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04 21 34 victory
Spiritual victory rests on two things:

First and most important, the LORD must hand our enemy over to us. In our spiritual battle, that has been done. Jesus triumphed over all the forces of darkness. They cannot defeat us because they have been defeated themselves.

Second, we must go take possession of what is ours. The battle amounts to bringing the triumph of Jesus into all the dark corners of our lives and of our world. It really boils down to this: How do we bring Jesus into everything that isn’t right in our world?

Once Jesus is there, things change. Darkness turns to light. Fear turns to peace. Shame turns to radiance. Injustice turns to celebration of righteousness.

This is our privilege and our calling as sons and daughters of God: to turn our world upside down.

From the Bible:
The LORD said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land.” Numbers 21:34

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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The path to healing

04 21 08 the path to healing
We have a daughter who was born with a club foot. When she was a little baby, the bottom of her foot was turned at a 90 degree angle away from where it should have been. This was a problem, of course, because unless her foot moved into the correct position, she would never walk properly.

Clearly, this seemed like a perfect opportunity for God to heal. We prayed and prayed, believed, expected a miracle, and, instead, got a blood soaked cast, a little baby with dull pain in her eyes recovering from a five hour surgery that was only partially successful. Four years later, we did another surgery. Six months after that, the new surgeon said, no, that surgery was all wrong, we need a different surgery.

Today my daughter is a young woman. Most people have no idea that one of her feet is about 40% smaller than the other. The “little foot” (as we call it) is scarred and twisted, but it works. She walks; she runs (with just a hint of a limp); she rides horseback. I don’t know if the saga is over, but for now, for practical purposes, she’s okay.

In the Bible we read about an infestation of deadly snakes that were terrorizing and killing the people of God. When Moses asked the Lord what to do, he got this answer from God:
“Make a model of a venomous snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who is bitten by the snake will live if he looks at this model.” Numbers 21:8 The Easy Bible

The people asked God to take the snakes away. There’s no record that He did. Instead, He gave them a bronze snake—all who looked to the bronze snake were healed. The bronze snake didn’t keep them from being bitten; but it did keep the bite from killing.

Sometimes we need to go through some pain before God heals. We would all like our problems to instantly disappear, but that isn’t always God’s plan. The same God who put a bronze snake in the wilderness sent us two surgeons who disagreed on how to operate on a child’s foot.

What is true here physically is also true emotionally and spiritually. We all want a painless solution to our secret sins; we want an instant cure for our depression or panic or whatever other misery we may experience. But God doesn’t always take the snakes away. Instead, we may need to travel with Him through the place of pain to find His final healing.

I don’t completely understand this, to be honest. I don’t like pain, and I would rather avoid it altogether. But I do know this: In the end, our lives will be far richer if we let God do it His way.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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What defines who you are?

04 20 28 What defines you
What defines who you are? Where does your identity come from?

We read in the Bible that Aaron (the brother of Moses and high priest of Israel) had a place of great privilege before God. No one else could enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. Only Aaron could approach God Himself to bring atonement for all people.

But then we read these words:
Moses, Aaron and Eleazar climbed Mount Hor. There Aaron died. When Moses and Eleazar returned to the Israeli camp, the people of Israel mourned Aaron’s death for 30 days. Numbers 20:27-29 The Easy Bible

And now, it’s over. Aaron fell. His body returned to dust there at the top of the mountain. Another, Eleazar—a minor character up to this point—takes his place of leadership. The spirit of Aaron who lives on, who goes to spend eternity with God—this Aaron no longer represents the nation to their God. Although he may have privilege in heaven that I know nothing about, as far as we do know, he is simply another son of God.

Though Aaron had one of the most important ministries and responsibilities in all history, this calling did not follow him to heaven. God didn’t call a high priest into heaven. God called a son.

And so it will be with us. We have jobs and ministries and responsibilities—they may be of great importance. But the day arrives when we lay them aside, just like Aaron laid aside his robes of privilege, and we enter God’s presence as a son, as a daughter.

Does that speak to you? Do you know that it is not your accomplishments that God is calling into His eternal presence? Rather, it is you. He desires you. He wants to spend forever with you.

You may or may not do something great in your lifetime. In either case, God’s delight is in you, His eternal child.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Getting at the root of things

59 01 14 Getting at the root of things
Where do evil desires come from?

Here’s my take: God is a creator; the devil and his allies are corrupters. God creates good desires, and the devil twists them as soon as he can.

Some time ago we did some prayer ministry with someone who was trying to get at the root of why she overate. As we sought the Lord on this, we found a little baby that only got attention when she was being fed. Otherwise, parents ignored her. God had given this baby (and all babies) a desire to be loved. But the enemy corrupted that desire with a lie: the only way you will be loved is to be fed. So, where did the temptation to overeat come from? A corrupted desire.

Here’s the good news. The Lord untangles things. In the case of this woman, the Lord deeply reassured her that she was loved, and that she didn’t have to eat to receive God’s love. God purified her desire. Now He satisfies her desires with good things—her pure desire for nourishment and her pure desire for His love.

Jesus instructed us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” So we don’t go looking for it. But, when it comes, find the corrupted desires, take them to the Lord and watch Him untangle them!

From the Bible
…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. James 1:14

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Opportune times

42 04 13 opportune times
In the Bible we read, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

Exactly what is an “opportune time”?

Well, first of all, forget about the devil fighting fair. It isn’t going to happen. He doesn’t shake hands like a gentleman and wait until you’re ready. He looks for the weakest moment, the time when you’re defenses are down.

My strongest temptations come in the middle of the night when I’m trying to get back to sleep. I’m tired, and the last thing I feel like doing is fight a spiritual battle. But that’s often when the battle comes—when I’m weak.

Did Jesus have weak moments?

Let’s look at this occasion. Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights. Now he was ravenously hungry—His body was tearing apart internal organs to find the nutrients to survive. Food was not a luxury for Him in this moment—it was a necessity.

Along comes the devil. “So, you’re hungry, huh?”

(Does the devil care whether Jesus is hungry? Of course not.)

“Try my solution. Turn these stones into bread.”

What’s the temptation? To get Jesus to act independently of the will of God. To separate Him from His Father. To get Him to doubt the loving-kindness of the Father. To get Him to doubt His own identity as the Son of God.

Jesus got hungry, tired, angry just as we do.

If Jesus, in His humanity, had weak moments like we do, then the devil ran into something he did not expect: God’s strength is made perfect in weakness; God doesn’t need our strength to win the battle.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Pain, empathy and obedience

58 05 08 pain empathy and obedience
What was it like for Jesus to obey?

It was pure joy. His heart and the Father’s heart were one. God’s desires were His desires. For Jesus to obey was like asking a child, “What would you like to do more than anything else in the whole world?” and then letting the child do it.

Yet the Bible says:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered… Hebrews 5:8

What, then, did Jesus learn? He learned that sometimes it hurts to obey.

We spend a lot of time as Christians talking about the benefits of obedience, and, yes, there are benefits. But there is a cost too. Jesus experienced the cost of obedience.

Every time it hurts to say “yes” to God, Jesus is there with us. He can empathize because He has felt the pain.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Truth and temptation

01 03 01 truth and temptation
A spirit spoke through a creature we’ll call the dragon and made him enchanting, slick, mesmerizing. He asked the woman, “Is it really true? Did God say you are not allowed to eat any fruit from any of the trees in this garden you tend?” Genesis 3:1 The Easy Bible

At the root of every temptation is a lie. This was the opening punch. It wasn’t designed to knock Eve out, just to throw her off balance. Here’s the message behind it: What kind of God do you serve? Why does He deprive you of what is good?

You’ll find a lie something like this at the core of every temptation you face. God isn’t good or sufficient. If He was, you wouldn’t be in this mess. You need a different solution. Here, I have something custom designed for you.

That really is what sin is: a different solution.

But Jesus is the truth. When we bring our temptations to Him, we find that God can do what He said He could do: satisfy every one of our desires with good. (See Psalm 103:5.)

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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A prayer for our nation

54 02 01-04 A prayer for our nation
First, we make room for You, Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus.
Be welcome here.
Be honored here.
Be free to do what You want to do.
When You show up, everything changes.

On behalf of our nation we pray,
Be honored here.

You are the God who establishes leaders.
We ask You for good leaders
at every level
and in every sphere of influence.
Let truth, honesty and righteousness prevail
in every election.

Our leaders are in Your hands.
Grant our leaders
the fear of the Lord
which is the beginning of wisdom.
Give them, we pray,
the wisdom and courage
to make righteous decisions.

We pray for peace in the Middle East,
and ask that our nation will do what’s right
with respect to the people and nation of Israel.

We pray for consideration and respect
between the classes—rich, poor and middle class,
between the races,
between the political camps.

We pray for the freedom of good people everywhere
to do what You have called them to do
without fear.

Rain down righteousness
on this earth,
so Your goodness may be displayed
to its people.

We pray in Jesus’ name,

From the Bible:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Jesus understands

58 04 15 Jesus understands
All of us know what it’s like to be tempted. But how well do we understand how temptation operates?

Are we tempted because we have a sinful nature? If that is so, then how could Jesus be tempted? He did not have a sinful nature.

And why is alcohol abuse, for example, a major temptation for one person, and no temptation at all for the next person? Why do we sometimes fall to the same temptation over and over again?

What are our options when we are tempted? What can we do to avoid being tempted?

I throw out these questions because I think these are fundamentally important issues for us to understand. Think these things over, and, if you are struggling with temptation, take the temptation together with all your desires straight to Jesus. He understands, and He will come to your aid.

From the Bible:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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Have you noticed?

11 21 29 have you noticed
One September day here in Wisconsin I took an hour walk in the rain. I was walking through a nature preserve and, predictably, it was deserted. Who would be crazy enough to be out in a rainstorm? But there I was, walking along, getting soaked, not much minding because my heart was full of wonder, noticing things.

I was watching the life-giving rain fall on the remnants of flowers, now brown with age. And I was thinking about how they would never be restored until the last of winter is over, and spring is born.

It seems sad, in a way, that we age—that the strength and beauty of youth fades and falls away. But every year we grow richer, our lives filled with memories, experiences, worship. Some grow more beautiful as they age, like the autumn maple tree. Some just seem like a shell, brown and empty.

I sense that all of this is precious to God—that none of this escapes His notice. And like a mother holding out her arms to receive her baby’s first step, so also God holds out His arms to receive us into eternity.

In 1 Kings 21:29, God speaks to Elijah the prophet. “Have you noticed…?” He asks.

Have you noticed?

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!


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