Temptation

image by Briton Revieri
"O Christ, You walked the road our wand'ring feet must go. 
You faced with us temptation's pow'r and fought our ancient foe.
No bread of earth alone can fill our hung'ring hearts.
Lord, help us seek Your living Word, the food Your grace imparts.

No blinding sign we ask, no wonder from above.
Lord, help us place our trust alone in Your unswerving love.
When lures of easy gain with promise brightly shine,
Lord, help us seek Your kingdom first;
our wills with Yours align.

O Christ, You walked the road our wandr'ing feet must go.
Stay with us through temptation's hour to fight our ancient foe."

O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. When I call, answer me. O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. Come and listen to me. In boldness I pray to you for you have been forever faithful and have promised to listen. You know what is on my heart and mind this night. I lift my prayer to you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Under The Cloud

Photo by Julie Ayers

Photo by Julie Ayers

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.  They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

* * * * *

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.  Do not be idolators, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”  We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did–and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.  We should not test the Lord as some of them did–and were killed by snakes.  And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

* * * * *

So, if you think you are standing firm,

be careful that you don’t fall.  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.”

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Lord God, even the children of Israel who saw your miraculous provision day after day were tempted to turn away from you and to seek other sources of security and fulfillment.  And I am no different.  Temptations come.  Do I want to please my selfish nature or do I want to please you?  You know that I am mere dust.  You know that I need strength beyond my own strength to say no to ME and yes to YOU.  And you have given me cloud protection in my Savior Jesus who himself resisted all temptation and was found perfect in Your sight.  Through faith, Lord, you help me say “NO”, to turn away, to take a different path.  You even come to me when I am weak and have given into temptation and you forgive my sin, for Jesus’ sake.  Thank you for never leaving me nor forsaking me!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Lots Of Groaning Going On

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits

of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for

our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

For in this is hope we were saved.

But hope that is seen is no hope at all.

Who hopes for what he already has?

But, if we hope for what we do not yet have,

we wait for it patiently.”

* * * * *

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us

in our weakness.

We do not know what we ought to pray for,

but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans

that words cannot express.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,

because the Spirit intercedes for the saints

in accordance to God’s will.”

Romans 8:22-27

Something isn’t right.  I sense something is out of balance and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Groan.

I know something is terribly wrong and I don’t know what to do.

Groan.

In either situation God knows and His Spirit groans with us to carry that burden to His throne of Grace.

Having trouble with finances?

Groan

Children?

Groan

Parents?

Groan

Health?

Groan

Work?

Groan

Studies?

Groan

Friends?

Groan

Temptations?

Groan

Persecution?

Groan

Ultimately, our dear Lord went through the same ups and downs of everyday living in this world. And he spent much time in prayer with the Father. He groaned in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemene.  He groaned on the Cross as His Father turned His back on His sin-ladened Son.  Deep anguished groans.

And now the Spirit groans deep utterances on our behalf seeking the will of our Father.

He hears the wordless pleadings, longings, sighs of His dear children–you and me.

He hears. And He knows our needs.

He brings His peace and love and mercy and soothes our aching souls for Jesus’ sake.

Thank You Father that You hear the groanings of our inward beings when we are at a loss for words.  Thank You for the intercession of the Spirit who intimately knows us as well as Your desires for us.  May we trust and hope in You alone to answer these deep well-spring prayers and to give you thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

April 14 Increase Our Faith!

Photo by Sandara Lee

Photo by Sandara Lee

Joshua 9:3-10:43;  Luke 16:19-17:10;  Psalm 83:1-18;  Proverbs 3:4

“And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to  come, but woe to the one through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

Pay attention to yourselves!  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day and turns to you seven times, saying “I repent,” you must forgive him.

* * * * *

“The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Luke 17:1-6

Television shows, movies and songs glorify revenge; glorify inflicting harm in return for an injury received (sometimes even one that is just ‘perceived’).  ‘Someone hurt me, I’m going to hurt her in return even if she says that she’s sorry for what she did.’

Revenge makes for juicy, emotionally charged story plots that reinforce human nature’s view of justice, of fairness.

Where does Jesus’ teaching about repentance and forgiveness fit into those kinds of stories?

Where does Jesus’ teaching fit into my life or your life when a great wrong has been done and our human nature cries out for a chance to get even?

The Apostles’ cry in response to the Lord’s teaching about repentance and forgiveness is our cry, “Lord, increase our faith!”

They knew how impossible it was to do what Jesus was asking of them.

We know how hard it is to forgive.

Jesus knows it is impossible on our own strength.

But He gives us what we need to do what He asks of us.

He gives us more faith.  Faith capable of doing the impossible!

Lord God, your ways are not our ways.  Please help us to follow your ways!  Increase our faith today, so that we can forgive those who have sinned against us.  Help us to remember the great cost that Jesus paid on the Cross–instead of getting revenge on all those who mistreated Him, sinned against Him–He bore our sins and suffered death.  But Praise to you, O God, you raised Jesus from the dead.  His resurrection power bolsters our faith and enables us to do the impossible in Jesus’ name!  Grant, Lord, that we forgive even as you have forgiven us.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

January 3 The Tempter’s Threat

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Genesis 5:1-7:24;  Matthew 3:7-4:11;  Psalm 3:1-8;  Proverbs 1:10-19

“Then Jesus was led up into the desert by the Spirit in order to be tempted by the slanderer.  And after he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, at the end he was hungry.  And the tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But he answered and said, “It stands written: A person will not live by bread alone; rather, by every word that comes out through the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:1-4

Temptation comes to each

of us

behind the mask,

Satan asks,

“Who are you–really?

You say you follow

Jesus Christ,

believe His every word,

but do you, really?”

*******

Jesus heard the same

as Satan

called his name-

Son of God.

Jesus didn’t flinch,

He recalled His Father’s words,

“This one is my beloved Son,

in whom I am well pleased.”

*******

Jesus stood

by His Father’s Words

and had no need of bread.

His Father would sustain him,

Satan’s threat was dead.

*******

“Baptized into the name of

God the Father,

God the Son,

and

God the Holy Spirit,”

His name now becomes ours.

When Satan beckons,

tempts our souls,

questions our identity,

recall the Water and

the Word,

the tempter’s threat is dead.

Lord God, Jesus did what man could never do–resist Satan’s temptations, relying soley on You to provide all that He would ever need.  Jesus knew who He was and stood firm in His identity as Your Son when Satan tempted him with power, kingdom wealth, and protection.  Lord, may we look only to You to provide us with what we need for this life and when tempted by Satan to depend on someone or something else but you, help us to stand on the name of Jesus and Him alone!  In His name we pray, Amen.

April 25 Wide Eyed Praying

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Photo by Kevin Carden

Judges 4:1-5:31;  Luke 22:35-53;  Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 14:3-4

“When he rose from prayer and went back to his disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.

“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  Luke 22:45-46

“Go to dark Gethsemene,

All who feel the tempters power;

Your Redeemer’s conflict see,

Watch with Him one bitter hour;

Turn not from His griefs away;

Learn from Jesus Christ to pray.”

~ James Montgomery

Tragedy

Impending financial disaster

Abandonment

Joblessness

Childlessness

Singleness

Illness

Conflicts within Family, among friends

all can wring joy out of living;

rob us of hope

IF

we close our eyes and let the darkness overcome us and lull us into spiritual slumber.

Jesus tells us to WATCH–keep your eyes open–and pray!

Pray–so that the temptation to give up or act foolishly out of fear doesn’t obscure the picture of Christ

on his knees

praying with all His might,

experiencing the human emotions of fear, dread and panic,

yet not succombing,

being strengthened by the angel,

to keep His eyes on the prize-

the Salvation of those whom He loves–

you and me.

Lord Jesus, help us to keep watch and pray, especially during the difficult, challenging times in our lives.  Help us to keep our eyes on You and to remember how you suffered and struggled, but ultimately yielded to your Father’s will, how you willingly went to the cross to pay for our sins.  You didn’t avoid the pain by sleeping or ignoring or running away.  You endured.  Strengthen us through your word and help us endure as well.  In your name we pray, Amen.

January 17 Can’t Go Wrong

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Photo by Travis Silva

 

Genesis 35:1-36:43;  Matthew 12:1-21;  Psalm 15:1-5;  Proverbs 3:21-26

“My son, do not lose sight of these–keep sound wisdom and discretion and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.  Then you will walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble.”  Proverbs 3:21-23

King Solomon gave good advice to his son–‘keep your life focused on God and His Word–you can’t go wrong.’

He was right.  God never leads down wrong paths.  His words are sure.  Life giving. Wise.  Always.

Like Adam and Eve–and everyone since them–we take our eyes off of God and listen to other sources of wisdom–wisdom NOT from above.  We listen to the world, our flesh, the angel of light (Satan).  We take a path of temptation and end up falling–big time!

We sin.  We fail.  We cry out–Lord, help!

And He does!

He forgives.

He sets us upon our feet and bids us to keep our eyes on Him

Lord God, we thank and praise you for rescuing us when we lose sight of your truth–your wisdom–when we take our eyes off of Jesus.  Thank you for restoring our balance and making our walk with you secure.  Thank you for your promise to keep us from falling out of your sight.  No one is beyond your grasp who looks to you.  It’s true–in you, we can’t go wrong!  Praise your Holy Name!  Amen.

“He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart…he who does these things shall never be moved.”  Psalm 15:2,5

January 3 Deliverance

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Image by Matt Dalrymple

Genesis 5:1-7:24;  Matthew 3:7-4:11;  Psalm 3:1-8;  Proverbs 1:10-19

“From the Lord comes deliverance.”  Psalm 3:8

Deliverance #1

Water and Word bestowed

the washing away of sin

from my infant heart

sealing the deal

as a Child of God.

Thank you, Lord!

 

Deliverance #2

Tempting teen adventures promising

thrills, chills and of course, no spills,

preempted by an invitation to

“come”–worship, hear God’s Word,

share some fun, some fellowship–just come,

just once.

Thank you, Lord.

 

Deliverance #3

Reckless living, wrong choices,

headed for a crash–which came.

Surgery, recovery, time alone

with God and a wonderful book

about Grace.

Thank you, Lord.

 

Deliverance #4

Veiled in common love for God,

for service and for prayer,

Temptation wrapped a solid grip and

pulled down to despair.

God’s strong arm of His strong Word

turned away the sin.

Thank you, Lord.

 

Daily Deliverance

Lord each day you deliver me and keep me

from much harm.

What ills come my way,

come for my sake

to turn  me back to you–

You, who knew no sin

were trapped beneath its weight,

the guilt, the condemnation.

Your death released me

from eternal bars of separation

and opened the gates of Heaven.

“Come”  I’ll hear you say.

Thank you, Lord.

Amen!

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Image by Matt Dalrymple

 

 

 

 

December21 Make No Mistake

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Photo by Pierce Brantley

Zechariah 1:1-21;  Revelation 12:1-13:1a;  Psalm 140:1-13;  Proverbs 30:17

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God

and the authority of his Christ.

For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them

before our God day and night,

has been hurled down.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,

and by the words of their testimony…

Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them!

But woe, to the earth and the sea, because the devil

has gone down to you!

He is filled with fury, because he knows that

his time is short.”

Revelation 12:10-12

Make no mistake.

We, who believe in Jesus as “the Way, the Truth and the Life”, are targets of Satan’s fiery darts designed to inflict doubt, deception, and destruction.

Make no mistake.

Satan’s lies are all around us.  He masquerades as “an angel of light” peddling a different gospel:

     “If a person is good, he’ll go to heaven.” 

     “God wants your happiness above all–do what makes you feel good.”

     “God wants you to rich in this world and fulfilled (full of yourself no matter what the cost)”

     “The Bible is nothing but stories about a good teacher named Jesus.”

      “You can believe whatever you want as long as you are sincere.”

 Make no mistake.

Satan wants every believer in Christ to turn his back on Him;  to give up and give in.  “Be sober minded.  Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

Make no mistake.

As redeemed children of God, He’s equipped us to meet Satan’s onslaught.  “Put on the whole armour of God, that you be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…the belt of Truth, the breastplate of Righteousness, shoes of the gospel of Peace, the shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”  Ephesians 6:14-17

Make no mistake.

Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross delivered us from sin, death and the devil.  Satan has no power over us. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

In this season of “Happy Holidays” boldly proclaim “Merry Christmas.  Christ has come!  He’s coming again!”

Make no mistake.

It will make the devil shake.

Gracious God, thank you for standing up to our accuser, Satan, on our behalf;  for sending Jesus who never gave in to Satan’s temptations using Your Word of truth against him.  May we do the same.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

December 13 Trapped or Free?

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Photo by Charise Orozco

Obadiah 1:1-21;  Revelation 4:1-11;  Psalm 132:1-18;  Proverbs 29:24-25

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”  Proverbs 29:25

 

Being more concerned about approval ratings from peers rather than God’s approval can get us into all kinds of trouble.

It can be very subtle…just like catching a wild animal with a snare is oh, so subtle.  What would knowingly walk right into something designed to bind and hold it captive, right?

I’ve walked into my share of snares in my lifetime.  I imagine you have too. I’ve said “yes” to what I should have said “no” to.  Sometimes it’s hard to say no, because we want so much to please and be accepted and fit in–whether we are a teen, or young adult, or middle age empty- nester or octogenarian.

Is there a way out of the snares we’ve become entangled in? 

You bet!

1.  Admit that you’ve been caught in the trap (and there are many kinds and varieties designed by the world, our sinful flesh and Satan to trap us).

2. Confess your sin to God our Father.

3. Receive the forgiveness that was won for us on the Cross by Christ.

4. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the “author and perfecter of our faith.”  Let His word dwell in you richly

5. “Trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

Father in Heaven, thank you for saving us from the sin that entraps us–for setting us free.  May we keep our eyes on you.  Give us wisdom to see temptation for what it is–an opportunity to become stuck–and to turn away from it.  Help us not to fear what others may think of us–what the world judges us to be.  Help us to be faithful to you and loving to those who want to see us fall.  Thank you for being our refuge–our safe house.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”  Psalm 118:8