Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday, 31 May 2013 ~ Roxie

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Kings 7, 8; Psalm 109; Acts 20
Today's scripture focus is

Luke 5:1-11

5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
There, standing on the edge of the sea of Galilee was Jesus surrounded by so many eager listeners that they pressed in on him, crowding, suffocating, jostling. Jesus loves these people. He is not annoyed that they are nudging into his personal space. Jesus is glad that they are there at all to hear the word of the Lord; he wants them all to hear...but who can hear one man in such a crowd as this??

The designer of physics, of water waves and sound waves sees a way to share the ancient words with more than just the intimate few being pushed against him. Some fisherman, exhausted and drooping with disappointment...maybe even wondering how they are going to feed their families that day, are washing up their nets, caring for their equipment so that they can try again the next day. As a woman who has worked many a night shift, I can tell you how rough it feels to have a bad one. The lack of sleep feels like a weight pressing down on every single muscle, making the effort to finish up the last tedious duties difficult and clumsy. The glaring of the sunshine makes it feel like there is an entire sandbox trapped behind the  bottom and top eyelids of each eye...and sometimes swirls up to cloud an already unfocused mind. The emotion that stems from failure compounds and overwhelms as exhaustion erodes self control.

These guys are tired; they are frustrated; they are fighting to clean and repair sodden nets that are tangled lumps of sandy rope. And Jesus steps into one of the boats and asks them to row him out a little ways. What did those fishermen think? Were they surprised that Jesus knew whose boat he had stepped into? Had they been listening to him speak?  If they hadn’t been listening before, they were now his captive audience as he addressed the crowd, his words now drifting out over the water to the far reaches of the crowd.

Were the hearts of these men ready for something new? Did they fall in love with Jesus and his message as they listened that afternoon? Whatever Jesus had said throughout the day had convinced the far beyond exhausted  fishermen to make another attempt just at Jesus’ “say so”. And did they ever receive payment in full for the use of their boat!

Jesus offered them wealth, a day when they could earn more than they quite probably ever had before, establish their business, take care of their families. Simon Peter, seeing all this, fell at Jesus’ feet...and spoke the words of a wise man in the close presence of holiness, of Godly perfection, Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 

...and with a promise from Jesus to make these men fishers of men, “they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

They left everything. 

How have my hopes and dreams, the details of my life changed since I decided to follow Jesus? What did I have to give up?...and to what things do I still cling to so tightly that I lose a little bit of my focus on God with each clenching of my fists?? Tenth Avenue North sings a song called Empty My Hands that often becomes a prayer that wrenches my heart...and hopefully brings healing at the same time...when I find myself clinging to dreams that just might not be the same ones that God has for me. 

These disciples took a chance on Jesus. They may have left all their material goods behind, but their hearts, oh, how their hearts would be filled!! May we all have hearts full of everything God has in store for each of us.

Monday's scripture focus: Luke 5:12-16
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 9, 10

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday, May 29th ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Kings 5-6; Psalm 108; Acts 19.
Today's scripture focus is Luke 4:38-44

Jesus Heals Many

38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

Jesus Preaches in Synagogues

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.[a]

OK, so I decided to read Mark Driscoll's sermon on this passage (the first one).  Interesting point:  I have read and never bothered to question that Peter (to whom Luke is referring when he says "Simon" above) was the first pope and was never married.  These were Catholic-influenced writings and I never thought to wonder about it.  But here Mr. Driscoll points out that, obviously, if Simon Peter had a mother-in-law he must have been married.  Duh.

So if Simon had a mother-in-law, it would be very weird for the Bible to say he had no wife, but he did have a mother-in-law. That’s just peculiar all by itself. 1 Corinthians 9:5 says that Peter had a wife. Eusebius, the early church historian, says that Peter’s wife actually loved the Lord and was actively involved in women’s ministry. So we love Catholics and some are brothers and sisters in Christ, but Peter was married and he and his wife lived in this home and apparently their mother-in-law lived with them or was staying with them.

And here we see the authority of Jesus over demons and sickness. Do we believe in demons? Yes. Do we believe Jesus has authority over demons? Yes. Do we believe in sickness? Yes. Do we believe Jesus has authority over sickness? Yes. Do we believe that God can and does heal people? Yes, we do. Some get healed in this life, all of God’s children get healed in the end with the resurrection of the dead where there’s no more sickness, sin, death, destruction or tears, so our God is a healing God. Now we don’t heal people, God does. We pray for people and God can choose to answer them if he wills. And this woman is healed.
Now I found this interesting - talking about the laying on of hands.  I've always been a little bit suspicious of that.  It always seemed to me like mystical, magical stuff.  As if the power of healing was the combination of touching someone and praying over them and one of the other wouldn't be enough, but it's the power of GOD and it always bothered me that with the whole laying on of hands thing that it seemed like the healing was through the people.  Mr. Driscoll describes it in a way that makes a lot more sense to me:

We don’t believe there’s anything magical, supernatural, super spiritual in the laying on of hands. We do believe it’s a sign of love and blessing and affection and encouragement and help. We believe that. Jesus’ brother James writes sometime later in the book bearing his name that leaders of the church are to lay hands on people in the church, especially those who are sick, and pray for them that God would heal them. So we do that at Mars Hill. You need to do that in community group, you need to do that with your friends and family. Don’t just tell people “I’ll pray for you.” Put a hand on them and pray for them. It shows that God is loving them through you. All right, this is a shoulder-to-shoulder hug, put your hand on somebody’s shoulder, put your hand on somebody’s head. A lot of people feel lonely and isolated and abandoned and touch is very important. It’s a demonstration of God’s affection, so we pray for people. 
Satan is real. He’s really at work. He really does hate Jesus. He has servants who really are working with him. We believe all of that and we’ve seen it. We’ve also seen, like Jesus did, people delivered from that kind of bondage and oppression to live new lives, and sometimes the healing is connected to the spiritual because we’re one person, many parts, material and immaterial, and sometimes when the spiritual part of a person gets fixed, the body gets healed. Sometimes, and I want to be careful with this, just ‘cause you’re sick doesn’t mean you have a demon. But some of you are demonically oppressed or influenced or non-Christians—you’re even possessed—and it leads to lots of physical problems. And if you were connected to Jesus and the Holy Spirit were to be the most powerful presence in your life, then you might also see some physical healing as well. That’s indeed true.

I don’t want you to be scared of Satan and demons, but I don’t want you to neglect them. When you see someone who is spiritually oppressed and damaged, don’t automatically just judge them and get self-righteous. Have an air of compassion about you. Pray for them, pray with them, speak the truth of Scripture into their life.
Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 5:1-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  1 Kings 7-8; Psalm 109; Acts 20.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday, May 29th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Kings 3-4, Psalm 107, Acts 18
Today's scripture focus is Luke 4:31-37

Luke 4:31-37

English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Demon

31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 Andthey were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermons: Jesus and Demons, Q&A 1, Q&A 2
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon: Being
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Jesus' Authority Over Demons Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

And, no, I did not listen to or read all 7 sermons! :)

A few words from Matt Chandler....
during the time that Jesus walks the earth, there’s this massive amount of confusion about who He is. His family says at times He’s crazy. You’ve got the Pharisees that are saying He’s demon possessed. You’ve got His disciples who are unsure. And the only ones who consistently get it right in the New Testament are the demons. And that’s what you just saw happen. “I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”...y. Notice that there’s no dualistic battle for the universe going on here. Jesus tells the demon to be quiet, and there’s no more argument. This is not this kind of dualistic idea of good vs. evil, and whoever plays their cards right and maps out their strategy right wins. Nothing evil ever argues with Jesus, ever. “Be quiet. Get in the pigs.” And that’s what you’re going to see happening over and over and over. This man walks with an authority that, until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, was unattainable.....There are such thing as demons. There are such thing as oppressive forces. Here comes a man, demon possessed, therefore would have been viewed by the religious ruling party as an unclean man, a man unworthy of the Torah, a man who is demon possessed because of his own vices, his own sin or that of his parents. And Jesus, with no judgment, simply goes, “Ah now, we’ll set him free.” Have we read anything lately about Jesus coming to set maybe oppressed, overwhelmed, beat up people free? So right out of the gate He’s kinda doing what He said He would.

Love that connection!

Mark Driscoll points out that people often have two extreme reactions to the idea of demons - they either outright reject the possibility that they even exist, or they give them far too much credit.  Both of which, are wrong.

Then he tells us some things about Satan (you can read more details in his sermon if you like, I'm just going to summarize the list quickly).
1. Satan is not equal to God and he does not share the attributes of God.
2. Satan is not our only enemy.  There are other demons, there is the flesh (things you are tempted by due to your sinful nature) and there is the world (and its system of thinking and corruption).
3. You need to know your enemy in order to fight him effectively.

He also had an interesting analogy....
Now some of you will want to know how in the world did this guy get demonized. The Bible doesn’t generally use the word demon possession, some of your translations will. It uses the word “demonized,” that can be internally influenced, externally oppressed, completely controlled, it’s a wide range of usage and meaning. But how does that happen? I’ll use an analogy building on a metaphor that Jesus uses. He uses the analogy about Satan and demons about a house. So let’s look at your life and your body like a house, you live in it. Now what happens to your house if you leave all the windows open, all the doors open and you invite all the wrong people over? They move in, they trash the place, they do horrible things, they torment you, they destroy your house. They take over your life. Your life is like that through sin, unrepentant sin, habitual sin, folly, general spirituality....What you’re doing is you’re opening the windows and you’re taking the hinges off the doors and you’re inviting unclean people and things in. At some point, it can go really bad for you, really bad for you.

See some of you don’t look at it that way. You just think sin is the breaking of a law, which it is, but sin is also the opening of a door. How many of you tonight would go to bed with all of the doors off the hinges in your house? But some of you do that spiritually every day. Unrepentant, habitual sin, folly, religion, and spirituality.

What happens then is if you’re a non-Christian, see your house belongs to Satan. You either belong to God or Satan. So if you’re a non-Christian, you might be nice, spiritual, moral, decent and good, and Satan wants you to believe that you’re wonderful because he loves pride and as long as you’re happy being on his team, he’s not going to disrupt anything. And so he owns you and then he possesses you. He owns you and your life and he starts to do devastation, his work always leads to death.

Now if you’re a Christian, does Satan own your proverbial house, yes or no? No, but can you open yourself up to all kinds of torment and influence by inviting people and things into your life that shouldn’t be there? Yes, yes. We don’t know whether or not this man was a believer, all we know is he had opened all the doors and windows to his house to the point where when Jesus shows up, there’s actually a demon connected to this guy. A Christian cannot be demon possessed, Jesus owns them, but they can be demonically influenced by all the openings in their life.

MacArthur, as usual, has some great insight as well.....
As we learn from the Bible, there is a wicked force of evil spirits in the world called demons. Originally they were created by God has holy angels. Their home was heaven and they served and worshiped God. But through pride and rebellion they became evil. Their leader, Lucifer, came known as Satan the devil, he was able to lead one third of those holy angels in his prideful rebellion. As a result of their rebellion and pride, they were cast out of heaven by God Himself. They number in the millions, they are eternal. Created by God originally they will live forever. In the future, they will be thrown into a lake of fire where they will be tormented forever, they cannot be redeemed, they cannot be forgiven, nor will they or can they repent. They are forever wicked.

They operate in the world today to achieve the purpose of Satan and thwart the purposes of God. They are behind the world's complex system of evil and they are the dominating powers in the lives of all people who do not belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ. The whole of humanity is in the grip of this force of evil spirits. They are real, they are personal and they are wicked.

Everybody who is not a Christian belongs to them in the sense of functioning under their dominating power...
They would rather operate in a clandestine subtle way. They don't really want to surface themselves if they don't have to. That way they can carry on the ruse, the deception. They can carry on the disguise. They are disguised as angels of light. They are disguised as ministers of righteousness. They don't want to manifest who they really are. And so you can go through your whole lifetime and never see a demon manifestation through a person. As I told you, in my whole lifetime and I've been pretty much at the cutting edge, at the front edge of the battle for the gospel, I've only perhaps three times actually engaged in verbalization with a demon speaking through a person. They don't like to do that. They don't like to manifest themselves. So demon...demon manifestation in a possessed person is a very rare phenomena. But it wasn't rare during the time of Jesus. Jesus was so powerful, His message was so powerful, His person was so powerful that when He came into the world and He began to preach the gospel and He began to come to people with the message of His Kingdom, demons in sheer terror began to expose themselves, I believe, involuntarily out of sheer trauma.

Usually they don't do that. They would rather operate in a person who is teaching in a liberal seminary. They would rather be a Methodist...they would be in a Methodist pastor who advocates homosexuality. They can get a lot more done subtly....If you listen to them, these liberal people, they tell you you can't believe the Bible. Isn't that what Satan said in the Garden, you can't believe God, He's not trustworthy? They tell you the God of the Bible is not good. Isn't that what Satan implied? God isn't good, if He was good He wouldn't tell you you couldn't eat of that good tree over there. You can't trust God. You can't believe God. God isn't going to look out for your best.

See, Satan from the very beginning did one particular thing, and that is to undermine the character of God and then along with that undermine the Word of God. And when anybody comes along today and undermines the nature of God and undermines the Word of God, you can be sure they're plying the trade of the kingdom of darkness....

is the first miracle that Luke records and it is a miracle of casting a demon out of a man. And the point of it is to demonstrate that Jesus has power over the kingdom of darkness. Remember, Jesus is God and He threw Satan out of heaven. He can certainly throw a demon out of a man. That needs to be demonstrated, doesn't it?, if we're going to believe Jesus is the Messiah. If we're going to believe that He can deliver us from the kingdom of darkness, if He can deliver us from sin and death and Satan and hell, then we have to see that He can get us and take us out of the kingdom of darkness. In other words, if Jesus is the Messiah, He has to be able to plunder the kingdom of Satan. In Jesus' own words, He has to be able to go into the strong man's house, tie the strong man up, take all his goods and that's exactly what Jesus did. He went into the strong man's, Satan's, house and He tied Satan up and plundered his goods. And what are his goods? The souls of sinners that he held captive. Jesus can do it. He proves that He can do it because He has total power over the demons. And Luke starts His miracles, the first of the miracles that he'll record here, with this miraculous demonstration of Jesus' power over the kingdom of darkness.
We can see by the demon's response to Jesus that they were frightened by Him.  What frightens demons?  They fear the gospel message being preached because it plunders their kingdom (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).  They fear the purpose of the Son of God which is to destroy the devil (1 John 3:8) and it spells their eternal damnation, first in the pit during Christ's thousand year reign, and then in hell forever.  And they were terrified this was it, this was the time.  And the third thing they fear is God Himself.  Ultimate evil cringes in the presence of perfect holiness. And, of course, they fear the power of God.

And though the demons know who He is and proclaim the fact that He is God - He silences them.  Why?  Because though they are speaking the truth in this instance, Satan is known as the father of lies, and demons proclaiming Christ to be the Messiah would not be helpful.  God doesn't need publicity from the kingdom of darkness, that confuses the issue.

If you are a believer, Christ dwells within you.  Your body is the temple of Christ.  You do not need to fear the devil, the devil is scared of you because of the presence of Christ within you.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 4:38-44
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 5-6, Psalm 108, Acts 19

Tuesday, May 28th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Kings 1-2, Psalm 106; Acts 17
Today's scripture focus is Luke 4:22-30

Luke 4:22-30

English Standard Version (ESV)
22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus the Prophet
Accompanying Mark Chandler sermon: Deconstructing Religion
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Jesus' Return to Nazareth - Rejection by the People

Yesterday we saw that Jesus exclaimed outright, in the synagogue of His hometown of Nazareth, that He was the Messiah.

And the initial reaction is good as we see in v22.  They were amazed at Him and filled with wonder.

But Jesus wasn't done yet.  And He knew that when He was done, they would not be happy.

Yes, the Messiah was here. But it wasn't going to go down like they thought it would.

Chandler points out four ways the kingdom would be different than they expected.

First - the kingdom would include all races - just like the pagan widow from Phoenicia in the days of Elijah, just like Naaman, the pagan king of Syria.

Secondly, it would include people with dark pasts and current struggles.  We see that truth all over the gospels as Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well, with Zaccheus, even with Peter.

Thirdly, it would take place in the heart, not by action alone.  Jesus always pointed past "just" the Law, and straight to the heart, to the motive, so what lies beneath our actions.  After all, we can do the right thing for the wrong reason and that's still sin.  Jesus is after your heart.

Fourth, it would not be a political movement.  Love this quote....

Now I’m not in an election year trying to make any kind of political statement, but the gospel has historically transformed lives; therefore transformed cultures—not had laws set for it so we would all live morally the same. You cannot legislate transformed hearts. And so here’s the thing that frustrates me about the religious right.  I know I’m being recorded. And I know this will go out on the podcast to a bunch of people. Hey, out there. But I’ll tell you this, just because I burn with it. Sometimes I just find this thing in me wanting so desperately for that block to shut up and instead live out the gospel in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces—to live lovingly, and live graciously to a post-Christian, fallen world in such a way that the gospel would take root in peoples lives, so that things would then be transformed, instead of spending an unbelievable amount of money, time and energy trying to get it legislated. Now I’m not saying that we should not be active politically. That’s not what I’m saying. We have a responsibility as citizens of this nation to do what is our civic duty. And there’s nothing wrong with electing God- fearing, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing men, but you’re not going to legislate Christianity.

Jesus came with a whole new way of defining who the people of God were.
It’s going to be defined by faith in Christ alone. And faith in Jesus is going to trump ethnicity. It’s going to trump past. It’s going to trump present struggles. It’s going to trump the weight of the law, and it’s going to go well beyond governed religion.

How did they react?  Not well.  In fact, they tried to kill him.

But it was not yet His time, and He walked away and back into His ministry - which was to save the poor, captive, blind and oppressed.

Driscoll had a slightly different take on the passage.

Jesus was telling the people - you are more needy than the pagan and penniless widow from Elijah's day, and you're farther from God than she was because at least she had faith and did what God, through Elijah, told her to do.
Religious people don’t want to hear that they’re in worse condition spiritually than a pagan, demon-god worshiping, starving widow. And he’s not done.Then He told them that their sin (and ours!) is as horrific as leprosy and they needed cleansing.

But as long as we're still living, there's hope for us.  Jesus will provide for us like He did for the widow.  He will heal us like He did for Naaman.  He will love us, always, no matter what.  His offer of forgiveness is extended to everyone who will recognize their sin, His holiness, repent and follow Him as Lord.

As MacArthur says:  Salvation is available, it's available to those of you who confess your spiritual poverty, who confess your spiritual bondage, who confess your spiritual darkness, who confess your spiritual defeat....

And Jesus was saying to those Jews, "Let me tell you something, you may be Jews, you may be part of Israel, you may be the people of the covenants and the people of the Messiah, but I'll tell you this, God will save an outcast Gentile widow who admits her spiritual destitution before He'll save you." 
Let me tell you this, folks.  There's only one reason why people who know the gospel don't accept Christ.  It is because they do not see themselves as the poor, the blind, the prisoners and the oppressed.  Do you see it?  That's always the problem....

Let me tell you something, there's nothing worse than spiritual pride, is there?  You know, the Lord had said, "You know, I come to save, this is it.  But I can only save the poor, and the prisoners and the blind and the oppressed. That's all I can save and it doesn't matter whether they are a Gentile woman or if they're a Syrian leper, it doesn't matter who it is, it just matters that they see their bankruptcy, their destitution, and they come to Me like the man who said, 'Lord, I believe, but could You help my unbelief?'  And they may not know everything there is to know and their faith may not be full, but if they'll just come in their desperation and say, 'I don't have a choice, here's all I have and see what I can do with it.'  Then they'll know that I'm the Messiah, right?"
You didn't know either and neither did I until I gave Him my life.  Then I knew.  And you could have paraded before me an infinite number of miracles, they wouldn't have proved anything.  You will never know whether Jesus can save your soul from hell, give you new life, recreate your soul, plant His Holy Spirit there, forgive your sin and send you to heaven until you give your life to Him. 
All they could think about was that they were below Gentiles.  They didn't even want these stories to be rehearsed again, they didn't like these stories.  And they're so angry with Him because He's insistent on the fact that unless they humble themselves like a Syrian leper, unless they see themselves as no better than a Syrian leper, no better than a pagan Gentile woman, unless they see themselves as no better than outcasts, they aren't going to get saved.  And that is absolutely intolerable to them, to go to someone who is a life-long Jew, a life-long attender of the synagogue, a serious devout Jew and say, "You're no better off than a pagan, you're no better off than an outcast Gentile leper," is unthinkable because they're so committed to the self-righteousness that's a part of a work system....

They were so entrenched in their self-righteousness, so unwilling to see their sin that when Jesus, the Messiah they had waited for for so long, the Savior of the world came, they tried to kill Him because He threatened their self-righteousness.  There's only one reason why people who know the truth of Jesus don't believe, it is because they do not see themselves as the poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed.  You see that?  Because you can't be saved if you don't.  God offers nothing to people who are content with their own condition, except judgment.  

And the amazing irony is that when we recognize and confess our spiritual poverty, darkness, bondage and defeat - it is then that God makes us rich spiritually, restores our sight, sets us free and delivers us from our oppression.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 4:31-37
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 3-4, Psalm 107, Acts 18

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday, May 27 - Luke 4:16-21 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 23-24; Psalm 105, Acts 16
Today's scripture focus is Luke 4:16-21
16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

We read last week of Jesus's temptation, of his returning to Galilee from the desert, and now we find he is making his way through Galilee.  And now he is in his hometown, Nazareth.

Remember in Luke 2, when Jesus stayed behind in the temple and amazed the leaders there with his learning?  He was just a child then.  Now he is a man.  Now he is allowed to read the scripture, and to preach to the people there.

And he just dives right in!  Jesus, without hesitation, reads a prophecy ABOUT HIMSELF.  What he reads here is Isaiah 6:1-2.  I don't know if it is coincidence that he was handed the scroll of Isaiah, or if he requested it, but I don't think it was a coincidence that he read the prophecy concerning why He was there.  This is the beginning of Jesus's ministry, and He wanted everyone to know exactly who He was and what He was doing there.

We'll learn more in the next few days what else he preaches on, but I find this quite powerful.  He makes no excuses, he doesn't ease into it, he just tells the people what is going on.  Sometimes, preachers who give it straight are ridiculed, they are given labels like "bible-thumper." 
There is a time and place to speak parables, Jesus did that as well, but sometimes, obviously, we just need to tell people who we really are, and what we are here for.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 4:22-30
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 1-2, Psalm 106; Acts 17

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday, May 24 ~ tammi

Today's Bible In a Year reading: 2 Samuel 17-18; Psalm 104; Acts 15
Today's scripture focus passage: Luke 4:14-15

MacArthur's accompanying sermon: From the Wilderness to Galilee: Jesus' Judean Ministry

I always love that first statement about Jesus in these two short verses -- He "returned in the POWER of the Spirit..." (emphasis added) -- especially given the experience He has just endured in the wilderness with the devil.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has a really great series called Walking Through Life's Deserts and she's actually the one who called this to my attention:

Jesus had a powerful earthly ministry. Luke 4 tells us that He “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.... He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”

There’s something important there. When it says He “returned to Galilee,” where was He returning from? From the desert.

This successful ministry came after Jesus faced danger, loneliness, and temptation for forty days in the desert. God had been preparing Jesus for His earthly ministry during this difficult time.

Maybe it feels like you’re in a desert—what seems like a hopeless, never-ending situation. Can I encourage you? God may be fitting you for future service. He may want to use your “life message” in a powerful way, so trust Him and let Him prepare you for what lies ahead.

When we've come through a particularly difficult struggle either spiritually or with a particular situation in our lives and we've felt the sweet communion with God because we were driven to our knees, desperate for Him, and He's ministered to us, tended our wounds, nourished us -- that's when we can return to our lives with renewed strength, renewed POWER from His Holy Spirit working in and through us.

It is this relatively new understanding that has helped me not always just wish away the tough things in life as soon as I find myself in their midst.  Don't get me wrong, I still don't WISH for them to come, and I don't want them to last longer than they absolutely have to, but I want that fresh power from the Spirit.  I want to be able to share that fresh testimony about God's goodness and His sovereignty in my life once it's over, and so I must persevere through those "wilderness times," facing the trials head-on, using the same tools Jesus used to deal with temptation and weakness, and with my hope ever fixed on my Heavenly Father.

Remembering that gold is refined and purified only through the fire.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: Luke 4:16-21
Monday's scripture focus passage: 2 Samuel 19-20

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday, May 23rd ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 15-16; Psalm 103; Acts 14.
Today's scripture focus is Luke 4:9-13.

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’
11 and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Tammy did an excellent job on yesterday's post which talks about the first half of the "Jesus is tempted" passage.  I really like Mark Driscoll's sermon on this passage, so I'm going to take a few paragraphs from it today as well.

Mark Driscoll's Sermon Jesus Without Sin:

As I say that Satan exists and he’s at work, some of you immediately will have resistance at that point, you’ll be like, “Oh no, I’m in one of those conservative, fear-based, spiritually abusive churches where they tell people there’s a devil and they scare them. Thankfully, I don’t believe in the devil.” My answer would be, he’s already defeated you.
Satan is the father of lies and he works through pride and he lies to people and tells them that they’re too smart to believe in him. And they’re dumb enough to believe it. Some of you come from more spiritual backgrounds, pantheism, New Age, Buddhism, Easternism, Hinduism, Oprah-ism, Eckhart Tolle–ism, Avatar-ism, whatever it is. [Laughter] And all is one; there’s not good and evil and God and Satan and angels and demons and truth and lies. There’s just the spiritual. To be spiritual is to be demonic, if what you mean by that is, “I embrace all that is in the spirit world.” Much of what is in the spirit world is Satan and demons.

So be very careful that you’re not even trying to be spiritual, that you want to know the Holy Spirit, not the unholy spirits. And Satan comes to Jesus. See, there really is a Satan and he really is evil. The liberals and the new spirituality, general vague spiritualists, they’re both wrong. Satan does exist and he is evil.

Moving on to talk about the third temptation in the Gospel of Luke:

He comes to Jesus one last time. Jesus is exhausted. He has been without food for forty days and forty nights. Jesus is all alone, no one is there. Many of your sins are committed at that time. Are they not? When no one is there. Well, God’s there. But when there’s no human accountability, that’s when temptation is most tempting, correct? Jesus doesn’t know this might be the last temptation. For all he knows he’s got forty more days to go. Like you and I, we don’t know when Satan will give us a break. And Satan is now forcing him to do exegesis, to from memory, roughly remember the context of Psalm 91:11–12. Jesus knows the Scriptures very, very well. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Satan, you’re not in charge. You don’t get to judge God the Father. We don’t show up and perform for you.

See, God doesn’t need to prove he’s God. He is. God doesn’t need to appeal to anyone. He’s the highest authority. And Satan’s problem is not that he is unconvinced, it’s that he’s unwilling to worship God as God. And he is determined to be worshiped as God.

Driscoll has a list of 10 temptation truths - I will simply list them here.  If you would like to read his explanation on each point, please click the link above to go to the sermon.

1. Satan is a real enemy.
2. Satan will H.I.T. you.  (go after you when you are hungry, isolated and/or tired)
3. Jesus Christ is your victorious warrior-king.
4. The Holy Spirit is your power.
5. Biblical truth is your counter-punch.
6. Christ is your identity.
7. Escape is always possible.
8. Satan eventually taps out.
9. Repent whenever you tap out and fight another round.
10. Life is a battle with many rounds.

I’ve always believed that hard words produce soft people, and soft words produce hard people. And my hard words are with deep, loving affection because I have so much hope for you. I want your life to be the life that Christ wants for you, not the life that Satan has devised to destroy you. And I need you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be willing to fight, to fight for the glory of God and the good of your life and those who love you. This means, if you are not a Christian, you are without hope. If you are without Christ, you need to give yourself to Jesus today, as many have, and see that slavery broken, to see your enemy defeated, to see that hook taken out of your mouth, to, for the first time, experience a measure of victory in battle.

Some of you are here and you are religious and you need to repent of your religion. As I talk about sex and drugs and alcohol, you, smugly, under your breath, smile, thinking, “I’m glad I’m not like those people.” You’re worse than they are. You’re self-righteous, religious people looking down with a lack of sympathy and compassion on those who are struggling and suffering. You are like the Pharisees. You’re not like the high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some of you are here and you are devastated and you are broken and your life is in shambles and you have worshiped Satan. And the answer is to worship Jesus. Worship got you into trouble and worship will get you out.

Father God, I pray for my friends. I pray against the enemy, his servants, their works, and effects. I pray, Lord God, that these hard words would produce soft people. I pray, Lord God, that none would leave here disbelieving in the existence of Satan and demons. I believe that, Lord God, you want to help and serve these people. You want to set captives free. You want to bring newness of life. You want to open blind eyes. You want to take hooks out of open mouths. You want to give new appetites for things that are not evil. You have opened doors in a way of escape. And, Holy Spirit, I request that right now you would open the eyes and hearts and minds of our people, that they might see the open door and run through it to meet Jesus, whose arms are open, whose salvation is real, whose forgiveness is total, whose cleansing is thorough, whose grace is sufficient, whose righteousness is gifted, whose eternity is breathtaking, and whose sacrifice is amazing. Lord Jesus, I pray for my friends, that they would run through the door of opportunity to enjoy your embrace as we worship you together. Amen.


Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 4:14-15.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  2 Samuel 17-18; Psalm 104; Acts 15.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday, May 22nd

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 13-14, Psalm 102, Acts 13
Today's scripture focus is Luke 4:1-8

Luke 4:1-8

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Temptation of Jesus

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus Without Sin
Accompanying Mark Chandler sermon: Temptation 2000 Years Later
Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: The Invincibility of the Messiah and The Temptation of the Messiah: Part 1

In his first sermon, MacArthur makes a few good points that stood out to me that I wanted to share.  First, that is was absolutely imperative that Jesus demonstrate His invincibility over Satan and overcoming temptation - because He couldn't possibly save us if He couldn't defeat Satan Himself.  Second, that this was not some accidental encounter with Satan.  Jesus, being filled with the Spirit (as He also was) purposefully went into the desert to confront and defeat Satan.  Third, that even though Jesus was tempted in every way that we are - it was different.  Yes, we are tempted by Satan and circumstances and outward influences - as was Jesus.  But we are also tempted on the inside due to our inherent sinful nature.  And this was not true of Jesus.  He was perfect and there was no internal bent towards sin.  Fourth - Jesus withstood greater temptation than we ever will.  You see, we never see the full extent of Satan's power because we give in sometimes, we sin sometimes.  Satan "turns up the heat" until we cave.  But with Jesus, Satan kept turning up the heat and turning up the heat until he had unleashed his maximum power - and Jesus never caves.  Jesus does not give in to temptation.  He couldn't - He is God and it is impossible for Him to sin.  But that doesn't negate or minimize the temptation that He faced.

Mark Driscoll actually had a great analogy for this....
If two guys are at the gym and they’re spotting each other on their bench, which guy fully appreciates, understands the full weight of the bar, the guy who can’t lift it or the guy who can? Answer: the guy who can lift the full weight; he’s the one who truly knows the full weight of the bar. Jesus resisted all temptation. He’s the one who understands the full weight of temptation. You and I, eh, we get ten pounds up and then it collapses on our proverbial chest. He, for forty days, is continually resisting every temptation. He knows how heavy it is.
There is so much we can learn from this passage, it's incredible.  I thoroughly enjoyed the sermons I listened to on this and I'm going to try as much as possible to squeeze some of the main points in here.

When Jesus became incarnate, He purposefully set aside His deity to become a man.  Yes, He was fully man and fully God, but when He became a man, He set aside His deity and humbled Himself.  He relied completely on the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out the will of the Father.  All the time.  And Satan's biggest temptation was to try to get Jesus to step outside of the Father's will and act out of His own will, which would be disobedience and, therefore, sin.

Jesus was tempted throughout the 40 days.  This was a continual onslaught by Satan.  And then, when Jesus is physically weak, when His humanity it at it's weakest state, when He is at His most vulnerable, Satan tries to strike the death blow.

Now, the first temptation doesn't seem like much of a temptation at first glance.  After all, Jesus was hungry and it's certainly not sinful to eat when we're hungry.  And He was perfectly capable of creating bread.  But that wasn't the issue.

There were a few issues actually.  First, was the simple fact that Satan was telling Jesus to do it.  Any time you listen to anything Satan instructs you to do, you're sinning.  Simple as that.

For us - often the things Satan tempts us with, aren't evil in and of themselves.  But they can be evil if we're using them outside of God's plan.  Sex is a beautiful gift between a husband and a wife, but it's a recipe for destruction if it's pre-marital, extra-marital or homosexual.

What Satan is trying to do, is to have Jesus doubt the Father's love and care for Him.  "If you're really the Son of God, why are you poor?  And hungry?  And weak?  Is this any way to be treated if you're the Son of God?  Does God even love you?  How can you say God loves you when He doesn't even provide for you.  Look at you!  You don't even have a home to live in! You left the splendor of heaven for this gig? "

For us, temptation is an attack on our identity in Christ.

Mark Driscoll (emphasis mine):
in Christ you have a new identity. You’re a new creation. God is now for you a new Father, the church is a new family, heaven is a new eternity, the Spirit of God in you is a new power. And Satan would come to you and say, “Are you really forgiven? Don’t you remember the horrible things you did? Are you sure God forgives you of that? God loves you? Are you sure that he loves you? You’re suffering right now.” Maybe like Jesus, you’re broke, homeless, poor, hungry, and lonely.

“You sure he loves you? It doesn’t look like he loves you. You sure that God adopted you into his family? It doesn’t seem like your Christian friends are all that helpful. It doesn’t seem like anyone else is really trying to serve you. Are you sure that God is your Father? Are you sure you’re a Christian? Are you sure you’re saved and loved and redeemed and cleansed and forgiven? All those big promises the Bible makes, if that was true, wouldn’t your life look a little better than it does right now?” And Satan will question your identity as a child of God as he questioned the identity of the Son of God.

I really want you to know that, in Christ, you get a new identity. And out of that identity, you live a new biography. That’s why the Bible says let us live up to what we’ve already attained. God loves us, saves us, forgives us, gives us his righteousness, adopts us, cares for us, prepares a place for us. Let’s just live up to what we’ve already attained. But if you forget your identity, you’ll destroy your biography.

And Satan’s a liar. John 8 says he is a liar. He’s the father of lies. Lying is his native language. He’s been lying since the beginning. And if he can lie to you like he lied to Jesus, and if he can get you to question your identity, he can destroy your life. He’s a liar. Something doesn’t need to be true to be devastating, it simply need be believed. And sometimes Satan just starts with a question, like he did Eve, like he did Jesus, like he does you. “Did God really say?” “Do you really think?”

And how does Jesus respond?  With scripture!

When Satan comes at you, you need to know your Bible. If you don’t, you have no spiritual authority. Your spiritual authority is Jesus’ spiritual authority delegated to you. That comes from the Scriptures. When Ephesians and Hebrews say the Word of God is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, that it really is made for battle. And as Satan comes to you and as the battle of temptation rages in your life and your hook is being baited and your flesh is being tempted, Scripture is your only hope, and to know it well and to quote it from memory.

And, the question is, if all of human history hinged on your capacity, after forty days in the wilderness without food, the ability to quote Deuteronomy, how would it go?....

Some of you are younger, you’re single, you’re in a season of life, and you’re wasting it with television and the Internet. You’re wasting it with hobbies and entertainment, none of which is necessarily bad but is, oftentimes, not best, and that, when temptation comes and Satan comes, you will not be ready to do battle because you have not been preparing yourself for that war. Jesus is ready....

Does Satan leave him? No. See, some of you have been told wrongly. You’ve been told two lies, oftentimes by those who even claim to be pastors. The first is, “Oh, that stuff on the hook, it’s really not that enjoyable. Sex, money, fame, power, glory, nice clothes, someone to adore you, yeah, it’s not really that great.” The truth is, it is. That’s why people keep trying to get the bait off the hook. You always end up with the hook in your mouth, but people keep trying.

I’m not going to lie to you and say, “Oh, sex and eating and a glass of wine and a day off and somebody to rub your neck, that’s really bad. You don’t want that.” I’m not going to do that. The Bible says thou shalt not lie. The truth is, when the hook is baited, it’s usually with good things that become god-things and that’s a bad thing. It becomes something you’re willing to trade in for God, like Esau trades in his birthright. You’re willing to do that.

The second lie that is often told, sadly, is that if you just say no he’ll leave you alone. And sometimes you’ll even watch those Bible teachers say, “Quote a verse, tell him to go.” He doesn’t always go. He doesn’t just leave Jesus. It’s not like, “Oh, I heard Deuteronomy, now I got to go.” He keeps coming. He just re-baits the hook. He baits it again....

And so Satan comes to Jesus and says this, “Hold me in a position of prominence and preeminence.” He’s not even asking Jesus to become an atheist and deny the Father. “Just take the Father down from his position of glory. Don’t do everything that honors him. Do some things that I want you to do as well. Can’t you have divided loyalties and interests?” And some of you are that way. You’re like, “Well, I love Jesus and sex. I love Jesus and money. I love Jesus and food. I love Jesus and gambling. I love Jesus and drugs. I love Jesus and gossiping. I love Jesus and busy-bodying. I love Jesus and laziness. I love Jesus and comfort. I love Jesus and relationship. Or, I don’t identify with any of that because I love Jesus and religion, and I’m proud and self-righteous and look down on people with those other troubles.”

And Satan comes to Jesus and says it’s a worship issue. “I’ll make you comfortable, successful, powerful. I’ll fill your stomach. I’ll give you all the pleasures that your mind could even conceive of.”

How many of you right now, this is present, this isn’t ancient history for you, this is your life? I’ve been praying with people all day. Women coming up, “Yeah, I am addicted to drugs.” Guys, “I am addicted to alcohol.” “Yeah, I am addicted to sex.” “Yeah, I have taken the bait, the hook is in my mouth, I am dying.” Those are worship acts. Repentance is where we apologize to God. Our goal is not to eat less of the bait. Our goal is not to get the bait off the hook before it lodges in our mouth. Repentance is “I’m satisfied if I’m homeless and broke and hungry and alone like Jesus, because God is enough for me.”

And so Jesus responds again by quoting Deuteronomy. This time he quotes chapter six, verse thirteen. Jesus answered him, “It is written.” Back to the Scriptures. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”

Every act is an act of worship.  We're either serving and worshiping God or we're serving and worshiping Satan.

Notice too, how Satan quotes scripture!  Or rather, misquotes or quotes out of context.

Do you know that Satan knows the Bible? Do you know that? Do you know that if you’re sloppy with Scripture, he absolutely will destroy you.
Sometimes we're in a place where we feel pretty good - we don't feel like we're being tempted, our life's going well, we're good.  Oh, we have to be so wary right then!  Because if we're not careful, complacency sets in and that's just what Satan wants.

He wants all the soldiers to take the bullets out of the gun, to take their boots off when they go to bed, to forget where they left their helmet. He’ll be back. He’s just waiting. Your life is at stake, your soul is at stake, your legacy’s at stake.
Satan is real, he is powerful, and he is at work. We cannot ignore that.  We must prepare for the onslaught, we must be ready to fight sin and our tendency to sin, and we must fight with the sword, with the Word.  We must read, study and memorize so that we will be prepared for battle.  Because it's coming, it's just a matter of when.

A couple things to learn from this passage in regards to our own temptation.

Jesus was able to resist temptation - even though He was in a place of severe physical weakness, and isolation.

That's going to be very hard for us to do.  I'm sure you've noticed.  When you're tired and/or hungry - aren't you grouchier?  Harder to get along with?  More impatient?  I sure am.

When you're isolated - there's no one around to see if you mess up, no one to keep you accountable, no one to encourage you, no one to support you.

We need to do what we can to not put ourselves into those vulnerable positions. And when we have no choice (the baby's up all night, etc), we need to be vigilant and on guard.

But here's the great news - Jesus is your warrior king!

We’re not victorious. He is. We’re not righteous. He is. We don’t redeem ourselves from slavery to sin. He does. We don’t change ourselves. He changes us....
Jesus comes, and he identifies with us humbly. And he’s tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. And he goes to the cross, and what looks like the greatest defeat in the history of the world is the great victorious liberation of the captives who become the children of God. And Jesus substitutes himself on the cross. And he who is without any sin takes our place, suffers and dies in our place for our sins.

And he says that cancels, that cancels, friends, that cancels any right Satan has to you. You don’t belong to him. You belong to God. You’re not a slave, you’re an adopted son....
there is now no condemnation in Christ. There is conviction but not condemnation. The conviction should cause us to love Jesus, give him our sin, and go and sin no more, and walk in his great triumphant victory. Condemnation is paralyzing. Conviction is liberating. Condemnation will cause you to live out of an identity that is one who is stained and marred and broken and worthless and a failure.

And Jesus will give you a new identity as one who is changed, loved, healed, forgiven, and granted his perfect righteousness. Jesus’ victory is your victory. Jesus’ righteousness is your righteousness. Live up to what you’ve already obtained....

the Holy Spirit is your power. Jesus was filled and led by the Holy Spirit. How did Jesus resist temptation for forty days? Answer: by the power of God the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who takes up residence in the children of God. You have the same presence and power of God the Holy Spirit in you that Jesus did. You can live as he did. You can defeat the temptation that comes to you as he did by the presence and the power, by being filled and led by God the Holy Spirit.....yielding to his purposes and presence and power so that you can follow in the life of Jesus by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t just stand back and say, “I’m keeping score, you need to do better.” Jesus dies to forgive, redeem, give new identity, sends the Holy Spirit to redeem, regenerate, transform, and give new power. That’s an amazingly loving, gracious God....
Biblical truth is your counterpunch. Satan will lie to you. You need to know the truth. Jesus says this in his high priestly prayer in John 17, “My prayer is that you protect them from the evil one. Father, sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is the truth.” Every Word of God, Proverbs 30:5–6, is flawless. This is the truth. When Satan comes, you need to know the Scriptures....

It’s not what has been done to you or what has been done by you, but it is what Christ has done for you. In the eyes of Christ, you are clean. You were forgiven. You were adopted. You were redeemed. You are beloved. You are, you are....

Escape is always possible....The truth is, you have two choices: the hook or the door. You either bite the hook or run out the door....1 Corinthians 10:13–14, “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. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Don’t worship anything or anyone other than God.

What he’s saying is this. When temptation comes, keep your senses. Look for the way out. There is a door of escape somewhere. There’s a way out of it. Some of you for so long, “Well, I’m already dating them. I’m already at the club. I’ve already logged onto the Internet. I already started this conversation, you know. I’m already halfway there.” Run. Run out the door of opportunity that God gives.

You have two choices, friends: the hook or the door. You bite the hook or run out the door. Your whole life, it utterly depends on the decisions you make in those moments. There’s always a way out. You and I, we love to always be the victim. “I couldn’t help it. It was not my fault, my friends blank, my life blank, this blank, God that.” No way. The door was open and your eyes were closed. And repentance is believing that.     ....

Satan eventually taps out.... Resist the devil and he will, what? Flee from you. Eventually. Maybe it takes forty days....

repent whenever you tap out and fight another round. Some of you, Satan tempts you, you’re in a fight, and after a while you’re like, “Okay, I tap out, I give in, I’ll do what you want, I’ll believe what you want, I’ll behave how you want.” So, what do you do then? Fight some more, is a battle with many rounds. Just because you tapped out in one round doesn’t mean it’s over. He’s going to be back anyways, just like he was to Jesus. He’s going to come back into Jesus’ life repeatedly. He’s going to, in fact, indwell and empower Judas Iscariot to murder him. This was just one round. The battle will rage all the way through the empty tomb.

And it rages all the way to this very day. Some of you come here having already tapped out. Repentance is acknowledging that you bit the hook rather than running out the door. It is acknowledging that Jesus is your only hope for escape and victory. It is confessing your sin to him in humility so that that control that Satan has in your life would be broken, that you could live a new life as a new creation as a new person with Christ....

be willing to fight, to fight for the glory of God and the good of your life and those who love you.
Jesus refused to doubt God's love, He refused to doubt His identity, He countered Satan's lies with God's truth, He was prepared for the battle, He was filled with the Spirit, He trusted in God's plan.

May we do the same!

Sorry this was so late, and so long! :)

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 4:9-13
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 15-16, Psalm 103, Acts 14