Don’t look down!

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.I think a lot of times we take a passive and defensive approach when we fight temptation. This powerful draw or pull we experience towards the carnal and wicked desires of our flesh is something we must “not give into” instead of something we must overcome.

Temptation is a powerful foe. And it is a powerful force. But the approach of “to not give in” leaves us with very little to do but to concentrate on both our potential and desire for sin, and ourselves. Ironically focusing on both of these can actually lead us to fall to temptation.

The word of God illustrates temptation and sin in many ways. One of them is the idea of falling. The first sin ever committed is known as the “fall of man.” And we say it all the time. Falling into sin. Falling to temptation.  Now think about falling. It’s allowing gravity to have it’s way. That force is always pulling on us, but we don’t fall all the time. We fall when we become unbalanced. But more importantly, we fall when we cease to stand.

I’ve never started my day thinking, “I hope I don’t trip on the stairs today.” or “I hope I don’t loose my balance when I’m walking.” And I doubt you often think such thoughts either.

No, we simply think about all the things we have to do. We have tasks of varying importance and responsibilities to fulfill. We’re not focused on the idea of failure, we’re focused on the idea of success.

Why is it then, that in our Christian life, we can become so focused on “not messing up.” I know for myself, I can become easily involved in that defensive approach to life. I don’t want to give into eating that cookie, or having that lustful thought. I don’t want to give into covetousness, or allow pride in my life.

The Bible tells us again and again to resist temptation. Resist the devil. Fight against sin. And we must do all of that. But we must remember that our Christian walk is more than just learning to say no to things. The focus is so much higher and the purpose is so much richer.

Colossians 3 says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Did you notice to focus of this verse? Seeking what is above. Our key to defeating temptation is not wrapped up in saying “no” to wickedness as much as it involves saying “yes” to righteousness.

Saying no to that cookie will only get you so far. Contrast it with being wrapped up in healthy meal planning and intentional nutrition.

Saying no to lustful thoughts will only help so much. Contrast it with purposing to meditate on God’s Word and direct your thoughts towards honoring God.

The illustrations can go on and on.

When we continue reading in Colossians 3 we see several verses which touch on leaving behind and taking off sinful lifestyles, but the vast majority of verses following continue to focus on righteous and holy living. I would submit to you that this is the balance that our lives require.

Realizing how Christ has called us to focus on things above. Putting off what is filthy. And putting on the righteousness He has prepared and provided for us.

You don’t shout, “Don’t fall” to a tightrope walker, and you don’t say, “Don’t miss” to your buddy trying to shoot a basket. Don’t tell yourself- “Don’t sin!” in your Christian walk.

When you’re up high and in danger of falling, you don’t look down, because focusing on failure will make it harder to succeed. Don’t make such a fatal mistake in your Christian walk. Don’t focus on the temptation you must overcome or the sin you must avoid. Focus on the King of rightesousness who provides a way of escape, the One who died to make you a new creature, and the wonderful life of purpose He has planned for you.

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Right desires, right conflict

Countless songs, articles, speeches, and books have been given about the stupidity of war. War is dumb. War is insane. War is useless. What is it good for? Our society, though it is secular, recognizes that war is often petty, useless, and completely damaging. We are quick and apt to point out the problems of wars between countries.

But what about wars between individuals?

We find ourselves in wars amongst ourselves all the time. That passive aggressive person at work you try to get back at. Road rage and wanting that parking space. Fighting with siblings, spouses, or parents. Fighting for our own selves. Warring for our pride, our wants, and our desires.

These should not be.

James 4:1 says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?”

War and fighting usually come from lust. They come from unholy desires. Instead of giving everything to God, we desire to hold back something for ourselves.

But how then, you might ask, should we correct evil, or fight for right? War is not always wrong when it is fought against tyranny and wrongdoing.

And yes, you are right. Corrective action is needed with people and with nations. Sometimes discussion is necessary, and sometimes violence. All of this should come from a right desire. A desire to protect the helpless. A desire to promote justice. A desire to help someone live a better life.

When your desires are right and you are seeking peace and restitution, your conflict is correct. But when it comes from a desire to promote yourself over another person or in spite of them, your conflict is petty and useless.

War over lust, pride, and egos is worthless.

Conflict with right intentions is what we must seek.

Don’t be like Herod

Have you ever had a particular sin that  you knew about, and heard preaching about, but never did anything about? It’s a common problem among Christians to realize their sin, and then not remove it from their lives. In fact, if you have this problem, you and king Herod have something in common.

King Herod lived a long long time ago in Israel. (See Mark 6) John the Baptist preached against Herod’s wicked lifestyle, and Herod would listen to his preaching. The Bible actually tells us that Herod heard John gladly. Do you know what that means? Herod was kinda like the guy sitting front row, yellin’ “Preach it, Pastor!” or “Amen!”

The interesting thing is that the Bible never mentions Herod ever changing his lifestyle of lust. In the end, Herod’s lustful desires led him to making a foolish vow. And that vow caused him to be forced to give the order to behead the preacher that he loved to hear so much.

Now your sin probably won’t bring you to the point of killing you pastor, but it will make you act in ways contrary to the cause of Christ. Every moment unconfessed sin remains in our life, it brings us farther from the path of light, and closer to destruction.

James 1 says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”

Think about that. What’s the point of looking in the mirror if you ignore what you see? What’s the point of recognizing your sin if you refuse to change? Let us not be like the foolish man who is only a hearer. Let us hear and obey. God promises a blessing to those who do.

“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Source of contention

Have you ever known a group of bickering people? Bicking people who complain and argue and fight can be found everywhere. They are in public, in church, even in our homes. If we are honest, most of us could say that we find the phenomenon of complaining and bickering in ourselves.

But what is the source of complaining and bickering and fighting? People complain because they don’t have something. They fight because they don’t have something. But the question is, do they truly need what they lack? Do we truly require what we desire to do God’s will?

James 4:1 tells us where contention and bickering come from. It says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” Lust is the source of contention and bickering and fighting. Unnatural and sinful desire.

Think about that for a moment. Realize: every time you complain or fight or bicker you are responding improperly to a desire in your life. Think about some bickering children who are fighting over a toy. They have placed their desire for a toy over their desire for righteousness and peace. Think about adults who are agitated about sitting in traffic. They have placed their desire to “arrive” at their destination on time, over their desire for righteousness, meekness, and peace- and ultimately over their relationship with God.

Now, there are times when we must take a stand and have some confrontation. But those instances are not usually regular occurrences. Most of the time, when we are fighting, we are fighting for our own selfish reasons and our own lustful desires. Let us ask the Lord to help us righten our desires, so they are aligned with God’s will. Let us not bicker and fight by reason of our lust. Let us work together to build a legacy of peace and unity in the body of Christ!

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” – Philippians 2:3

“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3

Are you satisfied?

Have you ever noticed how sin does not satisfy you? Your sin has a pleasure for a season, but when that season is over you need something else. Something more. Your sin doesn’t bring you any lasting pleasure. It gives no satisfaction. God wants us to be satisfied.

Psalms 103:5 says, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" Look at verse 5 and the benefit listed, "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s." God’s blessing or benefit is satisfaction.

Let us consider a different perspective. 1 Timothy 6:8 says, "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." It is a command to be content. We know that God does not command us to do things that He cannot empower us to do.

God wants us to be content with what we have. He’s willing to empower us to be content. Do you find yourself running after a next high or wanting excitement all the time? Do you find yourself needing a break from it all? Whatever your situation, if you are not content with it, you must go to God. Ask Him to give you contentment. You can never satisfy yourself with sin or any other entity that exists. Only God can give you contentment and satisfaction. Won’t you go to Him?

"Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – Isaiah 55:2

No other gods

Most Christians are familiar with the ten commandments. It was the original law that God gave Moses. Ten laws that were written with the hand of God. Many times we focus on the commandments such as "thou shalt not steal," and "thou shalt not kill." It is rare that we focus on the first. It would seem that it does not hold much relevance to us in the modern age. If it is not already running through your mind, the first commandment is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." -Exodus 20:3

As Christians, we may think that we have that commandment covered. We don’t follow another religion; Jesus is the only one we name as God. But the outright worship of a "god" is not the only application that can be made from this verse. We often participate in worshiping gods that we don’t really think of as gods. Making something a god isn’t necessarily bowing down to it, mumbling magic words, or putting out a plate of food for it. Making something a god is simply putting it in the place of God.

I know many times in my own life I have put my own desires before God. I have chosen reading a favorite book, or playing a video game, or going on a social media site instead of doing what God would have me do. In a sense, I made an activity or hobby my god, and gave it the worship and honor that only Christ deserves. There is nothing wrong with having fun, but when that fun begins to take over, and you seek after it before you seek after God, it’s a problem.
I would like to encourage you, serve God alone. Don’t allow anything, however wholesome it may be, to take the place God alone should have.

"And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee." -Exodus 23:25

God motivation?

Have you ever needed to do something, yet you had no motivation? You may have eventually decided to crucify your flesh and complete the task, but you may have decided to give in to your flesh. Oftentimes we can succumb to our flesh and become victims of laziness, procrastination, or other bad habits. I for one, am very guilty of this. I will need to complete a task such as organizing my room or studying for an exam or perhaps a simple daily thing I must do, and I procrastinate. I would put it off, and wait until the last possible moment to do whatever I needed to do. This habit had brought me to the point where I need deadlines for everything.

The Lord showed me however, that this was not a correct lifestyle. We should not struggle with motivation to do our required tasks. Christ is our motivation. He died on the cross for us and rose again that we might have life. We should be motivated by His sacrifice and live every day in light of our debt to Him. As Romans 13:14 challenges us, we should put, "on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." Our procrastination is sin. When we procrastinate, we fail to be a willing and cheerful servant.

If you struggle with procrastination or any other provision of the flesh, I would like to challenge you. Remind yourself daily of Christ’s sacrifice. Ask Him to change your heart and make His sacrifice your motivation.

Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. – Ephesians 6:6