Archive for June, 2012
I love oatmeal and raisin cookies. They must be good for you because they have oatmeal and raisins. But I am trying to resist the temptation, and remain steadfast to my diet. But for some people, temptation is a moment by moment battle.
The Bible says, “There has no tempation overtaken you, but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond the point of saying ‘No’, and will with the temptation provide a way of escape.” (I Cor. 10:13). Look at the promises in that passage. God is faithful.
Let’s unppack that verse a moment. It seems satan is so busy tempting people, that he doesn’t have time to dream up new temptations. That does not mean every single person faces every single temptation. It does mean, that there is nothing new under the sun, and we are not the only ones being tempted by whatever stirs our appetites. While God does not tempt anyone, we learn from the story of Job, that He allows Satan to tempt us. But He never allows us to be tempted to a point that overcomes our will to say “No”. We can always say, “No”. And He always provides a door of escape for us to walk through.
Some things do not tempt me. I am not tempted to smoke cigarettes. My Dad died from lung cancer, and I never have understood the fascination with it. Yes, as a teenage boy, I tried one or two. But I never liked them. Someone said, “It is an acquired taste.” But the question is, “Why would I want to acquire such a taste.” Now too many oatmeal cookies, key lime pie, or chocolate pound cake. I am tempted all day long.
I don’t know what Satan may tempt you with, but remember that God will draw a line of limitation on that temptation, and He ALWAYS provides a way for you to escape.
Have you worked through the pictures in a book to find Waldo? Sometimes it can be extremely challenging. Perhaps you have wondered where I have been, with no new posts lately. I attended the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans last week,and then came down with Pneumonia and have been in the bed. But I am back, for now, at least.
More significantly there may have been some times in your life when you wondered ‘Where is Jesus?’ There were those times recorded in the New Testament where others did. When he was about 12, his family had traveled to Jerusalem for a festival, and then on the way home about two days into the journey they realized Jesus wasn’t with them. So back to Jerusalem, where they found him amazing the scholars in the Temple.
Another time, Jesus fed the 5000, and then went to the mountains to pray. He sent the disciples in a boat to cross the lake. The next morning a large crowd came to where Jesus had been the day before, but He wasn’t there. They wondered, “Where is Jesus?”
There have probably been some times in your life, you have wondered the same thing. Maybe you are going through a difficult trial in your life. Similar to John the Baptist when he ahd been imprisoned by Herod, you begin to have some doubts. Or like the apostles in the front of the boat in a storm while Jesus slept, who asked, “Lord, do you not care that we are perishing?” Maybe even like Jesus Himself on the cross, when He cried,”My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
We all find ourselves in those times from time to time. It is then that our previous meditations in God’s Word carry us through. We remember the promises of Romans 8, that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. For me one of the greatest assurances in Phil.4:5 where these simple words jump out, ‘The Lord is near.” We are never out of His sight. We are never away from His love. We are never far away from Him, no matter what the circumstances may seem.
Thus Paul could instruct us, ‘Be anxious for nothing,but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which passes all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:5-6)
Tags: Chili Cheese Burgers, Elijah, Have it Your Way, Jesus, Sonic Drive In
It was 1976 and I was the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Duncanville, Texas. We had been on a ten day youth choir bus tour presenting the Gospel in prisons in central USA. We were on the way home and stopped at a Sonic Drive-In in the middle of somewhere Oklahoma that you cannot get to from here. I was missing very much the world famous Beacon Drive-In in my hometown of Spartanburg, SC. I was craving a Chili-Cheeseburger.
After studying the menu and not seeing what I wanted, I ordered anyway, “Chili Cheese Burger please, and add slaw.” The girl behind the counter said, “We don’t have that on our menu.” But I was not to be deterred. So I smiled and said, “Do you have cheeseburgers?” “Of course,” she replied. “Do you have hot dogs?” I asked. “Absoluely,” she said. “And do you have chili for your hot dogs?” I inquired further. “Why, yes, we certainly do,” she replied.
“Would you take some of the chili that you normally put on hot dogs, and put some on a cheeseburger for me?” was my quick suggestion. “No, I couldn’t do that,” she said. “Why not?” I queried. “Because it is not on the menu,” she added with a growing sense of exasperation at my impertinence. “So what if I buy a hot dog and a cheeseburger, and you just put the chili that was for my hot dog on the burger?” I asked. (All the while the youth from my church were enjoying this more and more). Adamantly she said, “No, you cannot have it that way!” Once again I asked, “Why not, if I am paying for both?” Quickly she asserted, “I already told you, that is not on the menu. Are you going to order something we have or not?” I could tell she had grown weary with the whole thing and decided not to say what had come to mind, ‘Obviously, this is not Burger King. They let me have it my way.”
Maybe there is some deep spiritual lesson here. Jesus spoke of giving lip service to God with our hearts being far from Him. The prophet Elijah said, “How long will you vacillate back and forth between two opinions?” So really, which is it? Are we all in for Jesus or not? You can never live an effective Christian life with one foot in the Kingdom of God, and one foot in this world. Although we try that so often, I can hear Jesus saying, “No, you cannot have it that way.”
In the book of Revelation, the apostle John relays seven letters from the Lord Jesus to seven significant churches of that day. In almost every case He commends them for something they have done well. But again, in almost every case there is a scathing condemnation for something they have woefully out of whack.
What would Jesus’ letter to the American churches be like today? Would He commend us for our elaborate buildings and programs? Would He speak of the remarkable opportunities that He has afforded to us over the last couple hundred years? Would He find things worthy of praise?
What would He condemn us for and call us to repentance? What would He says about the billions of dollars we raise, with less than 2% going to international missions? What would He say about how we have adapted to the culture rather than having been salt and light? Would He warn us to repent, or else He would remove our lampstand?
I cannot help but wonder today.