The Last Pin Standing
The world is the devil’s bowling alley and we are the pins. (1 John 5:19) The devil takes particular delight in knocking down Christians. He tries to topple us with systems of temptation, adversity and persecution – and to give the devil his due, he’s an excellent bowler. But what Satan hates most is when he has bowled his best and a stubborn pin won’t fall down. (1 Peter 5 8-9)
If we rely on our own power to stand firm in the devil’s world, it’s only a matter of time before we are bowled over. However, God has not left us alone to face the devil’s fierce onslaught. He has thrown down many life-lines (His promises) and if we hold firm (through faith) nothing in this world can knock us down.
We must stand firm in the Word and hold tight to God’s life-lines. At times, the devil’s world may knock us around, but if we are trusting in God when problems inevitably hit we will bounce back and remain standing tall – much to Satan’s frustration.
Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
In eternity-past angels were created in heavenly paradise. From the very outset they enjoyed God’s unrestrained love and blessings. They knew nothing of suffering, sickness, aging or pain, which were as alien to them as colours to a blind man. A being who has never suffered cannot truly understand suffering.
Conversely, humans are born into a corrupt world of suffering, violence, deprivation and pain. However, as Christians, we are told that when we die all these horrible things will pass away (Rev 21:4). We will then enjoy God’s unrestrained love and blessings. We will never again feel pain, suffer or get sick. It is beyond our comprehension to fully grasp how wonderful this will be.
Human history is lesson-time for both angels and humans – lessons God never wanted to give. However, when a being is created with absolute free-will, rebellion is bound to eventually happen and God has to deal with the repercussions of sin then and there, so the issue will never recur in eternity. In so doing He also demonstrates to all His creatures that a loving God must condemn sin if He is to remain perfectly fair, just and righteous.
As angels watch human history they witness God’s grace in action. We humans are the recipients of grace in our self-induced classroom of suffering. But we mustn’t think that mankind was treated unfairly. For those who believe in Christ, human history and suffering are thankfully a short lesson. Thereafter, we have eternity to learn the wonderful lessons of what it means to receive God’s unrestrained love and blessings. (1 Peter 1:12)
The Omniscient Chess Player
Satan considers himself unbeatable at the game of chess. To give the devil his due, no other creature can play like him. To Satan, we humans are pieces on a chessboard to be sacrificed without a second thought. Since humanity began, Satan has been maneuvering so he can yell ‘CHECKMATE’ to God. At times it seemed he had the game nearly in the bag (the Garden of Eden, the Flood, the Exodus and so on). So many times Satan has yelled, ‘CHECK’, but at the last minute God has always blocked him. Throughout human history Satan has tried to secure his win with a ‘CHECKMATE’. However, much to his annoyance, God is an all-knowing, omniscient chess-player and is always one step ahead to block that anticipated final move.
At the cross, God turned the game around and said ‘CHECK’ to Satan. Since then, the devil has tried desperate moves, callously sacrificing his pieces to get out of God’s ‘CHECK’. Now, it is plainly evident to all that Satan is playing a losing game. At the end of time, God will say to Satan, ‘CHECKMATE’, and all Satan’s pieces will be removed from the board.
Human history is like the chessboard and we humans are the chess pieces; however, unlike normal chess pieces, we humans have free-will and can decide in which direction we move. The game is winding up. Satan is desperate. He is frantically trying to recruit new pieces to sacrifice. If he can, Satan will employ God’s pieces to use against Him.
We must question whose side of the board we are on. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean God is moving us. We mustn’t fool ourselves – if we are not allowing God to work freely in our lives and move us where He will, we are Satan’s pawns – there is no middle ground. We must continuously resist the devil by giving ourselves, as a living sacrifice, to God to use wisely and graciously. (1 Peter 5: 8-10)
Problems Rulers Face
Throughout history we have seen many rulers. Generally, they can be separated into two categories – the benevolent ruler who will put his nation’s needs before his own, and the tyrannical dictator who will always put his own needs before the nation’s. A universal problem facing all rulers is the numerous attempts from their subjects to usurp their authority.
God is a benevolent Ruler – He puts human needs before His own, as seen on the Cross. Like other rulers, God has had His fair share of mutinies. Satan (once God’s right hand man) started a rebellion, taking with him one third of God’s angels, and later seizing rulership of the earth from Adam. (Isa 14:12-14, Rev 12:4a)
Satan is a tyrannical dictator. He puts his needs before those he rules. However, don’t assume Satan’s tyrannical rule is without problems. If this world is a reflection of Satan’s kingdom, he must spend a lot of time thwarting rebellious attempts within his own ranks. Those who follow Satan are like him – treacherous and disloyal. One wonders how many disgruntled fallen-angels, sick of being under Satan’s failing leadership and believing they could do a better job, have led a rebellion against him. By now fallen-angels must realise that Satan has all but lost the battle and they backed the wrong ruler. Even when our Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth so many of fallen angels seemed to be going insane. As Jesus said in Mark 3:24, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand”.
As Christians we can relax about bad rulers. Kingdoms will come and go but in the end our benevolent God will rule supreme. (1 Thess. 4:16-17)
A dictator is rarely seen to personally attack enemy soldiers on the front line. In World War II, Hitler didn’t personally fight soldiers in the opposing armies; he was far too busy planning, administering and leading. However, he did orchestrate bombing raids, send in troops to set up minefields and order his armies to fight his battles.
We may claim we are being personally attacked by the Devil, but this is highly unlikely. Almost certainly, Satan is completely oblivious to our individual existence; he is far too busy planning, administering and leading. Things aren’t going very well for Satan since Christ’s victory on the Cross. Satan must spend most of his time scheming to outmanoeuvre God, while quelling rebellion in his own ranks and trying to keep up morale in his now-evident lost cause.
Unlike God, Satan is not all-knowing or all-powerful and he cannot be everywhere at once. To deal with pesky Christians, Satan and his fallen troops have ingeniously set up many obstacles to entrap us (systems of pride, lust, hatred, to name a few). Only when we pass through these obstacles, will we receive personal attention from one of Satan’s fallen angels. If we keep advancing, our name may reach the Devil’s ears when, like the Apostle Paul, we receive many medals for spiritual bravery. Pending that time, we are just clumsy Christian soldiers, getting tripped up in our pride and blown up with our lustful desires. Satan has nothing to worry about and certainly doesn’t have time to personally attack us.
The spider is a cunning insect. It spins an almost invisible web across the path of its prey and then patiently waits for unsuspecting insects to pass by. Then when a bug falls into the web it soon becomes entangled and is at the spider’s mercy. Now that the insect is caught, the spider will secure it by wrapping it with more webs and, at leisure, sucks the nourishment from it.
Satan is the biggest spider of all. He lurks unseen in the background and relies on his many webs of lies and deceit to catch his prey. Like the spider, he doesn’t usually chase his prey – he waits for it to come to him. Satan has spun many ingenious and near-invisible webs to entangle us (insects). Webs that appeal to our pride, our self-righteousness, our lust for power, success, popularity, wealth, fame and so on. No matter what sort of person we are Satan has spun a web that can catch us.
Once entangled, we are at his mercy and it’s very hard to break free. Ever so slowly, we are wrapped in webs of our own addictions. We become tangled in our lust for power, approbation and gratification – then trapped within the bitterness, jealousy and depression that follow. Soon we are so entwined the only purpose we can possibly serve is to nourish Satan’s plans.
How do we avoid becoming entangled in Satan’s invisible systems of lies and deceit? We look to God. He knows the whereabouts of every web spun by Satan. If we take our lead from our Lord Jesus Christ and choose the paths He walked, Satan’s webs will never entangle us. (2 Corinthians, 2:11, 1 John 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 3:5)
God created a titanic ship called Decision that protected humanity from a sea of molten lava. Decision had only one deck divided into three areas. God put all humanity on the middle deck called Choice. On the starboard side Jesus Christ resided and on the port side was Satan. God then told all humanity to make one decision – choose a captain with whom you wish to sail.
Jesus said to those on the Deck of Choice that he held the way to Heaven and urged them to quickly choose him. The gates that separated the deck would soon shut and then the time for decision-making would be over – humanity’s ship would not sail forever.
Satan yelled back that there was plenty of time. He lit fireworks as a distraction and many delighted people strolled to his side of the deck.
Jesus Christ let humanity know that he had made an Eternal-life Jacket for every person. He implored all to come to his side of the deck so they could receive life everlasting.
Satan laughed loudly, saying Christ was a fool – humanity’s ship was unsinkable. They didn’t really need a captain; in fact, they could all be their own captains. He then lit more fireworks to dazzle humanity. Many people laughed at Jesus with his silly life-preserver and walked straight over to Satan.
Yet there were still many on the Deck of Choice who couldn’t decide one way or another. They listened to Christ and they listened to Satan but wouldn’t make a choice.
Jesus again implored these people to believe in him and come to his side before the gates closed. Once more he pointed to the Eternal-life Jackets, assuring the people that no one need go without. Many heeded Christ’s warning and hurried over to let him fasten on their life-preservers. Even so, many still stayed undecided on the mid-deck.
Satan kept yelling to humanity to ignore Christ’s panic-mongering and to watch him instead as he lit the biggest firecracker of them all. Those still on the mid-deck decided there was time enough to watch the big fireworks display before making their choice. Satan lit the fuse. The massive firecracker rocketed wildly out of control and crashed into the bow of the ship, causing a great explosion that ripped a gaping hole in the hull. The sea of molten lava flooded in and, just as suddenly, the gates shut dead tight, trapping every soul where they stood. And as the lava flooded in, the Ship of Decision started to lift and sink.
Jesus Christ watched sadly as the huge pile of unwanted Eternal-life Jackets slide into the lava. He wept at the waste. He then told all those on his deck to pull the cord on their life-preservers. Instantly, Wings of Righteousness popped out from their jackets and those believers in Christ flew up into Heaven.
Jesus was last to leave. He tearfully watched as the other people fell screaming into the sea of lava, knowing that none needed to be there.
As Jesus Christ turned to join his people, those still on the Deck of Choice yelled for him to come back as they hadn’t made their decision. Jesus Christ sadly called back that the time for choosing was over. However, the people on the Deck of Choice screamed that it wasn’t fair – they hadn’t chosen for Satan.
Jesus Christ replied as he turned away in sorrow, ‘Yes, you didn’t choose Satan but you didn’t choose me either. Humanity’s voyage is now over – it was as inevitable as death. Only those who believed in me have been given the means of escape. Everyone else must go down with the ship.’
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23.
In the main, resistance fighters are average citizens fighting for freedom in a territory overrun by the enemy – often at great risk to themselves and their families. Resistance takes many forms – gathering intelligence, producing underground newspapers, sabotaging enemy plans, assisting escaped POWs and allied troops. Resistance fighters depend heavily on outside help to obtain valuable information and supply needs crucial to continuing their opposition.
God has called all Christians to be resistance fighters in a territory (the Devil’s kingdom) overrun by the enemy. We are citizens of humanity, fighting for the spiritual freedom of our fellow man. Outside help is crucial to our resistance. We rely on God to supply our needs. He has provided our essential information (the Bible), and equipped us with weapons (not physical – but spiritual).
As Christians, we can do many things to aid the resistance: (1) Gather intelligence (learn Biblical truths). (2) Spread that information (the Gospel) any way possible. (3) Arrange Christian meetings in safe locations (church). (4) Sabotage the enemy’s (Satan’s) plans – through prayer. (5) Refuse to participate in actions (sin) that aid and advance the enemy’s cause. (6) Aid fellow resistance fighters (teachers of God’s Word) in any way possible.
As with all resistance, the risk can be great, but there will come a day when the occupying enemy is cast out and all sacrifices (great and small) will be remembered and rewarded.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)
The Snapping Turtle
A snapping turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. A unique characteristic of this rather strange creature is the way it captures its prey – it doesn’t chase, it tempts the prey to come to it. This cunning turtle lies motionless on the river bed with its mouth wide open. To entice any passing prey, it wriggles its worm-like appendage on the end of its tongue. Then when an unwary victim enters its mouth, the turtle’s sharp jaws snap tight.
The world in which we live is filled with many enticing opportunities. A lot of these openings have very dark consequences such as: taking drugs, criminal activity and sexual infidelity. However, not all ‘open doors’ come with flashing warning signs of bad repercussions.
From time to time, we are all presented with tempting opportunities – it may be a job offer, a new relationship or an investment opportunity. How do we determine if it will be good or bad for us? When a new door opens, is it a door that God has opened, or is it the mouth of a diabolical snapping turtle complete with wriggling worm to tempt us in? We live in the Devil’s World and he can entice us with some very attractive opportunities which can equally appeal to our moral or immoral side. A fish that thinks it is beyond temptation is usually the easiest to catch.
God has given us two safeguards to keep us protected – His written word and His ‘still small voice’. We should heed both before we advance. If God’s word says: ‘No’, obviously we should not proceed further.
When tempting prospects are not clear-cut we should still move with caution and prayer. We may have good intentions but as the old saying goes: ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’. If we get a sense that something is not right, maybe we should listen to that ‘still small voice’ and not take up the new opportunity.
Sadly, there is not neon signs warning us away from life’s many traps. At times we will make a mistake and take the bait. SNAP – suddenly everything goes dark and we are dealing with bad repercussions. Fortunately, if we trust in God, he can turn our mess into something meaningful. If we keep our eyes on Him, we will come out of our dark predicament wiser and stronger. (Romans 8:28)
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Satan was the most beautiful creature ever to come from the hand of God and, of all God’s creatures he was given the most. Yet, it wasn’t enough. There came a day when Satan questioned needing God and, instead, sought to be his own god to live free under his own authority. (Isaiah 14:12-14)
Well, what sort of a god does Satan make? As he seeks his self-sufficient existence away from God, he depends on God to uphold the universe. He demands God deal with him honestly and fairly, yet he himself deals in deceit. As he seeks freedom from God, he enslaves those around him. As he seeks his independent power, he steals power from others. While he intends never again to bow before God, he demands that everyone else bow to him.
Of all the illustrations that can be used to illustrate mankind, sadly, Satan is the best. Let us not fool ourselves; before we are born-again (saved) we are all imitators of Satan (John 8:44). Happily, this status-quo doesn’t have to remain that way. As we advance in the Christian life, we hopefully shed the old ways for something much, much better. Ever so slowly, as we progress by keeping our focus on Christ, we stop imitating Satan and start exhibiting the perfect qualities of our Lord.
The only real hope for the devil’s world is Christ’s return. The only real hope for our lives individually is inviting Christ to be part of it.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11
Joining the Royal Family
Four poor little children lived with their wicked, self-serving stepfather who never fed or clothed them and beat them daily. Quite clearly he didn’t care whether they lived or died. One day, policemen came to the children’s house and arrested the stepfather for the murder of their mother.
When the news spread, a kind prince said he would like to adopt the children. He then approached the four of them and said he had arranged the paperwork, paid all expenses and solemnly promised to always look after them. All he needed was their signatures and they would then legally become members of the royal family for the rest of their lives, living in a palace of great splendour and many wonders. The four children would surely jump at the prince’s gracious offer. But it was not to be. Incredibly, perhaps, one of them spat on the legal papers and kicked the prince in the shin. Sadly, the ungrateful child wanted to grow up just like his stepfather.
Our stepfather, Satan, is the ruler of this world. He was served an arrest warrant and his sentence is pending, (Rev. 20:10). God wants to rescue us from our cruel stepfather. He has done the necessary legal work and sent a gracious Prince (Christ) with the offer to adopt us into His family. All we need do is accept this generous offer and sign the papers (believe in Christ). Then we are adopted into the greatest Royal Family of all time – and beyond.
What fools we would be to spit at Jesus Christ’s offer by rejecting Him as Saviour. We must remember, if we keep Satan as our legal stepfather, we receive his inheritance. Satan has only an eternal jail sentence to share with his family, but God has the riches of the universe to share with His.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him may be saved. John 3:17
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