Sunday, May 27, 2012

Give that back; It's mine!

A few families live on the small holding, one of which had "friends" over a week ago, although I wouldn't call what they did friendship. While over here they expressed a keen interest in Chili, one of three pups that belong to my neighbour. As can be naturally expected, my neighbour was not so keen. 

Left to right: Peanut, Chili, Kleintjie (Little one)
From the start Sarah (*not her real name) picked both Chili and Peanut so they could have each other as play mates. Little One (literally so, and so it became his name) was born on the small holding. Initially Sarah was going to find him a home, but he ended up staying with her and the three little pups got on like a house on fire. What a joy it's been watching them run, roll and play. Looked like a pretty fun dog's life to me, until the "friend" stopped by, that is.

Shortly after their departure Chili seemed to have gone AWOL. Sarah searched everywhere, not leaving one stone unturned, but to no avail. Putting two and two together, the conclusion was reached that there was a great possibility that Chili had been stolen. Sarah's heart was broken, and even Peanut did not eat for days since her best pal got abducted.

Three days later I spot the pups and, lo and behold, Chili was amongst them! Turns out, Sarah's suspicions were spot on! She tracked the "friend" down and what does she find at his house? You've guessed it: Chili! She marched right up, took a hold of her dog, gave the "friend" a piece of her mind and left. As she told me the story I couldn't help but think, "Good for you! You took back what is yours; He had no right to steal what did not belong to him!!"

Firstly, this story reminded me that there is a murderer and a thief out there - the devil - and he has one mission: to steal, kill and destroy - whether you believe it or not. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us clearly to live well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), to be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of ours, the devil, roams around like a roaring lion [in fierce hunger] seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Satan is not an idea or a possibility - he is a reality! 

Sometimes it seems to me that we conveniently forget that there is an enemy. When someone has been "seized upon" or "devoured" people's first response is "where was God?", or "if God is such a good God, then why did He let this happen?" But isn't there three players (at least): God, the devil and us? Have you at least done your part, which is often a part that can prevent the devil from achieving his part, i.e. steal, kill and destroy? Or do you live carelessly - leaving yourself wide open - and then blaming someone else when you got pounced upon because you made it that easy? Maybe sometimes, before blaming God (who has nothing but light in Him - 1 John 1:5) we need to ask ourselves whether we did what He told us to do, or not to do, that would strengthen and protect us. You can't have the benefits if you won't play by the rules. God will never expect you to do what only He can do; neither will He do what you're supposed to do.

Secondly, this story reminded me that ultimately the devil's goal is to steal things of eternal value, i.e. our peace, joy, love, patience, freedom (perhaps through unforgiveness), etc. and he steals these by affecting our natural world with things that seem far removed from eternity - people, possessions, jobs, etc. - in this case a selfish man who took a pup that did not belong to him - but these things are often just a means to an end. We need to see it for what it really is: an attack by a spiritual enemy with an eternal goal of stealing life.

Thirdly, God is not okay with it that the enemy steals from us. Isaiah 61:8 For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrong. In Him we have authority to take back what the enemy has stolen. You can claim your marriage, your children for Christ, your peace, your joy, your  freedom, your wholeness. 

For example, after returning from battle David found an abandoned and destroyed city, wives and children gone. While his men sought revenge, David sought God: David asked the Lord, "Shall I chase them? Will I catch them?" And the Lord told him, "Yes, go after them; you will recover everything that was taken from you!" (1 Samuel 30). After years of slavery and abuse in Egypt God set the Israelites free from their oppressors and send them packing with all the riches of Egypt. (Exodus 12:36 And the Lord gave the Israelis favor with the Egyptians, so that they gave them whatever they wanted. And the Egyptians were practically stripped of everything they owned!) After Samson's fall (because of his weakness with woman) - Satan using it to steal his destiny - God heard his cry of repentance and gave him grace by empowering him to bring the house down one last time, delivering God's people from the Philistines. (Judges 16:30 And the temple crashed down upon the Philistine leaders and all the people. So those he killed at the moment of his death were more than those he had killed during his entire lifetime.)

There's many more examples: Joseph stolen from his family and saving millions from famine thirteen years later, including being reunited with his family, Daniel from the lion's den to the Pharaoh's adviser, Esther from her family to the thrown to save the Jews, David from fugitive to being king... But ultimately there's Jesus: Satan thought he had defeated the only living God on the cross - what a fool! - but then Jesus rose from the dead and conquered the grave, went right down to the pit of hell and confiscated the keys of death! (Revelation 1:17-19) I can just imagine Jesus reaching for it with authority, saying, "Give me that; it is mine!"

Today I want you to think about two things:
  • God's love for us is unconditional but many of the promises in God's Word is conditional. "If you will do this, then I will do that." While we ponder taking back what was stolen from us, don't forget to also look at the way you live; are you playing by the rules or are you living in a way that throws you wide open to the attacks of the enemy, in which case you're an easy prey for a "roaming lion"? Determine today to live with your spiritual eyes wide open instead of being an accomplice!
  • Isn't it time that we start to stand up for what is ours in Christ? Isn't it time that we take back our children from brokenness and hopelessness, our marriages from affairs and unfaithfulness, our daughters from prostitution, abuse and slavery, our sons from drugs and addiction, our finances that could be feeding the hungry and clothing the poor for the glory of the Kingdom? Isn't it time that we take a stand for justice, healing and love? 

Haven't Satan stolen from you for long enough? Today I challenge you to live more deliberately; to find out who you are in Christ and what you have in Him and to not be afraid to go after it! If you will submit to, and put your trust in Him, God is well able to restore your fortunes before your very eyes!

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