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God’s ‘Safety Valves’

14 Oct

Passing by the primate area one day, a zoo attendant happened to notice a chimpanzee sitting on a rock with an open book in each hand. He looked first at one book and then the other.

Upon closer examination, the attendant identified the books:  the Bible and Darwin’s Origin of Species.

Curious, the attendant asked the chip, “What’s with the books?”

The chimp replied, “I’m trying to decide whether I’m my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother.” * LOL!

With some choices there’s not much difference ~ like choosing between vanilla and chocolate ice cream, a matter of taste. But other times, choices are as clearly different as those two books in the chimps hands. Some choices can change the direction of our lives.

Can you think back to a crucial decision that took you down a different path? Maybe it was a foolish choice. You didn’t anticipate the consequences. Looking back now, you wonder how you ever could have missed the signs, the clues that your choice was destructive or hurtful. It’s a choice you now regret.

Or maybe you made a wise choice that helped you grow, led to success or opened up more opportunities. You’re so glad you made that choice!

What was the difference? Was it just the choices before you? We have options to choose every day, all day long. The choices just are. Just like temptations. You might face one temptation and it’s like water off a duck’s back; face another kind of temptation and you fall head first! What makes the difference is our response. Temptations have no power unless we act on them.

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us how to respond to temptation:“… God is faithful and he will not let you

A Safety Valve

be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape….” The same is true when faced with a wrong or foolish choice. We can always look for God’s “way of escape.” It is a safety valve that helps us when the pressure to sin or be unwise gets strong.

The way of escape may actually be proactive. All sin starts in the heart and mind, when we want something that is not good for us, something God has declared “off limits” or destructive.  We need to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and mind. We need to be careful what we allow into our thoughts through the media, especially, because they can become a constant source of temptation. God provides mercy when we repent of and forsake any “ways” that are contrary to His ways (Isaiah 55:6-7) ~ wrong desires in our hearts, wrong habits and behaviors.

The way of escape comes when we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 5:16-25). It is not by our might or power, but by God’s spirit that we accomplish anything (Zechariah 4:6). The Spirit makes us overcomers! (1 John 4:4)

The way of escape also comes as we renew our mind (Romans 12:1-2). What we feed our mind will eventually come out, but we can change the direction of our thinking and refresh “the spirit of our mind” in Christ (Galatians 6:8a; Ephesians 4:17-24) and the Word of God. We study, meditate on, and apply the principles of scripture that help us stand strong against temptations and make wise choices.

The way of escape comes in our commitment to glorify God in purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). While will power can only take us so far (which is why we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit), we can resolve to say “no” to temptations. We can purpose to make choices that lead to holiness.

The way of escape also comes through accountability. The Bible encourages us to exhort (encourage) one another and bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We can ask Christian friends to help us fight temptation. We can seek God together for wisdom to make wise choices.

Are you facing some tough choices? Is temptation knocking at your door? God wants to give wisdom, and He offers safety valves ~ His way of escape in many forms. How will you respond?

* from CyberSaltDigest.com, 7-7-11

– Dawn

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Seven Things to Do When Temptation Comes

23 Sep

My pup Roscoe is a sneak and a thief. No matter the temptation, it proves to be too strong. We’re working on some discipline to HELP him make wiser choices, but in the meantime, he’s a real scamp.

I’ve had to take the toilet paper off the roller recently and place the paper up on the bathroom cabinet… or simply shut the door. The fluffy roll of TP is just too tempting. He grabs the end of the roll and races through the house and out the doggy door into the back yard.

One day, he grabbed a fresh roll and I found it all over the cement sidewalk on our side yard ~ including the cardboard roll. He had a totally self-satisfied look on his face.

But it’s not just toilet paper.

If I don’t place a washcloth on the towel bar when I’m done at the sink or in the tub, Roscoe snatches the washcloth and runs for the bed. He rolls over and over, “enjoying” his soggy prize until our bed is soaked!

BAD dog! Such a sneaky little thief.

He’s not getting away with anything, of course.  His master, “Mama,” always knows. He can’t hide the evidence for long.

I’m a little like Roscoe sometimes. I know good and well that my Master sees and knows what I do. Everything is open to His eyes.

The Bible says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). It’s not just what He sees, but what He knows about us. He knows our heart (Acts 1:24). He knows our secrets (Psalm 44:21).

Because God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-8; Proverbs 15:3), He knows when we fall into temptation and sin (Jeremiah 16:17). He can see even in the darkness (Psalm 139:11-12).

No, we’re not getting away with anything!

Yet, though God sees us, He is compassionate. He can search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24), and He will call us to repent ~ to turn back to righteous living and godly choices (Acts 3:19) . He knows that we will eventually reap harm or destruction if we continue in sin (Galatians 6:7).

And when temptation comes, we can do those things that lead to victory.

1. “See” Your Temptations for What They Are!

Identify whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual (or a combination of these). Is it something that will contribute to poor health, financial ruin, or guilt? What is your motive? Is it a matter of compromise? Indulgence? Are you toying around with a relationship or a habit that could easily bring you down? Is it lust of the eyes, desires of lust, or something born in pride? (1 John 2:16) Is it something you keep rationalizing or excusing … but you sense or know it is wrong?

2. Stand on What God Says

Is there a clear scripture that reveals God’s will about your temptation? Have you studied the scriptures to determine what God has to say? Is the Spirit of God tugging at your heart whenever you give in? It might not be something that is overtly wrong or sinful, but perhaps God is saying it is wrong for you at this time (or all the time). Find and stand on the truth of the Word of God.

3. Sort Out Your Triggers

Is there a certain place or event that triggers your temptation? Are you bored? (Boredom has sometimes been called the devil’s workshop.) Are you indecisive about what God has called you to do… unmotivated and perhaps lazy? Are you not dealing with stress, frustration or depression ~ and so, in a weakened state? Dig down into your heart… what are your specific triggers?

4. Strategize ~ Make No Provision for Sinful Desires

Accept the fact that you’re going to face temptation, and work to manage your life so you can deal with them. You can overcome temptations before they grab your heart. Instead of enabling temptation, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and allow Christ to transform your mind (Romans 12:1-2). Avoid circumstances or people that lead you into temptation, if at all possible. Choose your friends carefully (1 Corinthians 15:33). Don’t buy things you know you shouldn’t have. You might have to take some drastic actions (getting rid of a TV, computer, or other items, perhaps), but do what is necessary to live a clean life. Be sure to “… make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires …” (Romans 13:14).

5. Surrender to God Rather than Your Temptation

Read Romans 6. Practice yielding the members of your body to the Lord as a servant of righteous living. Seek and set your mind on the things of God, and learn how to live “in Christ” (Colossians 3:1-17).

6. Substitute Sinful Desires with Godly Ones

Replace wrong thinking (Romans 12:1-2), but also, substitute some new activities (or even healthy distractions) with old unhealthy or sinful habits. Take up a new hobby, get some exercise, join a class … and do it with your whole heart with the desire to please and honor God (Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

7. Seek Help (Counsel, an Accountability Partner)

If you struggle, get some practical “skin on” help (Proverbs 17:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Seek out a minister, counselor, Christian teacher or support group that deals with your area of temptation. Be honest with a godly, mature-in-the-faith person about your struggle; and set up some accountability guidelines. Meet or talk on a regular basis.

So remember my sneaky Roscoe ~ always giving in to temptation ~ and recognize that you’re not getting away with anything. There’s going to be a pay day of some kind for unhealthy or sinful behavior, even if it is simply lost opportunities or the burden of a guilty conscience.

– Dawn

Creatures of Habit

29 Jul

OOPS!

This post appeared earlier today (unfinished)! Sorry about that, if you wondered. I was planning it for September, but accidentally clicked on the wrong button, so I guess I’ll send it out today! (I’m a creature of habit … which really makes this funny, with the title.)

Anyway, before we get started …

My friend Janet Baker, a secretary for her church Bible study in Georgia, sends out a simple newsletter each week with reminders about the upcoming study session. She said at the end of almost every email, she adds a LOL from the LOL with God book to brighten the ladies’ week. Thank you, Janet! That’s being creative as well as encouraging.

And now for our LOL …

The driver screamed! He lost control of the taxi, nearly hitting a bus. He drove up the sidewalk and crashed into a store window.

After a few seconds of total silence, the driver yelled at his passenger.

” You scared me half to death!” he said.

The stunned passenger apologized and said he didn’t realize a little tap on the shoulder could scare him so much.

“You’re right,” the driver replied. “I’m sorry. It’s not really your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”

That driver was responding out of his experiences over many, many years. We do that too. We are creatures of habit.

The good thing about habits is that we can leave some things to our subconscious. Patterned grooves in our brain allow us to remember important things like phone numbers, our locker combination at the gym, our spouse’s birthday, etc.

The bad thing about habits is that we can succumb to nasty stuff just because we always have.

Psychologists tell us we need to get precise (very specific) when we want to change a habit. We need to think about the specific habit we want to change. Then we need to expect that it’s going to be difficult. After all, there’s that groove in the brain thing. And finally, we need to plan what we’ll do when we get tired of making positive changes, because changing habits are hard and everything in us will resist change.  We need to figure out what we’ll do when we feel most vulnerable.

We face our habits in many ways. We might rationalize our behavior. We might not really want to change. Or we might be trying and failing.

The truth is, it takes proactive choices to change habits. It takes positive replacement (Romans 12:1-2). We might temporarily change a habit, but more often than not, it takes more than will power; it takes the power of God.

Romans 8:2 explains that the struggle with bad habits (sinful or hindering habits) that captivate us (Romans 7:22-23) can only be conquered by the power of the Holy Spirit within us … the law of the Spirit working in us to overcome the law of the flesh. When we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17).

Have I arrived? Have I conquered all of my bad habits. Certainly not. But I’ll tell you … there’s been some real breakthroughs! And I’m glad, because God didn’t rescue and redeem my life so I could live a “normal” life. He changed me so I can live a supernatural life.

Here are some things that are helping me get rid of bad habits in my life:

1. I’m getting in the habit of yielding my life (every part of it) in prayer to God’s control, and asking Him for guidance and strength (Romans 6:1-14).

2. I’m getting in the habit of recognizing and confessing every detour (sin) into areas where God doesn’t’ want me to live (1 John 1:9).

3. I’m getting in the habit of thanking the Lord for the power of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

4. I’m getting in the habit of praising God for every victory ~ a God-ward focus (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 Peter 2:9).

5. I’m getting in the habit of believing God for not only the ultimate victory (never experiencing the presence of sin in heaven), but many powerful-right-now victories as He conforms me to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

Think about your habits today. What characterizes your life? What do you do on a regular basis? What are you known for?

You ARE a creature of habit ~ either habits that pull you away from holiness and pleasing God, or habits that make you a better Kingdom Servant, bringing joy to the One who loves you.

May we all be godly creatures of habit … living out the life the Creator designed for us.

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