It’s Your Turn

Your Turn

Daily Reading: (Psalm 34:14):

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

From the moment you were first able to walk, you probably heard a list of things to avoid doing. “Don’t touch that, don’t eat that, don’t go over there”.

What the Psalmist is saying in the Old Testament to God’s people living under the Law was to turn from evil. The Hebrew word that is used in Psalm 34:14 means to depart. In the Old Testament days when evil was present or the opportunity to do evil appeared, the instruction was to depart from it. This way you won’t be tempted by it. But we are living in a different time, “in the last days”. Jesus said in Matthew 24:37, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” What this means is the days will be filled with more and more evil. It seems departing from evil would become more difficult to do.

2 Timothy 3:1 says, “Remember this! There will be many troubles in the last days.”

In the Old Testament, the instruction was to depart from evil and to do good.  But now, when you depart from evil one way, there is evil another way. There are many troubles everywhere. The good news is we have been equipped not to depart from evil but to fight back against evil (Ephesians 6:10-13). Thank God for this truth because you can only run for so long and you can only turn so much.

Consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in multiple places:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Living in the Old Testament, saints didn’t have the Holy Spirit within them. The New Covenant had not yet been initiated because Christ still needed to die. Christ had to defeat sin and death and give us His victorious righteous life. Without Christ’s life, we were not clothed in His robes of righteousness, nor did we have the spiritual armor and weapons to fight against the spiritual forces of darkness. The Old Testament saints only strategy against evil was turn, depart, run away from it. But now we don’t run, we stand our ground. We are equipped for victory over evil.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

We all have weapons against the war on evil. We have swords, but we have to hold them, we have to use them to sharpen them. How do we do this? Ephesians 6:17 says, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” As we get into God’s Word, we are taking out our swords (Ephesians 6:17), we are ready not only to defend ourselves against the attacks from the enemy (the lies he tells us), but to fight back too. The armor of God in Ephesians 6:10–20 shows us that right believing in all that Jesus has done will always lead us to victory. It is your turn to stand your ground with God’s Word, and to actually move forward on the attack where you start to demolish strongholds the enemy has put in place in the lives of the people that you love.

I wanted to share another verse about the days we live in being evil and what is said for us living in those days:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

When you are led by His wisdom, the Lord can protect you from making unwise decisions. How do we live wise? The answer comes with the very next verse: “Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). You live wise (15) by making the most of every opportunity (16). “Make the Most” (exagorazō) was a metaphor of Christ freeing the elect from the dominion of the Mosaic Law at the price of his vicarious death. Paul is simply saying to be careful to not fall into the trap of living under the bondage of the Law. Live free in the grace you have been given through the death of Jesus Christ. That is wise living. That is what it means to make the most of every opportunity. This is how you live a victorious life where you don’t have to run from evil, but you fight back against it equipped with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. This is what it means to put on the full armor of God, this is what it means to set captives free with the message of the Gospel, this is wise living. The key to reigning in life is to actively receive the abundant life.  

We know the days are evil but we can make the most of this opportunity. There are many battles to be won. With God on our side how can we lose? Spend time in God’s Word, fill your mind with right believing as see yourself as you truly are, more than a conqueror in Christ.

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Freedom Over Worry

Freedom Over Worry

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:6):

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

To have guidance from God’s Word when worry comes makes all the difference. God’s Word will not bring freedom from worry ever creeping in, but freedom over worry when it does.  

The Message Bible says:

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Instead of worrying there is another option, prayer. Paul says worry will come but instead of dwelling in, pitching a tent in the camp of worry, you could do something else that will cure your worries and that is prayer. Paul is a smart guy who knows the Old Testament really well. When he writes Philippians 4 I believe he is thinking about the words of the Psalmist who would write:

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 NLT).

I prayed to the Lord and what happens when he prayed or when we pray… God will answer us. God will respond to your prayers. He will rescue us or deliver us from fear and worry.

The verse before in Philippians sets the tone for us to experience freedom over worry.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” It is easy to forget during difficult times just how near God is (Philippians 4:5) because in the trouble He can feel so far away. But He is with us, and we can communicate with Him, and pray at any time and experience freedom over worry, trust in His love, instead of fear.

“Don’t worry” (merimnaō): don’t even take thought of it to the point of allowing it to trouble you. Before it gets to that point of causing you trouble, pray (Philippians 4:6).

Worry builds and that is why it is best to deal with it before it gets to a troubling level. It is remarkable to me that living 1,000 years apart, Paul and David are saying the exact same thing. However, Paul adds some things about prayer. in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 

After thanksgiving then let your requests be made known to God. Thanksgiving is the Greek word “eucharist”, communion. Worship God for all your spiritual blessings in Jesus before your requests. Paul says in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Start your prayers by giving thanks for what God has done for us in Christ. And then let your requests be made known to God.  In this way, it says, “I trust God.” 

When you pray like this, all of a sudden, you are no longer held hostage waiting for what you think the result should be. The more you thank Him, the more His peace reigns in your heart. Whatever your concern is, bring it to your Father in prayer and thank your way to peace!