Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30, 2010

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalm 37:3-5
Everyone wants to know how to get God to give them the desires of their heart. Delight in the LORD seems easy enough! So, how does one delight in the LORD? There have been many fanciful interpretations of what it means to delight yourself in the LORD, but only one revelation of what this means is found in the Scriptures.

"Delight" here in Psalm 37:4 is the Hebrew word "oneg", which means "to treat as a delicacy." There are very few places in the Scriptures were the word "oneg" is used. Yet, because it is a rarity, it will help us solve a mystery. There is one place, and only one, where it tells us exactly how to delight in the LORD, even using the word "oneg".

This word used in the combination and context as it is here has the connotation of worship, which brings us to our second idea of how to desire God. We should WANT Him more that we want anything else on the planet. In the words of the Psalmist, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?"

A second way He tells us we should desire Him is through WORSHIP. What does that mean?

Our word "worship" comes from to old English words "worth - ship" and literally means "giving worth" to God. What gives worth to God? Your devotion and desire! So, if you want to keep your desire above temptation make God the object of your chief desire. Honor Him with your emotion and your will.

Worship is so much more than what you often think. When you think about worship you may think about several songs an offering and a sermon. If worship is only a one hour per week deal with you, you will not give God the worth He desires - and deserves. Worship is a 24/7 and a 365 proposition. Worship is absolute devotion to God. As the Apostle Paul, one of the most devoted Christ-followers of all time, wrote: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."

If you want to strengthen yourself against temptation aim your desire - your wants and your will - at God. In other words, worship Him. Not just for an hour on Sunday, but live a life-style of worship. Live in His Word daily, that's worship. Walk in His ways daily, that's worship. Love your spouse and your children, that's worship. Give eight hours work for eight hours wages, that's worship. Whatever you do you do it as unto the Lord - that's worship. That is what He desires and therefore, what you must desire.

This is what the Psalmist meant when he said, "Delight yourself in the Lord". Will you take delight in Him today? Will you aim your want and your will at Him? How will you do that today?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29, 2010

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalms 37:3-5
Desire is a combination of emotion and intellect. Desire is part want and part will. Temptation is a battle over where we will aim our desire.
The First Adam aimed his desire at a lie and we have been a deceived race since.
Jesus, the Second Adam, aimed His desire at God and remained holy.
What about you? Are your desires being steered by your wants or by your will?
The Psalmist knew about desire. He wrote some of the most personal, poignant, and passionate poetry ever written. Few people have chased God harder than David. He gives us some insights here in Psalm 37 that you could benefit from. The Psalm promises that if you, "delight yourself in the Lord" the Lord will "give you the desires of your heart".
So, the question becomes, how do you do that? How do you delight yourself in the Lord?
Before we explore that, let me point out something even more obvious - you must first desire to please God. You must decide that God's desires are more important than your desires. You will not be delighted in God if He is not your chief desire.
What does that look like?
"Trust in the Lord...." The word picture painted here means "to rely on", "to be confident", "to lean your full weight on" Him.
The first way to delight in the Lord is to WANT Him more than to want anything or anyone else. Aim all of your desire at Him. Make it the purpose of your life to meet His desires. Don't even make it about your desires - focus on satisfying His!
When you want the Lord more than anything, temptation loses it's strength against you! I doubt if the devil will tempt you toward desiring God.
Will you aim your desires at God today? Will you make Him your chief desire? Will you confess and surrender any misplaced desires?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28, 2010

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalm 37:3-5
The more I study this Psalm the more insight I gain into the relationship between desire and temptation. And make no mistake, there is a strong relationship! Temptation happens at the intersection of your desire and your will. If you have no desire for something then you can't be tempted by it. It really is that simple. For the most part, people end up doing what they most desire to do.
So, that is why desire matters and that's why if you have any hopes of defeating temptation you must be in touch with and in charge of your desires.
But this morning, the issue I want to address is this, what should you desire? The answer is simple - you should desire what God desires. Or even better than that, you should desire God! God should be your chief desire! The fact is, unless God is your chief desire - HE IS NOT YOUR GOD!
So what is it that God desires and what do we need to desire in order for Him to be our God? The Psalmist mentions three things. I will be highlighting those over the next three posts.
But for now I want to focus like a laser on your chief desire. What is it? Is there something you desire more than you desire God? Do you love God because He is your chief desire or do you love Him hoping that He get you what you desire? Are you serving Him or are you trying to get Him to serve you? Only you - (and Him) - know the true answer to that. And ultimately you will answer to Him for that.
As I conclude this thought for this morning I want to tie together several statements that I have made during this series on temptation. First, "we are tempted because we are sinners and we sin because we're tempted". In other words, when our desires are wrong and when our desires are not lined up with God we will be tempted more! Second, "temptation is a test that reveals what we love most". What you desire will be exposed by how you are tempted and where you yield to temptation.
Adam sinned at the moment God ceased to be his chief desire. Jesus resisted sin because God was His chief desire! How about you?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27, 2010

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalm 37:3-5
Temptation happens at the point of your desire. That is abundantly clear in the temptation of Adam and Eve as it is in the temptation of Jesus. Adam and Eve were controlled by their desire and sinned against God. Jesus controlled His desire and remained sinless. So, it seems that you are confronted with an option, "either you control your desires or your desires will control you". Therein lies the battle of temptation. Will you be controlled by your emotions or will you exercise your will to control your emotions?
There are some who believe you cannot control your desires and that you are a slave to them. No thanks to Adam and Eve, it is difficult to gain control over your desires. Once they exercised their will against God it perverted their desires. That is the nature we inherit from them.
So, how do you get control of your desires? How do we keep your desires from controlling you? The Psalmist, who is very open about his struggles to gain control over his desires, shares some insight into how he does it.
"Trust in the Lord". The word for "trust" means to "lean on" or to "rely on" or to "put confidence in" God. The word picture portrayed is the idea of putting your total trust into God. It is like when you sit in a chair. You put your total weight into that chair and completely trust it. When you put the key in your car you totally trust it to start. When you lie down on your bed you totally trust it to support you. You must "trust, rely, lean on" God to help you control your desires. By the power of your will you choose to aim your emotions at God.
"do good". When you place your trust completely on the Lord He will guide you and strengthen you to "do good". Notice it does not say that you should desire to do good, it simply says to "do good". People who are controlled by their emotions and desires will only "do good" when they feel like it. But people who control their desires do good whether they feel like it or not!
Jesus probably didn't feel like dying on the cross. But he "did the good" that His Father desired of Him. Jesus probably felt like turning thos stones into bread - partly because He was very hungry and partly because he wanted to show the devil that He really could after the devil challenged His "godhood". How do you feel when someone challenges your manhood? You want to show them, don't you? Imagine being God and having some inferior being challenge your "godhood".
So, here it is. Another day, another battle with temptation. Temptation will be there to meet you at your point of desire and you will either control your desire or be controled by it. You can trust your own strength to take charge over your emotions or you can rely on God and trust Him to help you do good.
The first "good" thing you can do today is to put Him in charge of your emotions AND your will!

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26, 2010

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalm 37:3-5
Over the past month we have been examining the strategy that the devil used to tempt Adam and caused him to fall. We have identified the four step strategy as follows: Doubt - he got them to question the character and the caring of God and the consequences of their sin. That led to a Delay - they gave sin and temptation a second thought. When they dwelt on the temptation and delayed their obedience, they sinned. Then they were open to Deceit. When they doubted the truth they were susceptible to the lie. That is exactly what happened. We inherited the wreckage from that rebellious decision.
It is no great mystery that what occupies your mind and your spirit will shape your desires. An undeniable truth of life is that you either control your desires or they control you! How you control your desires is going to be the focus of our blogs this week.
There are two fundamental choices that drive our desires. It is at this very point that the serpent dealt with Adam and Eve. Those two choices are: will I please God or will I place my desires ahead of what pleases Him?
We have already established that God gave you a free will because He wants you to choose to love Him so that your love means something to Him. The fact that Barbara is a very strong and capable and independent woman who has chosen to love me makes her love special to me. She was doing fine before I showed up and she would do fine if I disappeared, but she wants to be in a loving relationship with me. By her choice she has made her desire clear. Wow! That's special!
So it is with God. And the Psalmist, as usual, nails the point of this love issue. He mentions three incredible truths about how to handle your desires in relationship to God:
1) God desires to be what you desire most in life.
2) God desires that you get what you desire most in life and for eternity.
3) When God is your greatest desire, you get Him and everything else you desire most!
Wow! What a deal! How do I get that?
As the Psalmist says, "Delight yourself in Him...."
What does that mean? We will go into detail about that in this week's blog postings.
For today, for you, here's the question of the morning - "Being as honest as I know how to be before God, what do I desire more than I desire God?" When the Holy Spirit reveals those things to you, repent of them and ask God to occupy first place in your desire. Delight yourself in God one desire at a time!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25, 2010

One of the first games shows to become popular in the early days of television was called "Truth or Consequences". It actually predated TV, beginning on radio in 1940. Considering it ran through the 1980's, it became one of the longest lasting shows ever!
The idea behind the show fits what I want to share this morning, if you don't get the answer right - if you don't know the truth, you have to suffer the consequences. That gives us the big picture idea for our third message on temptation today.
So far we have learned:
“We don’t sin because we’re tempted, we are tempted because we’re sinners”

“Don’t give sin a second thought.”
Today we will take a look at this truth:

"It is easier to be deceived than it is to believe"
Here's the text:

Jeremiah the prophet once said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?”

THE DECEPTION - Genesis 3:11-13

11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Let's trace the history of "The Lie" through the Scriptures:

“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.” Isaiah 14:12-15

"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:5

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Romans 1:18-31

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” II Thessalonians 2:1-12

“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” Revelation 12:3-9

“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.” Revelation 20:1-3

“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Romans 20: 7-10


“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, theevil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me”. Romans 7:18-21

One year, my best friend and I devised what we thought was a brilliant and creative plan for mischief. We decided to break into the basement of the local five-and-dime store. We did not plan to rob the place (Sunday School boys would never do that sort of the thing); instead, we planned to do something that, as far as the owner of the store was concerned, would have been far worse. Our plan was to get into that five and-dime store and change the price tags on things.We imagined what it would be like the next morning when people came into the store and discovered that radios were selling for a quarter and bobby pins were priced at five dollars each. With diabolical glee, we wondered what it would be like in that store when nobody could figure out what the prices of things really should be.Sometimes I think that Satan has played the same kind of trick on all of us. Sometimes I think that he has broken into our lives and changed the price tags on things. Too often, under the influences of his malicious ploy, we treat what deserves to be treated with loving care as though it were of little worth. On the other hand, we find ourselves tempted to make great sacrifices for that which, in the long run of life, has no lasting value and delivers very little gratification. Sometimes I think that one of the worst consequences of being fallen creatures is our failure to understand what really is important in life. – TONY CAMPOLO –


Recently, near the town of Glubczyce in Poland, a man drove his minivan into a lake.

This was not deliberate. Nor was it a brazen stunt. The man was simply trying to get from Point A to Point B. But instead of relying upon his eyes, the man placed absolute faith in the disembodied voice emanating from his dashboard navigation system.

"The man took a road that was closed a year ago when the area was flooded to make an artificial lake serving as a water reservoir," a very thorough police spokesperson told the French Press Agency. "He ignored three road signs warning of a dead end. His GPS told him to drive straight ahead and he did."

When rescuers arrived, the three were clinging to the roof of the minivan, which was nearly submerged. No word if the GPS was still gurgling directions: "Climb Out Window Now. Swim To Safety In Two Seconds. Trudge Left Onto Dry Land In Three Metres. You Have Not Arrived."

Sadly, this is not the first time a motorist has been led astray by satellite technology.

There have been stories about drivers being directed into forests and canyons and other places where cars are generally not recommended to go. There have been stories about transport trucks getting stuck under bridges or at the bottom of dirt hills. Thanks to faulty GPS guidance, drivers have ended up at the wrong restaurant, the wrong courthouse, the wrong museum, the wrong just about anything.
Most of these mishaps are irritating. But recent incidents are starting to sound downright dangerous.

Last month in New York, a driver dutifully followed the instructions of his GPS. When told to turn right, he did. Minutes later, he scrambled to safety just before an oncoming commuter train slammed into his car. (The exact same thing happened to a different driver at the exact same location in January.)

Then there was the woman in England who drove her Mercedes into a river. The guy in New Mexico who nearly drove off a cliff. Or the man in Texas who was nearly killed when sent the wrong way onto a busy one-way street. He has since given his GPS unit a name – "Christine," for the psychopathic 1958 Plymouth in a Stephen King book. He told the Wall Street Journal: "She is trying to kill me."

Earlier this year, Britain's Mirror reported that 300,000 motorists have crashed or nearly crashed as a result of GPS. And 1.5 million drivers have "suddenly veered dangerously or illegally in busy traffic while following its directions."

You and I suffer from a faulty GPS – God Positioning System – called the sin nature. It’s A CONSEQUENCE OF ADAM AND EVE BELIEVING THE LIE!


“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'?," questioned the lawyer.Farmer Joe responded, "Well I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the.......""I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'"Farmer Joe said, "Well I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..."The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie."Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, "Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?"





Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24, 2010

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9
Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'?," questioned the lawyer.Farmer Joe responded, "Well I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the.......""I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'"Farmer Joe said, "Well I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..."The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie."Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, "Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?" That's when I said, "I'm fine!"
Just like Farmer Joe, we mistakenly declare, "I'm fine!" when in fact, we are not.
The belief that "I am fine" morally and spiritually can lead to several conclusions, none of which are healthy or helpful.
One is comparing with other people, "I'm fine because I am as moral as they are!"
Another is critizing others in order to bring them down, "Well. I'm fine because I am better than them! Have you seen what they do?"
Denial is another, "I'm fine. I don't do anything that bad. I'm only human!"
Or, some rationalize, "I'm fine, I belong to a church and I have been baptized and I keep most of the commandments."
The fact that we think we are fine is the crux of the problem! We are NOT fine. We are morally corrupt and spiritually bankrupt. Our mind is deceived and our judgment is flawed. There is no goodness in us.
Until we face the truth about our lostness and confess that we are not fine, do we have a chance for redemption. Unless we flee to His holiness and receive His righteousness with we ever find relief.
Come out of your dark denial and walk into the light of His truth:
"If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:6-10

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

"Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Genesis 3:13
One of the first popular game shows in America was called "Truth or Consequences". It premiered on the radio in 1940 and continued on TV until the late '80's. That is a long run!
Any show that can make the transition from radio to TV has to be intriguing!
"Truth or Consequences" was the show that first made Bob Barker famous and led to his long career as host of "The Price Is Right".
One more bit of trivia about the show before I attempt to make a point. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico derived its name from the game show. Original host, the great Ralph Edwards, once promised on the air that he would host a show from any town that would take the name of the show as the moniker for their city. Hot Springs, New Mexico took him up on the dare. They changed their name and he did the show!
Perhaps the reason for the show's popularity was its simplicity. A contestant was given trivia question to answer and if they could not answer the question they would be assigned a stunt to do. Most questions were so obscure that they could not be answered and the consequences would be endured. After awhile contestants began missing on purpose just to do the stunts.
What does this have to do with us?
Adam and Eve erred from the truth and we are suffering the consequences. Boy, are we!
The plight of the human race has become like a non-stop game of truth and consequences. Except it stopped being funny long ago and the consequences are eternal.
Due to the deliberate rebellious decision by Adam and Eve, our judgment has become permanently flawed. We have trouble recognizing the truth and it is easy for us to believe a lie. And worse, it is not just lies that we believe, it is THE LIE. What is THE LIE? It is the thought that we can be like God. It is pride in its worst form. It is Independence run amok. It is a perverse fantasy of being able to sin without any consequences.
Here's the good news! Jesus, Who IS the Truth also took our consequences! Believe that! Receive that! Exchange your fantasy for a faith-based relationship with Jesus. Confess your sinfulness, repent of your pride, and humble yourself to the Truth!
It is no game. Let Him show you what He can do!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22, 2010

"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. " Psalm 24:1-2

Happy 40th Anniversary!

How are you planning to celebrate?

Celebrate what?

You must be kidding! It's EARTH DAY!

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment held on April 22. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year. The first Earth Day was in 1970. Earth Day is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the spring equinox, which is often 20 March. This is a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969. The United Nations first celebrated Earth Day on the spring equinox in 1971. This was also the first time ever that the United Nations celebrated Earth Day. The first Earth Day on the spring equinox was also in 1970.

So, Earth Day is a celebration of the earth and it's environment, right?

Then, it would seem logical to honor God, the Creator of the earth on Earth Day! Who better to focus on than Him? Right?


Why? Because Earth Day is the creation of godless people with an anti-God, anti-capitalistic agenda. Granted, not everyone involved with Earth Day or who may celebrate it are like these people. But a thorough study of the origins, purpose, guiding prinicples and implementation of Earth Day will reveal that there is a definite social and political agenda that drives the movement. If you don't believe me, do the research yourself. These are the people pushing the global warming theories that have been largely discredited. How about getting the 48 hour weather forecasts more accurate before predicting entire climate changes in coming decades?

In my lifetime, there has been dire warnings of global cooling. Then there was panic about global warming. Neither of those have happened. Now they have morphed it into "global climate change". How much credibility do you want to give to a movement that has changed its fundamental premise three times in less than half a century?

Twenty years ago a wise friend of mine told me that the environmentalist movement was the new home of the communist/socialist types. I thought he was a little paranoid or conspiratorial and laughed him off. But time has given credence to his point of view. Again, some study and observation will make it clear to you who the movers and promoters of this movement are.
Pastor Brad, are you saying there is no climate change?
I am not prepared to say that climate changes don't happen, but I am saying that we have only been keeping climate records for a little more than a century. How can you make accurate assumptions or predictions based on limited data over a 100 year span of the ancient planet? And, if it is proven that there is climate change how can we prove that it is man caused?
This all sounds very speculative and quite pessimistic. It sounds like something people with no Godly faith or hope might worry about. It also sounds like a scare tactic that could be used by people who are trying to gain control over your behavior and your emotions.
To me it sounds a whole lot easier and more encouraging to just believe that there is a Creator and that He is intimately involved in our world today. He made it, He sustains it, and He will protect it until He makes a new heaven and a new earth. If you REALLY want to celebrate Earth Day, celebrate God - the Creator of Earth because "the earth is His and everything that is in it...."
Don't buy into the hoax! Buy into HIM!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21, 2010

"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered." Luke 4:1-2

Wow! Is this confusing!

It was the Holy Spirit that lead Jesus into temptation? I thought Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer to pray, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."

So, how is it that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted?

This apparent inconsistency provides a good opportunity to clarify what Jesus meant when He gave us this pattern for prayer. Notice that the end of the verse says, "but deliver us from evil."

When you understand what Jesus was REALLY praying here you will get a greater appreciation for it. He is teaching us to daily implore the Father to never lead us into temptation unless He delivers us from doing evil. In fact, when you have prayed that prayer and God does lead you into a time of testing you can be assured that He plans to deliver you!

What Jesus knew when He went to the wilderness, led by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted by the Evil One that God would deliver Him from evil. God did not lead Him out there to fail.

This is akin to what Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:13 regrading temptation and trials, "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."

The alternative to having God lead you into temptation would be to go in alone. You don't want to do that! There is only one reason to go into temptation - TO COME OUT STRONGER! Only God can do that!

Jesus discovered first hand that God only leads us into temptation in order to deliver us from evil.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

I watch planes fly over my house all the time while I am out walking my dog. Usually they are on their approach to one of the airports in DC. They are directed by a controlled in the tower to lock in on a certain heading. That heading has to be exact if they want to end up on the runway. Even one or two degrees off and they will drift off course.

There was an article in the local paper about a couple who programmed their GPS device for Potomac Mills the shopping center north of us and they ended up in the village of Potomac Mills somewhere south of us. They were about 80 miles off course.

The only way you can end up where you want to be is to get on the proper course to where you want to be. Get off that course and you will end up somewhere that you didn't plan to be.

Such is your plight. Due to the fall of Adam you have inherited a nature that is corrupt and misguided and beyond your ability to correct it. Everything in your nature is pre-programmed to guide us to eternal damnation. Without a supernatural mid-course correction you have no hope to land in heaven when your journey ends.

Enter, Jesus, the Second Adam. He came to provide the way for you to get your corrupt nature uncorrupted and your course adjusted. By His sinless life, His death and His resurrection, He undid what the devil did.

If you will repent of your sin (repent literally means change direction) and aim your life toward God rather than away from Him. He promises to forgive your sins, connect you spiritually with God and set you on the course to Heaven by tranforming how you think. When He puts you on the path of truth, you will not be so easily deceived. Therefore, you will be less susceptible to temptation.

Until you decide to repent and turn to God. You will continue to drift further from Him and further off course. Why would you do that when you can have God reprogram your GPS - God Positioning System - and get you on the course toward Heaven?

Today would be a great day to put some joy in your journey and some destiny in your destination!

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7

There is a lot of commotion these days about the bullying issue. I personally think it is way overblown. As long as there have been kids there have been bullies. While I am not condoning it I do believe it is part of the process of growing into adulthood.
I had to deal with bullies growing up and so did my kids. I turned it into an opportunity to teach life principles. One thing that helped in dealing with bullies was having a big brother who would help protect you from the bullies. Life was safer when you were with your big brother!
In this verse, James, who ironically was the brother of Jesus, reminds us that we have a big brother Who can help us against the spiritual bully known as the devil.
If you you were not too proud to admit to your older brother that you needed protection and if you would submit to his protection, life would get a whole lot safer and stress free. It is the same with Jesus.
James says, "Submit to God". The word "submit" means to "line up with" or "surrender to".
If you line up your heart and your mind with God and surrender your will you can have His protection. You get all of His other blessings as well!
Notice also, James says "resist the devil and he will flee from you". The thing you have to understand about this statement is the "you" refers to you AND God! In other words, "you and the God you have submitted to resist the devil" then he will flee from you!
There is a bully in the world who delights in harrassing you and terrorizing you. You can face him alone or you can unite with an advocate, a protector, a big brother! Somebody is going to flee, it may as well be him! Let him flee - you be free!
Where do you need to "line up" with God today?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18, 2010

I read an interesting article on 21 things that became obsolete in the last decade. Many of them were once the rage but now are passe’: Maps, the Palm Pilate, landlines, film development, video rental stores, dial-up internet, newspaper classifieds – just to name a few. These things served a need but were short-lived and replaced by something more modern. I bring that up to contrast it with the fact that the devil been using the same four-step strategy to tempt people for centuries and it still works as well as ever! Those four steps and what we are studying this month:


THIS MORNING WE WILL TALK ABOUT DELAY – The devil will try to get you to sin by giving temptation a second thought.

Last Week’s Principle – We are tempted because we are sinners.

This Week’s Principle – Temptation exposes what we truly love.

Bob had been on a diet. Bob was always on a diet but this time he had sworn off donuts. They were his weakness and everyone knew it. That’s why they were impressed when he went several months without a donut. And then one day he showed up at work carrying a box of bakery fresh donuts!

“Bob! What’s going on?” Declared one of his co-workers! “What are you doing with those donuts? Did you give into temptation?”

“Not at all!” Bob insisted, “It was God’s will!”

“Really?” His friend asked, “Are you sure? How did you know?”

“Well, I prayed that if it was God’s will for me to have donuts then let there be a parking spot open right in front of the bakery! And sure enough, on the tenth time around the block – THERE IT WAS!”

Temptation is a test of our will that exposes what we truly love. We should never give temptation a second-thought!


I didn’t get into a definition of temptation last week because it was so obvious in the context of the story from Genesis 3.

Definition of temptation – “an enticement toward evil” “it is the conflict between two wills” - Those are classic definitions but this morning I want to add another thought – “temptation is a test that exposes what you truly love”

Wesley’s definition of sin - John Wesley's own working definition of sin: "A willful transgression of a known law of God" (Based on I John 3:9)

Sin is a decision of the will. There are sins of ignorance and sins of judgment, etc. Therefore, temptation is directed at the will. The lure of temptation is to get you into a conflict of wills where you will decide to choose your will over God’s will. Where you will love yourself more than you love God. THAT IS THE DEAL with temptation and sin. We will examine that idea.

If we, as we established last week, are tempted because we are sinners, how is it that Adam could be tempted and Jesus could be tempted when neither of them had a sinful nature?
Neither of them had a sinful nature but they DID have a human nature and a will. Adam, because he was created that way and Jesus, because He was conceived that way.


The “DELAY” is double-mindedness. The Delay was a hesitation of the will caused by giving temptation a second thought. If you give temptation a second thought you will become double-minded.

The Greek word translated "double-minded" is dipsuchos, from dis, meaning "twice," and psuche, meaning "mind." James uses it to describe someone who is divided in his interests or loyalties, wavering, uncertain, two-faced, half-hearted.

Temptation can really play havoc with our lives. Especially when you give temptation a second thought. There was a humorous "Cathy" cartoon strip sometime back. Cathy is struggling with her diet. See if this progression is familiar:

Frame 1: I will take a drive, but won’t go near the grocery store.Frame 2: I will drive by the grocery store, but will not go in.Frame 3: I will go in the grocery store, but will not walk down the aisle where the candy is on sale.Frame 4: I will look at the candy, but not pick it up.Frame 5: I will pick it up, but not buy it.Frame 6: I will buy it, but not open it.Frame 7: Open it, but not smell it.Frame 8: Smell it, but not taste it.Frame 9: Taste it, but not eat it.Frame 10: Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat!

Os Guiness gives a very helpful definition of doubt in his book In Two Minds. He says, "When you believe, you are in one mind and accept something as true. Unbelief is to be of one mind and reject that something is true. To doubt is to waver between the two, to believe and disbelieve at the same time, and so to be in ’two minds.’" That is what James calls, in Chapter 1, a "double minded man," or as the Chinese say, "Doubt is standing in two boats, with one foot in each."

E. Stanley Jones stated it graphically, "If you don’t make up your mind, then your unmade mind will unmake you. Here is the place where there must be no dallying. For any dallying will be the Trojan horse that will get on the inside and open the gates to the enemy. God can do anything for the man who has made up his mind; he can do little or nothing for the double-minded"

Let’s Glance At Two Temptations – Adam’s and Jesus”

Adam hesitated because his will was operating separately from God’s will.

Jesus didn’t hesitate! Why? What’s the difference?

Genesis 3:1- 6; Luke 4: 1-13

WHAT TO DO? (James 4:7-10)

Become single-minded! Be of one mind and one will – God’s!

Like Joshua - “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Like The Three Hebrews - “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18

Like Daniel, who disregarded the Kings order against praying to God – prayed to God as usual. He was single-minded that here is what the King said when he threw Daniel into the lions den - So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"


“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:7-10

SUBMIT = “LINE UP WITH” – Line your will up with His – Like Jesus Did. Stop trying to get God to line up with you!

STAND = Stand on the Word and resist the devil – Like Jesus Did. Put on the armor!

SANCTIFY = Cling to God, Repent of sin, Receive the Holy Spirit, and Know His Will

SERVE = Humbly live God’s will with one heart and one will.


Am I “double-minded”?

What do I love more than I love God?

Do I give sin a second thought?

Where do I need to submit to God?

Where do I need to stand and resist the devil?

Will I sanctify my will and commit to single-minded love for God?

Will I serve God in the Holy Spirit with one heart and one will?


Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16, 2010

"And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Genesis 2:16-17

God is all-knowing, right?

So He knew that Adam would buckle to temptation and sin, right?

Why, then, did God give Adam a free-will knowing he would sin?

When you understand that answer you gain a meaningful insight into the heart and mind of God.

The answer is - God is love. To quote the great philosopher Tina Turner, "What's love got to do with it?"

Love is a choice. Choices are made with the will. A will is meaningless unless there are clear options to choose from. Adam and Even had loved God but God was all they had known. God wants us to love Him because we choose to love Him. When Eve was lured to the tree by the serpent and he tempted them, they were faced with an alternative to the love of God. That alternative was self-love. By the time the tempter was finished they had decided to choose against God and chase their own desires. They were guilty of sin - a willful transgression of a known law of God (which was actually the only law of God).

Can you imagine a God Who loves you so much and Who wants desparately to be loved by you so that He is willing to risk not being love by you?! That's our God! That's what's at state with temptation! Temptation is a test of love!

Free-will is freedom to love God! Or freedom not to.

How will you will your will today?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:15-18

I noticed something today in the story I have read hundreds of times. Maybe you have noticed it before but I hadn't.
God gave Adam the command concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before He created Eve. So obviously it was Adam's responsibility to share that important prohibition with his new helpmate.
Based on her answer to the serpent in 3:2-3 that she had found out about it, so we would assume Adam told her.
Therefore, it begs the question, why didn't Adam jump into the middle of the conversation with the serpent and take the lead? Why didn't he intervene when he saw her beginning to waiver? If it was his responsibility to tell her in the first place would it not have been his responsibility to help her obey God's command? I think so. It tells us in Genesis 3:6 that Adam was with Eve in front of the forbidden tree.
Why were they in front of the prohibited tree? Why did Adam not make sure they stayed away from the tree?
The fact that they were in front of the tree and the fact that Adam stood by silently while Eve was being enticed by the devil, and the fact that he never intervened and allowed her to act upon the temptation shows a major failure of leadership on Adam's part. If Adam had "manned up" in that moment, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Although Adam later blamed Eve for their failure (and indirectly blamed God) it was clearly his responsibility to keep her from being in the wrongs places and to protect her from danger and evil.
Husbands clearly have a role to play in protecting their wives spiritually and provide godly leadership. If Adam had done that how different our world would be today!
Guys, what are you doing to keep your wife safe from the attacks of the enemy? Are you providing good spiritual leadership for your wife? Are you teaching her and praying for her and standing guard over her soul?
I Wish to God Adam would have! What a different world this would be today if Adam had simply provided Eve with the moral and spiritual leadership. God expected it. Eve needed it. Adam didn't give it. That was his first failure that lead to the devasting act of disobedience.
You are responsible for the spiritual climate of your marriage and your family. To fail to do so can have serious ramifications.
Just ask Eve.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14, 2010

"Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:18-19
One of the age-old theological struggles has been the debate regarding the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Where does one stop and the other begin? How do they interplay?
Good people line up on all sides of this debate and can offer Scriptural support for their views.
As Wesleyans, we are stronger on the free will side of the argument, although we fully believe in the sovereignty of God.
Another way of framing this argument is this, "How free is the free will?"
I can't conclusively resolve this debate and I won't even try, but I do want to assert that because of what the Second Adam did to atone for the sin of the First Adam, the free will is freer that it was!
When the first Adam exercised his free will against God he lost full control over the free will surrendering it to the devil. Now his judgment was impaired. Now his mind and emotions were contaminated. Now sin held sway over his moral decisions. He was separated from God and in bondage to sin. Human nature was now disconnected from its Creator.
What could be done to change this desperate situation? Was the human race condemned to spiritual slavery?
Only God could figure out how to solve this dilemma. He did! He sent His Son, the second member of the Trinity, to become the second Adam.
Just like the First Adam, He was born without a sin nature. Just like Adam He was a mysterious combination of divine and human, meaning that two natures existed within them.
Both were tempted by the devil. One failed the One didn't. One was conquered by sin, the other conquered it. One used his free will against God and the other surrendered his free will to God. One lost his free will while the other maintained it.
Because the Second Adam, Jesus, did not choose to sin. Because He used His free will to obey God and deny His human desires, He was able to undo what the first Adam did. His sinless relationship with God allowed Him to become the perfect sacrifice for the sins caused by the First Adam. He chose not to sin so He could BECOME sin! All the penalties and condemnation wrought by the sin of Adam were atoned by the blood of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Second Adam.
Now the free will is free again - free to choose God and free to choose against sin and free to live in unbroken fellowship with the Living God!
"If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed!"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13, 2010

"But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:15-17
One of the most significant theological truths of the Bible is one of the most overlooked. What am I referring to? The central importance of the First Adam and the Second Adam. I want to spend a couple of posts examining that.
We are all familiar with Adam. He is our ancestor.
The Second Adam is Jesus. Of course, we are familiar with Him but not in this context. He came, of course, to undo what the First Adam had done.
Let's consider some of the things they held in common:
1) They began life without a sinful nature.
Adam, of course, was created by God Who breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. So, he had a human nature but not a sinful nature. He had a will, but it was perfectly aligned with the will of God.
Jesus, the Second Adam, was born with a sinless nature due to the fact that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
2) They each had walked with God.
Adam in Eden and Jesus in Heaven.
3) They each had a human nature
Adam was created humanly divine, while Jesus was born divinely human.
4) They both were tempted by the devil.
Adam went seeking the temptation while the temptation came seeking Jesus.
That is where the positive comparisons end. The failure of the First Adam made it necessary for the Second Adam to come. What the First Adam did, the Second Adam came to undo. All that makes life difficult came through the failure of the First Adam. Any hope of escaping those difficulties came through the life and death of the Second Adam.
To properly understand the significance of why Jesus came and what He did you must fully understand the significance of the failure of the First Adam. To comprehend the awful destructiveness of sin you must understand the terrible cost it demanded of the Second Adam.
Why does this matter to you? It matters because unless you have received the Second Adam, Jesus, by faith you are still help captive to the destruction and the damnation of the First Adam. It matters because if you have accepted Christ as your Savior you will be in possession of both natures, the nature of Adam and the nature of Jesus. Therein lies the dynamic of temptation, the battle between two natures. Due to the Second Adam we have a chance to win that battle!
Slavery or salvation? Adam One or Adam Two? Victory or defeat? It's your choice!

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12, 2010

"When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." James 1:13-15
Yesterday I began a four-part series on temptation based on the temptation of Adam and Eve. The devil used a four-part strategy to break them down and those four steps are the basis of my series.
First, he got them to doubt the word of God, the ways of God and the wrath of God. Once he sowed those seeds of doubt and distrust they became easy prey. Then he got them to delay in front of the tree and give the temptation a second thought. Then he was able to decieve them because they allowed a sinful thought to enter their mind. And once they doubted God, were deceived in their thinking, a desire to sin sprung up within their spirit and they want to please their desires more than they wanted to please God.
Before I get much further in this series I want to define what I mean by temptation. When the Bible refers to temptation it uses two different concepts. One idea of temptation is the enticement to choose your will against God's will. The other idea is to test or try your commitment and your character for the purpose of developing you.
Temptation becomes an issue only after you are a believer. Here is why. Once you become a believer you are in possession of two wills - the human will and the Holy Spirit (God's will).
Temptation happens when you and placed in a situation where you have to choose between your will and and the will of God. Temptation is facing a choice of the wills, a decision of who you will please - your desires or what pleases God. The crux of temptation is this, "Who do I love the most? Do I love God because I have to or because I want to?"
Yesterday I raised the question, "Do we sin because we are tempted or are we tempted because we are sinners?"
According to our text we are vulnerable to temptation because of the sinful desires within us. But, Adam was tempted BEFORE he had a sin nature and Jesus was tempted and he didn't have a sin nature. How does that happen?
Adam was created without a sin nature but he did have a human nature with a will. Jesus, the Second Adam, was also born without a sinful nature - but with a human nature and a will.
Both were tempted not because they had sin but because they had a will. In order for the will to have significance or meaning, they had to be given a choice and the choice was this, will I love God and serve Him or will I serve my own desires? Adam chose to "be a god", Jesus chose to love God and serve Him above all else.
So, temptation is in essence a test of love! Temptation is a decision about who you will love!
For love to be meaningful it must be a choice. God wants to know if you love Him more than you love yourself or anything else. He wants you to know that, too!
God is so committed to being loved by people who love Him that He allowed Adam to be tempted and Jesus to be tempted - and YOU to be tempted!
You will be tempted today! You will have opportunities to prove who you love. How will you choose? Whom will you choose? Will you be drawn away from God by your desires, or will you aim your desires at God and prove your love?

April 11, 2010


Week One – “Doubt” Genesis 3:1-6

“Do we sin because we are tempted or are we tempted because we sin?”

DOUBT THAT HELPS – John 20:24-28

A little boy that said to his dad, “dad, why is the sky blue?” I don’t know son. "dad, why is the grass green?" I don’t know son. Dad...etc. Finally the boy said, "Dad, do you mind me asking these questions?" "Why no son, if you don’t ask questions you don’t learn anything.”

Thomas was looking for truth but needed to be convinced. He didn’t doubt Jesus but He doubted the good news about Him. His hope had been shaken by the recent events and he was suffering a crisis of faith. He needed some facts to strengthen his faith. Faith is not the absence of facts. Faith is believing in God based on the facts of His Word. Faith is knowing the heart of God even when you can’t see the hand of God. That was where Thomas was at this point. And when he literally saw the hands of Jesus his doubt was erased and his faith took a quantum leap. It is not really fair that he is labeled as “Doubting Thomas” because he became “completely convinced Thomas”.

Historical accounts indicate that Thomas became an evangelist and missionary in India and was killed as a martyr. Does that sound like something a doubter would do.

For Thomas, his doubt didn’t hurt him – it helped him.

Think about how you came to faith in Christ. You probably didn’t just accept everything at face value. You had to have evidence – through the life of other believers, through knowing the Word and seeing it work changes in your life and others – through seeing Him work in the life of a local church – and through the growing awareness of Him in your personal relationship.

Being a strong Christian is not about believing easily or automatically, but it is about aiming your doubts in the direction of God and His Word and allowing Him to prove Himself to you. Being a strong believer is about anchoring your heart in His heart while you search for His hand. Honest doubt – doubt that helps never doubts the heart of God. God invites honest doubt because He knows it leads to strong faith. When you do have doubts - aim them in the direction of God. He will reveal His hand when He knows you trust His heart!

“Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving”. Frederick Buechner

As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West. Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I’m trying to prove that the bridge won’t break."


He had right motives and attitude – he wanted to believe.
He expressed his doubt to the right people and the right place.
He gave God the last word.

DOUBT THAT HURTS – Genesis 3:1-6

“If God puts you on hold, don’t hang up.” – Jerry Falwell

“Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.” - Karl Barth

They doubted God’s Word - His Character – “Did God really say……?”

James said, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

The Devil is the author of confusion and if he can keep us from the Word or cause us to doubt the Word He will have an easier time getting us to distrust God. Someone has said, “The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

THE DEVIL WILL TRY TO GET YOU INVOLVED IN DEBATING WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DECLARED! God deserves the benefit of the doubt until you are sure!

Learn from Adam and Eve and give God the benefit of the doubt. Believe Him and trust Him until He proves untrustworthy.

They doubted God’s Way - His Caring – “God knows that when you eat it…”

Just as it is foolish to doubt God’s Word, it is foolish to doubt His love. Let me ask you, who has ever loved you like God? God had given Adam and Eve no reason to doubt that He cared for them – look at what He had done! He created them! He placed them in paradise! He made them each other! He met their every need and treated them as the guests of honor in Eden!

A second attack the Devil will use is to DISTRACT you and then stir up DISCONTENT.

The Devil is not only the author of confusion, he is also the source of discontentment. He wants to keep you distracted from the Word and focused on your lack instead of God’s love. When that happens – you are prone to yield to temptation. He may use suffering – he may use materialism – he may use conflict – he may even use success

They doubted God’s Wrath - His Consequences – “You will not surely die…”

The Devil uses DEBATE – he uses DISTRACTION – and he will use DENIAL…..

ADAM AND EVE’S Doubt Hurt Them – And Us Because:

They were in the wrong place.
They listened to the wrong person
They allowed the wrong attitude and desire.

DON’T DOUBT THIS – James 1:13-15

We don’t sin because we are tempted we are tempted because we are sinners. We are sinners because we inherited their sinful nature.

A fly was buzzing along one morning when he saw a lawn mower someone had left out in their front yard. He flew over and sat on the handle, watching the children going down the sidewalk on their way to school.

One little boy tripped on a crack and fell, spilling his lunch on the sidewalk. He picked himself up, put his lunch back in the bag and went on. But he missed a piece of bologna. The fly had not eaten that morning and he sure was hungry. So he flew down and started eating the bologna. In fact he ate so much that he could not fly, so he waddled across the sidewalk, across the lawn, up the wheel of the lawn mower, up the handle, and sat there resting and watching the children.

There was still some bologna lying there on the sidewalk. He was really stuffed, but that baloney sure did look good.

Finally temptation got the best of him and he jumped off the handle of the lawn mower to fly over to the baloney. But alas he was too full to fly and he went splat!! killing him instantly.
The moral: Don’t fly off the handle when you are full of baloney.

There’s a dark side to us, that’s as reckless as the fly. It does not matter what the costs are, you just got to have it. Humanity is like that, so full of baloney, they can’t see it and they fly off the handle, thinking they can handle it all, and be satisfied only to end up splat.

Here's some of the baloney we struggle with.

In a recent survey in Discipleship Journal Magazine, readers reported that their greatest spiritual challenges came from:

1. Materialism 6. Pride
2. Gluttony 7. Self-Centeredness
3. Lying /Sexual Lust (Tie) 8. Laziness
4. Envy 9. Anger/Bitterness(Tie)

Survey respondents noted that temptations seemed more potent when they neglected their time with God and when tired physically. We are also vulnerable during these time. We can become self-confident, instead of God confident. We should be aware that we are also vulnerable to overconfidence when we experience a spiritual victory.

Temptation is being confronted with the choice between obeying God’s will or seeking my will.

Back to James 1:13-15


Tempted – The thought of evil NOT A SIN YET!!! – The Serpent met them at the tree. They really shouldn’t have been there.
Drawn away – strong imagination – “Did God really say?”
Lust – self-gratification and desire – “You will be like God…”
Entice – weakening of the will - “When the woman saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye….”
Lust conceived – yielding to that desire / carrying out the thought. – “She took some and ate it”
Sin – committing the act missing the mark God has for us to make. – “She also gave some to her husband and he ate it”
Death – the result of the sin (Spiritually separated from God). – (Vv. 7-8)

I think that pretty well answers the question – “Do we sin because we are tempted or are we tempted because we sin?”

So, if you know that you actually have a sin problem rather than a temptation problem will that affect how you approach the problem?



Search the Word
Take to the right place (like Thomas)
Share them with the right people (like Thomas)
Trust God’s heart until you discern His hand


Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10, 2010

"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," Ephesians 3:20
The old saying goes, "It's not what you know but who you know."
We wish that wasn't true but in most cases it is. It does pay to have friends in high places.
However, in this instance it makes an incredible difference and the Apostle Paul is reminding his brothers and sisters of the Ephesus Church. They had become weary in their well doing and concerned over the suffering of their beloved Paul.
In this portion of his letter he encourages them by reminding them that they have a Friend Who is well-positioned to help them through their struggles. Verse 20 summarizes his message to them. It may strengthen you to be reminded as well why it matters when you pray:
"Now to Him......"
The reason prayer matters, the reason it comforts us, and the reason we can find strength from it is that we pray to HIM - God! And the Bible makes it clear that each time we pray the Holy Spirit interprets our prayers and Christ is at the right hand of the Father interceeding for us! Every prayer involves all three members of the Trinity! God gets fully engaged in our prayers!
"Now to Him Who is able....."
Not everyone who cares about me and who would like to help me is able to do it. There are people I care deeply about whom I would love to be able to help but can't. BUT GOD IS ABLE! Never lose sight of that important truth - GOD IS ABLE!
Are you discouraged today? GOD IS ABLE! Are you overwhelmed by suffering? GOD IS ABLE!Are you fearful and anxious? GOD IS ABLE! So, remember! You are never helpless when you call on Him because HE IS ABLE!
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine....."
So, how able is He? He is more able than we are even able to imagine! His ablility transcends our imagination! Don't worry if you don't have an answer to a situation! He does! Don't try to aniticipate God or out think Him or understand Him - you are not able! Just understand that HE IS ABLE! He will solve situations for which you have no answers and do it in a way you would never have thought of!
"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"
What is that power that is at work in us? Faith! A what does faith unleash in us? Love! And how does that help? Faith believes in a God Who is bigger than life and greater than circumstances and love connects us with Him!