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Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run from you? Psalm 139:7 (NCV)

The internet has given us a new level of anonymity. Never before in history has it been easier to be ‘someone you are not’. It’s easy to hide your identity on social networking sites and be whoever you want to be. Want to be a 14 year-old girl, rather than a lonely 30 something male? There’s an app for that!

But hiding behind false identity isn’t something unique to the internet age. We’ve been hiding ever since Adam and Eve ate that forbidden fruit. Hiding from others and God isn’t new, we just think we’ve gotten better at it.

We can on a different face for each situation. We have our parent face, and our student face. We have a face we put on for our customer at the counter and a face we put on in the break room. We have a face we put on when we demand our own way and a face we put on when we’ve been humbled by our mistake. We humans have much more in common with the chameleon than we may want to admit.

Not only that, our enemy, the great Satan is the master of disguises. He puts on the face of religion to guide us away from the truth. He puts on the face of accusation to keep us defeated. He brings the face of worry into our lives to take our focus off God’s redeeming love and the protection of his Grace.

We fight the battle for ourselves on two fronts. On the one hand we can have so many different faces we struggle to keep them straight. Some of us have been using so many faces to hide behind we eventually forget who we are. We lose ourselves in a myriad of identities, none of which bring us the peace we seek.

On the other hand we fight against an enemy intent on bringing us to our knees in failure, agony and defeat. He uses people to remind us of our weakness and bring doubt into our lives. When necessary he uses his best weapon and infiltrates our minds with all sorts of lies about God, about whom we can trust and who we can’t, and most importantly, lies about the grace God offers us through Jesus Christ.

It is in the midst of this battle for ourselves we can find solace in knowing that our heavenly Father pierces through the darkness of deception to show us the light of his truth. The Psalmist reminds us that there is nothing hidden from our Father. We can’t hide behind some false identity, nor can we be deceived when we rely on his wisdom.

As one writer puts it, “We may elude the vigilance of a human enemy and place ourselves beyond his reach. [But] God fills all space—there is not a spot in which his piercing eye is not on us, and his uplifted hand cannot find us out.”

In the midst of the battle for who we are there can be a sense of urgency to get answers, to know the truth, to gain the victory. But our God is not governed by time. His victory is inevitable. His grasp of our needs is sure, he understands our weaknesses, his grace is sufficient for us.

Where can you hide from his presence? You can’t. Even if you wanted to. He sees every one of your faces. Better still, he knows the real you and is passionately in love with you.

PRAYER: Lord God, I thank you and praise you for filling every void in my life. There are so many dark corners of my mind that I run to hide in. It’s comforting to know your light penetrates even the darkest of places I go to. Protect me today from the lies I tell myself and the lies others try to make me believe. In Jesus name, Amen.

Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all you do. Psalm 89:14 (NCV)

Do what is right! You have to be fair! No one would disagree with those two statements. We all want fairness. We all want the ‘right things’ to happen in life. But sometimes ‘fairness’ and ‘rightness’ are hard to define.

To the farmer who needs rain to refresh his crops a good shower is not only fair, but needed. Not so for the bride who planned an outdoor wedding in a beautiful park. To the child that desperately wants to attend a certain party it may seem unfair that mom and dad say no. On the other hand it never seems fair when someone is killed by a drunk driver.

So what is it that we can use for a standard to determine what is right and fair? The double edged sword of love and truth. Love without truth leads to enablement and a failure to see reality. Truth without love becomes legalistic and unbending. But love and truth together shows itself in loyalty and loyalty is the key ingredient in relationship.

Many times we demand something be fair or right when we really just want our own way. We may think God is unfair when the innocent die or ‘good people’ are devastated by illness, financial ruin or relational disaster. We may think it unfair when children endure starvation or abuse.

While we may not understand why God allows things to happen as they do, we need to always keep before us the fact that everything He does is done in love and truth. He sends things into our lives to draw us to himself. He allows things to happen so we keep our focus and dependence on him.

Because everything God does is tempered by his love and truth, there are times when he brings things we don’t like into our lives. His discipline isn’t like the punishment of an abusive parent or political tyrant. The pain he brings is meant to build us up and make us stronger. Doing what is right and fair may be painful at times, but it never squelches one’s spirit.

Going through some hard times? Afraid of the future? Angry at your past or at those who have hurt you in the past? Remember that God’s kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is one of love and truth and, as such, we can know that nothing he does is done in anger and vindictiveness. It’s done to bring us to a place where we can love him more fully. He will never leave you or forsake you no matter what has happened in your life.

PRAYER: Father God, I struggle at times to know what is fair and what is the right thing to do. I’m pulled in so many directions politically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Empower me with your Spirit to be able to see things as you do and to act in love and truth in every situation so I can show others the grace you’ve shown me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well. Proverbs 23:23

When you want something of value you save every penny to get it. Let’s say, for example, you are a collector of fine art and you find a rare painting by your favorite artist, You decide you MUST have this painting so you plan on how to get it.

You give up other things of less importance; cut back on other expenses; perhaps get a second job. You study up on this particular painting and find out all you can about it. You become an ‘expert’ on this cherished of all possessions and the artist who created it.

After all your labors, on that day of all days, if you’ve worked hard and scrimped and saved, the time arrives. You go to the seller to make the purchase. You examine it one more time making sure there are no flaws and that everything is just as it should be. Once assured of this you lay down all that you have to make that cherished possession yours. Success has come. The fruit of all your labor and sacrifice has come. Let the celebration begin.

Now that the picture is hanging securely on the wall, how much would you sell it for? You would no doubt look at me incredulously. “Sell it? I just bought it!” you say. “Do you realize how much I’ve given up for it? The ball games I’ve missed. The fishing trips I’ve passed up? The party invitations I’ve passed on? It’s NOT for sale. No amount of money in the world would be enough. It’s mine.”

Solomon, in all of his wisdom, had enough money to buy anything and everything he wanted. Yet he tells us in Proverbs 23:23 what is really important: Truth. In our world of relativity Truth with a capital ‘T’ is hard to come by. We’ve bought into the idea that Truth is what you make it. What’s true for me isn’t true for you. Honesty is dependent on the situation. Wisdom changes with every new philosophy and whim of mindless, science based religion.

As Christ-followers, each of us is given Truth by the God of the universe, through His Word (the Bible) and His Son Jesus Christ. He has given us His Holy Spirit so that we can gain wisdom in understanding His ways and insight into how to walk this journey we call life. Seek after the Truth He has to offer us by drawing close to Him in relationship. Read His Word. It is still the only source of real truth available. Pray daily and often. What a marvelous opportunity prayer is. To think that we as mere mortals can talk personally with the Creator of the Universe! Don’t let past mistakes and your inability to understand God completely keep you from spending time getting to know Him. As God’s cherished possession, He has given all He has to acquire you and He’ll never let you go.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many voices that are calling out to me to be tolerant of this or accepting of that. There are so ideas out there that confuse me as to what is right and wrong. I confess to you that I’ve not always followed you as I should. I ask for Your Holy Spirit to empower me to grow in relationship and understanding of Your ways so that they become a part of my daily existence. Thank you for giving so much so that I can live in Truth. In Jesus name, Amen.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12

It seems like it is getting harder and harder to really take a stand for Jesus. There are so many voices in society that tell us that the Bible isn’t relevant or that there are lots of ways to get to heaven. Truth, along with right and wrong, have become subject to one’s own interpretation. What’s right for you may not be right for me.

The voices of tolerance tell us that we need to be sensitive to those who have different beliefs because ‘we are all God’s children and he reaches out to us in many ways. To preach one way is right and one way is wrong is simply spreading hate.

We shouldn’t be surprised at the attacks leveled at our faith in Jesus. These attacks have been going on since Jesus walked on earth and they will continue until He comes again to take those of us who are His follower’s home.

When Paul wrote to Timothy is was as a loving father or teacher would write to a much loved son or student. He knew his time was short. He also knew that as Timothy grew older and more experienced in ministry he would encounter more and more resistance to the message of love and forgiveness through Jesus.

He tells Timothy that he must ‘Fight the good fight of faith’. The actual wording for this admonition in the original languages is to “Agonize the good agony.” In other words, the Christian life will be full of agony! For some of us this agony is an internal struggle. We may look squeaky clean and spiritual on the outside. We do all the right things, go to church, sing the songs and say the right words. But inside we struggle with addictions, fear, worry or thoughts we know are not pleasing to God. We can hide our struggles from others by ‘doing all the right things’ even though we still lose the inner battles of our hearts.

For others of us, following Christ can be an external struggle. Maybe you smoke and want to quit but can’t. Maybe it’s an addiction to chemicals. Maybe it’s anger and rage. It could be overeating. There is a whole list of things that we struggle with that are evident because try as we might, we can’t hide them.

Paul says to fight! Don’t give up. Know that God understands your weakness. He knows your heart and that you are trying to follow Him. He is more than willing to come along side you and help you have the strength to endure the battle. He doesn’t want you to give up on yourself. He can’t help you if you give up on Him.

Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on God. Jesus is THE way to truth and to life. He alone can help you with whatever fight is ahead of you.

PRAYER: Holy God, you know the battle the rages in my life right now. I struggle with some things that I’m able to hide (so far) from others. I struggle with other things that are very evident to everyone I meet. Some days I don’t like me and I doubt you. I feel the battle is too much for me. Please help me to remember that you are by my side and understand my weakness. Help me to fight the good fight with you by my side. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to live free from the things that try to hinder me. Amen.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3

 It happens thousands of times everyday. It happens to the elderly and the young, the educated and the non-educated, the wealthy and the poor. It happens to men and women of every race, every creed and every social level. No matter where you are you know of or have heard of someone losing a bunch of money to a scam artist.

 “They sounded so truthful.”

 “I was just trying to help them out; they seemed like such nice young people.”

And so it goes. Shrewd talkers and vulnerable, unsuspecting people are a bad combination. The words slide of their tongues like honey. Their arguments are so smooth that even the best of us get caught up in the hype and excitement of helping ourselves, assuring our grandchildren of ample money or helping some poor mission child overseas.

Scam artists seem to becoming more and more frequent in these days of harsh economic times. But there is something even more dangerous than people intent on stealing your money or your identity.

The Apostle Paul makes reference to the scam artists of his day when he warns the people in Corinth to steer clear. Spiritual scam artists are more dangerous than physical ones. These people are the ones that encourage us to be ‘more tolerant’ of others, to be willing to accept other religions or other belief systems.

We are told that we are intolerant or closed-minded because we only believe in one God and in one way to heaven. We may be accused of being judgmental and hypocritical as well if we take a stand.

Another type of Spiritual Scam Artist is the one that tells us that we have to do certain things and act a certain way to be holy. We get a long list of do’s and don’ts that weigh us down and take away the freedom we have in Jesus.

As Christ-followers we must remain true in our devotion to Jesus. He is the only way to Heaven. His death and resurrection are the only things that will cleanse our hearts and minds from the guilt of our sin. He is the only one we need to answer to in matters of daily living and belief systems.

Evaluate everything you hear by comparing it to what God says in His letter to us, the Bible. Don’t let the ‘wisdom of this world’ replace the truth of God’s Holy Bible. In it we find the truth we need to finish the race of life strongly.

PRAYER: Father, there are so many voices around me that are trying to take me from you. They try to get me to question Your Word, Your Son and even Your Existence. I hereby confess to you that You are the Creator God of the Universe. I give you all the praise and all the honor and all the glory, for you are God and there is none other like you. Thank you for the freedom I have in you. Amen.

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