“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”
“This recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits . Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.”
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Even if Obama is from Kenya, this is the largest Nigerian financial scam ever.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
As weâ€™ve learned the last few weeks, God has a plan for Jacob. Jacob knows this, too, but heâ€™s still trying to do things his own way and for personal reasons. Jacob was the second son born of Isaac and Rebekah, and God had told Rebekah that the elder would serve the younger. Esau was born first and became Isaacâ€™s favorite. Jacob was Rebekahâ€™s favorite, but he was a deceiver and an opportunist. When Esau came home from hunting and was hungry, Jacob took advantage of Esauâ€™s bad judgment and sold Esau a bowl of stew in exchange for a bowl of stew. If these two brothers werenâ€™t fighting already, theyâ€™re fighting now.
When Isaac approached death, Isaac wanted to lay his blessing on Esau, but his eyesight was so poor, Rebekah and Jacob believed they could trick Isaac. They concocted a plan to give that blessing to Jacob by dressing him up in Esauâ€™s clothes. They lied to Isaac. And when Esau found out, he vowed to kill Jacob.
Their family is now in complete chaos. Rebekah sends her favorite son to live with her father to save his life, and thereâ€™s no indication she ever saw her son again. When Jacob arrives at Labanâ€™s house, he gets a taste of his own medicine. Jacob falls in love with Rachel and gives 7 years of work to Laban for her hand, but Laban tricks him, and Jacob marries Leah instead. Laban gives Rachel to Jacob also, but only in exchange for another 7 years of labor. The deceiver had been deceived.
After 20 years of mutually destructive behavior, Laban and Jacob are no longer getting along, and Jacob flees. Again. God tells Jacob to go back home. Jacobâ€™s caught in a tough spot; Laban and his children hate him, but if he goes home, Esau wants to kill him. Jacob may have gained wealth from working his whole life, but his life is in shambles.
I think we gain some insight into Jacobâ€™s character development at the end of Genesis 31; this is where Laban confront Jacob and Laban essentially agrees not to kill Jacob. Jacob defends his actions with these words in Genesis 31:42,
If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.
Jacob acknowledges God is Abrahamâ€™s God and Isaacâ€™s God, but I donâ€™t see that he has acknowledged God is his own God. Jacobâ€™s progression of faith is such that he knows who God is and even recognized Godâ€™s sovereignty, but he has not truly placed his trust in the Lord.
Well, maybe Esauâ€™s no longer mad at him; itâ€™s time to return home. Do you think 20 years away from home has eased the old wounds? Or do you think 20 years away from home has hardened Esauâ€™s heart and made him more bitter? Do you think putting off his conflict for 20 years has fulfilled or delayed Godâ€™s promises to Jacob?
We pick up our story in Genesis 32 as Jacob begins his journey home. The angels of the Lord meet him. This must have been comforting to Jacob and it reminds him that the Lord had promised him back in Genesis 28 that the Lord was with him and would never leave him. Jacob was stressed out, not know what his reception would be like when he returned. In the Old Testament, the appearance of angels offered great comfort but often appeared just before times of great trial, like the appearance to Lot just before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Jacob is about to undergo an ordeal where he has to face up to his own deceitful character. Jacob had put himself in this predicament because he had stolen the blessing from Esau instead of relying on God, and now heâ€™s going to have to face Esau and do things Godâ€™s way.
Jacob sends messengers ahead of him to Esau in verse 3.
Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’ “
Jacob wants to tell Esau, oh hey, Iâ€™ve been gone 20 years, you probably wondered where I went. I went to see our uncle Laban he says Hi. Iâ€™m coming back now, and Iâ€™m bringing goats! P.S. Please donâ€™t kill me. Verse 6,
When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
Oh, this isnâ€™t going to be good. Jacobâ€™s coming with cattle and donkeys and sheep and goats and servants. Esauâ€™s coming to meet him with 400 warriors. Verse 7-8,
In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”
I think Iâ€™d be afraid, too. Jacob is completely outmatched; Esau will have the anger and the manpower to crush Jacobâ€™s little donkey and goat army. Jacob starts laying out his plans; heâ€™s expecting Esau to attack, and Jacob makes plans for half of his party to escape should the other half be destroyed.
Jacob has a decision to make. Doing the right thing means reconciliation with Esau. We all want to do the right thing, donâ€™t we? But doing the right thing is not easy. This is a crossroads that every believer must eventually face. What do I do, and how will I do it? When God calls me to do a most difficult thing, will I do what God wants? Or will I take the easy way, and do what I want?
Unfortunately, sometimes we take the easy and selfish way. In this class, we are closer to our spouse than any other human being on the planet. We should examine ourselves daily to see how God wants us to treat our spouse, but weâ€™ve all discovered (and are still discovering) that being married comes with a few challenges. Will we do what God wants us to do? Or will we find some excuse? Itâ€™s too easy to say that we donâ€™t have to do the right thing because our spouse does this or our spouse doesnâ€™t do that. But God calls us to trust in Him. We face the same sort of decision Jacob faces. Will we do it Godâ€™s way, or will we do it our way?
God has promised Jacob that the land of Canaan will be his. In order to claim this promise, Jacob is going to have to face Esau in an honorable way, in a way that is obedient to the Lordâ€™s will. But the last time Jacob saw Esau, Esau wanted to kill him. Loving God will require Jacob to love God more than he fears Esau. Doing the thing we resist most will gain peace with God. We must show God that we fear Him most in order to prove we love Him most.
What holds us back from experience the completeness of Godâ€™s love for us? Is it fear, like Jacob experiences? Weâ€™re afraid to do something that God wants us to do? Is it anger that holds us back when God wants us to forgive? Is it something worldly God wants us to surrender but we want to keep it selfishly? In Jacobâ€™s case, he had selfishly destroyed his relationship with His brother, and God is calling him to repair it. Jacob had spent 20 years of his life, not wanting to face this moment. If Jacob was going to receive Godâ€™s promise, he was going to have to face the repercussions of his own actions.
And finally we see Jacob start to break, to finally start to realize that the God he knows, the God of Abraham and Isaac, is his God. Jacob has worked himself into a bind that he cannot fix with his usual deviousness and deceit, and now he needs help that no man can provide. And we see Jacob go to his knees in prayer, the first recorded time that Jacob prays . Genesis 32:9-12,
Then Jacob prayed,
“O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ “
â€¢ Godâ€™s will
The prayer has many important elements of a prayer that God hears and responds to. He addresses God as God of his father and grandfather again, but heâ€™s added â€œO LORD,â€ Jehovah God, the proper name of the one true God. Jacobâ€™s God, Jacobâ€™s Lord. No longer is God merely the God of his fathers, but itâ€™s the â€œLord who said to me.â€ Itâ€™s Jacobâ€™s God.
Heâ€™s approaching the Lord with humility; Jacob praises God for His kindness and faithfulness, and he knows he is unworthy of this favor. When we pray with a sense of pride or a sense that we deserve this favor, our prayers are ineffective. When we know that we cannot achieve anything on our own, that whatever ability we have in itself comes from God, then we realize how much we need God in our lives. God is so much bigger than us, but our own egos tend to inflate our sense of worth. We are important to God, we are very important â€“ but weâ€™re not worthy of the love and grace He gives to us.
And Jacob is approaching God as an obedient servant; God told Jacob to return to Canaan, and as Jacob approaches God in prayer, Jacob tells God he trying to be obedient to Jehovah God. One of the keys to effective prayers is to come to the Lord with a sense of obedience. Jacob has a lot of guilt in his life, being deceitful with his father and brother. As Jacob prays, heâ€™s acknowledging that obedience to the Lord is important.
And Jacob for the first time is his life seems to be praying for Godâ€™s will instead of his own. His prayer to God tells God that Jacob believes Godâ€™s promise that the children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be fruitful and multiply, but Esau is coming to slaughter the mothers and the children. When we pray with Godâ€™s long-term plans as our primary motive, we are far more likely to pray for the right thing and to do the right thing.
Now it is time for Jacob to fulfill his promise to the Lord that he made years earlier, back in Genesis 28:22 that Jacob will do the Lordâ€™s will and return to Canaan. But there is an obstacle. Itâ€™s Esau. The anger in Esau is a direct result of Jacobâ€™s bad behavior, of which Jacob must now repent. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus tells us that if we have a gift for the Lord our brother has something against us, we are to do 3 things in order â€“ 1) leave the gift at the alter, 2) go and be reconciled with your brother, 3, come back and offer the gift. Often times our path to the Lord requires us to travel right through the family member we have the most difficult relationship with. Jacob is learning the Lordâ€™s lesson that in his new spiritual growth and being obedient to the Lord, he is going to have to face Esau and his 400 warriors and reconcile with his brother.
Even after praying to the Lord, I think Jacob is still scared. In verses 13-21, Jacob arranges for a series of gifts to be sent ahead of him. Hundreds of goats, hundreds of sheep, camels, cows (my cow), bulls, and donkeys. Each herd is sent separately in waves, and each servant is to tell Esau that they are gifts from Jacob. And Jacob spends the night in the camp before meeting Esau the next day.
This is an interesting paradox. Because Jacob stole Esauâ€™s blessing, this blessing was now a curse. The blessing that was promised by God was now the very thing that might get Jacob killed. The only thing that Jacob has to offer Esau is the very thing he stole from Esau in the first place.
No doubt praying to the Lord has given Jacob some wisdom on how to resolve the conflict with his brother. God gives us a brain and expects us to use it; just because we trust in the Lord doesnâ€™t mean we give up and wait for the Lord to fix things for us. We pray and we act together.
In Genesis 32:22-23, Jacob send his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and all his sons and servant across the river, and he spends some time alone with God. Verse 24-31,
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
Jacob is wrestling with â€œthe manâ€ and because of the word play in the original Hebew, itâ€™s unclear exactly who Jacob wrestled with. Was it really a man? Perhaps it was an angel, or perhaps Jacob wrestled with his own conscience. The phrasing is probably intentionally ambiguous so that we focus on the wrestling and not the person. Ultimately it is the Lord that Jacob wrestles with, and Jacob realizes this. Up until this night, Jacob thought his struggle his whole life was with Esau or Laban, but itâ€™s not. He realizes that his whole life, heâ€™s been wrestling with God.
Jacob has made a spiritual journey that we all must travel. Often Christians will talk about â€œwrestling with God.â€ The struggle between our own will and Godâ€™s will is a daily battle. We want to do one thing; often God wants us to do something else. Some people struggle with addictions; others struggle with trying to keep their words and actions in harmony with what Christ wants from them. Sometimes God wants us to do something, but we donâ€™t. And we wrestle with God. Or another time God wants us to stop doing something. And we wrestle with God.
Something that impressed me about Jacobâ€™s struggle is that God will let us win. If we are so set in being disobedient to God, God does not force us to be obedient. C.S. Lewis once said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” If we are so determined to have our own way, God will let us have it. Non-christians who want nothing to do with God, who want to have no relationship, nothing, zero. God will let him have his way, to spend eternity without God in his life.
God will also let Christians have their way. Christians that want to believe that their own special disobedience is ok can, indeed, continue their disobedience. One can be a Christian and continue to find they still have within them the evils of the heart listed in Matthew 15:19; evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying, slander. We are all unclean, and like it or not, we are probably guilty of one or more of the things on that list. We continually practice deceit like Jacob, and we continue to be disobedient. In fact, we have been disobedient so long, we no longer hear God calling to us in that area of our lives. We continue and continue to sin until we can no longer hear God, and then we wonder why God doesnâ€™t hear our prayers. But we know that an effective prayer begins with obedience and humility; that is why David prayed in Psalm 139:23,
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
David knew that praying to God to show him his own sin leads God to reveal his own offensive character to him, and that it would be painful and uncomfortable but would eventually lead to a closer relationship with God.
So Jacob wrestles with God, and God does not overpower Jacob. God is so much more powerful, but yet God is gentle with us as we wrestle with Him. God with a mere touch cripples Jacob. We think we can wrestle with God and win, but we really canâ€™t. A mere touch from God is all it takes for God to win. God has control of the situation all along.
When Jacob wrestled with God, what was he wrestling over? What choices did he have?
Jacob is wrestling with the sin in his life by seeking to reconcile with his brother who he had defrauded when they were 20 years younger. This reconciliation is the right thing to do and Jacob knows it, but it places his life at risk. Esau wants to kill him. Will Jacob trust in himself and save his own life? Or will he risk his life doing Godâ€™s will? Jacob and God are wrestling over who gets to control Jacobâ€™s life.
Once itâ€™s clear to Jacob that God is in control, Jacob finally submits to God. His life of disobedience has come to an end. This is what God longs for, for each and every one of us, for us to give up selfish control of our own lives and seek Godâ€™s will in our lives. Jacob finally submits and does not ever want to lose the presence of God in his life. Jacob says, â€œI will not let you go.â€ Jacob thought by fighting with God and doing it his own way would yield the best possible outcome, and instead ended up fleeing from his father-in-law and afraid of his brotherâ€™s wrath. Perhaps he thought if he could fight God and win, he could fight anybody and win. But only by submission to God does Jacob finally begin to see that true strength lies in submission.
Jacobâ€™s plea to God to never leave him is rewarded two ways. One is by Godâ€™s changing his name from Jacob to Israel. Jacob means â€œhe grasps the heel;â€ Jacob was a heel, a deceiver. But now his name is Israel which means â€œstruggles with God.â€ Jacob will continue to have days where he struggles to do Godâ€™s will, but gone are the days Jacob takes pride in his deception. The second sign is his limp, a sign of Jacobâ€™s humility. Heâ€™s no longer the arrogant and prideful man, but a humble man whose strength comes not from himself but from his faith in God. Physically, he was weaker, but spiritually he was stronger.
One of the most important blessings one can receive from God is the promise He will never forsake us, that he will never leave us. When we are resisting God, we are walking in darkness. When Jacobâ€™s life was darkest, family members trying to kill him and all alone in the camp along the river at night, he needed God to show him the way. Once Jacob wrestles with God and submits, daylight comes. Psalm 119:105 says,
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
When we submit to God and seek Him, we walk out of darkness and into the light, just like Jacob.
God says to Jacob, â€œLet me go, for it is daybreak.â€ This is an important event in the Old Testament, because in Exodus 33:20 God will tell Moses that no one may see Godâ€™s face and live. God protects Jacob by withdrawing from him before daybreak and not showing his full glory to Jacob, but even so, Jacob does not come away unscathed. His limp will forever remind him of his struggle with God and remind him where his strength comes from. Paul had a similar struggle with the Lord when he pleaded for the Lord to take away his thorn in his flesh, but God tells Paul that Godâ€™s strength is made perfect in weakness. Itâ€™s only by submission and asking for Godâ€™s will that we get out of His way and let Him accomplish what He was going to do, with or without us.
When Jacob was in darkness, afraid and alone, he probably felt like God was very far away. How far away was God? When we wrestle with God, God is closer to us then than at any other times in our life. It feels like weâ€™re alone in the dark, but God is there with us. It feels like a great struggle we face all alone in the dark, but itâ€™s because we are not in submission to God that we feel we are alone. God is with us in our struggle. Once we turn from our rebellion and to Him for our strength, we walk out of the darkness and into the light and begin to see Godâ€™s blessings in our life. We, too, wrestle with God, and when we are submissive to his will, we see the day break.
Jacob finally begins to receive Godâ€™s blessings in Genesis 33. Jacob must have confidence that the Lord was with him the next day, but still fearful that Esau wanted to kill him. But the Lord was at work on Esau; Genesis 33:4 says Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him, and they wept together. God can do great miracles if we only submit to His will and let Him.
Effective prayer depends on our obedience and humility and a focus on Godâ€™s greater plans. When we wrestle with God, we often feel alone and in the dark, but God is closer to us when we wrestle with him and submit than at any other time of our lives. And when we submit with humility, we walk out of that darkness and into the light.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ve all heard the prayer that goes,
So far today, I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped, and I haven’t lost my temper.
I haven’t been grumpy, nasty or selfish.
But in a few minutes, God, I’m going to get out of bed
and that is when I’m going to need a lot of help.
Sinning is easy. Nobody has to teach child to lie. Nobody has to teach men to ogle women. Nobody has to teach women to gossip. I had to be taught to cheat on my taxes, but thatâ€™s only because Iâ€™m a slow learner. Not sinning, well, thatâ€™s a little harder. The world around us provides sin, tempts us with sin, and keeps many people in bondage to sin.
In Christ, we are free from the bondage of sin. Why are we free? It is because Christians know the truth, and the truth sets us free. We still sin, of course, but we are no longer slaves to sin. Weâ€™re able to turn away from sin, and more important, we know why to turn away from sin. The sin in our lives has a price; since weâ€™re not perfect, weâ€™re also not worthy on our own to stand before a perfect God. Who paid the price for our sin?
Letâ€™s consider two men who rob a convenience store. Theyâ€™re caught by the police, they are tried by a jury, theyâ€™re convicted of their crime. When itâ€™s time to receive their sentence, the first robber says, â€œYou can set the other robber free. Iâ€™ll serve his punishment.â€
Will the judge set the second robber free?
No; each robber must serve his time. The first robber cannot serve for both because he is guilty and has his own time to serve. Thatâ€™s no different than you and me. Perhaps weâ€™d like to volunteer to take the sins of a father or mother, wife or son, so that they can see heaven, but we canâ€™t do that. Weâ€™re too busy ogling girls and gossiping.
But Jesus is different. He was man, so he could be tempted, but He did not sin. As a man, though, he could take away the sins of another, perhaps. As God, though, He can take away the wins of the world through His sacrifice as a man without sin. Hebrews 2:17-18 says,
â€œFor this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.â€
Is it a sin to be tempted? No, not at all. We live in a world full of temptation, and of course we are tempted. Temptation comes from outside; sin comes from inside. If somebody asks you to lie for them, you havenâ€™t sinnedâ€¦ unless you lie for them.
Was Jesus tempted? And if so, did He sin? And if so, how did He resist sinning? Did He give us an example? Funny you should mention that because weâ€™re studying from the book of Matthew today, so turn to Matthew 3.
While youâ€™re turning there, consider that it is important that Jesus was tempted. For one thing, Jesus had to have free will. Jesus had to have the ability to choose right from wrong. To express his love for the Father, He must have the ability to turn away from love. A faith is made strong when it turns from evil to do good. Innocent faith may be pure, but as we saw in the Garden of Eden, innocent faith is not strong.
Iâ€™d love to spend time on Matthew 3:1-11; there is terrific scripture, fulfilled prophecy, amazing imagery. I want to continue focusing on how Jesus resisted sin, though, so weâ€™ll have to go into detail on these early verses some other time. John the Baptist is preparing the way for the arrival of Jesus, from his â€œvoice of one calling in the desertâ€ to his unique appearance. He wore clothes made out of camel hair, very coarse and ugly, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He was not a normal person, which tells me that God can use abnormal people for important roles. Thereâ€™s hope for me, after all.
John says to the Pharisees and Sadducees in verse 11 that John is baptizing with water for repentance, the forgiveness of sins. There are two other baptisms mentioned here that the one who comes after John will do. Baptism by the Holy Spirit â€“ this is mentioned again in Acts 1:5, and it is the baptism of believers today. When a sinner gives their life to Christ, they become a new creation with the Holy Spirit living inside. The other baptism by Jesus, baptism by fire, is not mentioned in Acts. This baptism refers to the final judgment in Revelation.
And then Jesus arrives to be baptized by water for the forgiveness of sins. Why is Jesus being baptized if He has no sin?
John asks almost the same question in Matthew 3:14. â€œBut John tried to deter him, saying, â€˜I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?â€™â€ John is like, â€œThis isnâ€™t right. I shouldnâ€™t be baptizing God.â€ â€œJesus replied, â€˜Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.â€™ Then John consented. â€
Jesusâ€™ baptism is unique; Jesus is being baptized in obedience to the Father, he is obeying the Law. By being baptized by John, Jesus gives approval to Johnâ€™s ministry, and John in turn provides witness to Jesus as the Son of God. Immediately after baptism, the spirit of God descended like a dove onto Jesus, and God speaks from heaven to say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Thereâ€™s something unique here, by the way, something more amazing than the visible appearance of the Holy Spirit or the voice from heaven. All three persons of God are present here simultaneously. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
And God says He is well pleased, giving encouragement to His Son and approval of His baptism, and providing the Holy Spirit. Jesus is showing us at this moment the first step toward resisting temptation and leading a sin-free life: obedience. Jesus is obedient to the Lord. Jesus knows what the Law requires, and Jesus is obedient to the Law. What I find very intriguing about this is that Jesus does not put Himself above the law. Jesus is obedient to the Word. The bible isnâ€™t just an interesting book; the Son of God put himself below the Word of God. The first step toward a righteous life of resisting temptation is obedience.
And then, Darth Vader appears. Notice that itâ€™s after baptism and after obedience that the devil appears and offers temptation.
Let me tell you a hunting story. A hunter stops by his friendâ€™s house to ask him to go hunting with him, but he finds his friend groaning, weeping and praying to the Lord for deliverance from the devil. The hunter says to his friend, â€œYou seem to have a good deal of trouble with the devil and he never bothers me at all. And yet you are a good, praying Christian and I am not. Why doesnâ€™t he bother me?â€
His friend replied, â€œLet me explain. When we are out shooting ducks, which do you send the dog after first, the ones that fall dead or the ones that wounded and are trying to get away?â€
The hunter replied, â€œWell, of course, I send the dog after the wounded ones. The dead ones we are sure of and can pick them up later.â€
His friend said, â€œAnd so it is with Satan. He already has those who are not born again. But those that know the Lord are the ones the devil sends his dogs after. The dead ones he can pick up later.â€
The devilâ€™s attack begins when one begins in earnest to do the will of God.
Worldly sin, the sin from the devil, comes from outside. You might remember the old Flip Wilson show in the 70â€™s where Flip would say, â€œThe devil made me do it!â€ The devil doesnâ€™t â€œmakeâ€ us do anything; the devil just gives us opportunities. The devil doesnâ€™t â€œmakeâ€ us eat dessert, does he? He just serves us tres leches on a pretty plate with a little raspberry cream reduction on the side and dusted with powdered sugar, yum. But he doesnâ€™t make us eat it. What we choose and how we choose is up to us and the free will given to us by God. Worldly sin can be divided into three large categories. In 1 John 2:15-17, it says,
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the worldâ€”the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and doesâ€”comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
The three broad categories of sin are â€“
- Cravings of sinful man, or lust of the flesh. This includes primitive, self-satisfying desires. Food desires, lazy desires, sexual desires, alcoholism and drug addictions. Things we want because it feels good.
- Lust of the eyes. This includes the temptation of wealth, the temptations of power, the temptation of coveting our neighborâ€™s stuff. Things we want because they look good.
- Boasting of what one has or does, or the lust of pride. Glamour, looking good, thinking of ourselves more than others. Things we want because â€œwe deserve itâ€.
Want to see how Jesus handled it? Me too. Matthew 4:1-4,
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
This is, of course, the first broad category of sin, the lust of the flesh. Jesus had been in the desert for 40 days fasting. Heâ€™s human, heâ€™s hungry. Gimme food. And Satan tempts Jesus, â€œWhy doesnâ€™t your Father feed you? Why did He put you in this desert, anyway?â€ The devil tries to makes us believe that God doesnâ€™t love us, itâ€™s ok to satisfy our flesh. Eat all we want, have sex all we want, drink all we want, whatever it takes to satisfy us. The devil knows when we take responsibility for satisfying our own flesh, we donâ€™t lean on God.
How did Jesus respond? With scripture. Jesus, just like the people of Israel, wandered in the desert for 40 days. Deuteronomy 8:1-5 says,
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
What tools do we have today to resist temptation? Do we have any tools that Jesus didnâ€™t have? Jesus was able to resist temptation because he kept the Word of God in His heart, ready to quote the Word of God instantly.
We all are tempted, but unlike Jesus, weâ€™re sinners. Sometimes, unfortunately, we give into sin. Thereâ€™s no need to share, but think for a moment about the sin you are struggling with. We all have them; I freely admit Iâ€™m a sinner. Think about your sin; do you know why itâ€™s a sin and what God says about it? Does the bible have instruction about your particular sin? Most importantly, while youâ€™re sinning, what are you thinking about? Yourself, or Godâ€™s Word? Ask yourself this; if you could keep Godâ€™s Word in your heart with memorized scripture, and when you are tempted by sin, repeat that scripture to yourself, would it be easier to resist that sin?
Thatâ€™s exactly what Jesus did to resist temptation. He knew what Godâ€™s Word said, and Godâ€™s Word was Jesusâ€™ shield to resist temptation.
Satan has a comeback; just because youâ€™ve successfully resisted sin one time doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re free. Satan will double his effort, and worse, Satan has learned from your resistance. Matthew 4:5-7 â€“
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
I find it very disturbing that Satan knows scripture. You see those old horror movies where people hold up a cross or a bible to protect themselves from the devil, thatâ€™s inaccurate. Satan knows scripture, and heâ€™s thrilled to use it against us. Jesus is love, God wants us to be happy, believe in God and you will become wealthy. Satanâ€™s false teachings give rise to cults, weakens the church, teaches legalism and anti-Semitism and how to be intolerant of others. Satan knows scripture; to be honest, he probably knows it better than we do.
If we don’t study and continually learn, we remain ignorant of God and what he wants. The sanctification process isnâ€™t a one time event; we are to continually grow in the spirit for the rest of our lives. It reminds me of a story about a young evangelist walking down his street. As he approached one house, there was an elderly gentleman sitting on the porch. The young evangelist asked the old man, â€œAre you a Christian?â€
The old man said, â€œNo, Iâ€™m a Smith. The Christians lives two doors down.â€
The young evangelist said, â€œYou donâ€™t understand. I mean, are you lost?â€
The old man said, â€œNo, sonny, I ainâ€™t lost. Iâ€™ve lived here for 25 years.â€
The young evangelist said, â€œWhat I mean is, are you ready for the Judgment Day?â€
The old man said, â€œWhenâ€™s it gonna be?â€
The young man said, â€œWell, it could be today, or it could be tomorrow.â€
The old man replied, â€œWell, please don’t tell my wife, ‘cuz she’ll want to go both days.â€
Satan quoted from Psalm 91 but omitted the context; God will indeed protect His children, but Psalm 91 also says that this blessing is for His children who acknowledge Him in all His ways. In fact, Satanâ€™s distortion of scripture sounds suspiciously to me like the â€œname it and claim itâ€ preaching Iâ€™ve occasionally heard. It leaves out an important part of the scripture, the part about obedience to the Lord. The Psalm is addressed to those who rest in the Lord; the Lord will protect those who are doing Godâ€™s will. If Jesus tried to force God to perform a miracle, is that Godâ€™s will?
Jesus knew not only what God said, but how He said it and why He said it. He knew the Word in context. Notice that Jesus says, â€œIt is *also* written.â€ If you take one part of scripture and isolate it, you can prove almost anything you want. My favorite example is flipping through the bible until you find, â€œJudas went and hanged himself,â€ then flipping through the bible and find Jesus saying, â€œGo and do likewise.â€
Jesus responds to Satan with Deuteronomy 6:16, â€œThou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.â€ If we refuse medical care to force God to perform a miracle, is that the way God works? We cannot test God, we cannot force God to perform miracles on our behalf. Scripture tells us to trust and obey the Lord, not boss the Lord around. When we trust in the Lord, we tell God, â€œyou *are* the boss of me.â€
Satan hasnâ€™t given up; he comes back with a third temptation, this time the lust of pride. Matthew 4:8-11,
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus knew the will of the Father; Iâ€™m sure the difficulty He faced was knowing the torture, the pain, the sacrifice and crucifixion that was coming. Satan offers a compromise; sure, Jesus, you can be king of the world. Just do it my way. Yeah, you can follow God, but you can follow me, too. You can be king of kings but without all that pain and suffering. Why go through all that? Hereâ€™s a shortcut. The ends justify the means.
And so the devil tempts Jesus by appealing to pride. You can have what you want. Just bend the corners, take a couple of shortcuts. Pride tells us that weâ€™re too important to follow the letter of the law, weâ€™re above all that. Weâ€™re too good for that. Weâ€™re basically good people, arenâ€™t we? And since weâ€™re so good, itâ€™s ok to compromise a little here and there with the world. Itâ€™s ok if men and women live together before marriage, weâ€™re basically good people. Itâ€™s ok to keep that tithe for ourselves, weâ€™re basically good people, the church will accomplish its goals without my little contribution.
I am convinced that this pride and the selfish compromise that accompanies it is the reason why godly people do ungodly things. A little pride in how good we are, a little compromise here and there, and suddenly weâ€™re like Jim Bakker, in jail for embezzling from the PTL in order to keep a mistress quiet, guilty of tax fraud, embezzling, and racketeering. Heâ€™s since confessed and repented, wrote a book called â€œI Was Wrongâ€ and all the money given back to the PTL. Heâ€™s denounced his â€œprosperity teachingâ€ and heâ€™s been forgiven, but the damage was done, wasnâ€™t it? A little pride in how good we are, a little compromise here and there, and suddenly weâ€™re like Jimmy Swaggert, caught with a prostitute, and telling his congregation that the good Lord told him that it was none of their business. Christians are especially vulnerable to pride and compromise with the devil; we can convince ourselves that our sin is ok because, other than that, weâ€™re doing the Lordâ€™s work. Weâ€™re basically good people.
But weâ€™re not basically good people, weâ€™re sinners. We need a savior because weâ€™re all guilty as sin. That little secret you and I have, that little whatever we are doing and justifying and compromising with the devil is *not* ok with God. Eventually, that sin against God will be exposed. Either God will expose it to show light upon our darkness, or the devil will expose it to reduce our effectiveness and do his best to thwart Godâ€™s will. The ends do not justify the means, and we are not better that.
How did Jesus combat the sin of pride and compromise? Again, Jesus used scripture and he used it in context and it was ready and in His heart. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13, â€œWorship the Lord your God, and serve him only.â€ Jesus didnâ€™t need Satanâ€™s offer; while the world may be ruled by Satan, God is the maker of everything and the one truly in control. Psalm 2:8, the Lord says, â€œAsk of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.â€ What the devil promised wasnâ€™t even the devilâ€™s to give; it belonged to the Lord. The devil isn’t the lord of nations; the devil is the lord of plumbing. If you don’t believe me, let me tell you about our hot water heater, our upstairs bathroom, and our kitchen sink this week. Jesus avoided compromise, knew Godâ€™s Word, and was obedient unto death. No shortcuts are acceptable when doing the will of God.
“Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” In Luke’s account of the temptations, Luke 4:13, it says, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” If we know God’s Word, we can protect ourselves from the devil… for a time. Angels do the will of the father, and just as they attended to Jesus, they attend to us, too, when we are doing the will of God. But Satan regroups, learns, and attacks again. If Satan isn’t planning an attack on you, then ask yourself, “Why isn’t Satan worried about me? Why isnâ€™t Satan trying to pick up this wounded duck? Doesnâ€™t he consider me a threat to his evil plans?â€
If Satanâ€™s attacking, itâ€™s ok. Itâ€™s not a sin to be tempted, it really isnâ€™t. Itâ€™s how we respond to that temptation that matters; we prepare by being obedient to His Word, we give our life and trust the Lord; we study His word and treasure it in our hearts. We continually grow and seek Our Creatorâ€™s will in our lives, we memorize scripture and apply it appropriately in context. When weâ€™re appropriately prepared, then we can successfully resist the temptations that are sure to come. Thanks be to Jesus who gave us this powerful example of how to resist the temptations of the flesh, the temptations of the eyes, and the temptations of compromise and pride.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 19 so far )
It’s amazing. When I talk to people that don’t know Christ, some of them don’t even believe He lived. Or they except tripe like Da Vinci Code as truth of a coverup.
But let some big shot director shoot a movie about 27 year news, they immediately believe that.
Why are the falsehoods so easy to believe, but the truth is so hard?
This week we’re going to see a lot in the news about the tomb of Jesus. It’s part of a secular marketing program to drum up viewers for the Sunday night special. And as marketing efforts go, it’ll be successful.
But the news was dismissed 27 years ago; it’s just repackaged garbage.
But the Israeli archeologist responsible for the 1980 excavation, Prof. Amos Kloner, on Monday night intensified his criticism of this assertion, lambasting the documentary as “brain confusion.”
Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film’s hypothesis holds little weight.
“I don’t think that Christians are going to buy into this,” Pfann said. “But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear.”
“How possible is it?” Pfann said. “On a scale of one through 10 _ 10 being completely possible _ it’s probably a one, maybe a one and a half.”
Pfann is even unsure that the name “Jesus” on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it’s more likely the name “Hanun.” Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.
Kloner also said the filmmakers’ assertions are false.
“It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave,” Kloner said. “The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time.”
Archaeologists also balk at the filmmaker’s claim that the James Ossuary _ the center of a famous antiquities fraud in Israel _ might have originated from the same cave. In 2005, Israel charged five suspects with forgery in connection with the infamous bone box.
But hey, skeptics believe what they want to believe. The truth of Jesus can be blinding to those that have spent too much time in the dark.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 9 so far )
Investments still improving; would have looked real good this month except for the ABLE and NUE stinkers. Pfft. Ptui. So far, I’m only down -0.6% for the year compared to -4.0% for the Dow.
I’m adjusting the mechanical screens a little since I’m disappointed in the YLDEARNYR screen. I dropped that one and substituted a more risky screen called “Gentle Screamers.”
Holding for another month:
|BMHC||$55.40||$70.47||2||+27.2%||Building Materials Holding Corp. Best stock, 2 months in a row.|
|LCAV||$47.24||$50.35||1||+6.6N/A%||LCA Vision Inc. Lasik doctor organization.|
|ABLE||$21.75||$16.35||1||-24.8%||Able Energy Inc. A most monumental failure. Lost nearly a quarter of its value in 1 month. Yuck. Ptui.|
|AC||$47.05||$47.08||3||+0.0%||Alliance Capital Management. About as good as putting cash under a mattress for 3 months.|
|GAP||$26.25||$28.59||1||+8.9%||Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co Inc.|
|JCP||$51.14||$54.56||1||+6.7%||J C Penney|
|MCK||$40.64||$44.95||1||+10.6%||McKesson Corp, IT Solutions for healthcare.|
|MFE||$27.55||$26.5||1||-3.8%||McAfee. Must have caught a virus.|
|NUE||$57.77||$46.94||3||-18.7%||Nucor Corp. This loser convinced me I was done using the YLDEARNYR screen. Pfft. Ptui. The screen says I should hold on to it for yet another month.|
|PGL||$42.81||$44.42||1||+3.8%||Peoples Energy Corp. I’m probably going to regret selling this one since it looks like it was doing well.|
New stocks for this month:
|AQNT||$17.78||$N/A||0||N/A%||aQuantive Inc., a digital advertising company. I think they’re suing google over click fraud.|
|CAE||$44.24||$N/A||0||N/A%||Cascade Corp. Dishwasher soap? Nope, they make attachments that go on fork lifts.|
|FTO||$31.62||$N/A||0||N/A%||Frontier Oil Corp.|
|KBH||$75.20||$N/A||0||N/A%||KB Homes again. I lost money on this one back in the spring; would have done better just holding it.|
|JWN||$35.29||$N/A||0||N/A%||Nordstrom, Inc., the fashion store. JWN, of course, stands for “Nordstrom,” but using different letters.|
|OO||$16.87||$N/A||0||N/A%||Oakley Inc., the sunglasses manufacturer.|
|WLDA||$12.43||$N/A||0||N/A%||World Airways, Inc. They have 12 airplanes!|
New options for this month:
|No new options until October.|
The next trade will be August 1st.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Gurat, France â€“ There seems to be a growing consensus around the globe that godlessness is in trouble.
“Atheism as a theoretical position is in decline worldwide,” Munich theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg told United Press International Tuesday.
Two developments are plaguing atheism these days. One is that it appears to be losing its scientific underpinnings. The other is the historical experience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide that atheists are in no position to claim the moral high ground.
Writes Turkish philosopher Harun Yahya, “Atheism, which people have tried to for hundreds of years as ‘the ways of reason and science,’ is proving to be mere irrationality and ignorance.”
Other information of note is former atheist Andrew Flew embracing “Intelligent Design” when it became apparent that a single cell could not possibly carry more data than the Encyclopedia Britannica, studies at Harvard and Duke that prayer has a major impact in recovery from illness, and a realization that atheism has “just as many frauds, psychopaths, and careerists as religion does.”
And finally, atheism is simply … uninteresting. Paganism seems to be on the rise, taking the place of atheism.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
There are a lot of news stories about the Democrats challenging poll results in Ohio lately, even though Bush won that state by 118,000 votes. Although I think the Democrats are just doing political grandstanding on the issue and it won’t change anything, making sure the elections are fair is a noble enough cause. Go on, Dems, count them again.
While you’re at it, though, would you mind counting the votes in Wisconsin? The trend in that state (Gore won by 22 points, Kerry by 35 points) contradicts the national trend, and Bush only lost the entire state by 11,384 votes. In the heavily Democratic city of Milwaukee, though, 83,000 people registered on the last day to vote, over 20% of all eligible voters. Over 10,000 of those votes are fake addresses.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
I wouldn’t normally post this except I’m amused.
Coming home from church last night (the 2nd of four Advent studies), I stopped to fill up with gas. Swipe my card, fill up, swap the windows, hang up the nozzle, get back in the car…
And a young woman interrupts just before I close the door. “Excuse me,” she says.
Her story is she’s out of gas; her car is parked right next to mine, rear window bashed out, her car doesn’t look in the best shape. Besides being out of gas, she’s out of money and so she’s stranded, unable to go anywhere. She has a partially used book of first class stamps and she wants to know if she can trade some stamps for a dollar or two for some gas.
“It’s ok,” I tell her. “Let’s fill your car up to the top.”
Her eyes get wide. “Are you kidding? That would be $20!”
“Then you better start pumping,” I grin. “Sounds like it’s going to take a while.” I swipe my card on her pump. She must have asked a half dozen times if I’m sure, if I’ll take her stamps, am I sure, please take her stamps. I tell her no, if I can help her, especially at Christmas, then it’s God giving me a chance to help and I’m glad to be a part of it. “God bless you and Merry Christmas.”
“Are you sure you won’t take these stamps?” She asks.
“I don’t have any letters to mail,” I smile. “I’m blessed with a chance to fill up your tank. Why don’t you find somebody that needs to mail a letter and bless them. ” (By the way, I don’t do that emote in person, that’s just an online thing.) The fillup costs $19 and some change, I get back in my car and head home with a big smile on my face. It looks like this: .
Normally I wouldn’t bother sharing that story, except the story didn’t end there.
I hit the gym today after work, deal with the humbug Ms. Nohelp sweepstakes lady, then home to shower and blog. My message light is blinking and I have 2 messages.
The first one is Citibank with an automated message about “Early Fraud Alert.” I call them back and they read off the latest charges. The service guy says, “Here’s what triggered the fraud alert. Did you fill up twice at the same gas station within 5 minutes?”
Er, yup, that was me. I give him the condensed story which he thinks is the best Christmas story he’s heard this year. He says he’ll unlock my account. “Unlock?” I ask.
“Yes, when we couldn’t get hold of you right away, we froze your account. Don’t worry, it’s active again.”
I thank him, hang up, and retrieve message number two. It’s from an online store where I had ordered a present for my brother-in-law. He may read Chasing the Wind occasionally, so let’s just say I ordered a Gizmo from Gizmos-R-Us. The message says they were unable to complete my order because my credit card account was frozen and to please call them tomorrow or my order will be cancelled.
Heh. No good deed goes unpunished, they say. Still, I’d do it all again the same way… except maybe a week earlier so I still get the Gizmo in time for Christmas.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 9 so far )
I blogged last night about Swift Boat Veterans and their opinion that John Kerry is unfit for command. They have a book coming out next month, “Unfit for Command,” that describes their impression of Kerry, including a description of the first Purple Heart. Other veterans on Kerry’s boat that night maintain that
- there was no enemy fire
- Kerry fired a grenade at some rocks and a piece of shrapnell scratched his arm
- his commanding officer refused to put in the paperwork for a Purple Heart
- the medical officer treated the scratch with a bandaid
- Kerry probably recommended himself for a Purple Heart.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
But in Kerry’s own unit, Coastal Division 14, his attempt to gain the award through fraud marked him as someone who could never be trusted. When Kerry was dispatched to go to An Thoi with Lieutenant Tedd Peck (now Captain, USNR, retired), Peck told him, “Kerry, follow me no closer than a thousand yards. If you get any closer, I’ll teach you what a real Purple Heart is.”
“Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 911” is written by Ralph Nader supporter Dave Kopel. Kopel offers a thorough rebuttal of the points Michael Moore tries to make in his movie. I think it’s worthy to note that liberals that support Kerry “because of all the Bush lies” have no qualms whatsoever about supporting Moore’s movie. If you think somebody else is lying, you should tell the truth, not more lies.
Quite obviously, there are many patriotic Americans who oppose George Bush and who think the Iraq War was a mistake. But Moore’s deceitful movie offers nothing constructive to help people form their opinions. To use lies and frauds to manipulate people is contrary to the very essence of democracy, which requires people to make rational decisions based on truthful information. It’s wrong when a President lies. It’s wrong when a talk radio host lies. And it’s wrong when a film-maker lies.
And more, Kopel adds:
Although the evidence in this report demonstrates dozens of plain deceits by Moore, there are some “deceits” in this report regarding which reasonable people may disagree. So if you find me unpersuasive on, for example, three alleged deceits, consider this article to have identified “Fifty-six Deceits” rather than fifty-nine. Whether or not you agree with me on every single item, I think you will agree that the evidence is undeniable that Fahrenheit 9/11 is filled with deceit.
Moore responded to some of the points; of the original 59, Kopel concedes 2 points back to Moore, not because the author thinks Moore is right, but because he’s conceding the facts themselves are disputable.
Heh. After I wrote all this and started documenting my trackbacks to Little Miss Attila for the links, I realized Courtney beat me to it. She recommends this followup. (Courtney, apparently she’s added new information, so the link has changed)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )