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Even Michael, the chief angel, didn’t dare to insult the devil, when the two of them were arguing about the body of Moses. All Michael said was, “The Lord will punish you!” Jude 1:9 (CEV)

Mark Twain once said, “Do not argue with an idiot they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

I have to admit I have been reminded of that phrase often…more often, perhaps, than I should admit. At times I’ve refrained from responding to the various barbs thrown my way, all too often, I give in and get drug down into a stupid argument I can’t hope to win and which, in reality isn’t worth the fight.

Tucked away in the little book of Jude is the story of an interesting battle between Michael the Archangel and Satan himself. The dispute was over the final resting place of Moses. Some conjecture that Satan was about to reveal that spot to the Israelites so that they would turn their allegiance to the grave of a dead man and away from the living God.

Whether that is true or not, one thing is certain. Michael took the high road in the argument. The two participants in the discussion represented the two extremes in the angelic world. Satan (the devil) was at one time, God’s right hand man. He was beautiful, powerful and highly esteemed. When pride got the best of him, he rebelled against God, was cast from heaven and became angelic enemy #1.

Michael may have been Satan’s replacement. He was stunning, powerful and faithful to the His creator.

Michael had every right the day of the big argument to accuse Satan harshly, but he didn’t. He realized something each of us should remember. Michael knew who Satan was. He was most likely in the wings when the great heavenly battle took place and Satan was ousted. He remembered the grace, the majesty and power Satan possessed. He remembered that even though Satan was devious, evil and dangerous, he was also God’s creation. Based on that fact alone, he did not accuse or verbally attack his aggressor.

What a stunning lesson for each of us to learn! Like the angels (good and evil ones) we are all creations of a loving, forgiving, merciful God. Our spiritual DNA matches, our actions don’t. Our actions however don’t make us more or less of God’s creation.

As Christ-followers we need to allow God’s Spirit to work through us in such a way that we take the high road when we are attacked. We can argue our point. We can present all of our evidence. But in the end, the important thing isn’t that we win the argument but that we show God’s grace. Life isn’t about winning battles, it’s about winning disciples.

Rather than stoop to the level of Satan, Michael chose to hand him over to the one who never loses. Should we not do the same? Paul, in his letter to Timothy, urges the young pastor to pray for, not argue with, his accusers. In other words, take the high road.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so easy to get into senseless arguments and become critical of those who oppose me. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to take the high road and let you fight the battle. Amen.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:9 (NIV)

The worst kind of deception is the deception that catches us unaware because it is partially true. Like an apple with a worm in it, what we hear and believe looks good until we make a commitment to it and bite into it. Only then do we realize that it is rotten to the core. Deception robs us of life. Deception robs us of trust. In the spiritual realm it’s like rape because when our naivety is revealed it humiliates us.

Too often, those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers have been duped into slavery by deception. The Apostle Paul, when writing to the Galatians asks the question, “Who deceived you? Why have you returned to the very slavery Christ has set you free from?” (Galatians 3:1; 5:1). He’s not talking to unbelievers here. He’s talking to the church, the body of Christ, disciples of Jesus.

We as believers in Jesus Christ must realize that we are at war. Anyone steeped in the understanding of warfare realizes that there are three things necessary for victory. First one must know his enemy. By that I don’t mean we know the enemy simply by name. We learn his weapons. We memorize how he uses those weapons. We look for weaknesses in his armor, his plan and his tools. We search for the holes in his defenses.

Secondly, we strategize. We come up with a plan that realizes our limitations and utilizes our strengths. Going into battle without a plan is suicide, not to mention just plain stupid. A well formulated plan allows the David’s of the world to defeat Goliath.

Thirdly, the battle is won when, after learning all we can about the enemy, and formulating our plan we go into battle resolved to stick with our plan. Many a battle has been lost because those who have been defeated stray from the plan and are lured into playing the game on the battlefield of the opponent. When we play the game at his level, the enemy knows he has us beaten. It’s only a matter of time before we defeat ourselves.

It’s time to sound the battle cry. The war for our souls was won on the cross once and for all, but we fight daily battles in which the enemy tries to destroy the freedom we have in Christ. Our enemy is Lucifer, the great Satan, the once beautiful and glorious angel of the most high. He was defeated at the Cross. His defeat was finalized when Jesus rose from the dead, but he’s not finished yet. His goal remains the same, to lure us from all the best God has for us.

Satan knows that the best way to keep us from living victoriously is to attack us in our most vulnerable place, the heart. If he can get us to feel badly about ourselves he knows he has a foothold into the other areas of our lives. After all, even Jesus tells us that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love others. What measuring rod does he use for that love? How we love ourselves.

When we feel good about ourselves we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. When we feel bad about ourselves in those areas it affects how we see God and others. Strong relationships with others begin with a strong understanding and love for ourselves.

Don’t be deceived any longer. Refuse to listen to the lies that Satan tells you. Listen instead to the words of a loving Creator God who is passionate about seeing you through the battles of life victoriously.

PRAYER: Father God. I’ve listened to lies long enough. I’ve bought into what Satan has to say about me. I ask that you would empower me to see myself as you see me. Protect me from enemy attack through your Holy Spirit. Amen.

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Mark 8:33

I remember hearing a story about a young couple who lived in a small town in theMidwest. They were high school sweethearts and went away toBibleCollege. One day as they spoke of their future together they both realized they had a desire to go to the foreign mission field. They prayed about it, talked to some close friends and when they were quite certain that this was indeed a ‘calling of the Lord’, went home to tell their parents.

This news was not taken well by the parents. In fact, there was weeping and pleading and even a few threats along the way. ‘How could they abandon their families like this?’ ‘Why go waste your lives overseas when there are plenty of people who need ‘saving’ close to home?’ ‘Why not just teach Sunday School or lead the youth group at church? We’re always looking for good youth leaders.’

Eventually the nagging and pleading and arguments took their toll. The couple abandoned their quest for missions and tried to settle into a life in the quiet town in which they grew up. Life wasn’t easy. There was financial hardship. The life of love they expected didn’t turn out as well as hoped. It seemed like they endured set-back after set-back. Finally, they divorced and went their separate ways.

Now, I’m not saying that the reason for the calamity in this couple’s life was their decision not to go to the mission field, but one has to wonder if that wasn’t the case. A similar situation happens with Jesus and the disciples. After discussing his real identity as the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus begins to tell them the next step in the chapter of his life.

Peter, however, would have nothing of that. There was plenty of work for Jesus to do here on earth. He rebuked Jesus for even thinking such a thing! One wonders if there wasn’t the sound of “We won’t let anything happen to you Jesus, count on us!” in Peter’s voice.

Jesus looked at Peter but spoke to the one who always prompts us to go our own way. The enemy, Satan will use every tactic possible to keep us from making an impact in our world for Jesus. He can use jobs, children, spouses, parents and any other tactic to keep us from the work God has for us. In this case, Satan used Peter to try to distract Jesus from his ultimate goal, to glorify God (which is each of our tasks).

There are many ‘good reasons’ not to step out of our comfort zones for Jesus but none of them are will bring fulfillment in our lives. The message is clear. Stay true to your calling. Pursue it at all costs. Don’t allow the pleasures and comforts of this world keep you from the eternal rewards stepping out for Christ will bring.

There is another lesson in this story and it comes to those of us on the other side. Jesus referred to Peter as a stumbling block. Be cautious when someone comes to you with a vision of what God wants them to do, especially if that person is someone you ‘can’t live without’. Don’t allow your personal security to hinder their opportunity to do the work God has for them. Honestly pray with them to determine if this vision of theirs is of God or not. Don’t be a stumbling block.

PRAYER: Father, stepping out into the unknown is hard for me. I like the false security that my life brings to me. Still I want to be open to your leading. Protect me from the arguments the enemy will use to keep me from stepping out for you. Give me wisdom so that I won’t be a stumbling block to others as they seek your will. In Jesus name, Amen.

Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Daniel 12:2 (NLT)

On a lonely hill just outside of town stand three crosses. As the sky grew dark a crowd gathered. Some gathered in disgust. The Roman form of execution was too painful, too degrading, to harsh.

Others gathered in mockery. They threw profanity at the trio. It was about time they got what they deserved. The world would be a better place if more criminals were treated this way. Great deterrent, that death penalty.

Some gathered in curiosity-A sort of Bible time gawkers. They had no opinion either way on crucifixion or the trio hanging naked as the darkness descended.

A few gathered in somber silence. Right or wrong, good or bad, these were their friends, their siblings, their children. The crowd gathered at the middle cross seemed somewhat larger, more emotional. In fact, it seems the form hanging in the middle was drawing most of the attention that day. Rumor has it that he was completely innocent of the trumped up charges the Jews leveled against him.

One of the trio began to mock this counterpart in the middle. Even in his dying moments he remained arrogant, loud and angry. Ignoring his own guilt he yelled obscenities at this stranger in the middle.

The other person hung silent for a moment. Watching. Listening. Replaying the episodes of his life that brought him to this point. Finally, he spoke. “Jesus, have mercy on me.” The figure in the middle raised his head and looked with compassion at him. Painstakingly he spoke, “Today you will be with me…” and grace was born.

How could a God of love allow Jesus, the man in the middle to die such a horrific death for crimes he didn’t commit? Rewind the story a few thousand years. A man and woman listen to the deceptive words of Satan. Their decision to disobey God destroyed the balance of divine nature as well as a relationship with the Creator God.

Hell was never created for men and women. Hell was never created for innocent children of abuse, catastrophe or illness. Hell was created as the home for Satan and all his demonic followers. But the sin of Adam and Eve made it impossible for mankind to enter heaven. A sacrifice had to be made and that sacrifice was made complete when Jesus died and rose again.

Our Heavenly Father has no choice when it comes to dealing with sin. He can’t, by his own nature overlook anything that isn’t perfect. God is fair and just. Grace is neither.

What can be fair about a prisoner going to heaven because his last words were begging forgiveness? What can be fair about someone struggling with addictions and constantly receiving forgiveness for the same sin, over and over again? Nothing. It’s not fair. But it wasn’t fair that Jesus died for me either. There was nothing I could do to deserve forgiveness, yet he forgave me anyway. That’s grace.

God would give everything he has to keep you from living eternity in the shame and disgrace of hell. In fact, he already did that day on the cross.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father I thank and praise you for the reminder that I am completely and freely forgiven of my sin because of Jesus. I deserve nothing that you’ve given me and yet you did it all so lovingly. Empower me to live for you and to show others the way to life in eternity with you. In Jesus name, Amen.

But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” 2 Timothy 2:19 (NLT)

Imagine the scene in heaven. You are standing before the God of the Universe, the Creator and sustainer of all things. He has the power to send you to hell for eternity or welcome you into an eternal life of rest with him. Not to oversimplify but it’s sort of like the scene from the “Wizard of Oz”. Like the cowardly lion you stand shaking in your shoes as the greatness of God fills the room and shakes the very foundation of the building.

Between you and the throne stands the accuser. He’s not the red-suited, horn bearing being you remember from the pictures back on earth. He’s huge, he’s beautiful and his very presence says POWER.

He opens a scroll within your view. On it are the charges against you. Every time you disobeyed your parents is recorded. Every time you flipped off another driver is listed. Every time you lied about not going to church, talked evil of your neighbor, abused your kids and had sex with your girlfriend before marriage. The list goes on. Charge after charge.

There’s no hope you know. You are guilty. Guilty…as they say, as sin. Charge number one is read. In great detail the accuser tells how you did the act. Your attitude. Your words. He even goes so far as to mimic (perfectly, might I add) your facial expression. It’s as though he were there!

The Supreme Judge turns to you and asks how you how you plead. Guilty? Or Not Guilty. You are guilty of course. Guilty of every charge. But just as you are ready to speak, you hear a voice.


Jesus steps forward. He’s glowing. The compassion and love oozes from every pore. He looks at you and smiles proudly. Then he turns to his father and holds out his hands, the scars from the nails are obvious.

The Father smiles and looks at you. Satan grimaces and his beauty fades into anger and hate. And so it goes with every charge on that list. Satan accuses, Jesus reminds the Father that you are his. Not guilty by reason of the shed blood of Jesus.

When it’s all said and done, your heavenly Father smiles and says “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into my rest.”

Our sin is forgiven. Our lives are free to live in perfect relationship with God. And it’s all because of Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I thank you for forgiving me of my sin. I confess to you the struggles I still have with anger, lust, worry and abuse. Forgive me for what I do. Thank you for who I am in you. In your name, Amen.

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December 2022
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