A Fly In The House

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Have you ever seen a fly in the house? You try to catch it but you can’t. You get a rag…that doesn’t work. You don’t have a fly-swatter because you don’t live in the country lol. Meanwhile the fly just flies around buzzing, bumping up against stuff, and passing by you every now and then. Smh…

I’ve learned a lil trick. I don’t waste my time chasing flies because they don’t have a long life span. By tomorrow they will have lost about 50% of their speed. And if they are alive the next day, they are super slow and nearly dead anyway. I just wait for them to die.

There are people who do not reverence the Lord Jesus. They annoy God. They are outright rebels. They are like flies to God. He doesn’t bother killing them because He knows they will die in a lil while.

God can take us out at any time, but He gives us one more chance to accept Him. He gives us one more chance to do better. Like flies slow down, we get older and slow down – and still continue to rebel…but God is not “fly chasing.” He wants you to get it together. But sadly, many die like flies.

 

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D. Barlow

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Swollen Hands

 

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When I was younger we were bad. We used to take pride in having swollen knuckles after having a fight. If your knuckles were swollen, you won.

One time, my entire hand looked like a balloon. In my mind I was severely injured, although I was being macho outwardly. I was thinking to myself, “I’m not fighting anymore. It hurts whether you win or lose.”

Ephesians 6 talks about spiritual warfare. It says the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (v17). I’ve discovered that using the sword of the Spirit against the devil is comparable to having a fist fight.

When the devil tempts, he’s swinging and punching on us. And in a natural fight, the person swings at you and punches you – and you despise it, so you hit that person back. Your response to getting hit in a natural fight is to hit back. Even though it hurts your hand, you go upside that person’s head…am I right?

In order to hit the devil back, you have to use the Word of God…but there is a catch. Just like punching a person hurts your own hand, using the Word will hurt you in a way. It hurts you to use the Word because something in you wants to give in to temptation…but the only way to get the devil off of you is to hurt yourself using the Word on him.

It’s okay in the spirit to have, “swollen hands.”

 

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D. Barlow

 

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Out of Gas

 

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Tim has a tight schedule. So tight that all he does is work and sleep. Since he’s a sports fan, he makes a lil time to watch his favorite basketball team…the Miami Heat.

When he got in his car to go to work he noticed his gas light was on. He said to himself, “I can make it to work, then I’ll get gas after work.” He did make it to work.

However, after work he did not get gas. “Hmmm, Miami plays Cleveland tonight. If I go straight home I can catch the 2nd half of the game, and just get gas in the morning.” He did make it home, and he enjoyed the game.

However, Tim ran out of gas the next morning. He couldn’t make it to the gas station. The sad thing is, Time ran out of gas although he had plenty of money.

Many people are like Tim. They live many years. Pass by many churches. They feel they have time to accept Christ as their personal Savior later on…but unfortunately later on never arrives. They had time, but they were too busy to seize a moment.

 

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D. Barlow

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Cracking The Code

 

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My 6 year old son, Darren, was ridding with me as I ran errands. Let’s just say he loves to talk lol. Darren is a “big boy.” Let me explain to you what I’m talking about.

“Darren, that’s too heavy for you. Let me get it.” “No!!! I got it, daddy.”

“Darren, I’ll sweep the floor. That’s big boy stuff, so I’d better do it myself.” “No!!! I know how to sweep the floor!!!”

“Darren, I’ll make you some noodles. You might get burned taking the bowl out the microwave.” “No!!! I’m not gonna burn myself. Just tell me how much time to put it in for.”

While we were riding, I looked down and saw a combination lock. I opened it, then said, “Here you go, Darren. Open this lock.” He tried and tried and tried and tried. He wasn’t gonna give up. This was the biggest challenge he ever had.

His understanding of left and right was tested. His understanding of numbers 1-40 was tested. He had to follow instructions to the T (Passing 0 twice, then once, then not passing it all.) I got Darren good this time.

About 4 hours later, and after watching several examples and rehearing my instructions…Darren finally got! I like to make him think and I love challenging him. I was proud when the locked popped open for him.

Many people will try to get into heaven using their own combination. Using things they thought or imagined would get them in. There’s only one combination to pop heaven’s lock.

In John14, Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

“Thomas said to Him, “Lord we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

“Jesus said to him,’ I am the Way.” Jesus is the combination…the only combination that pops the lock.

 

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It Is God

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“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. ” (1Peter 4:12-13)

Peter is addressing the uniqueness of trials. In order for a pair of shoe laces to be put into  knots, some strange things must happen with the laces. Yet, little kids have a way of getting their shoe laces into knots.

Likewise, your life and my life gets into knots. Some of the strangest things occur!!! For a Christian, the Lord is up to something when He allows your life to get into knots. When strange things happen, that’s how you know it’s God.

 

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Exist

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The storms of life come…and then they go. But when they come, they come! And, they stay for a long, long time. God allows your storm to become a mainstay.

When you lay down, it’s there. When you wake up, there it is like a toddler sucking a pacifier staring at you and waiting for you to wake up.

You think about it while at work, while driving, while taking a shower. “How much better would my life be if I didn’t have this do deal with.”

What can you do then? All we can do is exist. Sometimes we have to get in “exist mode.” The Bible calls this resting in the Lord. (Psalm 37:7)

Sometimes we have to just…exist.

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Armor of God Series

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EPHESIANS CHAPTER 6

“Put on the whole armor of God”

It doesn’t take all of that…yes it does! Maybe you haven’t been raided by the devil. If you’ve been raided by him, you know it takes all of that.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against…the rulers of the darkness of this age.”

We have more than one enemy. More than one devil. Hell will devise an ambush…so yes, it does take the whole armor of God.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

The devil is subtle. That means “not obvious.” Not clearly seen or discerned. We don’t always realize that he’s working. A friend of mine, Pastor Clayton Turner Jr. has a saying, “Well, the devil has been busy…” I find that to be an accurate statement. The devil is very busy. By the time we see the end result, he had been setting that up for a while! He’s very subtle! So we need to wear the whole armor of God at all times!

In the next few articles we will look at all the pieces of the armor of God. I pray that something is said to equip you to fight this warfare more effectively. God bless you.

 

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The Belt Of Truth

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“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” (Ephesians 6:14A)

In basketball you have to play smart. You can’t just burn out every play like you’re running the 100 yard dash. You have to relax and pick some resting points on the floor. You can’t run around like you’re a running back because you will wear yourself out. You have to chill out, establish a rhythm and be smooth.

If someone doesn’t have a good jump shot, you defend him by backing off and giving him room to shoot. You defend him by daring him to shoot. Why? Because he’s self check. That means, “Why waste your energy guarding him, because he’s his own enemy when it comes to shooting?”

He has no confidence in his shot. He has a psychological block. I can back off and play lazy defense on him as long as he is on the perimeter – because he is self check. He defends himself by missing all his wide open shots. There’s no need for me to wear myself out guarding a man who cannot shoot.

The devil is father of lies (John 8:44). He is our adversary. What happens is, when you and I believe lies, we are self check. Once he gets us to believe lies, he no longer has to wear himself out to defeat us. When we are deceived, we can’t buy a bucket. We are self check. The devil can go handle some other business because your mind isn’t being renewed by truth. You are self check.

In football, one of my favorite plays is the play action pass. That’s when the quarterback fakes like he’s going to hand the ball off to his running back. All the defenders come up to tackle the running back only to discover that they were tricked. The quarterback faked a hand off then raised up and threw the ball deep down the middle of the field to a wide open receiver.

The devil will have you “trying to tackle someone who doesn’t even have the ball.” He will make you “fall for the play action.” His lies will make a fool out of you. Don’t fall for the play action pass.

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” (v14)

 

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Breastplate Of Righteousness

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One of the frustrations of the Christian faith is the guarantee that we will suffer. Suffering increases. We don’t like to suffer but there’s no avoiding it. One man said, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1Peter 4:19, NIV) There’s no avoiding it. As a matter of fact we are encouraged to embrace it.

If a man has on a bullet proof vest and gets shot in the chest, it will still hurt. But hallelujah…he will live because he has on a bullet proof vest. The vest protects his chest. His chest will still get a bruise, but it will not be penetrated.

This reminds me of what it’s like to suffer as a Christian. The devil comes gunning for us. He comes firing to take us out. He comes with diverse temptations. And those temptations do hurt. It hurts to resist temptation. When you resist temptation, it’s painful just like it’s painful to get shot in the chest while wearing a bullet proof vest. And even though one wears a bullet proof vest, it’s dangerous whenever bullets are flying – period!

Temptation is scary – period, because however you choose to look at it, you are having an encounter with the devil himself.

Scripture time: Having put on the breastplate of righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14B)

Temptation hurts. It will hurt. It will come. That’s a guarantee. But obeying God is the bullet proof vest that blesses you with a bruise on your sternum rather than an opened chest cavity. We have to learn how to rejoice in bruised sternums. Lord have mercy….

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Gospel Shoes

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“Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15)

I’m an action movie kind of guy. There was a scene when the good guy had one bullet left. And of course the bad guy had a big, big gun with lots of ammo.

The good guy was hiding on the side of the car while the bad guy was on the other side of the car looking for him to smoke him and finally put an end to him. Classic action movie stuff!

And the good guy rolled over with his little pistol…one bullet in it. He saw the bad guy’s feet walking right by the car. What do you think happened next? That’s right. With his last bullet he shot the bad guy in the foot! Needless to say, the bad guy wasn’t so bad after that. He dropped his gun and grabbed his foot – screaming and rolling over on the ground. “My foot! My foot!”

As Christians, we have to guard our feet. There are some “religious sayings” out there. But may I remind us of the words of Jesus? “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” (Luke 10:2)

We say stuff like, “Balance is everything.” “That work is not my cup of tea.” “God did not tell me to do that, so I won’t move unless He tells me to.” “I work a lot of hours on the job.” “I go to school.”

All of this sounds good. It really does. But the underlying truth is not the good excuses but that THE LABORERS ARE FEW…at lest Jesus tends to think so. I believe Jesus will forgive you if you get out there in the harvest field and do some work “even though He didn’t give you permission” or even though “it isn’t your cup of tea” or “it’s foolish because your schedule is too tight already.” I believe Jesus will “forgive you.” Besides, He forgives you for everything else, right???

“What are you saying, preacher?” “I don’t like this article because you are talking about me personally.”

I’m saying GUARD YOUR FEET. Those who try to serve tirelessly are the ones who need to learn how to rest. But those who know they are just unwilling need to learn how to burn out for Jesus. GUARD YOUR FEET.

“How do I guard my feet?” Renew your mind by removing all your lil religious sayings – I mean excuses – that persuade you to do very little for Christ. Justifying why you can’t do this and why you can’t do that. Claiming you’re awaiting your season. No…no…no. Guard your feet.

Much like the man in the action movie, you have guns. You are without question a factor in the kingdom. No ones arguing that. But you have been shot in the foot and neutralized from an action standpoint. You have a lot of Gospel in you, but your spreaders are broke. You ain’t-spreading-nothing!

You are not in the harvest fields! You’re at poetry night…Lord have mercy…but you are not near the unsaved or the unlearned. You are not burdened by some you are mentoring or discipling. Your toes have been blasted off…hindering your action.

Guard your feet.

 

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