grace

The Curse of Comparison

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” – 2 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) Because our lives are hidden with God in Christ, we’ve been granted protection from and authority over the enemy. In fact, as believers, we walk around in a cushion of grace that makes us impervious to the dominion or possession of darkness. Therefore, the way the devil tries to take us down is through the power of deception. By gaining a foothold in our thoughts, he causes us to turn against ourselves and keeps us paralyzed in fear. In fact, one of the most sinister and common ways in which he does this is through the curse of comparison. Especially in the age of social media, where people are always

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Step Into Spiritual Authority

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” – Luke 10:19 Did you know that Satan hates you because of how much God loves you? Since the Lord has destined him for destruction, he lives every day knowing his fate, and there is nothing he can do to change it. He can, however, try to hurt his Maker by harming His beloved children. Since our hearts are inherently sinful, the devil works overtime to gain a foothold in our lives, and he takes advantage of the weakness of our flesh. If he can get us to forfeit the divinely-imparted peace that comes from knowing how perfectly we’re loved, he can increase his influence by invading our thoughts. He understands where we’re weak, and he preys on the areas in which his bite will have

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God’s Got the Power

“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.” – Exodus 7:10-12 There’s an interesting account in the book of Exodus that took place after Moses and his brother Aaron were commissioned by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Having been oppressed and abused for 400 years by Egyptian officials, the Lord heard the cries of His people and put a plan into action to deliver them. He called Moses to guide them, and He appointed Aaron to be a prophet to speak on His behalf. Promising to

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You Are Not Your Mistakes

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1 Often, when we struggle with things like addiction or long-standing sin, we grow discouraged because we feel like we will never beat it. We make progress, but then we backslide, and the devil whispers in our ear that we’re just too broken and messed up to change. In fact, this is how he gains a foothold in our lives. When we listen to his constant fatalistic commentary, he convinces us to give up on ourselves, and that’s when we get in trouble. Once we’re running with the ball of self-defeat, we’re tempted to believe that our Heavenly Father feels as negatively about us as we do, and our view

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God Doesn’t Act in Haste

“The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: ‘Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?’” – Genesis 18:22-24 For the past two days, we’ve looked at the events that transpired when God visited Abraham at his tent in Genesis 18. As we saw, the nomad went out of his way to welcome the Lord, and his generous hospitality remains a source of inspiration for us as we make the Holy Spirit at home in our lives today. However, something else happened during this interesting encounter, and it came in the form of a warning. The Almighty told His covenant-bearer that He was considering destroying

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A Visionless Church

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” – Colossians 2:8 Yesterday, I told you about my uber-religious elementary school teacher who instilled major fear in me and my fellow classmates. By reinforcing the idea that we should live with constant anxiety about going to hell so that we continually confess our sins, she introduced a toxic theology that was focused exclusively on what you can’t do. Unfortunately, she was not alone in her dogmatic and fear-based beliefs — such thinking has pervaded many sectors of the church for generations. The major problem with this kind of dogma is that it stifles our souls. When we’re constantly fixated on giving things up without having a greater reason, we become joyless and lackluster. If we need proof of

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No Fear in Love

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18 I went to a number of different schools during my growing up years, but the one that I attended for quite a while was a Baptist school in the Valley area of L.A. For the most part, I enjoyed going there, and I think it helped my walk with God a lot. However, there was one teacher who made it a bit of a challenge. The kids called her “Mrs. Nun,” because she would remind you of a stern-faced Catholic sister, and she was constantly grimacing and instilling religious fear in the impressionable young minds of her students. She had us watch a bunch of old movies that were made in the 1960’s and 70’s about the

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Acceptance Before Repentance

“All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’” – Luke 19:7,8 Yesterday, we saw how radical it was that Jesus embraced Zacchaeus, despite the fact that he was a short, crooked tax collector. Even knowing these things, the Lord saw fit to invite Himself over to his house that very day. By extending a hand that said, “I want to get to know you,” He offered a marginalized man a place of belonging, and everything changed. This is because acceptance always precedes repentance. Knowing that he was finally loved for who he was, Zacchaeus’ natural response was to change

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Sitting Down With Sinners

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” – Matthew 9:10 For the past few days, we’ve talked about three types of “untouchables” whom Jesus readily touched — lepers, Samaritans, and Pharisees — and what His actions teach us about extending love to the least deserving in our lives. Today, I want to examine the fourth and final group of outcasts our Savior welcomed, and that is tax collectors and sinners. Perhaps the most shocking of all, these were the gang members, derelicts, and drug addicts of the day — the kind we would be afraid to go near. They were also the robbers and crooks; the type who were known to have no regard for the people who tried to do right by God and their fellow man. In fact, tax collectors were considered the worst

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Forgiving Pharisees

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.” – Luke 7:36 For the past couple of days, we’ve looked at two of the four groups of “untouchables” whom Jesus willingingly touched — lepers and Samaritans, and today, I want to look at the third — Pharisees. Interestingly, when we read the gospels, the religious leaders and teachers of the law often appear more villainous than the most violent criminals. Perhaps this is because they were constantly trying to trap the Lord. Yet despite their general hostility toward Him and His teaching, He wanted them to understand the truth, so He welcomed them to learn of His heart. He responded to their accusations with bold words, yet He went out of His way to let them know that He cared about them. For instance, He met

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