Archives for : letting go

How Strong Is Your Faith? – by Joyce Meyer

The Faith You Already Have

As Christians, we all have faith to some degree. The Bible says in Romans 12 that each of us is given “a measure of faith.” We operate in faith all the time and don’t even think about it.

For example, some of you reading this article have teenagers you send off to school every day. That requires some faith. And we all need a little faith every time we drive in traffic.

Even if you don’t feel like a spiritual giant of faith, you can take hope in God’s Word that says that as a believer, you have a measure of faith planted inside you.

Is Your Faith All Talk?

Some of you might say, “Well, I have faith. I believe in Jesus.” Frankly, it’s one thing to say you have faith, but it’s an entirely different matter to apply your faith to life’s challenges.

When the storms of life come (and they do for all of us), do you stay calm, cool and collected? Or do you allow fear to overpower your faith? Do you give the situation completely over to God, or do you try to figure everything out?

Stuff Happens

It’s easy for us to feel like we’ve got great faith when things go well or play out like we want them to. And it’s easy for us to have faith when something new comes along and life is exciting.

But stuff happens. And when stuff happens, how does your faith respond?

“ We operate in faith all the time and don’t even think about it. ”

I’m not just referring to big dramatic events that take place…I’m also referring to the little things that pop up and can easily sidetrack you.

For example, recently I was at a conference, and I had a Starbucks coffee waiting for me after one of the sessions. I absolutely love Starbucks coffee. And the coffee was inside one of these big, double-walled Starbucks mugs that keep your coffee warm for a long time. The mug is a copper color, and I really love to use it when I drink coffee.

Anyhow, after the session I went back to drink the coffee, and somebody had stolen it! The mug, even the creamer…everything was gone.

You see, stuff is going to happen. And years ago I would have thrown a fit if that had happened. I would have cried, “Oh God, why does this stuff happen to me? The devil is always picking on me! It’s not fair!”

But I kept the faith and decided that the whole incident was actually quite hilarious. And then I started thinking, Well, somebody might have been cleaning up and thought they were doing something good. You see, I practiced something else the Bible tells us to do: to think the best of people. That also requires faith.

How to Release Faith

Faith is something that must be released. You can possess faith, but you must put it to use. A muscle that is not used gets weak and shrivels up. If you don’t use your faith, then it’s no different than not having any.

When you sit down in a chair, you have faith that it’s not going to collapse. You don’t start sweating and trembling with fear saying, “Oh, I’m afraid to sit in this chair. I don’t know if I should be doing this!” It’s a silly illustration to make the point: You just go plop down in the chair because you do have a measure of faith.

But what about when you have a problem? Do you go plop down in the arms of Jesus and say, “I’m asking You to take care of this and I believe You will.”

Do you release your faith through prayer, line up what you speak with God’s promises, and do whatever He asks you to do without trying to figure things out? Now that’s the way to release your faith!

Give your circumstance over to Jesus and be confident that He’s got it all under control. Your life will change dramatically once you unleash your faith. Don’t just have it in your heart—let it out, put it to the test and be amazed at what God does through your life!

6 Ways to Fight Temptation

6 Ways to Fight Temptation
by Ram Sridharan
If you’re interested in fighting temptation – whether it’s to do drugs, have sex, or something else you think you shouldn’t be doing – then I want to tell you “Congratulations!”

The reason I begin by celebrating with you is that your keen awareness of temptation is a sign that something has changed in you for the better. Having tasted what Jesus has to offer, you’re craving deeper and greater things.

But dealing with temptation can be difficult for Christians, especially new Christians. As you begin your relationship with Jesus, choosing to say “no” to things that seemed natural, comforting, and even pleasurable may seem painful, contrary, and confusing. It may make you question what you’ve signed up for.

The silver lining of temptation is it reminds you of just how much you need Jesus to keep rescuing you from yourself and from the evil around you. So here are six ways to join forces with Jesus to fight the temptations in your life:

1. Nip it in the bud.
Temptation starts out innocently enough. It’s just a small, passing thought at first. Then, the more you attention you give that thought, the more it grows into an obsession. Eventually that thought-turned-obsession gains momentum and lures you into action, which then leads to shame, deceit, and more sin.

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:15 (NIV)

It’s a vicious pattern to which even biblical heroes fell prey. King David noticed Bathsheba bathing (thought) and didn’t stop looking (obsession). Next, he invited her over and had sex with her (action). Then it escalated further: David had Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover up her adulterous pregnancy (shame, deceit, and more sin).

What does this mean for your battle against temptation? The best way to fight temptation is in its infancy.

You’re undoubtedly going to have a tempting thought every so often (maybe very often). The key is not to get discouraged, but to choose to squash it while it’s still a thought.

Instead of entertaining a tempting thought, hand it over to Jesus and make the choice to refocus your mind for him. Choose not to look at the trashy magazines on the rack, so you’re less likely to buy one. Choose not to search for provocative videos on YouTube, so you don’t watch one. Choose not to spend time alone with your girlfriend or boyfriend late at night, so you don’t end up under the covers together. Choose not to take a cup at the party, so you don’t drink to excess.

Whatever that seemingly harmless thought may be for you, don’t give it an inch or it will drag you a mile.

2. Arm yourself with Scripture.
Ephesians 6:17 calls the Bible the “sword of the Spirit,” which means you’ve got access to a new kind of weapon! The lifelong process of learning Scripture will continually transform your mind and arm you for the fight against temptation.

Here are three ways to make sure you’re getting a regular supply:

Memorize Bible verses: When you commit verses to memory, you can whip them out any time you need them. A few verses to start with are Psalm 119:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:5. For a book on praying Scripture to overcome common strongholds, try Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore.
Have a regular “quiet time”: Carve out time on most days for studying the Bible by yourself. There are resources listed in the On Your Own tab for the “How do I learn something from the Bible?” session. One particular resource suggested there is to read the article “How do I start reading the Bible?”
Join a small group Bible study: Whether your Launch group has completed all the sessions or not, consider joining another study on your campus or at your local church. Small groups often study a book of the Bible, read a Christian book together, or even gear around topics that interest specific people groups like athletes, artists, business majors or year in school – watch this video to see how San Diego State’s InterVarsity chapter does small groups.
3. Be weak, not strong.
You may think you need to be strong when fighting battles for Christ, but I’d suggest striving for the opposite. You’re always weaker than your weaknesses. You’re weaker than Satan and weaker than the pull of this world. Instead of posturing in strength and making resolutions like, “I will never do that again,” you need to cry out in weakness to the one who can help you. This is the kind of prayer that will help you in temptation. Cry desperately for the one who will do battle on your behalf and deliver you.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

4. Be honest with your community.
Sometimes you’ll hide your temptations, thoughts, and desires because you feel ashamed of them. But hiding makes you vulnerable to increased temptation. My most helpful relationship regarding temptation is with the prayer partner I’ve had for 15 years. I simply pray, make a list of my sins, and then confess it to him clearly and briefly. He prays forgiveness for me and then I do the same for him. I have experienced more change through this relationship than in any other. You need to make 1-2 trustworthy friends with whom you can openly share your struggles and pray for each other.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 (NIV)

5. Pick your battles wisely.
Peer pressure doesn’t ease up after high school. And it gets harder to navigate when you’ve decided to quit certain habits.

On the one hand, you want to show your friends you’re still accessible now that you’re a Christian. On the other hand, they may still want or expect you to participate in areas you now consider temptations.

Don’t go it alone: ask your Christian community for guidance and accountability. Pray for God to help you know when it will be okay to hang out in certain situations versus when it will be too tempting and you’ll need to bow out. Ask God to prepare you for when the lure of your former life is still too strong for you and you need to find other ways to connect with your friends in different contexts.

For more on this topic, go through the “How do I make lifestyle changes and keep my friends?” session with your Launch group.

6. Explore your wounds.
You cannot blame others for the choices you make. However, past wounds, broken relationships, and abuse can make you more vulnerable to temptation. In many cases, Christ will begin to pinpoint these areas and invite you to extend forgiveness to someone who hurt you.

You may want to find a Christian counselor through your church or InterVarsity staff member who can bring the truth and light of Christ to painful areas. Becoming aware of your wounds and how they can lead you to sin is not only helpful against temptation, it will result in deeper freedom for you.

 

 

 

Psalm 104 Praise the Lord

104 My soul, praise the Lord!
Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with glory and honor.
2 You wear light like a robe.
You spread out the skies like a curtain.
3 You built your home above them.[a]
You use the thick clouds like a chariot
and ride across the sky on the wings of the wind.
4 You make the winds your messengers
and flames of fire your servants.[b]
5 You built the earth on its foundations,
so it can never be moved.
6 You covered it with water like a blanket.
The water covered even the mountains.
7 But you gave the command, and the water turned back.
You shouted at the water, and it rushed away.
8 The water flowed down from the mountains into the valleys,
to the places you made for it.
9 You set the limits for the seas,
and the water will never again rise to cover the earth.
10 Lord, you cause water to flow from springs into the streams
that flow down between the mountains.
11 The streams provide water for all the wild animals.
Even the wild donkeys come there to drink.
12 Wild birds come to live by the pools;
they sing in the branches of nearby trees.
13 You send rain down on the mountains.
The earth gets everything it needs from what you have made.
14 You make the grass grow to feed the animals.
You provide plants for the crops we grow—
the plants that give us food from the earth.
15 You give us the wine that makes us happy,
the oil that makes our skin soft,[c]
and the food that makes us strong.
16 The great cedar trees of Lebanon belong to the Lord.
He planted them and gives them the water they need.
17 That’s where the birds make their nests,
and the storks live in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are a home for wild goats.
The large rocks are hiding places for rock badgers.
19 Lord, you made the moon to show us when the festivals begin.
And the sun always knows when to set.
20 You made darkness to be the night—
the time when wild animals come out and roam around.
21 Lions roar as they attack,
as if they are asking God for the food he gives them.
22 When the sun rises, they leave
and go back to their dens to rest.
23 Then people go out to do their work,
and they work until evening.
24 Lord, you created so many things!
With your wisdom you made them all.
The earth is full of the living things you made.
25 Look at the ocean, so big and wide!
It is filled with all kinds of sea life.
There are creatures large and small—too many to count!
26 Ships sail over the ocean,
and playing there is Leviathan,[d]
the great sea creature you made.
27 Lord, all living things depend on you.
You give them food at the right time.
28 You give it, and they eat it.
They are filled with good food from your open hands.
29 When you turn away from them,
they become frightened.
When you take away their breath,[e]
they die, and their bodies return to the dust.
30 But when you send out your life-giving breath,[f]
things come alive, and the world is like new again!
31 May the Lord’s glory continue forever!
May the Lord enjoy what he made.
32 He just looks at the earth, and it trembles.
He just touches the mountains, and smoke rises from them.
33 I will sing to the Lord for the rest of my life.
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.
34 May my words be pleasing to him.
The Lord is the one who makes me happy.
35 I wish sinners would disappear from the earth.
I wish the wicked would be gone forever.
My soul, praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

 

Biblical Steps to inner healing

God wants to take your wounds, pain, hurts, and sorrow! Before we begin, I want you to know that God desires to heal our wounds and take our pain and hurt from us. You know how you can love somebody so much, that you wish you could take their pain or suffering from them? That’s how Jesus feels about us… He loves us so much that He paid the price for our emotional healing in the work on the cross! Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” He carried our sorrows in His work on the cross. The NT Greek tells us that the word sorrows here literally refers to anguish, affliction, grief, pain, and sorrow. Jesus took these things and paid the price with His own blood for us! You need to know that God desires to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. This is what the Bible tells us: Psalms 147:3, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Do you want to receive healing from emotional wounds, pain, sorrows, grief, and anguish? It is vital that we take advantage of what Christ has done for us, and learn to cast our cares upon the Lord. Not some of them, but ALL of them; knowing that He cares for you and wants to take those things from you. 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Release those hurt, painful and fearful emotions into the hands of Jesus Hanging onto fear, hurt and pain can actually block the healing power of the Holy Spirit in your soul. It is vital to open up and allow the Lord to heal your wounds. Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Jesus paid the price for the healing of our souls and to set us free from the bondage that we have come under from the bruises that we’ve received. It is important to God that we receive this inner healing… His Son paid a costly price for it! Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In the above verse, it’s not speaking about a heavy physical burden, but a burden in a person’s soul. This is made evident in the later part of this passage where it says, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Jesus is telling us to come unto Him and give Him our heavy burden, and take His yoke which is light and easy to bear. Allow your painful emotions to be released as you give them to the Lord. It’s okay to cry, sob and let the damaged emotions come out as they are given to the hands of the Lord. Holding on to the pain and hurt will only prevent you from be healed. James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” If you can find a person to confide in, it can also be very helpful to share your burden with them and receive prayer for healing. There is tremendous healing that can take place as you share your pain with a fellow brother or sister in Christ! Realize the love of God for you; this will help you open up and receive inner healing Knowing the true nature of our heavenly Father will help us to trust Him and open ourselves up so that we can receive the healing that only the Holy Spirit can provide for us. Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” After Christ has suffered and died for us, why would He withhold healing our wounded souls? We can confidently open up to Him and know that He has our best interests in mind simply by looking at what He went through on the cross for us. You are loved by God, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He longed to have a relationship with you even before you became His child! Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus said that the greatest love a man can show for his friends, is when he lays down his life for them. Jesus laid down His life for us – that is how valuable and dear we are to Him! John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Did you know that God loves us with the same love that He had towards Jesus Himself? Yes, believe it or not, this is true! I want you to look up this verse in your Bible: John 17:23, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” It is absolutely essential that we learn of and realize the love that our heavenly Father has for us. Without knowing the love of God for us, we cannot be filled with His fullness: Ephesians 3:17-19, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Realize God’s will for your mind and receive it! 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Abuse, trauma, hurt and pain are all works of the devil. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and restore His children to the fullness to which He created them to fulfill. When Jesus was here on earth, He went about doing the will of the Father in heaven, and this included healing all who were oppressed of the devil: Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Jesus desire for you is to heal your broken heart and set you who have been bruised at liberty: Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” He wants to restore your soul from all the damage that has been done to you: Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Extend forgiveness towards those who have hurt you Unforgiveness will hinder or block the healing power of the Holy Spirit. It will bind you up and separate you from God’s forgiving and healing power. It is vital to release those feelings that you have against others, so that the Holy Spirit’s healing and forgiving power can heal and restore your soul. Unforgiveness is a deadly poison that separates us from God’s forgiveness in our own lives and gives us over to tormenting spirits. It is hard to receive healing when one is in such a position. Consider these passages in scripture concerning the deadliness of unforgiveness and bitterness in our lives: Mark 11:25-26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” As we can see, unforgiveness will block God’s forgiveness from operating in our own lives. Inner healing requires God’s forgiveness. Matthew 18:32-35, “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Unforgiveness will put us into the hands of tormenting spirits. This is the last thing we need when we’re seeking healing for our souls! As if that isn’t enough, unforgiveness also puts a person in spiritual darkness and separation from God, and defiles us spiritually: 1 John 2:11, “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” It is absolutely essential to release feelings of bitterness and unforgiveness, in order to fully receive healing for our souls. Forgiving others will welcome the healing power of the Holy Spirit into our lives. Realize who you are in Christ Realizing your identity in Christ is absolutely vital to our healing process. You need to know that you are a new creation in Christ, freed from the darkness of your past, forgiven of your sins, and freedom and healing are yours because of the Blood that Christ shed for you! I encourage you to go through my teaching entitled, “Who we REALLY are” for more information. Stop feeding on lies of insecurity, guilt, and pain (Jesus took your pain!) My father often uses the story of two men on our shoulders, and whichever one you listen to will crowd the other one out. This is absolutely true concerning how we handle God’s voice and the devil’s voice. Just recently the Holy Spirit gave me a powerful revelation, here’s what He said to me: “You need to be discerning of the voice of the devil… it is your responsibility not to give consideration (or pay attention) to it!” (Wording may be slightly different, but that is the exact message) It is absolutely vital that we NOT listen or pay attention to the voice of the devil in our minds. God’s Word tells us that we need to be taking every thought captive to the obedience to Christ: 2 Corinthians 10:4, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” One thing you can look out for is condemnation and fear. Both of these come from the enemy. “What if” thinking is always a giveaway that there’s a demon doing the speaking. For more information about condemnation, I recommend reading my teaching on Condemnation vs Conviction. Forgive yourself – see yourself as God sees you Forgiving yourself is a vital step that we must take while seeking inner healing. We need to love and appreciate the person that Christ has made in us! It is vital to see ourselves for who we really are in Christ. If you continue to beat yourself up for your past failures, after the Blood of Christ has washed them away, then you are, in reality, denying the very work of the cross! Here are a few (of many) good verses to mediate on in God’s Word: Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Hebrews 10:22, “…draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Colossians 1:22-23, “…he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.” (NLT) For more information on forgiving yourself, I recommend going through my teaching entitled, “Forgiving yourself.” I also highly recommend my teaching entitled, “A love relationship w/Jesus.” Speak to the pain and release it into Jesus’ hands Lastly, go to the pain, the emotional wound that is hidden within you, and confront it with the healing love of Christ. Knowing that Jesus has paid for your emotional wounds, hurts, pains, and sorrows, tell the inner hurt, painful memories, and emotional affliction to leave in the name of Jesus. Then call upon Jesus to remove those things from you. You might pray something like this, “Lord Jesus, I love you, thank you for bearing my burden on the cross. I ask that take these inner hurts, painful memories, and emotional wounds from me right now. I submit them to you, and accept your peace in place of those things which I am giving up.” The next step is to seek deliverance from any spirits that are involved in your mind or emotions. These spirits must be confronted and cast out in Jesus’ name. You may attempt this yourself as a self-deliverance, or seek a qualified deliverance minister to help you with this step. If you begin to experience overwhelming or strong demonic reactions from the below prayer, or if the spirits aren’t coming out, then it is recommended to seek deliverance from a qualified minister. If you are not yet a believer in Christ, then I do not recommend confronting any evil spirits until you do. Without Christ, the demons are nothing to mess with, they are powerful spiritual beings, and without Christ, they are not yet disarmed in your life (see Colossians 2:13-15). If you would like to accept Jesus right now as your Lord and savior, go before Him now with a prayer like this, “Lord Jesus Christ, I realize I am a sinner. I believe you died and shed your blood for the remission of my sins, so that I may have eternal life. Right now, I turn from my sins and ask that you come into my life, changing me into a new person and washing all my sins away. I receive you as my personal Lord and Savior. Amen.” A simple self-deliverance prayer might go something like this, “I now come against any unclean spirits that have been influencing my mind, will and emotions, and I take authority over these spirits

 

How to Overcome Temptation

Background and Meaning of the Word ‘Temptation’:

  • The same Greek word (Peirasmos) is used for ‘temptations’ (Mat 6:13, 1 Cor 10:13, Jas 1:13) and ‘trials’ (Jas 1:2,12, 1 Pet 1:6).
  • Meaning of the word – To put to proof by experiment of good or experience of evil
  • to scrutinize, entice, discipline, examine, prove, try, tempt
  • It is important to make a distinction between two meanings within this one word.
    • On one hand, it signifies an attempt to entice someone into evil. (Often translated as temptations)
      • Satan is the ultimate source of all desires and actions contrary to God.
      • He is the tempter. (Mat 4:3, 1 Th 3:5)
    • On the other hand, it indicates a testing which aims at spiritual good. (Often translated as trials)
  • This bible study is detailed description of ‘temptation’ in its negative significance.
Purpose of Temptation:
  • To undermine God’s plan and will (Gen 3:4-5)
  • To stray man from God’s way (John 10:10)
  • Temptation at its core, is to deny the authority of God and to seek our independence from God.

What are the ways of Temptation?

  • Temptation starts in heart and mind, in our deepest motives and desires. (Jas 1:14-15)
  • 1 John 2:16 talks about three most fundamental means of temptation. – “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
    • Lust of the flesh
    • Lust of the eyes
    • Pride of Life
  • These three fundamental principles summarize any temptations we may face in our daily lives.
  • Satan used this devices to tempt Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
    • Lust of the Eyes – “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye..” (Gen 3:6)
    • Lust of the Flesh – “…tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye..”
    • Pride of Life – “…and also desirable for gaining wisdom (like God)…” (Gen 3:5-6)
  • Satan use the same devices to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. (Mat 4:1-11)
    • Lust of the Flesh – “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Mat 4:3)
    • Lust of the Eyes – “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” (Mat 4:8)
    • Pride of Life – “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.” (Mat 4:9)

Is temptation Sin? Can temptation be considered as Sin?

  • No, Jesus was also tempted. (Mat 4:1-11)
  • Hebrews 4:15 – “but we have one (Jesus) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”
  • Every Christian is faced with some kind of temptation.

Why is it so ‘easy’ to fall or give in to temptation? Why do we see a constant struggle with sin?

  • Because there is a temporary pleasure in it.
  • Hebrews 11:25 – “He (Moses) chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”
  • We are susceptible to sin because of our frailty due to sinful nature. (Gen 6:5)

So How to overcome temptation? What are the steps one can take?

Preparation:

  • Bible often picture temptation and struggle with sin as a battlefield, it is fighting against temptation and if you want to succeed in the battle, you need to prepare well.
  • Ready for the battle. (Eph 6:11, 13-17)
  • Watch and pray. (Mk 14:38)
  • Remember Jesus used word of God to attack and overcome all three temptations in the wilderness. We are no better, so spend time in the word of God. Immerse yourself into word of God, study it, memorize it. Remember, you may not have your bible with you when Satan confronts you with some kind of temptation!
  • Be alert and self-controlled (1 Pet 5:8). (For every christian, temptation can come in different form.)
  • Strong in faith. (1 Pet 5:8-9)

Perseverance and Endurance:

  • So often the battle goes weary, and we just give up and give in.  We need to persevere, persist and continue to resist temptation.

Planning: (Strategy)

  • Remember that there is always a way to overcome temptation.
  • 1 Cor 10:13 – “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.”
  • There are two strategies, which I have discovered in bible when dealing with temptation.
  1. Resist or Fightback:
    • James 4: 7: ” Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
    • There are times when you need to fight back and resist the temptation. You need to stand firm.
  2. Retreat:
    • 2 Tim 2:22: “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness…”
    • There are times when you need to flee, run away or retreat to escape temptation.
    • Joseph is an excellent example of both of this methods. He tried to resist Potiphar’s wife as much as he could, but when the time came, he chose to flee out rather than resist her. (Gen 39: 6-12) (Joseph – Bible Character Study)
    • I believe that many times, we choose wrong ways, we flee when we need to stand firm, and vice versa.

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath-Luke 6

6 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

The Twelve Apostles

12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Blessings and Woes

17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Love for Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

The Wise and Foolish Builders

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

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Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

 

Recently I was talking with a group of women about body image issues and the strain our culture places on women as desperately try to become “beautiful” in the eyes of society standards. One woman brought up the fact that there was a country that once had no television, and no real issue with anorexia. Apparently, once that country became media-ready and televisions invaded the land, they noticed an increase (up to 30%) of girls who were showing signs of anorexia. The “image plague” struck their society and began to change the girls in their midst. Body image, and the perception of beauty, changed.
The reality of “beauty” in our culture is quite deceiving. Just walk down your local toy store doll aisle, and look at the unrealistic proportions of the fashion dolls; each one modeling perfect hair, long legs, and overall body measurements that if translated to the average woman’s shape would look pretty silly in real life. Yet somehow, today’s girl looks at these dolls and craves similar curves, and sometimes even starves herself to achieve the tiny waistline, and plans for surgical procedures to augment her shape in other ways.
Also, think about the periodical displays at our local check out counter, look at the airbrushed pictures on the latest magazines. The young starlets that show up on the covers of these magazines are not exactly as they appear in print. A photo shopped nip here, a graphic tuck there, and voila! Perfection. We understand that what we see is not always what truth, but the impact of the media’s message is heard loud and clear by today’s girl. Strive for extreme perfection. Unfortunately, even in this airbrushed age, we can get caught in the trap feeling inferior to the false presentations on the newsstand.
Beyond the intangible expectations of our society, we as Christian women answer to a higher calling. We look to the Lord for our worth, and our acceptance. The only expectations and approval we should seek are that of our Father in heaven. And there is great news for us: God loves us. He adores us! He created us to be wonderful, diverse, and not anything like the media’s call to be an unattainable shape. God calls us to be His daughters. His followers. His servants. And you know what? The Almighty God loves us – loves you – just the way you are. And you are beautiful to Him!
In this women’s issue package from Jennifer Devlin, readers will understand the root of true beauty and happiness, the dangers of comparison, and receive practical helps for feeling beautiful in God’s sight.

You are Beautiful to God

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Familiar saying, but do we understand the magnitude of this thought in relation to the way God sees us? God looks upon us with love, and sees us as a beautiful creature He created. He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to provide a way for us to enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.
Somehow, on our worst hair day, or the time of the month when our clothes fit a bit tighter and our nerves are on edge, it is hard to imagine that the God of all creation would consider us beautiful. But He does. Even on our bad hair days! Society, on the other hand, will try and tell us that beauty is only skin deep – and that the newest procedures, products, and pills will be the answer to our most pressing image issues. Which will we believe? The cosmetic industry’s marketing mantra, or the Father who created us in His image?
God is head over heels in love with you and me, and desires for us to reflect His light to the world. Can you imagine? We can stand firm on this truth, knowing that God will always look to the beauty within us; the Spirit’s presence that guides us and helps us reflect the true beauty that comes from being a child of God Most High. Don’t toss to and fro to the tide of advertising schemes and skewed image requirements – stand strong on God’s Word, and delight in the promise that it is our inner beauty that pleases God. — JD
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge\u2014that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Comparison Trap

A friend once told me that women dress up to impress other women more than to receive approval from men. You know, I think she was right! Just look at how we, as women, plan our clothing and accessories — intentional and thoughtful. Thinking, rethinking, changing, and constantly assessing the outcome. Most men don’t even notice the details we spend hours planning. But women; they notice right away! Typical conversations may sound something like this:
New earrings?
Yes, they are! Nice shoes, where’d you get them?
Oh, at the store down the street. Thanks for noticing…
That sweater is a great color on you.
Have you lost weight? You look terrific!
Yes, I’ve been on the latest diet plan. Let me tell you all about it…

The niceties of conversation move from one topic to the next, but women somehow always incorporate image and presentation. Deep within, behind those acknowledgments and compliments, potentially lays another layer of observation – comparison. The earrings are better than someone else’s. The shoes must have been expensive. She looks so much nicer than another friend. Or, the comparisons may actually include the tragic comparison over weight issues. As women continually compare, compete, and cry over their current state of appearance, we fall into the snare set by the enemy. Today’s culture can hold us captive as we compare ourselves to others, the world, and the standards society sets for us…if we’re not careful to avoid the comparison trap. — JD

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Practical Steps to Beauty

Friend, you are beautiful to God. You matter to Him, no matter what your shape or size. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and as a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within you and guides you into all truth.
And yet, as you and I live in the world, we constantly hear messages that can make us feel a level of discontent. As we end this package’s sessions together, and have looked into comparisons, culture, and contentment, what’s a woman to do? How can we live victoriously as a believer and a woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes?
Here are some easy steps to understanding your true beauty:
  • Turn off the television when programs air that support unhealthy self image messages and stop buying magazines that promote unhealthy body shapes — keep away from the messages and media images that perpetuate culture’s unattainable standards.
  • Stay in the Word of God – especially seeking out verses that describe our worth to God, our beauty in His sight, and our standing in victory through Jesus Christ. Understand that those verses apply to you, your life, and the shape you are today.
  • Understand what you want to change about yourself and why – are you seeking change because of society’s demands, or because of a true inner desire? Evaluate motives, and only act on your desires if they will lead to personal goals being met instead of pressure from outside forces.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself daily with the truth that you are beautiful to God! — JD
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

 

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God Knows Best: Even If It Doesn’t Seem So

By Danni Andrew
Guest Writer

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

My life has been an uproar lately. I have not been able to write, nor have I been able to think clearly. The time is fast approaching marking “one year”, since my Mother had her stroke. Soon after will be one year since I was forced to put her into a nursing home. Not long after will be … one year since she breathed her last on this planet.

When one person leaves such a huge void in my life, I am at a loss as to what to do about it. My life was not my own for so many years while I cared for the needs of my Mother. My dreams lay at the door, waiting for the moment when I could pick them up again. I do not regret one moment of the time spent with her. She needed me, and I needed to be needed!

God knew what my needs were before the words were even a breath. As I begged God to show me what to do to help my Mom, it became very clear that it wasn’t about what I wanted. I simply wanted my Mom back. I wanted her to get up off of that bed and tell me to quit being so bossy, just one more time! It wasn’t meant to be. It was her time and I needed to let her go peacefully. As much as I didn’t want to!

In those moments in time when I don’t have a clue what to do next, God does! When my head is hanging and my heart is broken, God knows what the next step is. God knows how much I hurt. He also knows that His plan is so much better. My Mom used to say, “If I could just get some rest I would feel better.” Well, Mom finally got the rest she has been wanting for such a long time.

As I stand here looking at my own dreams, I find it hard to pick them up. Somewhere in my sadness I must remind myself that it is ok to be sad, but I must also move on. My inability to write has been because of the loss of my Mom. Her words ring in my ears, “Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and do what you have to do!” I have allowed myself to get bogged down in depression long enough. She lived a good life, and now so must I.

While I still feel like Job a bit, I am becoming more and more excited about the life that is before me. The door is opening and I must walk through it. My Mom would want me to. She was the one that read every Devotion I ever wrote. She was the one that always said, “Go for it!”

“I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”Jeremiah 29:14

While taking care of my Mom was not exactly “exile”, as I enjoyed my time with her, it was still somewhat of a deviation from what I had planned. It is a road I will never be sorry for taking.

You never know what the plans are that God has for you. You cannot know the road He will take you on. I learned many things about myself while taking care of my Mother – lessons that God felt I needed to learn. I am more patient now. I am somehow quieter as well. I am more reflective than I was before. My Mother and I spent the last eight months of her life studying the Bible. God knew all of this. He knew that I needed her just as much or more than she needed me! My life has been enriched because of the time spent with her. I am thankful for that time. My writing is much better now than it was before, and somehow God knew that too.

1 Peter 5-Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The Flock of God

5 Now I have something to say to the elders in your group. I am also an elder. I myself have seen Christ’s sufferings. And I will share in the glory that will be shown to us. I beg you to 2 take care of the group of people you are responsible for. They are God’s flock.[a] Watch over that flock because you want to, not because you are forced to do it. That is how God wants it. Do it because you are happy to serve, not because you want money. 3 Don’t be like a ruler over those you are responsible for. But be good examples to them. 4 Then when Christ the Ruling Shepherd comes, you will get a crown—one that will be glorious and never lose its beauty.

5 Young people, I have something to say to you too. You should accept the authority of the elders. You should all have a humble attitude in dealing with each other.

“God is against the proud,
but he is kind to the humble.”

6 So be humble under God’s powerful hand. Then he will lift you up when the right time comes. 7 Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you.

8 Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat. 9 Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.

10 Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in his glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. 11 All power is his forever. Amen.

Final Greetings

12 Silas will bring this letter to you. I know that he is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote this short letter to encourage you. I wanted to tell you that this is the true grace of God. Stand strong in that grace.

13 The church in Babylon[b] sends you greetings. They were chosen just as you were. Mark, my son in Christ, also sends his greetings. 14 Give each other a special greeting[c] of love when you meet.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

“A Real Homecoming” By David N. Mosser

Isaiah 35:1-10
During the time of the prophecy of Isaiah, as most Christians know, Babylon deported Israel to a far away land. Of course, scholars tell us that at most those whom the Babylonians deported numbered no more than 10% of the population. Nonetheless, the Babylonians plainly knew what they were doing. The persons that they deported from Israel were those who were most instrumental in administrating Hebrew society — the priests, the wealthy, and the most educated of Israel’s leadership. This “strategic deportation” effectively crippled customary Israelite life during the years of deportation.
The days of the exile were difficult for Israel. The deportation into exile changed everything for those exiled, as well as those who remained behind in the sacred land of Canaan. We can get a sense of the misery of those in exile when we recall the plaintive cry of those cut off from the temple and other familiar fixtures of worship in their homeland: “By the rivers of Babylon — there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1). This prayer reveals the deepest and most profound experience of homesickness — feeling cut off from even God!
Conceivably one of the reasons that the lectionary constructors selected our lesson today from Isaiah is that it speaks to the hope of all people for “Homecoming.” Many people in our modern society feel detached from life. Work has become increasingly ruthless with demands on companies and small businesses to increase profits. This circumstance forces workers into longer and more stressful labor. In families, economic pressures increase stress on relationships. Children are unsupervised with the advent of both parents, if they are still together, working harder and longer hours. Urban traffic virtually guarantees fretful or short-tempered parents when they finally do arrive home to the family. Our sense of home seems distant from earlier American scenes depicted by the artist Norman Rockwell or the nostalgic Currier and Ives commercials of days gone by.
For these reasons and many more, most of us yearn for simpler times. When we remember our own childhood, it seems that times were better and more secure. Consequently, we relish the evocative days that Christmas represents. Christmas prods us to recall our best memories and what we all hope for when we consider home. For modern people, Christmas is not merely a religious holy-day, which it certainly is, but it also signifies the in-gathering of family and homecoming.
Home is a notion valued in the Bible. Possibly for the Hebrew people the idea of home was especially precious. From the beginning, God had led them toward it. We all remember how God’s relationship with the covenant people began: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you’ ” (Genesis 12:1). Later, after Jacob had served many years under the discipline of his father in law Laban, Genesis 30:25 tells us, “When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country.’ ” Even the wisdom literature reminds us that “Like a bird that strays from its nest/is one who strays from home” (Proverbs 27:8). Home and the idea of homecoming is in our spiritual DNA.
For people like the exiles and for people like us modern and sophisticated folks, homecoming nearly always conjures images of hope. It is likely that some in Israel, however, said that Isaiah’s image of a homeward journey was naively optimistic. Isaiah wrote that Israel would travel homeward on “A highway . . . and it shall be called the Holy Way” (35:8). Faith in God gives us a positive option by which to react to the things that life throws our way. Genuine homecoming is to be re-united with the Lord. Our faith keeps this option open to us. The other option is despair which lead to death. Faith places this decision within our grasp and Christmas helps us focus on what authentic homecoming is all about.
Most of us know that there are basically two responses to bleak and oppressive circumstances life presents: despair or hope. It all depends on one’s faith perspective. For an example of perspective a shoe company sent a salesperson was sent to a remote country. When he arrived, he was dismayed because everyone went barefooted. So he wired the company, “No prospect for sales. People don’t wear shoes here.”
Later another salesman went to the same area. He too immediately sent word to the home office. But his telegram read, “Great potential! People don’t wear shoes here!” A person’s perspective depends on a person’s faith. For the Hebrew people and Christians Isaiah reminds each of us about that largely untapped resource we call faith. By faith we can get home!