Sunday, January 27, 2013

Avoiding Temptation

Oh how much easier our Christian walk would be if there was not any temptation confronting us that we had to deal with. In James 1:14 we read "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." Temptation is an enticement that appears so appetizing to us that often times we get carried away with it and give into it. Is God tempting us? We read in James 1:13 that "God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone". So who is tempting us? Satan is the one that puts those "dangling carrots" in front of us so that we will give in and turn from God (1 Corinthians 7:5; Mark 1:13) . Life is a test of our endurance and we will prevail if we can overcome temptation. We are tempted through the lust of our eyes (1 John 2:16), through the lust of the flesh (James 1:14), through the pride of life (1 John 2:16), and through our own covetousness as we can see in 1 Timothy 6:9.

How Do We Avoid Temptation?
There are ways that we can avoid temptations. First of all, we are more easily tempted when we leave God out of our lives and think that we can do everything on our own without Him. We need to be godly as Peter emphasizes in 2 Peter 2:9. In addition, we can further avoid these temptations by not giving Satan an advantage (1 Corinthians 7:5), through consideration (Galatians 6:1), by prayer (Matthew 6:13; Luke 22:40), by taking the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), by watching (Mark 14:38) and of course by allowing Christ to help in our life (Hebrews 2:18). Remember, temptations are set before us to test us. Are we passing the test?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Are We Burdened With Worries?

The Christian should not be burdened with worries. Matthew 6:25 says, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?"

Thoughtful planning does not fall into the same category as fretting or worrying. Actually, God gave us minds so that we could plan ahead. However, as soon as planning goes beyond careful, prayerful planning, and becomes hair-pulling, gut-wrenching anxiety, it's turned into a monster called sin. Worry is a sign of the lack of faith in God's promises. Jesus isn't saying, "don't plan for tomorrow," but rather, "don't let tomorrow's worries mar the beauty of today."

Jesus continued His discourse on worry and anxiety in verses 26-34 of Matthew chapter 6. He is telling us here that we need to get our priorities in the proper order. He is teaching us to not waste our time worrying about the things of the world. Just do what God requires of us, put all our faith and trust in Him, and the things that are necessary for living here on earth will come. Furthermore, when this life here is over, we'll be rewarded with an eternal home in heaven.

Jesus closed His thoughts by saying, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:34). Let us not add the imaginary troubles of tomorrow to the burdens we are already facing today.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Are We Growing in Faith?

Is our faith now weaker than it was in the past? Do we pray as often and with as much fervor as we once did? Do we enjoy the peace that passes understanding? Are we putting the Lord first in our life? Are we courageous in declaring our faith?

The above questions are important because strong faith is absolutely essential to our spiritual survival. Romans 1:17 tells us that the righteous will live by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We walk by faith, not by sight." Hebrews 3:12 warns, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God..."

If we see within us signs of a weakening faith, we would do well to identify the danger. Here are a few personal questions which, hopefully, will help us to identify threats to our faith. First, "Are we diligently studying the word of God day by day?" It's a sign of danger when a Christian becomes lax in studying God's word. Remember, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17). The more we study and meditate on the word of God, the stronger our faith will be.

Secondly, "Have we placed ourselves in faith weakening situations?" 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits." The company we keep, the material we read, and the television we watch can gradually change our interests and convictions.

Thirdly, "Have we noticed that we are becoming weaker in our faith?" If we see that our faith is threatened, meet the danger. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 tells us, "Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." 1 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

All of us need to schedule time every day for study and meditation of God's word. We need to seek out companions who promote spiritual growth. We need to exercise and perfect our faith by worship and devotion to God. Just as an athlete's muscles grow weaker from lack of exercise, our faith will grow weaker by lack of daily dedication and service to God. May we all continue to grow in the faith by diligently studying and applying God’s word in our day to day lives.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cast Your Burden on the Lord

David wrote in Psalms 55:22, "Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Burdens come to all; rich or poor, young or old, saint or sinner, and there is no escaping them. For the child of God, however, there is a place to leave them. We cast them on the Lord.

Our burdens can become the source of temptation. Sometimes temptations associated with a burden is worse than the burden itself. For instance, there is the temptation to think that God is not caring. However, 1 Peter 5:7 tells us: "...Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." There is often the temptation to try to escape life's responsibilities, and even to try to hide from God. David recognized the futility of trying to hide from God and told us in Psalms 139:7-10 that it was useless to try.

We should never try to deal with our burdens alone. We should anchor our souls in the Lord and as David said, "He shall sustain you." Notice that the promise is not to remove the burden, but to help us bear it. He may choose to remove it, or He may not. Either way, we will be blessed in the midst of our burden. Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." If a care is too small to be made into a prayer, it's too small to be made into a burden.

What are your burdens? Are they pressing heavily upon you? Why not follow the counsel in God's word and rest your burdens in the hands of the compassionate Savior?