Daily Devotional for Saturday March 10, 2012
The Battle with the Flesh and the Allure of this World vs our Desire to Serve and Please God
(Matthew 26:41; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 4:4)
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Matthew 26:41 (NIV)
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
The battle with the flesh and the allure of this world versus our desire to serve and please God is something everyone battles against. Some days it is easy to dismiss what you read in the Devotional since it doesn't directly apply to your life at that moment. That is a key point of this Devotional today. Satan is out to get YOU and you will be shocked at how he will try to accomplish that, and even more shocked when you wake up one morning and find yourself in one of his traps that you never dreamed you would be in.
Every day I read emails from people that start out, "I can't believe I am in this situation." Sin is so subtle, can start out so innocently. I don't know how many people we deal with each day who became addicted to pain killers after using them legally under the supervision of a doctor. We deal daily with people who let a few glasses of wine with dinner enslave them to alcohol. Often I hear from dear people who went to play the slot machines at a local casino for a night of "fun," and have now destroyed their finances due to gambling.
Over and over I hear of work friendships that turn into adulterous affairs. Sadly, I deal too often with pastors and men and women in the ministry who allowed themselves to get too close, too emotionally involved in the life of someone of the opposite sex, and it ended up destroying their marriage and their work for God.
Please hear me today when I tell you to NEVER, EVER, think you are above falling into any type of sin. Just because you may not have a propensity towards drugs and could never see yourself in that bondage, doesn't mean one day you won't. Just because you don't have a propensity to drink and could never see yourself bound by alcohol, doesn't mean one day you won't. Just because you love your wife or husband and could never imagine in your wildest dreams having an affair, doesn't mean one day you won't.
The point is, NEVER, EVER feel you are above any sin, because you are not. In most cases, it is those areas of your life that you feel you are the strongest where you are most likely to fall!
Perhaps quicksand is the best example of what it is like to be in one of satan's traps. You sink, slowly to your death in quicksand. If you try to get out by yourself, it only pulls you in deeper. That is exactly what it is like when you wake up one morning and find yourself in sin. For some of you, your quicksand may be drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, food, or any of a number of other addictions. For others, your quicksand may be a sexual sin. For still others, your quicksand may be greed and the lust of things this world has to offer. Regardless of what your quicksand may be, the question now is how do you get out?
The first step is to realize that you are in a situation that on your own you can't get out of. If you were strong enough to get out, you wouldn't have fallen into this trap in the first place. So now is the time you have to humble yourself before the Lord and come to Him for help. That begins with repentance and asking the Lord to forgive you. I'm not talking about that "I'm sorry I got caught" type of repentance either. But having a real, broken and contrite heart for sinning against the Lord and seeking His forgiveness for your sins. He knows your heart and He knows if you are sincere or just trying to use Him to get out of the trouble you are in.
The second step is to fully surrender yourself to the Lord and submit yourself to whatever His plan is for getting you out of the quicksand. We all want God to come swinging down out of the trees like Tarzan in the movies, grabbing our outstretched hand and pull us out of the quicksand, placing us on solid land. He may do it that way too. He also may take us out the slow way as well. We may have to stay in that quicksand for a while, simply being sustained by His grace and mercy. You are in no position to tell God how to rescue you, just be thankful that if you surrender to Him, He will.
Never forget that there are ALWAYS consequences for our actions. Once we are out of the quicksand, it is very possible that we will have to deal with the consequences of our choice to rebel against the Lord. The key is, Christ is our ONLY hope to get out of the quicksand and to eventually get our lives back on track where they need to be. We must surrender ourselves completely to Him and know that it will only be His grace and mercy that will see us through whatever we have to face in that process.
The third step is that time of restoration. After we have fallen, been rescued, we now need to have our relationship with the Lord restored. No doubt one of the greatest examples of this process is Peter being resorted by our Lord after he denied Jesus on the night He was taken in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Note: Peter is a perfect example of a man who fell into a sin he would have never expected to. Denying Christ is probably the last sin Peter ever expected to commit, proving my earlier point how we are immune to NO sin.)
The restoration of Peter is a powerful and encouraging message that even if you have failed the Lord, sinned against Him, He is ready to forgive you and restore you to fellowship. The Peter we read about in the Book of Acts after being restored by Jesus, is a powerful and bold man of faith who helped to lead the early church.
I love you and care about you so much. I realize that the Devotional today is not easy to read. I realize that it has caused many of you to literally break down in tears as you were reading these words, knowing that God Himself was speaking to you. Listen my friend, He loves you! He loves you more than you will ever know. God is there to try and protect you from satan and his traps. But you do have free will, and in exercising your free will you can choose to obey the Lord or rebel against Him.
Satan does not play by any rules and is out to destroy you. He will use whatever tricks and traps he can to accomplish that. That is why as I stated yesterday you must stay close to the Lord each day thru the Word and prayer, stay busy, especially finding ways to serve the Lord so that you aren't as likely to dwell on your flesh and the allure of this world. The message today is that you are not above ANY type of sin, so you must always be on guard and don't ever think you are immune from being tempted by the evil one.
We all sin, we all fail God at times. The key is if you wake up one morning and find yourself in the quicksand, realize you can't get out without the Lord's help. Humble yourself before Him and submit to His plan in getting you out. Lastly, allow Jesus to restore you to fellowship. Failure does not mean you are finished. Often your greatest works for the Lord come AFTER you have failed and have been restored to His fellowship.
Satan is out to get YOU. However, I want to leave you today with that powerful promise we have in God's word, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4 (NIV)
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,