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Beware! Temptation Ahead!

December 1st, 2014

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…

Matthew 6:13

We are not ready for any and all temptations. We are wise to realize this, to be aware of our weaknesses, to “not think too highly” of ourselves, but rather think of ourselves “with sober judgment” (Rom. 12:3), realizing areas in our lives where we need to grow more. Our task as followers to Christ is to be faithful to the things that God has called us to do, where God has called us to be, and to let Him use these circumstances and people to mature us and strengthen us.

Jude wrote of those in the First Century churches who had the opposite spirit, who “slander celestial beings” and “speak abusively against whatever they do not understand” (Jude 8,10). He mentioned that even Michael the Archangel was careful in disputing with Satan and “did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him” (Jude 9).

Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” addresses Satan when it says, “His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate. On earth is not his equal.” (Gross Macht und viel List Sein grausam Ruestic ist. Auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen.) We are not Satan’s equal, and we would be foolish to suppose ourselves to be. Our confidence is in the grace, protection, strength, and power of God, for He is certainly the Superior to Satan.

We humans are typically passionate about our own advancement, about our reputation, our careers, our projects, and anything that has our name attached to it. We would be wise, however, if we were even more passionate about the work of God within us and through us to others. If we were focused on our spiritual growth and maturity, then we would also be focused on the needs of others, how we can help others. Often we leap at opportunities we are not ready for, and we feel sad and rejected when the position goes to another. We should instead be grateful for God’s protection, that God did not want to put us into a situation we were not ready to handle.

To Baruch the Lord said, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not” (Jeremiah 45:5). To seek great things for ourselves will surely lead us into ways of temptation, and will work against the purposes of God.

“May God’s will be done” - even if it means my abasement, or even my death. Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). Selfish ambition is a burden we are not meant to carry. Let others fight your battles, instead you go about fighting for God, seeking to do good for others. Let God deliver you from temptation through the proper exercise of His leadership in your life.

Gospel of Matthew, Sermon on the Mount

The House that Stood

November 12th, 2014

And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

Matthew 7:25

Regardless of our station in life, our background, our hopes and aspirations, whether we are intelligent or slow, educated or untrained, regardless of friendships or hatred toward us, we each shall experience hardships in life. Not a single one of us can avoid this fact.

As a pastor I have known many people whose lives were envied by others, who seemed to have it all - wealth, health, attractiveness, friends, success - yet in their private lives they each carry burdens and hurts that the majority of people were unaware of. It may be an unfaithful spouse, or the pain of spurned parental love, or the fear of failure, or the pain of false friendships and betrayals. In fact, so far as I know, no person on earth can avoid this matter described by Jesus as “rain, floods, and winds.”

Like houses, the difference is found in the material out of which we are built, not the conditions we endure. The Scandinavians have a saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” We may take the words of Christ and say that there is no such thing as a problem-less life, only lives that are not prepared to deal with the problems they face.

The difference will be in our foundations. Christ outlined in His sermon true character in the Beatitudes, then true inner personal righteousness, and a true relationship with God through faith and surrender to His rule and reign. We see on this side of history that the cross of Christ - which was the center of His ministry - enables us to leave our failures there and to live a new life in hope and in the power of God. Old foundations of selfishness can be removed and a new foundation of grace and strength can be received through Him.

Then we lay all of our hopes on Him - every part of our lives is built with obedience to Him, faith in Him, love toward Him - as He is the foundation, then truth becomes the structure of our lives. We do not compare ourselves with others, rather we trust that God will watch over us. So we keep on asking, seeking, and knocking, keep on depending on Him, keep staying connected to Him our Vine so that His character can flow through us.

This is the strength and resiliency of love in our hearts shaped by God’s truth, that endures the storms. Whatever shape the rain, floods, and winds take in your life - are taking right now in your life - remember that this life on earth shall end for us all one day. Only eternity and only Christ will remain, along with those who trust in Him and seek to follow Him. The two things we deal with on earth that are eternal are His Word and the souls of humans. In our lives may these two be perfectly blended - “Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

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