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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 4:1-11’

Distractions

January 3rd, 2014

“I am doing a great work.” Nehemiah 6:3 NKJV.

The things that make you unique enable your success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions.”

In serving God and others, you are given something meaningful to do that is unique to yourself – your interests, experiences, natural talents, and spiritual giftedness. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another . . let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV. The things that make you unique enable your success. Your success and corresponding satisfaction result from discovering your life-calling and dedicating yourself to achieve that to the best of your ability and opportunity. Read 1 Timothy 4:14/2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV.

The obstacles to success can be many, and common among those are distractions. From those, discouragement results. Distraction creates detours and dead ends. The enemy of everything God wants to do in your life, and with your life, is the master of distraction and author of discouragement. Paul was ruthless about unprofitable distractions, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing; forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize . .” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Distractions can come in many forms – ambivalence, fear, doubts, busyness, tiredness, delays, disappointments, opposition, others’ opinions, people’s expectations, mistreatment, competing options, and/or people’s expectations. Every step in a wrong direction diminishes accomplishing your purpose and faithfulness to your calling. Jesus said, ”No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NKJV.

Nehemiah is a good example of avoiding distractions. From his zeal for God came a divine call to lead the monumental reconstruction project of Jerusalem. Read Nehemiah 2:1-18 NKJV. Because Nehemiah had a mission, vision, passion, and conviction, he succeeded where others failed. Besides the immense task, there were also enemies who opposed the rebuilding altogether. There will always be resistance – internal and/or external. After repeated attempts to dissuade Nehemiah from his work by ridicule, false accusations, threats, and even plots to harm him, his enemies finally sought to distract him – possibly their most devilish strategy.

“Our enemies . . sent to me, saying, ‘Come; let us meet together’. . but they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’” Nehemiah 6:2-4 NKJV. Four times Nehemiah refused their efforts to distract him. Anything other than what God called him to do was lesser, and lesser things were irrelevant to Nehemiah. Compare Matthew 4:1-11 NIV.

The conviction, “I am doing a great work,” allows for no debate. If your efforts are not eternally consequential – important to yourself, others, and God – then reassess your priorities. Is there anything distracting you from doing God’s will? “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain.” See 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you dedicate yourself to the will and purposes of God.

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Lies and Half Truths

June 27th, 2012

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 NIV

Truth does not require argument or defense; it does, however, require your conviction.

My thoughts and comments today are about “lies and half truths.”

The practice of truth seems an increasingly rare commodity. Solomon’s wise advice was, “Buy the truth and do not sell it.” Proverbs 23:23 NIV. I think the simple meaning is this: truth is beyond price whether buying or selling. If you will only and always tell the truth, you will more readily recognize when others do not. I think it is a social and spiritual tragedy that the truth is so lightly regarded, and lies and half truths so willingly believed. If a half truth is not all true is it truth at all? Mark Twain observed, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (American humorist and author (1835-1910).

Jesus exposed the enemy of your soul with this description, “There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 NIV. The problem is this: a person tends to believe who and what they want to believe. If you masquerade lies and half truths as truth, you play right into your enemy’s hands. The devil is not capable of speaking truth; don’t be so naïve as to expect anything different from him. “Lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV.

As he began in the Garden, he continues today. In the Genesis account of creation the second chapter ends with Adam and Eve’s innocence; then the third chapter opens with their spiritual ignorance before the one who is described as, “more crafty than any of the wild animals God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat of any tree in the Garden’?” Genesis 3:1 NIV. Refer to Genesis 2:15-17. That was not quite what God said – a half truth misapplied as a lie. Be true to the truth!

Lies and half truths intrude when you indulge your own, or any others’ challenge to God’s Word. The devil, in the form of a serpent, questioned God’s instruction, subtly alters its accuracy, and then impugns God’s character. Read Genesis 3:1-13 NIV. You are no match for his clever deceit unless you hold fast to the Word of God, as Jesus did when tempted in the wilderness. See Matthew 4:1-11 NIV. Jesus’ response to each temptation was the clear, simple response of the eternal Word, “It is written.” Truth and nothing more need be said. Lessen your grip on absolute truth and you have lost the battle. Truth does not require argument or defense; it does, however, require your conviction. Refer to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 TEV.

There is a somber warning that concludes the Canon of Scripture. “If anyone adds to these things . . if anyone takes words away from this Book, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life.” Revelation 22:18-19 NIV. Plainly stated, you need nothing more than God’s Word; neither do you need anything less than all of God’s Word. God deals only in truth; so should we who choose to be called by His Name. The Bible describes the man whom God honors as, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.” Read Psalm 15:1-5 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you love and guard the truth, without compromise.

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Temptation

February 1st, 2012

“We will receive His mercy and find grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

“Temptation does not happen all of a sudden; it’s progressive, often incremental.”

My thoughts today are about “temptation.”

All of us are not necessarily tempted by the same things, but we are each tempted by something. See 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV. Temptation does not happen all of a sudden; it’s progressive, often incremental. Temptation begins harmlessly enough as a mere thought of a possibility, soon becoming an impetuous or reasoned consideration of whether you could or should, to an evaluation of potential consequences or measures of enjoyment, and finally, to your choice to resist or yield to the temptation. It would seem to me that the very fact of temptation indicates that you realize what you are considering is less than the right thing to do. Temptation comes in many forms, sometimes masquerading as expediency, doing what you have to do. On another occasion, you may be tempted to give less than your best, or justify compromising your word. Temptation is not always recognized as such at first.

First, in any discussion about temptation you should know this: God offers blessing for the person that overcomes evil enticement. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does He tempt anyone.” James 1:12-13 NIV. Also, be assured that God is not the origin of temptations big or small. A person has no one to blame but themselves when tempted. Yielding to temptation is usually the result of one’s presumption that the possible consequences are not probable or on the assumption you will be an exception and somehow avoid the usual consequences.

Others’ invitations to wrong are powerless if they do not resonate with your own temptation. Temptation’s origin is found in your own wrong desires and the sinful, fallen culture that invites and entices you. The Bible is clear about the progression of temptation, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived.” James 1:14-16 NIV. There is no good ending when temptation has been allowed to work its worst.

Recognize temptation for what it is; temptation is disloyalty to God and disregard of His will and Word for personal pleasure or profit. Joseph understood this. His response to the insistence and seduction of his master’s wife was, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Genesis 39:7-10 NKJV. You fail yourself and others when you yield to temptation, but most of all you fail the grace of God. Read Galatians 5:17-25 NLT.

Jesus understands your temptation; He empathizes and rushes to your aid. See Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV. “Because Jesus Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted . . let us cling to him and never stop trusting Him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 2:18 NKJV/4:14-16 NLT. Need mercy? You find grace when you come to Jesus.

My prayer for you today is that you will find the help you need when you need it most.

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There For You

August 26th, 2011

“No one came to my support . . but the Lord stood at my side.” 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NIV

“People who rise to greatness have probably had a solitary experience with God alone.”

My thoughts today are about “there for you.”

Most people have had an experience when someone you counted on didn’t show up when you needed them. You felt alone, threatened and frightened. There is no lonelier moment. F. Scott Fitzgerald called that “the dark night of the soul.” American author 1896-1940. The crowd will not always be there for you. Sometimes friends won’t be. There are times in a person’s life when few are able to walk alongside, some times when none can.

That’s when who you are and what you believe deep down in your heart will be revealed. In such experiences, you discover much about yourself. The person who never knows moments bereft of human companionship never really knows a richness of fellowship God intends. I think that men who rise to greatness have probably had that solitary experience, when conviction replaces opinion, when friends replace casual acquaintance, where you either despair of life or meet God face to face.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was tempted in solitude, in a lonely wilderness where no man could stand alongside, as the devil challenged Him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. “Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered to Him.” Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV. In the closing hours of Jesus’ earthly time and just moments before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus was left alone in Gethsemane while His closest companions slept. “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” Luke 22:39-46 NKJV.

Paul described one of those dark nights of the soul. He was a prisoner, wrongly accused and jailed. His frequent traveling companions could not be with him. Listen to his words, “No one came to my support, but everyone deserted me . . But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NIV. Don’t blame others; God isn’t taking them where He is leading you. When others can’t or won’t be there for you, God is! Those are life-changing moments when the God you previously knew about, becomes your God that you know personally and powerfully.

Whatever price you ultimately pay for that kind of knowledge of God’s character and personal experience of spiritual intimacy is never regretted, yielding expansive dividends lifelong. Paul affirmed another such time, “Our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless, God who comforts the downcast, comforted us . .” 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 NKJV.

Your faith needs a testimony of “nevertheless, God” moments that proclaim the faithfulness of God to you, times where you “found grace to help in time of trouble.” Hebrews 4:16 NKJV. He is God who is there for you!

My prayer for you today is that you prize God’s company above all other companions.

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