Monday, November 20, 2017

November 21, 2017

"Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. Amen." Matthew 6:13

So, are we to pray for God to not allow us to be tempted?

Does that mean if I fall into temptation it is I haven't prayed in the right way?

To clarify the gist of this phrase in The Lord's Prayer take a look at this verse:

"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." James 1:13-14

Obviously, God does not bring me into situations that would tempt me to sin!

The word used for "temptation" in the Greek can mean "temptation" or it can mean "trial". Since James established a Scriptural principle that God cannot cause us to sin we must assume this use of the word is referring to trials that test us not temptations that entice us.

After all, Matthew 4:1 says, "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."

Was the Holy Spirit leading Jesus into the desert to sin? Of course not!

You don't need to pray that God will lead you into a morally or spiritually compromising situation. You are quite capable of that yourself. You do need to pray that He will prepare you for the testing of your faith. You have a promise to cling to as you pray:

"No temptation (trial) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted (tried) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (tried), he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." I Corinthians 10:13

So, I think you do no injustice to this Scripture to rephrase this prayer: "When you lead me to times of testing lead me THROUGH times of testing without failing the test."

You are either in a time of testing or headed to one so why not pray this prayer today?

November 20, 2017

"However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20

For over forty-five years I have been addicted to the thrill of being a life-changer. It still amazes me that a God like Him can use a man like me to change the eternal destiny of another human being! But He has, and He does, and He will continue to do so! There are people will spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus who may have ended up in eternal agony if I had not shown up in their town!

That is an incredible blessing for which I am profoundly grateful!

The reason the Lord can use me to be a life-changer is because He changed my life! He changed my life through some life-changers who had their lives changed by the mercy and grace of God! As they witnessed to me about their life-change and showed me how I could experience life-change I chose the change!

In the context of this Scripture text, Jesus has called seventy-two of His followers who have had their lives changed to go out and be life-changers. When they went out in His power and shared His good news they saw lives dramatically changed! As they returned to Him to report the amazing life-changes they had witnessed they were overwhelmed with  great joy!

So was He!

God calls you to a changed life for two basic reasons:

1) You need a fundamental spiritual transformation

2) He needs to use you to fundamentally change the lives of others.

Have you been changed by the grace of Jesus Christ through faith?

Do you confidently know your name is written in heaven?

If you are sure you have had a spiritual life-change, who's life have you changed?

Life-changers have their lives changed in order to be used to change the lives of others!

November 19, 2017

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” Matthew 6:14-15

You will never fully enter into your freedom in Christ until you learn the freedom of forgiveness.

Someone has said, “Jesus is telling us that there is a vital link between the way you treat other people and the way God in heaven is going to treat you. Let’s face it. We don’t like that. On one level we tend to think it would be good if we could hate someone for what they did to us and still have the blessings of God, still be filled with the Spirit, still walk in joy every day, still radiate the love of Jesus, and still have our prayers answered. We’d much prefer if we could just have our relationship with God insulated and encapsulated so we could treat other people any way we like. Jesus says, “No deal. You can’t have it that way.” Unless you forgive you will not be forgiven. This is a hard word, isn’t it? But it is a hard word of grace.”

How do we know when we have truly forgiven?

What does forgiveness look like?

Here are a few helpful guidelines (taken partly from Kendall and also from a list by the Puritan author Thomas Watson, as supplied by Waylon Moore):
1. Face what they did and forgive them anyway.
2. Don’t keep bringing it up to them.
3. Don’t talk about it to others.
4. Show mercy instead of judgment.
5. Refuse to speak evil of others.
6. Choose not to dwell on it.
7. Pray for them.
8. Ask God to bless them.
9. Do not rejoice at their calamities.
10. Help them when you can.

Augustine called this text “a terrible petition.” He pointed out that if you pray these words while harboring an unforgiving spirit, you are actually asking God not to forgive you. Ponder that for a moment. If you pray “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” while refusing to forgive those who have wronged you, this prayer which is meant to be a blessing becomes a self-inflicted curse. In that case you are really saying, “O God, since I have not forgiven my brother, please do not forgive me.” That is why Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English preacher, said that if you pray the Lord’s Prayer with an unforgiving spirit, you have virtually signed your own “death-warrant.”

During one period of his life, John Wesley was a missionary in the American colonies—primarily in the area that would become the state of Georgia. There was a general by the name of Oglethorpe with whom Wesley had some dealings. General Oglethorpe was a great military leader, but he had a reputation as a harsh and brutal man. One day he said to John Wesley, “I never forgive.” To which Wesley replied, “Then, sir, I hope you never sin.”

You have been released from your sins by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

You must be willing to release those who have sinned against you.

If you will choose to give grace and not hold grudges you will experience the joy and freedom God longs to flood your soul with.