Tempted!

Tempted!

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:12-22 NIV

Such rich word from James–reminding us that though many may be tempted to do those things which are not right in God’s sight, we do not have to give in and we certainly cannot say–“God tempted us.”

We are tempted to given into those things we want to do–right or wrong. If our flesh controls what we do rather than Holy Spirit, then we’ll most likely given in to the temptations set before us and the enemy–Satan–knows exactly how we can be tempted, but just like God won’t force us to do anything, neither will or can Satan. Our choices determine our consequences.

Some people are tempted by money and obtaining it by any means possible. This temptation is nurtured by greed and desire for power and status and usually ends up leading people to a jail cell for corruption via embezzling, bribery, and illicit deals often conducted in darkness and in secrecy.

Some people are tempted by desire for affection and sexual gratification. This temptation is nurtured by the seeds planted in the mind from pornographic material and dissatisfaction with one’s current state in a relationship. When a person won’t keep their flesh under control, relationships are shattered, health is risked, and in some cases–people are publicly humiliated because of their lack of control.

Had an interesting exchange with someone on Twitter last night in response to a tweet about Pence saying, he won’t be alone with a woman and always requires his wife’s presence. Now, while this might sound “holy” to some, it struck me that he doesn’t trust himself to not be tempted in an effort to appease his own desires. Since he is supposed to be a Christian, I wonder why he’s concerned since Holy Spirit should be guiding all he does. I know some would attempt to apply, “we should avoid the very appearance of evil” to this situation, but I’m having a hard time understanding how a man being alone with a woman or vice versa should be considered evil.

Because of my ministry, I have been alone with men on a number of occasions and I’ve not been tempted to do anything that would not honor God. In jail ministry, in ministering to veterans as a volunteer chaplain, in business endeavors–whatever situation I found myself in–I knew I could count on Holy Spirit to keep me from falling short.

My point in all this is simply–know yourself and what may tempt you. I’m tempted by cheesecake and so I try staying away from places that sell the best and when I do cave–I only purchase one serving. Money doesn’t tempt me and nor does anything that could land me in a jail cell. I know when I pray, God hears and I allow Holy Spirit to do what He does best–keep me in check.

So, if you’re tempted to do something you shouldn’t–ask yourself why and if professing to be a man or woman of God, submit to Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead in all things.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

Return!

“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall!” (Hosea 14:1 NIV)

In the seventh chapter of Hosea, the prophet tells us that it is “pride” that keeps people from returning to The Lord. Although, the reference to the Children of Israel then was specifically for them, it is yet applicable to us, today. Understanding what God has said to others who came before us, is critical–knowing why it was said then and how it is applicable now!

When God came down from heaven and hung on the cross–the ultimate sacrifice for sin–He did it for everyone. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son so whoever believes in Him would be saved and not perish.” (paraphrased) Whoever believes! Are we not all–whoevers?

In times past, God used those who were willing to speak for Him–though their lives were constantly in danger from those who did not believe God. His prophets–or spokespersons warned people time after time of the dangers they would encounter if they did not repent of their sins.

God is yet using those who are willing to be His spokespersons to warn people about their demise if they continue in sin. Why won’t people hear? Their pride and egos get in the way. It is not that they do not know they sin–they have chosen to defy God’s Word to pacify flesh and to do whatever they want to do. These are the people who “think” they are the masters of their own fate and it is pride that gives them the impetus to feel that way. They have forgotten that “pride” is one of the seven things God hates.

When we refuse to obey those in authority–pride opens the door to our downfall. We miss opportunities to achieve all that God desires because we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. Why? Because we think we know better than God! Pride–has led people to public humiliation when they refuse to tell the truth; it has led people to expose their foolishness when they lie and think others are as foolish as they are; it has led to entire nations crumbling and ceasing to exist. Pride–the open door–to destruction.

When are we going to close the door on pride and return to The Lord, obeying Him rather than man?

Man’s wisdom without God’s guidance is fallible at best, and dangerous at most–totally useless. We cannot afford to follow the wisdom of foolish men who allow their pride to make decisions to the detriment of all mankind.

It is time to ignore the foolish pride of men who allow their egos and self-desires to rule over anyone; repent of our sins, and return to God–our Savior and Deliverer! We need to let pride go and let God abide in hearts, in total obedience to Him!

Are You The Ones?

“Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.” (Isaiah 33:15,16 NIV)

No matter what some people about those who do everything in their power to live right, God’s promises never fail. Even though, the righteous have to deal with the same things as those who live ungodly lives, God has a plan to save those who honor His Word and those who don’t–will be left to suffer the consequences of their actions.

When I look at the world and the chaos that abounds, I gain greater understanding of those things the prophets said–warning people about their behavior and associations. History–if not remembered and lessons learned from it–has a way of repeating itself and we see this every day. Everything that was prophesied about the descendants of the Children of Israel is falling into place. The hatred between the brothers is being played out right now in Israel and Gaza, Syria and Afghanistan–all because of jealousy and envy. How foolish we must appear to God to not have learned our lessons well! Could it be that those who read the Words of the prophets read them in unbelief? Or is it stubborn nature that makes us foolish in our attempts to “prove ourselves” to others?

Whenever we think we are better or superior to another group of people–disaster is bound to come upon us and others because of our pride and ignorance. It is pride and ego that leads us to believe in our own superiority and ignorance of the truth of God’s Word that makes us believe that others are inferior. This prevailing attitude often results in people cheating others, misusing and abusing people, lying, and plotting acts of violence and murder against others–superiority. Is there anyone really superior to another? When it rains–does the rain not fall on everyone at the same time or does it just fall upon those who think they are important?

Isaiah has said it well and it would profit all of us to remember that God is not a respecter of persons. His Word is truth and His promises are for everyone–the righteous and the unrighteous–shall receive their just reward for their deeds committed in the earth. I’d rather live with the understanding that I’m better off seeking God’s wisdom than man’s wisdom; doing what God decrees instead of what man commands; and speaking what God speaks rather than changing what God has said to accommodate man’s ever-changing perspectives about God and what He has said.

I pray that God will see me as one who speaks what is right, according to His Word, and doing what is right always in His sight. I pray the same for all who love the Lord and have decided to live according to God’s Word. Are you the ones?

The Beginning of Wisdom!

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV).

This selection of wisdom provided by Solomon to his son is as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago.

Who better to tell someone about respecting and reverencing God other than one who started life in His reign totally dependent upon God and then, turned away from God’s instruction to pacify  his flesh (namely all the wives)?

When Solomon admonishes his son by saying “fools despise wisdom and instruction” he knows what he saying. He did not completely follow God’s instruction and although he was given wisdom beyond measure out of obedience at the beginning of his reign, he lost sight of what he had. He became a braggart, showing off all God had given and allowed his ego and pride to overrule common sense. As a result, he did not live to see or receive all of God’s promises to him fulfilled.

What do we learn from Solomon’s experience? A study of Proverbs (or the book of Wisdom) helps us to understand self, flesh, others and God and what it means to obey His Word.

The first thing we have to do in order to receive and understand God’s wisdom is to keep Him in the position greatest honor and reverence. This what “fear” means in this passage–not that we should be afraid of God, but to reverence Him and honor Him enough to always obey.

In many homes, children are taught to respect and honor parents and to some–it might appear that the children fear the parents. What is more important to note is that obedient children, when they are loved and nurtured and admonished about behavior, usually do not want to disappoint their parents, so they obey them as a matter of respect and honor. We should do the same with God–obey Him out of a desire to not want to disappoint Him.

This desire–to please God and not disappoint Him–is the beginning of Wisdom!

 

 

Put It Down!

Whatever is keeping you from getting where you want to go, put it down.

Whatever is causing confusion in your home, on your job, or in your community, put it down.

Whatever leads you to think you have a right to take a life, put it down.

Whatever leads you to think you have a right to physically abuse someone else, put it down.

Put down the crack pipe!

Put down the weed!

Put down the cigarette!

Put down the alcohol!

Put down your hand (fist)!

Put down the gun!

Put your ego on the shelf, start listening to those who are wiser than you, and start doing what is right in the sight of God–not you! That is–if you want put down the devil and his evil ways!