Friday, September 19, 2014

“Refocus your attention on something else.”

A thought from Rick Warren (2012-10-23) from his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 269). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

This is the way to start to handle a temptation.  Rick says, “Every time you try to block a thought out of your mind, you drive it deeper into your memory. By resisting it, you actually reinforce it. This is especially true with temptation. You don’t defeat temptation by fighting the feeling of it. The more you fight a feeling, the more it consumes and controls you. You strengthen it every time you think it.”

I know you have found that true.  I don’t want that donut but I really do.  I don’t want it, I don’t want it but I really do want it, I really do want it.  Will power can only go so far especially in spiritual issues. 

Rick then says, “Since temptation always begins with a thought, the quickest way to neutralize its allure is to turn your attention to something else. Don’t fight the thought, just change the channel of your mind and get interested in another idea. This is the first step in defeating temptation.”

I had a banana at Starbucks this morning.  Is that because I wanted it more than I wanted a Maple Oat Scone?  No it’s because I wanted to be healthier and lose weight more.  I finally made it under 210 lbs. this week.  That was a major accomplishment for me.  Now it is on to under 200.  That desire is greater than my desire to have a Maple Oat Scone.

Now in dealing with being tempted to sin it is also either won or lost in your mind. Job said in Job 31: 1 (NLT), “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman.”  And David prayed in Psalm 119: 37a (TEV), “Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.”

Rick says, “Satan can’t get your attention when your mind is preoccupied with something else. That’s why the Bible repeatedly tells us to keep our minds focused.   Hebrews 3: 1 (NIV) says, “Fix your thoughts on Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2: 8 (GWT), “Always think about Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4: 8 (TEV), “Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”

If you are having a problem in a particular area find a verse in the Bible, memorize it and every time the temptation comes up reinforce what is right by praying the scripture.  That can be a starting point.  It will take time but through the Spirit’s help you can conquer it.

So for what temptation do you need to find a verse?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Temptations keep us dependent upon God.”

A thought from Rick Warren (2012-10-23) from his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 266). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

I love it.  The Enemy’s plan for temptation is to take us away from God but in reality it can drive us to God. 

The Bible in Hebrews 4: 16 (TEV) says, “Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.”

As Rick says, “God’s love is everlasting, and his patience endures forever. If you have to cry out for God’s help two hundred times a day to defeat a particular temptation, he will still be eager to give mercy and grace, so come boldly. Ask him for the power to do the right thing and then expect him to provide it. Temptations keep us dependent upon God. Just as the roots grow stronger when wind blows against a tree, so every time you stand up to a temptation you become more like Jesus. When you stumble — which you will — it is not fatal. Instead of giving in or giving up, look up to God, expect him to help you, and remember the reward that is waiting for you.”  James 1: 12 (NCV) says, “When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy. After they have proved their faith, God will reward them with life forever.”

Now there is a choice in there for us to make.  Some people don’t want to go to God for help because they want to give in to the temptation.  They want to do it and in that they turn away from God.  It is their choice.  But if you make the right choice it will reinforce your desire to grow in your character and to grow stronger in your relationship with Christ.  Temptations keep us dependent upon God.  The power of choice.  Do I turn to God or do I give in to the temptation?  

So which do you really want?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“Refuse to be intimidated.”

A thought from Rick Warren (2012-10-23) from his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 262). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

That is easier said than done isn’t?  Maybe you have a child that is going through those terrible two’s.  I mean the task of helping them through this difficult time of life can be intimidating can’t it?  Maybe you’ve just retired and you don’t know what to do now.  You now it seems have no identity.  Your work was your life but what do I do now?  Or you have a dream that you believe God has given you to do.  It is bigger than you are and you are really intimidated.

There are so many things in our lives that can intimidate us even temptations that the Enemy brings across our path.  Rick says, “Many Christians are frightened and demoralized by tempting thoughts, feeling guilty that they aren’t ‘beyond’ temptation. They feel ashamed just for being tempted. This is a misunderstanding of maturity. You will never outgrow temptation.”

Understand as 1 Corinthians 10: 13 (NLT) says, “When you’re tempted,…” not if. Paul advises, “Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.”

Yes you may be intimidated by your temptations and all these other areas of your life but you are not alone and you have what it takes to handle them.  For one, others have gone through them before you and if they handled them then so can you.  And also remember that you have Christ who is in your life to give you strength and peace and courage and confidence and faith and guidance. 

Remember 1 John 4: 4 (CEB) says, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  You and Christ together intimidate.  You and He can take care of it no matter what it is.

So what is intimidating you today?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

“It helps to know that Satan is entirely predictable.”

A thought from Rick Warren (2012-10-23) from his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 259). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

It is so important to know the way the Enemy works but our focus needs to be more on God and what He wants.  But it helps to know how to defeat the Enemy when he comes and tempts us.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians says in 2 Corinthians 2: 11 (NLT), “We are very familiar with his evil schemes.”  He has been using this method from the beginning of the Bible. He used it with Adam and Eve and because it worked he continues to use it.

Rick says, “In step one, Satan identifies a desire inside of you. It may be a sinful desire, like the desire to get revenge or to control others, or it may be a legitimate, normal desire, like the desire to be loved and valued or to feel pleasure. Temptation starts when Satan suggests (with a thought) that you give in to an evil desire, or that you fulfill a legitimate desire in a wrong way or at the wrong time.”

Temptation begins within us.  Let me ask you, what desire did the enemy use to keep you from going to church Sunday?  Now I know it was the first Sunday of football.  Did he use that?  I sent out one time a direct mail piece that highlighted that we had a Saturday night service and that you could come to church and still watch football.  Now it was targeted to non-Christians but some people who are followers of Christ miss church because of their desire to watch football. Here is the point, you do what you want to do and the Enemy knows that and he uses you desires to get you off tract.

So what desire did he use for you to miss church Sunday?

Monday, September 15, 2014

“One of the most concise descriptions of His character is the fruit of the Spirit.”

A thought by Rick Warren, (2012-10-23) from his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 258). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

You might say, “OK, I want to be like Christ.  What does that mean?”  And I’m glad you asked.  As Rick says, “One of the most concise descriptions of His character is the fruit of the Spirit” and you find that in Galatians 5: 22– 23 (NLT). And it says, “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Now how He does this in our lives is very slowly.  As Rick say, “Fruit always matures and ripens slowly.”

He then says that one of the most important spiritual truths you will ever learn is “God develops the fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you’re tempted to express the exact opposite quality! Character development always involves a choice, and temptation provides that opportunity.”

For example, if He wants to develop love in you then He will bring unlovely people around you into your life. To develop joy He brings sorrow. 

Rick then says, “God develops real peace within us, not by making things go the way we planned, but by allowing times of chaos and confusion. Anyone can be peaceful watching a beautiful sunset or relaxing on vacation. We learn real peace by choosing to trust God in circumstances in which we are tempted to worry or be afraid. Likewise, patience is developed in circumstances in which we’re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse.”

He gives you the opportunity to make a choice.  Rick then says, “You can’t claim to be faithful if you have never had the opportunity to be unfaithful. Integrity is built by defeating the temptation to be dishonest; humility grows when we refuse to be prideful; and endurance develops every time you reject the temptation to give up. Every time you defeat a temptation, you become more like Jesus!”

So allowing temptation is a part of God’s plan to make you like Christ.  The Enemy’s plan is to defeat God’s desire to make you like Christ so he sends the temptation to be the opposite.

So do you want to be like Christ and fulfill His purpose for you?

Friday, September 12, 2014

“God’s plan is good.”

A thought by Rick Warren, (2012-10-23) from his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 253). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Yes it is but all that is happening around us isn’t good.  Yesterday was 9/11.  It was not a good day in so many people’s lives.  So many people want to blame God for what happened.  If His plan is good then why did that happen?  But in the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  His perfect will is done in heaven but not done on earth. But if we put our trust in Him all things will work out for our good.  Even the 9/11’s of our life.

God told Jeremiah in chapter 29 and verse 11 (NIV), “The plans I have for you [are] plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Then in Genesis 50: 20 (NIV), Joseph told his brothers who had sold him into slavery, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  Hezekiah echoed the same sentiment about his life-threatening illness in Isaiah 38: 17 (CEV), “It was for my own good that I had such hard times.”  Also remember that when God says no to our request, “God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best.” - Hebrews 12: 10b (MSG)

I like the quote that Rick gives of Corrie ten Boom who suffered in a Nazi death camp, as she explained the power of focus: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest!” Your focus determines your feelings.

As Rick says, “It is vital that you stay focused on God’s plan, not your pain or problem. That is how Jesus endured the pain of the cross, and we are urged to follow his example.”  Hebrews 12: 2a (LB), “Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards.”

I start every day before anything happens reminding myself that God is good.  Everything that will happen in my day must go through His goodness.  Yes His plan is good.

Now that is true if you have a relationship with Him.  If you don’t have a relationship with Him then what happens to you is not filtered through His goodness.  If it draws you to Him then it can turn out for your good.  I know of people who turned over their life to God after 9/11.  Good came into their life because of the bad. 

As Rick says, “Problems don’t automatically produce what God intends. Many people become bitter, rather than better and never grow up. You have to respond the way Jesus would.”  And that is your choice.

So what are you going to do?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

“We are like jewels, shaped with the hammer and chisel of adversity.”

A thought by Rick Warren, (2012-10-23) from his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 252). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Assorted Jeweler's Hammers
I know that this is not a popular subject but to the Christian it is such an important one.  There is so much false truth out there that can cause real confusion for people.  Just as a jeweler hammers away at the jewel to refine it and define it and the silversmith purifies the silver by fire God uses adversity to refine our character and make us like Christ.

Also as Rick says, “If a jeweler’s hammer isn’t strong enough to chip off our rough edges, God will use a sledgehammer. If we’re really stubborn, he uses a jackhammer. He will use whatever it takes. Every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber.”  What God does is chip off everything that doesn’t look like Christ.  Also remember that circumstances don’t last if we learn the lesson but character lasts for eternity. 

Rick then says, “Since God intends to make you like Jesus, He will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems. The Bible says in Hebrews 5: 8– 9 (NIV) that Jesus, “learned obedience through suffering” and “was made perfect through suffering.”  And Paul said in Romans 8: 17 (MSG), “We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him!”  And there are so many good times.

That is God’s purpose for each one of us to make us like Christ and circumstances is the way He does it.  Please be reminded of this the next time you go through adversity.  Learn the lesson so God doesn’t have to use a bigger hammer.

So what did you learn through your last adversity?