Let’s Talk About Temptation

1 Corinthians 10-13

verse-of-the-day (1)

Tuesday, June 20

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

 

Let’s talk about temptation. Everyone is tempted, and everyone has succumbed to temptation at some point in their life, and probably numerous times. I will be the first to admit that fact in my own life. The first thing Paul does is acknowledge the universality of temptation—temptation is ubiquitous. Temptation is a common experience for all humankind. Some people might think that they are experiencing a unique type or degree of temptation, but Paul overwrites that attitude by confirming that no one is alone in experiencing any form of temptation, for every possible sort of temptation has been shared by other individuals.

 

We all struggle with temptation, that is the common thread that unites the human race. But unlike individuals who do not trust in God, the experience of temptation for believers can be different. Those who believe in God are not in a position of helplessness.

 

Some people have told me about their experience facing temptation, “I couldn’t help it. It was too appealing. I got tired of resisting. I just couldn’t stop myself.” The idea that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent sin is calling God a LIAR.

 

Paul says, “God is faithful!” What is God faithful for? He is faithful to: 1) limit the power of the temptation in your life, and 2) provide strength to endure or a possibility to remove the temptation. These are two promises of God when it comes to facing temptation. Either they are true or God is a liar. The problem many people face is that they doubt God is able to actually help them overcome temptation. They feel like it is all a matter of the will to resist temptation, and when their will weakens (as everyone’s does at some point), they feel like they just couldn’t continue to stand against the temptation and decide to just give in.

 

Satan is constantly battling for our mind and to entice our flesh. Elsewhere, Paul describes this battle in terms of “the schemes of the devil” and the “flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph. 6:11, 16). To combat these threats, Paul encourages believers to equip themselves with the “armor of God” (Eph. 6:11-17) in order to stand firm against the devil and his tactics and influence. While Paul describes a set of defensive armaments to be prepared to engage in spiritual warfare with the devil in Ephesians 6, his point in 1 Corinthians 10:13 is that of trust and reliance upon God to keep one’s foot from slipping and falling into sin.

 

It takes a resolved heart and mind to build the confidence that God will come through and be there in your time of need. Furthermore, there are two practices that can be of great help in overcoming temptation: 1) knowing Scripture (like verse 13) can turn the tables in the struggle against temptation, and 2) prayer.

 

If you are able to bring to mind what God has revealed about a particular temptation, it has the power to release the grip of the temptation to the point that you can endure it or eliminate the cause of the temptation altogether. That is the reason Paul calls Scripture the “sword of the spirit” (Eph. 6:17). It has the ability to defeat thoughts, attitudes, and desire that contend against the knowledge and will of God and to free a person from feeling like there is no other way out.

 

Secondly, prayer is always helpful and necessary when facing temptation. Temptations can come from our own desires or as a spiritual attack from the devil. Whichever it is, we can go to God in prayer asking for strength and wisdom to allow his will to prevail and to help us bring our body into subjection to what is godly and be led by the spirit away from the temptation. James writes in his letter, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (Jas. 1:5).

 

If you struggle with a certain temptation, ask God for wisdom, and he will give it to you. And remember that we all have temptations, and nothing is new that we might encounter. God has seen it all before, and he has helped people through it all before. He promises to help you too, if you will but trust him and look to him for deliverance from it.

 

God is faithful, but do we have the courage to let him prove it?

 

-Jerry Wierwille

 

(Photo Credit: https://biblia.com/bible/niv/1%20Corinthians%2010.13)

Suffering!

Romans 4-7

romans-5-3-5-1366x768

Wednesday, June 14

I really don’t like tribulations but I do like what they produce in my life.  When I think about the hard times that I have been through, I see how God proved himself to me over and over again.  It is those times that have built my faith in an invisible God.

 

Romans 5:1-4

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

 

Looking back, the trials and tribulations that I have suffered were well worth it.  Of course, at the time, in the midst of the storm, I was filled with angst and anxiety.  What often helped me was prayer.  I know my limitations and how powerless I am but God has no limits and He intervenes on our behalf.  Now when I look back at those hard times, I don’t feel the sting of stress but I see the power of perseverance!  I persevered with prayer and God answered me.  Whatever the situation was, God helped me and my faith grew stronger and stronger each time.  This helped me to mature as a believer and it changed my character for the better.

 

I also see, as I reflect back, the strength I have gained from seeing God prove himself time and again, and knowing and believing that the promises He has made will come to pass. This is hope.  This hope is what helps us to push through the trials and not give up.  We have hope that God will hear our cry, incline His ear to our prayers, and touch our lives.  I am reminded of the section in James where it talks about joy in tribulation…what??  That can’t be right, can it?

 

James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

I will be completely honest.  I am not there yet.  I do not view trials with joy, not even in the slightest.  I wish I could encounter a trial with a smile and look forward to what it will produce in me.  I only smile when it is over and some time has passed and then the joy part sets in.  So, I have some work to do and I am sure that I will have plenty of opportunities to get better at this.

 

This whole section of scripture we read today is also about faith…each trial and tribulation has strengthened my faith.  Even when my faith was shaken, I came out the other side stronger.  My brother John and his wife Grace, almost 9 years ago, found out they were expecting a baby.  We were so excited!  Early on in the pregnancy, they found out there were some complications, all was not right.  We quickly went from excited to shaken and scared.  This doesn’t happen to us, this could not be.

 

My mom, myself, and Grace decided that we would pray together every day until the baby was born.  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  I had never prayed so diligently before this.  We were certain God was going to perform a miracle.  Grace felt God was leading her to name the baby Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was born and we did not get the miracle we prayed for…in fact his condition was worse than we expected and he would continue to have more challenges as he grew.  This shook our faith and tore us up inside.  I won’t go through all the questions I hurled at God and the sorrow we felt but I will say, that through it all, God was with us.  Jeremiah may not be like everyone else, but he is a miracle and he has given our family such joy.  In the end, my faith is stronger because I know that we live in a broken world and that bad things happen…even to us.  But, then I think of this scripture:

 

Isaiah 35:6

Then the lame will leap like a deer,

And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.

For waters will break forth in the wilderness

And streams in the Arabah.

 

One day, all will be made right and we just need to have faith.  Faith to keep going, to tackle each trial with hope and perseverance and that will mold our character for the better.  Take some time to reflect on your life and your hard times.  What did they produce in you?  Do you have a stronger appreciation of the hope we have because of your trials?

This is Jeremiah.  He is full of joy, laughter, and kindness.  He is nonverbal, has low tone, and other issues but one day, when our Lord returns, he will run fast like the wind and talk up a storm.

jeremiah

– Ruth Finnegan

(Photo Credit: http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/hope/romans-5-3-5/)

Devoted

Acts 1-2

Devoted

Sunday, June 4

What are your three favorite things that your church currently does well?  Looking at the early church, what were their strengths and weaknesses?  We can learn from the early churches in many ways, such as learning from what they did well?

The people’s actions from the early church:

  1. Those who accepted the message were baptized. Does this still apply today?  Well we see many churches and different denominations baptizing their members, but some of them sprinkle, some use full immersion while others have different methods.  The Church of God of course, still practices the original immersion practice of baptism.
  2. The people devoted themselves to the teaching and fellowship of the apostles. Are we as devoted as the people in the early church?  How do you define “devoted?”  Is it 100% of your effort 24/7?
  3. They were consistent in breaking bread and prayer. What are the standards we adhere to in this generation when it comes to prayer?  Do we allocate time each day to prayer or do we get too busy with life to take the time?
  4. The early church sold their possessions and goods and gave them to anyone in need. How eager are the people of this generation to help others?  Do we sell our belongings and use the money to help those less fortunate?  Do we offer our talents that God has gifted us?
  5. They met together every day in the temple courts. Do the people of today’s church meet every day?  Sometimes we have a hard time just getting to church one day a week.
  6. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Do we break bread together in our homes anymore?

 

Peter warned and pleaded with them to save themselves from this corrupt generation.  Does that warning still apply today?  Are we living in a corrupt world?  Do we mimic the early church or do we fall into the antics of this corrupt generation?  How devoted are we to the church? How can we become more devoted?  If we are a righteous church, and a people that follow Him, then God will add to our numbers daily as in the New Testament.

-Jason Railton

 

 

 

Some Peace in this Crazy World

Luke 6-7

o-LOVE-YOUR-ENEMIES-facebook

May 16, 2017

Have you ever prayed for your enemies? Not to make you feel guilty if you haven’t but I think it’s a good habit to start. My reasoning behind this relies on the fact that the kingdom of God will be peaceful, and if we are to be a part of the kingdom of God why not pray for that peace now? You might think praying for peace is different than praying for your enemies but I don’t think there is that big of a difference.

 

But prayer is one thing, what about actions? Can we love our enemies with our actions? Jesus seems to think so, and even demands that we do it in Luke 6:27-36. He even gives a couple examples, one of which is prayer.

 

Why should we do this? Well, other than to be obedient to Jesus, which is emphasized in verses 46-49, it is because God has been intentional in reaching out to us. Yes, at one point in time, we were against God, and yet he still gave his Son for us. He was merciful to us, even when we might have hated him. Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

 

I encourage you today to read through this section of verses. Write down how you could love those who you may consider enemies. Your answers may surprise you, and if you follow up by doing some of the things you write down, you might find that loving your enemies isn’t all that hard. Who knows, you might even create some peace is this crazy world.

 

-Jesse Allen

thechristiantaco

 

The Fruit of Deception

Hosea 10-14

hosea 10

Tuesday, April 11

But you have planted wickedness,
    you have reaped evil,
    you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your own strength
    and on your many warriors.     (Hosea 10:13)

 

I don’t have a lot of upper body strength.  Never have.  The rope climbing unit in gym class was the worst.  I had one teacher who thought it might help me to start higher up the rope, so he lifted me onto his shoulders and had me grab on.  There I hung.  (And not for very long.)  Same weak arms, just higher up.  So depending on my own strength isn’t going to happen.

I also do not have any soldiers at my disposal, warriors to send out to do my bidding.  Would be cool, but I imagine none of you do, either.  So I guess we can overlook this verse, yes?

Unless….

Unless there are other things that we might be tempted to depend on.  Things we might rely on above God and His word.

A professor, maybe?

Scientists?

A boyfriend or girlfriend?

Your feelings?

Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them.  (Hosea 14:9)

Are you stumbling on the Word of God?  Do you have trouble reconciling it with what you are being told or what you “know”?

Maybe you have “eaten the fruit of deception”?

I pray regularly that if my understanding is wrong, that God would correct me.  I ask Him to show me where I’m wrong.  Sadly, though my arms are weak, my ego is strong, and it’s been hard to admit that at times I’ve been mistaken.

Make that your prayer today.  Ask God to show you if you’ve been deceived.  And be willing to act on what He shows you.

-Susan Landry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrown to the Lions

IMG_0031-1

Daniel 5-6                                            

In Chapter 6 of Daniel something very devious and disturbing occurs. After being selected as one of three administrators over Babylon by its new king, Daniel found himself in the crosshairs of the other overseers of the kingdom. They were jealous of the favor Daniel was finding in the eyes of Darius and that the king wanted to set Daniel over the whole kingdom.  This jealousy led to a conspiracy to get rid of Daniel. But how could they entrap such an upright guy? 

The satraps and administrators devised a plan to use Daniel’s devotion to God against him. They convinced the king to enact a law that would prohibit prayer of any kind to any person or god, other than Darius for thirty days. The punishment would be certain death, in the form of being thrown into a pit with hungry lions.

Daniel, in response to the ridiculous edict, went home and did the same thing he did everyday: prayed. He prayed three times everyday, not to Darius, but to the God of the universe, Yahweh.  In the middle of his prayers, a group of satraps and administrators went to Daniel’s house and caught him in the unlawful act. They turned him in. Despite trying everything he could, the king had no choice but to order to have Daniel thrown into the Lion’s den. 

The next morning Darius rushed to the den to see if Daniel was still alive. Not only was he alive, he didn’t have a scratch on him. God had spared him. He sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions. The king was overjoyed and had Daniel pulled out. And, in a clear case of poetic justice, the men who tried to entrap Daniel are thrown to the lions to meet the same fate they had planned for Daniel.

The big point I want to draw from this particular story, and in this book as a whole, is Daniel’s consistency despite the changes in the world around him. Daniel lived his whole life in a place that was not his home, lived under the reign of several different kings, and he had people who were jealous of him and wanted him dead. Despite these things that were out of his control, Daniel was steadfast in his devotion to God and unwavering in his commitment to living right. 

The world we live in is constantly changing. Every four to eight years, we have a new president. What is popular today will be forgotten tomorrow (silly bands anyone?). What was socially acceptable a decade ago, is now taboo. What was once taboo is now celebrated. Society is in flux. Our devotion to God must not be. We may never live in a time when it is illegal to pray, but we do live in one where it is unpopular and becoming more so ever year. Our foundation must not be the shifting sands of the culture, but the Rock that never changes. It may get you thrown to the lions, but you’ll be in the favor of the one who made those lions. 

– Joel Fletcher

Even in the Midst of the Heartbreak

Lamentations 4-5

lamentations5_21

Saturday, March 18

Jeremiah is recounting a lot of the rough times that Judah had faced. At the end of this desperate passage (in chapter 5), Jeremiah asks God to restore the people of Judah. I love, though, that even in the midst of the heartbreak, he doesn’t forget to praise and adore God:
 
19 But Lord, you remain the same forever!
    Your throne continues from generation to generation.

Then Jeremiah is raw and honest with God again about his frustration:
20 Why do you continue to forget us?

    Why have you abandoned us for so long?
But he is still hopeful and believing in God and his promises:

21 Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again!    Give us back the joys we once had!
Jeremiah included praise and petition in an honest prayer to God. I know that sometimes I feel silly being “honest” with God, letting Him know what I am really thinking… but he is GOD, and He already knows all my thoughts and feelings! We can with confidence humbly pray to our Lord and offer our requests and concerns, making sure to give thanks and praise to Him. There are a lot of good books to read on prayer. (My most recent favorite is “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer.) I encourage you to read up… and of course, pray up! That is my personal challenge for myself and for you! Will you join me?! Here are a few verses on which to meditate as you focus on seeking God today:
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
-Rachel Cain
(Photo Credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/09212015/)