Monthly Archives: March 2015

Fighting Temptation

At work, part of what I do is role play with people. I take a real life scenario, give it to them and then have them walk me through how they handle it. I will often do something unexpected in it to see what their response is. As we go through it, I offer input and shape their responses. Most people don’t like to role play so they give the excuses of it’s weird, it’s uncomfortable, or it’s not real. What role plays are intended to do are to show me what you do now, but they’re also used to condition your mind to behave a certain way in a given circumstance. I once heard someone say, “If you don’t know ahead of time how you’ll handle different temptations, you’ll probably fail.”

Since hearing that phrase, I’ve tried to think of different temptations that could come up and think through what my response should be. I’m not saying I haven’t failed at any of the ones I’ve rehearsed for, but I can say that my success rate is higher on those than others. Each one of us face different temptations. Each one of us will fail from time to time because none of us are perfect. Does that mean that we should give in to the temptation and not worry? No! We are to be on our guard against temptation and ready to beat it any time.

In John 12:27-28, Jesus knew He was going to face the temptation to back out of the crucifixion. He said, “Right now I am storm-tossed (deeply troubled). And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.‘ (MSG)” Jesus was already thinking about how He would face the temptation to quit when faced with dying. He had two choices. He could say, “You know what, Father? These people have treated me badly. I change my mind. Get me out of here.” Or He could say, “I told you I would do this and I’m going to. I love each one of them as much as you do. Here I am. Do what you want.”

In Luke 22, we read what happened in the moment Jesus was preparing for. In verse 42 He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine. (NLT)”  A couple of verses later, it says that Jesus was in such agony of spirit over what he was facing, that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. He was facing the greatest temptation of His life. He had a choice in the matter just as you and I do in our temptations. He had prepared ahead of time and was able to choose the right path.

You and I have the same ability to resist temptation. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it. (MSG)”  Paul used the words “always” and “never”. That means that each and every temptation you face, you can count on God to help you. You may not be able to beat temptation every time, but you can count on God to be there to help you every time. He is your ever ever present help in time of need.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Time to Refuel (Video)

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

Isaiah 40:31

If you are having trouble viewing the video, click here.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

10 Scriptures On Palm Trees

 

1.   The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. (Psalm 92:12 AMP)

2.   Both the main Sanctuary and the Holy Place had double doors. Each door had two leaves: two hinged leaves for each door, one set swinging inward and the other set outward. The doors of the main Sanctuary were carved with angel-cherubim and palm trees. There was a canopy of wood in front of the vestibule outside. There were narrow windows alternating with carved palm trees on both sides of the porch. (Ezekiel 41:23-26 MSG)

3.   They spread before me like palm groves, like gardens by the riverside. They are like tall trees planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters. (Numbers 24:6 NLT)

4.   They discovered that the Law, which the Lord gave through Moses, ordered the people of Israel to live in temporary shelters during the Festival of Shelters. So they gave the following instructions and sent them all through Jerusalem and the other cities and towns: “Go out to the hills and get branches from pines, olives, myrtles, palms, and other trees to make shelters according to the instructions written in the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:14-15 GNT)

5.   After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9 NLT)

6.   After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water. (Exodus 15:27 NLT)

7.   Now Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet, and she was serving as a judge for the Israelites at that time. She would sit under a certain palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel would go there for her decisions. (Judges 4:4-5 GNT)

8.   The main room was panelled with cedar and overlaid with fine gold, in which were worked designs of palm trees and chain patterns. (2 Chronicles 3:5 GNB)

9.   On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees —palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the LORD your God for seven days. (Leviticus 23:40 NLT)

10.   So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13 ESV)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Giving Up Your Will

I Samuel10 gives us the account of Saul being anointed King of Israel. After Samuel anointed him, he spoke prophetically over him. He told him very specific things that would happen on his way home. The scripture says that everything Samuel told him would happen, happened. When he finally got home, his uncle asked him where he had been. He told them he went to see Samuel. The uncle knew who Samuel was and asked what he was told by him. Saul only told him the parts that Samuel prophesied about. He didn’t mention he had been anointed King.  

I’ve always wondered about that. Part of me thinks that since he had just been anointed, he would want to tell everyone. He knew that Samuel would be coming in seven days to tell him what was next, yet he kept quiet. It could be that he was still in disbelief because the vision was so great. He failed to realize we serve a great God who gives great vision. The vision God gives each one of us is greater than our ability. We can’t accomplish His vision for our lives on our own. We have to trust God as much as He trusts us in order to accomplish it. 

When Samuel arrived as he promised, he gathered the people of Israel together to tell them what God had said. He reminded them of all the great things God had done. How He had delivered them, how He had rescued them and how He had cared for them throughout there history. Then in verse 19 he said, “But today you have rejected me and have asked me to give you a king. (GNT)” The people knew God had cared for them, but they wanted a person to deliver them, not God. They wanted a person to rescue them, not God. They wanted a person to care for them, not God. I believe it’s because they knew they could manipulate a person and not God. They wanted to do their will, not His.

We try to manipulate God into doing what we want. We offer Him things if only He will answer our prayers. We pray, “God, if you do this one thing for me, then I will…” Those type of prayers don’t seek God’s will, they seek our own. When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He didn’t try to manipulate the Father. He prayed, “Not my will be done, but yours.” If we are ever going to get to the place where we fulfill the vision God has for our lives, we are going to have to move from a “My will be done” attitude to a “Thy will be done” one. We have to let God have His way with our lives instead of us trying to convince Him to let us live them our way.

Saul struggled with that mentality from the first day of being king to his last. He could never let go of his will and fully embrace God’s. Ultimately, he lost the kingdom to someone else. His legacy wasn’t what it could have been because he couldn’t submit fully to God’s will. The same attitude dwells in each one of us, but that doesn’t mean we have to obey it. The same mentality tries to guide our lives, but we can beat it. We must pray as Jesus prayed, “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” When we pray that and lIve it, God will accomplish the greater things He promised.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Improving How You Live

One of the things I have to do often at work is self evaluation. After my boss observes me either working in the field or in presenting information, I know that afterwards they’re going to come to me with three questions. What did you do well? What was your biggest opportunity? What will you do differently next time? After answering these three questions, my boss then answers them  from their perspective. The goal is two fold: to get me to calibrate my perception with theirs and to keep me constantly questioning how I can be more effective at what I do.

They know that if they can instill in me a mental process that asks those three questions constantly, I will improve whether they are there over my shoulder or not. Paul understood this principle too. He was mentoring Timothy from a distance. He offered him advice and encouragement in leading a church. Clearly, Timothy was a younger man than those he was preaching to and had doubts. Paul gave him pointers in the books of I and II Timothy that are good for each of us as believers. 

In i Timothy 412-16, Paul offered encouragement first. He said, “Don’t let anyone think less of you…but be an example.” He encouraged him to do the right thing knowing that he was under more scrutiny because of his age in a leadership role. He simply encouraged him to do the right thing and show others how to live. In essence, Paul was saying, “Practice what you preach.” We should live the life that we are asking others to live. Each of us should be examples of Christ’s love to those who see us. When we do that, it’s hard for anyone to look down on us.

Next, he encouraged Timothy to focus on reading the scriptures and using the gifts God gave him. The more we read the Bible, the more we put it into our hearts. We know that what’s in the heart comes out the mouth. If we spend time reading God’s word (publicly and privately), we and those who hear it will know what God says and will know how to live. We won’t just rely on someone else telling us what God says. We will know because we have heard it ourselves. Psalm 1:2 and Joshua 1:8 encourage us to not just read God’s Word, but to meditate on it as well. Meditating on it pushes it deeper into our hearts and minds.

Finally in these verses, Paul tells Timothy what my boss tells me. He said, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. (NLT)” He wants Timothy to not just do things, but to pay attention to what he’s doing and how he’s doing them. He wants him to question those things so he can improve as a minister. Paul then gave the payoff of such improvement: “Because if you do, you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (GNT)” How we live affects how others receive the Gospel. We should constantly be questioning what we are doing well, what our opportunities are and what we can do differently in the future to improve. How you live matters whether you are a minister or not. Live in such a way that it points others to salvation. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Do The Work

Most of us spend very little time reading in the Minor Prophets in the Bible. Those are the little books at the end of the Old Testament in case you’re wondering. The book of Haggai is almost to the end of those books and the Lord gave him a word for Israel, but it can apply to us as well. The people of Israel had returned from exile and rebuilt their homes, however, the Temple still laid in ruins. God was upset because the people were more concerned about their well being than His. He pointed out that all of their labor wasn’t producing what it should have. He tied that to their lack of interest in rebuilding the Temple.

When all we are concerned about is ourselves, God can’t bless it. We will work our tails off, but will never get ahead. It doesn’t matter what we do, it will never be enough unless we put God first. This was the message Haggai gave to Israel and it goes out to us as well. When the people heard the message, they decided to obey the Lord’s command. As soon as they began, the Lord sent another message in Haggai 1:13, “I will be with you – that is my promise. (GNT)” When you’re doing the work God gives, we have the promise that He will be with us in it. He will not leave us alone.

In Haggai 2:4, God sent another message through Haggai. He said, “But now, don’t be discouraged…(GNT)” When we do what God has called us to do, there will be long periods where you work in obscurity. It will seem like no one is noticing, not even God. It will appear that you aren’t making progress, but God is there in the obscurity with you. Every great leader you can think of in the Bible spent years in obscurity. Moses left the palace to tend sheep. David hid in caves while waiting to be king. Abraham was a man without a home. Joshua was a spy before he was a leader.  Whatever obscure position you’re in now, is preparation for the greater thing God has for you. Don’t get discouraged.

The next part of that verse says, “Do the work…(GNT)” We can’t quit doing what God has called us to. We have to continue the work. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the work you do for God. There’s a scriptural principle that Jesus spoke of that we need to remember. It’s simply that if we are faithful with the little things, God will put us in charge of larger things. We have to be willing to do the small work before God can trust us with the greater work. He doesn’t just give that out. Whatever God has put in front of you, do the work and do it well. 

In the final part of that message in Haggai 2:4, God reminds the people, “I am with you. (GNT)” God is with you before you begin and during the process. He has promised to be there when no one else is. He has given you His word that no matter how hard things get, He will still be there with you. Don’t give up. Don’t look at the final outcome. Do the work one day at a time and God will bless it. When you’re doing what He called you to do, obscurity is a way of life because you’re doing things for His glory, not yours. Don’t despise small beginnings. There is much to learn, much to grow and much ministry to be don’t in those times. Don’t get discouraged, keep working. 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Life Under Construction (Video)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

If you are having trouble viewing the video, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized