Do NOT be Fooled!

Today’s message from the Word of God is a message of warning from Paul to the church in Corinth that should be considered prayerfully. Not all churches are being taught God’s Word or to follow God. Not all churches are being led by God’s children and if we are not in the Word of God we may not be able to recognize it. Satan is on the prowl everywhere and we must put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and be alert to the battle that is before us. If we do not we will be led astray because he is crafty and cunning and his message is a fanciful message of peace and love.

God is love…BUT…He also has a righteous anger for those who go against Him and His people. God is peace for the believer but he is fury for those who attack Him. We must constantly be alert of attacks and schemes of the enemy in our own lives and in the lives of those whom we trust and follow. Just because we are Christians or just because people claim to be Christians does not mean that we are not open to attack and we can be led astray if we are not careful. Here is Paul’s warning to the Corinthians…

2 Corinthians 11:1-15 New Living Translation

I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. 4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

5 But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. 6 I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.

7 Was I wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God’s Good News to you without expecting anything in return? 8 I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost. 9 And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, no one in all of Greece will ever stop me from boasting about this. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows that I do.

12 But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours.13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

We live in a world where Satan is still allowed to roam and try to assert his control over us, but by the blood of Jesus Christ we have been freed from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 8:2). Through God’s Word we receive understanding about the ways of Satan and because Christ has already defeated Satan we do not have to be overcome by the temptations of this world and that we can overcome evil by doing good (Romans 12:21).

When we accepted Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior of our lives we received the Holy Spirit and the mighty power of God, but we must learn to embrace and understand that power in order to effectively fight Satan and his followers. We must learn to see what the Father is doing, we must adopt His heart for others, His eye for evil, and His Spirit of truth and righteousness.

2 Peter 3:17-18
17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

May God bless you as you learn His Word and understand the power that you have been given over the darkness that roams the world. May you be a blessing to others through that power as you open your eyes, and your heart, and your Spirit to all that the Father is doing around you and through you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

No Temptation too Great!

Life is filled with choices and with half-truths. We face decisions every day that must be made. We hear things throughout the day and we must choose whether or not to accept what we have heard or to reject it. Our decisions have consequences and shape what happens to us and around us. Sometimes we have trials and tribulations in this life “and God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand” (1 Cor. 10:13). At least that is the part of the verse that most of us are familiar with, but just like there are half-truths that we hear throughout the day this is a half-truth. Well…actually it is the truth, but only part of it. Here is the full truth…

1 Corinthians 10:12-13
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

God is good and He is faithful and is watching out for us like the Good Father He is, but we always have a choice of how to respond. We all have temptations in our lives, some are big and some are small, but we all have temptations. Sometimes the small temptations lead to a larger temptation because of our concession to the small temptations. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money” (Mt. 6:24).

When we allow small temptations to win in our lives we are really training ourselves to ignore the Holy Spirit who is leading us through life with the goal of us becoming holy like our Father. Then when the big temptations come along we do not recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit who is giving us a way out so that we can endure.

Our God is so good and gracious and patient with us and will get us through anything if we follow the path that He has laid out before us. What He is not is a genie to be summoned when times get rough so that we can get out of things. I’m not saying that if you find yourself in a mess that you should not ask Him for help, but realize that God will get us through all things and He will not allow temptations in our lives to be more than we can stand. We must chose to follow the path that leads out of the temptation though.

Jesus Christ has given us a way out from obeying Satan and his lies that he tells us, but we must follow Him. We must recognize when He is speaking to us and abide in Him. God’s Word is good and true and He is faithful. When we follow Him we will be fulfilled even though we may go through trials. Let’s become more aware of the voices that we are listening to and follow the voice that desire for us to have life.

May God bless you today and you seek out His voice.

Numbers 6:24
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Have you ever noticed that when you are diligently seeking God that things just seem to go better in your life? How when you read the Word and meditate on it that you are reminded more often of His Word? For instance when I am most hungry for the Word it seems that on more occasions than not I will hear that same message during the day, I will have an opportunity to learn from that Word that day, and I will more than likely have an opportunity to share it with someone else that same day. Things may seem coincidental, but they’re not. God is speaking to you through His Word and desires good things for those who will listen and follow Him.

When Jesus was in the midst of spending His forty days and forty nights in fasting and prayer in the wilderness He was tempted by Satan himself. I don’t know if I have ever been tempted by Satan himself, but I know that I have had his demons on me more than my fair share of times and they are sneaky and deceptive and they are relentless so I can’t even begin to imagine the temptation that Jesus was going through when He was faced with Satan himself. Matthew 4:1-12 says this,

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Satan and his demons are crafty and they will hit us where we are the weakest. The very first temptation that the Devil sent Jesus’ way was of the flesh. Jesus was hungry and anyone who has ever fasted knows, as we are instructed to do, eating food is a deep craving when you have not eaten for a period of time. The Bible tells us that Satan waited until Jesus has spent forty days and nights in the wilderness and that Jesus was hungry because he wanted Jesus to be more susceptible to his deception. So when Satan swooped in to begin tempting Jesus he did so by hitting Him where He was the weakest at the moment. He said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

At first glance this is a simple request and something that Jesus could have very easily done and likely desired to do since He was hungry, but what was Satan really asking of Jesus? Was He just asking Him to do a miracle and turn stones into bread? This was something that Jesus could have very easily done. Turning the stones into bread would not have been a sin, so what was the sin that Satan was tempting Him with?

With each and every temptation Satan was trying to get Jesus to turn away from God and to follow him. Satan is smart and he was smart in his tempting of Jesus. You see Satan knows the Word because he was once one of the mightiest angels in Heaven until he turned against God and sought to have people worship him. Satan will use anything to try to deceive us and to get us to follow him, even the very Word of God. But he does not have plans to give us a good life; he only has plans to give us the illusion that we will have a good life by following what he has said.

Psalm 32:8-11, (New Living Translation)

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

When we follow God there is nothing else in all of creation that will lead us down a better path for our life. God has the best pathway for our lives and He will guide us down that pathway accordingly, but we need to follow Him willingly and we need to be aware of who we are following. He will not force us to follow Him, but He will advise us if we seek Him and He will watch over us. It is when we turn away from Him that we get into trouble.

Satan went on to tempt Jesus two more times by urging Him to jump off of a cliff in order to test God in protecting Him and then finally Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and told Jesus that all He had to do was to bow down and worship him. Every temptation that Satan sent Jesus’ way was something that the Father already promised Jesus and we have the same promise.

God promises to care for us and to provide us with all that we need from His glorious riches (Phil. 4:19) just as He provided for the Israelite’s with their daily bread as they spent their forty years going to the Promised Land. When we follow God we do not need to worry about our needs because God will always provide for us.

Matthew 6:25-27

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Satan tempted Jesus to test God and his protection, but Jesus replied saying that, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’

Deuteronomy 6:16-19

You must not test the Lord your God as you did when you complained at Massah. You must diligently obey the commands of the Lord your God—all the laws and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so all will go well with you. Then you will enter and occupy the good land that the Lord swore to give your ancestors. You will drive out all the enemies living in the land, just as the Lord said you would.

Finally Satan tempted Jesus by promising Jesus something that he could not provide in exchange for worshipping him. Satan likes to promise us great things, but great things he cannot provide. He likes to promise us the world and a good life, but all he can deliver is death and destruction. The things that Satan can give us may be by all appearances good, but nothing that comes from Satan is good for us and when we stop following God to follow Satan we will have many sorrows in life (Ps. 32:10).

Satan and his demons are out to kill and destroy us (Jn. 10:10). They have no intention to give us life because they cannot do it only Jesus can (Jn. 10:10). When Satan was tempting Jesus his promises were only half-truths and some were old faced lies. Jesus saw through the deception though because He was grounded in the Word of God and He used the Word to fight back against Satan and finally He just told Satan to leave.

We have the ability and the power to do exactly what Jesus did, but we need to embrace it. We need to be seeking God in all things. We need to be seeking to honor God and glorify Him in our actions and to follow Him always. We need to remember that Satan does not have plans to give us life, he only seeks to kill and destroy us, but Jesus has come so that we could have life.

When we follow Jesus and diligently seek God’s will for us our lives begin to change. God doesn’t desire for us to live a treacherous life. God desires for us to have a full life and He will take care of our every need when we follow Him with all of our heart. When we are regularly in His Word we are able to better fight off the enemy from the harm that he intends us. Jesus did not fight against Satan by any natural means, He fought off Satan with the Word of God and He stood on the promises that God has made us all when we choose to follow Him.

When you choose to follow God your life WILL change as you begin to realize God’s will for your life. Do not be surprised though if you meet resistance, especially at first. When you walk in the ways of Satan he pretty much leaves you alone, but when you choose to follow Jesus Satan does not want to lose your obedience so he begins to do things to try to get you to change your mind. Satan knows how good God is and he knows that once you truly decide to follow God and live a life that reflects that decision that it is extremely difficult to persuade you back to following him. It is much easier for him to keep you by trying to dissuade you from following God in the first place by speaking lies to you about who God is and about himself. Satan would have you believe that by following him you will have a good life, but that is an utter lie straight from the pit of hell. Satan wants you to worship him, but God has a better plan for your life if you choose to follow Him.

Following God may seem difficult and at times it is because we live in a world in which Satan has been allowed to roam around with his demons and it is their desire to get us to turn away from God. It is their desire to see us so lost in our sin that we do not even realize that we are following the path that leads straight to hell. But, God’s plan is perfect and is good and when we follow Him we are guaranteed life through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected to be with the Father so that we too will one day be resurrected to be with our Father in Heaven, but we must follow Jesus. We must give our lives over to God and follow Him with all of our heart. He will ask us to do many things, but He will not force us. He is kind and loving, but He will not force us to follow as a horse with a bit in its mouth. No, we must choose to follow Him. “Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure (Ps. 32:10-11)”!

Father thank you so much for your love and your watch over us. Thank you for sending your angels to care for us and for your Holy Spirit who guides us through our lives. Helps us to follow you God in all things. Help us to see the deception of the enemy for what it is. We long to follow you God and to follow you alone. Father help me to learn your Word and to stand on it so that I will have the courage to fight against Satan and his demons when they seek me out. Protect me from them Lord so that I can keep on the straight path that you have chosen for me. Guide me and help me to know your good and perfect will for my life. Lord I want to know you more, please reveal yourself to me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday of Holy Week

Mark 11:20-26

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

6873826882_88e6b99d96_bCould you imagine walking with Jesus and seeing the fig tree completely withered away within 24 hours? The disciples had seen Jesus do many things through the power of His Father. He had seen Jesus walk on water, they watched and participated as he healed people, they watched and participated as he cast out demons. They were by his side as he spoke and taught the people with authority unlike that of anyone they had ever heard before, yet they were still learning from Jesus as they were walking with Him during His final week in his earthly vessel. There was so much for the disciples to learn that they could not possibly have learned everything from Jesus during their time that they had with him, even though they barely left his side during the last three years. The same goes for us today. Jesus is always teaching us. He is always molding us into the people that we were meant to be through the Holy Spirit, but just like His disciples we have to be ready to hear with ears that understand what we are being told.

We need to know the Word, both the Old and New Testament and stand strong in it. We need to not be swayed by society and its ever changing policies and interpretations for the Word of God is never changing. It is the same today as it was in the beginning. All that it took to strip unfettered access and communion with God from Adam and Eve was one simple word of doubt from the serpent; “did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1). When Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan He was being tempted through a manipulation of the word, but Jesus knew the Word in his head and in his heart; it was through the word that Jesus fought of Satan during his tempting of Him and we must do the same. We must learn the Word and know it not only in our heads, but in our hearts. It is only then that we will truly understand where the authority that we have comes from and the power that we have through the authority that we have received.

Mark 11:27-33

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”-they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

God is loveChildren of Satan do not understand where we get our authority because it is different from what they know. They receive power through their own strength, some use it for good, while others use it to do harm, but it is not true power. True power is humble, it does not boast, it is honoring to others, there is no envy in it, it rejoices in truth, it always protects, trusts, and hopes, it always perseveres (1 Cor. 13:4-7). True power is love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).

Have you received true power? Do you know where your authority comes from? As we remember this week the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry we are reminded of the love that our Father has for us that He would give us life through Jesus. That He would cleanse us through Jesus. That He would give us power through the blood of Jesus. We have no power, no authority, no hope without Jesus. So rejoice today as your remember all that you have received because you have a Father that loves you so much that He gave, in love, His only Son so that you could have life eternal.

Father we thank you for Jesus. We have so much to learn, just as the first disciples did. Keep us close as you do your work in the world and show us your ways. We want to join in with you in bringing life. We want to engage in battle and fight against the darkness of this world. That even though Satan thought he won by seeing Jesus crucified on the cross he was overcome by the power of His blood and we have that same power today. Humble our hearts today God as we learn what it really means to love, how we are to respond to others and act in all situations. Fill us with your grace and mercy so that we can get out of our own way to minister to everyone that you place before us. We love you Father and we are eternally thankful for the only true sacrifice made through Jesus so that we may live and know you and it’s in His name that we pray. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice. Amen.

Temptations are common

Temptation is something that we all have. We all deal with it in our own ways, but we all have it. Temptation in and of itself is not a sin, but all too often it quickly turns into sin through our indulgence. Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire, when that desire is allowed to continue it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:14-15). We all have desires in our hearts that lead us down different paths. Unfortunately those desires are wrapped in flesh and if we are not careful they can lead us straight to sin. Have heart though because if you are with Christ you died with Him when you entered into the watery grave and we believe also that we live with Him upon being risen from the water, just as Christ rose from the grave (Romans 6:8). When Christ died he died to sin once and for all and we must also consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. We must not let sin rule in our body by obeying its passions, for sin no longer has control over us (6:10-14).

It may feel as though we are under the control of sin at times, I know that I have certainly felt this way, but we always have a choice because God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we have the ability to escape from, for He always provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13). It is a misconception of many that once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that we will never have temptation and will never succumb to sin, but the reality is that God wants us to worship Him and follow willingly. Sin will actually draw us closer to Christ if we allow it to by leaning on him in prayer and petition, by keeping our spiritual eyes open and searching for the way out that God has provided for us. It has been my experience that the times that I have let sin win there has always been a way out that was provided to me, but I chose to ignore it. Can I say that this is a common problem. It is not easy to resist the enemy and you are not the only one who struggles with this. Paul who authored much of the New Testament was in the same boat and even says in Romans 7 that he does not understand what he does because the things that he does not want to do are the very things that he does and the things that he desires to do he does not have the ability to carry out.

Paul is speaking of the war that is fought within us everyday in our own lives. There are times when we succeed in the battle, but it is not over for there will soon be another temptation lurking around the corner. Satan is the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) and wants you to follow him by deceiving you and distorting your vision and your very thoughts into believing that things will be easier if you just give into your desires, but you and I both know that it will not be easier and will definitely not be better. We know the feelings of despair, guilt, and helplessness that we feel afterwards, but those feelings are not from the Father. They are indeed from the enemy, the very tempter who told you that it would be ok to do it just this once, that no one is looking, that no one would ever know. Satan is the master of deception and only comes to steal, kill, and destroy all of the good things that we have in life, but Jesus if we chose to follow Him will give us life to the fullest(Jn. 10:10).

Protect us Lord from our inner desires, protect us from the desires of the flesh that lurk around the corner waiting for the perfect moment to temp us. We thank you that there is always a way out, a way to flee from the temptation. Father help us to see the way out and to be able to identify these temptations for what they are, lies of deception put in place by Satan who wants us as his very own. We are not his though, because of your Son who has paid the price for us already. Lord we praise your name on high and marvel in your glory! How blessed we are to have a Father who loves us and protects us by giving us a way out. Help us to be a light to the world, help us to stand beside one another in our struggles, and to take a stance against the enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy us. Help us to be ready for the war that is all around us. We are your warriors and we say “yes” to you and “NO!” to the enemy. Guide us Lord. In Jesus name. Amen