Grounded in Truth

An amazing thing happens when you keep God in the right perspective—you begin to see everything else in the light of God’s sovereignty and power. This morning as I read Matthew 3-4, Satan’s impotence jumped out at me.

Matthew chapter 4 tells us that Jesus has been in the desert fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. What might be the state of his physical, mental, and emotional well-being? Enter Satan, stage left, to tempt Jesus.

Satan knows who Christ is; he once worshipped him. “What?” you say. “When did Satan ever worship Christ?” Satan is a created being, an angel of God who became filled with pride because of his beauty and subsequently was cast out of heaven to earth (see Ezekiel 28:11-19, Revelation 12:7-10). Satan is also the father of lies (see John 8:44). He uses this tactic against Christ by attempting to make Christ doubt who he is (dearly loved son of God). “If you are the son of God…” Satan says and continues the attack at what he believes is Christ’s weakest point, his hunger. “Command these stones to become bread.” Jesus rebukes Satan with Scripture, “It is written…”

Three times Satan tempts Christ, and three times Christ rebukes him with the truth of God’s word.

Satan is neither omniscient (all knowing) nor omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time). Only God is. That means Satan does not know our every thought and action every moment of the day. He can attempt to deceive us and make us question our position in Christ. He can be successful if we are not grounded in the truth of God’s word. Study and know the Bible, then use the same strategy as Christ, “It is written.”

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Build a Foundation

For as long as I can remember, I have believed in God and that Jesus died to save me. But it wasn’t until I was 24 that I was born again (see John 3) and made God the Lord of my life. In the years that have followed, trusting God has been a consistent issue.  From crisis to crisis, I have waffled from trust to mistrust like a tennis ball during the Wimbledon Championship. But I want to stand firm!

Trust is foundational to any relationship. Many of my posts since I began this blog have spoken about God’s trustworthiness. Until last week, I didn’t understand the basis of that trust—God does not change.  If God was a God who changes, how could we trust him or believe he would keep any of his promises?

God gives us a foundation for our faith in him by making his character known throughout the Bible. One of the foundational stones is God’s immutability. “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6, New King James Version). Oh, to fully grasp the fact that God cannot change is to end the waffling, no more to be batted to and fro, no more to doubt. To be changeable would be to make him less than the almighty God that he is.

Why did it take me so long to come to this realization? For many reasons, but primarily because I have never attempted to know God as deeply as I have sought to know him this year. I read his Word, but didn’t think about what it was saying beyond the surface. I could have asked “What does this passage say about God?”, but never did.

Seek God with all your heart and you will find him. 

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010
Recommended reading: The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

Paradigm Shift

I made the most startling discovery yesterday during my quiet time with God. My relationship with him had become like that of tugging a bulldog on a leash that refused to follow. Worse yet, I was doing everything to coax him along including offering the ultimate treat “God, your Word says…” What happened? How had I come to this? After all, I was focused on doing his will. How could that be wrong? But his will wasn’t the issue—my focus was.

I was focused on following a plan, rather than following God. Essentially I was saying, “God, here’s the plan I think you have for my life. Now I want you to come along and make it happen.” Ouch! I had pushed God off the throne and ascended it myself. This prideful attitude didn’t happen overnight, but I’m so grateful that I laid it aside in an instant once God opened my eyes.

What a pleasure to let go of that tenacious bulldog. The average bulldog weighs around 55 lbs., but for me it was like removing a 1000 lb. stone from around my neck. Paul told the Philippians “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” This is a paradigm shift in my thinking that makes me want to shout “Hallelujah!” With my focus on following (and getting to know better) an almighty and loving God, I can follow with joy and be confident in his plan for my life.

How about you? Where is your focus? Are you trying to drag God along on your journey, or have you left him out altogether? An intimate relationship with God is the journey.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Believe His Promises

I had a conversation recently with a friend who endured 18 years of an abusive marriage. It breaks my heart to hear such stories and it hurts even more when I hear the words “My husband was a preacher.”

Even if unconsciously, believers and unbelievers expect Christians to behave differently. Here’s what Jesus had to say about such people, “Hypocrites! … Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27, 28, NLT). They appear Christian, but their heart is hardened against God.

A relationship with God doesn’t make us perfect. But we have the light of Christ within us and this light “produces only what is good and right and true” (Ephesians 4:9, NLT). God offers us free and ready access to his strength and power to avoid and resist the pull of sin. Second Peter 1:3 says “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…” How? “…through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

The Word is rich in promises and God is a promise keeper (Hebrews 10:23b, NLT). Believe and ask for his help.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

What’s Holding You Back?

We all have our difficulties. For me, it has been a constant battle to trust God. I’ve spent considerable time in self-examination to learn why.

For me, to fail is to be rejected. I don’t know why I believe that, and right now knowing why isn’t important. Recognizing that fact about myself will help me overcome it. Here’s how it has affected my relationship with God. I’m afraid to fully trust God because I expect tests and trials (that’s a posting for another day) and I’m afraid to fail the test. To fail the test is to be rejected. I cannot bear the thought of being rejected by God.

God in his wisdom knows this about me and provided his answer.

“What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself. In coming to Him at any time we need not wonder whether we shall find Him in a receptive mood. He is always receptive to misery and need, as well as to love and faith. He does not keep office hours nor set aside periods when He will see no one. Neither does He change His mind about anything. Today, this moment, He feels toward His creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as he did when He sent His only begotten So into the world to die for mankind” (from The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer).

He loves me now and he will love me still when I fail. Even if I were to reject him, he will never stop loving me. He feels the same way about you. What’s holding you back from reaching out to God?

“For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6, NKJV).

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Get to Know God

As a parent, you want your child to know you, right? Do you make it complicated for her to do that? Of course not. She comes to know you by spending time with you. We get to know our friends by spending time with them. To know who God is, we must spend time with him.

God is a God of mystery, but he is not mysterious. He wants us to know him. He wants to have a relationship with us. So how do we make that happen?

  • Read the Bible—there are a number of translations to choose from that are much more understandable than the King James. Study Christ and you will learn who God is. Start with the New Testament.
  • Spend time quietly listening for his voice
  • Read other books about God—one I’ve been reading is The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8, NKJV).

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010