The Bible The Devil Reads

The Bible The Devil Reads

Did you know that the Devil “reads” the Bible? OK. Maybe he doesn’t “read” the Bible, but he does know it. And he knows it better than you or I. And he’s not afraid of using it to make you sin and do things that are against the Will of God.

Allow me to share of when the devil tempted Jesus.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,     
and they will lift you up in their hands,     
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matt. 4:1-7)

Do you see where even the devil said, “For it is written”? He goes on to quote Psalm 91:11-12.

It’s interesting how Jesus responds, isn’t it? Jesus responds with the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Straight Out Of Context

Have you ever lived in sin? Commit the same sin over and over again. Remember, as Apostle Paul says, “by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).

Or when a church member confront you of a sin? You have Matthew 7:1 ready in your back pocket. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

For some reason, we actually have King James waiting, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” So people use this as an excuse to ignore people who call out their sins.

Context

Reading Ephesians 2 in context, Apostle Paul is calling on us to live a life away from sin: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world… (Eohesians 2:1-2a). And our faith should be followed with good works: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works… (Ephesians 2:10a).

If we are to read Ephesians 2:1-10 in context, it would say, “We are saved by God’s grace, not good works. Because of God’s grace, we are called to put away our sins and live the life God calls us to live. The outpouring of knowing God is, indeed, good works.”

Same thing with Matthew 7:1. Fortunately, Jesus straightforwardly explains in verse 3-5.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

This is simple to read in context. “Don’t judge. First, deal with the issue in your life and then help your brothers and sisters deal with the identical issues that they are dealing with.”

The Devil Is In The Details

What other verses are twisted? Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”? What about Philippians 4:13: I can do all this through him (Jesus Christ) who gives me strength.

It is dangerous to read these verse out of context.

Jeremiah 29 is a letter to Jewish captives who will spend 70 years in captivity before the Lord will liberate them. Yet, we use it to draw people into the church. But when a woman miscarries, or you lose the job, or your loved one dies, what then?

One verse prior to the coffee mug imprinted verse of Philippians 4:13 is 4:12. It reads, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

If you don’t get the job, if you don’t pass the test, if you don’t get the girl, should we exclude the verse altogether? No! God is still sovereign. Be content in much and in little, “For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Your strength is not in your circumstance, it’s in Christ.

The Baby And The Bath Water

Back in the day, before modern luxuries of running water, a family would all bathe in the same water. Not all at once, mind you. First the father would bathe, when he got out, then the mother, then the oldest to the youngest child. So when it was time to throw out the water, it was so filthy that you could hardly see through it. And the sayin came, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”

Now, I just jumped through a few verses that are often read out of context. Should we “Throw out the baby (the verses) with the bathwater (the things that don’t apply to us)”? Of course not. The Bible is a historical account of the God of Israel moving and doing things. And as Hebrews 4:12 says that “the Word of God is alive and active…”

I mention in my book, “God: The Master of Sin and Satan The Beautiful”, Satan doesn’t mind if you believe in God. He doesn’t mind if you read the Bible just as long as you don’t repent of sin and live for God.

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A Biblical Prosperity Message (Part 1) by Michael Furlonger

Today, we’re discussing Biblical Prosperity.

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about the time my best friend’s wife wrote me a love letter (linked below). I shared how if I took a letter meant for someone else and ignored the dedication (Dear So & So), I would get the wrong message. Not only does the person who ignored the dedication gets disappointed, but the person who wrote it and the person to whom it is written are left embarrassed.

This is in reference to scripture that we claim says, “I will prosper,” but is not meant for us. In this blog, I’m going to discuss a Prosperity Message that I’ve heard and share with you, what I call “Godly Prosperity”. Also, if you are curious to know more about the nature of God, you may want to read this further.

Let Us Begin:

  1. God created you in His image (Genesis 1:27). Let’s not split hairs on arguing, “Are you saying that God has blond hair and green eyes?” To argue this is to miss the point of the true nature of God in who’s likeness we are made.
  2. God is love (1 John 4:8). God loves you. I could list off a number of scriptures, from the Old and New Testament. But let’s recognize Christ’s death on the cross as a final representation of God’s love.
  3. God is a spirit. Not just Holy Spirit, but spirit itself. First Corinthians 15:45 reads, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam (Jesus Christ), a life-giving spirit.” Hence, we should not argue over the physical appearance mentioned in point 1.

    Keeping these 3 points in mind, let’s continue.

Many know the story of Joseph and the technicoloured dream coat. The reason Joseph was given the coat was because he was loved more than his brothers. He was born to his father, Jacob, in his old age, and the first to be born of the woman Jacob loved, Rachel (Genesis 35:23-26). This made Joseph and his brother, Benjamin, unique as they are the only two born of Rachel, of whom he loved (Genesis 29:15-28).

So, when Joseph was 17, Jacob made him a special robe (Genesis 37:3). Skipping over a number of verses specifying Joseph’s dreams, the brothers were jealous of Joseph. In their jealousy, they sold Joseph as a slave and told their father that he was killed (Genesis 37: 23-33).

And the story ends with Joseph becoming king of Egypt (Genesis 41:39-40). And that’s the message of how God prospers the Christians today. Now, you are left scratching your head wondering, “What just happened?” And if your life isn’t getting better, it’s because you lack faith.

The Meat Of The Story:

As the story continues, Joseph is sold to one person (Genesis 37:28) from the brothers. And that person would sell Joseph to a man known as Potiphar (Genesis 39:1). Verse 2 reads, “The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.” So Joseph prospered to become what? A slave. In verses 3-6, you will read about how Potiphar saw that the LORD was with Joseph. And how did Joseph prosper? He was still a slave. Best slave in all of the house, but a slave none the less.

Going back to the first point: We are made in the image of God, Christian and non-Christian alike. When people are looking at you, they want to see the very nature of God.

“When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.” (Genesis 39:3-4)

On the topic of prosperity, despite what is heard, you cannot prosper beyond the means of the other person. The best thing that Potiphar could have done was to make him the slave to oversee the others.

As the story continues, Potiphar’s wife started noticing Joseph for his physical appearance. She finally said to him, “Come to bed with me” (Genesis 39:6-7). Joseph refused (Genesis 39:8-9) saying that Potiphar has placed him as the greatest in the house. Joseph ends his protest with, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

Do you notice that Joseph is concerned for the reputation of God in the midst of this prosperity message? How often do people concern themselves with the reputation of God in the midst of their prosperity?

Again and again she tries to get Joseph to sleep with her. Finally, Joseph fled from the woman, leaving behind his cloak. Using the cloak as evidence, Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of attempted rape and Joseph was thrown in jail (Genesis 39:20).

This prosperity message has left our good friend, Joseph, in jail. We don’t hear that a lot in church, do we? We like the end where he is made king over Egypt, but we don’t like this part.

I’m going to end this post here, and pick up on Joseph’s journey in the next blog. However, I want to share one last thing:

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” (Genesis 39:20b-23)

This first blog focuses on the reality that we are all made in the image of God. Whether family members, your boss, your teacher, whether they are Christian or not, they will notice God in you.

You may want to read yesterday’s post:

My Best Friend’s Wife Wrote Me A Love Letter

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My Best Friend’s Wife Wrote Me A Love Letter by Michael Furlonger

And I read:

“You are the most amazing man I’ve ever met. I’m so grateful that you are in my life. Whenever I see you, I get overly excited. I know that life gets busy, but when my mind rests, I think of you. I can’t wait until we can spend some intimate time together.
I love you always.”

First thing I want to share is that this is not a real letter from my best friend’s wife. I must share this because we don’t need to get into any arguments.

(And by the way, my wife is my best friend… In case she asks 🙂 )

Second thing I want to share is this: Imagine if this was a real letter. Go with me, I have a point. Imagine if your wife (or husband) wrote you this incredible letter filled with love, sex, passion, longing for you and the list goes on and on. Now imagine someone is at your house and finds this letter written specifically for you and removes the beginning/ dedication of the letter (“My beloved So and So”) and takes this letter and starts showing it to everyone saying, “Look what Michael’s wife says about me… She is longing to be with me. She can’t imagine her life without me,” and on and on. Not only would the writer of the letter be upset, but so would the person to whom it was written. Right?

My wife would be embarrassed about this person sharing a letter she wrote for me. And I would be angry with this friend for purposely ignoring the part of the letter that said, “For my beloved husband, Michael.”

My point?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

How many times has this been broadcasted around churches and on social media?

The problem? The problem comes when we read the dedication:

This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (Jeremiah 29:1)

Now, let’s read Jeremiah 29:10, 11 and 12

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:10-12)

I’m telling you this because I’m not trying to rain on your parade. God loves you and has good things for you in this life and the life to come which I will discuss later. But for me to take a text written for one person or people and say that it’s for me is irresponsible.

Of course, people can say, “Oh, brother Michael, don’t you know that we are exiled from God who is in Heaven? It very much applies to me.” That is true. All of you reading this, God does have a plan for us and a hope given to us in Jesus Christ. But, as I say, this letter is not for you, unless you were carried out by King Nebuchadnezzar making you a few thousand years old.

I’m writing this post as somewhat of a prequel of an upcoming post, perhaps a series of posts, on the true Biblical prosperity message that is true and meant for all of us (which also tells us more about the true holiness of God). So, as children of God, children of a promise (Hebrews 11) take it upon yourself to be fully informed. And take this part of the letter and practice it:

“You will seek me (God) and find me (God) when you seek me (God) with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

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