temptation

Sparrows and Saints

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31 KJV).

A noted atheist once openly ridiculed “soft-hearted” God for “weeping” when a sparrow fell. What is our answer to such a fool?

Today’s Scripture says, in New Testament times, two sparrows were worth one “farthing” (also called an assarius). A “penny” (also called a denarius) was a laborer’s daily wages (Matthew 20:2). The assarius was about 1/16th of a penny. Imagine your wages for working 1/16th of a day. That was the price of two sparrows. Halve that to get the price of one sparrow. One would only have to work 1/32nd of a day to buy one sparrow. You could work a full day and buy 32 sparrows. In other words, sparrows were inexpensive in terms of human assessment. But, in the Lord Jesus’ estimation, every little sparrow was valuable. The Father would notice when an “insignificant” sparrow would “fall on the ground” (assuming death). After all, that sparrow was the descendant of the original birds He had directly created via His spoken word. He never intended even one animal to die! Death was man’s doing, not God’s!

Yet, even “many sparrows” (despite God’s value of them) were nothing compared to His believers. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Take time today to read Matthew chapter 10 very closely. You can see the Lord Jesus Christ preparing His 12 apostles (and, more generally, believing Israel) to experience very difficult times. They will have to endure the extreme pressures of the coming Antichrist’s rule. Friends, that future persecution of Israel’s Little Flock is beyond our comprehension. For following Jesus Christ, all will lose family members and friends. They will also lose their homes, clothes, employment, and access to food. Some will lose their lives.

What the Lord Jesus skillfully did in today’s Scripture is encourage believing Israel, paraphrased, “Just as My Father notices an inexpensive sparrow dying, He will notice you suffering and dying for His Son’s name! He is watching everything and will punish your persecutors in due time!”

Enjoy, With Godliness and Contentment

Monday, September 26, 2016

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17 KJV).

Enjoy life, friends, with godliness and contentment!

Some Christians, seeking the title “The Epitome of Simplistic Living,” consider pleasure a sin. (Supposedly, the more basic one’s lifestyle is, the “holier” he or she is!) Eating at a nice restaurant—NO! Wearing makeup and nice clothing—NO! and NO! Watching television shows and movies—NO! (“Christians should remain home and avoid the world!”) Or, maybe their life’s goal is to scrimp and stash spare change in their pockets, and collect every last penny on sidewalks. They “stash” it underground for “Jesus’ glory!” (Ignoring, “God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”) Furthermore, although they have taken great precautions to hold to that wealth, something bad will eventually happen—another person may find and keep it, the economy may collapse, or they just may die!

Other Christians know nothing but pleasure. They love entertainment wherever they go… at home, at school, at work, at church, and so on. They too have trusted in “uncertain” riches. Life for them is all about how much they can spend and sport—bigger homes, faster cars, beautiful spouses, highest-paying jobs, educations, and so on. They have a God-shaped vacuum in their hearts, and they are desperately trying to fill it with everything but sound Bible doctrine.

Dear friends, God wants us at neither extreme. We need to strike a balance. Today’s Scripture says, “Nor trust in uncertain riches… but in… God… who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” Contrary to popular belief, it is not a sin to “enjoy” life by owning nice possessions. If we can afford what we want, we may purchase it—“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7)! Yet, let us not trust in those “uncertain” riches. Remember, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

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How to Paddle Upstream!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:1,2 KJV).

Will you let the course of the evil world system sweep you away?

River-water finds the shortest, quickest route (course) to the lowest elevation. So, to reach higher ground via a rowboat, you must do some mighty fast paddling! Without constant effort, you will be swept downstream. Now, think about Christian living.

Positionally, we have been justified (declared righteous) in Christ. Furthermore, we did not make ourselves holy. Father God sanctified us when we trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. We share His identity (chapters 3-8). Now, will our practice (daily living) match our position? Our choice! We can act like who we are in Christ (only logical). Or, we can act like who we were in Adam (ridiculous, since we are no longer in Adam!).

Most people today are in Adam. Dead in their trespasses and sins, they are alienated from God’s life (Ephesians 4:17-19). They do not have eternal life; they cannot live like God because they do not have God’s life in them. The course of this world is to flow toward Satan—his thinking, behavior, goals, et cetera. As Christians, we are instructed to “paddle” the other way, applying sound Bible doctrine so our identity in Christ becomes real in our life. The Holy Spirit will work in us if we believe sound Bible doctrine. If ever we are distracted from that doctrine, focusing on the course of this world, we will drift backward, away from “the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:11). “Going with the flow” is much easier, so most Christians give in—living more like Satan and less like God intended. Absurd!

After all Father God has done for us (previous eight chapters), friends, we should honor Him to the fullest extent. We follow today’s Scripture by faith—allowing His Word to transform how we think, rather than letting the world conform us to its course! 🙂

Not Intimidated But Exhilarated

Thursday, June 23, 2016

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV).

Therefore, onward in Christ we go!

Not long ago, a girls softball team lost a game 5-15. After this discouraging loss, their coach told them the opposing team was “beatable,” but that they had allowed the opposing fast-throwing pitcher to intimidate them. The losing team disagreed: the winning team was not “beatable” as their coach suggested. Yet, the next day, they practiced and determined within themselves to win the rematch. How excited the former “losing” team was to win 7-2! They were stunned to learn that the team that seemed “unbeatable” was actually beatable!

Recently, I had a discussion with a discouraged sister in Christ. People had done her much wrong. Her Christian life was still greatly damaged. Satan had had—and was having—a great time destroying her life. I reminded her of today’s Scripture: “…Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” She could not help but reply, “Amen, brother!”

Friends, we are surely in a spiritual battle—the most important war ever. Yes, many are sleeping while it is being waged, but there is a conflict between God and Satan, good and evil, over the eternal souls of men and women and boys and girls! As Christians, we see Satan as “unbeatable.” Wielding so much influence, using so many allies, and implementing so many schemes, he seems invincible. No wonder so many poor Christian souls just throw up their hands in complete helplessness and hopelessness!

Like the aforementioned girls softball team, they are focusing on the opposition and ignoring their provisions. They have been equipped to fight the battle in Christ, but they focus too much on the enemy and they ignore their commander’s instructions. Israel’s believing remnant will endure a very difficult and wearisome time during Daniel’s 70th Week; despite the innumerable false prophets (verses 1-3), the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John exhorts believing Jews to remember that the Creator God is in them, and He is more powerful than Satan who is in the world (1 John 5:19)! Let us remember likewise. 🙂

Their Loss Not Ours!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

“Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out” (Proverbs 24:19,20 KJV).

What great advice—to Israel or to us!

A Christian sister recently browsing social media grew angry. (We can all relate.) She had drifted onto the webpages of certain people who had greatly wronged her in the past. Her stirred-up emotions, not having a mind of their own, had caused her to (wrongly) believe the past was ongoing. She had kept perusing to see more text and additional pictures of their “success,” “popularity,” and overall “nice” outward appearance. Everyone had “flocked” to them—she was the outcast, even after all those years trying to do right. The anger gradually escalated. My advice to her was simple: “Get off! Move on! Get off!”

Brethren, let today’s Scripture sink into your hearts and minds. This is as close to “heaven” as lost people will get. Let them heap to themselves as many “friends” as possible on Earth—there are no “friends” in hell! Let them heap to themselves as many “pennies” as possible on Earth—there are no “riches” in hell! Let them heap to themselves as much “nice outward show” as possible on Earth—there is no “beauty” in hell! Let them live it up now. Except they die in Jesus Christ, here is as good as it will ever get for them. Once their “candle” is “put out”—their house is darkened because they have died—we certainly do not want to envy them at that point! Most certainly, they gained the whole world temporarily and lost their soul eternally (Matthew 16:26)!

Today’s Scripture is actually God the Holy Spirit encouraging believing Israelites (poor, destitute of goods, rejected, despised, imprisoned, bereaved) not to look at their unsaved Jewish brethren who are prospering materially and socially for following the Antichrist, yet future (Revelation 13:15-17; cf. Psalm 37). Why? The unsaved… when death comes, they lose their fortunes, their friends, their lives, and finally their souls. My, how we pray earnestly for their eternal salvation in Jesus Christ before it is too late. Without Him, it is their loss, not ours!

Affections and Lusts Crucified

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24,25 KJV).

Behold, the key to overcoming temptations!

There is a constant battle in the Christian’s mind. On one hand, we have the garbage thinking from the Adamic sin nature. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). On the other, we have the Holy Spirit using sound Bible verses to “transform [us] by the renewing of [our] mind, that [we] may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Hence, in verses preceding today’s Scripture, we read: “[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. [17] For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. [18] But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

And 2 Corinthians chapter 10: “[3] For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: [4] (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) [5] Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

Whatever does not agree with “the knowledge of God” (His Word rightly divided), throw it out. We are to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” This is not you making your thoughts obedient to Jesus Christ. Rather, it is you taking your thoughts and seeing whether or not they agree with Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork (His obedience to Father God; Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8). The desires of the flesh, they were crucified with Christ. They have no power over you, dear brother or sister in Christ!

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Our Weakness and God’s Strength

Friday, March 27, 2015

“Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake” (John 13:37 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, Peter makes a daring claim, but the Lord knows the frailty of our humanity.

It is not uncommon to exalt Christian leaders as though they were super-humans. No, they do not have sinless lives and “constant faith to move mountains.” Even the Bible characters we love the most, save for the Lord Jesus Christ, they all faltered and stumbled at some point. Peter, the chief of Israel’s apostles, was no exception.

In the Upper Room, just hours before Jesus was betrayed and executed, He told His disciples that He was going away (verse 33). Peter, ignorant of Calvary, and all the events leading up to it, inquires, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Verse 36 continues, “Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Today’s Scripture is Peter’s response: Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”

Jesus tells Peter, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice” (verse 38). And yes, despite Peter’s great efforts to fight off Jesus’ arresters with a sword (John 18:10-11), Peter lost his courage. All the disciples fled, actually (Mark 14:50). To make matters worse, Peter three times denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). The poor man “wept bitterly” when he heard the rooster crow. As his Lord’s eyes fixed on him, he remembered the prediction, “The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” We can only imagine Peter’s anguish and Jesus’ sadness!

Dear friends, we can make to God all the promises we want, but we will fail at some point. Thank goodness He does not fail us like we fail Him! “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep [guard] that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:11).

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