Thursday, December 6, 2018

Fighting Off Temptation

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
            It seems a lot of things in our world operate on my southern heritage used to call the ‘good ole boy system.’ Or maybe you have heard it like this, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” I think many times that is true when you are trying to accomplish something here on earth, but the system breaks down and falls short when you are fighting temptation. Being in a proper relationship with God is of the utmost importance. But when temptation comes along, it is crucial to know God’s Word.
            In Matthew 4, we have a record of Jesus being led into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. Each time the devil tempted Him He answered with Scripture from Deuteronomy. He used Scripture to refute the devil’s lies. He didn't negotiate with Satan. He didn't try to rationalize about the things He was being with. He simply countered the devil’s lies with God’s truth.
            When we are being tempted, and that happens often, it is vital that we use the same method that Jesus used. Too often, we try to justify the temptation, or we try to resist the devil with our own power and strength. But, honestly, we are no match for Satan in our flesh. However, when we have studied, memorized, and meditated upon God’s Word, we are able to readily use God’s truth to resist the temptation. David put it this way in one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 119:11, “11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
            We need to be in God’s Word every day. We need to meditate on it and memorize it. So when we are tempted, we can quickly respond with it. It worked for our Savior, and it will work for us too!! Have a blessed week and go be a blessing to someone who really needs it!!

Where is your Focus?

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)
            It seems like every time I turn around I am seeing another report or study documenting the fact that we are worrying ourselves to death. Our society is leaning more heavily each day on the use of drugs to deal with worry and depression. It seems like too many people are on “something” to deal with the anxieties of life. Let’s face it, our culture keeps turning up the pressure to perform and conform. It may be work, finances, kids, marriage, parents, health, emotional problems, or any of a host of other issues that we are dealing with. Everyone seems to have something happening in their lives that no one else seems to understand.
            Are you dealing with something in your life about which you might say, “Not even God can do something about it?” Maybe you would not actually say that out loud, but your actions are giving you away. We have let the world minimize the power of God and blow our circumstances way out of proportion. This is not the way that God meant for us to live. We have let the world convince us that there is a ceiling or a cap on what God can do. It is as if we think He has a power limit that He cannot go beyond. Our Scripture today says that God gave special attention to the birds of the air and to the flowers of the field. Surely He can deal with the situations faced by the ones He created in His own image. We are the ones for whom He made this world.
            Worry is about where you are placing your focus. Are you putting it on the plan that God has for your life or on the things of this world? When you put Him first, your anxiety will lessen drastically. The Lord can handle anything that you will face on any given day. You are the manager of what He has given you. He will always make the right decision. Put your trust in Him. God bless you this week! And go be a blessing to someone around you!!

The Terms of Our Agreement

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16)
            We often refer to the poser of the above question as the “rich, young ruler.” And it is true—he was all of those things. Though, still young, he had already established himself as a leader within the Jewish community. It is also true that he was quite wealthy. In addition to, or even in spite of those two things, he was also a morally upstanding man, having kept God’s commandments from his early youth. His desire to learn more about spiritual matters drove him to run to Jesus, bow at His feet, and ask the most significant question a person can ask, “How can I obtain eternal life?”
            The Lord’s showed compassion on him and was moved to tell him the one thing that he lacked in his endeavor. Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). Jesus was known for His wisdom and insight into people’s lives. With this one, He bored deep into the young man’s heart and identified the crux of the matter—the one thing keeping him from surrendering fully to Jesus and following Him. 
            The rich, young ruler arrived at the correct Teacher at the best time with the most pressing question of humanity and received the right answer. It is a question and answer about the sincerity and depth of our surrender to Jesus. The rich, young ruler’s started off in a very promising way. That makes the end of the story even more heartbreaking. “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22).
            Can you picture the scene? The rich, young ruler was kneeling at Jesus feet—that is, until he heard the answer to his question. He slowly got up from his knees and slowly turned his back on Jesus. He had come face-to-face with the only begotten Son of God in human flesh. He had been offered eternal life straight from the lips of the Messiah. Yet he walked away downtrodden, unhappy and unsaved. Why? He refused to surrender everything to Jesus. This tragic account reminds us today of a simple yet profound reality: we cannot truly follow Jesus on our own terms. We have to follow Jesus on His terms—the terms of total and unconditional surrender. If we are not following Jesus on His terms, then we are not really following Jesus at all. What do you need to change to follow Him on His terms? Go be a blessing to someone this week and share the grace and love of Jesus to everyone! God Bless!!