Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
We are trained to believe that we can't sing unless everything is right, unless all conditions are conducive to worship, notes have to be right, mics have to be right, temperature can't be too hot or too cold, needs to be the right song but sometimes God gives us encouragement not when our situation is over but rather as we are going through. Ironically, one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is penned while the listeners are going through their worst experience.
What was this melody you might ask? It was the sound of Hope. Although it seems hopeless and you fear you can't go on, God has planted a melody inside of you and that melody is the sound of Hope. It was said better than I can express it when it was said "Hope is hearing the melody of the future and Faith is learning how to dance to the melody right now". This melody of Hope teaches us how to look out of the windshield of our lives and not the rear view mirror.
This melody teaches us that the past does not define us nor does our present destroy us but God gives us a future to deliver us. How long does it take to get to you future? The overall end for the children of Israel was 70 years but the future is always the next moment. Your past is the last minute, the present is the minute you occupy now, the future is always the next moment, and in that future God has hope waiting on you and that melody keeps us going.
As I tried to share this with Macedonia Sunday, I feel as I failed to connect the central truths of this passage as I got excited and undisciplined as a preacher; however, the Melody in the Misery should teach us several things:
I. Ushered by God's Directive--"For I know"
II. Under God's Development---"The Plans I have for you", God's plan, purpose, promise
III. Unfold your Destiny-----"A Future and a Hope"
I am really looking forward to preaching this one again, as soon as Sunday service was over, I was sitting in the office trying to figure out where I could go preach. God said to me, "Go live it"! Build houses, you are going to be here a while, live in your future, plant gardens, you are going to be here for a while; take wives,(Low Blow God) you are going to be here a while, seek the welfare of the city, you are going to be here for a while.
Cinderella had a wicked stepmother and stepsisters who harassed, insulted and discouraged her. She hated being there until one day she had the chance to go the ball and meet the prince. When she was forced to return to the housework, something was different. The stepmother was still evil, the step sisters were still abusive but Cinderella was different because now she had a song on her lips.
I am not Cinderella and I have not went to the ball nor met the prince but I have met the King and the king gave me a melody in my misery; a song in my heart................................
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another and another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. Well, when he went to the front door, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he could not let the poor creatures lie there and freeze. He remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter -- if he could direct the birds to it.
He quickly put on his coat and galoshes, trampled through the deepening snow to the barn, opened the door wide, and turned on a light. But the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in and he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail to the yellow lighted wide open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them, he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms -- instead they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn. Then he realized they were afraid of him.
To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature, if only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me. That I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. How? Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. If I could only be a bird myself, he thought. If only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language and tell them not to be afraid and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I’d have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand.
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells. Listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. The Son of God became man to enable men to become the sons of God. --C.S. Lewis
Monday, December 14, 2009
For almost 10 years, I have been blessed to preach Rev Gaddis' Pastor Aid Day. It was by accident the first time I covered it as an associate minister when my pastor's plane was delayed in California. Pastor Gaddis graciously allowed me to come and has extended that same grace to me for almost a decade.
Bethel loves preaching mainly because Pastor Gaddis is a great preacher himself. I was very anxious before the preaching moment but as usual God settled us in for the assignment. It was good to preach in front of my mother and my aunts. God knows mom has seen the worst from her son so I am grateful God has allowed her to live long enough to see a slight improvement.
I was also moved beyond belief to see a great number of Greater Mt. Olive members who came over to share with us. To top it off, members from Forrest Hill Missionary Baptist Church and New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church from Forth Worth, Texas drove up to be with us Sunday. We had a great time lifting up the name of Jesus.
As usual, Bethel put on the "big pot and the little pot too" in their hospitality to me. I can't wait until God orders the time to allow Macedonia to meet Pastor Gaddis. I attempted to preach an encouraging sermon out of Jude 1:24-25. In spite of the preacher, God blessed!
Continue to pray for Pastor Gaddis and the Greatel Bethel family that God would give him the strength he needs to run on for the Lord.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and all of the kings horses and all of the kings men could not put Humpty back together again. Why? Because he was broke. Sometimes when things break in our lives, we are lucky because it breaks "cleanly" and is easily repairable. Other times breaks are messy and pieces shatter everywhere and fixing it is an impossibility because of the shape it has been left in.
The situation with Philemon and Onesimus seems like an unfixable problem. This was not a small offense or a petty little annoyance because God has given us the way to handle those situations. Solomon says "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins". Not every thing that rubs you wrong or disturbs your spirit needs to be brought up. Some things need to be allowed to die as we learn in love to forgive and move along.
However in this text today, this is a situation that is an unresolved problem that cannot be covered or forgotten. It is a loose end that if left unattended will sap the strength out of a relationship. Problems that go unresolved in church hinder the church's effectiveness. They tear families apart and cause even bigger problems . Whatever problems exist between Christians, God has provided a method by which the situation can be solved or fixed.
Some things we can't fix but HE can; marriages can't be saved in our own power; church fights can't be solved in our power, when we try to let the king's horses and men fix it, they can't; however when we take it to the King, God can fix it. This advent season God uses 25 verses in Philemon to remind us that nothing is to hard for him to fix. God can put it back together again.
To restore to friendship; To restore to harmony, To destroy enmity between, to make friends again, to bring together, God has given us the gift of reconciliation. This gift will never be in the wrong size or the wrong color. You will always need this gift because we are notorious for breaking things. We need someone who can fix it.
I Timothy 2:5 says, " For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,". Isaiah 59: 15-16, "The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him".
God blessed us on Sunday, the simple outline we used for the sermon "Put that on My Account" was:
I. Advocate For Your Case (10-16)
1. Fair to Both Sides
2. Fight for a Better Solution
II. Advance You Credit (17)
1. Receive Him
2. Restore Him
3. Reward Him
III. Accept Your Costs (18-19)
1. Satisfy Your Responsibilities
2. Settle up Your Receipts
This story is a great Word Picture especially during this Advent Season of:
IV. Atonement through Christ.
God sent us an advocate to fight for our case. The advocate advanced us credit we didn't earn. While living on the credit, the advocate paid our costs. In case, someone does not know who the advocate is, his name is Jesus Christ.
Monday, November 30, 2009
The importance of forgiveness is a constant theme of Scripture. There are no less than seventy-five different word pictures about forgiveness in the Bible. They help us grasp the importance, the nature, and the effects of forgiveness. Forgiveness is so important that the Holy Spirit devoted an entire book of the Bible to it. In the brief book of Philemon, the spiritual duty to forgive is emphasized, but not in principle, parable, or word picture. Through a real life situation involving two people dear to him, Paul teaches the importance of forgiving others.
Although the word forgiveness is not mentioned in this letter from Paul to Philemon, forgiveness is the reason for the writing of this letter. There are two New Testament words translated forgive. One word translated “forgive” (aphesin) means to send off or to send away. This word means the wrong is cut out and sent away from the wrongdoer. This word means the sin is separated from the sinner. This is the word that speaks of our sins being forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The forgiveness offered by Jesus is offered because of our proneness to do wrong and the guilt that results from our doing wrong. However, God offers forgiveness for our wrongdoing and guilt because there is a penalty to be paid because of our wrongdoing and guilt. God forgives us because Jesus paid the penalty. Through Jesus Christ, we have been forgiven totally. Through the total forgiveness offered through Jesus, we maintain constant fellowship with God. Sin disturbs and breaks our fellowship with God. But forgiveness restores it.
Forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ is also the means by which we are released from the guilt of sin. Once we know we have been forgiven, there is no longer a need to carry the burden of the sin. The offender knows that God does not have any resentment because of the offense. The offender has a clear conscience because of being set free from the guilt and penalty of sin.
Forgiveness has to be understood as a part of justification. In justification, God set us free from the condemnation of the law. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, God removes the guilt of sin. The sinner is no longer liable for the payment for his sin.
A second word translated “forgive” (charizomenoi) means to grant pardon. It suggests being gracious to a person. It is canceling a debt or pardoning someone who has done wrong. This word translated “forgive” means a quarrel with a person has taken place. One person has hurt another person and caused that person harm. Despite being offended, the forgiving person cancels the wrong done by the offender. The hurt or harmed person is gracious to the offender. The offended person pardons the offender by wiping out the wrong and treating the person as if he has not sinned.
Sunday we tried to unwrap this gift of forgiveness in this manner, God's gift of forgiveness gave us:
I. A New Day
1. Erases our Past (justification)
2. Equips us for our Present (Sanctification)
3. Enables our Future (Glorification)
II. A New Directive
1. Speak as a partner to a partner
2. Speak as a Father to a Follower
3. Speak in Love
III. A New Designation
4.Onesimus=From Slave to Son
Pray for us in this journey through Philemon as next week during this Advent season with God's help, we will unwrap the gift of Reconciliation.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I love this story although when I first read it as an associate minister, I said there is no way this could happen. How can you become a "Chicken Dinner Church"? The wonderful world of being an associate minister, all knowing and completely naive all at the same time but changing seats has taught me so much, this can and does happen. It is amazing how much we do in church that has absolutely nothing to do with what God intended the church to be and leads us into becoming "Chicken Dinner Churches"
Sadder than that, it is amazing all the things we as pastors do and are expected to do that have nothing to do with the primary calling that God has placed on our lives, in effect; turning us into "Chicken dinner Pastors". We are everything from church firefighters, policemen, parliamentarians, veterinarians who heal the sheep that keep running into the fences that are meant to protect them and healing the goats and rams that keep head butting each other.
We serve as blue ribbon judges in sweet potato pie eating and baby kissing contests; serve on ceremonially appropriate dog and pony show civic committees that look good but affect no real change for the overall community except to serve as photo opportunities for politicians who have no real concern for our members except to lynch and fleece.
We serve as MC's for wedding ceremonies that have nothing to do with Jesus or covenant relationship building, or the providence of God but rather is just a prelude for the party later where drunken revelry and immoral behavior will become the garments worn by people who have taken off the Armor of God and replaced it with the"sinful suits of Satan".
I am convinced that meetings are or can be used as a tool of Satan to take you away from your primary power which is connection to and through God. NO, all meetings are not of Satan but so many are unnecessary. Pre-planning meetings, post meetings, evaluation meetings, recommendation meetings, meetings about the meetings, sub-committee meetings, Gripe session meetings?! Not Vision Casting, Not God-Centered, Bible Based, Fellowship Orientated, Ministry Driven, Discipleship Development, just meetings. Nothing solved! Nothing gained! Nothing decided! Just discussing the Chicken Dinner!
Sadder than all of that, we live in a culture and climate that is satisfied with being a "Chicken Dinner Church". As long as the bills are paid, the budget is met, money is in the account, lights are on, life is good, but our call is greater than "Chicken Dinners". My call is greater than being a "Chicken Dinner Pastor".
I am reminded of what Jeremiah said 15:16, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.
MY CALLING is to Preach and Teach. It is summed up in Ephesians 4:12-15.12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Why are we here? Why are we opening the doors of the church? What we have to offer is greater than Chicken! Thank God for Fishes and Loaves ministry but any group can feed people. Thank God for Good Samaritan Ministries that seek to lift up, restore and reestablish people who have fallen on hard times but any group can do that. Thank God for Titus women development ministries that seek to teach women how to act, walk, dress, carry and project themselves but the AKA's Delta's and Zeta's can do that.
What we offer as the church, NO ONE CAN DO. The government can't give what we can give, Grants can write it, country clubs can't entitle it, Congress can't create it, Sororities and Fraternities can't pledge it, The Armed Forces can't develop it, Colleges can't confer it. There is no place like God's Church.
To clean them up, dress them up, help them up and work to set them up without giving them Christ is to do everything except what our primary calling should be and in effect render us into nothing more than "Chicken Dinner Churches"!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Consider the thoughts that must have been racing through Timothy's mind. Nero was killing many of the young minister's friends and church members. As the most visible Christian leader, Timothy must have wondered if the emperor's men would kill him. Add to that the great disappointment Timothy felt because of those who had abandoned him and the church, and it is clear that his mind could have felt very overwhelmed, subdued, and mentally affected.
Timothy was seeing this take place among the members of his congregation—and even among many of his leaders. Many of the men and women whom he thought he could depend on had left. They didn't want to be associated with Timothy and the church any longer. Hence, this was a very, very tough time for the Ephesian believers and their pastor.
What do you do? What do you do when the Nero's of the world attack? What do you do when church members walk away in the face of persecution? Paul wrote Timothy and said, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Paul told him to "endure hardness," using the words sun, kakos, and pathos to make his point.
Compounded together, these words could be interpreted this way:
"Join in as a partner with the rest of us (sun) and face this vile, horrible, ugly circumstance (kakos) that is all around you. And if you must undergo a little suffering (pathos) to do this job, then brace yourself and go for it!"
Several key messages to Timothy were included in this one word. First, Paul used the word sun to let the younger man know he wasn't the only soldier serving the Lord. Although Timothy may have emotionally perceived that everyone else was abandoning the Lord, this wasn't the truth of the matter. In reality, many believers were still faithfully fighting the fight of faith. This is why Paul told him, "Join in as a partner with the rest of us."
Second, by using the word kakos, it is almost as though Paul was saying, "Yes, you're right. It's pretty bad out there, and it seems like things are getting worse. There is no doubt that a terrible, ugly mess lies before us. It is the most wicked situation we've ever faced."
Third, by using the word pathos, Paul is telling Timothy to brace himself for a fight and to toughen himself. A job needed to be done, no matter what kind of atmosphere surrounded him. Timothy's obedience couldn't depend on good or bad circumstances. If circumstances were turning against him and the other faithful Christians, it was time for them to make the quality decision to do whatever was necessary in order to complete their assignment.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I had been scared all week, more so then the norm. Preachers are always apprehensive before, during and after the preaching moment but my respect for Dr. McGhee and the GSJ church had me very worried. As most followers of this medium know and all of us who have heard can attest, Pastor McGhee is some kind of preacher who is powerful in presentation and awesome in his ability to deliver the Word of God. We as ministers do not compete with each other but we certainly don't want to embarrass a pastor who invites us because it would be a disservice to him as well as to God.
I prayed for God to handle my fear. Let me say God answered my prayer but BEWARE OF WHAT YOU ASK GOD TO DO, HE MAY DO IT BUT NOT THE WAY YOU EXPECT.
Sunday morning at Macedonia I preached Acts 27: 39-44, "Piece by Piece". The Lord blessed us but while blessing He answered my prayer concerning my fear. How? Sunday morning, the famous Macedonia visitor arrived. I have always heard stories of "bats" attending church especially when the furnace is first kicked on for the season.
Lo and behold on the ceiling not far from eyesight and too close to the pulpit was a bat attending church. It had its seat and it would not be moved. I assumed the music would disturb it. The bat stayed. I thought the drums and symbols would irritate it. The bat stayed. I preached but must admit my eyes stayed on the bat. There were a couple of times the bat spread his wings like it was going to fly but never moved.
To many of you this may not be a big deal because you are visualizing this happening at your church; however, Macedonia is not a large church with acres of Negros and miles of sanctuary where if a bat is coming your way it would take 5 minutes just to reach you in the pulpit. Macedonia is not a large church in size of structure so the bat was very near.
I realized midway through the sermon, the bat was God answering my prayer. Members faces aren't so mean to preach to after you have preached to a bat. People flexing attitudes at you during a sermon don't really matter after a bat has flexed its wings on you.
I want to thank Brother Dewitt and all of the men for removing the bat after church. I thought I was going to have to do a Manu Ginobili and swat it down. Funny thing before Sunday, I would have told you I never would have been able to preach with a bat staring at me the entire service, but I did. Somehow, GSJ didn't seem all that intimidating.
Let me say how much I respect and admire the "Professor of South Bend" for his friendship and his dedication to Greater St. John. I was honored to be part of a great preaching lineup in Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon, and Pastor Charles Emery. The 4th chapter of 1 Peter will never be the same, Spoon killed versus 10-11 and Dr. Emery destroyed verses 12-19 "Suffering Saints"
The Lord allowed us to fumble through Job 2: 7-10 in an outline I have already shared in this forum. I appreciate the opportunity to stand in such a great house for such a powerful pastor while celebrating an almighty God. I wish Pastor McGhee many more celebrations and I thank God for the "bats" He allows to come in our lives.
One day when I become a good preacher that "Bat" story is going to destroy as an illustration.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The year was 1925 when a small band of God-loving disciples met in the home of Brother and Sister William Wolfe to begin a journey that many generations would benefit from. Because of this meeting, "The Gospel Light Mission" was born. In 1930 under the leadership of Pastor L. Lemon, the church moved to a larger building and became known as the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.
I am so honored to follow in the footsteps of great Pastors who laid the foundation that I stand on now, Pastors Young, Alexander, Lemon, Trotter & Johnson, Matthew, the legendary F. D. Johnson, C. Dewayne Williams and Anthony Pettus Sr.
We celebrated our 84th Church Anniversary beginning with a son of the church coming home Rev Dr. Erskine Jones and Sweet Home Ministries who encouraged us to "Praise the Lord", Psalms 113"1-3. Dr. Jones was sick and should be ashamed of himself for setting the bar that high, God be praised for great church.
We held a reunion musical Saturday where the voices of years past came together to make one big praise to the Glory of God. On Sunday another son, Rev Paxton Reed, Pastor of the Northlake Community Church of Huntersville, North Carolina blessed us with a major word out of Judges 11 dealing with "Family Relationships". He killed everything in the house.
I praise God for all the chickens, pigs and cows who died that I might live as we ate up a storm after church. We praise God that the former Pastor, Rev Anthony Pettus and his current church, The Greater Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Ft Wayne, Indiana came to share with us. I am even more impressed that Pastor Pettus left his vacation just to share with us in this service. He blessed our hearts dealing with our anniversary theme, Romans 1:16-17, "Live By Faith". The Lord was certainly in the place.
Let me thank ALL of the workers, ministry leaders, volunteers, deacons, greeters, cooks, servers, inside, outside and alongside people who made this celebration what it was. I already am looking forward to what God will do for our 85th celebration.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
When orgidzo ("wrath") is operating in an individual, it often starts as silent resentment. That resentment slowly builds up inside the person, becoming stronger and stronger until one day, it finally explodes in rage! And because the resentment has simmered silently for so long, the outburst of explosive wrath is usually way out of proportion to the situation that caused the anger in the first place.
But when these two words are joined together, forming the word parorgismos, it presents the image of a person who brings anger to his side and then embraces it. Instead of rejecting anger or pushing it away when it shows up, this person draws anger to himself and then nurses it, nourishes it, feeds it, and holds it close. The aggravating issue gets "under his skin" and soon becomes so entrenched in him that it becomes his constant companion and partner. He takes the offense with him wherever he goes—and that includes taking it to bed with him!
Remember, the name "devil" is the Greek word diabalos. This word diabalos is derived from two Greek words: dia, which means through, as when referring to penetrating something all the way through; and balos, which means to throw. When these words are put together to form the word diabalos, it paints a vivid picture of the devil as one who repetitiously throws accusations at the mind—striking again and again until he ultimately penetrates the mind with his slanderous lies and relationship-destroying insinuations.
But the devil likes to look for the most advantageous times to strike your mind with his lies—and one of his favorite times to do this is when you go to bed at night. That is why Paul urges you, "... Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."
The word "place" is the Greek word topos, a Greek word that describes a specific place, like a real geographical place on a map. The word topos is where we get the term for a topographical map. This is very important, for it tells us that the devil is seeking a specific place, an entry point, through which he can enter our minds and emotions to stir up trouble and affect our relationships.
So don't go to bed angry and let your mind become a movie screen on which the devil can portray every foul thing he wants you to meditate on all night long. That only allows the enemy to steal your peace and infuriate you even further. Why not instead deal with that anger or unforgiveness before your head ever hits the pillow?
Sparkling Gems from the Greek Devotional, Nov 5th
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday morning I flew back to the city to get the girls and today by the grace of God and the wonderful people at Southwest Airlines, a proud papa took home his three beautiful girls. Let me say, if I didn't understand the power of God, fly through Midway Airport in Chicago with a 8, 6, and 5 year old (all girls even) while carrying two bags almost 50 lbs a piece, all the while having them fight about who daddy picks up first, GREAT TIMES!!!!!! God is good and He does give strength.
Pray for us as tomorrow is our church calendar planning meeting for 2010 and Sunday is our 84th Church Anniversary services. Somewhere we will rest, just don't know where yet.
Friday, October 30, 2009
The reason for me posting this blog is not to give advertisement to the devil but rather to share what I learned the hard way. Although I live in South Bend, Indiana, South Bend is a wanna-be town. It is heavily influenced in one direction by Chicago and Gary and in another direction by Detroit.
Last year on this so-called night of mischief, South Bend experienced its fair share and some of that mischief affected our church and its members. This year, Macedonia wanted to be proactive in our approach to this night. Instead of allowing the devil to have free reign in our neighborhoods and community, we decided to put the devil and all of his workers on notice.
Tonight, we are having a midnight musical which will benefit the Norther Indiana Food Bank. The offering will be the collection of canned goods which we will present to that organization. This musical will feature many of the best and brightest youth and young adults in our Michiana area.
I thank God for Brother Chuckie Coleman for allowing God to use him in this effort and for stepping out in faith by not looking at things as they are but rather looking at things by how they can be through God.
We are praying for a powerful praise to emanate from 1862 N. Olive Street that will filter through not only this community but all of South Bend. I am on my way upstairs for sound check. Please continue to pray for us at Macedonia. We are endeavoring to be the Church that is called to help somebody.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Paul gives his own testimony of how Satan tried to hinder him from doing what God put in his heart. He wrote, "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us." I Thessalonians 2:18
The word "hindered" is the Greek word egkopto. As noted earlier, this word was used to depict a runner who was elbowed out of the race by a fellow runner. However, it was also used to picture the breaking up of a road to make it impassable for travelers. This kind of impasse made it impossible for a traveler to get where he needed to go. As a result, the traveler's trip was hindered, delayed, postponed, or temporarily put off. The traveler could still take another route to get to the same destination, but the alternate route was inconvenient, cost a lot of extra money, and took precious time that could have been used another way.
By using this word, Paul informs us that demonic attacks inconvenienced him on occasion. Satan craftily sought to abort advances of the Gospel by arranging unexpected problems that delayed, postponed, and hindered the missions God had placed on Paul's heart. But did Paul sit down and cry because plans didn't work out as he intended? Did he throw in the towel and quit? No!
The apostle Paul never stopped just because the devil tried to get in his way! No impasse or roadblock was going to stop him! He refused to take no for an answer! He was going to get the job done, regardless of the inconvenience, money, time, or effort involved. He was so stubborn about doing what he was called to do that he always found a way to do it.
An example of this is the time Paul left the city of Ephesus because his life was in danger (see Acts 19 and 20). Paul had given three years of his life to the believers in Ephesus. When he left, he could have cried, "Oh, I don't understand why the Lord let this happen! He knows how much I love the leadership of Ephesus!" Paul could have bemoaned, "Now I'll never see the Ephesian believers again. The devil has attacked me, and the door to Ephesus is permanently closed for me!"
But Paul understood that crying and lamenting don't change a thing. So instead, he went down the road to the seaside town of Miletus and secured a facility for a meeting. Then he called for the elders of Ephesus to meet him there! Paul figured if he couldn't go to Ephesus, why not invite the leadership to come see him? Why resign himself to defeat just because he had hit an impasse in the road? Paul knew that there is more than one way to accomplish a goal. So he put his brain to work and found a way to do what God wanted him to do.
Why should we stop just because the devil gets in the way? If that were the case, we might as well stop everything we're doing for the Lord right now! There will never be a time that the devil just lets us do what is in our hearts. We must be determined to keep doing what we're called to do even if the devil tries to slam the door shut in our faces.
So what if Satan shut the door to Ephesus? That was a good time for Paul to look for a open window! If he couldn't go to the elders, why not call them to him? Paul discovered an open window in Miletus. He called for the leaders, met with them, and finished his assignment, exactly as God had ordered him to do. Mission accomplished!
You see, Paul had an attitude that would not give up. It didn't matter how much opposition was leveled against him, he had already decided he would outlive the opposition. Somehow he'd find a way to do what God had called him to do.
You can do anything God calls you to do too! Determine in your heart that you will not allow Satan to do anything to stop you, thwart you, or dissuade you from staying on track with the assignment God has given you. God's will for your life is where mighty and powerful things are going to happen! That is why the devil is putting up such a fuss to try to keep you from getting there. He's afraid of what will happen if you actually do what God has put in your heart to do.
So dig in your heels, and determine that you are not giving in or giving up. Refuse to back up or relent, and keep on pressing ahead. The devil may have put an impasse in the road before you, but that doesn't mean the show is over! If you'll listen to the Holy Spirit, He'll show you another route to get you where you need to be.
The Holy Spirit needs a partner who is committed. So just commit yourself to pressing ahead, regardless of the opposition. As you do, the Spirit of God will empower you to conquer every attack that comes against you. Then He will masterfully show you another and more effective way to fulfill your divine assignment. In the end, the devil will be sorry he messed with you!Sparkling Gems from the Greek.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
To all of my pastors, preachers, family and friends within the blogging community and those who view this page from time to time, I have two prayer requests that I would like you to add to your list. I would like you to pray for my Minister of Music, Brother Jovan Lewis and his entire family for the loss of his 11 year old daughter Mercedes Nichole Lewis.
The media descended on this family and our church as Mercedes' death was later ruled to have been caused by the H1N1 virus. I realize and respect the media has a job to do but walking so close with the family and continuing to listen to the word "Disrespectful" being said by them made me feel their pain all the more.
Praise God this family has a strong relationship with God! Please pray for the Clay Intermediate School and the 6th grade class who were devastated by the loss of their friend. The school allowed the students to line the street as the funeral procession passed by the school. To watch over 300 kids crying, holding signs, wearing shirts and praying in the memory of their friend is a memory, I soon won't forget and caused me to cry uncontrollably seeing their pain. I am grateful I was riding with the funeral director and not in the family car as I didn't want to add to their pain.
Also, please pray for me. I am beyond tired! The emotions of the day and the events of the week have caught up with me. I have more experience as an assistant pastor than I do as a pastor. Assistants are attack dogs designed to guard, watch, protect and if needed fight for its owner. In that role, I was good. It does not mean I didn't make mistakes because I did nor does it mean that I was an asset to my church, because I wasn't. Mt Olive didn't need me, I needed them but in that role, I did my job.
I lapsed back into attack mode when I watched the media descend on the funeral asking people before and after, "How do you feel"? I wanted to protect, I set out to defend. I am sure I am wrong and I will probably realize I could have handled it better but funerals are not and should not be an exploitation of someones grief for the sake of circulation or ratings. It is a time of grief and prayerfully a time of evangelism for someone who needs understanding and direction.
I haven't been able to stop hugging my own children. I couldn't imagine losing my girls. They mean the world to me. I haven't been sleeping much lately. Every cough wakes me up now, I stand over the beds longer now, always touching and feeling for fever, I have to remember that God is still in control but it is hard for me right now.
While not a theologian, I concur with the words of President Abraham Lincoln, "I have been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have no other place to go"
Friday, October 9, 2009
The hunter was puzzled by this curious scene and later asked some natives about it. They laughed and explained that the leaf the mother bird used to cover her eggs was poisonous to the deadly snake. The serpent knew instinctively to back away. The shield was small and flimsy, but it was the one thing that the snake most feared.
"In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan," writes Paul (Ephesians 6:16). It's naive to believe that the enemy is a dormant foe who minds his own business. He is a cunning and crafty adversary who will do anything to catch us off guard and bring us down. His arrows are sharp and sure, and his aim is deadly. He attacks when we least expect it and will try to devour the thing that we most cherish—our relationship with God.
Faith is the shield that keeps his arrows at bay. It is the guard that we hold before us to protect us from the fire of his wrath. Without it, we have no hope of survival.
And what is this life-saving faith made of? It consists of a deep belief in God's promises and a trust in his words of truth. We believe that God's purposes are higher than our frailties. We trust that even in the midst of battle, his will is being fulfilled. We have faith that someday the war will end, and we will be brought home to eternal glory.
Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven.
Monday, October 5, 2009
It was an initiative to try and get the church to commit to 100% tithing, not through gimmicks or tricks but a strong emphasis on what the Word of God says.
10I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test(CEV)
Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, (NIV)
Try it! Put me to the test! (NLT)
Test Me in this way, (HCSB)
We asked every member who was not a tither to "put God to the test" on the first Sunday in October and commit to tithing. If God doesn't keep his Word, you lose nothing but if He does what He says He will do, you gain everything.
We also asked everyone who is already a tither to commit in addition to their tithe on the first Sunday in October to bring a sacrificial gift to the Lord. The amount of the gift was to be between them and the Lord, for my retired saints, $5.00 over is a sacrifice so we asked God to lead them in this amount.
The Lord led me to preach on Matthew 14:22-33, "The Boat or the Water". The Lord was gracious and I want to thank our Fine Arts Ministry for their skit before I preached which helped set the atmosphere for the text. I also want to thank the production committee who built me a lake and provided me a boat which I preached from Sunday.
I was worried about preaching from the boat as first its not traditional and maybe I was doing too much. I became further worried when I saw too many cameras, cell phones and other devices flashing and filming as I said Uh oh, they gonna take your baptist card for this. However, in the short 19 months that I have been here as "pastor", I have never felt more free during the preaching moment than I did on Sunday.
In regards to the results, it was overwhelming. The testimonies began to flow almost immediately after church. I wasn't concerned about an amount or total as I am trying through the Word of God to create a lifestyle of giving not just a one day shot in the arm for the treasury. However on Sunday, God tripled our normal offering.
I praise God for all the members of Macedonia who decided to take God up on his offer and "Put him to the test" and God will keep His word. I look forward to even more testimonies to come. Thank you Macedonia for letting me be your Pastor and enduring my crazy attempts to make the Bible real in your lives. Don't give up on me!
10(A) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby(B) put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open(C) the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11I will rebuke(D) the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. 12Then(E) all nations will call you blessed, for you will be(F) a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? Romans 9:21 KJV
A man once wrote about watching a potter mold a lump of clay. The potter took a lump of clay and rolled it into a tight ball, then placed it onto his old wooden wheel. He sat down in front of it on a wobbly little stool and started the wheel spinning. His hands gently caressed the clay, molding it gently between his fingers. Before long an exquisite goblet began rising from the middle of the wheel. The observer writes:
Suddenly the stone stopped, and the potter removed a piece of grit. His seasoned fingers detected the unpliable aggregate. The stone spun again, allowing him to smooth out the former lodging of the grit. Suddenly the stone stopped again. He removed another hard object from the goblet's side, leaving a mark in the vessel. The particles of grain within the cup resisted his hands. It would not respond to his wishes. Quickly the potter squashed the form back into a pile of clay. Instead of the beautiful goblet, the artisan formed the material into a crude, finger bowl.
Sometimes the creation a potter sets out to create doesn't cooperate as he would like it to, which forces him to settle for something less. The same holds true for you and me. How often have we resisted the Master Potter's hands as he works to make us into a beautiful and useful instrument of his will?
"We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand," says the prophet Isaiah (64:8). God has big plans for each and every one of his creations, but for him to accomplish those plans, he needs our pliability. When we fight his hands on our life, we force him to change his plans for our future. How much better to allow him to work and to become all that we can in the Potter's mighty hands?
Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven Devotional.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The word "assayed" tells us how badly Paul and his team wanted to go to Bithynia. The word "assayed" is the Greek word peiradzo, which means to attempt or to try. The Greek tense used in this particular verse indicates an incomplete action, which alerts us to the fact that Paul and his team actually tried to go to Bithynia but were unsuccessful in their attempt. How hard they tried is not clear, but the Greek word peiradzo implies that they tried very hard to go there.
Paul suffered many difficulties as he traveled to different regions, but it rarely stopped him from going where he had intended to go. The reason he and his ministry team didn't press on in their efforts this time is that the Holy Spirit "suffered them not" to go to Bithynia. The phrase "suffered them not" comes from the Greek words ouk eiasen. The word ouk is a strong "No!" The word eiasen is from the Greek word eao, which means to allow or to permit. When these words become the phrase ouk eiasen, the new word means to not permit or to forbid.
That day, the apostle Paul and his team listened to the leading of the Spirit to stay out of the region of Bithynia. By staying away from Bithynia, they apparently circumvented some kind of disaster that awaited them there. We don't know what devilish trap had been set for Paul if he had gone to that region, but we do know he avoided it by obeying the Holy Spirit's instructions.
As children of God, we must learn to follow the Holy Spirit's leadership, direction, and guidance. We must stay sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is telling us to do, even if we can't rationalize or figure out why He is telling us to do it. God does not have to give us everything we want. He is not a Genie in a bottle! He is not our Fairy God Parent! He is God and He is sovereign! GOD CAN SAY NO!
I am learning to thank God for his NO, for the times HE forbids, won't allow or permit. I admit I haven't always appreciated it. I want Him to fix it, move it, take it, let me do it and He says NO. However it was in NO that I learned the fire can't kill me, it was in NO that I learned the lions won't destroy me, it was in NO that I learned that God's grace is sufficient.
I am learning that when God says NO, it gives me a great opportunity to say YES to His will and YES to His way. Thank God for NO.
Friday, September 18, 2009
It is very difficult to build trust with a person like this because you never know if he is really with you, or if he's just agreeing with you to your face until he can turn around and disagree with you behind your back. This type of person's lack of integrity makes it difficult to build a significant relationship with him. The apostle Paul called this kind of person "double-tongued" (1 Timothy 3:8).
The Greek word for "double-tongued" is the word dilogos, which is a compound of the words di and logos. The word di means two, and the word logos means words. When compounded together, these two words form the word dilogos, which could be literally translated two-worded. It is the picture of a man or woman who says one thing to one person but a different thing to the next. In other words, people like this are inconsistent in what they tell others. They are so wishy-washy that their opinion is constantly fluctuating, depending on whom they are speaking to at the moment.
This is usually an indication that this person is a people-pleaser. Because he wants everyone to like him, he agrees with whomever he is with at the moment. This is a serious character flaw. In fact, First Timothy 3:8 forbids us from giving this kind of person any prominent place of leadership in the ministry. It is also a principle that should be taken into consideration when looking for a prospective leader in any church, business, or organization.
Truthfulness is necessary so trust can be built between leaders and followers. It is compulsory in marriages, in friendships, and in relationships between employers and employees or between a pastor and his leaders. If a long-term relationship is to be built, trust is not optional—it is essential.
If there is a person in your church, business, or organization who is constantly changing what he says depending on who he is with at the moment, I urge you not to elevate this person into a leadership role. That person doesn't demonstrate the character that is required in leaders.
But what if you are the leader, pastor, or employer, and you have someone working under your authority who is constantly switching what he says, depending on whom he is talking to? In that case, take Paul's words to heart. Don't promote that person to a higher level of responsibility until this habit has been broken. Don't lay hands on a person who is double-tongued!
Sparkling Gems from the Greek.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The 42nd chapter is our coming out chapter, our double for your trouble chapter, our triumph over trials chapter but God leveled me to the floor when He said to me, "It all happened after prayer". I am so used to that phrase being used in other areas, other chapters, other stories, not Job 42. I was a closet "prosperity theologian", (not really just saying).
I was Bildad and didn't know it. Bildad, the forerunner of the prosperity theology movement suggested in Job 18 that if you obey God, you will be blessed and enjoy great prosperity but if you suffer it means you are out of God's will because He wants everyone well. Repent, admit, and God will bless. Well Job does repent and without realizing it privately, I thought his restoration was tired to his repentance but it didn't happen after repentance, it happened after prayer.
After God unleashes his wisdom on Job by saying in effect who and where were you, do you understand:
The Source of The Universe
The System of the Universe
The Specialization of the Universe
Job admits the error of his ways and says opening up Job 42:
I am weak
I am unwise
I am wordy (I feel ya Job)
I am unworthy
But this is not when restoration. It didn't come after repentance, it came after prayer. Vs 10 says AND, that's the conjunction, WHEN, is the adverb. "And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends". It happened after prayer.
I lost it Sunday, it all hit me. Some blessings God will never let me see until I let go of some things. I read vs 10 and see enemies, God still calls them friends but either way, I still have to pray for them. My outline for Sunday was:
I. Prayer for your Enemies, vs 10
II. Prepare for your Environment, vs 11
III. Provides beyond our Expectations, vs 12
Like I said, I lost it Sunday and God decided to take Macedonia down the same path I was on. It was time for ALL OF US to let go of some things. There is a blessing of restoration that God wants to give us but we have to let go of the things that keep us in bondage.
I went home and preached some more to myself and wrote out a new sermon entitled, It Happens After Prayer
I. We must Follow God's Instructions
II. We must Forgive those who have Intentionally Hurt us, vs 10
III. God will give Favor to those who have been Injured, vs 11
IV. Our Future will not look like our past Incidents, vs 12
I am going to start losing weight this week, not physical pounds but emotional baggage I need to let go. Time to pray for my friends (enemies) and walk into what God has for me.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Because of His blood I've been justified. What does that mean? Justification means just as if If you take an eraser and erase something you wrote, you can still see the print of the writing. But the Lord says, "When I clean you up, I don't leave a print." Not only does His blood remove the stain, but it also removes the mark from the stain.
A man bought a Rolls Royce. After several months, he had some problems and took the car back to the dealership. The dealership contacted an ace mechanic at headquarters who said, "Just ship the car to us." So they shipped the car to headquarters where the car was fixed. The car was then brought back and returned to the owner.
The owner waited weeks, but the bill didn't come. Months later, the bill still hadn't arrived. He came back to his dealership and said, "Look, you all fixed the car and did a good job. But I haven't received the bill. I don't want to wait for a huge bill later and I can't pay for it. Let me pay for it now. '' The office manager said, "Sir, we don't have any record of a bill." The man said, "Oh yeah, I brought the car here. You must have a bill." So they faxed headquarters requesting the bill for this man's repair work. In a few moments, the answer came back, "We don't have any record of anything ever happening to this car."
Well the same thing will happen in your life when you are saved. The devil is always trying to accuse the saints before God saying, "Look at Frank. Ain't you gonna wipe him off?" The Lord says, "Wait a minute, send a fax up to heaven's headquarters for the history of Frank E. Ray, Sr., Memphis, Tennessee. In a few minutes the record will come back. I'm sorry we don't have any record of anything he has ever done wrong. He's been covered by the blood. Justification. Just as if nothing has ever happened.
365 Days in the Presence of God: Daily Devotions from the Sermons of Dr. Frank Ray.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I am sure you work by, worship by and are woven next to people who never question, never doubt, always have good days, always are shouting, no heartache, no headache, no questions, only exclamation points but it is my contention we all have had a How long moment. Moses had one in the Wilderness, David had one in the 13th Psalm, Asaph expressed the sentiments in the 73rd Psalm, Habakkuk certainly had his day and even Jesus had his moment in Mark 9.
So we shouldn't be surprised or shocked when Job has his day. Tired of the sickness, stressed from the situation, annoyed by the UnBiblical sermons and all of the stuff he was facing, Job unloads in the 19th chapter vs 1 by saying HOW LONG?
How long is the grown up question that evolved from our childhood question, "Are we there yet"? When I make the journey from South Bend to OKC with my children, as long as the DVD is playing, food is available, something to play with or draw on, life is good. However, the moment the food is out, the DVD is over the question comes, Daddy, are we there yet?
Are we there yet is not a question that comes in the good times of life, its only when the fun is over. How long never shows up as long as you like what is taking place, it only comes on the hard days. How long is coming! Bind it, don't claim it, come against it, don't speak on it, it's still coming. Lay hands on it, pour oil on it, get the prayer cloth from the holy land that the television ministry said would get you your breakthrough, it's still coming.
Job says its constant. No whining, no being a wimp, but it is causing me 19:2-3
Despair- vex my soul
Destruction- breaking me into pieces
Disgrace- reproached me
Disaffection- made yourselves strange to me.
I have written too much but since it's coming, Is there Hope? Yes, here it is through Job's experience:
I. Concentrate on the Fact vs 25 "I Know Redeemer"
a. Stands for me
b. Speaks for me
c. Strengthens me
Job uses the word Ga'al when he says redeemer which means God is my vindicator. Job in his frustration, not being able to convince his friends of his innocence was leaving it in the hands of God to prove to them he was not guilty of the sin they accused him of He realized GOD HAS GOT HIS BACK.
II. Change your Focus "He will stand"
a. Look past your problem
b. Look at your possibilities
c. Look at God's provisions
Myopia is a disease that causes a visual defect in which distant objects appear blurred because their images are focused in front of the retina rather than on it; spiritually myopia is a disease that cause a lack of discernment or long-range thinking. It causes a focus on the sickness, not the healer, problem not provision, questions not the answerer, the burdens not the burden-bearer....
III. Celebrate Your Future,"Whom I will see for myself"
a. The battle is fought
b. The fight is fixed
c. I ain't finished.
Walter Hawkins penned the song "Don't wait until the Battle is over, Shout now because you know in the end you are going to win. The time has come for some shouting to take place in God's house for what is about to take place. It may not be here now, but it's on the way.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
It is football season and so I am downloading every football fantasy kit, living on ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo getting ready for all things football but this virus lives on these sites via the pop up windows and the downloads. I never paid attention to them before as I have always had my Norton Internet Security software to prevent any attacks; however my software had run out. I had purchased the new and improved, updated Norton but it was in the box, on the computer. It needed to be in the computer, installed, running, but instead it was in a box on the computer. I was too busy to install it.
"Desot" took over. Desot is an upgrade of the System 32 virus that applies spyware and malware to ruin the productivity of your computer. Desot intermingles with your Windows operating system and makes itself at home. The best technicians by remote access and by hands on application could not get rid of this virus. My computer needed to be wiped out completely in order to be made clean again.
My devotion is over but I tell you there is a virus, an infection, a disease if you will called SIN. We are all infected with the disease called Sin. We get this infection simply by being born. I don’t know if scientists will ever find a gene in our genetic make up that is the "Sin" gene; but just like your hair color and eye color are inherited... you also inherit Sin.
The bad news is that you can do absolutely nothing to help yourself. You can’t take penicillin or Zithromax to get rid of this infection. You can’t try to live a holy life on your own. You can’t go to a surgeon and have him cut out the infection. Is there a cure for this fatal infection? Or are we doomed to die? I’m here to tell, there is a cure! There is a remedy!
Romans 5:17 says, "For if, by the trespass of the one man , death reigned through that one man , how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." Yes, there is a disease called Sin. Yes, it is fatal Yes, if this infection is left unchecked...untreated... it is a terminal illness, but there is hope! And that hope is found in Jesus Christ! God can cleanse us from Sin. He can change us from within! He can heal us from the infection! He restores us into a great relationship with Him. We are forgiven!
By the way, take Jesus out of the Box. My virus cleaner was on the computer in the box. Many of us have Jesus still wrapped in the box, on our desk, on the nightstand, on our table but He has never been applied in our heart. Jesus works better when He is let out of the box. It's not enough to wear a cross around our neck if we don't allow the power of the cross to permeate our lives.
Monday, August 31, 2009
These three friends reveal an idea that still exists in today's society; Suffering must be an indication of sin, however the Christian life is a call to glory through a life of suffering. We often treat suffering as if it's to be avoided at all costs, yet it's often the best display of a life transformed by Christ.
Some flowers must be broken or bruised before they emit any fragrance. What do you smell like? Have you allowed God to produce that sweet fragrance through you in your suffering that would be attractive to others who are going through, or are you too busy not claiming it and not speaking it because you think you can undo the will of God?
Eliphaz believed that suffering is a sign that you are getting what you deserve. That spirit still exists in the church. Lost your job, wife left, children in jail, just getting what you deserve. Bildad is the forerunner of the prosperity theology movement found on many television ministries.
If you obey you will be blessed, those in God's will enjoy great prosperity and good health but if you suffer you are out of God's will because God wants everyone well. This is bad theology. God does not want everyone well. Paul asked three times for God to remove his "thorn" and God said No, my grace is sufficient. Jesus asked, "Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me, but nevertheless not my will but yours be done.
Zophar's entire argument throughout this discussion turned debate into a dispute can be summed up like this, "What did you do? Whatcha do? You had to do something! Tell me! What happened? Sounds like church peopele I know, not Macedonia, just ones I know. They don't come around to be a blessing, they come to try and find out the business so they can broadcast the news.
In spite of this prevailing belief that suffering is a result of sin and God's judgment on your life. Job lifts a right response in the middle of such bad advice on suffering. Dr. Quinton E. Hammonds, Pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama suggests that we miss great daily living because we reserve some passages in the Bible just for the dying.
Job 14 is an all-time favorite for Old Testament readings at funeral services. It ranks up there with the 23rd Psalm, and the 90th Psalm, but Job 14 gives us daily insight for practical living today as well as hope for tomorrow.
b. When-at birth
c. How Long- few days
II. Suffering is Natural vs. 2-6
a. The Flower Testifies
b. The Shadow leaves a Trace
c. The Hired Hand shows his Toil
III. Suffering is Needful vs. 7-13
a. Hope of Revival
b. Hope of Reproduction
c. Hope of Resurrection
IV. Suffering is Numbered vs. 14
a. appointed- it is temporary
b. anticipated- it is transforming
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Everyone has to deal with temptations at one time or another, so you don't need to feel embarrassed if you're facing a particular temptation right now. But at the same time, you don't have to succumb to temptation, because it is something you can overcome! All temptations can be beaten! You just have to make up your mind that you're going to be the conqueror and not the conquered!
You may not have thought of it before, but the devil tries to lure you into sin by using your mind and emotions. He injects thoughts into your mind and emotions that act as stimulants to get you all stirred up in a certain area of your life. At that moment, you are consciously aware that you can let the temptation pass you by—or you can allow those thoughts to fester in your mind and take root in your emotions until they become a major stronghold in your mind to battle and conquer. By refusing to accept the thoughts in the first place, you can avoid the whole struggle!
It's similar to a sexual temptation. You can choose to turn and look the other way, or you can dwell on that temptation until it fills your mind and imagination. If you choose to meditate on the thought that the devil is trying to put into your head, it won't be too long until the devil is waging a full-scale battle in your mind! If you don't put on the brakes and stop those thoughts, the devil will conquer you. That's why it's so important that you learn how to control your thinking. If you can keep your mind under the control of the Holy Spirit, you will make it almost impossible for the devil to defeat you in any realm of your life.
The devil is a master when it comes to mind manipulation. He knows that if he can get you to spend a little time meditating on something wrong, he can eventually entice you to do it! If the devil was persuasive enough to deceive brilliant, mighty, powerful angels, how much more easily can he deceive people who live in a far-from-perfect environment and wrestle daily with their own imperfections! The emotional makeup of human beings makes them even more susceptible to the devil's masterful skills of lying, deception, and manipulation.
Satan watches for the right timing. He comes along at an opportune moment. He waits until you're tired, weary, or exasperated. Perhaps you woke up in a bad mood; someone gave you a "look" you didn't like; or you just started off your day on the wrong foot. Then suddenly he strikes you with a thought—something that takes you totally by surprise when your guard is down!
When negative thoughts begin to deluge your mind, you need to know that it is Satan setting a trap in front of you. He is trying to ensnare you so he can cripple and devastate both you and the people you love. He's trying to get you to bite the bait so he can set the hook! But you don't have to fall into this trap anymore! If you really want out of this type of emotional quandary, there is a way out.
First Corinthians 10:13 promises, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
The word "temptation" is the Greek word peirasmos, and it may refer to any outside source that appeals to a weakness in your flesh. That appeal pulls you like a magnet; it lures you mentally, emotionally, and sensually; it fascinates the imagination; it entices the flesh to take a closer peek. If you don't stop this process, it will set its hook in your soul and haul you right smack dab into the middle of some kind of sin!
Because the word peirasmos ("temptation") can describe any weakness of the flesh, this scripture could apply to any fleshly weakness you might struggle with—from being lazy or easily offended; to thinking too lowly or too highly of yourself; to having a problem with anger or sexual temptation. Whatever your flesh responds to is what this word peirasmos refers to!
But this verse promises that God will make a way for you to escape temptation—if you really want to escape it! The Greek word for "escape" is the word ekbasis. This word is a compound of the word ek, meaning out, and the word basin, meaning to walk. When they are compounded together, it means to walk out, as to walk out of a difficult place; to walk out of a trap; or to walk out of a place that isn't good for you.
This makes me think of the time Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife when she tried to seduce him. Rather than stay there and try to negotiate in the midst of the situation, Genesis 39:12 says Joseph "... fled, and got him out." In other words, he got out of there as quickly as he could!
Negotiating with sin usually leads to falling into it rather than conquering it, so it's better for a person to just get up and get away from the situation as quickly as he can! This is why Paul was constantly telling the early believers to "flee" evil influences (see 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14, 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22).
The word "flee" is the Greek word pheugo, which means to flee, to take flight, to run away, to run as fast as possible, or to escape. This means you don't want to succumb to those temptations that are surrounding you. You just need to get up, put on your jacket, pick up your things, and get out of that place of temptation as fast as you can! Let your feet fly as you flee that situation! You're not stuck there! You can get out! You can walk out of that place just as easily as you walked in there! Your feet work in both directions! God will make a way for you to escape those negative emotions if you really want to escape them. But you are the only one who can make the choice to jump through that escape hatch!
If you know you're being tempted to angrily explode, walk out before it happens!
If you know you're being tempted to get your feelings hurt, go somewhere else to avoid the offense!
If you know you're being tempted to slip into a state of laziness, then get up and get busy!
If you know you're being tempted to steal, get as far away as you can from the money or the coveted object!
If you know you're being tempted to sexually sin, get out of that situation immediately!
If you know you're being tempted to do anything wrong, it's time for you to flee from the temptation!
Millions of Christians are held captive because they will not take the leap through that escape hatch. As a result, they have no joy, no peace, and no victory in their lives. They may be Christians, but they're miserable because they haven't made the choice to jump through the escape hatch God has provided for them and leave all those negative temptations and garbage behind.
If you'll say yes to the Lord, He will show you how to walk out of this mess! You can avoid, evade, dodge, elude, shake off, get out of, and break away from every temptation! You are the only one who can choose to walk out of those killer mental attacks or negative situations. The moment you make that decision, your journey to freedom has begun!
So today the Lord is asking you: "Are you going to stay the way you are right now, or are you willing to take the proper steps to escape from this emotional temptation and demonic trap?" What is your answer? What are you going to do? God is waiting for you to decide if you will receive the freedom He is offering you or remain a hostage for the rest of your life. The choice is yours to make.
Sparkling Gems from the Greek.