Monday, January 31, 2011

Believe or Unbelief


Read the Full Text: Mark 16:9-20

Key Verse: 14

Still later He appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen Him after He had been raised from the dead.



The key to this passage is the word, “believe”. That emphasis is in line with the thrust of Mark's gospel, because this gospel does not present Christianity as just a nice story, a fascinating account of events that took place in the first century. It stresses the fact that the death and resurrection of Christ is something to be believed, and it is intended to change lives. As we act on our belief, it changes us.

Mark wants us to understand what a climate of persistent and stubborn unbelief prevailed among these disciples after the resurrection. They found it difficult to accept this amazing fact, that the one they had seen crucified was now risen and living among them again. The significant thing here is that Jesus expected the Eleven to believe before they saw Him. He wanted and expected them to believe the reports of the eyewitnesses who had seen Him.

They were trustworthy persons and were reporting what they had actually experienced, and that should have been enough to convince these disciples that Jesus was raised from the dead. So concerned about this is the risen, living Lord, that He rebukes them for their unbelief, even as He did in the days of His flesh. He takes them to task because they refused to believe those who had seen Him.

You can see the importance He attributes to this matter of believing the eyewitnesses. John's gospel tells us that a week later Jesus appeared to them when Thomas, who had not been with them when He appeared the first time, was present. Jesus invited Thomas to examine Him, to put his hand on His side and touch the nail prints in His hands and feet. Thomas did so and fell down at His feet, crying, my Lord and my God! (John 20:28b). Jesus said, because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)

Years later when Peter is writing his letters to the Christians he says to them, Though you have not seen him you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
(1 Peter 1:8)

One thing is clear from this account in Mark: When we have adequate, trustworthy witnesses who report to us what they have seen, we are expected to respond with belief. These men saw the risen Lord. They were granted a privilege that we are not granted; but, nevertheless, our faith can rest upon a solid foundation. Even though we have not seen Him, we believe because of the eyewitness accounts here.


PRAYER: Lord, I believe! Thank You for the good news that Jesus Christ is not dead but alive and that He lives’ within my heart and has the power to break the chains of sin and the bondage of evil in my life.


Life Application: Do we think of Christianity as just a nice story? Have we looked and found there is historic, trustworthy evidence of the gospel on which to base our faith and our lives?

Saturday, January 29, 2011


NEW Saturday & Sunday Devotional Combined

Please Share Your Comments … Like It / Don’t Like It / Don’t Combine Them


A Gift Enjoyed




There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.



To condemn is to declare a person or thing doomed and unfit for further use or freedom. Condemnation isn’t just a big word in the Bible; it’s a word that carries a great weight to it when viewed in light of eternity. It’s like a huge stone falling upon a house; crushing, devastating, and final. That is what and who we are outside of Jesus, condemned. We sentence ourselves by our rebellion against and disregard for the glorious God. Here is the simple reality of the universe:

God is immeasurably valuable, wholly good, infinitely worthy of all glory, honor, and worship. But we as His creation acknowledge our own wants before Him, setting ourselves up in His place, as more valuable, good, and worthy of our time and attention. This is called idolatry.

This idolatry then infects every day we live, and every relationship we pursue. What we experience through Christ however, is the greatest fulfillment of the human heart; a rescue from ourselves! To be left to ourselves is death, literally condemnation. But for those in Christ Jesus we get life, and “life abundantly” (John 10:10). No condemnation means then, that we are declared righteous and clean because of Christ’s wrath satisfying sacrifice. Enjoy the gift of God given to you in the person and work of Jesus Christ!


PRAYER:Heavenly Father, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.



For Sunday January 30th


Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.


God works out all things-not just isolated incidents-for our good. This does not mean that all that happens to us is good. Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn it around for our long-range good. Note that God is not working to make us happy, but to fulfill His purpose.

Also notice that this promise is not for everybody. It can be claimed only by those who love God and are walking according to His plans. Such people have a new perspective, a new mind set. They trust in God, not in life’s treasures; they look towards Heaven, not on earth; they learn to accept pain and persecution rather than to resent it, because it becomes a teachable moment that brings them closer to God. Builds ones Faith …

Be Encouraged This Weekend, and Rejoice in God’s Bottomless Mercy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Are You Willing To Wait

The Christian Consumer


1 Timothy 2:7

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.



Our lives today have become pretty easy. We don’t know what it means to wait for something anymore. If we want food, simply go to a fast food joint. If we want a new record, click a link on your computer instead of waiting in line at a record store. If we want to know what a friend is doing, text them instead of calling or check out their face book/twitter page.

We have become a people who consume food, entertainment, news, and so on. Unfortunately we have brought this into the church. We go to church because we know we can consume a great worship experience. We don’t have to do anything on our part because the lights are set low, the music is excellently performed, and we don’t have to think about the Bible because we are told precisely what to believe.

This can foster a consumerist mentality in the body of Christ. This not only deals with our experience at church, but our personal experience as we read the Bible individually. We have a study Bible which gives us the answer right away, or we are one click away from a Bible site to explain to us the meaning of a given text. These are not bad resources, but can cause us to be dependent on them instead of God. Paul is giving instructions to Timothy.

Some of these instructions were hard to understand, but Paul didn’t want Timothy to just depend on him. Instead, he knew Timothy should depend on God and the Holy Spirit that was dwelling in Him. We must be careful that we don’t become a simple consumer, but learn to think over what we have read and ask God to give us understanding. There tends to be much greater joy in God’s word when we think and pray over it than just read what others have said of it.

Do you put forth effort in the hard work of study and praise, or do you rely solely on others?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Danger Popularity

The Perils of Popularity


Read the Full Text: Mark 3:7-35


Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.



We have difficulty grasping the size of this crowd. This was not just a few people, or even a few thousand. There were literally tens of thousands of people, undoubtedly, in this crowd. They came from all over this country and beyond. They flocked out from all the cities to hear this amazing prophet who has risen in Galilee and was saying such startling things.

You can see how Mark traces the emphasis upon the crowd throughout this division. In verse 20 he says, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. Then, in verse 32: a crowd was sitting around him. And in chapter 4, verse 1: Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the Lake... And then, in verse 36, Mark says, leaving the crowd, they went across to the other side of the lake. In chapter 5, verse 21: When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. And in verse 24: A large crowd followed and pressed around him. So this is the period when Jesus is pressed by the great masses of people, the period of His greatest popularity.

For many, this has been the measure of Jesus' success, as it would often be in evaluating a successful person today. Anybody who can achieve a great crowd-following is regarded as a success. Today we call these people stars—there are star actors, star athletes, star singers, star politicians—various people who have attained what in our day is a mark of success. No wonder the title of one of today's most popular musicals is Jesus Christ, Superstar. He is the one who drew all these great multitudes out from the cities of His day.

But as you read this account through, you see that Mark's intention is to underscore the weakness of popularity; the empty, hollow worthlessness of being popular; and how much damage and danger popularity produced in our Lord's ministry. One of the worst things that can happen to us, as this account makes clear, is to become caught up in a popular movement. False forces arise out of it. That is the whole thrust of this section. Miss-emphases easily spring into being—and wrongful attitudes arise readily in a popular movement. Popularity, therefore, ought to be watched carefully. And when a movement is popular, as Christianity is popular in many places today, we must be careful that we are listening to the voice and the Spirit of God.


PRAYER: Father, thank You for the truth as it is in Jesus. Help me to beware of the perils of popularity.

Life Application: Do we evaluate success by our audience's size and applause? What can we learn from our Lord's own life and death about the shallowness and peril of popularity?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Should We Be Seen With Sinners

The Scandal Maker

Read the Full Text: Mark 2:13-3:6

Key Verse’s: 2-15

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.



This evidently was a farewell dinner Matthew gave for his friends, his tax-collecting buddies. He was saying farewell to his work and friends and leaving to follow Jesus, the one who would travel from place to place. It was also an opportunity to introduce them to his new found Lord.

What a collection of rascals must have been there that day! All the tax collectors of the city, all the sinners, all the despised social outcasts were sitting there. As the scribes of the Pharisees passed by, they saw that right in the midst of it all, among the wine and lots of food, sat Jesus. And they were absolutely scandalized! It was obvious that He was the friend of these men. He was not lecturing them. He was sitting among them and eating and drinking with them. The scribes were simply appalled at this and called the disciples aside: Why does he do things like that? Doesn't he know who these people are?

Jesus' answer is very revealing. He actually agrees with their remarks. He says, in effect, You're right; these are sick, hurting, troubled men. Their style of life has damaged them deeply. They don't see life rightly; they are covering up many evils; they are false in many ways. You're right, these are sick men. But where else would a doctor be?

He says something to them that rightly focuses their attention and turns their gaze back toward themselves. He says, I came to call not the righteous, but sinners. That is, those who think they are righteous, as these Pharisees did, are actually more needy than those they regard as social outcasts. These Pharisees were actually more deeply disturbed than the tax collectors and sinners, but they did not know it. But Jesus was saying to them, To those who think they're righteous, I have absolutely nothing to say. But to these who know they're sick and are open for help, I am fully available as a minister to their souls.

Our Lord made several things emphatically clear by this reply. First, He indicated strongly that when people think they have no need of help from God, they are in no position to be helped. There is nothing to say to them. But our Lord always put His efforts where men and women were open to help, where they were hurting so much they knew they needed help.

The second thing our Lord reveals is that people are more important than prejudice. Prejudices are preconceived notions formed before we have sufficient knowledge, usually mistaken or distorted ideas with which we have grown up. When prejudices are in opposition to the needs of people, they are to be swept aside without any hesitation. We Christians must learn to treat people like this--regardless of what their outward appearance may be. That is the way Jesus approached people everywhere.


PRAYER: Father, thank You for Jesus' courage, which dared to challenge human traditions. Grant that I may see myself and others as You see us--sick people in need of a physician.


Life Application: Do we need to repent of the self-righteous judging that separates us from God's forgiveness for our own sins, and from caring compassion toward other sinners?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Should we exerise our Faith or just say we have Faith

Impressive Faith

Read the Full Text: Mark 1:40-2:12

KEY VERSE: 2:5a When Jesus saw their faith …



The obvious thing Mark underscores for us here is the determined faith of these five men. They stand as an encouragement to us to exercise this kind of faith. There are three remarkable and beautiful aspects of faith here.

These men dared to do the difficult. That is where faith always manifests itself. It was not easy to bring this man to the Lord. They had to carry him, perhaps a great distance, through the streets of the city. When they found the doorway blocked, they had to carry him up an outside stairway to the roof. We do not know how heavy he was, but it is not easy to carry a full-grown man up a flight of stairs. Yet these men managed this difficult task. They dared to do the difficult. What an illustration this gives us of bringing people to Christ!

Then, notice that they dared to do the unorthodox. They were not limited by the fact that it was not at all customary to break up a roof. When they found that the door was blocked, they did not sit down, as we probably would have done, and appoint a committee to research the various ways to get to Jesus. No, they just did what was necessary and risked the disapproval not only of the owner of the house but also of every person there by interrupting the meeting in order to get their friend to Jesus. The remarkable thing is that Jesus never rebuked them. He never does. There is never an incident recorded in which Jesus got uptight or disturbed about an interruption by someone intent on receiving something from Him and pressing through to Him despite the disapproval of those around.
These men dared to do the unorthodox.

Finally, they dared to do the costly. Somebody had to pay for that roof. Imagine the face of the owner, sitting there at the feet of Jesus, when he hears this scratching on the roof. He looks up, and, to his amazement, the tiles begin to move. Then daylight appears, and suddenly he has a large hole in his roof! I do not know what his thoughts were. He probably wondered if his homeowners policy would cover it. Or maybe he was mentally adding up the bill to present to these men. But somebody had to pay that bill, somebody repaired that roof, and surely it was one, if not all, of these men. They dared to do the costly. That is faith! They laid it on the line--at cost to themselves.
What a witness this is to what it takes to bring people to Christ!


PRAYER: Lord, grant to me the faith to move out in ways that are difficult, unorthodox, and even costly to bring men and women to you, the only true healer of hurts.

 Life Application: A life lived by faith has at least three identifiable characteristics. Are we growing up into the quality and vitality of faith that can be used to bring others to Jesus?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Seeking Our Source of Power

Meeting Life's Demands


Read the Full Text: Mark 1:16-39


Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.



After this full day—and what a full day it was, what a heavy ministry our Lord had that day with all the healing He did in the evening!—Mark records that early in the morning, before it was daylight, Jesus went out on the mountainside, and there, by Himself, He prayed. But even there He was not safe. His disciples interrupted this communion, told Him that everyone was looking for Him. And Jesus reveals the heart and substance of His prayer in what He says in reply: Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. This is what He was praying about—that God would lead Him, doors would be opened, and hearts prepared in the cities to which He would go next.

Why did Jesus seek the Father's face like this, in these hours of pressure? The only answer we can come to is that He wants to make clear that the authority He had was not coming from Him. This is what our Lord is trying to get across to us so continually in the Scriptures—that it was not His authority by which He acted; He had to receive it from the Father.

I do not know any more confusing doctrine in Christendom today—one that has robbed the Scriptures of their authority and power in the minds and hearts of countless people—than the idea that Jesus acted by virtue of the fact that He was the Son of God, that the authority and power He demonstrated were due to His own deity. Yet He Himself takes great pains to tell us this is not the case. The Son can do nothing by Himself (John 5:19). Why do we ignore His explanation and insist that it is He, acting as the Son of God? He tells us that it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work (John 14:10). And all the power that Jesus manifested had to come to Him constantly from the one who dwelt within Him.

Jesus stresses this because this is what He wants us to learn. We are to operate on the same basis. Our response to the normal, ordinary demands of life and the power to cope with those demands must come from our reliance upon Him at work within us. This is the secret: All power to live the Christian life comes not from us, doing our dead-level best to serve God, but from Him, granted to us moment by moment as the demand is made upon us. Power is given to those who follow, who obey. The Father is at work in the Son; the Holy Spirit is at work in us. As we learn this, then we are given power to meet the demands and the needs that are waiting for us in the ministry yet to come.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that the same power is available to me today, making me ready to be your instrument in any and every situation in which demand is laid upon me.


Life Application: What is the source of authority and power we need to respond to the ordinary and extraordinary demands of life? Shall we try to wing it, or expectantly pray for this gift?

Friday, January 21, 2011


The Whole Armor: Faith

Ephesians 6:16

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;


Righteousness is our breastplate, and guards our spiritual body and core, a most important protection to be sure. But a shield, like that of our faith, is useful and necessary for defense in every direction. We of the faith are attacked from all angles, and in all walks of life. We literally find ourselves amidst 360 degrees of battle-front. The Apostle Paul lamented this fact when he said that whenever he wants”to do right, evil lies close at hand” (Romans 7:21). So as temptation lurks, and is launched upon us unexpectedly, a deep rooted faith, connecting our head and our heart is crucial for Holy Living.

One writer said of faith that it is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1); essentially, it means our intellectual assent to God’s truth, and moral consent to live in light of that truth. Faith is our ever ready shield because it takes into account the entire scope of life in all its complexities. Every facet of our life is touched, influenced, and affected by our belief in Jesus as the Word of God.

There is no direction we can travel in which Scripture has not spoken to, it is a complete and comprehensive view on human life and experience. And it is our belief and trust in both the written and revealed Word of God that equates to our faith. Paul called them “flaming darts” because they are poisonous, and inflame when they take root, and take hold in our lives. But the faith that comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17) can extinguish those flaming darts, and provide a way of escape from temptation.

What daily activities can you engage in that will bolster your faith, and better connect your heart’s belief to your mind’s understanding?

Thursday, January 20, 2011



Read the Full Text: Mark 10:32-52


So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…



Jesus sees the cross waiting for Him. James and John see thrones waiting for them. And what do the other ten see? They see James and John! They are angry and upset at them. Why? They feel the need to get to Jesus first. Obviously they wanted the same things that James and John did and were angry only because James and John beat them to it. This is often the explanation for our anger, is it not? We are so often upset because somebody thought of it before we did.

But notice how Jesus sets aside all this business of politicking and maneuvering and asking for special privileges. That is the way the world works, but it is not to be part of the kingdom of God. In the kingdom—the church, if you like—there is not to be struggling and striving for position and honor. Paul brings this out so beautifully in his development of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, where he says that because we have gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit and a ministry opened to us by the Lord Jesus and power granted to us by the heavenly Father, we do not need to be in competition with anybody.

This is what our Lord wants to set before His disciples, so He gathers them together and patiently says, now fellows, sit down. I want to say something to you. You've looked at the Gentiles. Have you noticed that when they exercise authority, it is always over somebody else? They measure their power by how many are under them. That is the mark of their authority. It is still true today. That is the way people do things, the way they judge their success. And although it produces all kinds of rivalry, competition, politicking, conniving, maneuvering, manipulating, and trying to undercut everybody else, nevertheless, you cannot blame people for that, because that is all they know.

The key is in these words: Not so with you. The church is not to be set up as a hierarchy of power. There is no chain of command in the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus had already said to these disciples, You have only one Master and you are all brothers (Matthew 23:8). Every apostle is careful to remind us of the danger of lording it over one another, the problems that arise when those in positions of authority think they have the right to tell others what to do or how to act or what to think or how to behave, believing they have the right to make decisions that others must follow.

This is not true in the church. Paul is careful to say to the Corinthians, Not that we lord it over your faith (2 Corinthians 1:24). That is, You can do what you want. You stand before God, responsible to Him, not to me. But he is also faithful to point out what it is they need to do and to warn them of the results that may follow if they do not want to do it. But no one is ever to be commanded to do something by another person in the church. Only the Lord commands.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, that You are my Master, and You've made me a significant part of Your church.

Life Application: How do the leadership principles Jesus teaches equip his disciples to live counter-culturally? How does a true follower cope with political & personal power struggles?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am

Behold, the Lamb of God


From God’s Word: John 1:29-31

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Notes on the Scripture:

As with the verses just before, the Gospel of John has prepared us to understand fully what John the Baptist is saying. When he says, "A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.," we remember the words from the beginning of John 1. From the beginning of time, Christ ("the Word") was with God. John the Baptist was sent from God, and was actually born about six months before Jesus. But the Christ, who had existed since the beginning of time, existed before John the Baptist or any other man.

John also counts himself among the ranks of those who "knew him not". He did not automatically know that his cousin Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Apparently, he learned this only by doing God's will — by abandoning wealth and comfort, and going into the wilderness to baptize people who came to him. It isn't completely clear whether John knew Christ when he saw him at the river, or only recognized Him after he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon him after baptizing him.

When we pray "Thy will be done" in the Lord's Prayer, it is good to remember this example of a person who abandoned his life to do God's will. God has a purpose for us. It might not be as exalted as the purpose given to John the Baptist; but if we follow God's will with courage and cheerfulness, we will know His purpose in due time, and know the great reward that God has in store for us, just as John the Baptist did.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stand Firm

The Whole Armor: Warriors of the Faith


FROM THE WORD OF GOD: Ephesians 6:10-11

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.



Jesus is the mighty victor who has routed all of evil’s hosts, conquering death, the power of sin, and the devil himself. As Christians, it is that conquering power dwelling within us (Eph. 3:16, 2 Tim. 1:7), and that inward dwelling should bear heavily on our outward living.

Jesus’ prayer for us was to be in the world, amidst danger, but shielded and protected from its source (John 17: 15) living victorious over temptation. But too often we find ourselves buried in the same habitual sin, with real victory seemingly miles away.

The early Church faced the same issues, and just as the Apostle Paul wrote to them, so must we put on the whole armor of God. A soldier, when his enemy is near, doesn’t pick up his shield and leave his helmet on the shelf! He takes up his entire suit when he goes to battle. So must we as Christians be strong in the Lord as we don the entire suit available to us.

He has provided for us a defense against the schemes of the devil and temptation to sin, and has given us strength in our weakness, enabling us to live as warriors for the faith instead of casualties. It’s easy to intellectually hold that Christ’s power is greater than our temptation and struggle, but it’s another matter entirely too functionally live out that truth. Put feet to your faith then, as you gear up and put on the whole armor of God.

Study Ephesians 6, and dwell on the armor you often leave on the spiritual shelf.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Our Daily Life

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6


 Living Our Faith
We’ve learned how to live the Christian life when we’ve learned to live our faith, and enjoy its help and comfort, in our daily life.

It’s easy to join devotionals, to quote Bible verses, to praise the beauty of the Scriptures…but all of us must go out from church on Sunday into a week of very real and very common life. We must mingle with people who are not angels. We must pass through experiences that will worry and upset us.

Many people around us, either on purpose or by accident, annoy or try us. We’ll meet many troubles and worries during the week — there are continual irritations and annoyances.

The key is to live a beautiful Christian life in the face of all these trials and temptations. But how can we get through the obstacles which block our path? How can we live sweetly amid the vexing and irritating things, and the multitude of little worries and frets which infest our way, and which we cannot avoid?


Life should be a joy and not a burden. We should live victoriously, ever master of our experiences, and not tossed by them like a leaf on the dashing waves. Every earnest Christian wants to live a truly beautiful life, whatever the circumstances may be.

Someone, when asked “what does it mean to be a Christian?” replied, “To be a Christian means to live as Jesus would live, and behave as Jesus would behave.”

No better definition of the Christian life could be given. Each one of us is to live just as Jesus would if He were living out our little life, mingling with the same people with whom we must mingle, and exposed to the very annoyances, trials and temptations to which we are exposed. We want to live a life that will please God, and will bear witness to the genuineness of our faith and love for Him.


- Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Phil 4:7-8)

- Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:15-18)

- The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Gal 5:2-26)

- Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:15-17)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Avoiding Temptation

The Lord’s Prayer: Lead Us Not Into Temptation



Luke 11:1-4

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation.”

Notice that Jesus’ instruction on prayer does not end with “leads us not into sin” but instead “lead us not into temptation.” You may wonder, what’s the difference?

Many times we like to approach sin as an imaginary line. As long as we stay on the right side of the line we’re OK. But, as soon as we cross to the wrong side of the line we’re sinning. The result of this mentality is that we often attempt to get as close to this imaginary line as possible without crossing or sinning. Most of us eventually learn that if we keep walking up to the edge of this line, we’ll eventually cross it.

The motivation of this prayer is not merely trying not to cross an imaginary line or avoiding sin, but avoiding anything that would draw us away from pursuing God. In other words the motivation in avoiding temptation is to have one’s heart, mind, and entire life fully focused on living for God. As the Apostle Paul challenged the young man Timothy, whom he was mentoring: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22)

We will face tempting situations regardless. Let it be the result of pursuing Jesus.

What are some specific areas where you need to ask God to enable you to avoid temptation so that you can better pursue Him?



Thursday, January 13, 2011

If We Confess Our Sins

The Lord’s Prayer: Forgive Our Sins

Luke 11: 1- 4

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation.”



As we pray for our needs we can often forget that our greatest need is forgiveness. God wants us to experience the freedom of forgiveness: the freedom of being forgiven by God and the freedom that comes from extending forgiveness to others. Scripture is clear that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). Confession literally means to agree with God. We are agreeing with Him that we’ve sinned greatly against Him. We are agreeing that Jesus was a sufficient sacrifice for our sins. We are agreeing that His mercy and grace are much greater than our sins.

King David, in Psalm 51, wrote out a moving prayer of confession:

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words

and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,

and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

and sinners will return to you.

In what areas of your life do you need to confess sins and experience forgiveness?