Archives for : Praise The Lord

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!

 

Jesus is coming soon- Revolation 22

John Tells About This Book 1 This is a revelation[a] from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen soon. And Christ sent his angel to show it to his servant John, 2 who has told everything he saw. It is the truth that Jesus Christ told him; it is the message from God. 3 Great blessings belong to the person who reads the words of this message from God and to those who hear this message and do what is written in it. There is not much time left. John Writes to the Churches 4 From John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is coming; and from the seven spirits before his throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ. Jesus is the faithful witness. He is first among all who will be raised from death. He is the ruler of the kings of the earth. Jesus is the one who loves us and has made us free from our sins with his blood sacrifice. 6 He made us his kingdom and priests who serve God his Father. To Jesus be glory and power forever and ever! Amen. 7 Look, Jesus is coming with the clouds! Everyone will see him, even those who pierced[b] him. All peoples of the earth will cry loudly because of him. Yes, this will happen! Amen. 8 The Lord God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.[c] I am the one who is, who always was, and who is coming. I am the All-Powerful.” 9 I am John, your fellow believer. We are together in Jesus, and we share these things: suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance. I was on the island of Patmos[d] because I was faithful to God’s message and to the truth of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day, the Spirit took control of me. I heard a loud voice behind me that sounded like a trumpet. 11 It said, “Write down in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” 12 I turned to see who was talking to me. When I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. 13 I saw someone among the lampstands who looked like the Son of Man. He was dressed in a long robe, with a golden sash tied around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool—wool that is white as snow. His eyes were like flames of fire. 15 His feet were like brass that glows hot in a furnace. His voice was like the noise of flooding water. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand. A sharp two-edged sword came out of his mouth. He looked like the sun shining at its brightest time. 17 When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He put his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the one who lives. I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 So write what you see. Write the things that happen now and the things that will happen later. 20 Here is the hidden meaning of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands that you saw: The seven lampstands are the seven churches. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.

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.

 

image

Ecclesiastes 12 – Remember Your Creator

12 Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—
2 before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
3 when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
4 when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
5 when people are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags itself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.[a]
“Everything is meaningless!”
The Conclusion of the Matter

9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.[b] 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
Footnotes:

Ecclesiastes 12:8 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 9 and 10
Ecclesiastes 12:11 Or Shepherd
image

Psalm 148-Praise The Lord

148 Praise the Lord!
Angels above,
praise the Lord from heaven!
2 Praise him, all you angels!
Praise him, all his army!
3 Sun and moon, praise him!
Stars and lights in the sky, praise him!
4 Praise him, highest heaven!
Waters above the sky, praise him!
5 Let them praise the Lord’s name,
because he gave the command and created them all!
6 He made all these continue forever.
He made the laws that will never end.
7 Everything on earth, praise him!
Great sea animals and all the oceans, praise the Lord!
8 Praise him, fire and hail, snow and clouds,
and the stormy winds that obey him.
9 Praise him, mountains and hills,
fruit trees and cedar trees.
10 Praise him, wild animals and cattle, reptiles and birds.
11 Praise him, kings of the earth and all nations,
princes and all rulers on earth.
12 Praise him, young men and women,
old people and children.
13 Praise the Lord’s name!
Honor his name forever!
His name is greater than any other.
He is more glorious than heaven and earth.
14 He made his people strong.
His loyal followers praise him.
Israel, his precious people, praise the Lord!