One Basis For Temptation

Posted August 30th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful.

Titus 3:14

We all have basic human needs to feel loved, accepted and worthwhile. When these needs go unmet, it’s very important that we express them to our family members and fellow Christians in a positive way and allow others to minister to those needs. I believe that one basis for temptation is unmet legitimate needs. When you are too proud to say, “I don’t feel loved.” or when you push others away by saying, “You don’t love me anymore,” your need for love goes unmet. So Satan comes along with a tempting alternative: “Your wife doesn’t love you like you deserve. But have you noticed the affectionate gleam in your secretary’s eye?”

Other than Himself, God’s primary resource for meeting your needs and keeping you pure is other believers. The problem is that many go to Sunday school, church and Bible study wearing a sanctimonious mask. Wanting to appear strong and together, they rob themselves of the opportunity of having their needs met in the warmth and safety of the Christian community. In the process, they rob the community of the opportunity to minister to their needs. By denying the fellowship of believers the privilege of meeting your legitimate needs, you are acting independently of God. You are vulnerable to the temptation of thinking that you can have your needs met in the world, the flesh and the devil.

Instead, follow the guidance of Hebrews 10:24, 25: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

Prayer:

Lord, grant me the humility to confess my needs and hurts to my Christian family in order to allow You to meet my needs in Your way.

by Neil Anderson

The ‘Risk’ of Obedience

Posted August 25th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

“[Abraham] was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did – by his actions.” (James 2:22 NLT)

To many Christians, “faith” means sincerely believing something is true when you don’t have any evidence. In fact, faith is acting on what you know full well is true: God is able to keep his promise and can be trusted to do it. Faith that is only theoretical conviction isn’t faith yet. Real faith – living faith, saving faith – does something about it.

God had promised Abraham that Isaac would be the father of an entire nation. When the Lord commanded him to sacrifice his only son, faith wasn’t some abstract issue of believing without evidence. Faith meant taking the risk of obedience – frightening as it was – because Abraham knew God could keep the promise even if Isaac died. Raising a son from the dead is right down God’s alley!

The life of faith is a life of taking risks that aren’t actually risky. When God puts a challenge before you – even one that seems crazy to your human nature – you can step out in confidence because you know God is able and faithful. When your faith and actions are working together, then your faith will be made complete.

Prayer: “Lord, what you want from us is exciting – and a little frightening too. It would be a lot easier to just stay with our ‘business as usual’ lives, but you have something seriously amazing in store for us if we will match our beliefs with obedience. Please strengthen our confidence in your power and trustworthiness, and grant us the courage to step out in faith when you give us opportunities to prove how much we really trust you.”

Point to ponder: The life of faith is a life of taking risks that aren’t actually risky.

By Mark Kelly

Under God’s Protection

Posted August 23rd, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

—1 Corinthians 10:13

In the New Testament, we have the account of Jesus saying to Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31–32).

Put yourself in Peter’s sandals. You are sitting around with the Lord when He turns to you, calls you by name, and says, “Satan has been asking excessively that you be taken out of the care and protection of God. The devil has been asking for you by name.” I don’t know about you, but if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said that to me, it would be cause for great concern.

Peter was such a big fish that the devil personally went after him. I wonder if the Lord paused for effect: “Satan has been asking for you . . . by name. . . . But I have good news, Peter. I have prayed for you.”

It is a good reminder to us that when the devil comes knocking at our door, we should say, “Lord, would you mind getting that?” We are no match for the devil. Though he is a powerful foe, he certainly is not as powerful as God. Even so, we don’t want to tangle with him. We want to stand behind God’s protection.

In spite of the devil’s power and wicked agenda, he must first ask permission when it comes to the children of God, because of the hedge of protection that God has placed around us.

God knows what you are ready for. And He won’t give you more than you can handle.

by Pastor Greg Laurie

Untangling Life's Knots

Posted August 21st, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

It’s your best friend’s wedding. “I’ll take care of the reception,” you’d volunteered. You planned the best party possible. You hired the band, rented the hall, catered the meal, decorated the room, and asked your Aunt Bertha to bake the cake.

Now the band is playing and the guests are milling, but Aunt Bertha is nowhere to be seen. Everything is here but the cake. You sneak over to the pay phone and dial her number. She’s been taking a nap. She thought the wedding was next week.

Oh boy! Now what do you do? Talk about a problem! Everything is here but the cake …

Sound familiar?

It might. It’s exactly the dilemma Jesus’ mother, Mary, was facing. Back then, wine was to a wedding what cake is to a wedding today.

What Mary faced was a social problem. No need to call 911, but no way to sweep the embarrassment under the rug, either.

When you think about it, most of the problems we face are of the same caliber. We’re late for a meeting. We leave something at the office. A coworker forgets a report. Mail gets lost. Traffic gets snarled. The waves rocking our lives are not life threatening yet. But they can be. A poor response to a simple problem can light a fuse.

For that reason you might want to note how Mary reacted. Her solution poses a practical plan for untangling life’s knots. “They have no more wine,” she told Jesus (John 2:3). That’s it. That’s all she said. She didn’t go ballistic. She simply assessed the problem and gave it to Christ.

It’s so easy to focus on everything but the solution. Mary didn’t do that. She simply looked at the knot, assessed it, and took it to the right person. “I’ve got one here I can’t untie, Jesus.”

“When all the wine was gone Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine’” (John 2:3).

Please note, she took the problem to Jesus before she took it to anyone else. A friend told me about a tense deacons’ meeting he attended. Apparently there was more agitation than agreement, and after a lengthy discussion, someone suggested, “Why don’t we pray about it?” to which another questioned, “Has it come to that?”

What causes us to think of prayer as the last option rather than the first?

by Max Lucado

Sharing Your Life Message

Posted August 19th, 2007 by Kent and filed in Uncategorized

“Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10a GW)

“Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word …. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore — you’re the message!” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 MSG)

God has given you a Life Message to share.

When you became a believer, you also became God’s messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Paul said, “We speak the truth before God, as messengers of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)

You may feel you don’t have anything to share, but that’s the Devil trying to keep you silent. You have a storehouse of experiences that God wants to use to bring others into his family. The Bible says, “Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10)

Your Life Message has four parts to it:

  • Your testimony: the story of how you began a relationship with Jesus;
  • Your life lessons: the most important lessons God has taught you;
  • Your godly passions: the issues God shaped you to care about most;
  • The Good News: the message of salvation.

Your Life Message includes your testimony. Your testimony is the story of how Christ made a difference in your life. Peter tells us that we were chosen by God “to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you.” (1 Peter 2:9)

This is the essence of witnessing — simply sharing your personal experiences regarding the Lord. In a courtroom, a witness isn’t expected to argue the case, prove the truth, or press for a verdict; that is the job of attorneys. Witnesses simply report what happened to them or what they saw.

Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8) – not “You will be my attorney.” He wants you to share your story with others. Sharing your testimony is an essential part of your mission on earth because it is unique. There is no other story just like yours, so only you can share it. If you don’t share it, it will be lost forever.

You may not be a Bible scholar, but you are the authority on your life, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience. Actually, your personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors as professional salesmen, but they see you as a “satisfied customer,” so they give you more credibility.

Personal stories also are easier to relate to than principles, and people love to hear them. They capture our attention, and we remember them longer. Unbelievers would probably lose interest if you started quoting theologians, but they have a natural curiosity about experiences they’ve never had. Shared stories build a relational bridge from your heart to theirs – a bridge Jesus can walk across.

Another value of your testimony is that it by-passes intellectual defenses. Many people who won’t accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble personal story. That is why on six different occasions Paul used his testimony to share the Gospel instead of quoting Scripture.

The Bible says, “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15-16) The best way to “be ready” is to write out your testimony and then memorize the main points.

So what?

· Testimony – Divide your testimony into four parts:

  1. – What my life was like before I met Jesus.
  2. – How I realized I needed Jesus.
  3. – How I committed my life to Jesus.
  4. – The difference Jesus has made in my life.

· Variations on your testimony – You have a story for every experience in which God has helped you. Once you are comfortable with your basic testimony, make a list of all the problems, circumstances, and crises God has brought you through. Then use one of those situations when it seems relevant. Different situations call for different testimonies.

By Rick Warren