Tag Archives: temptation

May 28; The Right To Resist

Proverbs 5-7

Yesterday we remembered the sacrifices so many men and women have made to insure the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States. Our freedom is a privilege bought at a great price. But those freedoms are a blessing – and a curse.

Because the freedom of free speech has turned into an entertainment industry of violence and depravity, a news and social media full of lies and hate. The freedom to pursue happiness has resulted in aborted babies, mutilated bodies, and an unprecedented demand for individual rights at the expense of the rights of the majority. The abuse of our rights and freedoms have rendered us slaves.

It didn’t happen overnight. Solomon warns us that the “adulteress,” (sin), entices, woos, comes innocently enough until she leads her victims down to the chamber of death. Her victims go like deer stepping into a noose.

Does one drink cause an alcoholic? Does one look at pornography cause an addiction, or rapists and child molesters? Does one glance cause an affair?

No. But hear Solomon’s warning. One leads to two, to three until the “adulteress” has you in her clasp. What starts as innocent curiosity, winds up enslaving her victim in sin.

I’m glad I live in the Unites States of America. I’m thankful for the freedoms that are ours at the costly price of the lives of men and women who wore the uniform of our armed forces. I’m sorry we’ve abused the rights their injuries and deaths insured. And I pray that Christians will heed Solomon’s warning, recognize the temptation to misuse our freedom, and be the people God intended us to be. May we see the “adulteress” for what she is, Satan, the enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy us.

And may we exercise our right to resist her.

April 14; All That

I Chronicles 9:35-44, 5:7-10, 18-22; I Samuel 15-16

Do you remember where Saul was the day Samuel came to anoint him King of Israel? They found him hiding behind some crates. Doesn’t exactly exude confidence, does it? But that reluctant king was blessed by God, and became a mighty warrior, a leader who inspired loyalty. Under his leadership, Israel enjoyed many victories in battle, and Saul’s army was feared among the nations.

Saul didn’t remain a reluctant hero. The change that came over him is noteworthy. He was no longer a trembling young man hiding from responsibility. He was king! In fact, he was so pleased with himself as king, “he built a monument in his own honor.” You can’t make this stuff up.

But Saul’s monument was just a symptom of what was really wrong. Saul had begun to believe he was “all that.” He thought he could skirt around God’s demands, and God would be ok with it. After all, he was King Saul. And everybody loved him.

Did Saul believe Satan’s original lie in the garden when the serpent said, “You will be like God?” Could Saul really have put himself on equal footing with God? It would appear so. And we will read how that turns out for Saul.

Let this be a warning to all of us. Sometimes our times of great blessing also brings the times of greatest temptation. Sometimes when we are “blessed” by God we might expect blessings, think we deserve blessings, flaunt our blessings. The temptation is there to think we don’t need God when things are going well. And maybe we begin to believe that we are “all that,” too, when people remind us how awesome our lives are, and how great we are.

Dear one, we need God in every and all situations. We need to obey God, humble ourselves before God, empty ourselves of our selves. The truth of the matter is, no matter how rosy your life is right now, you aren’t – none of us are – “all that.”

But God is.

2 Chronicles 11-13; Not Blessed

There is a repeated theme in Scripture: Obey God and be blessed. Disobey God and He will remove His blessing.

Rehoboam’s life demonstrates this truth. He and the Jews over which he ruled enjoyed three years of peace and prosperity when they were following God.

But I can almost hear you. “I am a Chrstian. I live for God. I pray. Yet I struggle. Where’s my blessing?”

I’m going to say something you might not want to hear, something you probably already know: God never promised we wouldn’t struggle. In fact, He told us to expect hardship. They hated Him. They persecuted Him. And Jesus said we can expect the same.

Remember our enemy is not flesh and blood. It’s not the landlord who is threatening eviction because you don’t have rent money. It’s not the thug who sells drugs to your daughter, or the boss who refuses to give you the promotion you deserve. Our enemy is Satan who delights in making us miserable.

Satan loves to get our eyes off Jesus, and focused on that person who hurt us, or that difficult situation we are facing. He loves to hear us questioning God, or considering chucking it all and living like the world when the world seems to have it all.

When we read things like Rehoboam’s story we might be tempted to believe a right relationship with God equals easy living. It worked for Rehoboam. Why not me?

Because God wants to give you more than just temporary comfort. What comes out of a right relationship with God? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

You can’t buy that stuff.

When you have that precious relationship with God, you have encouragement like what we find in Romans 8:31: If God is for us, who can be against us?

What about Hebrews 13:5? Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:19, But my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory.

The Bible is filled with promises like these for those of us who have confessed our sin, and accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. However, you might be tempted to say, “It’s easy for you to say, Connie. You had money to pay the bills this month.” And I did.

I know many of you are going through unspeakable hardships. Health issues. Money problems. Family heartache. Persecution. And more. I will not promise you that a right relationship with God will erase the troubles in your life.

But I am suggesting that, even in the midst of the darkest days, you are blessed if you know Jesus. Don’t miss it. Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy, or your peace, or your confidence in the One who loves you and gave Himself for you. Don’t let Satan blind you from seeing the ways in which God, who does all things well, is working in your life and is standing with you in your troubles.

And I believe that God will open doors that can bring about a solution to your problem, maybe even perform a miracle on your behalf. You might get an unexpected check in the mail.

Or not. Obedience is not the ticket to getting what you want. It is the ticket to getting what God wants for us.

God delights in blessing us. But He can’t if we hold on to sin. Whether it’s during the days of Rehoboam or today in 2017, obedience = blessed. Disobedience = not blessed.

May we confess our sins, and be blessed.

 

 

II Samuel 2-3; A Fool Died Today

There was a bitter history between Joab and Abner. After all, Abner had killed Joab’s little brother.  Now Abner was in Hebron, a city of refuge, and Joab couldn’t touch him.

So Joab goes to Abner and whispers in his ear, “Step into the gateway where we can talk privately. I have something to tell you.”

Now picture this: The man guilty of murder leans into his victim’s Avenger of Blood (the only person with a right to kill him in retaliation) to hear him whisper, “Step outside the safety of these walls just for a second.”

AND HE DOES!

I’m sure you know what happens. Abner dies.

David mourned Abner’s death. But he also recognized it as a needless death. Listen to what the King says at the funeral:

Should Abner have died as the lawless die? Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered. You fell as one falls before wicked men. (3:33)

In other words, No one made you go outside these walls, Abner. You made a ridiculous choice. A fool died today.

Friend, if you have confessed your sin and asked God to forgive you, you are safe from the evil Satan would love to pierce you with. But hear the warning:

Satan will no doubt come to you and whisper in your ear, “Come with me. Just for a second.” He’ll put temptation out there, and you’ll find yourself thinking, “What can it hurt?”

Understand that when you step away from God, Satan has the advantage. And sometimes all he needs is a second. Don’t be a fool. Don’t think Satan can’t get to you. Guard your heart and mind. Cling to the Savior. Do not step away because Satan is like a lion, prowling around, waiting to devour you.

When I finally meet Jesus face to face, I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I certainly don’t want to hear the words, “A fool died today.”

Numbers 34-36; Don’t Do It!

Cities of Refuge interest me. They were cities in walking distance from anywhere in the Promised Land, assigned as safe havens for those accused of murder, if the death was a result of an accident. The dead person’s kinsmen’s avenger, determined to kill the killer, could not exact revenge while the guilty party was inside the walls of a City of Refuge.

But, should the accused step outside the city, the avenger of blood could take that ultimate “eye for an eye,” with no repercussions. I imagine the avenger camped outside the gate of the city, waiting, watching, hoping the accused will let his guard down and take just one step away from the city of refuge.

If you’ve been with me very long on this blogging journey of mine, you know that I am always looking for spiritual truths, and pictures of Jesus on the pages of this dear book we know as the Bible. It’s thrills me to see how God has woven Himself into every story, every verse. And He is certainly visible in the chapters I read today.

I am guilty. Like the accused murder I’ve just talked about, I have blown it. I deserve a death penalty. But I have found refuge in my Savior, Jesus. Not because I am not guilty, but because He forgave me. He paid my death sentence, shedding His blood on Calvary, dying and living again. I am safe in His Presence. He is my City of Refuge.

Because there is someone out there who wants me dead. Satan is camped outside the gate, waiting for me to step away.

When I think about the accused person hiding out in the City of Refuge, it occurs to me that person had to leave everything, and everyone behind in order to find safety. His home, family, career, savings account, lifestyle, friends, everything that was familiar to him, left behind. And I imagine, after time, the temptation would be there to go back just for a second, to see his old stomping grounds, to experience the fun of the past, to collect some keepsakes, to say “Hi” to the old gang.

And we, as a people saved by grace, might find the pull of our past lives tempting as well. The parties, the friendships, even unhealthy relationships, or the power or income or prestige that came with a compromised life, might draw us back.

Don’t Do It!

Satan would love nothing more than to pounce on us as soon as we let our guard down. Scripture tells us to guard our hearts for a reason. Paul tells us to put on the Armor of God, to study, to pray without ceasing. Remember Jesus said if we love anyone or anything more than Him, we aren’t worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37). God promises if we draw near to Him, He will come near to us.

I don’t want to take a step toward the gate that leads outside my City of Refuge, by entertaining thoughts about ungodly things, by watching things on TV that numb me to the ugliness of sin, by aligning myself to people who compromise the truth of Scripture in any way.

Jesus is my City of Refuge. May I be found living, loving, and serving under His umbrella.

And that’s my prayer for you, too.

December 8 – Let’s Be Honest

Romans 4-7

Paul is talking about sin in these chapters and, somehow, the more he talks the more questions I had. On one hand, he teaches that we who are united with Christ are no longer slaves to sin, we are freed from sin, and sin cannot master us. Instead we become slaves to righteousness.

On the other hand, he confesses that he is “not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (7:15) He tells us sin actually dwells in him “for the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (7:19)

Then he goes so far as to say this war within him between good and evil is making him a “prisoner of the law of sin.” So which is it, Paul? A slave to sin or a slave to righteousness?

Yes.

Thank you for making that clear, Paul. I mean that sincerely.

Sometimes we Christians believe that as those redeemed by the blood, we cannot sin. Then we do. So we beat ourselves up, or give up.

Sometimes we Christians find it hard to share our struggles and failures, our sins, with others because somehow we think other Christians are doing it right. I certainly don’t want them to think I’m the only one who isn’t.

I’m so glad Paul was honest. God’s gift of grace does not come with a bubble we live in where Satan’s arrows can’t penetrate. We are at war. And Satan is a powerful enemy. He knows exactly which temptations to throw my way, when to throw them, and how often. He’s never one and done.

And sometimes I am as weak as Paul was. I end up doing the thing I hate. And, if left unconfessed, I can become a slave to that sin.

But I can also have victory! God promises that. And I’ve experienced it over and over. There is forgiveness when we ask. There is strength when we walk close to our Lord. There is power over sin through the precious blood of Jesus.

Let’s be honest. Christians sin. The difference between us and the unredeemed is what we do with that sin. My prayer is that we all, including me, will be quick to confess, repent, and flee from the temptation. We don’t have to let that sin continue to the point where it controls us.

And may I suggest that we learn to be as honest as Paul was concerning his struggles. Someone might identify with your testimony, and be encouraged to claim their own victory over a sin in their life. May we be sensitive to God’s prompting to share with just the right people at just the right time.

I’m thinking if we are honest, we can help each other. I know Paul helped me today with his honesty.

October 5 -Temptation Isn’t Fun

Matthew 4; Luke 4-5; John 1:15-51

When Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, He wasn’t on vacation. He was out there with no food, being jerked around by Satan. Matthew and Luke share three of those temptations. Many have said they represent three things God hates: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (I John) I can see the correlation.

But today, I’m wondering how Jesus’ time in the wilderness effects me. Here are my thoughts:

Forty days is a long time to be exposed to the elements without food. We aren’t sure what those forty days were like for Jesus, but I have a suspicion Satan didn’t wait until day 37 to hit Jesus with the first of only three temptations. I think Satan probably hit Jesus with everything in his arsenal the moment he realize he could. Think of it. Forty days with unrelenting attacks on your soul. And I think Satan’s hard on me.

And, I imagine, as Jesus’ physical body became weaker, Satan’s attacks intensified. Because that’s how he is with me. If my body is weary, if my heart is heavy, Satan throws me a bone. “Compromise,” he says. “Things will get better.” And I am tempted.

Satan knew Jesus was here to win kingdoms for Himself. He knew the Lord had a job to do. So Satan told Jesus, “Here is a shortcut. Bow down to me just this once and I can get you what You’re after without having to go through all the grief.” Satan knows I have a job to do, too. I am commanded to share the Gospel. Now I don’t hear Satan asking me to worship him in those words, but I certainly hear him telling me to back off a bit, tolerate other viewpoints, let a person believe what he wants to believe. I hear that voice in my head almost every day. Tempting.

Then there are those times of doubt. I am not suggesting Jesus ever doubted His Father. I think at this point, as weak as He probably was, He might have been viewing Satan like a yappy little puppy nipping at His heels. He probably wanted to kick him to the curb. But Jesus endured this ridiculous attempt by Satan to get Him to sin, because He knew Satan wasn’t going to give up on me easily, either. Satan said, “You’ve got all those angels at your disposal, prove it.” And to me He says, “You claim to have God with you, why are you suffering?” And, “Go ahead and sin a bit, you’re forgiven, right? What’s the big deal?” I begin to consider giving in to the temptation.

Jesus’ time in the wilderness with Satan wasn’t to prepare Him for ministry. He did that for me. He wanted me to know that He gets me. He wants me to come to Him when I am tempted and weak, and know that He’s been there, too. Jesus’ time in the wilderness wasn’t about Him at all. It was about me because He loves me that much. He did this so I can know Hebrews 4:15 is true:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.

And I Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has seized you expect what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Jesus was tempted. But He won. And He’s willing and able to give me the victory, too.

Thank You, Jesus.