Beware of Your Least Likely Temptation

brick out of place
Joab had defected to Adonijah, though he had not defected to Absalom. —1 Kings 2:28

Joab withstood the greatest test of his life, remaining absolutely loyal to David by not turning to follow after the fascinating and ambitious Absalom. Yet toward the end of his life he turned to follow after the weak and cowardly Adonijah.

Always remain alert to the fact that where one person has turned back is exactly where anyone may be tempted to turn back (see 1 Corinthians 10:11-13).

You may have just victoriously gone through a great crisis, but now be alert about the things that may appear to be the least likely to tempt you.

Beware of thinking that the areas of your life where you have experienced victory in the past are now the least likely to cause you to stumble and fall.

We are apt to say, “It is not at all likely that having been through the greatest crisis of my life I would now turn back to the things of the world.” Do not try to predict where the temptation will come; it is the least likely thing that is the real danger. It is in the aftermath of a great spiritual event that the least likely things begin to have an effect. They may not be forceful and dominant, but they are there. And if you are not careful to be forewarned, they will trip you. You have remained true to God under great and intense trials— now beware of the undercurrent. Do not be abnormally examining your inner self, looking forward with dread, but stay alert; keep your memory sharp before God. Unguarded strength is actually a double weakness, because that is where the least likely temptations will be effective in sapping strength. The Bible characters stumbled over their strong points, never their weak ones.

“…kept by the power of God…”— that is the only safety. (1 Peter 1:5).

by Oswald Chambers

Resurrected Hope

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16

Anyone standing by the graveside of a departed loved one or friend considers the questions that arise: What do I believe about this event called death? Even knowledgeable Christians have to defend themselves against waves of sadness and longing by remembering the promises of Jesus Christ concerning faith and eternal life. Those promises—promises based on the Resurrection—give the Christian renewed hope that is sometimes clouded by grief.

Job asked the same question: “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14) And Jesus answered, straight to the point: “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25b). But the new, first-century believers living in far-flung places didn’t have Jesus’ words at hand, so they were often concerned about death. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica to assure them that when Jesus appears, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Christ was the firstfruits from the grave; we are the harvest to follow (1 Corinthians 15:20). The grave of those who die in Christ is a place of hope.

True faith is ever connected with hope. John Calvin

Recommended Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:22-23

Fear Not, Little Flock

“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:31)

In these days of financial worries and rampant materialism, it does us good to reflect on Christ’s teaching concerning our priorities. In this passage, He was teaching His disciples not to be troubled over temporal things (v. 22), but to rest in the fact that He will supply our needs. “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (v. 28). We are not to have our mind set on material things (v. 29), neither are we to be “of doubtful mind” wavering between hope and fear of the future.

We are to be different. We are children of the King and are in His care. The “nations of the world seek after” (v. 30) these things. Our Father knows that we have need of certain things, and since He loves us and has our best interests at heart, we have nothing to “fear” and can be assured that “all these things shall be added unto [us]” (v. 31).

But more is involved. It is not enough simply to avoid improper fixation on the things of the world; we are to seek rather “the Kingdom of God”; we are to be about His business. His priorities should be our priorities. We must strive to know Him and His Word so well that we naturally conform our actions to His desires. If we do so, He not only will take pleasure in supplying our physical needs (v. 31), but also “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v. 32).

It is our privilege to participate in His work on Earth as He enables. Our part may be to give: “Sell [what you] have, and give alms,” thereby storing up “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (v. 33), or to pray, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (v. 34). If our primary desire is to enhance the work of the Kingdom, then He will give us that desire, and we will see fruit which lasts for eternity. JDM

Armed with Courage

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. —James 1:6

When entering the prayer chamber, we must come filled with faith and armed with courage. Nowhere else in the whole field of religious thought and activity is courage so necessary as in prayer. The successful prayer must be one without condition. We must believe that God is love and that, being love, He cannot harm us but must ever do us good. Then we must throw ourselves before Him and pray with boldness for whatever we know our good and His glory require, and the cost is no object! Whatever He in His love and wisdom would assess against us, we will accept with delight because it pleased Him. Prayers like that cannot go unanswered. The character and reputation of God guarantee their fulfillment.

We should always keep in mind the infinite loving-kindness of God. No one need fear to put his life in His hands. His yoke is easy; His burden is light.

Increase my faith; increase my courage. Amen.

A Fallacy: To Think That Time Is a Great Healer

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?… Acts 9:6

The most harmful mistake we make concerning time is to think that it has somehow a mysterious power to perfect human nature and change the human personality.

We say of a foolish young man, “Time will make him wiser,” or we see a new Christian acting like anything but a Christian and hope that time will someday turn him into a saint.

The truth is that time has no more power to sanctify a man than space has. Indeed, time is only a fiction by which we account for change. It is a transformation, not time, that turns fools into wise men and sinners into saints, Christ bringing it about by means of the changes He works in the heart!

Saul the persecutor became Paul the servant of God, but time did not make the change. Christ wrought the miracle, the same Christ who once changed water into wine. One spiritual experience followed another in fairly rapid succession until the violent Saul became a gentle, God-enamored soul, ready to lay down his life for the faith he once hated. It should be obvious that time had no part in the making of the man of God!

Human nature is not fixed and for this we should thank God day and night! We are still capable of change. We can become something other than what we are. By the power of the gospel the covetous man may become generous, the egotist lowly in his own eyes. The thief may learn to steal no more, the blasphemer to fill his mouth with praises unto God.

Come As You Are

praying
Being justified by his grace… heirs according to the hope of eternal life. TITUS 3:7

Let me say this to any of you who are still trying to add up your human merits— look away in faith to the Lord of abundant mercy!

Fixing yourself over and trying to straighten yourself out will never be sufficient—you must come to Jesus as you are!

Our Lord told about two men who went up into the temple to pray. One said, “God, here I am—all fixed up. Every hair is in place!”

The other said, “Oh God, I just crawled in off skid row. Have mercy on me!”

God forgave the skid row bum, but sent the other man away, hardened and unrepentant and unforgiven.

We come to Him just as we are but in humble repentance. When the human spirit comes to God knowing that anything it receives will be out of God’s mercy, then repentance has done its proper work!

God promises to forgive and forget and to take that man into His heart and teach him that all of God’s kindnesses are due to His mercy. What more can a sinner ask?

Dear Lord, You know me as I really am, yet You extended Your great mercy toward me. Thank You for Your divine love and forgiveness.