Is Temptation Sin?

depression

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able; but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” ~I Corinthians 10:13

In a very dark place in my life, this was the first verse I memorized. Anyhow, early in my journey, I began to realize that alcohol and drugs were detrimental to my life and to the lives of everyone around me. However, I was not convinced or convicted in other areas of my life. In fact, while in the colony a common perception; ‘I came to get off the stuff, not to stop sleeping with my girlfriend.’

The counselors and teacher began to share verse like, “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”(James 1:15) I had succumbed to temptation so regularly, so habitually, that I didn’t see any hope for victory or wasn’t even looking for a way of escape. Satan blinded me and I gave up without a fight.

During my stay at the colony, I read Matthew 4:1-11 and realize temptation wasn’t a sin. Jesus was lead to the wilderness and 3 times Satan tried to make Him sin. The Lord was tempted in ways that Christians are today. He won the victory over temptation. Christians can also have victory over sin, the devil, and temptation.

“Thy Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalms 119:11).

Realty; temptation is not the act or same as sin, but the attack by the enemy to lure the already internal struggles we have. God is not leading or tempting us with evil but offers an escape route. Without exception, sin results when temptation strikes a sensitive chord in the human heart, and man has no one to blame but himself. We will be tested, but the test is God’s design to purify and strengthen them, but He does not lead them into sin.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”(Romans 10:17) I love how God provides the answer in his Word roe any temptation.

Juan Mendez_FF 2016Written 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 44; Proverbs 14

Daily Quote: “Fear is born of Satan.” ~AB Simpson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near..
~Isaiah 55:6

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Shadow of a cross

“But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Recently, I asked a question in a Bible study; what does the cross mean to you? I received answers like propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, death, life, shame, penalty punishment, but the ironic thing never once love was mentioned. Love is a mysterious word that we throw around with empty meaning. Here is how some describe it!

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Where there is love there is life.” Mahatma Gandhi

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus Christ

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Loving others always costs us something and requires effort. And you have to decide to do it on purpose. You can’t wait for a feeling to motivate you.” Joyce Meyer

“It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death.” Thomas Mann

I usually challenge people, as well as myself, what does love really mean to them and how does that meaning tie into the Gospel.

It wasn’t the nails that kept Him on the cross, it was love. He has proven or established his level of commitment towards us in his relentless pursuit for our hearts. What’s love got do with it. The atonement’s ultimate cause is the love of God, the evidenced that the Son, separated from the Father, offered himself to appease His wrath. So, what does love got do with it? Love has everything to do with. Next time you use the word love see if it measures to how God understands it.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Juan Mendez_FF 2016

 

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

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 38; Proverbs 7

Daily Quote: “The trouble is that the whole “Accept Christ” attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ applying to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us.”—A.W. Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you. ~Isaiah 54:10

Spurring Each Other!

Western Spurs
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” (Hebrews 10:24)

There are many times that the flesh, life, people, my sin etc…has brought me to a place of desperation. In those times, I recall dreading to face the circumstance or situation and upset at life/myself that I actually woke up. A desalinate place, a cloud over my soul, a seemingly hopeless condition . And God would send someone to say; it is going to be ok. Simple truth!

The writer of Hebrews is intentional about this command. To Consider: to think about carefully, to think of especially with regard to taking some action, take into account, to regard or treat in an attentive or kindly way. This is a well thought process. I know we see things in people and quick make a judgment, but are we weighing out all the factors. Are we being intentional about what’s best for the individual?

Saints we ought to gaze on each other as fellow sojourners and spur one another. “A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding.” This refers to aiding or provoking individuals, in love, to finish the race that God has began in their life.

At last what are we spurring them to? This verse is literally directing us, to direct them, to good works. In the Greek this word is εργων to toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication, an act — deed, doing, labor, work. I know this might mess with some people’s theology, but you can’t argue with scripture. Good works is a good thing. This is the way we illuminate are relationship with Christ.

Basically, there might be someone in your life that could benefit from an encouraging word, a coffee date, a few minutes of your time. Hebrews 3:13 mentions, “But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Be initial, and be sure you will also need spurring one day. God Bless.

Juan Mendez_FF 2016Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full time staff member of America’s Keswick.

 

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 21; Proverbs 22

Daily Quote: I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary. ~Charles Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
 ~Isaiah 40:31

Fallen Condition

People shadows on sunny city street

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)

Life has a way of reminding us that we all in a fallen condition. Whether it is circumstantial, by are own doing, or by hands of others. No mater the source, it’s sobering and a wake call that we are not yet in a complete state of glorification. C. S. Lewis mention this life is a shadow of what’s to come. This life is carefully lived through a limited, infected state from the fall.

In the Presbyterian’s Confession of Faith, “Man, has fallen into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying with salvation; so as a natural man being altogether averse from good, and dead to sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.” (The Westminster Confession).

Personally; just because I haven’t partaken in my past addiction I’m not out of the water or that perceive to have arrived. Many times I hear the defeating words of graduates or from my brothers in AA/NA of just sobriety as the goal, but God has revealed that addiction just an extension of a fallen condition. There many ways this fallen condition can manifest itself, posts addiction. Ask me how I know?

However,

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1,2)

Understand our fallen condition is an opportunity to reach out to our Creator to comfort us, to guide us, to heal us, to grasp our total dependence on him and stop relying on our own strength. Sidebar: lets be careful that we are not to hard on others and their sin, because we all are in a fallen condition.

Juan Mendez_FF 2016Written 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 13; Proverbs 14

Daily Quote: “Having the answers is not essential to living. What is essential is the sense of God’s presence during dark seasons of questioning.” ~ Ravi Zacharias

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. ~Isaiah 40:11

Why The Bible!

Red Bible

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

The culture we live in tries to influence our values in many ways. In a changing world, it’s essential to embrace unchanging truth. The Bible provides foundational truth to equip us and to supply principles to live. The Bible tells us, “Watch your life and doctrine closely,” (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV). There is no better place to learn about God and His ways than the Bible. Here are three of the many reasons the Bible is important.

Freedom:

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) The world is filled with life bondage addiction, perceptions, condemnation and the like… Jesus offers freedom in truth, and truth lies within the transforming power of His Word. We can rest in His Word; peace, understanding, freedom. I visited an inmate in the county jail last week, and his perception on God and his condition was more liberating than people on the outside.

Faith:

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) How can I know? In the uncertainties of life we have hope that only derives from the Word of God. In the midst of recent trials I literally meditated on His Word and the Word provided all the hope and comfort needed to persevere.

God communicates His love to us in the Bible:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God… Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends. (1 John 3:1a, John 15:13). Would we stop expressing or communicating our love to our spouses after the wedding or would we stop demonstrating love to our children after birth. Certainly not, likewise, God is reassuring His love and validation for us through the proclamation of His Word; continuously.

How much time are you in the Word?

Juan Mendez_FF 2016Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full time staff member of America’s Keswick

 

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 7; Proverbs 9

Daily Quote: “God waits for you to communicate with Him. You have instant, direct access to God. God loves mankind so much, and in a very special sense His children, that He has made Himself available to you at all times.” ~Wesley L. Duewel

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. ~Isaiah 40:11

True Worshippers 101!

worshipper

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)

In T-n-T, we are provided with an opportunity to give glory, honor, and praise to our God. There are times when it’s undeniable, that God’s presence is thick and other times where He is taking a more quiet approach. But regardless, I believe that when a person or people proclaim the work of Jesus, it is one of the richest way we give Him glory.

True worshiper 101: Individuals who decide to put themselves on the side and give Him, His praise. A true worshiper’s life is hidden in daily surrender and he will show up to service with a heart ready to praise, because it becomes an extension of his everyday relation with Christ. True worshippers are sincere in their spirit, and inwardly resolved in their minds and hearts.

Identifying true worships indicates that there false or deceitful worshippers. Jesus declares, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21) It’s a sad reality to think that you can be within the body of Christ worshipping, serving, even broadcast the name of Jesus, and be out of fellowship. Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the LORD had left him.” (Judges 16:20) Sad!

So how do you know that you are a true worshipper?

True worshiper 201: It will be evident in your prayer life; true worshippers have a valid prayer life. They also have a boldness to confess wrongs, and to be transparent because they are concern with their relationship with God and loving their neighbor. The Word is esteemed, and the desire to be obedient to that Word guides the true worshippers. True worshippers proclaim and understand the love of God, and how that love is manifested through sacrificial work of Jesus. Are you a true worshipper?

Juan Mendez_FF 2016

 

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

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 2; Proverbs 3

Daily Quote: “We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” ~Francis Chan

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength. ~Isaiah 26:3-4

Living Water

water

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”(John 7:38)

In the midst of reading all the plethora of books, views, and perceptions, it’s really good to go back to the Words of Jesus. In addition, Jesus keeps His doctrine simple and clear to his listeners. In that, he shares great truths here using an example of creation to magnify His Glory.

Water is essential for the survival of all Creation. Water fills 90% of the earth and our human bodies are made up of 70% water. It evens is turn into power like the Hoover Dam. What a precious resource, or should I say necessity. The living water is refreshing, it’s alive, it’s living.

David prayed, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1).

The sons of Korah sang, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps 42:1-2).

When a person chooses to believe, he becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. That person has the ability to communion with Christ and allows Him in the center of his life. In Christ, Christ in you, and to be ruled by him. It fills the center of his being, from within him, his mind and heart is an out pour life. Out of this person comes a stream of living water. Life-changing obedience, life-changing testimony. Water; a great example of life. There is in him a power, by faith, which flows restoration and refreshment.

Juan Mendez_FF 2016Written 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 142; Proverbs 24

Daily Quote:  “Only God can turn a mess into a message. A test into a testimony. A trial into a triumph. A victim into a victory.”

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

25 I have been young, and now am old,
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
    or his children begging for bread. ~Psalm 37:25

God’s Servant!

dishes

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” ~Colossians 3:23

When I arrived at the colony 10 years ago, my job was to work on the dishwasher; the infamous Hobart. That was a learning curve, as well as dose of humble pie. Promotion day! I was promoted to supply handler, but my main job was to upkeep the basement. Basement work was a lonely task and at first I didn’t see the value to go beyond where many wouldn’t notice. However, I was introduced to this verse and this perception on what work is really about.

I was advice to work in that basement for an audience of One!

Paul was encouraging his readers to serve/work diligently; without selfish desires, but to be faithful in the Master’s eye. Contextually he was dealing with Roman-Greco slaves and servants of all sorts. These conditions and these individuals most likely needed a voice of reason. This was God’s command, the challenge was to process their efforts through the right views, and to understand that their labor was not in vain, but to be an example of a servant of the Lord.

How about you? Are you treating you job/career as testimony to God’s workmanship in your life? Whatever the condition, this command is applicable and if your employer is not asking you to blatantly sin, then the Word is encouraging you continue the work, unto the Lord. The amazing realty with God is that after a command, he follows with a promise. Here’s the next verse.

“Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward”(vs.24)

As God cultivates our new life with Christ, this causes us to think about matters differently. Personally, I know how hostile a work environment can be or even service for the local church. But grasp God’s call and direction, and he will provide the peace in your service and labor will not be in vain. Be encouraged Saints!

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 128; Proverbs 10

Daily Quote: “Let this one great, gracious, glorious fact lie in your spirit until it permeates all your thoughts and makes you rejoice even though you are without strength. Rejoice that the Lord Jesus has become your strength and your song – He has become your salvation. “ ~Charles H. Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

 ~Psalm 34:17-19

The Eagles Example!

Bald Eagle in mid-air flight over Homer Spit Kenai Peninsula Alaska Winter

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

This is not referring to the Philadelphia Eagles as an example , but they are ok as well. But the wonderful creation that is uniquely designed by God. When this awesome specimen mounts up, the bald eagle can reach speeds of up to 100 mph, they cruise about around 65 mph. They climb up to around 10,000 ft. and soar for hours, this is some serious sustaining power.

God frequently uses other members of his creation to teach us various lessons. As a loving father was reassuring His children, the Israelites, that he was with them and encouraging them to continue in their journey. What can we learn from this challenge?

Wait upon the Lord: This is being resolved; making a choice to patiently walk through life in way that gives God the glory and space to workout His divine plan in our Lives. Bearing our cross, He will sustain us within the journey.

Shall renew their strength: Increasing faith is developed as we prove tried and true. We began to stand firm; this is essential when feeling overwhelmed by the trials of life; allow God to continue His graceful work and we shall be more than conquerors. News Flash: This is all temporary anyway!

They shall mount up with wings as eagles:

Our souls, our thinking, our perceptions, our actions, our values will soar like an eagle above all these worldly/carnal realities. An eagle is not moved by all the troubles on the ground level. He flies most strongly, swiftly, and high, out of the reach of all danger. Let us watch over and not engage against unbelief, pride, and selfishness.

They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint:

This is the result of the previous conditions working together in harmony. Paul so elegantly mentions,“ But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

The Jews waited thousands of years for their Savior and we have Him. Let’s not take that for granted and mount up and live as the Eagle lives, freely above reproach.

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 122; Proverbs 4

Daily Quote: “Truth offends everyone outside its definitions. But the irony of truth is that the greater its potential for offense, the greater its potential for giving hope.”  ~ David Jeremiah

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them. ~Psalm 34:6-7

Humility vs. Pride III

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

I believe the speech reveals the conditions of the heart. And if pride is present that to will be exposed. “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” Plato

God gave humanity many of His characteristics like our ability to reason and process through circumstances. Hench, we are far above any other created thing in these areas. However, in Genesis 11 we observed how this can quickly can be used unproductively for kingdom work. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”(Genesis 11:4)

They forgot the judgment in Noah’s time and wanted to make a name for themselves. This story reveals that as sin continues to grow and humanity’s ability to use the common language; they could eventually be like God. The language was not the problem, nor was construction undertaking; those together simply revealed the heart and the pride of man. Consequently, God is not moved and gently rectified the situation by confusing their language.

One of the main concepts that is uncovered in this devotion; with the proper perspective, in humility, mankind can choose to use their verbiage for good. “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. Solomon. Communication is as a grace of listening, as well as a grace of speaking.

Thank you guys for all the prayers for my family!

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 117; Proverbs 26

Daily Quote: “Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope.”  ~Gilbert M. Beeken

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name. ~Psalm 33:20-21

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