Giving in to Jesus

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11

They call it “The Devil’s Footprint.” It’s a foot-shaped impression in the granite on a hill beside a church in Ipswich, Massachusetts. According to local legend the “footprint” happened one fall day in 1740, when the evangelist George Whitefield preached so powerfully that the devil leaped from the church steeple, landing on the rock on his way out of town.

Though it’s only a legend, the story calls to mind an encouraging truth from God’s Word. James 4:7 reminds us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

The prayer of the feeblest saint . . . is a terror to Satan. —Oswald Chambers

God has given us the strength we need to stand against our adversary and the temptations in our lives. The Bible tells us that “sin shall no longer be your master” (Rom. 6:14) because of God’s loving grace to us through Jesus Christ. As we run to Jesus when temptation comes, He enables us to stand in His strength. Nothing we face in this life can overcome Him, because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As we submit ourselves to our Savior, yielding our wills to Him in the moment and walking in obedience to God’s Word, He is helping us. When we give in to Him instead of giving in to temptation, He is able to fight our battles. In Him we can overcome.

Lord Jesus, I give my will to You today. Help me to stay close to You in every moment, and to love You by obeying You.

The prayer of the feeblest saint . . . is a terror to Satan. Oswald Chambers

For more insight from Oswald Chambers, visit utmost.org.

By James Banks

 

INSIGHT:James’s emphasis on resisting temptation fits within his broader teaching regarding the behavior of believers. For James, being “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (1:22 nkjv) is central to being a believer, which echoes Jesus’s words that true faith is confirmed by obedience (Luke 6:49; 11:28).

In today’s text, James helps believers understand one way how to live with integrity—through humility. James 4:6, a reference to Proverbs 3:34, fits within many Jewish wisdom texts emphasizing the relationship between humility and godly living. Humility allows us to submit naturally to God and His plan (v. 8). Submitting to God means we are “friends” with Him, instead of the world (v. 4). When we are friends with God, we naturally live according to His kingdom and values, not the world’s (3:15, 17). As we live and walk humbly with our God (see Micah 6:8), He lifts us up (James 4:10), draws near to us (v. 8), and makes the devil powerless.

Does it surprise you to think of humility and fellowship with God as essential for resisting temptation? How can we learn to make these virtues part of our Christian lives? Monica Brands

Answers in Times of Great Disaster

 

Deuteronomy 29:29

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. Because of the Bible, we can be certain:

God is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

God works circumstances for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we can’t fully comprehend what He’s doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. God is alerting us to the need for repentance—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. The Lord wants to get our attention, and catastrophes open our ears to hear from Him.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His plan. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Tolerant Thyatira

“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; . . . I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:18-20)

The Lord Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira is the longest among the seven recorded in Revelation. Although they were faithful in their works to the city, had a strong charity among themselves, and were evidently growing in their reputation and perhaps even in number, the Lord Jesus used some very harsh language to rebuke their behavior.

Whether or not the woman who held influence in the church was actually named Jezebel, she had entrenched herself as a prophetess. Her namesake in the Old Testament (1 Kings) was the wicked queen and wife of King Ahab of Israel during the days of Elijah. Her evil deeds are recorded throughout seven chapters—more than any other woman in Israel’s history!

The Jezebel of Thyatira had been allowed “to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Revelation 2:20). It is not clear if the Lord spoke of physical fornication among the church members, but the practice of sacrificing to idols was a serious rebellion against the second commandment and a clear violation of God’s Word (Exodus 20:4-5).

Those who were committing “adultery with her” (Revelation 2:22) had entered into “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24). Whether this behavior was a physical practice or not (as was common among the pagan religions of the day), it is most certainly identified as spiritual adultery when those who name the name of Christ worship other gods (Jeremiah 3:1, 20; Hosea 9:1; etc.). May God protect us from such horrible leadership. HMM III

“My people are bent to backsliding from me.”

Judges 5:6, 7, 9-18

Judges 5:6

It is clear that afflictions are unavailing to change the heart; their best results are only temporary, and as soon as they are withdrawn, men return to their old ways,

Judges 5:6

The multiplicity of these idols should have provoked the scorn of those who knew the one only living and true God; but such is the besotting influence of sin that the Israelites became universal image-worshippers. The rites used in the adoration of many of these false deities were to the last degree degrading, and this rendered Israel’s sin all the more heinous. Observe, that they forsook Jehovah altogether when they became votaries of idols; men cannot serve God and Mammon; and where falsehood enters, truth leaves in disgust.

Judges 5:7

As they idolized on all sides, so were they oppressed on all sides—on the west by Philistines, and on the east by Ammonites.

Judges 5:9

When all alike were crushed beneath the heavy yoke of the oppressor, their cry went up to heaven with great vehemence.

Judges 5:13

Past favours aggravate present rebellion. If God had dealt hardly with them, there might have been some excuse for forsaking him, but it was base to turn from him after so much help received. O how often might the Lord have said to us, “I will deliver you no more.”

Judges 5:14

This was but justice, but what a dreadful sound it must have made in Israel’s ears. Suppose the Lord should deal thus with us and beat us back to the false confidences and sinful pleasures which we have at any time set our hearts upon. Imagine his saying, “Go to your self-righteousness for comfort”—”turn to your merrymakings or to your money bags”—what would desponding souls be able to reply?

Judges 5:15

It was their wisest course to confess their sin, and surrender at discretion. Every awakened penitent should do the same.

Judges 5:16

This practical reformation proved the sincerity of their repentance. True repentance is not only for sin, but from sin. Those who turned to worship the Lord, even though he continued to smite them, were genuine penitents. Not long would the Lord retain his anger when he saw his people in so hopeful a condition of heart. He loves them too well to retain his wrath against them.

Judges 5:18

Under renewed invasion the downtrodden Israelites assembled in self-defence, but they were without a leader. They agreed to submit to the rule of any man who would be bold enough to commence the conflict against their cruel enemy. At this juncture the Lord raised up Jephthah, and through his instrumentality answered their prayers.

 

If They Drink Any Deadly Thing, It Shall Not Hurt Them!

Mark 16:17, 18

In yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, I mentioned a religious group in the remote hills of some states that “takes up serpents” and passes them around the congregation to demonstrate the strength of their faith. They believe that if their faith is strong, they will not be bitten. And if they are bitten, they use this as an opportunity to prove that a snake bite will have no effect on them.

But in Mark 16:18, Jesus went on to say, “… and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them….” Based on these words, this sincerely misled group also deliberately drinks deadly poisons, such as strychnine and arsenic. Just as they take up venomous snakes to prove the strength of their faith, they intentionally subject themselves to deadly poisons for the same purpose. They actually believe Jesus intended for Christians to consume lethal chemicals to prove that when their faith is strong, such substances will have no effect on them. But is this really what Jesus meant? Let’s look at this verse to see what Jesus was talking about!

The word “drink” is actually the Greek word pino, which means to drink or to consume. Although this word usually refers to drinking, it can also picture a person who is consuming something, such as meat or some other kind of food. The word “deadly” comes from the Greek word thanasimos, a derivative of the word thanatos, which is the Greek word for death. However the word used here in Mark 16:18 describes something that is deadly or fatal. The word “any” is the small word ti, which means anything. This means that Jesus wasn’t referring only to liquid chemicals, but to anything that is deadly or fatal, including chemicals or foods. Hence, this part of the verse could be translated, “… and if they consume anything that would normally be fatal….”

Jesus continued by saying that if a believer consumes something fatal while he is on a God-sent trip, this fatal substance “shall not hurt them.” The word “hurt” is the Greek word blapto, which means to weaken, to disable, to hurt, to harm, or to injure. It depicts something that is probably not powerful enough to kill, but strong enough to make one sick or ill. Because the word thanasimos (“deadly thing”) is also used in this verse, it tells us that Jesus meant this: “… and if they consume anything that would normally be fatal, or anything that would usually make a person sick, it will have no effect upon them…”

Remember that Jesus was speaking to followers whom He was going to send to the farthest ends of the world. To fulfill this assignment, they would be required to eat foods they had never seen before. In fact, their journeys to pagan lands would no doubt necessitate that they eat foods they previously considered to be dirty or unclean. For them to take the Gospel to new places meant they would have to eat “mystery food”—not knowing where it came from, who killed it, how long it had been dead, who cooked it, how clean or dirty the kitchen was in which it was cooked, or what effect the food was going to have on their stomachs.

Remember, the Lord had previously told His disciples, “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give… eat such things as are set before you” (Luke 10:7, 8). If the disciples had rejected what their hosts had prepared for them, they could have greatly insulted or hurt them. Therefore, Jesus said in effect, “If your hosts have prepared the best they can give you, eat it with joy!”

As one who travels worldwide, I can personally tell you that sometimes it is difficult to eat what is set before you! But when you look into a plate of food that looks scary, you must shut your eyes, bless that mess in Jesus’ name, lift your fork from the plate, open your mouth, insert, and eat the “mystery food” by faith!

I’ve seen individuals come on mission trips expecting to eat the identical kinds of food they eat at home. When they discover they can’t have the same food, the same restaurants, the same blend of coffee, and so on, I’ve seen them get very upset. But they’re not at home! They are on the other side of the world where those kinds of foods don’t even exist! If a person is going to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, he must be prepared to eat food that is prepared at the ends of the earth!

This is precisely the reason Jesus told His soon-to-be world travelers that if they consumed anything deadly or sickening, it would have no effect on them. Jesus wasn’t encouraging His disciples to deliberately consume poison; rather, He was assuring them of the divine protection that is available for those who take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

But as noted earlier (see July 7), this promise belongs to “those who believe.” If you want this promise of protection from bad foods or fatal substances, you must release your faith and activate this promise. So before you sit down to eat, take a few minutes to bless that food. Call it sanctified, and speak nutrition and health into it. Then eat the food, believing that it will only bless you and that nothing negative can happen to you as a result of eating it!

Jesus provided everything needed for those of us who would follow His call to the ends of the earth. He provided us with supernatural protection from disasters, calamities, snakes, scorpions, and all the works of the enemy. He also promised traveling mercies and protection from acts of injustice. He even guaranteed that if we accidentally consume bad foods or deadly substances, they wouldn’t weaken us physically or injure our health.

It’s time for you to quit worrying and start believing that Jesus meant what He said. If God is giving you an assignment that takes you to a foreign state, a distant country, or an unfamiliar culture, just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and get going! God isn’t going to send you somewhere so you can eat something deadly and die! Rebuke that spirit of fear, and release your faith! Don’t let the devil keep you trapped at home because you’re afraid you won’t like the food. The Gospel and the power of God is much stronger than any meat or drink!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I thank You for giving me the courage to go wherever You want me to go. I rebuke fear; I reject intimidation; and I decide by faith that I can do anything and go anywhere Jesus wants to send me. Holy Spirit, fill me with Your power and help me think with a sound mind! There’s so much that Jesus has for me to do, and I don’t want to waste a single minute.

Thank You for helping and strengthening me!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I boldly declare that I am protected from bad foods or fatal substances! When I sit down to eat, I take a few minutes to bless my food. I call it sanctified; I speak nutrition and health into it; and then I eat it, believing that it will only bless and strengthen my body. Jesus has provided supernatural protection from disasters, calamities, snakes, scorpions, and all the works of the enemy. He promised me traveling mercies and protection from acts of injustice. God isn’t going to send me somewhere so I can die! I rebuke the spirit of fear—and I press forward into the divine life of Jesus Christ!

I boldly declare this in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. How do you think people in other nations are affected when after preparing their best food for their guests, they watch the guests turn up their noses and act like the food is so disgusting that they cannot consume it?
  2. Do you pray over your food before you eat?
  3. How does today’s Sparkling Gem affect what you are going to do in the future concerning food that has been prepared for you?

 

Do You Hate Sin? Or Do You Coddle Your Sin?

I wonder if most of us don’t secretly love our sin. But because it robs us of our power and peace, we confess it and go straight for a while. But then, like a reforming alcoholic, we tire of our chastity and find ourselves seeking out or allowing our pet sins to once again gain control over us.

 

Yet the Scriptures instruct us that “to fear the Lord is to hate evil… ” (Proverbs 8:13)

 

King Josiah demonstrated a hatred for sin that is unique in the annals of Israel’s history. Upon learning of the Scripture’s teaching on holiness, he tore his clothes, repented, and then took severe steps to eradicate blatant practices of sin among his people. He:

 

Removed and burned articles used for worshipping Baal and the stars

 

 

Did away with pagan priests
Tore down the quarters of the male prostitutes Desecrated, burned and ground to dust the “high places” (places where pagan priests burned incense)

 

 

Desecrated the places where child sacrifices were located

 

 

Removed horses dedicated to the sun
Pulled down an altar dedicated to the worship of the stars; smashing them into pieces and throwing them outside the City of Jerusalem

 

 

Burned chariots dedicated to the sun
Demolished a golden calf at Bethel Smashed and cut down artifacts related to worship of a Canaanite mother-goddess

 

 

Had bones from the hillside removed and burned to defile pagan locales of worship

 

 

Removed and defiled all the shrines on the “high places”
Slaughtered all the priests of the “high places,” burning human bones on them to defile them from further practices Got rid of all the mediums, spiritists and household gods, idols, and all other “detestable” things in Judah and Jerusalem

 

 

(2 Kings 22, 23)

 

Josiah’s passionate hatred of sin is EXACTLY what God expects of us: “Let those who love the Lord hate evil.” (Psalm 97:10a)

 

QUESTION: Which impression would a careful observer of your life have?

  • That you hate your sin? Or,
  • That you coddle your sin?

 

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