One Thing God and the Devil Have in Common

walking-to-light-in-dessert-smallThe title of this article sounds a little strange, I admit. Chances are you’ve probably never thought about, much less considered, whether God and the devil have anything in common. The thought never entered my mind until I heard Graham Cooke say it one time. This is what he said – “God and the devil have one thing in common, they are both trying to kill you.” Sounds a bit shocking at first, but when I started to think about it more, I realized there is definitely truth in that statement. However, their motives for doing so are entirely different.

We all know the devil is out to “steal, kill and destroy” any and everyone because that is who he is, according to Jesus. (John 10:10) He is a thief, a liar and a murderer, and always will be. He hates God and all who are made in His image. He seeks ways to wreak as much havoc in our lives as possible. He is not by any means equal to God, for he is a created being, a fallen angel who rebelled against Him and was cast out of heaven. His power is limited. He uses temptation, accusation, and deception to accomplish his twisted purposes for humanity. We actually empower him when we believe, and make agreement, with his lies. He taunts us with fleshly indulgence, beats us down with accusations when we give in to those temptations, and then deceives us into believing we are worthless, inadequate, and despised by God because of our many failures. He especially hates the cross because it refutes every one of his lies.

God, on the other hand, loves us infinitely, intimately, and unconditionally. He is a good Father who wants to bless and give good gifts to His beloved children. He always, always has our best interest at heart. But like a good Father, He must discipline His children. He does so in order to help us become more like Him. He wants to kill our “self life” – the part of us that seeks to call the shots, to make our own decisions and rule our own lives, independent from Him.

Contrary to what many believe, He is not a killjoy, trying to take all the fun out of life. He is not looking over our shoulder, waiting to catch us doing something wrong. He is not angry or vengeful. His chastisement is always because of His great love for us. He does not punish, in the sense that we typically think of punishment. The Apostle John understood this when he said, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love (God’s love) drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect (complete) in love.” (words in parentheses added)

Because of His unfathomable love and desire for intimacy with us, God aims to destroy any and everything that stands in the way of that. He is a jealous lover – it is one of His names – Jealous. (Exodus 34:14) He created us, saved us, and wants all of our affection and devotion. He wants first place in our lives, and He deserves that. I realize more and more how often I fail to recognize when other things creep into my life, crowding Him out, little by little. It is too easy at times to forget that the pleasure of knowing, loving, and being loved by Him is far superior to the inferior pleasures of this world.

The struggle to die to ourselves, to crucify our flesh, is very real and extremely painful. But God, in His extravagant goodness, even made provision for that. His name is the Comforter. The Holy Spirit comforts us and helps us to remember He is always with us, and will never, ever leave us. He is committed to finishing the good work He has begun in us, and because of that, we can trust Him, even when it hurts.

 

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The Glory of Partnering with God

Last week, I wrote briefly on how intimacy through prayer was the key to Jesus’ success inchild praying ministry during His earthly life. There are so many aspects of prayer that entire books have been written on the subject. In all my years of involvement in prayer ministries, one facet I never understood until recently is the idea of prayer being a partnership with God. It is so amazing, I am still meditating upon it!

For so long, I wondered that more believers were not actively involved in prayer meetings or groups. We like to talk about it much more than we like to do it, generally speaking. This is understandable, for prayer really is hard work. It takes time to be still and listen to God; to discern His heart and purposes for people and situations. It takes self-discipline to put aside our own desires, needs, or issues to intercede for others. Intercession is an act of love; it is laying down your life for the sake of others, and for the Lord.

This concept of partnering with God through prayer is seen throughout Scripture. One outstanding example is found in Ezekiel 22. Beginning in verse 23, the Lord instructs Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel, rebuking her for her many sins. From the sound of His words, you would think God is about to destroy her. Yet in verse 30, He says this, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it…” God is seeking (literally, to seek the face; to desire; to demand; to ask; to request) for someone who will stand before Him (literally, in His face; in His presence) to ask Him to spare Israel. Why? Because He doesn’t want to destroy her, but her sins have left Him no other choice. His justice requires payment for sin, but His mercy desires to forgive and cover sin. Yet He will not act apart from human involvement – He must have an intercessor to agree with His heart and plans, asking Him to be merciful.

This blows my mind! The Uncreated, All-powerful, Almighty, Sovereign God of the universe has limited Himself to work through weak, broken humans made in His image! What dignity He bestows upon His people! There are other examples – Abraham with Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-33); Moses with the rebellious children of Israel (Deut. 9:13-29); Paul with his fellow Jews (Rom. 9:1-5). The ultimate example, again, is Jesus’ intercession through the cross. The cross is the greatest example of both love and intercession for all eternity. Jesus literally placed His own body in the gap between God’s wrath and our sin, taking our rightly deserved punishment upon Himself, enabling His mercy to cover us instead.

Unfortunately in Ezekiel’s day, He could find no one. He continues in 22:30-31, “…but I found none. So I will pour out My wrath on them and consume them with My fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” He is still seeking partners today to stand in the gap for our families, churches, cities, and nations. It’s not that He needs us, for He is not lacking in any way. He desires our communion and fellowship. He wants us to be a part of what He is doing in the earth. He longs to hear our voices as we come into agreement with His plans and purposes.

He is raising up a bride who is worthy to rule and reign with Him for all eternity. One whose greatest desire is to see Him get the reward of His suffering. Many are hearing and answering the call to join Him in bringing heaven to earth. The climax and culmination will result in His return to the planet, as the Spirit and the bride in full agreement cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:17)