Tuesday, October 23, 2018

THE WAY OF ESCAPE!

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make THE WAY OF ESCAPE, that you may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

God has promised that he will not allow us to be tempted beyond our abilities but will make the way of escape.

I always thought of "the way of escape" as some sort of secret trap door - something like a fun house or video game in which we press a button and a door immediately opens for us to escape.  

No doubt there are times when that is the case. The word of God instructs us to "flee temptation" and there are certainly occasions when we can escape simply by leaving a location or situation.

Avoidance

The late Billy Graham had a policy of never being alone with a woman other than his wife or family members. He would not ride in an elevator alone with a woman or counsel a woman without another woman present. In so doing he "fled" temptation through avoidance - not permitting temptation to have any opportunity to trap him.

If we don't want to use drugs or alcohol, we can stay away from places where they are being used or people who are using them. For many, this avoidance has to be extreme if they are to remain free from using again.

Outcomes vs. Secret Doors

Many temptations are not quite as easy to simply avoid!

If we are tempted to overeat, we cannot stay away from all foods to escape. If we are tempted in our thought life, the answer is not to have a lobotomy!

The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 10:13, for "escape," is ekbasis. The same Greek word is used in Hebrews 13:7...  

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the OUTCOME of their conduct.
Hebrews 13:7

In this case the word is translated OUTCOME!

It refers to the outcome of the faith of the spiritual leaders. In other words, the "way of escape" God speaks of in 1 Corinthians 10:13 may be an "outcome" instead of a "secret door."

Our escape may not always be an instant secret "escape door" that appears at in the moment we are tempted. Instead it can be an "outcome" of our faith.

Fire Escapes

Some homes or apartments have fire escapes to allow residents to safely leave in case of fire. Fire escapes do not appear at the moment a fire is ignited. They are built ahead fo time to be used when the need appears.

In the same way, our escape from temptation may not be a result of an instant door that appears in the moment but is something that is built ahead of time! It is an OUTCOME of our faith.

Building Our Own Fire Escapes

David said he "hid the Word of God in his heart that he might not sin against God."

Is the Word of God hidden in our hearts so that it might be our escape in time of temptation?

Jesus said, "Pray that you enter not into temptation." 

Have we developed a pray life that will help us to not enter into temptation?

The book of Hebrews tells us to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together."

Do we regularly attend a church in which its leaders accurately teach the Word of God?

We can see then that the "ESCAPE" God promises is not always some quick solution that appears when we are tempted.

Rather it is often an "OUTCOME" of the faith we have built in our hearts that will guide us toward escaping temptation!

Take time in your life to build your own spiritual "fire escape" so that you will be able to "escape" when temptation comes!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

TEACH A MAN TO FISH...


Give a Man a Fish
As the old saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you will feed him for one meal. Teach him to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime."

This mindset, of "giving a man a fish," has become all too common in our society and more importantly, in the church of Jesus Christ.

Of course there is nothing wrong with giving. We all need help at some point, at several times in our lives. We feed infants when they are very young. We may tie also their shoes. Yet at some point, we want them to learn to pick up a fork or spoon and feed themselves or tie their own shoes. Those who do everything for their children even when they are grown will produce adults who are incapable of finding the fulfillment of independence and productivity.

The Church
It is the same in the modern church. We have programs to feed the hungry, pass out clothing and meet any number of other "felt" needs. These are all good when anyone is in need or one who incapable of meeting his or her own needs.

Yet we often fail to teach people spiritual independence, i.e the ability to seek God on our own. We tell them what the Bible means in certain situations. We teach practical life solutions. But we often fail at teaching the basic concepts of spiritual growth, such as Bible study, prayer and a deep personal relationship with The Living God.

Don't get me wrong. We will always need each other and sometimes circumstances press us into a state of temporary dependence. But that should not be our default mindset.

Reversing the Two Great Commandments 
Jesus said that the first great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Could it be that we have reversed these two great commandments - that we have placed love of, and connection to, others above love of, and connection to, God?

Our mindset can be exposed by answering a simple question: "What should a Christian be doing?" If we say, feeding the poor, performing acts of kindness and visiting the sick, we are only half right.

Some of the great works of God have included translating the Bible, preparing powerful sermons and personal Bible study and personal prayer time. These do not always directly cause us to interact with people. But they can affect the lives of others enormously!

Which Produces More Good Works?
The interesting thing is that when we teach people to walk with God, all the other good works will naturally, or rather supernaturally, flow out of that relationship with God.

Love of God always produces love of people!

On the other hand, if we focus on people first and foremost, good works can be done apart from the power and blessing of God. Many who do not even know God do good works. They help and benefit others physically but not spiritually!

Man's greatest need is to know and walk with God!

This eternal need far supersedes physical and emotional needs, which  we often consider to be of utmost importance. Of course, good works should never cease.

But let us not be guilty of "giving a man a fish" but not "teaching him to fish!"