Lead Us Not Into Temptation

As a Christian, simply claiming, “the devil made me do it“, to justify a sin is never a defense. We are sinners, plain and simple, and thus we are guilty of disobedience. Satan, the father of lies, is the master deceiver and he will be judged and condemned. For the Christian, our only hope is Jesus. He saves us from our sins, but in this life now, we still must be alert and fight the battle of temptation. Praise be to God that there is forgiveness through faith in Christ. In the meantime, fight, but know that you do not fight alone.

God,
Father,
Lord,
I am weak.
I am a sinner and thus it’s You I seek.
Satan is the father of lies,
He deceives and leads away.
He does this without fail,
Every single day.
I give in,
Even though I know Your way.
THIS I do every single day.
Going astray,
Oh, how I disobey.
I do what I do not want to do.
I don’t do as I should.
I don’t listen as I ought,
Oh how I wish I understood.
Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life.
Your Way is wholly right.
Oh God, I want to walk the straight and narrow,
For Jesus is my great delight.
I know that you don’t lead me into temptation,
That falls to the father of lies.
So help me, Lord and Savior,
For I do not want to die.
And so I cry out to you,
For I am helpless and weak.
Without You, oh Lord my God,
My outlook would be very bleak.
Lead me,
Guide me,
Show me Your way.
This I ask that You do,
Please, Lord, every single day.

You Reign

It is indeed right and salutary
that we should at all times and in all places
give thanks and praise to you,
oh God,
Sovereign King over all creation.
Your authority and reign stretches as far as the east is from the west.
Your power is without limit.
Your grace is without end.
You grant us what we need to withstand the attacks of the evil one.
You raise us up when we fall.
You dust us off as we prepare for another round.
And in the end,
You are victorious.
And so with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven
we join in singing Your unending praise…

The Pastor -|—

Prepare the Soil

Prepare the soil of my heart,
Lord,
prepare the soil of my heart
as the seed of Your Word is sown.

Satan lurks,
as a bird waiting for the grain truck
in order to snatch away any stray seeds.
Satan lurks,
as a prowling lion waiting for prey
in order to devour an unsuspecting soul.
Satan lurks,
as a thief scoping out a house
in order to rob it of it’s treasure.

Prepare the soil of my heart,
Lord,
prepare the soil of my heart
as the seed of Your Word is sown.

The world entices,
as a forbidden lover
looking to steal away someone’s love.
The world entices,
as a wolf in sheep’s clothing
looking to deceive unto death.
The world entices,
as a desert mirage
only to provide sand to quench a dry mouth.

Prepare the soil of my heart,
Lord,
prepare the soil of my heart
as the seed of Your Word is sown.

For…

Jesus saves,
that’s it.
Jesus saves.

So…

Prepare the soil of my heart,
Lord,
prepare the soil of my heart
as the seed of Your Word is sown.

The Pastor -|—

Symbol Man

Hebrew - Beth

No worries, I am not following in the footsteps of Prince and becoming symbol man or the blogger formerly known as The Pastor. But if I were to become a symbol man or something of the sort, I like this one. Not just for is aesthetic appeal but for what this symbol refers to. So I am keeping this symbol in front of me.

So why the symbol?

The symbol is called a bet, and it is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

O.K., that makes sense but that still leaves more questions.

Hold on, there is more.

Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem. It is broken up into 22 sections of 8 verses (one section for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet). Each verse within a particular section begins with that corresponding Hebrew letter. The section titled, bet, (the above symbol) refers to verses 9-16 which reads as follows:

(9) How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
(10) With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
(11) I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
(12) Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
(13) With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
(14) In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
(15) I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
(16) I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

These verses caught my attention yesterday as I was preparing devotions for our local radio station; particularly verse 9 about how to keep one’s way pure.

You see, (and you really don’t need me to tell you this), our world is filled with so many distractions. Satan is on the prowl, looking for someone to devour. Just yesterday I read about a pastor who got caught up in prostitution and was arrested. He said he had a moment of “great weakness”. I am not judging him but I can’t help but wonder if that weakness was due to taking his eyes off of God; by not guarding his way according to the Word of God.

I am not suggesting that I am tempted to engage in prostitution (and I am definitely not tempted) but there are other temptations that Satan uses to attempt to draw me away from God. We all face these attacks. Some battles we win and many we lose. And in those defeats I look to another symbol; one that points to God’s incredible love and grace:

2012-08-12_07-10-08_314

Forgiven, I live to continue to fight the fight of faith.

How?

By guarding it a according to the Word of God; by loving God’s Law; learning it; meditating on it; memorizing it; reading it. And keeping at it, for when you drift away from reading scripture you quickly forget, because we all have very short term memories when it comes to God’s Law and the Gospel.

Guarding one’s way can not be done through clever tricks or strength of mind or simple human will power. Guarding one’s way is only done through the strength of God through the Holy Spirit. The Word of God.

And so I am going to keep this symbol in front of me as a reminder to fight the fight of faith; guarding my way according to God’s Word. And you too, Christian, fight on, going in the strength of God, guarding your way according to His Word and clinging to God’s awesome grace in Jesus Christ.

Holy God, may I always keep Your Word in front of me; that I may not turn away and go astray. But when I do go astray, retrieve me as a shepherd hunting down a lost sheep and restore me to life. It’s in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor (a.k.a. Symbol man)  -|—

Filling the hole

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” [Luke 4:8]

Jesus was offered power and prestige and influence and fame. Jesus was offered the world.

But there was a catch (isn’t there always)…

…Jesus had to bow down and worship the prince of this world, Satan. He had to give away his heart and soul for something that would never last. Simply pledge his allegiance to the worker of death and Jesus would have “his heart’s desire”. The problem is that Jesus’ heart’s desire is YOU, not this world and so Satan was spinning his wheels with Jesus, but he gets plenty of headway with us.

As sinners, we seek after that which only leads to death. Satan offers us the world and we take the deal. Satan offers us pleasures now and we take the deal. Satan offers us peace now and we take the deal. The problem is that our true heart’s desire is not in this world. We were made for God but with sin in the picture we have a God shaped hole in our heart that we try to fill with other pursuits. And Satan is more than glad to help you fill that hole with anything and everything that is not God.

But the hole NEVER gets filled.

Sometimes a deal comes along that seems to fit pretty well, but not perfectly. But it’s better than nothing so we follow the giver of this gift and pledge our allegiance. We give our souls to the pursuit of money and more money. We put vicarious living into that God-shaped hole; thinking our children’s athletic success will satisfy; but it never does. We listen to Satan’s sales pitch that includes fame and success and power and we’re intrigued; not putting any consideration into the price of the deal. We give our hearts away to the gods of this world, through sin, hoping and hoping that the hole gets filled.

But the hole NEVER gets filled…that way.

Jesus says, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.

This command is a gift.

This command is one that turns our attention to God; who is worthy, because of what God does to fill that God-shaped hole in your heart. Jesus’ death and resurrection is what is takes to fill that hole, anything else will leave gaps that will ooze and drain life and peace out of you. Nothing that Satan offers will fill the gaps. Nothing that this world promises will stop the follow of life and peace out of you.

Nothing, nothing, nothing!

If you want that hole in your heart completely and totally filled, then Jesus is it. So when the too-good-to-be-true deal comes your way, simply look Satan in the face and say:

You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.

Praise be to God and Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ THE War on Terror

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. [Galatians 5:16-17]

We are at war.

No, I am not talking about the war on terror but it is close. This is the war against the flesh; sinful desires. And this is a war that has been going on since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden in Genesis 3. And it is a war in which Satan is relentless for he knows what he is up against: Weak human beings.

The problem for many is that they don’t realize they are at war. It is hard to fight a battle if you don’t arm yourself. But worse yet, you are not going to fight a war unless you first declare war. You need to be ready and that means knowing who your opponent is, where the war is being fought, what is at stake and what your assets are.

Opponent ~ Satan
Location ~ The flesh
What’s at stake ~ Your soul
Assets ~ Jesus

Your biggest weapon in this “war on terror” is walking in the Spirit; staying close to God in Jesus Christ. That means staying in scripture; being in prayer; living a life of worship; studying the Word; having regular fellowship with believers. If you arm yourself in such a way, you are giving yourself the upper hand, not because you are so smart or strong but rather, through faith, you are submitting to the one who already fought the battle and won the war.

That’s right, the war has already been won, but the battle still goes on. It’s a backwards way of doing things but Satan is still trying to take down as many people as he can before Jesus comes again to claim his prize once and for all. But don’t despair, God is not throwing you to the wolves in the interim. You are here to glorify God in this life and bring others to him. You’re not alone.

Fight this battle with the flesh as you walk along side the one who has won the war for you: Jesus Christ. Declare war on Satan and realize temptation is all around you. Stand strong and hold firm to hope of the resurrection.

So go into battle today, ready and willing to fight, all to the glory of God.

Praise be to God and Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Vacation and disconnected

I have been on vacation for a few days and away from any computer (and very little cell phone/WiFi signal).  It’s been strange being somewhat isolated but also revealing.  It shows how much I (and I am guessing most people) desire to be connected to the world as we are accustomed to through the Internet and smart phones (and other means).  Technology is such an important part of our lives today.  Ten years ago I wouldn’t have felt myself twitching being disconnected like that.

In any case…I am sorry that I haven’t posted any devotions for a while but I will be back at it tomorrow when I return to work.  One thing that I have learned these past few days though; I need to find another outlet for this spiritual discipline if I happen to be “disconnected” from the world.  I have missed writing and engaging scripture in that way.  In a time where people rarely hand write letters and notes I never gave it a second thought to do that; to actually pick up a pencil or pen.  What a strange concept 🙂

My other thought is that maybe Satan used my dependence on technology to keep me away from devotional writing.  I never gave THAT a second thought (or a first thought for that matter).  But now that I am aware of this hopefully I will be better equipped to combat Satan when he strikes again.   It’s amazing the things and ways Satan uses to draw us away from God but to see them and be aware of them is half the battle.  The other half is how you chose to deal with it.

Satan, often times, uses good things to draw us away.  I guess that is why Satan is so successful in tempting us.  Another reason is that we think we are strong enough to handle things on our own.  It’s like we have a humility problem.  We have a hard time falling to our knees in prayer; asking God to take control.  If only we would turn our lives over to God and send Satan running in the other direction.

Dear God, grant me the eyes to see when Satan attacks.  Grant me the faith to turn to you.  Grant me the strength to resist temptation.  Grant me the humility to reply on you.  In Jesus name, Amen!

P.S.  Wait a second…did I just write a morning devotion?  I guess I am back today 🙂

Praise be to God!

edh -|—