of ways, but in reality for a child to grow and mature, we parents have to enact testing and trials as a means of discipline to help our little ones develop and not be spoiled and of little use. So when God allows Satan to hurt you and test you, which clearly is only done under God's permissions, then this too is a GOOD thing! His careful limits, watchful eyes and heart of love for us helps us grow into the people he requires us to be. It is not evil or bad. No nothing that comes into the life of a Believer is ultimately bad, no matter how painful or terrible it may seem at the time. God's Word says "Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" -Heb 12:7 Yes I take great comfort in this powerful truth, that Satan and his demon hordes cannot touch me, except for that which is filtered through the hands of my loving Father who wants to make me perfected for his Son; to be like him... and will never abandon me nor forsake me! (Heb 13:5) God really is in control... And He is for me, not against me! (Rom 8:31) This is exactly where I always want to be! What about you?  Do you know the perfect Father God? (Ps 18:30)

These life tests will prove whom are His...  Or not. Those that fall away, sadly are proven to not have ever "known" the heart of God as lover of their soul, may it not be so about you. Do you 'know' Jesus. If you do, the Spirit will cry out in you to Father God, "Abba, Father" ! (Rom 8:15)

May the peace of Christ fill you as you meditate on this life-changing truth.

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How to avoid sin. Where light exists darkness cannot.

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.  (1Pet 4:1-2 NET)

question for thought.   Are you concerned about the will of God? Really?

There are different interpretations as to exactly what the Spirit means for us in this passage. Some think it has to do with the believer having power over sin in Christ which certainly is true and partly what is being said; and others say more likely it is  when we endure suffering for Christ we show our purpose is to not live for self, but for God, which also is a truth this passage conveys.

Yet even beyond these I see an important even more practical message of God being taught here that some miss.

Peter says to arm yourselves with the same way of thinking as Christ who suffered in the flesh...and then tells us these things. He is giving us practical way to avoid sin and self-living. Instructions to a new way to think. (remember context is important to know the proper interpretations of what someone is saying)

He goes on to say that one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. Is he saying once we suffer for Christ we become sinless? It seems to say that at first glance. But no.  He is speaking of practical theory here. He is telling us how to be like Christ and be a conquerer of sin in a practical way, a 'mindset' we should take on so we can be more holy in our living. He said take on this attitude. You see? He continues...  "so as to live our remaining life in this flesh not for human fleshly passions but for the will of God." Then in verses following he gives practical examples of what living for self looks like.... Sensuality, drunkenness, wild partying, lawless idolatry and such debauchery.  Peter is saying we must make our daily choices to live for the will of God and not for our natural desires, and in doing so we will not sin. This is taking the offense, not the defense against sin and the old flesh. The secret to an overcoming life like that of Christ, is to put God first in all things. Where light exists darkness cannot. Pray to him every moment in total dependence like Jesus did while on earth. Jesus is our human example in how to manage fleshly temptations to live for self. We must learn to deny self by filling our every moment with God and his will for our lives at the that moment. Yes this is the greatest suffering for Christ that we will ever do. Outward persecutions are easier to bear than those daily, gnawing, cravings of the old flesh from within to live in prideful self ruler-ship and to set submission to God aside. But Peter is telling us that denying self and pursing God in Christ will keep us in pure holy living, thus avoiding sin. Give no room for the flesh. This is wisdom. So while I am choosing to suffer purposely for Christ by denying self, sin is being put to death in my body. Here in is how the old American proverb is held true. "Idle hands are the devil's so workshop."

Purpose today to do more things solely in the Spirit's leading. Avoid idleness and look for ways to serve God by serving others in Jesus' name. Fill your days and life with the Light, and the darkness of sin will have no place to reside.

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord" (Ps 119:9-12a)

In essence God is telling us through Peter's words that seeking God with our whole heart is how we guard our hearts from sin. Listening to him and following him is our pathway to live holy and not sin against him. Will we fail at times? Yes, we are human. But in the grace of Christ with his ever cleansing blood, humbly we can continue on and do even better as though we are pure and holy before God... because in Jesus Christ, we are! Seek him and avoid sins of the flesh. That... is living in the Spirit.

May the Spirit of Emmanuel fill you this holiday season. They you will indeed have a Merry Christmas. God bless you.

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Tell the Nations of his Glory!

Tell the nations of his glory; tell all peoples the miracles he does,

because the LORD is great -Ps 96:3,4

It should only make sense that because of the great things God has done for us...for me, that I should go and bring this great love of Christ to everyone who will listen, no matter where in the earth they may be. Some have asked me why go to Africa when there are so many lost people here in America.  I simply tell them that God has moved me to go to places like Peru, Ecuador and Africa, and.... because they will listen and respond unlike most Americans, where hearts are hard.

Where the hearts are ripe and tender we should go to harvest for the Lord.

Matt 9:37-38 Jesus said, "Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Someone's gotta go, why not me...why not you?  I like pastor John Pipers recent messages on this.  There are 3 types of Christians, the "Senders", the "Go-ers" or the "Disobedient". The mission field begins at home and our city and state and country, but it must not stop there. It must be global according to the command of Christ. I want to be like the prophet Isaiah who said in Isa 6:8 "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." Lastly, for anyone who truly loves Christ and wants to see God face to face, knowing that they have done well in serving him shouldn't we be working on making his return expedited by reaching the last unreached people of the World?  When will Jesus Christ return in glory?  He told us. Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Nations here in the Greek means people groups. So let's be about our Fathers work, going or sending, and making this our priority!

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Children of Tulumba

Children of Tulumba Here the youth minister at Kennedy's Tulumba village Church was a time of much excitement among the children. AFM's first group mission to Kenya, Africa last year in May seems like a thousand years ago, but was just last year. As I think and plan more intently on God's will for myself and our AFM mission to Uganda and Kenya coming up in November, I am a bit anxious to have this trip all settled down as to God's purpose and desire for us when we arrive. I guess that is the human nature side of me to feel always in control, but I know following the Holy Spirit is more about trusting God and allowing him to work through us simply by being obedient to his call, even when I cannot see clearly the paths set before me. Pray with me that the Lord will help me take one day at a time as I desire for my life to be useful in the hands of Jesus my Savior. May God bless my Kenya friends!

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