June 2017

Be diligent in recovery from failure before God

I encourage you to be diligent in recovery from failure before God

Major or repeated sinful failure in the Christian life is an effective tool in the hands of Satan. He uses temptation to lure us into sin; he then uses our sinful stumblings to instil a sense of uselessness and hopelessness. If he can convince you that you will never be able to live for Christ victoriously, he’s won the battle.

As believers, it’s a terrible thing when you wake up to the fact that sin has won a victory in your life. The sense of guilt and failure can be crushing. Yet you need to remember that you can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help” (Hebrews 4:16 NET). Because, who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18). God’s mercy is far greater than our failings; therefore, we are unable to fall outside of His loving reach.

Good examples

The Bible is loaded with examples of imperfect believers who got caught in sin, often repeatedly. Yet their faith in God, plus the working of the Holy Spirit, would not allow them to wallow in permanent defeat. If you evaluate temptation, sin, and failure by human standards, you will be left in hopeless despair. King Solomon, who knew failure well, instructed; “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7). No matter how many times you have fallen, repent, call upon the Lord and follow Christ. Perseverance is one of the Christian’s greatest weapons against long term failure.

God’s enemies are not stupid; they know how to use your defeats to grow permanent discouragement and damage. Choosing to follow their discouraging advice may well prove to be the most fatal decision of your life.  

Allow others to help

Allow yourself to be restored and helped back to a right walk with the Lord by those who are stronger in the faith (Galatians 6:1). Respond favourably to your fellow Christians who exhort you to turn from weak living and be restored to a stronger lifestyle of obedience to Christ (Matthew 18:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:14). Accept the assistance when offered to you by believers who themselves have been restored from failures. Forgive those who have let you down, or even abandoned you in your time of need (Matthew 6:15). “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1).

There are many lessons to be learned from Kings David’s sin and restoration found in Psalm 51. Come to the Lord in confession for cleansing (Psalm 51:2-4). Invite the Lord to purge the desire for sin from your heart and to replace it with a renewed passion for Jesus Christ as Lord (Psalm 51:7, 10). Seek the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation, and uphold you with a willing spirit (Psalms 51:12). Open your mouth and tell others of the kindness and goodness of God and of what He has done for you (Psalm 51:15).

Use the lessons learned

Resolve to use the lessons learned from your failings and the Lord’s restoration, to help others who are going through something similar; Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (Psalms 51:13). Realise, if you “humble yourselves before the Lord, He will lift you up” (James 4:10 NIV).

I encourage you to resist the temptation of remaining in sinful living. Be diligent in recovering from failure before God. The Lord will be honoured, you will be blessed, fellow believers will be encouraged, and your unsaved friends will be evangelised.


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Never accept temptation; fight it until victorious

Be encouraged, never accept temptation; fight it until victorious for Jesus Christ

We typically wish that temptation would simply go away. We get tired and frustrated by its constant attempts to wear us down. You see, the severity of temptation is not determined by the discomfort experienced at the time. Rather, the measure is the degree of violation against God’s character should you give into the temptation and sin.

Realising that most temptation comes from within is a healthy start because temptation for the most part, is not anyone else’s responsibility. Living an effective warfare against temptation begins with a submissive, dependant attitude towards God and against sin. One that says; I will not do as I would like when it comes to sin. A God focused attitude that perseveres in spite of failures, disappointments and criticism.

During Jesus third appearance to the disciples following His resurrection, He asked Peter the same question three times; “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter, although crushed by his failure in denying knowing Jesus three times only days earlier, would have still been burning with guilt. Although grieved, Peter gave an honest answer; “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (John 21:15-17). This was a turning point for Peter, who went on to live a faithful and courageous life for Jesus his Lord. In God’s grace, stumbling under temptation does not have to be the end, but can catapult the repentant believer into deeper and more significant service for Christ.

Underneath Peter’s failure, was a deep love that recognised Jesus as the all-knowing God of his life. In spite of Peter’s repeated failure, Jesus was still there with him, calling for the deepest possible acknowledgement of love. Giving in to temptation is not a motive for abandoning faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. It’s an opportunity for greater surrender to the Lordship of Jesus because we realise that without Christ we have no hope of pleasing God.

Our Responsibility

We accept that “God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). So we cry out to God; “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). Our sense of desperation in our struggle against sin motives us to; “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Because we understand that “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

Sin will try to convince you that the power of temptation is too great, even though God tells us that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” You’re not experiencing some unique temptation that no one else understands. The truth of the matter is that “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” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

So, as an expression of faith, we replace friendships that lead us away from obedience with ones that encourage faithfulness to the Lord. Replace leisure activities that put you in a vulnerable position with activities that serve the Lord and benefit others for righteous living. Replace reading and viewing that leads you away from a faithful walk of love for Jesus Christ with reading etc. that feeds you upon truth and clean desires that will strengthen your love for Christ. Replace times of laziness with activities that proactively promote the gospel of Jesus Christ in other’s lives. Replace meaningless time wasters with time doing discipleship with someone else, helping them to grow mature in Christ, learning from your walk with Christ.

Today, don’t accept temptation; fight it until victorious for Jesus Christ.


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Watch for the subtle nature of temptation

I encourage you to watch for the subtle nature of temptation

All of us who have fallen to temptation would have noticed how subtle it often is. Sometimes it’s brazen and in your face. Sometimes it stealthily sneaks up, surprising you in ways you never expected. Other times it comes in the most innocently attractive packages imaginable.

Scripture teaches many lessons regarding the chameleon nature of temptation; lessons which can help us identify it while raising our ability to see temptation for what it really is. Plus, there are lessons to strengthen our resistance against its seductive allurements.

Genesis 39 unfolds the account of Joseph being tempted by Mrs Boss. An almost sordid little affair, which, had Joseph responded differently, could have been disastrous.

  • :1 Joseph was promoted from slave to property and business manager for Potiphar the Egyptian.
  • :3 “The Lord caused all that Joseph did to succeed.” Plus, the Lord also “blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake” (:5).
  • :6 “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.”
The seen was set

Joseph was in a privileged and luxurious place, and he realised that it was due to God’s mercy. It probably seemed to Joseph that the wrongs done to him by his brothers were history, and the good times were coming on.

  • :7 “After a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’” Mrs Boss was watching, no doubt in lustful preparation for the attempted seduction. She made her not-so-subtle move, and Joseph resisted.
  • :9 “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”Joseph recognised temptation for what it really was, “sin against God.” Herein lays one of our greatest failings, to see temptation as God sees it.
  • :10 “she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her.” Temptation often perseveres over prolonged periods, using all the available angles and arguments to justify why sin should be surrender too.
  • :12 “she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’”  Temptation can be quite tenacious, not giving up easily; it wants victory, even getting assertive at times. Temptation is often impressively adaptive in its subtle and not-so-subtle approaches.  Remember, victory is its goal, you are simply a means to its end; sin!
  • :12 “But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.” Subtlety and courtesy had run their course. Joseph took the only path available – he ran.
Reality check

Satan abides by no rules; he doesn’t care how he gets you to sin. Therefore, Christians need to become students of themselves and the processes of temptation. Understand how sin works to distract you from obedience to Christ. Don’t assume that by ignoring temptation, it’ll go away – it won’t. Learn to identify what arouses the initial vulnerability to sin. Become situationally aware, noting what produces the environment for temptation. Watch for patterns of greatest vulnerable.

While learning all this about yourself, submit it to God, and wash it all in Scripture and prayer. Prayer that asks; “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). Practice Jesus instruction; “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Acknowledge that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Look for God’s way of escape, and take it.

Today, watch for the subtle nature of temptation; openly walk with the Lord through it and away from it, in His strength. Offer to help someone else do the same, using your lessons for their blessing and the Lord’s glory!


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Recognise the most seductive temptation of all

I encourage you to understand the most seductive temptation of all.

The temptation which carries the greatest consequences, and could well be the most difficult to reason through due to its seductive nature, is that of thinking you’re OK without Jesus Christ being Lord of your life. 
We learned from Jesus time of temptation (Luke 4:1-13), that it’s all about seducing you to do what Satan wants. Satan failed with Jesus, but he’ll persevere with you and I. He wants you to discard the idea that the God who created you is worthy of your life’s affection, obedience, loyalty and worship. 
Consider Jesus, He was “rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious” (1 Peter 2:4). In the original Greek language used here in the Bible, “rejected” means to examine then disapprove of. The world’s fatal error of disapproving of the one God accepted does not have to be your failing also.
Jesus explained by parable the seductive nature of wealth and our attitude towards God. Speaking of a man who had prospered financially, the man said to himself; “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate! But God said to him, You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you… So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God (Luke 12:19-21 NET). 
I’m sure you can see the tempting allurement this man faced. His love for the false and often blinding security which wealth offers had blinded him to the eternal reality of God and his own soul. In spite of what we may feel, the reality is that “whoever trusts in his riches will fall” (Proverbs 11:28). In Luke 16, Jesus tells of a rich man who died without any relationship with God. Finding himself in the torment of hell, he asks if someone could go back “to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:28).
The seductive trap of thinking you don’t need Jesus Christ, is that you are not only responsible for your life of disbelief, but you can’t go back to put it right. You can’t negotiate a second chance. You can’t even arrange for anyone to go warn your family to ignore your example. This is why thinking you don’t need Christ as your Lord and Saviour is the most lethal of all temptations. No other temptation is so insidious, and no other carries such nightmarish ramifications.

Don’t play ‘follow the leader’

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus pictured the difficulty of turning in faith to Jesus like this; “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  There are plenty of people on the broad road who will happily downplay your need of Christ to cleanse you of sin. Those who will light-heartedly excuse away that Jesus could be of any eternal benefit.
Speaking from personal experience, I can testify that these words of Jesus absolutely are true and trustworthy. “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Today, I ask you to ensure that you understand the most seductive temptation of all and that Christ is the answer. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).


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