Monday, August 29, 2005
Because of this, it is easy to go through with a sin that we think nobody will know about. For example, let's say you're home alone and you know nobody is coming over for a while so you get on the internet and view things you shouldn't. Or maybe you're with a group of people that don't have the same morals as you and you stay with them and, because you don't have anybody around that will have a problem with what you are doing, you do the bad things they are doing.
No matter the situation, if we are all alone and under pressure to sin, we must not forget that God is always with us and He is always watching us. If we act as if He isn't there, then how can we truly say that we have faith in Him? For if "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1), then certainly we would act as if God was watching... right?
When we do things we know we shouldn't, we are showing a lack of respect for God. We all struggle with the sins of this world, but we need to be mindful of God's presence in everything that we do. God being everywhere is not a bad thing though! God is always there to help us out of the situations that we get into. He will never leave us and He will always provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When you find yourself in a situation where you are being tempted, instead of ignoring the fact that God is there watching, take a hold of His hand and ask Him to lead you through. Follow Him and show Him your love by doing what you know is right. You will find that, by acknowledging His presence and doing what is good in His sight, you're life will reflect His will and you will be rewared (Romans 2:7).
Friday, August 26, 2005
James 1:22-25 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."
This passage, written by Jesus' brother James, describes exactly what it is like for us Christians to read God's word without applying it. James warns us if we only listen to God's word, we are deceiving ourselves into thinking we know what God's word is all about. Likewise, we can have all the knowledge about what God's word says, but if we do not use that knowledge in our walk with Christ then the knowledge goes to waste.
When we take God's word and apply it to our walk with Him, we will be consistent with what God's word tells us to do. This passage tells us when we actually do what God's word says to do, and not just listen to what it has to say, all we do WILL be blessed! We cannot truly understand what God's word is about if we do not take the words He has given to us and apply them to our life.
Do you notice a difference in your lifestyle when you read God's word? We can measure the effectiveness of our Bible study time by how much of a difference it makes on our behavior and attitudes. Don't wait until later to take the knowledge God has given you and apply it to your life. Apply today what you read from the Bible! For when we read God's word and put it into action, we will become righteous (Romans 2:13).
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I recently had the chance to talk with a great guy named Cpt. Christopher Plekenpol who was in Iraq for six months as the commander of an armored tank company stationed outside of Fallujah. Chris has a ministry called "In-Him" which is all about living life out-loud. The verse that Chris uses to explain what exactly it means to "live out-loud" is 1 Peter 4:1-11.
Even though Chris was in a place where his life was always on the line, he always put his life in God's hands. Because of all the things that he was dealing with, Chris could have chosen to ignore God while he was in Iraq. Instead, he embraced God's love and power and did the complete opposite. While in Iraq, Chris wrote about situations that he went through and then related each one to a spiritual message. The compilation of all these writings became two books that he wrote while in Iraq.
I think a lot of times we get into a mindset that because of what we are going through, God cannot use us. No matter the situations we are going through though, we must always remember that the power God wields is unimaginable. His rule over everything is so great that He can take any situation and use it in order to further His Kingdom.
This time in Chris' life was no doubt one of his most stressful ones, but because of his obedience to God, and because of his faithful administration of God's grace even though his situation wasn't an easy one to be in, Chris' testimony and witness were strengthened.
Just like Chris' story, we all go through times in our lives where sharing God's message becomes harder because of the situations we are in. We must constantly remember though that it is our duty as Christians to tell others about Christ no matter the situation. If you feel that the situations you are in, or the past that you have, cancels out God's ability to use you, take comfort in the fact that God's power is more than enough. He will always provide the strength that we need (Psalms 29:11).
Monday, August 22, 2005
Dictionary.com defines fear as an "extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power". Just like a little kid who has done something wrong fears the punishment they are going to get from their parents, we as Christians should be fearful of our Heavenly Father. He is in control of everything and has ultimate power over it all. With such supreme majesty, why do we all continue to do wrong even though we know He doesn't like it?
Psalm 34:11 says, "Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD." To fear God is not to be scared of Him in a way that you run from Him, but to have an "extreme reverence or awe" for Him and His ruling over us. It's one thing to know the rules that God has for us, it's another to actually do them.
When we do what we know is wrong, we are ultimately telling God that we do not respect His authority and rule over us. Constantly be aware of God's presence in everything and show Him the reverence and awe that He deserves. "Now [that] all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Matthew 5: 13-16 is a very inspiring verse for Christians because it shows us our place in this world and the impact we must make on it. Matthew 5:13 says:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
When Jesus states that we are the salt of the earth, He is telling us that we are different from those who don't believe in Him. We are here on earth to "season" it and use our "saltiness", or fervor for God, to show others God's amazing love. When this passage says that salt that has lost its saltiness "is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men", it paints a huge picture of what a lot of "unsalty" Christians are going through. Just like food without seasoning has very little value, so do we when we lose our fervor for God. He cannot use us because our lifestyle has very little value to Him and the growth of His kingdom. When that happens, the world will take over our lives and it will trample us and use us for its evil desires.In verses 14-16 of this passage, Jesus compares us Christians as lights of the world:
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.I'm sure you know the children's song "This little light of mine". These two verses were no doubt the inspiration for it. If we live for Christ, then we will give off a "light" that will show others what Christ is like. Our main duty as Christians is to tell others about Christ and to show them His love. Just like a city on a hill cannot be hidden, we as Christians should stand out; others should be able to tell we are committed to Christ. We shouldn't hide the light that God's love produces, rather, we must live for Christ so that our light will shine brightly. When we shine our light in the darkness of this world, people will see our good deeds and praise God in Heaven.
Many Christians tend to hide the light that God gives them and they lose their saltiness for Him. If you are a Christian, and you are constantly doing what non-believers do, you are not only hiding the light that God wants you to produce, but you are helping to spread Satan's darkness by lowering the moral standards others see that Christians are to meet. Stay away from alcohol, drugs, parties and other places where sin is embraced and dress in a way that doesn't distort God's image. Dig deep into God's word and be in constant communication with Him so that you will become even more "salty". Do what you know is right and flee from what you know is wrong. The saltier you become, the brighter your light will shine and the more God will bless you and use you to further His kingdom.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
One of the best examples of faith is the story of Job. This book tells of a man named Job who loved the Lord and shunned evil. Satan went to God and told Him that He should allow him to try to make Job's faith fail. God knew that Job was a God-fearing man and allowed Satan to do so. There was a catch though; Satan could not kill Job. Satan took away all of Job's wealth and his family, and also caused him to be covered with painful boils from head to toe. They were so painful, Job had to scratch his skin with a piece of broken pottery!
You would think that with all that was going on, Job would have thrown up his hands and given up on God and his faith, but the complete opposite happened. Take a look at Job 2:9-10:
His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."Not only had Job lost everything that he had, but his wife was telling him to give up on God and die! I don't know about you, but with such pressure to take the easy way out, I might have done so. Job was faithful to God and told his wife that we shouldn't only accept good from God, but also trouble.
Job's faith was not based on his personal comfort; he was miserable yet he still kept his faith. It wasn't until later in the book of Job that he questioned why the things happened to him. Job's friend's told Job that the reason why he was suffering was because of something bad that he had done. They told Job that those who do good never suffer but those who do bad will reap what they sow. In Job 6:28-30 we see Job telling his friends that they were wrong in their assumptions; but, because of his friend's wrongful assumptions, Job began to wonder if life was even worth living!
After a lot of complaining and arguing with his friends, Job finally asked God to answer him. God, in all His wisdom, did something much better than answer Job's questions, He asked him questions. The questions that God asked Job gave him an awesome illustration of how powerful God really is (see Job 38-41). Job finally repented and because of His faith, God restored his fortunes. In fact, He gave Job twice as much as before! Job finally understood that it is better to know God rather than knowing the answers to our trials.
While many times we do get punished because of the bad things we do, every trial that is sent our way is not because of something that we've done wrong; it could be so that we can become stronger and closer to God. When you find yourself in a situation where you are close to giving up on your faith, don't curse God and give up, trust Him and use the strength that only He can provide. Realize that God is all-knowing and that His plan is perfect. No matter how much we think we know what we need, God always knows so much more. Remind yourself that we can't just accept the good from God, but we must also accept the hard times that He uses to bring us closer to Him. Don't allow your feelings to determine your faith, rather, strengthen your faith and allow it to guide you to God's amazing power that will see you through anything.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
As Christians, a lot of us are like those who choose the $50 over the billion dollars; we choose the temporary satisfactions here on earth instead of doing what we know we should be doing in order to reap the huge reward that God has promised us through His son-eternal life. These temporary satisfactions, e.g. the love of money, lust, etc., are nowhere near as valuable as the reward that God has in store for those who remain dedicated to Him.
The Bible specifically says that we are not to conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:1-2) and 1 John 2:15-17 warns us about loving anything in the world:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.The sad part about our worldly desire for temporary satisfaction is the fact that God sent His only Son to die on the cross so that we may be able to receive the reward of eternal life, even though we don't deserve it. Every time we fall to our temporary satisfactions, we are basically telling God that the gift of eternal life isn't worth waiting for. It amazes me that, as Christ-followers, we continue to stumble and give in to our temporary satisfactions even though Christ went through so much in order to allow us to someday experience the ultimate satisfaction of being with Him forever.
In order to overcome our urges for temporary satisfaction, we must constantly remind ourselves of the best reward that we will ever get—eternal life with God forever! As you go throughout your day, thank God for sending His Son to die on the cross so that your satisfaction is not a temporary one like the satisfaction provided by this world. Don't give in to the temporary satisfactions; instead, stand firm with the promise that God gives us of eternity with Him, the ultimate satisfaction.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Let's face it, we all struggle with temptation; it's a part of the world we live in. In this temptation investigation we've been able to dig deep and figure out what exactly temptation is. We've all learned that our flesh is weak, God doesn't send temptation our way, location is important with temptation, and the techniques of temptation evasion; but what is the bottom line? Why do we have temptation and what is its purpose in our lives?
Temptation, like any trial we go through, is a measurement of our dedication to God. The times when we find ourselves in temptation situations should not be looked at as a complete waste of our time. When we overcome a temptation situation, we have become more mature in our walk with Christ! Any trial that we go through should be considered a blessing:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)It is my hope that this temptation investigation has prepared you for the temptation situations in your life. When you find yourself in temptation's midst, remember the techniques of temptation evasion and remain certain that God is always there for you. For it is written that those who persevere under trial will receive the crown of life that God has promised to the ones who love Him (James 1:12).
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Because it's impossible to completely steer clear of temptation locations, there will be times when you will be dead smack in the middle of Satan's grasp and you will have to learn to deal with them. Many people freeze up when they get caught in temptation situations because they don't know what to do in order to come out on top. In order for you to be able to deal with temptation, you need to use the three techniques of temptation evasion: realization, preparation, and quotation.
The first technique of temptation evasion is to come to the realization that by being in a location where temptation is inevitable, you are putting yourself at a high risk of sinning. In Genesis 27 we read of Jacob in a temptation situation that was set up by his mother. Jacob's mom overheard Isaac telling Esau that he was going to bless him before he died so she told Jacob to trick his father Isaac into thinking he was Esau. Let's see what Jacob's initial response was in Genesis 27:11-13:
Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I'm a man with smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing." His mother said to him, "My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me."As you can see, Jacob came to the realization that he was being tempted by his mother. If Jacob would have just acted upon his realization then he would not have fallen to the temptation. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit will help you determine what is right and wrong, but it is up to us to do what is right. Some fall into temptation but choose not to realize it; they do this either because they don't want to, or they are not knowledgeable of the morals God wants us to maintain.
I know a lot of people who claim to be Christians but hang around with people that heavily tempt them. They continue hanging out with them even though the situations are hazardous to their spiritual health. If we, as Christians, don't acknowledge that we are in a situation where we are being tempted, then we won't even make an effort to choose what is right.
Preparation for temptation situations is the best way to conquer them. It is always much easier to fall into temptation when the decision of whether or not to do it is in its midst. You will be more likely to defeat temptation if you decide now whether or not you will go through with a temptation when it comes about. The earlier you decide that you aren't going to do something, the easier it is to actually stand by your decision. Another way to be prepared for temptation is to be in constant prayer with God. Ask Him to watch over you as you go throughout your day just like it says in the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:13)
The final technique of temptation evasion is quotation of the scriptures. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read of Jesus being tempted by Satan. Three times Satan tried his best to cause Jesus to stumble, yet each time Jesus replied with a quotation of scripture. Satan could not stand up against the truth of the Bible (Psalm 33:4, Psalm 48:14, John 1:17) and he eventually left Jesus. The same is true for us when we are in temptation situations. Satan will do his best to cause us to stumble but when we show him the truth of God's word, he will not be able to compete.
By using these techniques, you will be able to confidently and more frequently overcome temptation situations. By your realization of temptation, preparation for it, and quotation of scriptures during it, you will be better equipped to use the strength that God provides in your times of need.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
In Genesis 2 we see that everything was going well for Adam and Eve. God had given Adam a wife who would be his helper, and both of them were given the best spot in town-the Garden of Eden. God had put trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food there, and a river that watered them. All of these things were provided for Adam and Eve and all they had to do was take care of the garden and stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yes, life was good for the first two people on earth. That is, until Eve got the first look at temptation.
This first temptation situation changed the lives of Adam and Eve, and all of us after them:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"God had given Adam and Eve clear instructions in Genesis 2:16-17 and although they knew they were not allowed to eat from the trees, they didn't avoid them. By putting themselves in the location of a temptation situation, Satan was able to work his evil magic by questioning them in order to make them feel like it was ok to do what they were told not to.
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6)
One of the best ways to keep from falling into temptation is to avoid areas where temptation situations are at their most frequent. If you struggle with the temptation of alcohol and drugs, stay away from places where these things are easily accesible. Choose your friends wisely and make sure they help you through your temptation situations, not lead you into them. If you struggle with pornography, don't get on the internet if you are home alone and stay away from stores where pornographic materials are sold. No matter what temptation situations you struggle with, their location is always a factor. Don't make it easier on Satan to make you fail; avoid the locations of temptation situations.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Many people have a misconception of who sends temptation our way. Some get angry with God because they believe He is the one behind it but that is not true. Dictionary.com defines temptation as "the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid". Surely that is just the world's definition right? Temptation can't be created by our own desires can it? Well, James 1:13-14 says, "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." As you can see, God is not behind the creation of our temptation situations; we are. Our own evil desires set the stage for temptation to be such a struggle to deal with. Because of this, Satan is able to drag us away and entice us.
Not only does this passage show us where our temptation situations come from, but it gives us an insight at God's power over temptation. The passage says that God cannot be tempted and He does not tempt anyone. Although God is not behind the temptation situations we go through, He is in control. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." It's amazing to know that, although we as humans are not strong enough to overcome temptation situations, our God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. Because of this, and because of His supreme power and control over everything, He will always provide a way out for us.
When you find yourself in the center of a temptation situation, remind yourself that God is in control and is there to help you stand up under it. Accept the fact that as a human you cannot overcome your temptation situations alone. Begin to allow God to take control and show you the way out. By doing so, you will find that temptation situations become easier to overcome. Gain confidence when you are going through temptation situations by reminding yourself that God will always be able to save you because of His awesome power and control over all.
Monday, August 08, 2005
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the temptations of this world; it is just as easy to get spiritually frustrated because of them. The reason why we all have so much trouble with temptation is because our flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41 says, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Inside we all truly want to overcome our temptation situations but because of our human bodies this task is much harder to handle.
Matthew 26:41 gives us great instructions though on what to do in order to make it through our temptation situations. It says, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation." It is not possible for us to completely stay away from temptation, especially in the temptation filled world we live in. But what we can do is watch out for these temptation situations and pray about them when they occur. One of the easiest things to do when you are in a temptation situation is to freeze up and fall right where Satan wants you; that is why we all must figure out how we will handle different situations before we come in contact with temptation. The earlier you decide to do the right thing when a temptation situation comes around, the easier it will be for you to overcome it when you are in its midst.
Throughout your day, recognize the times when you feel tempted. Remind yourself that you cannot overcome the temptation by yourself because of the weakness of your humanly flesh. Once you stop depending on yourself to overcome your temptation situations, you will find yourself relying more on God. The more you rely on God, the easier it is to allow the Holy Spirit inside you to conquer the temptations that come your way.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Many times, the reason why we don't want to commit to something is because we are unsure of where it will get us. Will we get something out of it? Or will we have wasted our time and effort and receive nothing from it? This type of attitude towards commitment causes Christians to ask themselves questions like, "Do I have to go to church every weekend?", "Do I have to do the right thing all the time?", "Is it ok for me to constantly hang out with my friends who aren't Christians?" and even, "Will my relationship with Christ really bring me satisfaction?" These types of questions can prove to be a huge speed bump in our walk with Christ.
In order to find the answer to our commitment argument, we must ask ourselves, "What does the Bible say about our commitment to Christ?" and "Do we benefit by staying committed to Him?" The answer we are looking for is found in Proverbs 16:3, which says, "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Notice how this verse does not tell us to just commit certain things to God, or to just commit things to Him every once in a while, but tells us to commit to the Lord WHATEVER we do! The benefit of our commitment to God is that our plans will succeed; not might succeed or will sometimes succeed, but will succeed! Our faithful commitment brings forth guaranteed success!
When you find yourself wondering whether or not you should commit yourself to God, remember that the outcome of such commitment is success. Remember, you can't commit if you don't submit. Therefore, submit yourself to God and commit all you do, see, and say to Him. By doing so, you will find that your relationship with Him will grow and He will bless all that you do. Stop buying into this world's lack of respect for commitment and stand firm on the promise of success our faithful commitment to God produces!
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Noah and the ark in Genesis 6:1-11:32. The Bible says in Genesis 6:9 that Moses was the only righteous man on earth at that time and that he walked closely with God. When God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence he told Noah in verse 13, "I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Yes, I will wipe them all from the face of the earth!"
That's not all God told Noah though; He told Noah to build a boat so that he and his family would be spared from the coming flood. Now this wasn't just any boat! This boat was one and a half football fields long and as high as a four-story building! (Genesis 6:14-16)
Can you image how Noah felt when God told him that He was going to destroy everything and that He wanted him to build a boat? Noah had no idea what a boat looked like and probably hadn't seen a huge body of water before! Surely the people must have been warned about the flood, but they didn't do anything about it. In fact, the people around Noah most likely thought he was crazy for doing what he did! But no matter how weird the instructions were that God gave him, and no matter how much the world around him ridiculed him, he still did what God commanded him to!
Nothing has changed since Noah's day. We've been warned about sin and God's judgment upon it, but no matter how many warning we get, we still continue to sin. As a Christian, there will be times when you will feel like doing the wrong thing because of the fear that the world will think of you differently if you did right. It's at times like these we need to remember that we need to be like Noah: we need to follow through with God's plan instead of sitting there saying "no... uh".