Is it lust? Be alert!

Is it lust? Be alert!

1 Peter 5:8

According to 1 John 2:15, there are three basic temptations in life: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

These were the temptations to which Adam and Eve fell in the Garden. The fruit was “pleasant to the eye” (lust of eyes), would taste good (lust of the flesh), and was supposed to make them “like God” (pride of life).

Jesus Himself conquered all these when He was tempted by the devil after those 40 days of fasting and prayer in the Judean wilderness. “Turn these stones into bread in order to still your hunger” (lust of the flesh), “Jump from the Temple to you’re your power since Scripture says that the angels will catch you” (pride of life). “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you will fall down and worship me. You won’t have to go to the cross (lust of the eyes). 

I have found both through personal experience and through observing others, that we are most susceptible to these temptations when 1) we are very tired, 2) when we are “very high,” 3) very stressed and self-medicate, and 4) when we are in a strange environment.

When we are very tired, we may let down our guard and defenses, and begin to think, even subconsciously, that we deserve a break. That “break” can lead us to indulge ourselves in things we would not do if we were alert.

When we are “very high,” not necessarily on some substance, but just high on life, things are going well for us, maybe we’ve received a promotion, or received some honor, or maybe we’re even “high” in the Lord, feeling so close to Him that we feel almost invincible and are not expecting temptation to be lurking.

When we are very stressed, we do not go to the source of our comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) but self-medicate to avoid the Lord’s presence. Even as we are stressed, are we standing on God’s Word?

When we are in a strange environment, we do not have around us the people who often help to keep us focused. 

In those moments, we can be the most susceptible to areas of failure, expressing itself in some form of lust, self-focus, self-elevation, maybe an outburst of anger, perhaps an offense because we are not appreciative, or some other unexpected enticement.

In such cases, Peter’s word is the word for the moment: “Be alert!”

Yes, Lord, may we accept this God-given-Peter-phrased advice, always relying on Your help so that, even in those times, we walk forward in strength.

Biblical Authority

Biblical Authority

Authority, biblically, is from the ground up, not the top down – not someone up on top handing down commands and expecting to be served. Biblical authority is rather an inverted pyramid, with the leader on the bottom serving those whom God has given him. Think Jesus!

Listen to the way Jesus admonished the leaders and rulers of His day: “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you! Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matthew 20:25). Pretty strong words, wouldn’t you say?

“Lording it over” others is ungodly. “Exercising authority over others ” is against the will of God.

Yes, we are to walk in the authority God has given us, and we are to exercise that authority, but we are not to “lord it over” or “exercise authority over.” In other words, we make no demands. We love and we serve.

Yes, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, but he precedes that admonition with advice to both husband and wife: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” When both husband and wife submit to one another out of a desire to love and serve, there exists a healthy loving marriage. When a Godly woman has a husband who loves and serves her, she will willingly submit to that authority, knowing that he has her best interests in all that he does. The day a husband says to his wife, perhaps in the middle of a heated argument, “You are supposed to submit to me,” he has already walked away from the spirit and nature of Jesus.

May we walk in our God-given authority – yes! But let us do it as chief servants to those around us, not as chief usurpers of that authority.

Have a blessed life!

The World’s Best Seller

The World’s Best Seller

What if you had a fiancé or a husband who was away on a long trip, and he wrote letters to you daily only to find the letters unopened when he returned three weeks later? Would you think you would have a hard time convincing him that you really do love him?

And yet! We have a “Lover” who is on a long trip and He has left us all kinds of letters and communication that often lie unopened on our coffee tables or on the bookshelves. Not only that, sometimes some of us say, “But He would not think that way,” when we have rarely picked up His “letters” to find out what He likes and does not like.

Even among believers, sometimes even pastors, there is a dearth of Bible reading. As a result, we have whole denominations who are calling righteous what God calls sinful.

I love the way Isaiah talks about the word of God. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth, and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”(55:10-11).

Rain and snow! That describes my Bible reading. Sometimes His Word is like rain, and makes me “green and flourish” immediately. But sometimes it’s like snow. I don’t get any immediate result. His Word just piles up on top of my head! But when the sunlight of His Presence hits that pile of snow, it melts and runs down inside of me and empowers me!

Do you have a plan for reading the entire Bible? Even if it takes you five years? Read the whole thing! Sometimes you may feel you are getting nothing immediately (like snow on top of your roof); other times you will feel totally refreshed and restored (like the refreshing rain).

The world’s bestseller! Really a remarkable book! Life-changing!
Read the book!

Don’t Ask Twice

Don’t Ask Twice

When you’ve heard from God, but it’s an answer that you really did not want to receive, don’t ask twice.

Read Number 22 about the prophet Balaam, and you’ll understand.
The king of Moab wanted to hire Balaam to curse his enemy Israel. Balaam may not at the time have known much about Israel, but he was a servant of the LORD, so he inquired. The LORD said, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”

The Moab princes went home and told their king, but the king did not want to take “no” for an answer, so he sent more princes and offered greater rewards if Balaam would come to curse his enemy Israel.

Balaam’s response was outstanding, but his heart was not with his words. “If Balak were to give me his palace full of silver and gold, I would not go beyond what the Lord tells me.”

That should have been the end of the matter, but those rewards were so enticing that Balaam told the princes, “Wait here and let me ask God again.” The LORD had already told Balaam he was not to curse Israel, and Balaam had no need to ask again.

So what happened? The LORD told Balaam to go ahead, but “God was very angry” (22:22) with Balaam for even asking. You’ll have to open your own Bible if you want to know the rest of the story, but it wasn’t pretty, and Balaam ended up in dangerous territory in Moab before he’s learned his lesson.

The moral of the story? When you hear from God, and you’re sure you’ve heard, but you’d like to have a different answer, don’t ask twice.

Has God been talking to you with an answer you did not want? Don’t ask again. You may not like what happens.

Kingdom Expansion

Kingdom Expansion

“Your Kingdom, come!”

Matthew 6:10

Isaiah told of a Son that would be born who would be called “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” – that the government would be upon His shoulders, a government, a kingdom, that would never end (Isaiah 9:7). Jesus is that Son.

Our intended destiny is to be a part of His advancing kingdom.

Daniel had a vision of the “time of the end” when the righteous would “shine like the brightness of the heavens” and would “lead many to righteousness (Daniel 12:4).

Our intended destiny is to be so full of the Spirit of Jesus that we radiate the glory of God – our very countenances proclaim His greatness.

Jesus spoke of a time when world righteousness would ripen (See Matthew 13:30).  Wickedness also ripens, but light always defeats darkness.

Our intended destiny is to become the most righteous generation in history.

May we embrace our destiny to the fullest – you and I. May we be so saturated with the Word of God and so full of His Spirit that we continually spread His joy.

May nothing distract us, nothing discourage us. Let us go forward in strength and with passion.

Lord Jesus, help us to share the good news and take millions with us into the eternal Kingdom.