Overcoming Temptation

The passages for our Faithful Daily Reading today are 2 Chronicles 4:1 – 5:1 and Matthew 4:1-11. Pastorally, I judge, that the Matthew passage might be far more helpful to comment on.

In this reading we see Jesus recalling verses from the Old Testament and quoting them to Satan. Jesus was victorious. Have you tried doing what Jesus did and it hasn’t worked? I wonder, “Why?”.

Perhaps the answer lies in the distinction between magic and faith. Magic is using an object or chant in a desperate attempt to ward off evil or control circumstances. Faith on the other hand is a quiet confidence that what God says is true enough to act on. We have to be careful about using Bible verses as a magic talisman, waving them around to desperately repel temptation (but we wouldn’t do that would we?).

But when we look at Matthew chapter 4, we see that Jesus used Scripture in quite another way. He went into the Word, found a principle or truth, and said in effect, “I will now live by this truth.”

Jesus saw the Word of God as truth, and was determined to act on that truth. It was this exercise of faith that gave Him victory over His temptations. And it is just the same exercise of faith that will give us the victory when we are tempted today.

So, we have to look for the key to our victory in the Word of God (really, where else would we find it?) – but not use our Bible as if it is a magic formula. Rather, let’s take God at His Word, act on what He says and let God use our faith to give us the victory over temptation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has a good word on “Temptation”, and I quote it here…

“The Bible tells only two temptations stories, the temptation of the first man and the temptation of Christ, that is, the temptation which led to man’s fall and the temptation which led to Satan’s failure. All other temptations in human history have to do with these two stories of temptation. Either we are tempted in Adam or we are tempted in Christ. Either the Adam in me is tempted – in which case I fall. Or the Christ in us is tempted- in which was Satan is bound to fall.”

Have a great day,

 

Peter Clark.

God With Us.

The Reading today is Psalm 65. I would particularly like to focus on verse 4 of that Psalm.

“Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.”

We might be challenged to do many wonderful and great things in this life that we have been given. Even in our congregation, as we look around there are many superb things happening that lead us to praise our great God, like the Sunday preaching, the children’s and youth work, the life groups, pastoral care and so on.
He will continue to equip and call out many of our number to launch out in faith with tasks to build up the body of Christ and to reach out to others.

But there is something that brings an even greater degree of satisfaction than anything that we can experience on a human level – and that is, our time spent in quiet devotion to Him and with Him.

I realise that I am speaking to the converted – if you are a regular reader of this blog, but could I encourage you to keep on doing what you are doing.

Our lives are very busy – too busy probably. It is hard to take the time to be alone with God. But let us remember…..He is never too busy to be with us.

God’s one consuming desire is for each of us to know Him. When we do this even the smallest of activities will take on a new meaning.

Start today. Spend quality time with God and enjoy the awesome privilege of being in His presence.

Have a great day doing that.

Peter Clark.

The Worldliness Plague.

The reading today is Revelation 218-29 – the “Church in Thyatira” (one of the seven churches of Revelation).

The city 0f Thyatira was a commercial centre when John wrote. Christ’s description of Himself, with burning eyes and feet of burnished bronze, creates a setting of aura for this letter. Although the church was active and faithful in many respects, it had accepted the leadership of a woman characterised as “Jezebel”. The first Jezebel introduced idolatry and gross immorality into ancient Israel, and we must assume the name signified the Thyatiran woman did the same.

Thus what was known as “the church” was divided into faithful and corrupted segments.

Things haven’t changed. The apostate and the genuine still exist in Christendom. The continued existence of the apostate reflects God’s grace. Jesus has “given her time to repent of her immorality”. But the day of grace is drawing to a close. Every day is a day closer. God will surely bring judgment on Jezebel and her followers.

The spirit of Jezebel still stalks the churches, and she will settle wherever she can find somewhere to stay.

How do we deal with her? Don’t expect to purge Christendom, our denomination, or even our own church of her influence.

Jesus says to those who do not accept her teaching, “Hold on to what you have until I come”.

We who hold fast to Christ’s authentic gospel are to concentrate on good deeds, love, faith, service and perseverance (v.19). In doing Christ’s will, we find the spiritual authority we need to overcome (v.26-29)

 

Have a great day and God bless you,

 

Peter Clark.

Second Chances.

One of the readings today is Jonah 3 and we are reminded that God has compassion for all. We need to develop an attitude that mirrors His – not Jonah’s.

Jonah had willfully disobeyed God’s call to preach in Nineveh. In verse 1 we see that God gives Jonah a second chance. We need to remember a couple of things about second chances. God’s will is going to happen. God had wanted to warn Nineveh, and Nineveh was going to be warned. Jonah was going to be the agent of that warning OR someone else would be. Jonah’s disobedience would bring discipline not rejection (a good thing to remember). God gave His prophet a second chance. Have you had second chances? Perhaps you have had many opportunities to respond to God’s guidance and have been a bit tardy……. It is preferable to respond early in the piece. Think of what Jonah would have avoided with immediate obedience! He wouldn’t have been thrown into the sea – he wouldn’t have been swallowed by that big fish.

We shouldn’t count on second chances, but if we do fall into disobedience, Jonah’s experience reminds us that we can still turn back to God and be used by Him for His purposes.

Have a great day and God Bless you,

Peter Clark

Good Friday

The passage today, very appropriately is the record of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 23:26-49.

Before Jesus was born and angel told Joseph that he was to name the baby in Mary’s womb, “Jesus”, because he was going to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE?

Jesus secured our salvation because of God’s love and justice. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

In Romans 3:25 we see God’s justice is affirmed when Paul writes that Jesus was put forward (by God) as a “propitiation” – that is, a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath, so that God will be able to look favourably upon us’ Paul, says this was done “to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins” and “so that He might be just” (Romans 3:23-26). In other words, the sins God “passed over” or didn’t punish before Christ came to earth, had to be punished somehow if God was to be “just”.

Therefore, someone had to take the punishment for those sins. Because of God’s great love, that someone was Jesus. In Jesus’ death we find a full expression of God’s justice (sin is punished) and faithful love (God gave His own Son to bear the punishment). Praise God…how great is that?

WAS JESUS DYING NECESSARY?

It was not necessary that God should save any one at all, yet He did choose to save some. But Jesus chose to follow the will of God and He was “obedient unto death”. After Jesus rose from the dead, he asked the rhetorical question, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). The answer of course is “Yes, it was necessary”. Jesus knew there was no other way for God to save us other than for him to die in our place. Jesus had to suffer and die for our sins. The other means of dealing with sins, like the sacrifices offered for sins in the Old Testament had no lasting value – “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The perfect way of dealing with sin was by Jesus, “by means of His own blood”, securing “an eternal redemption” (Hebrew 9:12), thereby putting away sin “by sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26)

WHAT THE DEATH OF JESUS DID FOR US,

Christ lived a perfect, sinless life and died a horrific, sinner’s death, in order to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). He paid the penalty we deserved to pay for our sin. He bore the wrath we deserved to bear. He overcame the separation that our sin caused between God and us. He freed us from the bondage caused by sin. Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, God can “deliver us from the domain of darkness and transfer us to the kingdom of his Son (Colossians 1:13)

What a great salvation that Good Friday delivered to us,

Praise God and have a great day,

 

Peter Clark.

Growing Up.

The readings set down for today are 1 Chronicles 5 and 1 Corinthians 3.

I am going to focus on the 1 Corinthians 3. Read through 1 Chronicles 5 and you will understand why!

The editorial heading in the NIV Bible for 1 Corinthians 3 is “On Divisions in the Church”. Let’s call a “spade” a “spade” and not fool ourselves. We need to take notice of this Chapter. There are those among us who do not exercise a mature view of leadership – as there is in nearly every church.

1 Corinthians 3 commences with Paul writing about the impact for the Corinthian Church of those, “mere infants in Christ” (v.1). Even a child knows what infants are like. They are those small people who cry, scream, hit, kick and bite. They wet in, and dirty their pants. It is not hard to recognise a baby when you see or hear one.

The same is true spiritually. There is one unmistakable sign of a spiritual baby – and that is worldliness. Paul says that it is thinking and behaving, just like the people of this world who lack the Spirit (v3). There are two ways worldliness is displayed here.

Firstly, the adulation of leaders on one hand (“I follow Paul…I follow Apollos”) OR, at the other end of the scale, “jealousy and quarrelling” (v.3). These are both characteristic of how “mere men” think and act.

How stupid it is to exult those who are “only servants” (v.5) when God is the source of all spiritual growth (v.6). And then to argue over who is the better leader. All this was happening in the Corinthian Church when the Corinthian congregation should have been busy supporting and encouraging their leadership, their God given leadership!

Watch out for spiritual babies – they often disguise themselves as the mature ones, even as they are kicking an screaming – bruising others – weaker brothers and sisters who come near. Sadly, some spiritual babies never grow up.

In the end, what we do……what we say……who we really are, “will be shown up for what it is” (v.13). True servant of God are motivated by wanting to build Christ’s Church. They will want to do that by building on the one true foundation, Jesus Christ. They will keep the focus of those around them on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul knew that his accomplishments would be evaluated on day on this basis. Was Paul working to promote Christ or himself? On Judgment Day the quality of one’s work will be “shown for what it is” (v.13).

There is probably another thought that might be helpful for us…

“We are God’s temple” (v.16)….we are….and our leaders are. What does the very next verse say? “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him….” (v.17) We need to be very careful at this point. We need to honour of leaders, remembering it is their role and responsibility to encourage the best out of us.

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

Thank God For Grace

The two readings for today are Proverbs 27:1-11 and Romans 5:12-21. I am going to focus on the Romans passage and hopefully, help each of us have a fresh vision of the marvellous grace of God.

The whole passage contrasts Adam and Jesus, each of whom put in place the future of all those living in the time they lived. Adam initiated the epoch of sin, and all who descended from him have found themselves trapped in a morass of sin and death. Jesus initiated the epoch of grace, and all who trace their relationship to Christ are freed from sin, to be righteous and to live righteously.

Take the time to consider some of the difference brought out in this chapter – and rejoice – because you have been adopted into the family of the Son whom God loves.

In verse 12 Adam introduced death. In verse 15 Christ introduces grace, righteousness (v.17), life (v.17).

In verse 16 through Adam, we see “men” are condemned. Through Christ “men” are given righteousness.

In verse 19 through Adam, all are made sinners. Through Christ we are given life and are justified (v.21).

Judgment is a consequence of Adam’s life (v.16). Grace is a consequence of Christ’s life (v.21).

Through Adam all are subject to death (v.17). Through Christ, many are bright to eternal life (v.19).

With Adam there is disobedience (v.19). With Christ there is obedience (v.19).

The Grace of God abounds. Rejoice in it.

Have a great day,

 

Peter Clark.