What hell seeks to do

Today’s post is quite long but oh so encouraging, and I will make sure to keep it somewhere to read it in times of discouragement. 

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Hell’s primary objective is to destroy faith in God. All of its elaborate strategies and all of its diabolical energies are focused on one thing: breaking the power of the word of the Lord by undermining our trust in it. The universe was created and is upheld by the Word of God (John 1:3; Heb. 1:3), so hell must break the power of the Word of God if it wants to win.

Therefore, we find ourselves fighting an enemy that constantly seeks to alter our perception of reality. That is why this fight is such a surreal and sometimes horrific experience. Hell wages a war of distortion. It seeks to make the most destructive things look tantalizingly desirable. It seeks to make the most wonderful things look unbearably boring. It seeks to make the most trustworthy things look unreliable. It seeks to make the one true fountain of joy look like a dry well, and a broken cistern look like a spring of refreshment. Hell makes even hell look entertaining. Hell wages a war of disorientation. Through temptation, condemnation, intimidation, discouragement, disappointment, doubt, illness, weakness, weariness, and appeals to our pride and shame, the spiritual powers of evil seek to keep us off-balanced, confused, and turned around. For if we lose our focus on the truth, we lose our confidence and may lose our faith.

Hell wages a war of suspicion. One of the most painful things in this spiritual war is hell’s infiltration into our relationships. It seeks to corrupt the currency of trust in which they trade. Marriages break, families fracture, friendships rupture, churches split, and movements derail as sin infects and seeds of suspicion are sowed and fertilized. And in the fray we easily lose track of who the enemy is and end up fighting against flesh and blood. That Word above All Earthly Powers Jesus was right: The way is hard—far harder than we expected. But Jesus was right about something else: “The gates of hell will not prevail” (Matt. 16:18). The way is hard, but the way is sure. For the Way (John 14:6) is the Word (John 1:1). And the Word is impenetrably strong. All the brutal forces of hell, with all the distortion it can conjure, disorientation it can cause, and suspicion it can sow, simply cannot break the Word of God. Martin Luther was right about the Devil: “one little word shall fell him.” O, but that Word turns out not to be so little. For that Word is God himself (John 1:1). And the Word came to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8). O, the paradox! The Word of God destroyed the works of the Devil by being broken. Yes, all hell broke loose upon the Word of God from Gethsemane to Calvary, and the Word was broken. But it was not broken in the way that hell tried to break it. Hell tried to compromise the Word, but the Word held fast by being broken.

For in being broken, the Word of God kept unbroken the word of God, the great covenant, and cosmic justice was upheld as Christ became both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). That Word stands above all earthly powers and smashes against the gates of hell.  The way may be hard for us. But the Way will be hell for hell. The key to our clarity in the face of hell’s distortion, our focus in the face of hell’s disorientation, and our persevering, longsuffering love in the face of hell’s suspicion is to listen to the Word of God by soaking in the words of God in the Bible. The Word is our refuge (Ps. 18:30), the Word is our peace (Acts 10:36; Phil. 4:7), and the Word is our weapon (Eph. 6:17). We must remember that hell is after one thing: our faith. And we must remember that we will overcome hell by one thing: our faith (1 John 5:4). Jesus summarized our one and supreme defense against hell in this statement: “Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).

Therefore, today: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Pet. 5:8–10)

Jon Bloom, Don’t Follow your Heart, Chapter 12 “The Way is Hard, but He is Strong

Stressed Vines

The following text is simply the 6th “chapter” of Don’t Follow Your Heart, by Jon Bloom. I was really encouraged by the whole chapter so I had to share it here. Don’t forget you can find the full PDF  on Desiringgod.org and hey- like most if not all their books, its free !

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Via Pinterest

” GOD LIKES USING WINES and vines in his miracles and parables. I thought of that a number of years ago when I read the following in an article: Great wines come from low-yielding vineyards planted in marginal climates on the poorest soils. Though hard on the vines, these tough conditions are good for the wine, because the vines that are stressed must work harder to produce fruit, which leads to fewer but more concentrated and flavorful grapes. By contrast, the vines used for bulk wines have it easy. They are planted in the fertile soils in ideal climates of regions such as California’s Central Valley. Such regions are great for producing tons of grapes to fill up the bulk fermentation tanks, but not at all great for producing the complex, intense flavors needed to make great wine, because the vines are not stressed and the yields are way too high.

*Ben Giliberti, “It’s Not the Box, It’s the Bulk,” Washington Post, July 20, 2005, accessed September 26, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/19/AR2005071900312.html.

Stressed vines produce good wines. This phenomenon of nature is also a parable for how God produces rich, complex, intense faith in his children. Because when it comes to faith, God loves good wine. All you have to do is read Hebrews 11 to see that the great wine of faith often “comes from . . . vineyards planted in marginal climates on the poorest soils.” And James 1:2 tells us plainly that “tough conditions (“various trials”) are good for the wine” of faith. That’s because faith-vines “must work harder to produce fruit” leading to “more concentrated and flavorful” wines. Now, as a faith vine striving to grow in a hard place, you might be tempted to wish you were a bulk-wine vine basking in the spiritual equivalent of California’s Central Valley. O, for that rich soil, bright sunshine, warm ocean air. Sigh. But here you are, stuck on some coldish, semi-arid hillside where the struggle is frequent and sometimes severe. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s not a mistake. It’s not a punishment. It’s not mean. It’s simply that tough conditions produce the best faith. Your vinedresser (John 15:1) has planted you in a unique vineyard with uniquely stressful conditions because he intends for you to produce a uniquely fine, flavorful faith wine. And he will tend to your every real need (Phil. 4:19). If you need some perspective today, review Hebrews 11 and the great faith-vine heroes of history. Remember what their vineyards were like and the rich faith wines that resulted. And then remember Jesus (Heb. 12:2) and the joy set before every vine that endures in faith. When God makes wine, he makes really good wine (John 2:7–10). And when it comes to your faith, he knows that really good wine is made in the vineyard.

Jon Bloom, Don’t Follow your Heart, chapter 6

He knows what He is doing

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“God’s will for you is your sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). He wants you to share his holiness (Heb. 12:10). And the kindness of God in pursuing this for you is incomprehensively wonderful, because without his holiness you will have no real and lasting happiness. Only in his presence is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11), and only the pure in heart will see him (Matt. 5:8).”

“The God who governs the visible and invisible worlds knows what he is doing in your life. The God who was brutally murdered on a Roman cross knows what it’s like to suffer and how to redeem it. Specifically how he will bring good out of your trials may be mysterious to you now, but that he will bring good out of them is not a mystery. It’s a promise.”

“The secret things are the Lord’s for a very good reason. Trust him with the mystery. But the revealed things are yours, and they are glorious. Believe them, and one day you’ll share God’s holiness and all the forevermore pleasures he has prepared for you (Ps. 16:11).”

Jon Bloom, Don’t Follow Your Heart

How Involved Is God in the Details of Your Life? by Jon Bloom

“Joseph knew God’s nearness when he woke from his prophetic dreams and probably when he experienced remarkable favor. But how near did God feel to Joseph in the pit of his brothers’ betrayal, or shackled in the Ishmaelite caravan, or when falsely accused of attempted rape, or stuck for years in the king’s prison, forgotten? Yet we see that God was there all the time working all things together for good for Joseph and millions of others (Rom. 8:28).

Yes, God was even working the evil, heinous things people did to Joseph for good. We can say that, because that’s precisely what Joseph himself said to his brothers about their betrayal of him: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20).- Jon Bloom, Don’t Follow Your Heart, page 22-23