Encouragement 01-21-05



January 21, 2005
Encouragement for Today

What and Who Do You Believe?
Melissa Taylor, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team

Key Verse:

"...The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)


After seeing Disney's movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, I was curious about these mean, evil creatures that once sailed the seas in search of treasure.  I did some research.  I learned that a pirate is a robber, raider, buccaneer, or "freebooter".  Their main act is piracy which is an unauthorized use of another's production or the luring away from another.  Pirates had a reputation for cruelty, deception, and dishonesty.  They obeyed no laws, except their own.

It is said that the well-known pirate, Blackbeard, was once asked if anyone else knew where his treasure was buried.  He replied, "Only two people know where the treasure lies; the Devil and myself, and he who lives the longest may claim it all."  Blackbeard may be right.  The more I read about pirates, the more I realized that the resemblance between a pirate and the Devil is nearly identical.

Captain Jack Sparrow, the kooky pirate played by Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean said this about himself.  "Me, I'm dishonest.  And an honest man, you can always trust to be dishonest...honestly."  That sums up the Devil, Satan, perfectly.  You can always trust him to be dishonest.  You can also trust him to do whatever it takes to lure you from the treasure God intends you to have.  You have a choice.  You can believe him, or believe your Creator, God.

On the sixth day of creation, God created man and woman (Adam and Eve).  God created them because the world was not complete.  He gave them all they could ever want or need.  Their home was the Garden of Eden, a true paradise filled with beautiful trees and a flowing river. Adam and Eve were free to roam the land, naked but unashamed.  All was good in their world.  God gave them only one rule.  In Genesis 2:16-17, God said, "You may freely eat any fruit in the garden except the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die."  Do you wonder why God would create such a beautiful place, put people in it, and then plant a tree from which they were forbidden to eat?  God has a reason for everything.  He wanted Adam and Eve to obey Him, but He also wanted them to have the freedom to choose obedience.  That's an important truth.  They were free to choose, and so are we.  God doesn't force us to obey, but there are consequences when we don't.

Remember Blackbeard and Captain Jack Sparrow, the pirates?  Well, there is another "pirate", and he is very real.  He wants to steal your treasure and he will use whatever and whomever he can to do so.  He did indeed outlive Blackbeard, and he knows where the treasure, your treasure, is hidden.  By using shrewd and crafty measures, he tries to snatch your treasure away.  Satan is real and, just like a pirate, he has a plan to lure you away from God.

In Genesis, 3:1, Satan, disguised as a serpent, entered the picture, and confused Eve, causing her to doubt God's goodness.  He said, "Really, did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?  You won't die!  God knows your eyes will be opened and you will become like Him." 

Whom does Eve believe?  What does she believe?  She has to make a choice.

In this one exchange, Satan caused Eve to forget all God had given her and instead focus on the one thing she couldn't have. In Genesis 3:6, we find that "Eve was convinced!" and it didn't take much.  Satan, the pirate, lured Eve away from God by offering her a treasure she wanted - power.  Eve took her eyes off of God and convinced herself that she was the powerful one.

We are just like Eve.  We fall into the trap of dwelling on the things we don't have, allowing our contentment to be robbed, acting impulsively before talking to God, blaming someone else for our trouble, and then telling lies rather than focusing on the countless treasures God has given us.

How easily are you lured away from God?  Satan will use what you find most desirable to tempt you. Food, a better body, pornography, music, TV, drugs, alcohol, a job, power, sex, money, gossip, a friend......and the list goes on.  Matthew 6:21 says that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Where is your treasure?

Beware of pirates my friends.

In her book, Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God, Sharon Jaynes writes:

Satan says you could never succeed.
God's voice says you can do everything through Him who gives you strength.      (Philippians 4:13)

Satan says nobody loves you.
God says He loves you so much He sacrificed His only son for you.  (John 3:16)

Satan says you're no match for him.
God says greater is He that is in you (Jesus) than he that is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

Satan says you're damaged goods.
God says you are a new creation in Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Satan says nobody likes you.
God calls you His friend.  (John 15:15)

Satan says you should be ashamed of yourself.
God says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Satan says if it feels good, do it.
God says be controlled by the Spirit.  (Romans 8:6)

Satan says that's just the way you are.
God says your old self was crucified with Christ and you are no longer a slave to sin.  (Romans 6:6)

Who will you choose to believe?

My Prayer for Today:

Lord of all Creation, I know you love me and you desire a personal relationship with me.  You made me for your delight and purpose.  Help me to please you in all that I do.  God, thank you for loving me - no matter what.  Amen.

Application Steps:

When faced with a difficult choice or decision, especially when it concerns "who" you should be listening to, consider the following: 

Stop.  Psalm 46:10 says to "be still and know that I am God."  Get to know God and what He wants you to do. 

Examine.  Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart..."  Ask God what He thinks of you.  Look to His Word for guidance.  Remember, if it's in opposition to God's Word, then it's wrong!

Reflection Points:

Do I believe God's Word is true?

What does God's voice say about me?

God loves me....no matter what!  Do I live like I believe those words?

Power Verses:

"Now let Your unfailing love comfort me, just as You promised me, Your servant." Psalm 119:76 (NLT)

"For I know the thoughts that I think towards you", says the Lord, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."  John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Additional Resources:

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?  by Lysa TerKeurst

Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland

Originally published Friday, 21 January 2005.