What Is Driving Our Temptations?? – TEMPTATION – [7]

These next few verses from 1 John 2:15-17 seem to shed some light on the origin of the temptations we face on a daily basis,  – 

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. 

A craving is defined as a powerful desire for something.  A longing, a yearning, a want, a desire, a hunger for, a thirst for…   A craving is an all-encompassing feeling that pulls at you.  So much so, that we tend to focus all our energy and attention on fulfilling the craving. Unfortunately, if we succeed, we never feel fulfilled.  It like being on a perpetual merry-go-round or treadmill.  Moving, but going no where, like a greyhound chasing the elusive rabbit around the racetrack.

                        Dogs_racing_around_first_turn_derby_lane

John points out that cravings are the only thing the world has to offer people. He also points out that cravings are not from God.

WHAT THEN DOES GOD OFFER PEOPLE?

  • Eternal life through Jesus For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
  • Holy Spirit But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name (Jesus’ name), He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. –
    John 14:16
  • That He will meet ALL our needs God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19
  •  A rich and satisfying life John 10:10         
  • His Peace – You will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7
  • Contentment  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Matthew 6:25-26

Understand that there is a significant difference between what the world offers people and what God offers people.  Fulfillment of cravings are only temporarily satisfying. And when those no longer meet our desires we chase after the next “new” craving that bubbles up from inside of us.

brain-bubbles

 

KING SOLOMON…

who lived much of his life apart from God as the richest, wisest, most powerful person in the 10th century, describes the world like this,  “I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless–like chasing the wind.” –  Ecclesiastes 1:14

                         chasing wind

God, on the other hand, desires is to fulfill our deepest longings.  Those longings we may or may not even realize we have.  Not temporarily, but permanently and fully.

WHY DOES GOD CARE ABOUT PEOPLE SO MUCH?

God created human beings in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:27 

You (God) made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. – Psalm 139:13

The very hairs of your head are all numbered. – Matthew 10:30

And God knows the plans He has for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  – Jeremiah 29:11

WHY TO WE CONTINUALLY CRAVE?

People have an innate desire for God whether they realize it or not.  This can be described as a “God-shaped hole”.  ALL people have this “God-shaped hole” within them which can only be filled by God. The “God-shaped hole” is a craving of sorts.  A craving of the human heart for something outside itself.  And although people don’t realize it, it was actually God who placed this craving in people’s hearts, He, God, has planted eternity in the human heart – Ecclesiastes 3:11

                                    eternity heart

SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION THEN?

More often than not, people seek to fulfill their cravings with everything, and anything, other than God.  Whether people attempt to fulfill their longings with work, relationships, money, family, etc. these will always come up short because fulfillment of these longings are only temporary and incomplete.

MAKE A CHOICE, MAKE A CHANGE …

Instead of chasing after the cravings of the world…

Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.Matthew 6:32

SEEK first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

 

 

** FOR MORE ON TEMPTATION SEE MY OTHER POSTS BELOW **

Are ALL People Tempted to “Do” Wrong??  –  TEMPTATION [5],  http://wp.me/p5nZpi-xt

RESPONSE TO READER’S COMMENT – Are ALL People Tempted to “Do” Wrong??  –  TEMPTATION [5] –  [6]  –  http://wp.me/p5nZpi-xZ

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God – Keeping Sexual Purity “Real” – PROVERBS 5 – [6]

God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.  Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor…  –  1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

————————————————————————

15 Drink water from your own well—
    share your love ONLY with your wife.
16 Why spill the water of your springs in the streets,
    having sex with just anyone?
17 You should reserve it for yourselves.
    Never share it with strangers.

18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
    Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
    Let her breasts satisfy you always.
    May you always be captivated by her love.
20 Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman,
    or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?

Solomon doesn’t hold anything back in these next few verses of Proverbs 5.  Can you believe this is God giving us these intimate/detailed guidelines?

That’s our Creator.    Smiley-face-1600x1200-wallpaper-775678.jpg

He tells it like it is.  He keeps it real.  He knows our hearts, He knows all people, No one needs to tell him what mankind is really like. – John 2:24-25, He knows our weaknesses.  He warns us because He loves us and wants to protect us.

Although He doesn’t force us to choose His way, He gave people freewill. He doesn’t want us to feel hopeless and confused.                                                                                                                                                  confused

The promise God gave the Israelites, 3,000+ years ago, is true for us today, as well.  Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, (pleading, begging, my add) that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  –  Deuteronomy 30:19   

                           life or death    

What a powerful and hopeful verse!!

God wants us to be aware that our actions have consequences, both positive and negative.

  • Would I be a good parent if I didn’t tell my children that “doing” drugs is harmful to themselves and others?
  • Would I be a good parent if I told my children that having sex outside of marriage is nothing more than a “good” time, with no physical or emotional repercussions?
  • Would I be a “good” parent if I simply let the culture drive my children’s decisions, so they could experience “real life”?

If we, sinful people, know how to give good gifts (protection and warnings, my add) to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (who follow Him, my add).  –  Matthew 7:11

We might not want to believe this, but we’ve all experienced the fact that we can’t change other people.  Even if the advice, support, and guidance we’re giving them is right on target, some people would rather touch the fire to be sure it’s hot, rather than listening and heeding the advice of those who have already been burned.

                   burned hand

 As Solomon writes in the Book of Ecclesiastes, History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. There’s nothing new under the sun. –  Ecclesiastes. 1:9

I urge and remind myself, and others –

DON’T just listen to God’s word.  DO what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  –  James 1:22

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To Punish, or Not to Punish, That is the Question: – PROVERBS 3:11-12 [4]

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. – Psalm 28:7

 

11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when He corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those He loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

Reading about discipline in verses 11 and 12 can make some of us cringe.  cringe That’s because discipline tends to emit a negative vibe, and is often used interchangeably with punishment.  Discipline, however, is quite different from punishment.

Punishment as defined by Merriam-Webster, is to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation. To make (someone) suffer for a crime or for bad behavior.

Discipline as defined by Dictionary.com, is training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. An activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill.

Discipline’s purpose is to teach and train. And how it’s administered greatly affects the results.

We see in verse 12, the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.  These two words, in bold print, are much different from words like – who he wants to control, wants to show who’s boss, wants to express his anger towards

Discipline, is correction that comes from a position of love, with the purpose of instructing and training.  If, however, correction comes from a negative, angry, or vengeful position, it’s not discipline, it’s punishment.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “isn’t there a place for punishment?”  Of course there is.  It’s necessary for the police to punish people for crimes they commit, and the military to punish people who threaten the safety of its country’s citizens.  But it also might surprise you to know that punishment can be used alongside discipline, and still come from a position of love.

I’ll use an example to illustrate:  A child is playing with his football in the house, and breaks mom’s vase.

Punishment =  Mom yells at the child, and sends her to her room without dinner (making child suffer for their disobedience behavior).  Observe the child’s posture in each of these pictures.                                                                                                                                                                                                             6-kid-in-trouble-not-listening            girl getting yelled at          arthur

Discipline =  Mom reiterates, to the child, the fact that playing in the house with a football can cause damage, and is evidenced by the broken vase (teaching).  Observe the child’s posture in this picture.                  kid vase mom

Discipline & Punishment =  Mom reiterates, to the child, the fact that playing in the house with a football can cause damage, and is evidenced by the broken vase (teaching), therefore, the child is responsible to replace the vase (imposed penalty).

                                  kid vase mom                 holding money

It is not unusual that we get upset when reprimanded. It’s a natural reaction. If it weren’t, Solomon would have had no need to mention it. Yet he said in verse 11, don’t be upset when correctedThe key to being open to correction is whether or not the one disciplining you is purposed to teach you, help and guide you, or is purposed to control, dominate, and “make you pay”. There is a big difference between these two approaches, and how the recipient will receive and respond.

No one likes being called on the carpet.  But when discipline comes from a position of love, even if it irks you initially, accept and appreciate that someone cares about you, wants to keep you safe, and “on track”.  So comply, humble yourself, and repentant (change direction) and recognize they have our best interest in mind.

I’ve mentioned in the above example, the response of the one being disciplined.  However, put yourself in the position of the one disciplining/punishing.  What is your goal?  To control by force and feel “big and strong”, or to have the recipient learn from the experience, and next time make the “wise choice” ?                                                                                                                                                                                     wisechoice                clipart-two-thumbs-up-happy-smiley-emoticon-256x256-eec6

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“Coffee Anyone?”, asks God

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous…              Psalm 139:13-14

As I read my Bible this morning, I came across a verse in the Book of Luke that caused me to pause. When this happens, it reminds me of a record player when the needle gets stuck in a groove and keep repeating the same words or melody over and over and over.

record player 2

It’s at this point that I have a choice to make.  Ignore the prompting to reread, and move on, or stop to reread and ponder.

question

When it comes to Bible reading “they” say, “you have to cover “X” amount of chapters, verses, etc., and stick to your Bible reading plan.  If you don’t, you’ll never finish reading the Gospels, or the Psalms, or the Old Testament, etc.  And you’ll certainly never finish reading the entire Bible.”           It’s at this point that I ask myself, who’s “they” anyway??

I approach reading the Bible a bit differently.  To me reading the Bible is similar to talking with someone on the phone, texting, or meeting for coffee.  It’s all about the relationship.  It’s not a one-way conversation, it’s the sharing back and forth of feelings, facts, experiences, hopes, etc., between two people.  How silly it would be if I met someone for coffee and whipped out my “thoughts” list, and started rattling it off?  And then, when I was finished reading my list, I’d get up and walk out the door?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          list           friends coffee            walking-clipart-e1380249111426

When you see the above scenario in writing, it seems ludicrous.  Who would ever ask to meet a friend for coffee and read off a list?  Not to mention walking out without saying goodbye, or thanks for listening.  Yet, how often have we, myself included, interacted this way with God?

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat with a friend, started on one topic, and ended up touching of several others before the first cup of coffee was finished.  Or when a comment said in passing, turned out to be discussed in-depth.  When I meet up with friends I don’t have a checklist.  I’m getting together with them to catch up, and share what’s been going on in our lives.  If we just talk about what happened today, and never get to last week or next week, who cares.  This is what we needed, or wanted, to talk about now.

For me, this is the kind of relationship I have with God.  So when I’m reading the Bible and get the feeling I should pause and reread.  I pause and reread because I know that God has something to share with me.  I ask Him, “what are you trying to show me?  What do you want me to learn, to take with me today, to share with others, to change?”   I also thank God for encouraging me in a particular area, where I am on the “wise path”, and  thanking Him for all the blessings and provisions He gives me day in and day out.  I read with anticipation, eagerness, and appreciation that the Creator of everything wants to talk with me.  That He cares about me, and He loves our time together.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  Sometimes God gives us a warning, sometimes encouragement, and other times redirection to get us back on track.

As Hebrews 4:12 says, The word of God is living and active…  God wants to talk to us.  He wants to help us with our daily struggles.  He wants to bring us back to the safety of the “wise path”.

I once heard a pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa say, “it’s not how often or how much of the Bible you read, but that you live out what you’ve read.  Don’t just read the Bible to finish it, read the Bible to change.”                                                                                                                             

                             Matthew 5:13-16      light_salt

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Wisdom in Available to You, RIGHT NOW, TODAY!!! – PROVERBS 2:7-11 [2]

For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield. – Psalm 5:12

 

7    He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
8 He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to him.
9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
and you will find the right way to go.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11 Wise choices will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you safe.

Wisdom is unique. It not only gives everyone have the opportunity to receive it, but it’s benefits are far-reaching.  With wisdom we get God’s protection, see words in bold print.

We get understanding, making the “wise” path clear to us. No more confusion.  Choosing a Path

We’ll have direction, and know which path to choose among the various options.   choosing right path

Here’s the key — Although we’ll know which path to take, it will be up to us, as we exercise our free will, to choose the “wise”/God directed path. Don’t just listen to God’s Word, DO what it says. – James 1:22

Verses 10-11, tell us that when wisdom enters our heart, the knowledge we’ll receive will —

  • Fill us with joy
  • Watch over us, and
  • Keep us safe.

Wisdom is not something I hope for sometime in the future.  It is a gift that is available to me right now.  A gift, should I choose to accept and open it, will yield abundant blessings.

Outward Show or From the Heart?? – ZEPHANIAH – 3i [17 OUT OF 17]

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. – 2 Timothy 4:7                               running through tape

 

Then God, through the prophet Zephaniah, ends the Book of Zephaniah with strength and authority —

20))  On that day I will gather you together
    and bring you home again.
I will give you a good name, a name of distinction,
    among all the nations of the earth,
as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

This short, three chapter, Book of Zephaniah started out as a message of terror in chapter 1, but concludes in chapter 3 with a message of hope.

We read in this book that one man, King Josiah, attempted to reform the people of Judah/Jerusalem encouraging them, more like ordering them, to follow God.  Although the people appeared to follow God, this was just facade (a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation), because in their hearts they were far from God.

Hopefully reading Zephaniah has got you thinking about your own relationship with God.  Is your relationship just an outward show?  Do you go to church on Sunday, and don’t think about God again until the next Sunday?  Or, when you leave church you get road rage when cars seemingly take forever to get out of the church’s parking lot?  road-rage                                                     Or do you praise God in church,   singing_in_church     but with that same voice use God’s name in vain, or speak negatively about another?  Talking-Behind

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. – James 3:9

Because we are fallen people, everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard – Romans 3:23, we all need reminders, found in the Bible, of how to live life God’s Way.  It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s expectations of us.  Have this kind of house, this kind of job, send your kids to this kind of school, and on and on and on.  But what God tells us is that what we need most is a Savior (Jesus). One who can free us from the bondage of our sins – anger, envy, greed, etc.

If you are currently living your life apart from God, or appearing outwardly to be a God-follower, but your heart is far from Him, honoring God with your lips, but your heart is far from Him – Matthew 15:8 you can choose today, right now, to exercise your free will and begin to experience restoration and healing in your life.

The message is close at hand, And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  – Romans 10:8-13

 

Can I Find Hope, Healing, Restoration??? – ZEPHANIAH – 3h – [16]

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction and confusion, out of the muddy clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure. – Psalm 40:2

           psalms40_2               feet_on_rock_thumb

 

As we begin to wrap up the Book of Zephaniah, let’s look at a common pattern seen throughout the Bible, as well as, our own lives.

  • People follow their own way, believing they are able to navigate life on their own, without God, His principles and guidance.
  • Life becomes messy.  In relationships, at work, at school, in finances, families, morals and values are compromised, addictive behaviors surface, and destruction/unhealthy choices dominate.  We’re LOST!!  We’re not sure where to turn, or even what we’re hoping to find.  All we know for sure is that something is missing from our lives. But WHAT is it?
  • People hear about God.  In the Bible it was through prophets, and through miracles. In present day, people hear about God through preachers on the radio or TV, through various churches offering an array of worship experiences from quite/reflective to foot stomping/interactive, and everything in between.  Miracles may sadly go unnoticed. Thought of as “coincidence”, rather than “providence”.
  • People choose to make a change in their lives.  To repent, acknowledging that the path they have been on is not leading them where they hoped to go. Instead of continuing on their current path, they choose to do a 180 and follow God’s way.                                                                                        my way gods way
  • People experience restoration and healing. – It is like the restoration of this painting –   paintingrestoration                                                                                          The beauty we see in the restoration (right side of the image) was not added or changed, but was cleaned up (refreshed and restored) after years of neglect, sin (an analogy), hurt and pain experienced (an analogy) – (image on the left side).

NOTE:  Complete restoration and healing doesn’t often happen in an instant, a week, a month or even a year.  But, by making a choice today to say, YES, I want restoration and healing in my life, in my relationships, at my job, with my classmates, teachers, etc. the process can begin.  And you will be able to see God’s image restored everyday, while the distorted, marred image that was once so painful to look upon, begins to disappear.

 

 

Warning!!! – The Stove is HOT!!!! – PROVERBS – Chapter 1g – 1:29-33 [10 of out 10]

LORD Almighty, blessed are those who trust in you. – Psalm 84:12

 

29))  Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose to fear the Lord,
30))  and they would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
31))  THEREFORE, they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
32))  For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33))  BUT whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

 

We learned from verse 25, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-5E, that – People turn away from all my advice. They wouldn’t accept my warning.  And here again in verse 30 we read, they despised all my counsel.
All people are in search of a road that leads to “happiness”.      Good Mood Ahead                                         Yet, in verses 29-33, we read that people often end up making choices that take them on a curvy path.  winding-twisted-road-sign1 Their path ends up being curvy because the choose their own way vs. the Creator’s counsel and guidance – v.30.

The result of following our own way:  They’ll GET their own way, for better or worse.  Sadly, as verse 32 says, the simple are killed by turning away, by doing their own thing.  Instead of heeding the warnings, like the stove is hot – don’t touch it,   dont_touch      they proceed to touch,  and…     clipart hand_burn     Again, it’s not that the person in this illustration was not warned, he was, yet he chose his own way.  In this case, and often in our everyday choices, the result was/can be painful.

The result of following wisdom?                                                                                                               v.33 – Whoever listens to me                                                 

  • will dwell secure
  • will be at ease
  • (will be) without dread of disaster

Ummm, which path would you take, wisdom’s or the simple’s/fool’s?    decision scale

 

Does God Laugh and Make Fun of Me When I Goof Up??? – PROVERBS – Chapter 1f – 1:23-28 [9]

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1

 

23)) Suppose (IF) you had paid attention to (my) warning.
    THEN I would have poured out (my) heart to you.
    (I) would have told you what (I) was thinking.
24)) But you turned away from me when (I) called out to you.
    None of you paid attention when (I) reached out (my) hand.
25)) You turned away from ALL my advice.
    You wouldn’t accept (my) warning.

26)) So I will laugh at you when you are in danger.
    I will make fun of you when hard times come.
27)) I will laugh when hard times hit you like a storm.
    I will laugh when danger comes your way like a windstorm.
    I will make fun of you when suffering and trouble come.
28))THEN you will call to me. But I won’t answer.
    You will look for me. But you won’t find me.

Wow!!  I don’t know about you, but when I read these verses, they kinda scare me. Does this mean when I goof up and don’t follow God that He will laugh at me and make fun of me? And when I call Him and ask Him for help, He won’t answer me and I won’t find Him?

It is easy to replace the words in (  ) with God because when you read these verses it seems that it is a person who is talking.  However, recalling from verse 20, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-5e, Wisdom is the (my) and the (I).  Remember that Solomon uses personification, and that can sometimes confuse the reader.

God has given us, in fact all people, truth through His Word.  It is a guide-book to help people navigate their earthly life.  It is when the nasty sin of pride infiltrates our mind, our choices, etc., that we have the attitude, “Yeah, right – God stuff, I don’t think so, my way is better…”

In verses 26-27, it is Wisdom, not God that is laughing and making fun, so-to-speak.  Basically, these are the consequences of our choices. It seems harsh, but it is as though you can hear Wisdom saying, “I told you so…”

Verse 28, you call, but don’t get an answer. Meaning the consequences of our choices have been exacted (accurate to circumstance), they can not be changed.  If someone gets pregnant, out-of-wedlock, they can “call” all they want, but the consequence of their choice will not change.

You may have asked yourself these questions at some point in your life,

  • How did I get into this mess?
  • Why does everything seem to go bad for me?
  • Did I do something wrong?

The answerYou turned away from my advice, You wouldn’t accept my warning. –  Proverbs 1:25