18 Jan 2016
Adjusting our attitudes and seeking to follow Jesus to move on to a better lifestyle is something for which we all strive. But the reality is that the devil as well as our own sinful natures love sin and they make it hard to overcome what some call “besetting sins.” We know they are recurring because we see them showing up in our life all the time. Is there any hope for us when we find ourselves doing the same stupid stuff over and over and over? Yes!
We can take great comfort in the realization that Jesus understands what it’s like to be tempted. His Father didn’t spare Him that experience. Because Jesus went through the agony of temptation, He can be an understanding friend in our agony too. The story of Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4 tells us that Jesus had been fasting when Satan came to Him. Christ had had no food for forty days. Knowing that Jesus was very hungry, Satan tempted Him at His point of vulnerability. “‘If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.’ But Jesus told him, ‘No!’ The Scriptures say, ‘People need more than bread for their life'” (Luke 4:3-4). On the surface the devil’s request seems reasonable. After all, Jesus could have changed the stones into bread. But Jesus saw beneath Satan’s challenge. He saw that the devil really wanted Him to obey him, to do his bidding. But Jesus refused the temptation to be conned by Satan. Jesus passed the test.
Remember that Jesus knows the score. He faced temptation, and He promises to help us face it too. We can trust that God knows our situation and is concerned about our welfare. That is the concrete slab under our lives. It’s the firm foundation on which all other defenses against temptation are built. Follow Jesus’ lead, and memorize a key Scripture passage… something that is meaningful to your individual situation and temptations. Repeat it out loud when tempted and watch the devil disappear.
23 Jul 2015
“You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need”
There is a story recorded in the Bible (Luke 5:18-25) of a paralyzed man being lowered through the roof of a house by four friends of the man, so that they could present him to Jesus for healing. When Jesus sees the man, He says, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Duh…what is UP with that?
Can you imagine the look of disappointment on the faces of the crippled man? How about the guys who just destroyed the roof of the host in hopes of getting the cripples legs restored? Imagine this dialogue, “Yo, Jesus…Dude, we just destroyed this guy’s roof. We are going to have to pay for this and you don’t seem to get it. Look at this man, Dog. He doesn’t need his sins forgiven…he needs to walk again” (Loose translation of the original Aramaic)
But what Jesus knew then and He knows today is that the most important thing we all need is to get right with a loving, but just, God. Jesus knew then and He knows now that “frustration is difficult, but the real disasters in life occur when we get what we want.” Many stories have been written about young, aspiring movie actors, singers, and those who feel that if they would only get the big break and become famous that then their lives would be fulfilled. Fast forward to those same, now famous, people (read Alec Baldwin, Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse) and see how there lives have played out. Lotto winners offer the same example. Studies have shown that Lotto players feel that if they win the BIG money, then their lives will be perfect. When they “get what they want” a majority (some estimate over 90%) of the winner’s lives implode. Suicide, prison, loss of friends and family and bankruptcy are common occurrences. Getting what we want is a recipe for disaster…
Rather, Jesus offers us what we really need. A just God demands payment for sinful behavior. If God were not Holy and just, then that kind of “Santa Claus” God could do nothing for us. But a God, who is just and loving, sends His own Son, Jesus to take and make the payment on the cross in our stead. Everything that we deserved went to Jesus and everything that was rightfully His, comes to us.
We are looking at eternity…with or without God. That’s the bottom line. Once we get right with our sin, and accept the full pardon of God’s grace, we are set free…from guilt, shame, self-hatred and so many other awful things.
The good news of this story is that Jesus did “get it” and healed the man and restored his legs. But, He loved the paralyzed man (and us) so much that He will not simply leave us in our desires and give us simply what we want…He gives us what we NEED first. Well done, Mick… good lyrics.