ioffermylifetogod

"We stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God." 2 Colossians 1:9 NLT

WHO ARE YOU RELYING ON?

Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials” (John 16:33 NLT). You solve one problem, and another one comes along to take its place. They’re not all big, but they’re all necessary to your spiritual growth. How do you assess the strength of something? By testing it! The Bible says: “Don’t be…shocked that you are going through testing…It will prepare you” (1 Peter 4:12-13 CEV). Some of your most life-enriching experiences will come during your worst moments–when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when your pain levels go though the roof–and you turn to God. That’s when you learn to pray heartfelt, honest-to-God prayers. When you’re in pain you don’t have the energy for superficial ones. And that’s when you discover, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalms 34:18 NLT). God could have kept Joseph out of prison, Daniel out of the lions’ den, Jeremiah out of the slimy pit, and Paul from being shipwrecked, but He didn’t. As a result, each one of them was drawn closer to God and impacted the world around them. This is especially hard on superachievers like Paul. “We…saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us” (2 Corinthians 1:9 TLB). You’ll never know what God can do until God is all you’ve got. So place your needs into His capable, loving hands, and watch what happens.

"Above all else, guard your heart." Proverbs 4:23 NIV

WHAT YOU TRULY STAND FOR

The Bible says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The position you hold in life may cause people to take notice of you, but only your integrity will cause them to respect you and be willing to follow you. And integrity is only established when it becomes clear to everyone that progress, financial reward and recognition are not your gods; that you value something more, something you refuse to give up for profit or popularity. With integrity comes influence. You can manage people without integrity but you can’t influence them without it. Talking one way and living another will wound you. And depending on time and circumstance, you may not be able to recover from it. You say, “How I conduct my private life is nobody else’s business.” Wrong! When people see a difference between what you demand of others and what you demand of yourself, it’ll erode their respect for you every time. Your position may make you secure, but your influence with others will always remain fragile. At any given time you are only one decision, one word or one action away from destroying what it took years to build. Why is it important to keep this in mind? Because the fastest route from where you are today to where you will be tomorrow is not always the most honorable one. Leading and being the person you want to be don’t come easy and don’t always line up. It’s in those moments, however, that you discover a great deal about yourself - you find out what you truly stand for!

The Most Important Skill You Can Teach Your Child (3)

“Your thoughts…are the source of true life.” Proverbs 4:23 CEV 

Teach your child to ask themselves these two questions: (1) “How will I feel afterwards?” What outlasts our decisions are the subsequent feelings of self-respect versus shame, and positive self-worth versus negative self-worth. Our actions ultimately become history, but our thoughts about them continue to shape our future. “Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.” Kids with self-respect are much less likely to indulge in promiscuous sex, drugs, drinking, antisocial and illegal behaviors. Self-respect and self-worth are internal standards we are loath to violate. Giving in to selfish choices is like abandoning the moral core of our being—the sacred soul God gave us. (2) “How will the people I value feel about me after this decision?” The trust and respect of others is always needed to succeed. Reputation trumps money, even in the secular marketplace. “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold” (Pr 22:1 NLT). Poor decision making can earn us a reputation that’ll haunt our prospects indefinitely. “A person who plans (chooses) evil will get a reputation as a troublemaker” (Pr 24:8 NLT). When you get a negative reputation it’s hard to recover from it (See Pr 25:10 NLT). The short-term benefits of making poor decisions lead to long-term losses and regrets. The person God blesses must “exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation” (1Ti 3:2 NLT). 

Redeemed, Released, and Redirected

“Loose him, and let him go.” John 11:44 

When Jesus stood at his friend’s grave and said, “Lazarus, come forth,” His friend, who’d been dead for four days, shuffled out, still bound from head to toe in grave clothes. His grave clothes didn’t just fall off the minute Jesus spoke to him. No, he needed someone to “loose him, and let him go.” There’s an important lesson here. When you accept Christ, He changes you from the inside out. But certain experiences in your past can slow you down, keep you bound spiritually, and determine how you see yourself. And while the Holy Spirit does the initial work, transformation is a process—one that needs the help of others. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2Co 5:17 NKJV). You’re “becoming”! When Jesus saves you it’s like emerging from the tomb wrapped in the grave clothes of your past. What are those grave clothes? Negative influences and thought patterns, low self-esteem, old habits, destructive relationships, etc. That’s why God sends people to love you, help liberate you and release you into your potential. It’s important that you identify these people and build your life around them. It’s also why you need to develop an intimate relationship with God through prayer and Bible reading. Through His Word, you get a true picture of how He views you. Through prayer, you get to know His heart and begin seeing yourself through His eyes. When that happens, you begin to live redeemed, released, and redirected. 

Little Foxes

“Catch…the little foxes that spoil the vines.” Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV 

Michelangelo once sculpted a figure out of marble while a friend watched. Later his friend went away on business and when he returned he said, “I see you haven’t worked on your sculpture.” The great artist replied, “I’ve been working constantly on it since you left.” His friend asked, “How’s that possible?” Michelangelo replied, “I’ve softened a line here, straightened the lip there, defined the muscles more clearly, polished this and sharpened that.” His friend said, “But those are trifles!” Michelangelo replied, “Trifles they may be, but trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle!” Solomon writes, “Catch…the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” One Bible teacher put it this way: “Small things that seem unimportant can spoil ‘tender grapes,’ like a relationship, a career, or a life dedicated to Christ. How many marriages fail because spouses paid no attention to the little things? How many athletes lost competitions because of tiny missteps? Many of us can see the big picture of our lives and our relationship with God, but we neglect the details necessary for bringing it all into focus. We must attend to ‘trifles’ if we hope to succeed. As we act faithfully in the little things God will bless us with greater opportunities. We’ll develop the faithfulness and obedience to conquer the great issues in life.” Only when you’re faithful in small things will God entrust you with greater things (See Mt 25:21). So, what “little foxes” do you need to catch today? Little resentments, little habits, little areas of dishonesty? Nip them in the bud. Deal with them, and watch how it changes your life. 

Take the Stress Out of Serving God (1)

“Am I trying to please people?” Galatians 1:10 NIV

Whether we are ordained ministers or lay people, we aren’t exempt from stress. A deadly combination of traits seen frequently in those serving God produces inferiority and perfectionism—traits that make us obsessive-compulsive performers who think we’re inadequate and that our service is never satisfactory. As a result we become: (a) Over-responsible: We think we must do everything ourselves. (b) Irresponsible: We think nothing we do is acceptable so we shouldn’t tackle anything. © Uncertain: Vacillating between A and B, we feel like losers either way we go. Understand this: it’s the stress we generate, not the demands of the service, that wears on us. And nothing stresses us like people-pleasing! Paul says, “Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ,” because he’d previously lived for people’s acceptance. Now he found himself unable to be an effective servant of Christ and still worry about people’s opinions. People-pleasing must not be your motivation for serving, because: (1) It won’t work. Every vote you capture loses you others. (2) It makes you attempt the impossible. The more you fail to please people, the harder you try. So you get caught in a cycle of pressure, failure and discouragement. (3) You become the source of your strength. Jesus avoided this exhausting lifestyle. “The Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing” (Jn 5:19 NLT). Only when God is your source, do your stress levels go down!

Set Boundaries (4)

“I can make it through anything.” Philippians 4:12 TM 

Flexible boundaries. Rigid boundaries cause you to shut other people out and live unprepared and ill equipped for the give-and-take that healthy relationships require. Permeable boundaries leave you defenseless against “users” who feel entitled to manipulate you and who expect to be taken care of at your expense. But flexible boundary people are competent for living their own life, yet with a balanced and healthy interest in others. They can be generous in sharing their time, compassion and resources, without becoming overly responsible, or betraying their God-given duty to be the unique person He made them, just to please others. They say, “I can be in relationship with you, without giving up being me!” They don’t let you violate their boundaries, and they know how to keep from violating yours. Unlike rigid people, they bend and adjust as circumstances require, without becoming overwhelmed, defensive, resentful, blaming or reactive. In tough situations they roll with the punches, stay focused, and draw on a well of inner strength which God provides. Paul was such a person: “I’ve learned…to be…content whatever my circumstances…I can make it through (adjust to) anything in the One who makes me who I am” (vv.12-13 TM). People and circumstances don’t control them; they flex, and let God take charge. They are helpful, but they don’t feel guilty because they can’t “fix” everybody. Their boundaries enable them to adjust to circumstances. They practice the principle, “Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2), without over-functioning or being responsible for others. 

Set Boundaries (3)

“Like a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28 NLT 

Permeable boundaries. Well-adjusted people find the right balance between protecting their personal space, and allowing others to infiltrate, manipulate and dominate them. They know how to say yes to what’s healthy and no to what’s not. Permeable boundary people, on the other hand, allow others to permeate their lives at will, siphon off their time and energy, dictate their options, and deprive them of other important relationships. Unable to say no, they permit others to make them feel guilty, obligated, uncaring, or even “unchristian” if they withhold what’s demanded. They inconvenience themselves, their families and their friendships to facilitate the endless demands of the seemingly helpless, disempowered, irresponsible user, believing they are being kind and helpful. The “helper’s” toll is immense, often leading to emotional, physical, social and spiritual overload, while the “helpee” feels increasingly dependent, irresponsible and entitled, not appreciating, and sometimes even resenting the helper’s efforts. Permeable boundary people are unaware that their “open” sign is always illuminated, attracting a deluge of other people’s needs they feel personally responsible for. They carry the weight of much that’s wrong in the world, feeling exhausted, anxious, inadequate and guilty, taking it personally that they can’t do more and fix things. And it leaves them feeling “used.” “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Understand this: You can’t take charge of your own life while you’re overwhelmed feeling responsible for other people’s lives. Set some boundaries, and live the life God gave you to live! 

Set Boundaries (2)

“Its parts should have equal concern for each other.” 1 Corinthians 12:25 NIV 

When you buy a house, you need clearly marked boundary lines to let you know what’s yours and what’s not. Good boundaries make good neighbors. The Bible says, “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—too much of you, and they will hate you” (Pr 25:17 NIV). So, how close is too close? Let’s look at three kinds of boundaries we establish between ourselves and others. Rigid boundaries. These are designed to keep others at arms’ length and protect your private, self-absorbed world. Without saying a word, your attitude says: “Keep out, trespassers will be prosecuted!” Why do we create such boundaries? Fear! We fear being known, controlled, hurt, or feeling inadequate and inferior. And our rigidity prevents intimacy. Our unwillingness to be vulnerable or to compromise leaves us defensive, isolated and lonely. Closeness and intimacy are things we long for, yet fear and avoid. We think, “You can’t hurt me if I keep you at a safe distance.” But it doesn’t work. God designed us to share life’s victories and defeats, not to live in isolation. We are to “have equal concern for each other. If one part [person] suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1Co 12:25-26 NIV). Rigid boundaries rob you of life-enriching relationships. “So what’s the answer?” you ask. Reach out! You were created to give to others, and to receive what they have to give back to you. In giving you are fulfilled, and in receiving you are made complete. Anything less is just existing. 

Set Boundaries (1)

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.” Matthew 5:37 NIV 

When does “a good thing” become “too much?” Can I help you, without hurting me? Can we share our lives, without me giving up mine? When do you truly need my help? When do I need to let go, and let you and God handle it? Finding the balance between “enough” and “too much” in relationships is a constant challenge and isn’t easy. Especially when your role tends to be, “all things, at all times, to all people,” and theirs is, “I’m helpless, you owe me, take care of me”; when you have no “no” and they have no “yes.” Needing to be needed by needy people who always want someone to take care of them, puts the needy person in the driver’s seat—and puts you over the edge. They are never happy, whatever you do. So you do more to make them feel happier and yourself feel less guilty, and you end up in a double bind. They resent you for not giving enough, and you resent them for not appreciating what you give. Yet neither of you knows how to break the cycle. So the relationship becomes what counselors call a “more-of-the-same” tangle where both parties resent and devalue the other, feeling stuck in a life-dominating trap you both fear to jettison. Marriages, families, friendships, workplaces, churches and social groups get trapped in this “victim-rescuer” pattern where needy people and fixers become lock-stepped in a mutual dance they both “love to hate,” but won’t stop doing! Recognize yourself? If so, you’re moving toward a healthier, less toxic relationship. 

Prayer Thoughts (1)

“Every morning, I tell you what I need, and I wait for your answer.” Psalms 5:3 NCV

It takes time, but eventually sheep grow familiar with the voice of their shepherd and learn to trust him for everything they need. So how can you become equally familiar with the voice of God? Here are a few ideas: (1) Give God your waking thoughts. With your head on your pillow and your eyes still closed, offer God the first seconds of your day. Say, “Thank You for a night’s rest. Today I belong to You.” C. S. Lewis wrote: “The moment you wake up each morning…all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” (2) Give God your waiting thoughts. The mature married couple has learned the treasure of shared silence; they don’t need to fill the air with constant chatter. Just being together is sufficient. Try being silent with God. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10 NIV). Awareness of God is the result of stillness before God. Jesus prayed, “That [they] may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21 NIV). When are you most deeply aware of Christ’s presence “in you” as He promised? To what degree have you consciously invited Him to be more and more at home in your heart? How has your practice of intimacy with God developed in the last few years? 

Shake It Off

“But Paul shook the snake off into the fire.” Acts 28:5 NIV 

     The story’s told of a farmer whose mule fell into a well. Since he had no way to get him out, he decided to bury him there. He got a truckload of dirt and dumped it on top of the mule. But instead of lying down under it, the mule started kicking and snorting until he worked his way to the top of it. This continued all afternoon. Truckload after truckload, the mule just kept shaking it off and stepping on top of it. Finally when the dirt reached the top of the well the mule just snorted and walked away, a dirtier but a wiser mule. What was intended to bury him, just brought him out on top.

     On his way to Rome Paul was shipwrecked on an island. As he was gathering firewood a snake attached itself to his arm. What did he do? The Bible says he just “shook it off.” There’s an important lesson for you in those two stories. You can either dwell on the past, or shake it off and move toward the future God has planned for you. Paul, a man with a past, writes about “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Php 3:13 NKJV). Now, Paul didn’t forget his past, he just shook it off and kept going. You say, “But I’ve failed so badly.” The Bible says, “[He] will not remember your sins” (Isa 43:25 NAS). Sometimes forgiveness requires a healing process, but until you make the decision to forgive yourself and others, and “shake it off,” the process can’t even begin. 

Growing into Leadership (5)

“Listen…and I will give you some advice.” Exodus 18:19 NIV

As a leader, it’s your job to see that things get done. But as the workload grows you will have to find people with talents equal to the task; otherwise you will stop growing. So what keeps us from seeking out the right people and delegating the right tasks to them? (1) Past hurts: Somebody let us down so we’re reluctant to trust anybody. (2) Pride: We don’t want to share the credit with others. (3) Perfectionism: We are not willing to be put at risk while people with potential learn on the job, so our vision bottlenecks and everything bogs down. Moses had this problem with Israel. Here’s how he solved it: “Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice…You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him…But select capable men from all the people…and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this…you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.’ Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said” (vv.17-24 NIV). If you want to be a good leader, follow his example! 

Growing into Leadership (4)

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15 NIV 

The story’s told of two Irishmen out hunting, when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls 911. Frantically, he tells the operator, “Paddy is dead! What can I do?” The operator says, “Just take it easy. First let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line and says, “Okay, he’s dead, now what?” When you are under pressure you can fail to hear what’s being communicated, and the results can be fatal. So: (1) In order to lead people you must first understand them. You must have insight into the human heart. Sensitivity toward the hopes and dreams of people is essential for connecting with people and motivating them. (2) Listening can keep problems from escalating. Good leaders are attentive to small issues. They pay attention to their intuition. Not only do they listen to what’s being said, they also hear what’s not being said. They are secure enough to ask for honest feedback, and not become defensive when they receive it. (3) Listening establishes trust. Dr. David Burns, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said, “The biggest mistake you can make in trying to talk convincingly, is to put your highest priority in expressing your own ideas and feelings. What people really want is to be listened to, respected, and understood. The moment they are, they become more motivated to understand your point of view.” 

Growing into Leadership (3)

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me.” Psalms 139:23 NLT 

In his Pogo cartoon strip, Walt Kelly said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” The hardest person in the world to lead will always be yourself. Human nature seems to endow us with the ability to size up everybody except ourselves. After having a victorious Goliath experience, followed by a devastating Bathsheba experience, the Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (vv.23-24 NLT). That’s a prayer you need to pray every day because we all have two problems. What are they? (1) We don’t see ourselves as we see others. If we don’t look at ourselves honestly and realistically, we will never understand where our personal difficulties lie. And if we can’t see them, we won’t be able to lead ourselves effectively. It’s said that Frederick the Great of Prussia met an old man who was walking ramrod straight in the opposite direction. “Who are you?” Frederick asked. “I am a king,” replied the old man. Frederick laughed. “Over what kingdom do you reign?” Proudly the old man replied, “Over myself.” (2) We are harder on others than we are on ourselves. We judge others according to their actions, while we tend to judge ourselves according to our intentions. When we do the wrong thing, we let ourselves off the hook because we believe our motives were good. And the problem is, we are usually willing to do that over and over before requiring ourselves to change! 

It’s Just Part of Life’s Journey (5)

“God…will…make a way of escape.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 

     Look at the last part of this verse: “[God] will…make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Before the Army sends you into battle it first sends you to boot camp. You’re up at dawn running miles with a heavy backpack, climbing over barricades, crawling through mud with the sounds of gunfire all around you, taking orders from authority figures you don’t like, who make you do stuff you don’t want to do. But when you pass the test you get to wear the uniform and fight for your country. Now with that picture in mind, reread these words: “But will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The Living Bible says, “So that you can bear up patiently against it.” God is looking for people who are able to bear up under training, then go out and win the battle with the Enemy.

     For every problem, God has a solution. But it may not be the solution you have in mind! Satan’s strategy is to defeat you by wearing you down, so winning is not a matter of escape but of endurance. Tenacious faith and commitment is one of the great themes of Scripture. It’s also the secret of victory. When their prison doors miraculously opened, Paul and Silas realized that God’s plan for them was not to escape but to stay there and win the jailer and his family to Christ. Sometimes God’s “way of escape” is to keep you where you are and use you to bring glory to His name. 

How Jesus Taught Us to Pray (4)

“Deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13 NKJV

      Jesus taught us to pray: “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (v.13 NKJV). Satan knows your areas of weakness and he will exploit them. But there’s good news. It’s your weaknesses, not your strengths, that draw you closer to God and make you lean on Him. Paul wrote: “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT). At first this verse doesn’t seem to make sense. You want to be freed from your weaknesses, not boast about them. But Paul gives you several reasons: (1) Your weakness prevents pride. Paul writes: “So I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations” (2 Corinthians 12:7 TM). You’ll often find a weakness attached to strength, acting as a governor to keep you from becoming boastful or running ahead of God. Gideon chose 32,000 men to fight the Midianites, but God reduced his numbers to 300 (See Judges 7). Why? So that Israel would know it was God’s power and not their own that saved them. (2) Your weakness creates fellowship. Your struggles show you how much you need the support of others. Vance Havner said, “Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic.” (3) Your weakness enables you to help others. It’s the broken who become masters at mending. Your most effective ministry can come out of your most painful experiences. The things you’re most reluctant to share are often the very things God will use to help others.

Decision Making (1)

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 NIV

     If all your life you’ve been warned about making bad decisions, fear can cause you to miss God-given opportunities. “If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8 NIV). Now you’re like the mule standing between two bales of hay; unable to decide which one to eat and afraid of making the wrong choice, you starve to death. You must act! Your need to do things perfectly and your desire to control every possible outcome will keep you stuck. So: (1) Stop trying to please everybody. “Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety” (Proverbs 29:25 TLB). Once you know what brings you fulfillment, as long as it’s God’s will, chart your course accordingly and refuse to let the opinions of others stop you or color your view. (2) Remember, over time your goals can change. What’s needed today may not be right for you a year from now. So reassess your plans regularly and be willing to change direction. “We should make plans—counting on God to direct us” (Proverbs 16:9 TLB). When your spiritual gut says no, pay attention. (3) When God is on your side, you’ll prevail. Somebody asked Abraham Lincoln if he was sure that God was on his side. He replied, “I haven’t thought much about it. I just want to know I’m on God’s side.” It’s normal to speculate about how you’d like things to turn out, but God alone controls the future. Just trust Him. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” 

Made Perfect Through Suffering (1)

“God…made Jesus perfect by suffering.” Hebrews 2:10 CEV

None of us has come close to experiencing what Jesus endured on the cross, yet we run from suffering. A lost job, a debilitating illness, a painful divorce—none of us escapes. Even “Jesus…had to suffer before he could learn what it really means to obey God” (Hebrews 5:8 CEV). Pain is a learning experience. The Bible says, “God…made Jesus perfect by suffering.” Philip Yancey writes: “God understood physical pain, having designed the nervous system that carries it to our brains…But had a Spirit ever felt physical pain? Not until the Incarnation. In thirty-three years on earth Jesus learned about…family squabbles…social rejection…verbal abuse and betrayal. And he learned too about pain. What it feels like to have an accuser leave the red imprint of his fingers on your face…to have a crude iron spike pounded through muscle, tendon, and skin. On earth, God learned all that. And because of Jesus, God hears our groans differently. The author of Hebrews marveled that whatever we are going through, God has gone through: ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but…one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15 NIV). We have a high priest who graduated from the school of suffering and ‘is able to be gentle with those who do not understand and who are doing wrong things’ (Hebrews 5:2 NCV)…We need no longer cry into the abyss, ‘Hey, [God], are you listening?’ By joining us on earth, Jesus gave visible, historical proof that God hears our groans and…groans along with us.” What a comfort! 

Are You Being Tempted?

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.” James 1:12

     You’ll never be exempt from temptation. Each season of life just brings temptation in a different form. When you’re young you’ll struggle with the need for companionship and sexual fulfillment. In business you’ll be tempted to distort the truth, cheat and pocket the money. When you become successful, if you’re not careful you’ll become ego-driven, controlling and opinionated. The truth is, you never become so spiritual as to be exempt from temptation. After forty days of prayer and fasting, Satan tempted Jesus. So you are as vulnerable to attack after a great spiritual experience as you are in your lowest moments. Satan understood Jesus’ assignment and he was out to stop Him from accomplishing it. And he is out to stop you too! The battle you’re in is not over the past, it’s over the future. In the face of repeated temptation Jesus defeated Satan by using the Word of God, and you must too. Without it you have no defense. In what specific areas do you struggle? What’s your strategy for victory? What percentage of the time are you successful? What Scriptures have you memorized to help you conquer the tempter when he comes against you? Look at Samson, God’s champion: blinded, chained, grinding corn like an ox in a Philistine dungeon. Sin has a blinding effect, a binding effect, and a grinding effect. Graveyards and prisons are filled with people who were too weak to stand up against Satan. Dreams crash daily on the rocks of temptation. Move the ship of your life away from those rocks while you still can.