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Deception’s Power

The Apostle Paul writes, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).

I began to use a phrase in my teaching ministry many years ago: “Never underestimate the power of deception.”  We can deceive ourselves when we allow ourselves to drift away from God’s Word (Heb. 2:1) and we can deceive ourselves when we do not obey God’s Word (James 1:22).

We can deceive ourselves and stray from God when we do not allow Him to discipline us to put Him first every day — preferably in the morning — by being with Him in His Word, in prayer and in worship.

I remember seeing a bumper sticker more than 20 years ago: “You have time for God, if you put Him first.”  I saw that phrase once and never again, but its affect has always stayed with me.

Finally, it is when we do not put Him first that we leave ourselves vulnerable for an enemy that is far more crafty than us.  He is an enemy that Peter describes as being like a hungry lion, prowling about for someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

He will dangle sin in front of us and we’ll be too weak to resist when we allow ourselves to stray from behind the Rock, where the fish is safe (James 1:13-15).

Beloved, let us lay hold of Jesus and never let go!  Let us forsake any and all things that compete for time with the One who will always be our closest companion and with One whom we stand in desperate need of every moment.

One of the worst things in life is the feeling of having been deceived by someone else.  Wouldn’t you agree with that?  Let us not allow ourselves to be deceived by ourselves, nor let us allow ourselves to be deceived by the enemy of our souls — Satan.

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2 Cor. 12:9: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I believe in God’s power to heal bodies and have prayed for numerous people to receive healing and watched God heal them, yet I’ve suffered from chronic back pain now for 14 years, despite praying all of those years for healing!

On top of that, I suffer from insomnia, “restless legs syndrome” and Barrett’s Esophogus.  I continue to believe God for healing and know that today, tomorrow or next year I could be healed of one or all of these afflictions.

And I also know that I may not be healed of any of them until I get to heaven.  In the meantime, the passage above gives me the correct perspective in suffering (the word translated “weaknesses” generally relates to physical weaknesses): God is making use of these things to make me more dependent upon Him, to forge my character to be more like Jesus and to be able to relate to others with greater compassion.

Moreover, I had to endure some undeserved insults at the hands of other Christians recently — believers that I’m trying to be our Lord’s blessing to — but in reading this passage lately, how can I do any less than what Paul did by saying along with him, “Father, I’m well-content with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Beloved, are you going through something similar?  There is a joy that runs deep when we submit to God’s grace in difficulties.  Even now, I sense that sweet aroma of His presence and His delight in my patient, trusting submission to Him.

Father, may it always be so, that I would live in an attitude of grateful surrender to you, and may those who read gladly do the same for You, for the sake of the glory and honor of our great King, Lord, Savior and Friend, Jesus.

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