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The Battle Against Sin Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

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The Battle Against Sin Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

We have it in our heads that if we struggle with temptation, if we fall into sin from time to time, there must be something terribly wrong with us. Everyone else seems fine. We must be pretenders. But the truth is everyone struggles with something. The battle itself is part of living in the already … but not yet dilemma.

Through the cross Jesus overcame sin and nailed them on it. Yet still we have to fight the battle against sin. And I am convinced we will fight that battle until the day we die.

That’s basically what the writer of Hebrews says.

God uses the struggle against sin to grow us, so don’t be surprised by it.

Don’t be discouraged by it.

Fight the fight (Hebrews 12).

Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Now he holds the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne. Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.

You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children:

“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you.

The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.”

Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.

 

Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. 13 Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal. Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord.”[1]

 

Every single one of God’s children lives between the “already” and the “not yet.”

Already Jesus reigns, but His final kingdom has not yet come.

Already sin has been defeated, but it has not yet been completely destroyed.

Already God has given you his Word, but it has not yet totally transformed your life.

Already you have been given grace, but God’s grace has not yet finished its work.

We all must wait for the final end of the work that God has begun in and for us.

But be assured, GOD IS AT WORK EVERYDAY!

“He who began a good work in you will will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

IMPERFECT? Yes.

PERFECT? Absolutely!

 

[1] Hebrews 12:1-14 GW

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God’s Protection—Preparation for Spiritual Battle

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God’s Protection—Preparation for Spiritual Battle

Jesus prayed, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”[1]

In this part of His prayer, Jesus cues us in to an unseen enemy, a very present danger. He prepares us for an unavoidable battle. Why is the concept of spiritual warfare so important? If I am unaware, then I am unprepared.

What we don’t know can hurt us. In fact, it can kill us!

On one occasion Jesus said, “Think of yourself as being as harmless as a dove but as wise as a snake.”[2] Doves are gentle but snakes are careful. Jesus said, be both!

He Himself learned to be very aware of the forces of darkness, and for good reason! Shortly after His birth, his father, Joseph had a dark dream. It was a warning of danger! What if Joseph had been spiritually dull? What if Joseph said, “That was just my imagination” and he blew it off?

Jesus knew full well what the forces of darkness were capable of doing. At the beginning of His ministry He experienced 40 days intense testing and temptation. This was actually a part of a strategic plan to equip the Savior for what lay ahead. God wanted His Son to be aware of His own temptation triggers and recognize the presence of the Tempter.

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”[3]

I’m convinced the Holy Spirit prepares us for the “day of evil.” He gets us ready for seasons where darkness will be heightened.

What does that feel like? It may feel like a heaviness in your heart for no apparent reason.

Several years back my wife, Dorene and I went through the most difficult season of our life. Six months before it happened I had a strong sense of foreboding a heaviness in my heart. I knew something was not right. You know the scene in Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi says, “There is a great disturbance in the force.”  I have felt it. It was worst of times and the best of times and it changed us forever in a good way. It made us stronger, wiser and less fearful.

Can you feel it when you’re about to be attacked? God is preparing you for battle.

Listen to the complete message here.

 

[1] Matthew 6:13 KJV

[2] Matthew 10:16

[3] Matthew 4:1 KJV

God Knows You—He Knows Your Heart

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God Knows You—He Knows Your Heart

There is a reason thoughts come. Sometimes God wants to bring something to our attention. When temptation comes, we experience the pull of the flesh. That’s the time to get excited because God wants to take us to a higher level of maturity. God doesn’t temp us, but he reveals the thoughts and intents of our hearts to us.

If there are things in our hearts that rise to the surface, we can repent and ask God for victory. We don’t always know what’s in our own hearts, but God does.

Shrapnel is microscopic pieces of a bomb, shell or other objects thrown out from an explosion. Military men and women have returned from war and did not even know shrapnel laid buried within their bodies.

Over time the shrapnel festered and found it’s way out—sometimes years later. That’s kind of how God works to bring out those ungodly desires hidden within our hearts.

Hebrews 4:12-13 says, God’s word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions. No creature can hide from God. Everything is uncovered and exposed for him to see. We must answer to him (GW).

With the power of the Holy Spirit, you can stop the destructive behavior. Jesus can restore our peace if we are willing to humble ourselves and fall before the mercy of God.

For more on this topic, listen to the podcast http://www.lakeviewchurch.org/2015/09/20/four-stages-that-may-lead-to-catastrophic-failure/

Lord, That Could’ve Been Me!

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Lord, That Could’ve Been Me!

We all experience the downward pull of our own depravity. We are not yet perfect. What is it about us that cause us to gawk, stare and maybe even scorn the faults of others? When a famous person experiences a meltdown it’s all over the media—people like to watch—remember the faces of catastrophic failure—President Richard Nixon, Lance Armstrong and Tom Brady.

What is it within their character that did not stop them from moving forward in their decisions? A process led to their demise. They convinced themselves it was okay, or they wouldn’t get caught.

James 1:14-15 says, Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him. Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death (GW).

James explains this process:
1. Desire
2. Conception
3. Maturity
4. Death

Instead of scorning them, we should study them. We should ask ourselves, how did they get there? What can we learn? We should also pray for them, their families and ourselves. Do you ever think, Lord, that could have been me?

John Bradford said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” He made this remark in the 1500s as he watched criminals as they were led to their execution. He was executed after he was accused of heresy a few years later.

What are you struggling with today? Don’t be ashamed of your desires or temptations. But remain determined by the Holy Spirit and the power of Jesus, you can rule over your desires. Jesus is your help in time of need. Take time to talk to Him about your struggle today.

For more on this topic, listen to the podcast http://www.lakeviewchurch.org/2015/09/20/four-stages-that-may-lead-to-catastrophic-failure/

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