Jun
09

Say you’ve had one habit for several years, but then you realize that it’s wrong, and decide to change. Even if you repent, and with God’s help, strive to turn from that, will it still be a temptation at times?

Your question brings to mind Psalm 19:13 “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” Let me point out some key thoughts from this passage.

Your servant: This person is a believer, a follower of God. This person has been saved already, and is striving to stay close to God in all things.

Keep back: This person is asking God’s help in this matter. This person knows that only through God’s strength can his petition be met.

Presumptuous sins: ‘assuming sins’. These are not surprise sins or unknown sins, those sins are covered in verse 12. These are sins that this person assumes that he will constantly commit. These are habitual sins that this person struggles with. These are sins that this believer is tempted with. Just like your question.

Let them not have dominion over me! These sins that easily entrap us have a power over us that can only be beaten through the power of God. They have the ability to have dominion (over ‘total control’) over us, even as repenting believers.

So… what is the answer to your question? YES! Yes, a Christian who has a habitual sin that they have repented from can still fall into temptation over that sin. Repentance means to decide to obey God rather than our own desires, and to turn away from sin. That doesn’t mean that God immediately removes the desire all of the time. Sometimes He does, sometimes He doesn’t. It is totally up to Him and His knowledge of who we are and what we can handle. If God knows that we cannot give up a sin (that our faith in Him is too weak at this point, or our spiritual maturity is too small), He will take that particular desire away from us when we repent. If God knows that, through His strength we have faith enough to overcome the desire, then He leaves the desire there as a test for our faith. Do we really believe that life in obedience to God is better than even fulfilling our own desires?

So… if there is a sin that you constantly seem tempted into, praise God! He is showing you that your faith is strong enough to beat this temptation by focusing solely on Him and He has a victory over this sin waiting for you.

Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The promise of God is that, if you are tempted, you are only being tempted with a temptation that you can handle through obedience to Christ, and He will show you the way to defeat it. We will never know all of the temptations that He has saved us from, those temptations that we aren’t ready yet to stand up to in His strength. But if He is allowing us to be tempted in some area, He knows we can handle it by trusting in Him.

So don’t give up! You can handle any temptation that God allows you to go through, through His power working in your life!

Pastor Jeff

Aug
30

“Why did the angels tell the shepherds about Jesus’ birth, and not someone else?  Why the shepherds?  I was listening to a tape about that, and the question just hit me.”

This is an interesting question, in that the Bible really doesn’t have a straight, specific answer for it.  The Bible really doesn’t say WHY God sent His angels to the shepherds INSTEAD of to other people, but I can make a guess.

I think that God has this thing about shepherds.  He has a special place in His heart for those who are the lowest of the low in terms of the caste (or hierarchy, or social status) of their day.  Shepherds were the bottom of the barrel at that time.  They owned nothing but the clothes on their backs and the blankets under which they slept (if they even HAD one).  The sheep weren’t theirs, the fields weren’t theirs.  They were not educated at all, and there was really no way to move up and no longer have to be a shepherd later on.  You weren’t graded on how well you did your job, but instead were graded on if you did a bad job or not.  If no sheep ever died, and they all grew up healthy and well-cared for; well, that is what was SUPPOSED to happen.  As a shepherd, you got in trouble for not doing a good job, but you never got credit for DOING a good job.

And God loves shepherds.  Moses was a shepherd, David was a shepherd.  Throughout history God continued to choose shepherds to rule and lead His people.  Maybe they were good listeners.  Maybe God chooses shepherds because they have all this time to just sit there and talk to Him.  They don’t run around all busy, day after day after day.  They sit, and they watch sheep.  While doing that, I guess they have a bunch of free time to talk to God too.  Makes you wonder a little bit how much of what we do gets in the way of sitting and talking with God.  Maybe we should be shepherds too.

God loves those who are the weakest, because His strength is revealed (made perfect) through their weaknesses.(2 Corinthians 12:9)  If someone who is absolutely unable to do something all of a sudden can do that very thing through their relationship with God, then God gets the credit and His Name is glorified.  (Matthew 5:16)

It is pretty easy to see that God loves students too.  Sometimes the students I talk to feel just like a shepherd, that everyone else tells them what to do, and that they have no control over their own lives.  You get up in the morning with your mom or dad yelling at you to hurry up.  You sit down to breakfast that someone else chose for you.  You have to be at school at a certain time that someone else has decided for you.  He classes you take are limited choices, the teachers you face you rarely get to choose, the homework they give is mandatory and graded on completing it well (just like the shepherd, doing a good job is what you are SUPPOSED to do).  Through the whole day it seems that you are doing what other people tell you to do, with not much choice for your self.  Just like a shepherd.

And God loves you.  God sees you in your situation and He wants to choose you for something awesome.  Like being a ruler of thousands and thousands of people like Moses.  Or a king, like David.  God has an awesome plan for your life, but you have to let Him rule you.

WHAT???  Isn’t that just doing what someone else tells you to do again???  Where’s the freedom in that?

Well, the Bible has something interesting to say about this.  In Romans 6:16 it says, ‘Think about it for a second. Don’t you know that if you choose to sin (do things against God’s law) you become a slave to sin?  And if you choose to follow God you become a slave to God?’

See?  There really ARE ONLY TWO CHOICES; to follow God or not.

The Bible continues on this thought by saying in Romans 6:23 that ‘what you get from being a slave to sin is death, and what you get from being a slave to God is life, and life that doesn’t ever end.’

So, remember, God loves you, even if you feel worthless and unlovable.  God has an awesome plan for your life, even if it doesn’t seem possible right now.  I really doubt that David knew as he sat in a field smelling stinky sheep that soon he would be the king of all the Israelites.  But God knew.

And what does God know for you?  Dream a little.  Ask God to help you dream.  He has even give YOU a promise.

Listen to what GOD has to say to you today… “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart.”  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

So, when you get to the point where you feel like you are unable to tackle any type of task, remember… you are now in the perfect place for God to do something awesome through you!  Just ask Him to.

Pastor Jeff

Apr
09

This is YOUR chance to be involved! This is where YOU can ask me ANY question! Then, from time to time, I will post some of the best questions and answers. Keep logging in to see if I post YOUR QUESTION!

Here’s the first one…

“In Mark 1:44, Jesus tells the leper, ‘do not tell any man but the priest, go your way, and say nothing.’ But, in Mark 5:19, Jesus told the man possessed by Legion, after Legion was gone, to go, tell your friends what glorious things I have done, go your way and tell.’ Why?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is a GREAT question! Why does Jesus say one thing to one person and then the total opposite thing to someone else? Where’s the connection?

I think that the secret to understanding the conflict between Mark 1:44 and Mark 5:19 is possibly found in John 5:19&20.
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.”

It may be hard to accept at first, but the Bible teaches that part of the humility that Jesus took on in the often quoted Philippians 2:5-8 passage is no longer knowing everything.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus, then, paints the picture of what our relationship to God ourselves should be: total trust and constant communication with God. “…the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing.” Jesus often knew the hearts of the people around Him, but only because God told Him. (Hard to accept? Read Luke 2:52 and ask yourself how Jesus could know everything but still increase in wisdom. Isn’t everything everything?)
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

Keep that in mind as we continue. God revealed to Jesus His calling to the people of Israel (He quoted Isaiah 61), but not necessarily His calling to ALL men. This explains His amazement at the faith of the centurian (Matt. 8:5-13) and the faith of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30). [Side note: He admits that others (non-Jews) will come from far and wide (Matt. 8:11-12) to feast with the chosen (Jews), which fulfills Isaiah 59:19, but He also knows that (to that point) He is called only to the Jews (Mark 7:27), which fulfills Isaiah 59:20.]

Then, God reveals to Jesus that His calling is for the whole world (since NO ONE can come to the Father unless He draws them (John 6:44) in John 12:20-22 and Jesus immediately realizes that the time of His death and the fulfillment of the promise has come. (John 12:23-26).

So, what does this all mean? There WAS a difference between the two people. Jesus wanted His message to be heard among the Jews, and have the Gospel backed up by His miracles, not the other way around, or else His Gospel message would have been lost (see John 6:25-29; they chased Him not for His message, but for the benefit of His miracles). But, for the non-Jews, they were free to say what they wanted. Jesus Himself would not go to the land of Gadarene, but this man (instead of following Jesus) could go and tell all that Jesus had done for him. Not only would this spread the Glory of God, but would also fulfill many prophesies. (see Isaiah 49:5-6 and others.)

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