Bible Study · Lent

BIBLE STUDY: 8 Ways to Beat Temptation

bible study

We all face temptations of many kinds. God wants us to beat them. We don’t have to sin, as powerful as temptations feel. Here are 8 ways to gain the victory.

1.  Pray before you are tempted

Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” And as he told us to pray, “Give us THIS DAY” our daily bread,” it’s good to ask God to deliver us from temptation and evil THIS DAY.

2. Flee. A good run is better than a bad fall.

Stay as far away sin as you can. Don’t think you won’t fall. If you hired someone to transport your most valuable possessions, you wouldn’t tell them to see how close to the edge of a cliff they could drive. In Proverbs 7 a “young man lacking sense” wanders near the house of an woman at twilight, and just “happens” to run into her. She’s dressed sensually. She says her husband’s gone and describes her perfumed bed. Eventually he follows her like an ox going to slaughter. Eve got into trouble by engaging with Satan and looking at how delicious the fruit looked. Flee temptation. Stay out of the car in the park in the dark.

3. Quote Scripture

That’s how Jesus overcame the tempter. When you feel like grumbling remind yourself to “rejoice always.” When tempted to give a harsh reply think, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” When rankling against correction remind yourself, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Of course, to quote Scripture when tempted means we must know it first, which means we must regularly take it in.

4. Pray in the midst of temptation.

Draw near to the throne of grace for help in time of need. Your sympathetic high priest, who was tempted as you are yet without sin, will help you (Heb 4).

5. Get a brother or sister to pray with you.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

6. Ask someone to hold you accountable.

A friend once said to me, “Mark, when I get back from my business trip this week, can you ask me if I watched TV in the hotel room? When I’m alone on trips I can be tempted to watch bad stuff. Knowing you are going to ask me will help me fight temptation.”

7. Remember God’s faithfulness.

“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 CO 10:13). God will never let us be tempted beyond the strength he gives, and if we ask he’ll “provide the way of escape” to get us through it.

8. Remind yourself that sin has consequences.

Remember Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband’s death, God forgave him, but told him the sword would never depart from his house, that his own family members would do him great harm and the child he conceived with Bathsheba would die. (2 Sa 12:10–14).

So here’s a quick summary:

Pray before you are tempted
Flee
Quote Scripture
Pray in the midst of temptation
Get a brother or sister to pray with you
Ask someone to hold you accountable
Remember God’s faithfulness
Remind yourself that sin has consequences

Keep fighting the good fight!

Be blessed,

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 (Source: Bible Study Tools )

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Bible Study · Lent

BIBLE STUDY: Praise God No Matter What

bible study

“That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:19 NLT).

Most of us don’t really know what to do when we’re confronted by an impossible situation. Did you know that a teenage boy from thousands of years ago can help?

Over the past few devotionals, we’ve learned some incredible principles from how Daniel dealt with an impossible request by the most powerful king of his time period. So far we’ve seen Daniel model these five actions.

  1. Don’t panic, and then ask why.
  2. Ask for more time.
  3. Gather prayer partners.
  4. Pray to God for help.
  5. Ask God for supernatural help.

The next thing we learn from Daniel in Daniel 2 is to worship God.

It is important to understand that worship is much more than just music. There are thousands of ways to worship. Anytime I turn my attention to God, that’s worship. When I express my love to God, that’s worship. You don’t have to be in church to worship.

When you worship God, you move your focus off of your problem and onto God.

The Bible says of Daniel, “That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:19 NLT).

The passage shows you how to worship God in the midst of a crisis. Specifically, Daniel did three things.

  • He praised God for who he is. (v. 20)
  • He honored God for what he does. (v. 21-22)
  • He thanked God for his help. (v. 23)

That’s worship. Do that and you’ll move the focus off of you and your problems, and put it on God.

And he’s always where our focus should be.

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Talk It Over

  • Why is worship sometimes tough when you’re facing a particularly difficult situation?
  • How have you seen worship impact your stress level during struggles in your life?
  • Which of the three parts of worship mentioned in the devotional do you struggle with the most during a crisis: praising God for who he is, honoring God what he does, or thanking God for his help? Why?

Praise the Lord!

Be blessed,

signature_mjlluo9e3ke93x45ml

 (Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: 4 Words That Change Every Situation

Have you ever had one of those, “Woah, wait a minute!” times when reading the Bible? You’re slowly meandering your way through a chapter, trying to clear your sleep-fogged head, when suddenly a verse jumps out and slaps you in the face. I had one of those moments this morning.

I was making my way through Psalms 54, trying to shake off a slight headache, when I read Psalms 54:4:

“Behold, God is my helper…”

Bam! Bible verse to the face (in a good, sweet way). The words “God is my helper” are astonishing. Think about them for a moment. They literally change every situation. God, the God of the universe, the omnipotent, all-wise, all-loving, righteous, true, angel terrifying, sinner saving, God is MY HELPER. Woah. Woah!

There is no situation too great for God. There is no heart too hard for God. There is no budget too tight for God. There is no boss too difficult for God. God is your helper! He is my helper! Those four words change every situation.

Do you need wisdom today? God is your helper. Do you need strength today? God is your helper. Do you need patience today? God is your helper. If God is your helper, that changes everything.

Love and joy to you all,

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Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: Who Will Be in Heaven Because of You?

“Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60 GNT).

When you become a follower of Christ, God fills you with his Holy Spirit. The proof of the Holy Spirit in you is not some emotional experience. The proof that you have God’s Spirit in you is if you are going. Are you telling anybody about the Good News?

Jesus said in Luke 9:60, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God” (GNT).

What in the world does he mean by that statement? It sounds pretty callous. But what he’s saying here is that you need to be indispensible. There are some jobs in life that anybody can do, but there are some jobs that only a believer can do. Only a Christian can tell other people about Christ. Only a Christian can tell other people how to get to Heaven. Only a Christian can show Christ’s compassion the way Christ wants it shown.

God wants you to be indispensible. Let the people who are spiritually dead do the things that anybody can do. Choose to spend more of your life doing things that only you can do.

There’s a lot of stuff you can spend the rest of your life doing that isn’t going to matter at all when you get to Heaven.

But there is something you can do that will make an eternal difference. Is anybody going to be in Heaven because of you? What kind of legacy are you going to leave? The greatest legacy is having somebody come up to you in Heaven and say, “I’m here because of you.” That’s using your life in a valuable way.

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Love and joy to you all,

(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts · Rick Warren

POWER THOUGHTS: If You Believe It, Then Do It

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV).Yesterday, we looked at Mark 12:30: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (NLT). And one way to look at this verse is to focus on loving God with all your talk, all your feelings, all your thinking, and all your acting. God shaped you to be primarily a talker, a feeler, a thinker, or a doer.

Talkers love God with their hearts. Feelers love God with their souls. Did you know that you can also love God with your intellect? Thinkers love God with their minds. When you’re developing and strengthening your mind, it is an act of worship.

Thinkers love Bible study. Psalm 119:97 says, “How I love your law! I think about it all day long”(GNT).

People who are thinkers fall in love with the Bible when they become believers. There is no other book in the world like it! It has the answers to life’s questions, including: Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the purpose of life? Does my life matter? What’s the past? What’s the future? Where did I come from?

We need thinkers, because the world needs consideration. Somebody has to be thinking through complex issues and the implications of what the rest of us are doing. We need people who think through tough problems and bring solutions to the table. That’s why we need scientists, writers, philosophers, and innovators.

But thinkers have to be careful to practice humility. The Bible says, “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom” (Proverbs 3:7a NLT). Why? Because God is God, and you’re not.

Humility is a choice. Not once in the Bible are you ever told to pray for God to humble you. It says to “humble yourself before the Lord.” It’s a choice. Humility is something you do to yourself. Nobody else can do it to you. They can humiliate you, but they can’t make you humble. In essence, humility is total dependence on God. It’s not denying your strengths; it’s being honest about your weaknesses.

Thinkers also need to be careful to practice what they know. If you know it, then do it! James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (NIV).

God’s Word is our manual for life and that’s why he wants up to do the things he ways we should do. He’s our Creator, and he knows the best way we should live. The great news is that God is always right there with us, helping us to follow his instructions.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: You’re Not Just Wanted; You’re Needed!

PowerThoughts1

“We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).

The reason you have value is because of what God says about you, not because of what other people say about you.

Many people lack self-esteem. They don’t feel good about themselves because they’re always trying to pump themselves up by the kind of clothes they wear, the kind of car they drive, and the things they say. They’re constantly striving to feel better about themselves because they really don’t accept themselves — which is rebellion against God.

If God wanted you to be somebody else, you wouldn’t exist. But God wanted you! He made you to be you. We know as believers that real self-esteem comes from three facts:

  1. God created you.
  2. Jesus died for you.
  3. God’s Spirit lives in you.

The Bible says, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). The New Testament was written originally in Greek. The Greek word for “masterpiece” is “poema.” It’s the word we get “poem” from. God says, “You’re my poem. You’re my masterpiece. I don’t want you copying somebody else. I’ve put gifts in you — heart, abilities, personality, and experiences — and I want you to use them.” You have worth because of what God says about you and has done for you.

You’re not just wanted. You’re needed! The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, “There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person”(GW).

You are needed. You’re needed in your church. You are needed in your community. You are needed in this world. If you weren’t needed, God would not have made you. He brought you here to make a contribution with your life. And everybody is needed.

There are no little people in the family of God. Every part is necessary. Do you know what the most important light is in my house? It’s not the big chandelier in the dining room. It’s the little dinky light I turn on so that when I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I don’t stub my toe.

Every role is important. You are important. You have value because God said so and because he paid such a large ransom for your life when he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for you.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: Five Things Forgiveness Is Not

“Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do” (1 Corinthians 13:5b CEV).

There’s a lot of faulty thinking about forgiveness. The act of forgiveness gets watered down. It gets abused. It gets cheapened.

What is forgiveness really? Take a quick test by answering “true” or “false” to the following statements:

  1. People should not be forgiven until they ask for it.
  2. Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and the pain that was caused.
  3. Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
  4. You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense.
  5. When I see someone else hurt, then it is my duty to forgive the offender.

If you study the Bible, you’ll discover that all five of those statements are false.

Before we talk about what forgiveness really is, we have to talk about what it is not. Here are five things forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness is not conditional. In other words, it’s not based on somebody else’s response. Real forgiveness is unconditional. It’s not earned. It’s not deserved. It’s not bargained for. It’s not paid for. It’s not based on some promise that you’ll never do it again. If you say to someone “I’ll forgive you if . . . ,” that’s not forgiveness. That’s called bargaining.

2. Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. There is a big difference between being wounded and being wronged. Being wounded is something that is accidental and does not require forgiveness. When you are wronged, someone intentionally meant to hurt you, and that requires forgiveness.

3. Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without changes. The Bible teaches that forgiveness and restoring relationship are two different things. Forgiveness is instant. Trust must be built over a long period of time. Forgiveness is your part in reconciliation. But for a relationship to be restored, the offender has to do three other things that are unrelated to forgiveness: Demonstrate genuine repentance, make restitution whenever possible, and rebuild your trust by proving he or she has changed over time.

4. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. It’s impossible to try to forget something. When you’re trying to forget something, what are you focusing on? The very thing you want to forget. And whatever you focus on, you tend to move toward.

The key isn’t forgetting. The key is learning to see it through the lens of grace and God’s sovereignty and discovering how he can turn even bad things into good in your life if you’ll trust him and respond in the right way.

5. Forgiveness is not my right when I wasn’t the one that was hurt. Only the victim has the right to forgive. You can’t forgive people who haven’t hurt you.

There is always a cost to sin. And there is always a cost to forgiveness. That’s why you have to understand what forgiveness is not before you can look at what forgiveness really is.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: God Wants You to Really Live

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“Jesus [said] … ‘I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of’” (John 10:10 The Message).

Jesus did not come to make life perfect for us. Rather, he came to give us a life connected to him, so that no matter what situation we face, we are eternally attached to the source of true life.

What would a life connected to Jesus look like? Keep in mind that a full and abundant life in Christ involves all of you, not just your spirituality.

How do you think your constant connection with Christ will affect you mentally or emotionally? For instance, how would a life connected to Jesus help you with stress and worry?

What does your health have to do with living a full and abundant life? Why would your physical health be intertwined with your spiritual health?

To live a full and abundant life, instead of trying harder, trust Jesus more, believing in faith that he is guiding us to where we need to go.

Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: How Can You Maintain Your Enthusiasm?

PowerThoughts1

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:11-12 NIV).

In order to reach your goals, you have to figure out how to maintain your enthusiasm over the long haul.

The influential American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, “Nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” I believe that with all of my heart. I have found it to be true in my life. You’ve got to have passion, you’ve got to have enthusiasm, or you’re never going to make it to the finish line.

Most people would consider me an enthusiastic person, and I am. But I haven’t been an enthusiastic person for a week or a month. My enthusiasm has not waned over a year or five or 10 years. I have been consistently enthusiastic about the goals that I’ve set for more than 30 years.

How do you do that? How do you stay enthusiastic day after day in spite of delays and difficulties and dead ends and problems and pressures and criticisms? How do you stay enthusiastic for more than 30 years?

Positive thinking is not enough. Pulling yourself up by your psychological bootstraps is not enough. Talking yourself into optimism is not enough.

The way you stay enthusiastic for a lifetime is found in the word “enthusiasm.” The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word en theosEn is the Greek word for “in.” Theos is the Greek word for “God.” So en theos means to be “in God.”

When you get in God, you will be enthusiastic. It’s the kind of enthusiasm that isn’t affected by the economy or the weather or your circumstances. It’s eternal because you are tied to the eternal God. You are in Christ.

Paul tells us how to do this in Romans 12:11-12. He says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NIV).

If you want to reach your goals this year, you need to get God’s power by being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

Pray this prayer today: “Dear God, I don’t want to go another day without you in my life, controlling every part of my heart. I offer you my body. I dedicate myself to you. In light of all you’ve done for me, I give myself as a living sacrifice to you as a spiritual act of worship.

I humbly admit that I need help. I want you to help renew my mind. Help me to think the way you want me to think. Please forgive me for my pride. I don’t want to think more highly of myself than I should. My faith needs to grow, and I need your help to set goals that can be measured so I can manage them. Forgive me for trying to change on my own.

I want to fill my life with love. I want to fill my life with you. Help me to get group support. Help me to take delight in honoring other people, to focus on giving my life away so that you can take care of my needs. I want to nurture my enthusiasm by being in you. Help me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. I give myself to you. In your name I pray. Amen.”

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: It’s Time to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

PowerThoughts1

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 GNT).

Long before psychology came around, God said your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your actions.

Our minds are really an amazing creation. It would take a computer the size of the Pentagon just to carry out the basic functions of your brain. Your brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells. Each individual cell is connected with 10,000 other neurons.

You are constantly talking to yourself — all the time. You’re talking to yourself right now! Research indicates that most people speak at a rate of 150 to 200 words per minute, but the internal dialogue that you carry on with yourself (self-talk) is more like 1,300 words per minute.

The problem is that in all our self-talk, a lot of people are like Job. In Job 9:20b, he says, “Everything I say seems to condemn me” (GNT). If you’re typical, you are your own worst critic. Right? You’re always putting yourself down. You could walk into a room smiling, but inside you’re saying, “I’m fat. I’m not smart enough. I’m ugly. And I’m always late.” Most of this dialogue is unconscious.

God wants you to stop putting yourself down. When you put yourself down, who are you really putting down? You’re really pointing to the Creator who made you. When you say, “God, I’m worthless; I’m no good; I can’t do anything,” you’re actually saying, “God, you blew it with me.” That’s why God says it’s wrong to put yourself down.

How do you eliminate negative self-talk so you can become a more confident person? It’s the principle of replacement: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right . . . Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about it” (Philippians 4:8b TLB).

Focus on what you want to be, on what God wants to do in your life. I don’t know any better antidote to low self-esteem than to read God’s Word every day. Study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it in your life. I can’t tell you a better thing to help you raise your confidence level than to get in the Bible and start believing what God says about you.

Talk It Over

When you read the Bible, try to find a verse that speaks to you, write it down on a card, memorize it, and start affirming it back to God. For instance, “I am valuable, I am significant, I am forgivable, and I am capable.” Let God remold your mind because “as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he”(Proverbs 23:7a NKJV).

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)