A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

What I Have Learned About Preparing for Temptation: Part 4

 

Over the past two weeks, we have learned several activities and attitudes to prepare us for temptation:

 

  1. Repentance
  2. Confession
  3. Bible Study
  4. Prayer
  5. Poverty of Spirit

 

      You might be tempted to believe we are ready to face any temptation. (Then again, you might not, after all, I am writing another article.) There is one more preparation we need to make and it is illustrated in Acts 4:23.

      Earlier in the chapter, Peter and John were arrested and taken before the rulers, elders, scribes, High Priest and many of the high-priestly family (Acts 4:5-6). The council charged the two apostles not to speak in Jesus’ name and then threatened them (Acts 4:18, 21). I’m sure these threats included imprisonment and physical harm. This is what we call temptation.

      Then we read Acts 4:23. “When they were released, they went to their friends…” (ESV). They didn’t have to develop friends. They didn’t conduct a survey to see if anyone might be on their side. They already had friends on whom they could rely. They had already developed these relationships.

      In order to prepare for temptation, we need to develop strong relationships with other Christians. If we wait until we face the temptation and then scan about for someone to help, it will be too late. Let’s face it, we are only comfortable making those kinds of calls and having those kinds of conversations when we have already developed a good, friendly, supportive relationship with someone.

      I know I have often failed in this step of preparation and I’ve paid for it. The failure sometimes comes with good intentions. We believe we will simply rely on God to overcome temptation, but doing so forgets that God works through His children. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us God does great things by His power working in believers. The reality is, we are not really relying on God if we are not relying on God’s children. Further, we won’t rely on God’s children in our moment of need if we haven’t already developed a good relationship with them.

      Ask this question. “If I was tempted to ___________ this week, who would I call to talk it over, pray and gain support to do the right thing?” If you’ve got several in mind, that’s great. Make sure you keep working on those relationships. If you don’t, stop everything and figure out some relationships you can develop to be ready.

      

Wrapping Up the Series

Remember, Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He wants to devour you. Use these tools to help you prepare for temptation:

  1. Repentance
  2. Confession
  3. Bible Study
  4. Prayer
  5. Poverty of Spirit
  6. Relationships
Don’t wait. Satan won’t. Temptation is coming and you need to be prepared.
ELC

 

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September 12, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Preparing for Temptation, Relationships | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Have Learned about Preparing for Temptation: Part 2

Satan is vicious. He roams like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). Just like we wouldn’t go on a safari in lion infested territory without preparation, we need to prepare to face Satan’s attacks. We have already learned we begin with Repentance and Confession. In this post, we need to see the place of Bible Study and Prayer.

We all know Psalm 119:11. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (ESV). Clearly, if we want to avoid sin, we must spend time in Bible Study. We do this to know what sin is. We can’t even accomplish the Confession we have already discussed if we do not learn the mind of God through His revelation (cf. I Corinthians 2:11-12). Consider Matthew 4:1-11. Even Jesus overcame sin because of what was written. He knew what was sin and He knew how to respond when Satan attacked because He had stored up God’s word in His heart.

We also need to study God’s word to learn Satan’s attacks. II Corinthians 2:11 speaks of knowing Satan’s designs so we won’t be outwitted by him. From Eve to Peter, through Bible study we see how Satan tempted others. Learning how he attacks prepares us and helps us respond well.

At the same time, we need to develop a healthy habit of Prayer. No doubt, we will need to pray in the moment of temptation. The only way to be strong enough to pray in the moment of temptation is if we have developed a strong habit of prayer when we weren’t being tempted.

Consider the example of Daniel in Daniel 6:10. Daniel was able to keep praying when it was illegal because it was what he had done previously. Prayer was his ingrained response.

We must remember our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers too great for us (cf. Ephesians 6:10-13). We can’t win this battle. But God can. Therefore, we need to develop a healthy relationship with God through prayer. As Ephesians 3:20 says, God can do far more abundantly than we ask by the power working through us. However, this means we have to ask.

Further, as the model prayer demonstrates in Matthew 6:13, God is able to keep us from and deliver us through temptation. How many temptations might we avoid in our lives if we simply make this prayer a habit even when we aren’t being tempted?

What is your plan for study and prayer this week? Schedule it out and then make sure to fit it in. Don’t do this to check it off your Christian living list, but because this is what works. This is what will help you overcome those temptations.

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God. 

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Preparing for Temptation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus’ Gospel is Powerful Enough To Save

I have now heard it all. Okay, maybe not. But surely this is close.

Some church is offering gas cards to get folks to visit. I have no doubt some folks will proclaim, “How innovative! How creative!” Some might say, “Wish I had thought of that.”

I say, what happened to Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (ESV).

I can already hear someone say, “Now Edwin, we believe the gospel is God’s power to save, but we’ve got to get people here to hear that gospel or they won’t be saved.” I say, what happened to Mark 16:15: “And he said to them, ‘Go…'” (ESV)? God didn’t ask us to figure out ways to get people to “come to church.” He asked us to go to them. It might be one thing if a congregation was giving free gas to its members so they could travel the highways and byways talking to folks about the gospel. But since when is our job to figure out how to get people to come to church? 

But that’s not all. Do we really want to be the people who say God’s gospel is powerful enough to save, but only after a certain point? Do we really want to be the people who say the gospel is not powerful enough to save people from start to finish? Do we really think God needs us to get them so far and then He’ll take over? Or do we think the Gospel is powerful enough to get people interested in hearing it and then in obeying it?

Perhaps the problem is the average Christian is, well, average. Maybe if we could move beyond being unremarkably average and really let the Gospel change our lives, other people might get curious about what is going on in our churches. 

I can also already hear someone else say, “Now Edwin, we are not ashamed of the Gospel.” Let’s get real. When our Vacation Bible Schools look more like county fairs with free crafts and bouncy rides, we certainly aren’t saying we think the Gospel can hold its own. When our assemblies look more like rock concerts or club hopping, we certainly aren’t happy with just the Gospel. When we are trying to get people to “come to church” by appealing to their fleshly desires with free gas or with parties for the teenagers, mixers for the young singles, babysitting for the parents and other such appeals, we are saying we just don’t think the Gospel alone will cut it. When someone asks us, “What do you have for my kids?” and we bow our heads, kick the dirt and say, “Just the Gospel,” we are showing embarrassment and shame. We should be able to hold our heads high and say, “We have the Gospel that saves. We have it for you, for your kids, for your grandkids and for everyone in your whole family.”

Let’s face it, a church giving away free gas will get more people in the pews. But free gas doesn’t put anyone in heaven. Only the gospel of Jesus can do that. God is not saying to us, “Help me. I’ve got the saving gospel but no one wants to listen to it. Do something, please.” 

Why don’t we just live the gospel, teach the gospel and let the gospel govern our churches. Yes, I know not many people are into the gospel. Not many people are going to want to “come to church” if all they get out of it is the gospel message. But what good are we doing trying to manipulate people into hearing the gospel? What good are we doing saying God’s gospel is not enough to save people from start to finish?

I’ll say it again, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”

ELC

August 8, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, evangelism | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

11 Ways to be an Unremarkably Average Christian

 

 

Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings, he will not stand before unknown men.” That’s all well and good, but the more I think about it, the more I recognize that excellence is overrated. I mean, only a minority ever excel. If everyone started doing it, it wouldn’t be excelling any more, would it? The fact is, most folks never get beyond average. That is why we call it average, because most folks are doing it. With that in mind, I have developed a very simple plan to attain average.

 

 

 

 I share with you 11 ways to be an unremarkably average Christian.

  1. Equate Christianity with “going to church.”
  2. Only do what the preacher proves you absolutely have to do.
  3. Fit spirituality in around everything else.
  4. Overextend yourself financially.
  5. If someone strikes you, hit him back.
  6. Never confess to your brothers and sisters.
  7. Only forgive others if they have earned it and never say you’re sorry.
  8. Never change your opinion on anything.
  9. Never talk to others about spiritual things.
  10. Don’t get out of the boat.
  11. Never worry about being average, no one will ever question you about it.
To learn more or to download the audio of the expanded lesson, go here and here.
 
Nods to Chris Guillebeau for inspiring this idea.
ELC

July 20, 2008 Posted by | Christian living | , , , , , , | 5 Comments