Finalizing Your Battle Plan

knights, pawns and other wooden chess pieces on the chessboard

Here is the last step in preparing to fight temptation in your life. I trust that these steps have been a help to you in your daily walk.

Don’t Go There – Take the Way of Escape

I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. Psalm 119:30

a. Stop thinking about it. The battle starts in the mind.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:12-15

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8

Do not look at temptation with a wandering eye if you do not wish to be taken by it, not allow your mind to dwell on that which you do not want lodged in your heart. William Gurnall

b. Purpose where you can and cannot go. Strategize ahead of time. If you don’t plan in advance where you can and cannot go, you have set yourself up for failure. Recently a good friend of mine had to miss a family birthday party because he knew going there would be a big step toward relapse. He chose to stay home and for him. That was a good move. c. Take the way of escape that the Father ALWAYS provides for you.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Can you ever think of a time when you faced temptation where God did not provide a way of escape?

d. Don’t boast about temptations. “I don’t struggle in this area …” “I can’t believe he blew it in that area … how could they be so stupid?”

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

e. Find someone who will hold you accountable. Ask the tough questions, hold your feet to the fire, not be afraid to get in your face.

d. Play the tape to the final conclusion. What the consequences if I do this? How will this all unfold/unravel? What about my wife? My kids? My ministry?

O what desperate madness it is to accept the wrath of God for joy that lasts but an hour! William Gurnall

Conclusion:

Today you are not alone against temptation because the One who is your Savior is also your fortress, your hiding place, your defense.

Today you will fight temptation, but not alone because a Warrior Spirit lives inside you and fights on your behalf. Dr. Paul David Tripp

I am a fellow struggler. I am in this journey with you. But with God’s help and a strategy, we can be more than a conqueror.

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: He has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 21; Proverbs 21

Daily Quote: The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness. —Oswald Chambers

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. ~II Corinthians 5:6

Self-Sufficiently

Satisfied with work done

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Roman 5:12)

Paul reminds us that humanity wasn’t originally sinful, however as a result of the fall we are now born in sin. And here we are with our fleshly nature and the ripple affects from the fall. The flesh is conditioned very contrary to our new identity in Christ; it rears its roaring head around us. I see this in my 3 year old.

For instance, Olivia comes down the steps with her hands behind her back and I ask her what are you doing? With makeup smeared on her face, She responds nothing and continues walk passed me. Reminded me of Adam, in the garden, trying hide from God, as His Creator ask ‘where are you.’ Adam and and Eve both try to fix the problem on their own.

Like Olivia and Adam, we are all in some type situation and our nature tendency is manage through the circumstances with own logic and or reasoning. Instead of instantaneously going to God, we slide and hide. However, when we were dead in our addictions, problems, uncontrollable situations, in state total depravity we cried, and God saved us.

Has self-sufficiency lead your back in a corner? Have you been managing through life fixing things with your own resources?

He is the same source to all of our resources. Let’s go back to trusting in One that holds the world in place, the Savior, the Redeemer; ‘the rock that is higher than I’

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 16; Proverbs 16

Daily Quote: When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t. ~William Temple

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.– Philippians 3:10-11

He Pursued Jesus With His Voice

 
Man with megaphone in hand on the white background
“When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” ~Mark 10:47-48 (NLT)
 
In Matthew’s account of this story he tells of two blind men alongside the road between Jericho and Jerusalem. They cry out “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David”, but the crowd that is hanging with Jesus tells them to be quiet. It’s a multitude of people you see and they are on a mission with Jesus so you two “undesirables” need to know your role, sit there and beg in the quiet of your misery. Yeah right, like that was gonna fly with them. So, they yell out (just a wee louder) a second time, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David”, and with that Jesus stops and asks them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
 
In Mark’s account of this story it’s focused on one of these two and when Bartimaeus cried out the second time, Jesus acknowledges him. “When Jesus heard him, He stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, He’s calling you!” (Mark 10:49) But the question doesn’t change, “What do you want Me to do for you?” In both accounts the restoration of sight is given to the blind from Jesus Christ Himself. Matthews account say’s He was moved with compassion and Marks says it was shown by faith, I believe it was both or it wouldn’t be in the Bible as such.
 
Funny how this comes right after two of Jesus’ disciples and their mother have this little discussion about who gets to sit with Jesus in the Kingdom. The NASB put it this way, “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Him, saying to Him, “Teacher, we want you to do us whatever we ask of You.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Now notice the difference here. We don’t have these two brothers addressing Jesus with reverence, oh no, we got two brothers who might as well went up to Jesus and said, “Yo Dude hook us up” before they asked this question, “Grant that we may sit in your glory, one to right, and one to your left.”
 
Now these were two guys that Jesus picked to follow Him. They see what Jesus does as far as miracles go, they hear His teaching straight from Him, He warns them about His death and rising and yet they wanna sit with Him in glory. Bartimaeus and his buddy aren’t privileged like this. They sit on the side of a road putting their hope in the generosity of others for provision. They probably struggle to get to synagogue to hear the writings of Isaiah, “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.” (Isaiah 11:1)
All Bartimaeus wants to do is run into Jesus and when he does all he has is his voice to pursue Jesus with…and what was in his heart. Now I could easily go into a deep discussion on how the High Priests, like Annas and Caiaphas, couldn’t see Jesus as that new branch as they recited Isaiah to those in synagogue or the implications that involved John and James as they thought themselves worthy of the seats to the right and the left of The Son, but both pairs of men thought themselves above guys like Bartimaeus so why bother giving it further mention.
 
Because I see myself like Bartimaeus, sitting on the side of the road at one time in my life, waiting for life to throw its scraps at me so I could exist. When I came to that point where I yelled out, JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME, He was just and true and removed those spiritual scaled from my eyes. When they were opened, I could finally see the grace and mercy that is Jesus Christ. The cool part of the blind man’s story is this, “Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” (Mark 10:52)
 
Ya know, I think Jesus was gonna be cool with healing Bartimaeus and getting on down the road to Jerusalem. But He left the blind man with a choice and what did he choose? He chose to follow Jesus. Sometimes in the complexity of reading the Gospel we miss this simple thing…when the heart desires the things of Jesus, then we are to follow Jesus. Even if it means that we are following Him on the road to The Cross. I think, maybe Bartimaeus saw that for himself. Amen?
 
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 15; Proverbs 15

Daily Quote: “We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts” — A.W. Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:10-11

Church Can Be Fun!?

First United Methodist Church of Pasadena

“We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.” Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!” ~Psalm 126:2-3 (NLT)

Where in the Bible does it say church should be fun or even relevant? If we were to ask this question in a different way it might sound like this, “What is the purpose of the church? Is it a time when we all get together in comfortable setting, dump some loot in a basket, do a sing-a-long or two or three, listen to a self-help sermon because “Jesus loves you”, shake some hands, get some lunch afterwards and then get our butts home before the Star Spangled Banner is finished and the coin toss favors the opposing team?

My fellow Freedom Fighter writer, who I’ll call Rob (to protect his identity) and myself have gone back and forth on the notion of church being fun. We’ve taken to Facebook with the question (well actually he started it…I may have to finish it) and there have been some surprising answers. There are people who do find “fun” in their Sunday worship. Now we can find fun at Six Flags but get real here people, you wait in line to get on a ride…BORING!! Well now they are handing you cute little disc’s that vibrate and blink little L.E.D lights when it’s your turn to get on a ride that last maybe 90 seconds so you don’t have to wait in line but where’s the fun in that? Now you gotta go find something to do until the thing activates.

As much as I understand that we essentially should maintain a reverent mindset when it comes to Christ’s Church, I am also a man who believes Jesus wasn’t above having Himself a good laugh every so often. I mean, after all, we humans do some pretty laughable things…like take ourselves seriously on way too many issues. The bottom line is Jesus, although the Passover Lamb, also came to rebuild His Father’s community. And for all you wordsmith’s out there the word “commune” is the central idea here. We forget the idea behind the church is to “commune” with each other as we “commune” with The Father. Why do you think we are called to partake of the elements off The Table?

But what’s a community/church like without a little fun or laughter to it? Well…BORING…it doesn’t make it wrong but it can make it too rigid to handle a storm. Truth be told the only thing in a building that has to be true to solid is the foundation, the rest of the building needs to be able to handle the elements around it. Sometimes that takes a little flexibility to the construction. I once knew a guy (Jan Savercool is his name) that told me I was gonna need to be flexible in my walk. In its

own little way, it’s kinda laughable ‘cos he has been right since 2003. (wish he still among us so I could tell him)

The real thing to grasp here today is that church should be a place of joy. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Even though I think using the word “fun” in the same sentence that we use “church” has a hint of irreverence to it (making it seem like going to Youth Group) I don’t think we should take things so rigidly when it comes to church.

But I do believe there should be laughter in church. If we can laughter together then we can pray together, serve together, worship together and even mourn together. And if we are coming together, out of the joy we have for our God, and joy is a Fruit of the Spirit dare I say that “fun” is a fruit of that joy and those folks out there who have fun worshipping YHVH aren’t doing anything that deserves them a stonin’ or two? Well maybe that’s still debatable among some but for me I have fun ironing out these kinda issues. But please heed this warning as I end with you today, when you treat the things of the Kingdom as common everyday items, judgement is just around the corner. Amen?

Chris Hughes_FF 2016Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 92; Proverbs 31

Daily Quote: “The church is an outpost of God’s empire: a community of people whose passport is stamped [or issued by] “heaven” but who continue to live in a foreign land – earth – with the aim of making that foreign land more like home. We take heaven seriously, and live with different aims and different values from the people around us. We also take our citizenship seriously, so instead of hiding under the bed and waiting for rescue (or the rapture?), we live in the world with the intention of changing it…” —Andrew Wilson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ~Romans 8:31-32