Rhema Grace June 2014

THE GAMES OF LIFE

Early one morning my mind began to think on the names of board games, some I have owned or played, others that I have seen advertised or on department store shelves. Before I knew it I had 10 or more names of these games echoing through my mind. I then began to think of how the names of these games could reflect spiritual truths of life. Trouble. Operation. Sorry. Mouse Trap. Thus I sat down and begin to write these thoughts. After researching the subject and meditating on each game scripturally, the following composition is the result. Though it is being distributed as the June 2014 Rhema Grace Devotional , it is a slightly different composition then what I have made available in the past. It is not necessarily a Prayer Focus Devotional, but could still be used as such. It is not a one subject devotional , but could be used as 21 separate devotionals. However you choose to use it is up to you and Holy Spirit. That is the most productive way to devote our time to the Lord anyway. I believe spiritual fruit will result from our lives as we enter into a moment of time in the Word with Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide. My prayer is that you will be edified, encouraged and there will be spiritual growth.

Whenever I write anything of this length , the occasional thought will cross my mind , “What if it is too long and those who receive it just lay it down and get nothing from it?” Then Holy Spirit quickly reminds me that none of this is about me. It is not my responsibility to be sure everyone reads it and gets something from it. It is my responsibility to obey and share it and apply the spiritual truths to my own life. As usual, each subject matter could be expounded upon even more. As I have proofread the copies I still have other thoughts enter my mind and spirit that I could add. Once again though I add that Holy Spirit will reveal to you any additional thoughts and truths that you need for your life. This is a finished essay on my part, but we are to remain teachable , thus the subject matter in this discourse may never be finished on a personal level.

Let me finally say that the title “The Games of Life” in no way refers to our life as a mere game, meaning a temporal , earthly contest. The word “Games” in the title simply refers to the name of each game used as a tool to challenge us scripturally and spiritually. Life is not a game. It is a divine gift from the Creator of the Universe. He chose to make man in His own image and likeness. He has created us for an eternal existence. The decisions we make in this life on earth carry eternal consequences. It is sobering to think that the God of the Universe not only created me, but knows me. As you read through these writings you will understand that the theme is not “life is a mere game”, but that life is a blessing of the Lord of which we are to be good stewards.

So I encourage you to take on the challenge of this devotional, yet enjoy. Make the necessary Spirit-led adjustments and smile. Be willing to dig deep into your spirit and soul and know that your relationship with Christ will be stronger in doing so. Let us take on the challenge that Paul gave to the church at Philippi in Philippians 2:12 (Amp.) , ” Work out, cultivate , carry out to the goal and fully complete your own salvation with reverence , awe and trembling, with a self-distrust, a serious caution, a tenderness of conscience , a watchfulness against temptation and timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the Name of Christ.”

CHUTES & LADDERS – Climbs and slides. Ups and downs. Life is like that. One moment careening down the giant roller coaster , the next minute hearing the deafening click of the wheels on the track as you grasp for a hold during the climb to the top. Climbing is necessary to go to a higher place. (How was that for a revelatory word?!) Paul made the statement in Philippians 3:13,14 that he “was reaching forth unto those things before him and pressing toward the mark.” The reaching and pressing will include climbing. Climbing a ladder can be dangerous whether it is a step stool or a 25 foot extension ladder. Rung by rung we must be aware that each step is sure and that our hands have a sure hold. In Philippians 3:12 (AMP) ,Paul says , ” I press on to lay hold (grasp) and make my own that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me and made me His own.” Very simply Paul is saying , The only way I can climb safely is to be sure Christ has a firm hold on me and I have a firm hold on Him. Mountain climbers are another illustration of the safety in having a firm grasp on something that is anchored. They clip themselves to a rope that is firmly seated on an anchored object before they take a step higher. Then if their foot does slip and they lose their grasp , they fall only a few feet and are caught by the rope connected to the anchor. Some have taken brief chances , just a couple steps, without being anchored and the consequences has been tragic. It is not worth taking a chance. Be sure every step you take is one that finds you anchored in Christ. Then we have the chutes, the slides, the uncontrollable descents. Like that pink little pig Maxwell on the Geico commercial we cry “Weeee, weeee, weeee !” as we slide down the chutes of life. The Lord did not create me personally for roller coasters, the ascents or the descents. There are some who love the amusement park chutes though and consider it a joyful experience. Jesus said in John 16:24 that He wanted our joy to be full. Romans 14:17 says the Kingdom of God is righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost. Don’t get so caught up in the climb that you miss the joy. A life without joy is a miserable life. The constant clicking of the wheels on a climb can be annoying if it never stops. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came that we may have life and enjoy life to the fullest until it overflows. Enjoy the chutes. It will make the ladders climbable.   * Romans 8:11 , 1st Corinthians 6:14 ,                                    2nd Corinthians 6: 1-10   ,   1st Peter 4:12, 13 *

SCRABBLE –     “ I need a word from the Lord.” I have heard this statement many times in my years of ministry. We have the letters in front of us, but they are jumbled and not forming any words. We have placed the tiles in every position possible and we can’t see or hear anything. It can be referred to as the wilderness journey and we just seem to be walking around the same mountain in circles. We pray and the heavens are brass. Thoughts begin to surface such as, “What have I done. I must have angered God. He is not talking to me.”   We know this can be a difficult season.   God knows it is a necessary season.   The silence will test the depth of our faith. One key is to remain in His pasture. If you aren’t hearing the voice of the Shepherd, stay in the pasture you are in at that moment.   Do not succumb to the thought that the grass is greener on the other side. If you stay with the Shepherd you will hear His voice.   That promise is found in John 10:4. Jesus said, “My sheep follow Me and they know My voice. They will not follow a stranger.”  Do not enter into a desperation and just listen to anyone saying anything, but listen for His voice and the word you need to hear will come forth. I know from experience that a season of silence will cause you to be thankful for the words He does speak. It will bring a new appreciation for the sound of His voice. During the season of silence also remember, the                              Bible is his voice and it will sustain you through the wilderness. Though there may be letters before you that seem to make no words , trust in Him. He will reveal to you what you need to know when you need to know it. Just go back to the simplicity of the gospel ,to Christ, to the cross, to the resurrection. It is there that you will always hear the word love and His love always speaks.     *Psalm 19:8 , 119:105 Colossians 3:16 , 2nd Peter 1:19 , James 1:5     *

MOUSE TRAP –   RUN! RUN! RUN! Keep moving! Don’t stop! Run down the ramp!   Slash through the obstacles! Don’t stop or you will be trapped!   The busyness of life. There are necessary duties of life. Things that must be done. There are some duties that may not be as necessary as others, but we feel should be done. Then we have the least necessary things on our “to do” list that remain on the bottom of that list and are usually never done. There is always a list so we are always active. The danger of busyness is that we get trapped in the “doing” and not living as a “being.”   Acts 17:28 says “It is in Christ that I live and move and have my being.” The basis of my life and my activity must come forth from who I am. I am His. If I live and move without Him, I am only running like a wild mouse with no purpose. If I am running with no purpose then I am more susceptible to falling into a trap. If I run without rest I will get weary and let my guard down. The Biblical word for trap is snare and it is especially prevalent in the book of Proverbs. Thus we can surmise that we need wisdom concerning not falling into traps. Proverbs 29:6 NLT , “Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.” 29:25 says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.”   Proverbs 18:7 , “The mouths of fools are their ruin, they trap themselves with their lips.” In those three scriptures alone we see that our words, fearing people, and sin are traps.   How do we prevent ourselves from entering a trap?   The scriptures above instruct us to be righteous, trust in the Lord and be careful what we say.   When Paul expounded on spiritual warfare in Ephesians   Chapter 6, he said in verses 11-17,   “ Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles (the strategies and traps) of the devil.” So we protect ourselves from the enemies traps by wearing the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the Sword of the Spirit. He also said in verse 18 to “Watch, stay alert, with all perseverance.”  It is common sense to know we stay out of traps by staying alert.   We stay alert by keeping our relationship strong with Christ through praise, worship, prayer and the Word. Make a point to strengthen those areas of your life, slow down and stay alert.     * 1st Thessalonians 5:5,6                1st Corinthians 16:13 , 1st Peter 5:8 *

CONCENTRATION – This board game is one that exercises the mind by challenging our memory. As a popular slogan states, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” The organ called the brain is arguably the most amazing creation that God has made. It is a computer that far exceeds any computer man has manufactured. In the last few decades man has developed micro chips to contain more information than we could memorize in a lifetime. Where did the knowledge come from to develop that micro chip? The brain. Who gave us the brain? God.     Since Adam and Eve, man has been created to have a body, soul, and spirit. The body is the physical part of us that we see. The soul is our mind, our will and our emotions. The spirit is our innermost being that is directly connected to God. We are to be good stewards of all three of these entities and surrender them to the Creator. The soul is that part of us where decisions are made. It is the hinge between the body and the spirit. It is there that we make the decision to allow our selfish flesh to rule or to allow Holy Spirit to rule through our spirit.   Paul faced the same challenges in his mind as we do today, so let’s see what he states concerning the mind. “ Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).   “Who has known mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? We have the mind of Christ.” (1st Corinthians 2:16) “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (Ephesians 4:23)   Isaiah sums it up well in Isaiah 26:3, “God will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.” In this world of worry and stress, keep your mind focused on the Lord and He will grant you perfect peace. Concentrate on the One who has given you life and life more abundantly. Do not concentrate on the questions and uncertainties of life ,but concentrate on the One who has blessed you with life and trust in the assurance of His love. It is possible to be so busy with the necessary duties of life that we lose our concentration. Martha is an example of that in Luke 10:38-42. She was cumbered, overly occupied, too busy and distracted with serving. It broke the concentration upon what was important. It wasn’t that her serving was wrong. It was that the serving took her away from what her sister Mary was doing, sitting and listening to Jesus. Paul advises us in Hebrews 12:2 (Amp) “Look away from all that will distract us to Jesus.” Concentrate, fix your heart on Him even in the necessary duties of life and He will be your peace.   * Romans 8:6 , Philippians 2:5 , 4:8,9 *

JENGA –   This game consists of rectangular pieces of wood stacked in the form of a tower .Then each player takes a turn in removing one piece of wood until the tower falls. Kind of a cruel game if you really think about it, yet a game that tests the steadiness of hand as well as the mind. The player not only must decide the next piece to remove, but must have a steady hand to remove it and not disturb the rest of the tower. The first record of a tower is a familiar Sunday school story found in Genesis Chapter 11. After the flood had cleaned the earth and man had begun to repopulate the planet, there were a group of people that felt the need to build a tower that would reach heaven. What a vision! What a task! Yet they gathered everything they needed together and that first brick came off the assembly line and was placed on the dusty ground. Brick after brick. Batch of cement after batch of cement. Day by day. Month by month. Until the tower could be seen from miles around. The Lord had eventually come down and surmised their work and realized that they were not going to stop until they reached the clouds, so He confounded their language and scattered them abroad and they gave up building the tower. Why? The answer is found in verse 4. The people said, “Let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven and let us make us a name.” Do you see it?   It wasn’t that God would not like man to reach heaven, it was that their motive was to brag about making it there. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6 ) Jesus is our Tower to heaven. It has nothing to do with us other than fully accepting Him as the Way. If we attempt to add anything to this Tower, it will be unsteady and eventually fall. “For no other foundation can anyone lay then that which is already laid which is Jesus Christ.”   (1 Corinthians 3:11) The Name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and they are safe. As pieces of your tower may be moved in life, be sure you are established in the tower of the Lord.   * Job 17:9 , Philippians 1:27 Galatians 5:1 , Psalm 144:1,2   *

CHECKERS –     Probably one of the simplest board games ever created yet one that takes much thought before making a move. The objective is to conquer the playing pieces of your foe on the way to the opposite end of the board and proclaiming the command to your foe, “King Me!”   Revelation is the book of the Bible that symbolically reveals the events of the end of time as we know it.   It is full of information, facts, informing mankind of the events leading to the final defeat of the enemy. But before all that information was given to John, there is a truth revealed in Revelations 1:4,5.     This scripture explains to us an extraordinary encouraging truth to believers today.   Jesus, the one who loved us enough to wash us from our sins in His own blood has made us kings and priests unto God.   Kings and priests. Royalty. Do you feel like royalty? Probably not in the sense of what our earthly knowledge of royalty is. We do not have a palace with servants at our every command. We were not born with the earthly privileges like William and Kate’s child. Nevertheless we read in scripture that Jesus has made us royalty.   Peter expounds on this even more in 1 Peter 2:9   “You (the believers) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an Holy nation, a peculiar or redeemed people that you should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We are the red pieces representing those redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. The black pieces represent the darkness of this world. The end of the book of Revelation reveals to us that the red pieces win. His blood has brought us the victory, but according to Christ, the King of Kings, He sees us already as kings and priests in His kingdom. His kingdom is within us. It is a spiritual kingdom. What a wonderful peace it brings to know that He already calls us royalty! In essence, when we dedicate our lives to the king we are proclaiming to Him, “King Me!”   I am already royalty in the eyes of the Divine King. No matter your financial condition here on earth, you are royalty.   No matter your family history, you are royalty! Even if your past is marred by a violent history like the thief on the cross next to Christ in Luke 23:42, when you say , “Remember me Jesus when you come into your kingdom,” He will make you a king.   Let us live our lives on the checkerboard of life as if we are royalty for in His eyes we are. * Romans 8:16,17 , Philippians 2:15 , 3:20 , Titus 3:3- 7   *

TROUBLE – Everyone finds themselves in the midst of trouble sometime in their life , if not several times. Trouble is defined as ” inconvenience, distress , worry, calamity and disturbance. ” Trouble can escalate gradually or it can come in an instant. Our life can be going smoothly then suddenly the bubble in the middle of the game board pops and we find our self in the midst of inconvenience, distress, worry, calamity or disturbance. There may be a warning. It may appear out of nowhere. Sometimes it is not even a consequence of anything we have said or done. Sometimes it is. It is a fallacy that when we become Christians we will never have trouble. If that were true then the entire world would be saved, but for the wrong reasons. And if it were for the wrong reasons, then they really wouldn’t be saved. Jesus experienced trouble virtually every day of His adult life even though He was without sin. He laid down His diety, became a man, and faced trouble. Having trouble in our life doesn’t necessarily mean that we have sinned. Sometimes trouble comes our way because we live in a world of sin. Paul experienced trouble. Get your Bible and turn to 2nd Corinthians 4:8,9. The KJV Bible says, “We are troubled on every side.” The NLT Bible says , ” We are pressed on every side by troubles.” The Amplified Bible says, “We are hedged in on every side and oppressed in every way.” Then Paul adds, “We are perplexed. Persecuted. Cast down. ” Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside huh ?! Intermingled with those statements though are these.” We are not distressed. We are not in despair. We are not forsaken. We are not destroyed. ” How can Paul make such proclamations in the midst of trouble? Look at the scriptures before and after those.(You have your Bible open right?) Verse 7 tells us we have this treasure in our earthen vessel that exceeds all trouble. We have the glorious light of the gospel. We have the strength of Holy Spirit within us to carry us through all trouble. We do not just have power, we have the excellency of power, the exceeding greatness of His power, within us that causes us to soar above trouble. Verse 10 explains that trouble will actually work for the good and bring death to our flesh and cause the life of Christ to manifest in and through us. Jesus was the example of that. The trouble of sin nailed Him to the cross, but the exceeding greatness of power brought Him out of the grave. In the troublesome times of life, let His power rise up from your spirit and bring glory to His name.                     * Psalm 34:19 , 50:15 , 137:7 , Romans 8:28 *

BATTLESHIP – If there was ever a game that was named for life , it would probably be battleship. Hit ! Miss ! Paul the Apostle would certainly agree. At the end of his life , all the things he could have closed his life with saying, he said this, ” I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. ” ( 2nd Timothy 4:7 ) It sounds as if he was retiring a war vessel. I suppose in some ways he was. His earthly war ship was about to retire and he would soon enter into the sea of peace. Just a couple chapters earlier he wrote, ” Endure hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the affairs of civilian life, but his aim is to please the One Who enlisted him. ”   ( 2nd Timothy 2:4 ) Do you have any battle scars as a result of suffering for Christ ? We do not see that too often in the physical realm in our western world, but there are often some emotional scars when we stand up for Christ and His righteousness. As the old hymn says, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.” Paul said in 2nd Timothy 4:8 , “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord , the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. And not to me only, but to all them that love His appearing.” Though we experience the hits and misses of life, it will all pale in comparison to seeing the face of our Lord. Until that day, we occupy until He comes. We sail on the seas of life as a battleship for the Captain of the Hosts. We war a good warfare knowing that a prize awaits us. We put on the whole armor of God and stand against the wiles of the enemy. In 2nd Chronicles Chapter 20 an enemy battleship declared war against Israel and King Jehoshaphat , but the Prophet Jahaziel spoke the Word of the Lord, “The battle is not yours , but God’s.” The result in believing that word was an overwhelming victory over the enemy and they didn’t even have to lift a sword. They just prayed and praised. Today we sail with the same proclamation of victory. Pray on ! Praise on ! Sail on in victory !                                 * Ephesians 6:10-18 ,  2nd Corinthians 10:4,5   , Hebrews 6:19 *

CHESS – A game of intelligence. Some would say a complicated and time consuming game. Each piece has its limits concerning the direction it can be moved. Each move has to be made after making a careful observation of all the other pieces. One wrong move can take you to the place of checkmate and the game is over. Sometimes life can create a fear and we are afraid to make a move. Such fear can even paralyze us and bring us to a stalemate. Living in fear will include emotions such as worry and stress. It can even affect our physical health. Jesus said in Matthew 21:26 that in the last days men’s hearts would fail them for fear. Fear can come at us from any direction. Throughout the Word of God there are scriptures on the subject of fear. If we experience fear in our life then the Word of God is where to turn for direction and to be delivered from it. For instance let us look at Isaiah 41:10 , “Fear not , God says, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee. Yea, I will help thee. Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness. ” What a wonderful promise ! When we are tempted to fear , God says He will strengthen, help and uphold us with the same hand that created the heavens and the earth. We have Paul’s exhortation to Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.” (2nd Timothy 1:7) In the chess game of life we must understand that we have the Holy Spirit within us to guide and give us power for our next move. We have the mind of Christ so our moves in life will be with a confident calmness. Chess can be a waiting game. Life can be a waiting game. Isaiah 40:31 says , “Those who wait upon the Lord , those who expect and hope in Him , will have their strength and power renewed. ” Chess can be a complicated game. Life can get complicated. Keep yourself in the simplicity of Christ and your path will be clear. The Word is clear that God loves us and His love “turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror.” (1st John 4:18 AMP.) So when life seems like a game of chess , go to the Chess Master and allow Him to lead you through all the right moves without fear. * 1st Corinthians 1:17-31 , 3:18-20 , 2nd Corinthians 11:3 *

RISK –     There are times in this game of life that it becomes a game of risks. We are faced with decision. Do I or don’t I?   Should I or shouldn’t I? Some decisions carry greater risks than others. Some worry and say we should never take a risk. Others worry and say , if we never take a risk then we will not accomplish anything worthwhile. Some lean on the absolutes of life while others take chances. There may be times we do not know if it is a risk that is God’s will or not.   How do we know if it is a step of faith or a step of stupidity?   After all, we are instructed to “walk by faith and not by sight.” Let’s receive some wisdom from the book of Habakkuk Chapter 2. Habakkuk was facing a decision and needed to know if the risk was to be taken to combat evil or to wait. He climbed up to his watchtower and stood his guard and waited until the Lord spoke. In verse 2 are listed the Lord’s instructions.   Write down the vision and what is to be accomplished. Simplify the reason for the risk and write it so others can understand it. What is the motive for the risk? Is it to glorify yourself or glorify God? Then in verse 3 God promises if the risk is to be taken He will reveal it in His perfect timing. Keep waiting until you know it is time. If the risk is meant to be taken it will continue to speak to you. Verse 4 deals with the motivation of the risk. If it is for your own benefit and not God’s it will not happen. If it is with righteous motivation then know your faith will bring it to pass. I have always lived by the principle to “err on the side of caution.” If I don’t know it is a risk God would have me to take, I don’t take it.   It is better to keep the train on the track then to have it derail and then try to put it back on. If at all possible do not make a hasty decision. If a quick decision is necessary, take at least a moment to pray and listen. If you acknowledge God , He will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:6)   * Psalm 37:5 , 40:1,2 , Colossians 2:6,7 *

SORRY –     One of the most unused phrases in the English language today is , “ I am sorry.” Much of the time the “I am” is left out and we just say, “Sorry.” Much of the time it is a conscience clearing statement rather than a sincere apology. Why is it so difficult to say it and mean it? Because our flesh carries with it a sense of pride which never condones an attitude that we have done anything wrong. The root is pride which will birth other negative character qualities as well. We will blame others before we will admit our wrong. We will lie before we admit our error. Our flesh is a Spiritless entity.  Romans Chapter 8:7 is very simple and plain in teaching that truth. “The mind of the flesh is hostile to God.” Then there is another case of those who are always saying they are sorry even when they have done no wrong. It leads to low self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness. Usually there is an association with someone else that commands that attitude such as one with a bullying personality. My intention is not to dig into the psychological aspects of the word sorry, but to look at the spiritual truth. There are moments in life the words “I am sorry” are necessary.   Everyone hurts someone sometime. It just happens. We are human. God’s love will lead us to speak that heartfelt expression.   Holy Spirit will target our conscience to speak those words with restoration as the target. If He leads you to do that, do it.   If the person does or does not receive the attempt to restore, then move on. Don’t allow room for any other negative, fleshly emotions to enter in. If you find yourself saying, “I am sorry” , often, then check to see if it is a heartfelt expression or a tool of the enemy that has caused you to be the object of blame.   Know who you are in Christ and rise up from the ashes of worthlessness to become the man or woman of God you are.   Very simply the Biblical word for sorry is repentance.   When the issue is sin , repentance is saying, “I am sorry” and then striving to abstain from sin anymore. Jesus told the adulterous woman to “go and sin no more.” The solution to five of the seven churches in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 was to repent, to say I am sorry and get back to their first love. The word sorry may seem like a game in the world, but it is a word that can lead to divine, eternal restoration when spoken from a pure heart to others and to God. It can be a humbling experience to say “I am sorry” , but there will be healing through the humility. It is a step of humility to approach God with repentance , but the reward is eternal. * Mark 11:25 , Acts 3:19 , Ephesians 4:32 , Colossians 3:13 *

MONOPOLY –       The word monopoly is defined as “ exclusive control. “   Thus as the journey through this board game takes place, the objective is to own all the properties that you can. Then as other players land on your property they pay you rent and the final objective is to take everybody else’s money and property. Many in our society today live in the world of monopoly. Build more houses. Build hotels. Get all I can get without landing in jail. The attitude of some is “All for one and that one is me!”   Then we have the teachings of Jesus. He taught, “Store your treasures in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there is where the desires of your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT )   “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” (Mark 8:34,35) The issue is not the blessings, but the issue is knowing why we are blessed. We must have an understanding that we are stewards of all that we have. The issue is not having treasures, but the issue is placing the priority of those treasures above the Treasure.   A good example of this truth is found in   Mark 10:17-27.   A rich young ruler came running to Jesus and asked Him how he could have eternal life? Jesus said for him to basically obey the ten commandments. The rich young ruler told Jesus he already did that. Then verse 21 says ,“Jesus loved him.”   Why would scripture point that out?   Because it is important to know that Jesus really loved this rich young man before he says to him, “There is one thing that you are lacking. Go sell all you have and give the money to the poor. Then you will have a treasure in Heaven. Come, take up your cross and follow Me.” So was Jesus angry because this young man was rich? No. He loved him enough to point out to him that all his riches were placed before his love for God.   Verse 24 says the young man trusted in his riches. It is truly sad that the young man walked away from Jesus grieved because he had a lot of possessions. The young man had won a lot at the game of monopoly and was in control. It was not his choice to put God first. Some would say that was a lot for Jesus to ask that he should sell all his stuff. Is it a lot compared to what Jesus has done for us? I personally believe that Jesus may have blessed the young man even more had he obeyed Jesus request. At the very least, the young man’s needs would have been provided and he would have received the eternal life he was asking about. Not because he sold everything and gave it to the poor, but because he gave his life to Jesus Christ and quit playing monopoly. Whether we have little or much in today’s worldly standards , we have everything we need when we have Christ. Let us serve Him and be good stewards of what He has given us. *1st Corinthians 4:2 , Colossians 3:17,23,27 , 1st Peter 4:10   *

PICTIONARY – I suppose we could say the first game of Pictionary took place in Daniel Chapter 5. King Belshazzar had taken the gold and silver utensils out of the Holy Place to use for his own benefit. While he and his family were using those utensils a mysterious hand had appeared and wrote words on the wall before them. The King turned pale white and lost his strength in fear of what this could mean. He looked for someone who could interpret this writing. And along came Daniel. The Lord interpreted the meaning of this writing through Daniel stating that what the King had done in removing the utensils from the Holy Place would lead to his demise. That is a sobering game of Pictionary, don’t you think? In the book of Daniel Chapter 5:12,14, it is said that Daniel had an excellent spirit and knowledge and understanding. He had the ability to clarify riddles and solve mysteries. He had the Holy Spirit in him to bring wisdom to issues others did not discern. We have available to us that same anointing. Many interpret Isaiah 55:8,9 to mean that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours and we cannot know them. Yes, His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, but He desires to reveal them to us.   Read      1st Corinthians 2:9-14. He loves revealing truth to his children. Much of the time the issue is not that God isn’t speaking, but we aren’t listening. When there is an uncertainty or confusion concerning what God is saying in your life, stop and listen. Link your spirit with Holy Spirit through worship, prayer and the word or maybe just sit and listen. If the picture still isn’t interpreted don’t be anxious. Just rest in Him and He will reveal what you need to know in His perfect timing. This portion of scripture teaches us that He will speak wisdom to us in every aspect of our life. I love it when He speaks to me whether it be through a vision or dream or through a simple thought going through my mind. Do not over spiritualize the fact that He speaks. When you lose your car keys, ask him where they are. From the simplest decisions to the major ones, give Him the opportunity to clarify the picture for you. Jesus often spoke in parables or pictures so that those who really wanted to know truth would seek it out. Those who didn’t care would walk away. When the picture isn’t clear, do not walk away, stay close to Him and the truth for your life will be revealed. *Psalm 25:19 , Isaiah 30:21 , Luke 1:79 , John 16:13 *

DON’T BREAK THE ICE – Have you ever felt like you were walking on thin ice? Maybe it was something you said or did and the consequences caused your steps to be slippery and your foundation to begin to crack ? Your afraid to make a move in any direction? You know just the simplest movement could send you plummeting into deep cold waters? David walked on thin ice many times in his life. His poor decisions placed him on unstable footing with man and God. He did nothing to Saul, but Saul became jealous and made attempts to take his life. Many times David was walking on thin ice dodging deadly spears. Other times David disobeyed God and found himself walking on the thin ice of his own making. David had a deep desire to serve God , but there were moments it seemed he experienced spiritual brain freeze. One of those moments included allowing his eyes to wander and fix upon a married woman. Rather than keep his feet on solid ground he chose to step onto the lake of sin that was frozen with thin ice. After committing adultery he then stepped out even further and arranged for her husband to be killed. (2nd Samuel Chapters 11 and 12) God then sent a prophet to David to reveal to him that he was walking on thin ice. David’s response was one of genuine repentance for his actions, yet there were still consequences for what he had done. The prophet told David that God would spare his life and not allow the thin ice to break , but the child conceived would not live. That seems like harsh consequences for David’s actions , but it was his acts of disobedience that placed him on the thin ice of these consequences. David eventually came to an understanding also that he would see the child one day when he would reach Heaven. The mercy of God is seen in forgiving David and placing him once again on solid ground. God’s grace is also seen as Solomon would later be born and be the successor to David’s throne. So how did David move from thin ice to solid ground? Acts 13:22 speaks God’s thoughts of David, “David is a man after My own heart.” David knew within himself that what he did was sin and he genuinely repented and turned from his wicked ways. His heart was fixed upon the love that God had for him even when he was on thin ice. And he loved God with all of his heart. David knew what true repentance was and he returned to God with an open and honest heart. When we find ourselves on thin ice , it is wise to be open and honest with God, to repent and return to Him, to accept the consequences God chooses and to serve Him once again with our whole heart. These are the steps that will prevent the thin ice from breaking and God’s mercy to place our feet on solid ground. * Psalm 40:2 , Matthew 7:24 , Hebrews 4:13-16 *

 

TRIVIAL PURSUIT –       The word trivial as applied to the board game would be defined as “little known historical facts.” Like crossword puzzles and other mind challenging activities, it is a good exercise to remember (or try to remember) facts from past history. I enjoy watching the game Jeopardy and find myself pleased if I can answer five questions right in an entire game.   (What is, ” you need to set your goals higher Pastor Wes?” ) Another definition of trivial is “unimportant” or “insignificant.”   Trivial Pursuit.   How often do we pursue the unimportant and insignificant things in life? We have access to knowledge and information today such has never been seen before. We can google a trivial question and have an answer in a matter of seconds. I am just not sure if that has helped us or harmed us. It doesn’t take as long to get answers, but are they answers that really matter to us?   “Look carefully how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as unwise and witless, but as wise, sensible, intelligent people. Making the very most of the time, buying up each opportunity, because the days are evil.   Therefore, do not be vague, thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”   (Ephesians 5:15-17 Amp.)   Time is too short and too valuable to waste on the trivial, meaningless issues of life.   Understand that this scripture is not saying that rest is unimportant. It is not saying recreation is not important. Rest and activity are both important. The scripture is saying to evaluate your life periodically to be sure you are not spending time on unimportant things.   Do not pursue the trivial. Don’t get stressed about things that do not matter.   Paul stated, “I do not run uncertainly without definite aim. I do not box like one beating the air.” (1st Corinthians 9:26)   Paul told Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness. (1st Timothy 6:11 )              The easiest way to fulfill that and prevent trivial pursuits is to pursue Christ.               * Matthew 6:33 Acts 17:27 *

TWISTER – People. Our lives are surrounded by people. Family. Friends. Co-workers. Co-students. Church goers. Acquaintances. Strangers, Enemies. Everywhere we go there are people. Stores. Work. School. The park. Gas station. Doctor’s office. Exercise facility. People. Everywhere. It is difficult today to find a place where we do not see or at least hear the sounds of people. I have hiked to the deepest parts of the woods and still heard the sound of voices in the distance. It is very rare to find a place on earth where there is not the sound of a jet engine over head. I am sure there are places that we could go to escape the sights and sounds of people. Some have built little shanties on the mountainside and lived off the land to attempt to be alone. Most of these were probably criminals running from the law. Some were just simply crying at the top of their voice, “Calgon take me away!” Whether we live in big cities or a rural area, we encounter people. Sometimes the encounters develope into a game of Twister. Your right hand is on red. Their left hand is on blue. Your left leg is on yellow and their right leg is on green. The next thing you know your life is entwined with someone else’s and it becomes a twisted conglomeration of confusion. It can be anyone at any time at any place. It can be someone you know or a complete stranger. So what do we do when our lives are twisted with the lives of others? The Word of God teaches us much about relationships. Jesus taught quite a few principles on relationships in our life. Let us look at one example in Luke 10:25-37. Read it. The certain lawyer in this story was trying to play Twister with Jesus. He was attempting to twist His teachings and cause Him to lose His balance. Let me just say that this lawyer was not very wise. Really? Playing Twister with Jesus?! With a spin of the arrow on the board he asked Jesus ,”What he had to do to have eternal life?” And with another spin he asks, “Who is my neighbor?”. The answers that Jesus gives to those questions far surpassed any wisdom this lawyer had gained from any earthly education. In several words the answer Jesus gave was to love God with your whole being and love people. Love God first and then you will find the love within you for those with whom you are playing Twister with. It will not work the other way around. Love God then you will love your neighbor. Love God then you will love your enemies. Jesus loved Judas. He loved those who nailed Him to the cross. What a divine game of Twister that was. Jesus was entangled with a group of confused , bitter, raging people, yet He allowed love to take Him through death to resurrection. It is that love that is within us to help us through our twisted messes , but it only happens as we love Him first, then His love will take us through the Twisters of life. * 1st Thessalonians 3:12 , Hebrews 13:2    1st Peter 1:22 *

CLUE –       “I don’t have a clue.” You ever said that? This board game gives facts, clues, to lead you to a conclusion to solve the crime committed in the game. There are a number of characters involved and a number of ways the crime could have taken place. Sometimes in the condition of our world today we wonder if we have a clue what is really taking place.   Our governments are financially in debt.   Our leaders are clueless. Immorality is running rampant. On and on and on. Anyone with any Biblical knowledge whatsoever can compare last day scripture with the newspapers of the world and clearly see that they read the same. Jesus spoke about it in   Matthew 24 and Luke21. The signs He said to look for are all around us. Yet there are some that don’t have a clue what is really going on. Some ignore the signs and the truth. Some think about it so much they get stressed. Some don’t want to talk about it. Some want to talk about it all the time. The believer should not live in fear but rest in the assurance that God is still on the throne. Nothing surprises Him. In Isaiah 40:28   Isaiah says, ”Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?   The Everlasting God, the Lord,   the Creator of the ends of the earth does not faint or grow weary?” Then Isaiah goes on to say,   “They that wait upon the Lord, they that expect, look for and hope in Him, shall renew their strength and power, they shall lift their wings and mount up close to God as eagles. They shall run and not be weary , they shall walk and not faint.” How is this possible in the midst of this last day turmoil? Because we have a clue. We know the end of the story. We are not clueless but we know He will keep and protect us. In the game of Clue the objective is to know who did what. We have the answer to that. The serpent caused sin to enter the world through Adam and Eve and his end is to be cast into the lake of fire forever. Then we will reign with Christ forever. The Bible is not silent when speaking of the end times. Yes, there are mysteries , but we need not fret concerning what we do not know. We stand fast in what we do know. We know that those who are His need not live in fear or denial, but we can live in peace and assurance that He will care for us now and forever. *Romans 8:35-37   , Revelations 3:21 , 21:7 *

 

OPERATION –         How many of us have felt we have been laying on the operating table of life like a little chubby man with a red nose and a giant unknown person is holding a pair of tweezers over us in an attempt to remove a body part? Oh the fear! The tweezers approach. There is a sudden jolt of electricity and a shrill buzz! The tweezers quickly retract only to appear again. There is no worse feeling than to be hopeless and helpless. Life is so difficult when we have lost all control. There are moments we feel our life is in the hands of a doctor, a lawyer, a supervisor or a banker. It may seem we are waiting for approval from someone and our future depends on a committee. During the ministry years of Jesus he had many helpless and hopeless people cross His path. Some could approach Him. Some could not and relied on whether he would come by them. The woman with the issue of blood had to press through the crowd. The paralyzed man had to hope Jesus would approach him. The centurion approached Jesus about his servant who could not move. The blind man had to depend on Jesus to get close enough so he could get his attention, but all were helpless and hopeless without Christ. The same truth prevails in our world today. Jesus Christ is hope. When you allow Him to be Lord of your life, you have hope. He is the assurance that will bring you off the operating table of life. He will heal your broken heart. He will mend your wrenched ankle. He will fill your bread basket and restore your funny bone. You will no longer be subject to quivering tweezers, but you will be whole in body, soul and spirit. Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that He came to seek and save the lost. That word save means” to heal, cure, preserve and keep safe and sound.” Take the whole saved package that Christ has provided, claim it for your life, rise up and walk. When you feel like you are laying on the operating table of life and you have lost all control , rest assured that if you have surrendered your life to the Lord , He will preserve and keep you. He is Faithful. (1st Thessalonians 5:23 ) * Psalm 18:35 , 121:4 , Genesis 28:15 , 1st Peter 1:3 *

CONNECT FOUR – This game is a fancy way of playing Tic- Tac- Toe except there must be four pieces in line, rather than three X’s to win the game. It is an age old strategy of attempting to determine your enemies next move. There has been much time spent in the lives of many people trying to determine the next move someone else will make. Many wars have been fought at a conference table before troops were dispatched. Many relationships have been undermined by strategies to make someone else look bad before they did it to them. It is a strategy of satan to make the believer look bad. One of his titles and strategies is to be the accuser of the brethren. We see that strategy toward Job as he accused him of only living a righteous life because God’s protection was upon him. So how do we combat this strategy the enemy uses against us? We are given principles in Revelation 12:10,11. We overcome the accuser of the brethren by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony and loving not our lives unto the death. We overcome him by proclaiming that Jesus has already provided our victory and surrendering ourselves completely to Him. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to reconnect us to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.       Me.   The Father.   The Son.   Holy Spirit.   The connect four has already taken place. We win. The accuser of the brethren has been defeated. Some try to reason in their mind how God can be three in one. It is not for us to reason it, but to believe it and to understand the blessing of that fact. Paul ended his second letter to the Corinthians with “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.” That is aconnect four above any other. The Father loves me. The grace of Jesus is upon me. And I have Holy Spirit called alongside me. Amen. So be it. I do not question it. I believe it. I am thankful for it. I enjoy my relationship with them. That , my friend, is a divine connect four.     *John 16:26 , 17:21-23             1st Peter 1:2 *

CANDYLAND – “Sweeeeeet !” A modern day expression indicating something we like very much. Who doesn’t like sweets ?! Oh how we like the “sweets” of life ! (In more ways than one.) There can be consequences though if we intake too many sweets. Our physical health will eventually pay the price and it seems it can happen spiritually as well. Let me explain. If everything in our life just fell into place and our life was perfect all of the time , it would eventually erode our dependence upon God. If we constantly ate sweets and never experienced the sours, well, you can surmise the results. So the sours of life are necessary. Those things that we taste in life that cause us to spiritually pucker up and bring tears to our eyes are pertinent to our spiritual growth. When life leaves a bad taste in our mouth it will determine the steadfastness of our faith. Thank God for the sweets, the favor, blessings, provision, love joy , peace , etc. etc. , but can we thank God for the sours, the tests, challenges, trials, etc. etc. ? Paul said he desired to know Christ “in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering. ” (Philippians 3:10) That would be in the sweets and in the sours. Both are found in the Candyland game of life. Both are necessary. Peter said, “Dear friends , don’t be surprised at the firey trials you are going through as if something strange were happening to you, instead be very glad, for those trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when He is revealed to all the world.” I suppose we could say the firey trials would also be those red hot fire ball candies that we taste at times in life. Even the game of Candyland may bring a sweat to our brow. My youngest son loves sour candy, especially the Sour Patch Kids. Sometimes , as children of the Heavenly Father , we may feel like His sour patch kids. But Peter says rejoice for it is the experience we have in sharing what Christ went through for us on the cross. Jesus experienced the sours of life so that we would enjoy the eternal sweets of everlasting life. I respectfully say, Heaven is going to be a sweet place to live. And once again, thank God for the sweet experiences in this life as well. Peter informs us in 1st Peter 5:10 that whether we taste the sweets or the sours, we are on a firm foundation with Christ. Taste and see that the Lord is good and know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. * Psalm 34:8 , 119:103 , Jeremiah 15:16 *
THE GAME OF LIFE –       All of these writings are an attempt to take a game that man has created and bring forth a spiritual truth from it, but in reality we should understand that life is not a game at all but reality. Reality has been the catch phrase in the last few years concerning television programs.   Producers have made an attempt to take situation comedies or sitcoms and add the influence of real life. Even the Christian influence has been included with Duck Dynasty.   Sometimes the reality shows give the appearance that life is a game. I suppose there are some people that live their life as such.

 

They roll the dice of psychology and move the number of spaces man says they should move. They spin the numbered dial of socialism and decide whether to enter into a relationship or not.     They pick a card from the stack of spiritualism and decide which God they should serve or none at all.   When life is lived as a game the goal is always for selfish gain and to please the player. The reality is life is not a game and every person who has ever lived will one day come to that realization when “every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord.”   Even the soldiers who whipped, spit upon and placed a crown of thorns upon Jesus played a game to see who would own His robe in mockery of His Kingship. They will even stand before Christ one day and know life was not a game. The kingdom life is not to be lived as a game.   It is not a game of odds or chance, but it is a real life lived for a real King who really gave His life for us and really loves us.   In Philippians 3:4-10   Paul gives his life’s resume’ and how easy it would be to live his life based on all his accomplishments. But his attitude was all his accomplishments were nothing compared to knowing Christ. He even went as far to say it was all dung or trash compared to the gain of winning or knowing Jesus. Paul was not saying, do not try to be all you can be in life, but he was saying, be all you can be to the glory of knowing Christ first and foremost. When you really know Him then Holy Spirit will guide you intimately in every space you move to next. It will never be a life of chance but always a life of confidence and assurance.   If you have a decision before you, do not roll the dice, spin the wheel or pick a card, go to the Guide, pray to the One who sent the Guide to you and listen. The reality of kingdom living is we win.   * John 14:15-18 , 15:26 , 16:7-15 *

 

Well, you made it through this series of writings and thoughts on “The Games of Life”. The great thing about a devotional such as this is that you can go through it again and again and again in the future and the Holy Spirit will still have you glean different truths then you received before. I encourage you to keep this devotional in a file that is easily accessible and allow Holy Spirit to continually assist you in “working out your own salvation in fear and trembling.” Thank you for walking this journey of life with me. Let us continue on together expecting great things.     Pastor Wes

 

 

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