2019-04-22….Monday….Will to Resist

2019-04-22….Monday….Will to Resist

Many people waver when it comes to resisting temptations. They aren’t quite sure they want to resist temptations—at least not all temptations, all the time, and in all circumstances. Many people want to be able to pick and choose the sin they fall into, generally because they think they can quickly erase any damage caused by that sin. They are wrong on two accounts.

In the first place, they can’t select the sin they want to commit. In the second place, they don’t have the authority to erase the consequences or damage caused by the sin.

This is going to be a great week for us as we learn to “Respond to Temptation”

I think it is human nature to classify some sins as more objectionable to other sins. Why does it seem like human nature to classify some sins as more objectionable than other sins…well the Bible teaches that some sins are worse than other sins. It doesn’t create list of order or give a ranking it simple says the “wages of sin are death.” That means regardless of the sin. We aren’t going to get into rewards in Heaven etc today. I will lead you to a scripture John 19:11 and let you go searching. The words are in red and Jesus says “has the greater sin.” From there your search will take you many places. Sin comes from temptation.

Remember last week we had toehold, foothold, stronghold? Temptations from the devil come at us like fiery darts everyday trying to get that “toehold” in our life. Once they get that hold we must realize at that point we have a temptation to overcome. The power to resist temptations comes only as we make a decision to accept Jesus as Savior and make a firm commitment to follow Him as the Lord every day of our lives. The commitment is renewable day-by-day-by-day. I think many of us reading this today will say we’re saved. But please notice my statement above had an “and” in it. Saved and make a firm commitment.

To make a commitment to Christ is to do what Jesus commanded us to do and to pursue with the whole heart, mind, and soul, the pure, wholesome, godly, and holy life He lived. Jesus gave all of Himself to us, and in return, Jesus requires all of us. That’s what it means to take up our cross daily and follow Him, to truly “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” of being a Christian.

Included in our total commitment to Christ are a total desire and a commitment not to sin. Our pursuit is for righteousness—the things that are pleasing to God. Our desire is to reject sin and to turn from evil whenever it appears in our path.

Those with a wavering commitment to Jesus as Lord repeatedly give in to temptations because they don’t have a firm resolve not to sin.

Does this mean Christians live sin-free lives? No. We continue to live in fleshly bodies. We have hearts that need to be healed by a growing relationship with the Lord. We will sin from time to time, but our desire as genuine Christians must be to follow the Lord closely so we don’t sin, and if we do sin, we immediately recognize that sin, confess it, receive forgiveness for it, and move forward with an even stronger determination not to sin.

It is going to be an exciting week.  Prayers….

2019-04-21….Morning Coffee

2019-04-21….Morning Coffee

I thought several times this week I would take us on a walk from the last supper to the cross for today.  There is just too much information for our allotted time in class.  “The Walk” would be a great series for us to experience as a class and maybe we will get a head start next year moving into Easter and take several Sundays leading up to Easter Sunday.

We will continue on in our Spiritual Battle series today.   Our topic for today is “Responding to Temptation”
Many people waver when it comes to resisting temptations. They aren’t quite sure they want to resist temptations—at least not all temptations, all the time, and in all circumstances. Many people want to be able to pick and choose the sin they fall into, generally because they think they can quickly erase any damage caused by that sin. They are wrong on two accounts.
Our scriptures for today
James 1:13-15
1 Cor 10:12
Matt 4:1-13 (Jesus temptation)
Gen 39:6-20
Questions
1.  How does calling on God to help us resist temptation help strengthen our faith?
2.  How can you get rid of that excuse and take responsibility for the sin in your life?
3.  In your own words define temptation…
4.   Is there someone in your life whom the devil is using to repeatedly or constantly tempt you? Is getting away from that person the appropriate response? Why or why not?

2019-04-20….Saturday….Gospel of

2019-04-20….Saturday….Gospel of

I am a liar. Wow shocker eh? Good opener….I am as  I lie to myself every day.   I say things like: It’s alright, you can fix it, I am resentful, constantly deceiving myself when I know without a doubt the Good News means I can stop lying to myself. Should I change the plurality of the reflection to “we” at this moment. Are you a liar too? Yes lets change it to we…. The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception. It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us. As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me. When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual coat and tie to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.

Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our need, a joy in total dependence.

As the gospel of grace lays hold of us, something is radically right. We are living in truth and reality. When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games.

A philosopher would say I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for the world.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. There is this shadow in my life I can see it, my senses are keenly aware of its presence all the time. This shadow starts small and as the day produces the world in its fullness. As my armor starts taking the blows of the fiery darts, my shadow grows. There are days it simply engulfs. There are mornings it waits at the door, roaring like a lion, its waiting for me to step out into the world.

As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. I love my Pastor as he obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. He teaches this gospel of grace and proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. It is the Gospel of Grace which we should live our lives. It wouldn’t surprise me if he started a message by standing on the stage and saying….”I am a liar.”

The world will teach you that there is much we may have earned—our degree, our salary, our home and garden, a diesel truck, and a good night’s sleep—all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life “of prayer.

Even our fidelity is a gift. “If we but turn to God,” said St. Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.” My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.

Today I need to ask for forgiveness. God will forgive. Then I need to go act on His unfailing love for me and the position in which he has placed me. It is but by the Grace of God Himself my wife is still with me, my daughter loves me, I have a mission field called work, people in my life watching over me…this list could go on forever. Acceptance of Grace: it means saying thank you, changing, loving more, it means beating back the shadow.

I hope you have a great day. I am thankful our lives touch.

2019-04-19….Friday….CMD

2019-04-19….Friday….CMD

I am reading this article on fiery darts and it brought back an old college term my income tax professor Mr. Osborne would often say. You are having a CMD moment. When the devil’s arrows come our way, we have a CMD—a critical moment of decision. In that moment we have the greatest power to accept a thought or let it go right on by. I think back to the beginning of time and in Genesis the devil approached Eve and asked, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

The moment that the devil’s question hit Eve’s mind, she had her CMD—her critical moment of decision. She should have said right then, “Yes, that’s what God said.” She never should have allowed the devil to get beyond that first comment. Instead, Eve entered into a conversation with the devil and tried to justify what God said. In the process, she misquoted God to the devil (Gen. 3:2-3). Eve also failed to identify that the forbidden tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She simply identified it as the tree in the center of the Garden. She looked at the tree’s position, not its quality or nature. So often we fail when we get our eyes on a person’s position or on the position we would like to have rather than look at the person’s character or the nature of the job associated with the title.

God did not say to Adam, “You can’t eat of the tree because it’s at the center of the garden.” God said, “You are not to eat of the tree because it is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God did not want Adam and Eve to know evil. He wanted them to know only what was good. Therefore, He was seeking to protect them, not deprive them.

God’s commandments are intended to protect us.

Too many people in our world today say, “You need to have certain experiences so you won’t be naïve … you won’t be innocent … you won’t be gullible. You want to be sophisticated and savvy, don’t you? You need to try this, have this, own this, or experience this if you’re going to be knowledgeable and fit in to this society and culture.”

What a lie that is! There’s no sin in being naïve, innocent, or gullible. There’s no glory in being sophisticated or savvy. The exact opposite is true. God calls us to be innocent. He calls us to live in purity. He calls us to have no association with or knowledge of evil. He calls us to be separate from a sinful society and culture, and to avoid walking on a broad road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13).

The devil responded to Eve by saying, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5). What flaming arrow is being hurled? Another arrow of doubt—this time not only about what God said, but also about the goodness of God. The devil introduced to Eve the concept that God was holding out on her, He was denying her something that was good for her, and He was keeping her from achieving her full potential as a human being.

Eve missed a second CMD. She should have said, “That’s a lie. God said we will die, and God tells the truth all the time.” Instead, Eve kept listening. The devil said, “God is withholding from you something you would benefit from having!”

A toehold moved rapidly to becoming a foothold!

Then the devil sent another rapid-fire round of flaming missiles. He called attention to the beauty of the tree and its fruit. He pointed to the “goodness” of the fruit as food. He underscored the value of being wise. He played to Eve’s sense of beauty and her high regard for wisdom. He appealed to her desire to be like God in every way she could be. The Bible says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen. 3:6). A foothold became a stronghold…. and the destruction was swift.

It continuous today. Temptation will always be in our lives. The spiritual Battle rages on…

We will have one more week in this series “Spiritual Battles” but for tomorrow.

We have the never ending reflection of Grace….my favorite day.

2019-04-18….Thursday…Submission

2019-04-18….Thursday…Submission

Thanks for the emails yesterday..I thought I had pressed sent..The reflection got there late yesterday.  Sorry but I am getting older you know. 🙂  Today is starting off rough.   The storms are terrible so be careful out there today.   On with our reflection.

Reread what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”

Note the “arguments” and “every high thing.” My commentary says:

Arguments” refer to speculations—false doctrines and false beliefs that sound like truth, but are not. They are what-if rationalizations and justifications—the thoughts that cause us to call into question whether God has said something, whether God has really forbidden something, or whether God really meant what He said. Arguments are rooted in debate, doubt, division, and deception.

“Every high thing” refers to lofty philosophies that sound wonderful, but are not productive or effective in building a person’s relationship with God. We have “every high thing” at work in us if we believe our ideas and beliefs supersede the commands of God.

Paul further wrote we are to bring every thought “into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” We are to control our thoughts rather than have our thoughts control us. It’s up to each one of us to take captive and cast out any speculation, rationalization, justification, idea, or philosophical notion that is contrary to God’s Word and God’s will.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, his imagination is just running away with him,” or “She got carried away by that notion”? These sayings refer to a person’s thoughts having control over the person instead of the person having control over his or her thoughts.

Can thoughts and daydreams do that? Absolutely. A person can get so caught up in what he fantasizes, becomes enamored by, or dreams up that he makes foolish decisions and choices, wastes incredible amounts of time and resources, and fails to do anything of eternal benefit to himself or others.

When a person is trapped by an idea, we often say he is “obsessed” with the idea. He is no longer free to make rational, sound, objective decisions. He is no longer free to think the thoughts of God. Obsessions are not only dangerous to a person’s mental health—they are dangerous to a person’s spiritual health. The vast majority of obsessions are not godly. Obsessions very often lead to activities, relationships, and substances that are not according to God’s principles or commandments.

You cannot keep the devil from launching fiery ideas, beliefs, desires, and temptations at you. But you can clothe yourself with the full identity of Christ Jesus and arm yourself with faith, hope, and God’s Word to thwart the devil’s temptations. You can keep tempting thoughts from lodging in your mind. You can keep from acting on a temptation or entering into sin.

The challenge of God’s Word is that you are to take control of your thoughts and bring them into captivity—to subject them to obedience, bring them in line with what God’s Word teaches.

Jesus answer in the great temptation…For it is Written….

2019-04-17….Wednesday….Toeholds, Footholds, and Strongholds

2019-04-17….Wednesday….Toeholds, Footholds, and Strongholds

The apostle Paul wrote,

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. 10:3-6)

Habitual patterns of thinking become strongholds in our minds. They are related to our weaknesses. If Satan is capable of deceiving, manipulating, and seducing you to yield to temptation in one area of your life, he’s going to come back again and again to that area. The more he successfully tempts you in that area, the weaker it becomes. This becomes a spiritual stronghold for him! What is weakness in you is a strong place for him in your life.

Initially the area may be just a toehold for the devil, but as you yield to temptation in that area, it becomes a foothold for him. Continue to yield, and it becomes a stronghold, a calloused, hardened area of your life where the devil gains a strong hold on you!

A stronghold is a darkness in your thinking, a recurring, compulsive thought pattern. The devil often follows this pattern: • You can have this. • You should have this. • You must have this. • Something’s wrong with you if you don’t do your utmost to have this. • Here’s how you can have this. • Now, go get this.

Naturally, every human power and weapon available should be developed and used to the fullest extent possible. The human body and the world are said to be the temple of the Lord, two of the places where He dwells. But the believer knows that there is nothing in the world that can conquer the spiritual forces that lie behind the evil and death of this world. Therefore, he fights the spiritual battles of this life with spiritual weapons, weapons that are of God and are made mighty and powerful by God.

Note that the believer uses spiritual weapons to “pull down strongholds.” The evils of this world are deeply entrenched and fortified. This is clearly seen in the daily newscasts and behavior of people day by day. Evil and its inevitable consequence of destruction and death can never be permanently overcome by carnal weapons. Only the spiritual weapons of God can permanently conquer evil.

2019-04-16….Tuesday….Mind game

2019-04-16….Tuesday….Mind game

First, the devil sends a thought. When that happens, we have a choice—to reject that thought immediately or to entertain it. If we reject it, the devil may send another thought—very quickly or sometime later. At times, the thoughts can come into our minds with such a rush we will feel as if a hundred flaming arrows have been launched against us. We can feel bombarded.

The devil hits us with impressions, perceptions, and ideas—one after another, all aimed at a physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual need. It may be television commercials, radio commercials, billboards, signs, visuals of people who remind us of people we know, and on and on. We can become “thirsty” emotionally and psychologically for everything from alcohol to sweets to nicotine to sex to a new car. The thirst at times can seem insatiable, nagging, insistent, interminable.

The more you entertain a thought aimed at a need you feel, the more that thought looms in your mind until it crowds out all other thought. If you entertain thoughts repeatedly, they take root in you and become normal to you. You develop a particular pattern or habit in your thinking. Habitual ideas can become ingrained to the point that a major blast of God’s power is required to remove the idea from your mind or alter your habitual pattern of thinking.

The initial thoughts the devil sends to us may be just a “toehold” the first time we entertain them. The longer we entertain the thoughts, however, the more likely we are to start making mental plans about how we might act on them. It is then the toehold becomes a “foothold.” The more we develop plans for acting on a sinful idea or temptation, the more the foothold becomes a “stronghold.” We come to feel compelled to try out the idea in our behavior. We have fantasized something for so long we come to want to act on that idea more than we want to banish the idea.

The question that faces us all is when does it become a sin. James 1:14-15 teaches us a great lesson. 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. The hard part is training yourself there is a temptation, the hard part is keeping taking the thought and not letting it become a hold on our life. Tomorrow we will discuss those holds but keep in mind that our sin starts with our eyes. The first training ground is making sure our eyes always look in the right direction.

There is lust and enticement. Every man—there are no exceptions—is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed. The word “lust” means to crave either good or evil. There are good desires and bad desires.

The picture is this: man has good desires, natural and normal desires. Therefore, when he begins to think about or look at something, he very naturally desires it. His desire is normal behavior. The problem arises when the thing is forbidden or is harmful. If he looks at and thinks about the forbidden or harmful thing, he begins to lust and to be enticed or lured to go after it. This is the very beginning stage of temptation. Man takes his desire and focuses it upon the forbidden or harmful thing. He begins to pay attention to what he should not look at; he begins to think about the things of the flesh and of the world. Thereby he is tempted and drawn away by his own lusts and enticements.
There is the conception of lust and the birth of sin. The above point, point one, is what is called the conception of lust. It is a picture of birth. When a person actually begins to look at and think about the forbidden thing, desire and lust are conceived in his mind. He pictures the pleasure of the desire; that is, sin is actually born. Picturing—looking at or thinking about the desire—is sin. This is exactly what Christ Himself said:

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Your mind is a training ground. It is a daily awareness that brings peace and quality of life