Tag Archives: temptation

December 5; Delivered

Romans 5:1-8:17

Can a Christian sin? Paul certainly sounds like he struggled with sin. I John 1:8 tells us we deceive ourselves if we say we don’t sin. Galatians 5:17 says there is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. Plus, I don’t have to look farther than my nose to know Christians can sin.

But believers in Christ have something non-believers don’t have. We have victory. We have the Holy Spirit right there inside us, eager to help us resist temptation. We have the very power of God to fight our enemy, and the grace of God who forgives us when we ask.

“What a wretched man I am!” Paul exclaimed. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (from 8:24)

The sin of a Christian is no less serious than the sin of an atheist. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death. Your sin. And mine.

The answer to Paul’s question, “who will deliver me,” is found in verse 25:

Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God will deliver you, too, if you ask. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He is faithful and just to forgive us all when we confess our sin. Thanks be to God!

 

December 3; Struggles and Saints

2 Corinthians 11:16-13:14; Romans 1

Sometimes I think we look at people like the late Billy Graham, or Ravi Zacharias, or Charles Stanley and believe they are super-Christians, immune to Satan’s attacks. We see them as godly, put-together, strong men in the Lord, and we forget they are (or were) as human as we.

Paul listed, rather embarrassingly, his achievements and the many ways God demonstrated His Presence in Paul’s life over the years. A person could look at that and think, “Wow! Paul is really special!”

Including Paul, evidently. The apostle admitted he struggled with pride, so God allowed Paul to carry a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. Paul freely talked about his weaknesses. He was human.

But I love that Paul used even his failures and struggles to learn something about God. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” he heard God say. (12:9)

Then in verse 10:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s strength wasn’t within himself. Paul’s strength was from God. And Paul learned that truth through the struggles.

Even saints struggle. That’s why we need to keep praying for each other. Have you prayed for your pastor today? He struggles. Have you prayed for your Sunday School teacher? What about the music minister, the nursery worker, the sweet elderly lady who makes the best banana pudding in the world?

A person can stand before thousands and preach the Word of God with power, and still struggle. A person can sit quietly in a pew week after week, smile and shake your hand, while battling Satan in her heart.

Let’s determine to pray for each other, even if the outside appearance is put together. If you struggle, so do they. That’s why today, I have prayed that God will do a work in the hearts and lives of any who read this post, especially those of us who are struggling.

Dear God, I pray that You will wrap Your arms around your people today and give strength to those of us who are struggling. I pray for victory over Satan’s attacks, joy over sorrow, wisdom over foolishness. And I pray that because of whatever it is we are going through, our relationship with You will grow sweeter and stronger. Thank you for your Presence, and your strength for struggling saints,

 

 

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.