Monday, September 27, 2010
Many people confuse temptation with sin, as if it were sin to be tempted. We know from reading (Matt 4:1-11) that Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness immediately after being baptized by John in the Jordan River, and receiving the Holy Spirit from heaven. But we know that even though He was tempted in all ways such as we might be, He remained "sinless"! So we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that temptation and sin is not the same thing. If Jesus had accepted any one of Satan's suggestions, He would have disqualified Himself from being the Savior we know Him to be! The devil offered Him three chances to short circuit going to the cross, but He answered every one with "it is written". In other words, He defeated every attempt by Satan to temp Him to disobey the Father's plan of redemption.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, addresses this subject in his letter. (James 1:13-15). He makes a clear statement that God is never involved in temping us, but "Temptation comes from our own desires which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death." NLT. So temptation always starts with an evil desire, followed by yielding to that desire, both of which involve a choice on our part. We can never claim "the devil made me do it", like some comedian made famous. Even though he might have been involved in tempting us like he tempted Jesus, we can choose not to listen to him! The same answer Jesus used is the best, providing we know enough scriptures to use it effectively at the right time!
We must remember that if we are a born again follower of Jesus, we have the same Holy Spirit living in our redeemed life that Jesus had. He never did any ministry until after receiving the Holy Spirit at His baptism, so we are in the same position. If the Spirit has come upon us, as He did on the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:8), then we have the same power source as Jesus had. This is hard for us to believe, because Jesus was the Son of God, and we have a hard time believing that we too are "children of God", and "joint heirs" with Jesus. (Rom 8:12-17). Don't let the devil tell you that you are just a "sinner saved by grace". God's Word says you are now a "saint that sometimes sins", but He has made provision for that! (1 John 1:9)!
Monday, September 20, 2010
This expression comes from (John 19:5), and was uttered by Pilate after he had Jesus severely beaten by the Roman soldiers, he then showed Him to the angry crowd, thinking they might now have pity on Him, and Pilate would be off the hook. As we know this did not work for him, and the rest is history (His-story)! Pilate had no idea who Jesus really was, as many church going people today. Jesus was, and still is, "The Man" that Father God brought into our world to show what God is really like. Jesus put a face on God, so to speak, see (Col 1:15-18).
Jesus came to earth not only to reveal God, but also to reverse the curse brought onto the entire creation by the disobedience of the first man Adam. I believe Adam was created in the image of God, and was meant to be the father of a "family of God", that would inhabit planet earth, and make it a "colony of heaven" on earth, so to speak. We know from reading God's Word that this original plan was subverted by Satan, who became the avowed enemy of God after rebelling because he was not content to be one of the Archangels in heaven, and desired to take over God' place as Supreme.
See (Is 14:12-15) and (Ezek 28:12-17) for the details of why and how Lucifer was cast out of heaven to become the devil, or Satan. Many people living on earth today never realize that this was the beginning of evil, and wickedness that we see increasing in our world around us. We are often quick to blame other causes for this wickedness, and fail to realize it is "sin" in the hearts of mankind, that can be traced back to Adam's disobedience, that is the real problem! (Rom 3:23)
God, who has perfect "foreknowledge", of course knew this would happen, and already had a plan formulated before anything was created. This plan involved Jesus coming to earth at the appointed time, to be incarnated into the human family, in order to pay the price required to redeem mankind from their sinful condition inherited from Adam. So when Pilate made the statement "behold the man", even though he was not aware of whom Jesus was he was never the less declaring the truth! Jesus Christ is definitely "The Man", the second Adam, the only way to the Father! (John 14:6). The angel Gabriel told Joseph to "call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). This is the "good news" of the gospel!!
Friday, September 17, 2010
GAD or God
In a recent devotional from Our Daily Bread I saw this mentioned. GAD stands for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, found in people who are often referred to as "worry warts", or we might call them "fret machines", I'm sure you have met a few. It's certainly true that there are lots of situations we face in this wicked world we are called to live in, that could cause anxiety. But when we are tempted in this way, that is when we can look to God, and receive encouragement from His Word. Scriptures like (Ps 37:1-6) tell us "don't worry", "trust in the Lord", "commit everything to Him" etc. So we always have a choice to make whenever we face problems in our lives, we can either trust God, or go the way of GAD, the choice is ours!
Peter gives some good advice along these lines in his first letter, (see 1 Peter 5:6-9). The first thing to do is "humble ourselves", and then he encourages us to "give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you". Next he warns us about our "great enemy the devil", who is always looking for "someone to devour". But Peter goes on to say "Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are." In other words, realize that you are not alone in your suffering, which is what Satan often tells us, to keep us from sharing with others. This is just one of his many lies he uses to keep us in bondage, and separated from other members of the Body of Christ.
Actually I'm starting to see that "spiritual warfare" is all about Satan trying to corrupt you as the carrier of the "incorruptible seed", (1 Peter 1:23) that was deposited in your heart the moment you repented of your sin, and received Jesus as your Savior. He can't get at this seed to try and corrupt it, but if he can tempt you with corruption to behave in some sinful way, it will prevent you from progressing in your spiritual journey toward maturity. We must realize that God's intention in redeeming us was to have a company of mature sons and daughters to represent His Kingdom here on earth. (see Matt 6:10), and (Rom 8:18-25). Here we see clearly God's intention expressed by Paul, that He wants to set the whole of creation free from bondage by His True Church, composed of mature "followers of Jesus"!!
Monday, September 13, 2010
BMW, as you know, is the name of a car that is in the luxury class that not everyone can afford to drive. But in a recent article by Robert Watkins I heard a different meaning for this expression. His article was about people who are always complaining about nearly everything. His phrase to define these people was "BMW", an acronym for "Belly-aching, Moaning, and Whining". Do you know anyone who could be included in that class? Perhaps we might all fit in that class by times! There sure are lots of things to find fault with, like the government, or other organizations like the church structure we have been part of, that is far removed from the Church Jesus said He would build. (Matt 16:18). Plus many other things or people that we feel justified in finding fault with! A few quotes from Brother Watkins, "Complaining is draining", and "I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. But there is hope".
He goes on to quote a professor from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, who suggests that we can turn the "language of complaint" into the "language of Commitment". This will require considerable effort on our part, but he claims it is doable if we are serious about desiring a change. It starts with a change in attitude from a complaining one, to a true "attitude of gratitude", by which we give thanks to God in every situation. (1 Thess 5:18) It is important to notice it does not say be thankful "for" everything, but to be thankful "in" every situation you find yourself in! We know that some situations are the result of a direct work of Satan, as in the case of Job, and we are not to give thanks for his work, but realize that God can bring something good out of what Satan meant for evil. See the story of how God used Joseph to preserve the life of his father's family. (Gen 45:5-8).
Brother Watkins stated "Here's what I learned: If something can be changed, work to change it, if it cannot, why worry, be upset, and complain". He then offers a challenge to all his readers "So for the next seven days, let's change our language of complaining into a language of commitment. Get out of your BMW mode by monitoring your words". This sounds like a good idea that should not only change our attitude about life, but also change the attitude of people around us!
Monday, September 6, 2010
I was impressed by a devotional in Our Daily Bread Aug 4, 2010, by Joe Stowell, from which I borrowed his title and a few quotes. He based his thoughts on Psalm 63, which is a Psalm written by King David while he was in the wilderness of Judah. Joe said "David understood that true joy and purpose came not in admiring God from a safe distance, but from chasing hard after Him". This is the theme of his article, and he starts by comparing our journey of following Jesus, with a space probe to Mars. He imagines the waste of time and effort if that probe should get drawn off course by the gravitational pull of some other less significant object!
This is a distinct possibility for any of us in our journey of following Jesus. There are many things that can draw us away from our original determination to be a follower of Jesus, who paid the price of our redemption from our life of sin! Perhaps it is our immediate family, or close friends, who think we, have become a fanatic, or have joined a cult. Perhaps it is the draw of worldly entertainments, or some habit you established before you came to know Jesus. Whatever it might be, you can be sure your enemy Satan will use it to try and draw you back to serve his kingdom of darkness, and not God's Kingdom of light! The important thing to remember is that our loving Father has made ample provision for everything we need to live a life pleasing to Him. But the decision to accept these provisions is always left to us.
A careful reading of (Psalm 63) will show us what King David did while hiding out in the wilderness of Judah, fleeing from the wrath of Saul. In the NLT, verse 1 reads "O God, you are my God. I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you, my whole body longs for you, in this parched and weary land where there is no water". When we seek for God, as David did, He will be found by us. He is not hiding from us, but the fact is that He is holy, and unless we become holy as He is holy we can not have intimate fellowship. (1 Peter 1:16). We, as part of the Body of Christ on earth, must follow Paul's advice in (2 Cor 7:1) "Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God" NLT. So we can see that God has made provision for our holiness, but it is our responsibility to keep "in orbit", so to speak, and stay close to Him!