Shocking Temptation

Recently I was teaching a ladies Bible study and we covered the verse, Let him who stole steal no longer (Eph. 4:28). I commented to the ladies, “How sad that Paul has to tell the people of the church, God’s people, to stop stealing.” We all nodded our heads in agreement. I later thought to myself how curious it is that we all have certain temptations that are stronger than others, but surely Christians wouldn’t purposefully take things that don’t belong to them! Well…the evil one was ready to put my confidence to the test, because three times within the next three days, he waived before me an opportunity to steal. How bizarre!

On the third occasion, I had gone through the checkout line at a home improvement store, and when I got to my car to unload my buggy, I thought to myself, Hmm, I don’t think the cashier rang up this can of spray paint. The crafty evil one wanted to tempted me, and suddenly a thought ran through my mind that shocked me: you don’t have to feel guilty about it if you don’t look at the receipt to know for sure that you didn’t pay for it, and besides, you’re in a hurry. Whoa! Where did that thought come from? I couldn’t get into the store fast enough to go to that cashier and pay for the paint. And praise God, I was able to have a conversation about the Lord with the cashier as I explained why I came back to pay for the paint.

Dear Christian, guard your heart against overconfidence, and flee temptation today!

“The pride of your heart has deceived you” (Obadiah 1:3).

 

An Encouraging Word for All of Us Ordinary People

Ever feel like you’re way too ordinary? Maybe you check out Facebook and feel slightly depressed because everyone’s life seems way more interesting than yours. Remember that people only post what they want you to know about their lives (can I get an “amen”?), but even more importantly:

You are a special person, for this reason: you are special to God. Tucked away in your mind are file cabinets filled with every compliment, report card, knowing look, high five, taunting jeer, and rejection letter you’ve ever received. Purge the files. Take a new memo. God has said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

From Lost on a Familiar Road

Celebrate Fair Trade!

BFF logo In honor of Fair Trade Month, please consider making some Christmas gift purchases through one of the many fair trade ministries that are empowering the poorest of the poor to care for their families in the name of Jesus. If you haven’t gotten involved yet with BFF Ministries (BFF stands for Bangladesh: For Faith and Freedom,) please check out our site and consider hosting a BFF Party or making a donation.

And if you haven’t checked out the great WorldCrafts catalog for Fall/Winter 2014-2015, here’s a link to their site, which I just happened to connect on the page featuring the artisan work of Light of Hope Learning Center in Bangladesh! Free shipping with the code FTM14 for WorldCrafts ends today (October 17)!

 

Coming Soon – Thin Red Line Volumes 1 and 2

TRL small
If you’re looking for a fresh approach to God’s Word, look no further.

Coming Soon! The Thin Red Line Series releases in February 2015, beginning with volumes 1 and 2. Thin Red Line is a Bible study for life groups, Bible study groups, small groups, or individual study of Scripture. Trace God’s amazing story of redemption throughout the Bible; you’ll love this storying, interactive, Q&A format that allows the Holy Spirit to be the Teacher.

Peer very closely into God’s Word through the lens of redemption. See the foreshadowing and symbolism and be transformed through life application as the Old Testament comes alive in volumes 1 and 2. This study also includes video clips to introduce each section at no additional cost.

Publisher excerpts are coming soon! Please spread the word about this exciting new study.

 

Be a Good Teammate

Have you ever played for a team sport? What’s the best way to respond when a teammate is struggling to perform? I was talking with an athlete just the other day, and suggested to her that pointing out to a teammate every time she fails is not going to prompt her to do better, but instead will likely make her even more discouraged and self-conscious about her performance. However, words of encouragement and support will strength her and build her confidence.

We’re all on the same team in the body of Christ. How are you using your words with those “teammates” who might be struggling to perform during game time on the battlefield of life?

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Put It Through the Shredder

It took me three days, but I did it. I shredded every receipt, pay stub, and bank statement from ten years of my life. The shredder kept overheating, and so I had to let the poor baby rest every ten minutes or so, and while I sat there waiting for the little red light to go off, I thought about the mounds of paper dumped in the box at my feet. Ten years of my life, represented by letterheads, codes, and dollar signs, and I was shredding it all to pieces, never to be remembered or retrieved.

There are moments from our past that we gladly recount to our friends. I believe I’ve told anyone who would listen that my high school softball team won the state championship my junior year. But there are many more memories that we don’t retell, and we try not to relive them, either, because they are shameful, or at least embarrassing. We’d like to shred those memories, never to be remembered and never to be retrieved. Unfortunately, our brain isn’t designed to shred memories, but God’s mind is capable of the complete removal of any recollection.  God has said, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17). 

If God is willing to let go of your past sins, why not do the same? There’s no value in holding onto them if you’ve repented before God. The next time a shameful memory arises, put it right where it belongs, as far back as it will go in your mental file cabinets, and ask God if He might “shred” those memories in your mind. Let it go and be free.

In This Troubled World, Have Joy and Not Worry (Part 4)

When Christ makes us new, we are not reborn to bring fear and dread to those who don’t believe as we do. We don’t carry a blade; we carry the light of Christ, and we let it shine brightly for the world to see how beautiful Jesus Christ truly is.

Want to dispel this dark cloud hanging over us? Then Christian friend, rejoice! Praise the Lord, shout His praise, tell what wonderful thing God has done for you. Smile, laugh, raise your hands to the heavens, and watch the glory of the Lord consume the darkness. There is power in praise. Again I say, rejoice.

When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory;
But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves.
Proverbs 28:12

In This Troubled World, Have Hope and Not Worry (Part 3)

With the threat of harm in today’s uncertain world, we can be swallowed up by fear and driven by doubt. Who will protect us? Who will save the day? Who will bring peace to our land? We must not look for a human to be our rescuer, for the Bible warns that there is one who is coming who will claim to bring peace to this world, but he will be the great deceiver. Do not look across the landscape for someone to bring you hope; instead, look above to the Heavenly Father who is able to fulfill our hope and bring peace that cannot be taken away.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.

Psalm 33:20-22

 

In This Troubled World, Have Courage and Not Worry (Part Two)

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around….Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing is upon Your people. (Psalm 3:6,8)

Are you afraid? One of Satan’s favorite weapons is fear. The Father wants us to know that when fear rises up within us, it is not from Him (2 Timothy 1:7). Satan’s fear paralyzes us; God’s love mobilizes us.

I would rather face ten thousand enemies with God on my side than to stand with ten thousand men without the Lord. We cannot allow fear of the evil one to cause us to retreat into our homes and into the house of God, huddling in fear and uncertain about the future. We know what the future holds: God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! So what do we do when terrorism threatens or when disease strikes? We keep going. We continue to do the work of an evangelist. We lift our hands in praise as we go, knowing that salvation belongs to the Lord, and no matter what we see with our human eyes, we know that God’s blessing is upon us. We say with courage, “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6) We keep obeying God.