Be Careful

imagesAll that glitters is not gold.  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  These are phrases that we have each heard in our lives that teach us to be careful.  To look.  To listen. To dig deeper than outward appearances.  To really search the trust of the matter. 

To look deep.

Just because something “looks” good at first glance doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good, or is the right thing, or that it is true.  Look.  Listen.  Dig deep.

In regards to the Bible.  Just because some TV preacher said it, or just because a famous preacher tweeted it, doesn’t make it true.  Dig down deep your self.

In relationships, just because  you think someone is wrong, or you have heard that they have done something awful, take a moment to actually find out what happens.  Don’t always assume the worst.

In temptation, something may look appealing.  It may look like fun.  It may seem like something that no one would ever know about, what’s it going to hurt?

Stop.  Look.  Listen.  Consider.  Dig deep.  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Look deep.  Listen to what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14:

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Paul is talking about false teachers, about how what they say sounds good, but in truth, what they say is wrong.  Paul says be careful.  Even the devil look right at first glance.  But he brought destruction.

Be careful.  Don’t assume.  Dig.  Learn.  Listen.  Look.

With the bible, look for yourself.  Read yourself.  Seek help and wisdom from those you trust, but you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to read and learn from yourself.

With others, seek truth, not just assume the worst.  Truly get to know others before making a decision.

And be very, very, very careful with temptation.  It may look appealing, but it will destroy, when left unchecked.

Be aware.  Be careful.  Trust in God.  And follow Him, in all things.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

Not Alone in the Fight

We battle every day with temptation, don’t we? Every day, we fight and we fight and we fight.

Sometimes it feels like a fight that we just can’t win, doesn’t it?  Sometimes the fight seems too much. Sometimes it just feels like we will always be enslaved to sin, that temptation will always win, and that we should give up. Why fight? Why struggle? Why worry about it?  Just give in.  You can’t stop it any way.

That, my friends, is simply not true. Yes, we will always struggle with the flesh.  Yes, we will always be at war.  Yes, there is always a fight to fight, and yes, left to our own devices, we will choose wrong.

But, here’s the thing.  We aren’t left to our own devices.  Listen to what Paul says today in Romans 6:5-11:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

you-are-not-aloneYou aren’t left to your own devices.  You aren’t left alone in the fight.  You aren’t left alone in the war.

For, your old self was crucified with Christ, and your sin has been nailed to the cross.  Why?  So you (and I) would no longer be enslaved to sin.  You aren’t enslaved to sin anymore.  You aren’t alone against sin today.

Is your temptation big?  Yeah.  Are your struggles big?  Yeah.

But God is bigger. The power of Christ is bigger.  You are not on your own in your fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

You have something incredibly big, strong, and powerful on your sin.

God.

So, today, don’t give up.  Keep fighting. And know that’s God at work in the fight with you.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

You Will Face Temptation Today

In his first letter to the church, Peter spends a lot of time telling the folks how they should live. How they should act. What they should do.

And so, when I saw today I was going to be reading from 1 Peter, I knew immediately. He’s going to be talking about holiness. And part of me when, ugh.

Because I don’t know about you, but most of life, I don’t feel very holy.

So, I began to thinking, ok, this is going to convict me and make me realize I’ve got a long way to go to being the person that God wants me to be. And then I read it. And something jumped out at me.

Listen to what Peter writes in verses 13-16:

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

urlIt’s that first verse that really jumped out at me. Prepare your minds for action. What a great concept. I think, at least in my life, I get myself in trouble, when my mind is not ready. When I’m not prepared. When I’m not ready. When my mind is not focused on Jesus.

Are our minds ready today?

Today, you will face temptation. It’s coming. It may be happening right now.

You will face discouragement. It’s gonna happen.

You will face troubles and trials and worries. It’s gonna happen.

Get your mind ready. Be ready. Don’t be caught by surprise. These things will come. Center your mind on Christ. Make Him your focus. Make Him your light, your rock, your hope, your strength.

Trouble will be coming. That’s truth. That’s the way that it is. Temptation will be coming.

Prepare your mind. Get ready.

And the God of all strength and comfort will give you what you need for this day.

And each day. Get ready. God will be with you.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Temptation

I think sometimes the worst part about being a Christian is temptation. What do Imean by that?

Well before you were a Christian, temptation was a reality, and we may give into things, but in many ways, we probably lived our lives seeing what we can get away with. If no one knows, then it’s ok. What’s it matter if it is wrong?

Now, as a Christian, I know there are things that are wrong. And I know that I, and you, are tempted every day to do things that we know are wrong. And I know that we tend to give into temptation.

And, we don’t like it. I don’t like the way that I feel when I fall. I don’t like the way that I feel when I choose wrong. I don’t like the way that I feel when I give into temptation.

We long for a day when we don’t face temptation. We love for a day when don’t have deal with this struggle. We wish we didn’t have to face it.

But know this. When we do face temptation, we serve a God that understands. We serve a God, that through His son, understands what we are going through. That has been where we are. And knows.

Listen to what the Word says in Hebrews 4:15-16:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Today, the Lord knows your temptations, knows your weaknesses, and knows your struggles. He has been there. He has walked it. He knows.

So, when we turn to Him in our moment of temptation and weakness, He will be there. He will give us strength and courage. He will give us what we need to fight it, to stand up against it, and to overcome it.

And when we fall, He will pick us up again. He will love us. He will forgive us.

Temptation is a constant struggle. And I am thankful to serve a God that understands it. And that walks with us, even in the midst of it.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones

Watch Where You Walk

Growing up out in the country, you had to watch where you walked. If you were down by the creek, you had to look out for snakes. Be careful.

Sometimes if you were just running through the woods, you had to look out for roots. I’ve had a lot of friends (me included) that would be running along a path and twist their ankles pretty bad when they get tripped up by a root they didn’t see.

You had to watch where you were going or you’d get yourself in trouble.

Listen to what Paul says today in Ephesians 5:15-17:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.walk into places that could get you in trouble.

Watch your step today. Watch where you are going. Watch what you are thinking.

Be careful out there. For where you walk to determines where you will be. Don’t walk to trouble. Don’t walk to temptation. Don’t walk to the things that will pull you away from God.

Walk towards God. Walk towards His word. Walk towards life.

Today, be careful out there. Look where you are going. Watch where you are walking. Make sure you are walking towards that is good, life-giving and pure.

Walk towards life.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Stand

One of the things that people here at Asbury are used to hearing me say is that life is not full of rainbows and unicorns. Life can and will tough at times. There will be trials and worries and struggles.

Paul in this passage we read today reminds us of that. Paul tells us that we will have to stand against the schemes of the devil. We will wrestle not against flesh and bone, but against the powers of this dark age.

Listen to what he writes in Ephesians 6:10-13:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Remember, the person that you see as your enemy is not your enemy. Our enemies are not others – our enemy is the evil one, the devil, the one out to destroy us now, and forever.

Paul reminds us, though, that we must fight. We will have troubles. We will face attacks. There will be tough moments ahead. So, what do we do? Listen to what he says.

First, be strong in the Lord. This brief passage is the introduction to the Amor of God, and it describes the weapons that God has given us to fight against the evil, the sin, the temptation in our lives.

Stand in God’s strength. No that He is the one that gives you the power and ability to stand against the evil in your life, in the world, and in the things that you face. Rely upon God. Lean upon God. Trust upon God.

When temptation comes, rely upon God’s power working through you. Stop. Pray. Lean upon Him. He will give you the strength.

And second, with the strength He gives you – stand. He will do His part. You do yours. He will give you strength for you legs. Stand upon them. He will give you the power. Use it.

Today, you will face troubles, trials, and temptations. You will.

You can handle it. You can do it. You can fight it! You can! Trust in God’s strength. And stand in it! God will be with you!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

The Devil is a Bully

Listen to 1 Peter 5:8-10 this morning.  Peter in this passage tells us two very important facts for our lives and our walks of faith today.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

First, we see in verse 8, the devil, the forces of evil are out to trip us up. There is a such a force as spiritual warfare, there is temptation, there.

Today, you will face temptation. It will happen. There are forces out there, temptations within yourself, things that are going to do their best to keep you from growing, being faithful, being effect for the gospel.

Scripture tells us that the our adversary the devil is prowling like a lion, seeking whom he may devour.

That’s fact one.

Fact two is this – bring it on!

Verse 9 says resist him, stand firm in your faith, and he will flee from you. The devil is a bully. He acts big and bad. He acts like he is strong and is all powerful.

He is not. He is not all powerful. He is not the king of the world. God is.

And through through our faith and the power of the spirit, when we stand firm, he will flee. He will.

Today, stand firm in your faith. Stand firm against the doubts, the temptations, the trials, the fear. Stand firm.

The devil is a bully. He acts big and bad. He is not. Through the power of God, he will flee.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Angels of Light and Temptation

One of the passages that I read this morning was one of those verses that I remember being shown years ago and saying – Wow. It’s one of the verses I try to think about each day and try to let really convict me and draw me close to God.

Listen to what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11

14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

An angel of light. Doesn’t that sound really beautiful? Doesn’t that sound like something awesome? Something we should all want? Something we should all desire?

Something, fun. Pretty.  Clean.  Safe.

Paul says that is how Satan will disguises himself.  As an angel of light.

That is how temptation will come in our lives. As an angel of light.

It will look so good. . . . temptation always does.

Temptation always looks like it will be a great thing for us. Something will make our lives, or make that moment even better!

Temptation promise everything good and offers nothing bad, right?

But, that’s not the case. That is never the case with temptation. That is never the case with this disguised angel of light.

Bishop Ward, Bishop of the Mississippi Annual Conference was said in a sermon “Temptation promises life and leads to death. Disciples promise short-term pain, and leads to life.”

Temptation never bears the fruit it promises. It’s never as much fun. It never makes things easier. It never makes things more simple. It always brings hurt and destruction.

Always.

Always.

It is an angel of light.  Temptation will promise you something awesome. And disappointed you every time.

But God.  He promises abundant life. And delivers every time.  He doesn’t promise easy life. Or smooth life.  Or even always happy life.  He promises abundant life. And peace. and joy.

Today, temptation will come to you as angel of light. Don’t believe the lies. See it for what it is.

And trust in God. He will give you the strength to resist. And will give you the hope of abundant life.

Linger

This morning as we start the new year together, I was struggling with what to read through in my devotional readings.  My daily reflections are just an outgrowth of what I do each morning in my own personal devotional life.

And today, I was stumped.  I didn’t really have a leading as to where the Lord is leading me in scripture for the coming weeks. So, I sat and prayed and listened.

Nothing.

I look through the index of the Bible, hoping that something would jump out to me.

Nothing.

As I sat in my chair praying, I though that the backbone of my devotional life has always been the Psalms. So, until I felt a leading from God to read something else, I’d work through the Psalms for a bit.

So, I started with Psalm 1. And listen to what the Psalmist writes in the beginning of this Psalm:

1 Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, *
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
2 Their delight is in the law of the LORD, *
and they meditate on his law day and night.

As I read over this passage, the thing that stood out to be was the second phrase in verse one.  – “nor lingered in the way of sinners.”

That really convicted and spoke to me.  In our lives each day, we will face temptation.

In our work, in our family, among our classmates, among our colleagues, we will encounter sin and temptation.

We will be tempted and tried.  We will face the pull of what is wrong.

What will we do when temptation comes? Will we dismiss it as Jesus taught us in Matthew 4? Will we tell the Tempter that will not buy into his lies and deceit?

Or will we linger? Will we hang around temptation? Will we dip our toes in the water?

Happy are those that linger upon the Word of God.  They will know life.

To linger upon temptation is allow it have a hold upon us – and that leads us down a path we don’t want to go down.

Where will we linger today? Where will our minds be today?  What will choose today?

Today, may we not linger in ways of sin, but may our minds return to the ways of God.  May we linger on the grace and mercy of God.

It’s Coming

One of the things that is true in life is this – that trouble is coming. There will be times of trial, there will be times of temptation. Rough patches of water will be coming. That’s a reality of life.

So, we know that temptation will be coming.

Let me ask you a question then this morning.

Are you ready when temptation comes to you this morning?  Are you ready for when the time of trial comes?

Let’s look today at Luke 4, when Jesus faces His time of temptation.

Oh, but first, really, temptation is coming. If Jesus Christ was tempted, what makes us think we won’t be tempted?  It’s coming  Let’s look at Jesus’ this morning:

5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” 9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying 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 protect you,’ 11 and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

The thing I’ve always liked about this passage is that Jesus was ready. He had been praying and fasting, and He was ready for when the temptation.  What did He do?

He quoted the Bible back to the Devil.  He relied up on the strength of the Word to give Him that strength to resist when temptation came around.

That’s why things like reading the Bible, praying, and, yes, going to church, are important. These things give us strength, give us grace, refresh our soul.

So, that when the time of temptation comes, we’ll be ready.

Today, you will be tempted. I’ll be, you’ll be, we’ll all be.

What will do?   Are you ready?  May the example of our Lord give us strength to resist the coming temptation.