1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
So you know by now that sin is bad and that you should choose to stay away from it. But it isn’t always just that simple, is it? Sometimes the temptation to sin is great and just knowing that it’s wrong isn’t enough. It can be overwhelming.
But there’s good news! God is looking out for you. If you belong to Him, He’s on your side and He provides a way fro you to stay true to Him. The Holy Spirit working in you will not only nudge you to let you know when something is sin, He’ll point you to a way of escape from the temptation.
No matter how massive the temptation you’re facing, God has seen it before, Jesus has faced it before (Hebrews 4:15), and the Spirit has dealt with it before. You’re not alone and you don’t have to face any sin or any temptation without help. The truth is, you have the greatest help ever available because God Himself is cheering for you to win. Find assurance in that.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Here we break from speaking of God’s revealed will to speaking of God’s secret will. This means not just the desires of God, but the plan of God that will come to pass by whatever means He chooses. When we refer to the revealed will, we mean that God has called us to do certain things and we should follow them. The secret will, however, describes the things that God has planned out before the creation of the world, the events and occurrences that He determines.
God generally carries out His will by means of people. While He has all the power to just make things happen on His own, He acts as more of a conductor who orchestrates the events rather than just making them happen by supernatural methods. We have choices in life and those choices lead to consequences. God sees to it that whatever the outcome, it coincides with someone else’s choice to bring about what He wills. Though He typically doesn’t force our hand, He does make things happen through our actions. And yes, at times He does intervene to provide the proper choices are made. This is hard to grasp, but consider the many accounts in the Bible where God stepped into a situation to bring about a particular result.
When we follow God’s (revealed) will, we work towards His (secret) will. Doing what He calls us to do leads to us playing a part in His plan, not only for our own lives, but in the overall plan He has.
1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
With many things in this life, we can expect to get out of them exactly what we put into them. If we treat people rudely, we’ll often find ourselves being treated rudely. If we disrespect, we’ll be disrespected. Acting out of pride usually leads to resistence, and humility leads to better things. This is especially true with God (James 4:6).
When we pretend that we don’t sin, no one is fooled. We can’t even truly fool ourselves into thinking we’re sinless let alone God. But when we put our pride aside and admit to our wrongs, God is quick to forgive because of Christ Jesus. There’s nothing to fear in confession before God. He’s a loving and just Father who actually wants to forgive us. He’s waiting for us to turn to Him.
The bad news is that you have sinned and there’s no way out of it. The good news is Jesus paid your way to God’s forgiveness by taking all of your sins onto Himself. You’re free to confess everything, with no fear of condemnation. Our Lord is able and willing to wipe it all away.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We Christians speak a lot about “God’s will”, but what does that even mean? What does it mean to do God’s will? Is this some sort of mysterious code language for something? Or is it a very real thing that we can know and follow?
First, there are two types of God’s will: His “revealed” or moral will and His “secret” will, or providential government of all things. The differences between the two are best left to a Bible study rather than a devotion, but we will be speaking of the revealed will for our purposes. This is what God wants of us or expects of us. When we speak of looking for God’s will in our lives, this is the “revealed” will He has spelled out for us in His Word.
We may tend to think of what God wants from us personally as His will for us, but we sometimes overlook the will He has in general. Because of this tendency, we may look for specific signs or circumstances that will tell us what God wants from us or what our next move should be. It may be that He will give us those signs, but most often, whatever the issue is, God has already spoken on the matter in His revelation to man, the Bible. If we’ll look there first, we’ll often find what God’s will is in the area we’re seeking answers.
Many people spent much of their time keeping their eyes open for the signs they’re expecting and yet skip right past the Bible as a means for finding out God’s will for their life. We ought to first check God’s Word before looking for signs. Let the Holy Spirit do the discerning. The answer is likely right in front of us if we’d only stop looking so hard.
Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you,do not consent.
Who are your friends? Whose approval do you seek out? If your friends don’t encourage you to do the will of God, don’t listen to them. It can be quite a struggle to do the right thing sometimes because we all want to be liked, but likeability is not listed as a biblical virtue. Sometimes, as the saying goes, the right thing is not the popular thing.
All around us, we’re being enticed into sin. The TV ads try to sell us on it, the popular culture flaunts it, and sadly some churches even embrace it or excuse it. But there’s only one voice that we should be following, and it’s the one of Him who created us. God knows what’s best, even if we think sin will be fun for a while. He cares for us and has a plan for each one of us.
The truth is that sin only appears pleasing and in the end it leads to death and decay. Following the Lord is where we find true joy and true fulfillment.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where we belong in this world. We can find ourselves tossed aside by society if we’re not pretty enough or cool enough for the world’s standards. We have to meet the criteria of whatever group we’re looking to be accepted by in order to have a shot. But in God’s family, there’s always room for the outcast or the downtrodden.
In fact, sometimes it takes feeling the rejection of the world for us to turn to God, and when we do, we find a Father who has His arms open wide. There are many churches and many denominations and it’s not accurate to say that all of them are as accepting as Christ is, but in general the church is where we find a home where His love is shown. The fellowship of believers is where we can find the love, encouragement, motivation, kindness, and correction the world lacks. Each believer is equipped to minister to others in some way, and everyone has a place where they fit in.
God’s overall plan is fulfilled through His Church (outwardly) and the body is meant to minister to each other (inwardly) for this plan to be accomplished. Our mission isn’t just to go “out there”, but also to tend to those “in here” so that each of us can be better at what we’re called to do. Healing, hope, and love are found in Christ’s Church. This was His plan.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
You know from Jesus’ own words that you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). If you’re fully devoted to God, you can’t be devoted to this world. There are good things in the world, after all, God created it. But He created it for His glory and when we devote ourselves to the creation instead of the Creator, we find ourselves in sin.
There are a lot of tempting things all around us. Things that, if we allow ourselves to be distracted, can consume us. Possessions can possess us and desires can overtake us. There’s only one way to overcome the world and it’s to follow the One who overcomes the world (John 16:33). The One who created and sustains it can use us while we’re here on this earth, but only if we choose Him over all of this.
There are no regrets to be had if we pass up sin. The things here that seem so wonderful are fleeting, they’re dying. But when they’re all gone, the Lord will endure through all eternity. His love never fails.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
The Church – we are many, but we are one – united in Christ. Though the Church is made up of many individuals, each has his or her own part in making up the body of Christ. Each member is like a part of a body, fulfilling a specific purpose to the greater purpose of the body as a whole.
Why do we gather as a church? To carry out the work of Christ in the world. To bring glory to God. He has commissioned us to go out and do His will and bring about His purposes. When we unite as one, we have strength in numbers, we have unity, we have a greater plan. In our unity, God works in us and through us, just as He works in and through us as individuals.
In each of us, He gives skills and abilities. In the corporate body He puts those skills to work, directing us right where He wants us. Often we pair with someone whose skills complement our own and our effectiveness is doubled, as two strands of rope are far stronger than one (even better with a third – God).
United as a body, we are an unstoppable force in the world for the cause of Christ.
Joshua 10:12-14 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.
What would you pray for if you knew God would hear you and answer? What would you have the faith to believe Him for if you knew, with no doubt or fear, that He was on your side?
The story of Joshua praying for the sun to stand still in the sky is often centered around his bold prayer and God’s answer, but shift your focus just for a moment back on verse 8 of this story. Notice that before Joshua had the bold faith to pray for a mighty miracle, he heard from God. The Lord told Joshua that He was on his side and that Israel would win over their enemies.
With that knowledge, Joshua was able to pray with complete faith, knowing that God was with him. We too can be courageous in our prayers if we first hear from God that He is on our side. Are you living for Him? Is He on your side? Consult God’s Word and find where He wants you. When you are there, He is fighting on your side, and your voice too will be heard.
———- So what would you pray for if you knew He would answer?
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Of all analogies given in Scripture to describe the relationship between God and man, maybe one of the most peculiar is that of husband and wife. Christ is the groom and we (collectively, as the Church) are His bride. Why is this comparison used to speak of our relationship with Jesus?
First of all, any analogy that tries to capture God within human understanding fails. God is not just like anything we have knowledge of. But He is kind of like a husband who loves his bride and would do anything (DID everything!) for her. The best attempt we have at coming close to understanding God’s love is a healthy marriage relationship where there is mutual love. Christ gave everything, His own perfect life, for His bride. He sacrificed it all that we might be reconciled to God.
We, His bride, are made spotless (here’s the white dress) to be presented at the marriage (Christ’s return). He’s made a covenant with us that will never be broken and He remains faithful. His love never falters, never fails. His love is true. And His love is for us. We await the perfect wedding day to come.