"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
November 19, 2014
Several years ago, when I was working in banking, was when we began to really hear the term 'identity theft'. Criminals steal someones social security number or bank and/or credit card information and assume that person's identity. They write checks on that person's account, run up debit and credit card charges, and basically try to buy what they want, using someone else's money and identity. There are honest, hard-working people who end up with a lot of mess to try and clean up and deal with, due to a dishonest person trying to steal their identity and income.
The first, original identity thief was Satan. He tried to steal and assume God's identity when he was an angel in heaven; and is still trying to do so today. He lies and tries to present himself as being good in order to deceive mankind; but his heart is full of evil intent.
Revelation 12:7-9 (NLT) says, "There was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon -- the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world -- was thrown down to the earth with all his angels."
In Luke 10:18 (NLT) Jesus is speaking and says, "I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!"
Isaiah 14:12-15 (NLT) is referencing what happened to Satan when it says, "How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, 'I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God's stars. I will preside on the mountains of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.' Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to it's lowest depths."
Ezekiel 28:12b-17 (NLT) also references Satan. It was a message from Ezekiel from the Sovereign Lord to the king of Tyre, but was describing what had happened to Satan: ".....You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone.......(list of stones).....all beautifully crafted for you and set in the finest gold. They were given to you on the day you were created. I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in all you did from the day you were crated until the day evil was found in you. Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings."
In Genesis 3, we read where Satan disguised himself as a serpent when he came into the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve to sin. God had given Adam and Eve dominion over the entire garden, with the exception of one tree. God gave very implicit instructions to them saying, "You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die." But Satan was very shrewd and told her, "You won't die! God knows your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil."
The truth of the matter was, Eve was already like God. I wrote last week about how God created us in His image or likeness; not to be God, but to be like Him. So Eve knew good from evil and had been created in the image of God, so was already like Him. But Satan took the truth and skewed it just enough to tempt them to disobey God and sin.
Satan already knew the consequence of disobedience, because he had been cast from heaven. Satan's greed and wanting to be in a position above God led to his downfall. Now he was using his conniving expertise to tempt Eve, by appealing to her desire to be wise and all-knowing. Genesis 3:6-7 (NLT) says, "The woman was convinced. She saw the tree was beautiful and it's fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves."
In 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, Paul writes: "And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."
Satan is conniving and roams the earth seeking whom he may devour. We have a distorted view of what he looks like. We picture him as being ugly with horns and a pitchfork. Surely, we would be able to recognize such wickedness?! But scripture says that prior to his fall from heaven, he was the model of perfection, full of wisdom, and exquisite in beauty. Paul writes that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He tempted Eve by taking the very words that God had spoken to her, and twisting them around and putting another spin on them. God said they would die if they ate the fruit from that one tree. Satan then told them that they wouldn't die; the only reason God didn't want them eating from that tree was because He knew that they would then be like Him, knowing both good and evil. Satan had already been cast from heaven due to his desire to be greater than God, and now he was using that same concept to tempt Adam and Eve. He knew there would be consequences for their disobedience, yet he didn't care.
That's a major difference between God and Satan: God always has our best interest at heart and truly loves us as a Father; caring what happens to us and always wanting the best for us. He is always willing to forgive us and is full of mercy. Satan couldn't care less if our life is filled with tragedy and pain and hurt. He will tempt us to do wrong, then when we disobey and are filled with guilt and conviction, he will laugh at us, while trying to heap more condemnation upon our heads.
Satan has tried to steal God's identity and masquerade as being good and all-knowing and full of light; when the truth is, he is full of evil and darkness. He knows what his ultimate end will be, for God has told him. But just as he and his angels fought a battle with Michael and his angels in heaven to try and gain dominion over God and His throne, he is fighting a battle today in the hearts of men and women, trying to destroy them and take them to hell with him. Satan lost the heavenly battle, so he is trying to win the earthly battle and get more on his side than God has on His. I believe that he is still fighting a battle against God and His angels, desiring that He has more conquests and converts to evil than God has converts to salvation and good. But he knows if he shows up with horns and a pitchfork no one will trust or believe his lies, so he masquerades as an angel of light, deceiving and lying to all mankind, trying to get them to follow him instead of God.
It's a never-ending battle that all mankind fights. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12, "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."
But it's a battle that can be fought and won! Romans 8:35 asks this question: "Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?" Verse 37 emphatically answers: "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." Another version reads, "We are more than conquerors!"
The most effective weapon we have against Satan is knowing the Word of God. Jesus, Himself, was tempted by the devil and that is how He fought against Satan and won.
In Matthew 4:1-11 we read this account. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days He fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and tried to get Jesus to give into various temptations. Knowing that Jesus was hungry, he appealed to that hunger: "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread." But Jesus responded, "No! The scriptures say, 'People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Satan knew that Jesus was the Son of God, for he had originally been an angel prior to his fall, so had been in heaven with Jesus. But he tried to get Jesus to sin by proving that He was the Son of God... "IF you are the Son of God....." Satan knew, and Jesus knew that Satan knew, that He [Jesus] was the Son of God; so Jesus didn't have to prove who He was. He knew that Satan was attempting to tempt Him to sin.
Satan then took Jesus to the highest point of the Temple in Jerusalem and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the scriptures say, 'He will order His angels to protect you, and they will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone!'" Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, 'You must not test the Lord your God.'"
There is proof right here that the devil also knows the scriptures and will twist them just enough to try and deceive and tempt us to sin. That's why we must read and know the Word of God for ourselves. That is vitally important!
Lastly, the devil took Jesus to the peak of a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. "I will give it all to You," he said, "if You will kneel down and worship me." Jesus told him, "Get out of here, Satan! For the scriptures say, 'You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.'" Then the devil went away.
God has all dominion and ownership over all the kingdoms of the world, and they weren't Satan's to give. By being the Son of God, Jesus was already an heir to those things.
As children of God, we too have been given the authority to resist the devil and he has to flee. James 4:7 (NLT) says, "Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." We may not always know the right scripture offhand to quote to resist Satan, but we can go to our Bible and look it up or ask another christian for help. Write it down, and the next time Satan comes to tempt you in that area, read it off if need be, but say, "Satan, the Word of God says........." You may have to do so over and over, but Satan can't stand against the Word of God and will have to flee and leave you alone. That doesn't mean he won't try to come again to tempt you in another area, but God will again give you the power to overcome, if you stand strong in your faith and know the Word of God.
In the days in which we are living, there are going to be false prophets and false teachers who will skew the Word of God to appeal to what mankind wants to hear and appease them, and many will be pulled away from the truth. But if we keep our hearts committed to God, read and know His word, and resist the devil when he tries to tempt us, then we can be victorious. We don't have to be deceived and uprooted in our faith in God. God loves us, has called us to be His children, and will give us all the help that we need for each and every day. He is truth, the One and Only God, and when we truly know Him, then we will recognize those (including Satan) who are masquerading as messengers of light and not be deceived.
Loretta mentioned that Satan doesn't have dominion here. And she's right. So how is it that he shows so much power to go around tempting people?
I heard a sermon many years ago where the preacher explained it like a rental home. God is the owner. He created the Garden of Eden and Earth for people. Satan had about the same power as a door-to-door salesman. But when Adam and Eve decided to buy what he was selling, they let him in. Later, as more and more people chose sin over God, Satan became a guest, and finally a resident. We are still the renters, and have the authority to kick Satan out. But when so many people keep letting him in, he can keep coming around, stinking up the bathroom, tearing up walls, etc. But the rental agreement has an end. Eventually, Earth will be turned over to Jesus, and He will become the renter, and we will be His guests. Satan will no longer be welcome or allowed in.
It sounds like a great analogy. I'm not sure how well it is supported by scripture, so I don't take it as perfect. But it does help to understand. It also makes it sound like if everyone would reject evil, and worship God alone, there would be no sin, no sickness, no pain in the world, and I like that.
2 packages yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups hot tap water
1 stick melted butter
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups flour (to start)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat about 10 minutes with a mixer. Add more flour to make the dough thick enough to knead. Put on a floured board and knead; place in a greased bowl. Let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out and cut with big cutter. Melt butter in baking pan (this is additional butter from what was added to the dough mixture). Roll each roll in butter, then fold in half and place side by side in baking pan. Bake at 350 until golden brown.
I'm thankful that I have always been blessed to have a warm home to live in.... maybe not always a pretty home, but I've always had a safe, warm home. The not so pretty home that comes to mind is the old, old decrepit mobile home I lived in for several years after my sister, Linda, got married and I was first on my own. It was horrible! I can laugh about it now, but not so much at the time. But even though it may have been ugly, and old, and somewhat falling apart, and I had "adventures" a few times that I would rather not have had while living there (a snake, rat, and lizards in the house to name a few), it was still warm in the winter and cool in the summer and I had a good bed; and I at least had a home. I was later blessed to be able to buy a brand new mobile home; and was able to set it up on the family property where I was raised. Now, Jon and I are blessed with a nice home with a big yard; which just happens to be the home that Jon grew up in and we were fortunate to be able to buy from his parent.
I'm also thankful that I've always had good meals and have never known what it was to go hungry or do without food.
A good home and always having food is something most of us take for granted because we've always had those things. But I've been made aware this past year that there are many children, as well as adults, who have not always had a nice, warm home in which to live; nor have they always had food to eat. They've not had stable homes or loving parents. I'm grateful that I've always had that security and have always felt safe. But may we remember those who don't have those things, and keep them in our prayers.
Stop watering things that were never meant to grow in your life. - TD Jakes
We love you!
Loretta & Jon