Monday, January 7

Wisdom and Temptation: Facing Your Own Wild Beasts

I'm glad to have you back in my wonderful world wide web room as we both learn a little more this year about our Lord! Tonight, I just wanted to share an idea that came to me as I was conducting my personal study before moving on to do some school work. Tonight's study was focused on Matthew 4. In this chapter of the Bible, Jesus is taken and tempted in the wilderness by Satan THREE separate times! You can also read some comparative accounts in Mark 1:12-13 (from which I drew the title) and Luke 4: 1-13.

After reading, my study book gave a couple of questions for me to answer for reflection. Many of them covered the topic of temptation, and I really began to appreciate just how hard Jesus must have struggled to say no to these things. Think about it. He definantly was a man, so hunger and having power would have been actual temptations he faced down. And we also should take into great consideration the cleverness of Satan. He didn't just walk up to Jesus and take blind guesses as to what would tempt Christ. He probably chose those specific temptations because they were things that would have had more of a pull on our Savior as a man.

So, what's the solution? Of course, Christ never sinned, and we recognized that all of the rest of us on this earth inevitably will. But through the example that Christ set and some scriptures that we have been given by God, we have an answer and maybe even a strategy that may help you to deal with your temptations. Look at these scriptures below:

Rom_8:13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Col 3:5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

The word "mortify" is italicized because that is the word I want us to all focus on. We are commanded to put our sin to death. Now, if you are going to go about putting to death something that frequently makes an attack on you and knows many of your weak spots, what do you need to do? Exactly what Christ did in His temptation. Look at the Matthew account again. When Satan tempted Jesus the first time:

Mat 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Jesus was a man of strategy and planning. He did all things for a purpose. He answered with scriptures! A simple "it is written." If it sufficed for my Savior to stand against His toughest tempter at a weak point, then why do we think that this will not also work for us? As I kept thinking and thinking, I found a strategy that I feel will not only help me deal with sins in my life, but also your life as well if you chose to challenge and defeat your beasts.

First, I chose to compartmentalize my sins by finally listing them out for myself to see and confront. I chose to follow a layout of three categories from 1 John 2:16-17, but you can simply list them if you prefer or even come up with your own way to list the things that may tempt you or cause you to be less than your best spiritually. So, for example, in my pride of life category (which was also sadly the largest) I have these things listed: anger, worry, living with guilt, not taking time to talk with others, not being willing to confess fault to others, being unsatisfied with my blessings, not remembering the problems others face, no praying about my problems, and not wanting to say important things that require being humble like "Sorry," and "I love you." Pretty long list, huh? 

And now, do you know what I'm going to do with this list? That's right! Take a cue from Christ. I am challenging myself to grab the nearest concordance, search up scriptures with key words from my faults, and study up. My hope is that I will find one (or more) verses that will really give me zeal to stand against the particular temptation and that I will memorize these scriptures so that I may be ready with answers when my temptations attack me. Until I memorize them, many of you may see me carrying around some 3x5 cards and pulling them out during the day. I encourage you, reader, to take this time to get down and dirty with these beasts that continue to tackle you into the mud of sin. Putting these temptations to death is the best defense we have as Christians! God gave us a will and His Will, so let ut put it to work! We do have a say in the matter of our temptations!

P.S.- I want you take particular notice on one of my faults: living with guilt. Oftentimes, I have guilt just because of temptation, but now that I have grown more as a Christian and studied more on temptation, I know that this is wrong. None can stop temptation from happening. Even Christ was tempted. Did he let himself feel guilty because He was tempted and stop serving God? OF COURSE NOT! If he had, we would not have the Gospel! And what a horrible world this would be without the hope that Christ provided for us. So again, take your cue from Christ. Don't live in guilt, but rather have a great defense and put to death these "members which are upon the earth."

God speed in this endeavor, and I thoroughly hope you decide to take up the challenge with me!

Thursday, January 3

Resolve and Wisdom: My Resolution for a Solution

      As you may have guessed from my dismal amount of posts throughout the entirety of 2012, I have an issue with resolve. I sometimes have this wonderful knack of starting things and then never going back to finish them with the zeal that I began with. Sure! I wanted to blow this blog out of the water and write twice a week! I thought it would be a great way to bring about further study of God's word and help me to reach out to other people in a way I never saw myself doing. But when the crunch time came (between studying for school, extracurriculars, the "need" for a flourishing social life consumed by television and reading, and many other excuses that I'm sure you all can identify with), my resolve went right out of the window. You can imagine my difficulty trying to explain my resolution this year to others without sounding a little strange. A resolution to have more resolve. But luckily, I still have a chance to work on things, and that's exactly what I wanted to talk about on my first post back.

You see, my New Year's Resolution at first wasn't even that but rather my choice to work harder on things I have set out to do. Say what you will, but I realized just how much God does for me. A few weeks ago, I was with my boyfriend in Covington, TN while he was teaching Bible class at a small congregation there. I was rewriting his sermon outline for him while he drove us out there. I saw that the topic was all about the prodigal son. Boy, did my brain start to race with ideas! I read Luke 15: 11-32 out loud to him so that he could be sure of his points, but in my mind I wasn't focused on his sermon idea any more. I started to think of how this parable would apply to me. I saw exactly how I could become the prodigal son so easily, just maybe not in the way you would expect.

So, prodigal son. What does that term make you think of? For most, it's the one who chose to leave his home to go away only to learn that he had  it better at home. And rightly so, because that is one of the points you should take away from this parable. How much better it is to be in fellowship with our God than in the throws of the wicked! But, when I gave this parable another look, I felt some sympathy with the son who left. Just look at what he does. It is not a crime to be the younger of the two sons, even though this may mean that he has less knowledge. Don't get me wrong. A Christian or really just any person can learn throughout their entire lives. We can't hold that against him. And we also know that, following the analogy, there is nothing wrong with asking God to bless us just as the son asked for his goods that fell to him. There's nothing inheirantly wrong with that request. And if we still keep with it even though this is a little bit different way to view it, we are told by God to go into the world and to teach but not become of the world (Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 12:2). So his journey, by looking at it this way, isnt' even the problem.

All of the things he did before this can be condemning things if we let them be, but I believe the true thing that the prodigal son did, something that we all (even me) can be accused of, and the whole reason why I thought to start this blog in the first place is explained in verse 13 of Luke chapter 15:
 "And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living," -emphasis added.

How often do we find ourselves doing things that we should just find so POINTLESS? Do I really need to watch a whole marathon of a television show if I could be better using that time to do something to give glory to God? Could I instead be visiting someone or even simply doing something nice for my family? I started this blog in 2011 because I felt so affected by one single verse of God's word and was moved to act, but since then, I have wasted my substance with riotous living. God has still been blessing me all this time, but I know that there have been so many opportunities where I could have done more for God and have decided to instead waste my life on this earth!

Now, I know you might be thinking, "Whitney, we can't always be doing something. We need to sleep, eat, relax, etc." To that I say, yes, you do! Always make sure to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I endeavor to use this blog to be a part of my life that I know wasn't a waste. And one day, I just work to hear wonderful words from my Judge rather than getting to that fateful day knowing that I could have, even for an instant, done a little more. Remember, and maybe even say this as a prayer when you end your reading session here:

Psa 90:12
"So teach us [me] to number our [my] days, that we [I] may apply our [my] heart(s) unto wisdom."