Monday, September 13, 2010

The Devil Made Me Do It

In Sunday School this last Sunday morning one of the gentleman in our class make a comment that I found very profound. I don't know if he really understood how deep and profound it was. He said, "Don't give the devil too much credit". It made me think. How many times do we blame the devil for the bad things we do. "The devil made me do it." we say. Passing the blame for our sinful nature to the father of lies.

Is it really the devils fault? Who committed the sin in the first place?

The devil is glad when we sin, sin causes a separation between us and God. I think that even uttering the phrase "the devil made me do it" makes the devil feel proud. His main goal is to keep sinners from the forgiveness and grace of God. His main goal is to keep Christians in their past sins, reminding them that they are not good enough for his love and attention.

When we do sin what is our natural reaction? Our pastor spoke of this a couple of weeks ago. We feel ashamed and hide, and then we look to someone else to take the blame. Just as Adam and Eve blamed someone else for their actions? Eve, the originator of this pass the buck comment, blamed the devil. Adam blamed Eve and even blamed God for putting Eve with him.

I am going to go one step further. The devil has no power over us that the Lord did not give him. So to suggest that he caused us to do something is giving him way to much credit. We are essentially saying that the devil came into our physical bodies, possessed us and caused us to sin and then immediately left our bodies. How ridiculous is that.

We sin of our own will. We give in to our temptations. It is in our human nature. The devil may tempt us. He may lie to us and get us to believe that its okay to sin, but he does not cause us to sin. That is completely on you and me. We shouldn't blame the devil for our sin, its not his fault. Some go to the extent to even blame God for the temptations we face. (e.g. Adams response to his sin)

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full‑grown, gives birth to death.

It is our own evil desires. Not the devil, not God, not the woman you put here with me, not your friends, not your parents, not your children...OUR own evil desires. We are born into a sinful world. And we have sinned, we sin , and be sure we will sin again. Again, its in our human nature.

So what are we to do about it? Give up and give in? Throw our hands in the air and surrender to our sinful nature? Before you answer, look at this:

1 Cor. 10:13 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.

Did you catch that?

NO temptation except what is common to man. What you and I go through is common. Everyone out there goes through sin. There are others out there facing the same temptations you are. And better still, GOD IS FAITHFUL!! He only allows as much as you can handle. No matter what the sin or the temptation to sin you are facing, our evil desires are great, but God is greater. If we could not bear it, then God would not allow the temptation to be put in our way.

Job 11:12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord .


Job 2:4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.5 But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

The power that Satan had was given to him by God, and he was given limits on what he could do. God did not cause the temptation on Job, he allowed it. He knew that Job could stand up under it. And he did. He lost everything, and did not blame God once. He had friends on every side trying to convince him to curse God and die.

Jobs response was an emphatic:

“Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”

More over, God will provide a way out of our temptation. He knows how much we can handle. Even when we are at wits end and feel overwhelmed, its not too much for us to bear. Whatever our sin may be. That little hint or reminder that you get, or that small obstacle in your way from getting to that sin, is placed there by God to give us that way out. We need to recognize that way and take it. Stop placing the blame, when we give in to sin, on the devil. The devil did not make you do it. He couldn't make you do it even if he wanted to. God would not allow it.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double‑minded.9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Strong and the Weak

The fountain flows, and the river dries,
You can see the peoples sorrows, and hear the childrens cries.

They were warned and they knew,
In their defense nothing to say, nothing to do.

Following the twisted trails, on toward the evergreens,
Searching for the higher ground, for those places never seen.

Having all but given up they fall, one by one by the wayside,
Only few will eventually endure, faces set toward the final goal.

Those who cannot measure up will point and laugh,
Making excuses on why they've fallen short.

Confused at what all this,
Means a lack of tenacity at this race,

or is it a game,

or maybe a crazy dream,
Yet all in all it seems real at that.

So, our final focus is on the reward,
On the reasons for this higher place,
On the grounds of pure insanity.

Call me crazy, or call me dumb, but eternity is worth a few years.
Too many don't even bother to try, and wonder why its difficult.

Complacency kills and idleness infects,
But taking on the challenge is a great thing:

The adventure of all adventures and the reward of rewards.

The cost requires complete affirmation,
And a will that belongs within One.

Still, the fountain will flow, and the river will dry
But we can live without the sorrow of the people
And the cries of the children,

Because we were warned and we all know,
What the spiritually idle can do to a soul.

(C)1997 Jeff Bray

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

As Much As Necessary


How are we to deal with repetitive sin? What are we to do with that one sin we keep committing? Are we to just sum it up as human nature and give into it every time, or is there a way to finally overcome it and get on with life free of the pressures?

"Oh, come on!!" you may say, "Ive dealt with this my whole life and I cant do it!! You have no idea what it is like. You dont deal with the things I do!"

That may be so, but this will work in all situations that deal with whatever sin you may give in to.

Read: II Kings 13:14-19

14 Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. "My father! My father!" he cried. "The chariots and horsemen of Israel!"

15 Elisha said, "Get a bow and some arrows," and he did so. 16 "Take the bow in your hands," he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands.

17 "Open the east window," he said, and he opened it. "Shoot!" Elisha said, and he shot. "The LORD's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!" Elisha declared. "You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek."

18 Then he said, "Take the arrows," and the king took them. Elisha told him, "Strike the ground." He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times."

Elisha was a prophet of the Lord. He had succeeded Elijah and was the "prophet in Israel". God used him to perform many miracles and to help Israel keep close to the Lord. Kings sought his counsel, especially in time of war, or when war was approaching. Elisha was nearing the end of his life as we enter II Kings 13. On his death bed he still was giving instructions and help to Jehoash.

Jehoash is concened about his enemies. Now that Elisha was dieing, his fears of not having him around are becoming evident. Elisha gets up the strength to give his king one final instruction. Telling him to get a bow and arrow and fire a shot out the window. Signifying Gods sure and true victory in that battle at Aphek.

Okay, lets understand something about shooting a bow and arrow. When an archer shoots an arrow, as he pulls back the string, he must aim at his target. He marks the spot he wants to hit, completely focuses on it, never take his eyes off of it, and then releases his arrow. If he loses focus he may miss the target. And complete focus hits his mark, and victory.

Elishas next instruction was not to fire an arrow but to strike the ground with the arrow. I suppose in his confusion, or perhaps his haste he only hits the ground three times. Elisha points this out and tells Jehoash that he should have hit the ground five or six times. Thus only giving him partial victory against Aram.

First we need to identify what the battle is. In Jehoash's case it was the Arameans. Constant battles with one enemy. Aphek was just one of them. But he identified his enemy as Aram. He grabbed the bow and arrow and fired out the window to the east. Jehoash identified his problem. As we must do. We must identify the problem and focus on it. If you do not concentrate on the issue you do not want in your life, your heart will not be in it completely. And if you attempt to try and defeat it without total focus, you will not succeed. Isnt it ironic that sinning in its original form means missing the mark.

Once we identify our sin, which is the easy part, we must then figure out what needs to be done to battle it. Jehoash did not understand. Thus he did not strike the ground wholeheartedly. If he had, then he would have hit the ground more than the three times he did. When we identify our sin, we then need to strike the ground to give us victory over it. We may need to strike it more than once, more than three times. We may need to even strike it down five or six times. Deal with it till its defeated. To do what is needed as much as necessary.

Remember, satan wants us to fail. He wants us to stay where we are at. He wants us to put up with that sin and to allow it to remain in our life. Its his way of keeping that control over us, by giving himself a foothold into your subconscious with the guilt and shame. Telling you, "You will never be good enough. You will never overcome your sin. Who are you anyway, you worthless sinner. God could never love you, he could never help you. Your stuck. Just live with it. Remember Paul, he had a tormentor, God allowed it. How are you better than Paul?" His idea is for us to take our eyes off of the target by distracting us with his lies. He wants to knock us down and keep us down. Wallowing in self pity and regret.

Toby Mac has an awesome song out right now. "Get Back Up". Thats what we need to do. Get back up. No matter what, no matter how many times. Pick yourself up off the floor, dust yourself off, and continue on. Strike the ground as many times and we need to. Dont go about it half halfheartedly. You may be need to defeat it once, it may take more than that...twice, three times, maybe five or six....maybe ten or twelve. Point is what you need to do as many times as you need to.

The best part is we can do it!! God has given us the strength to deal with it.

Read I Corinthians 10:13

13.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.

When you are tempted to commit that sin, there is a way out. Each sin has its own out. Each person has their own out. God places the way there for you to take. Its your job to recognize it and use it. See the way out, take it, and resist the devils temptations. Know that it is not impossible for your to resist.

Read James 4:7

7.Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

It does not say he may flee, or he could consider fleeing...HE WILL FLEE!!

Keep in mind that this is not a one time thing. It is a process. And God will be there every step of the way. To keep you standing, or to help you up again if you do give in. Every time.

9.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Just as we need to keep on striking it down, God is there for us when do give in. He loves us an will forgive us. Just keep on going and keep on striking it down .

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Seeing With a New Vision

Do we take the time to look beyond the outer and look at the inner. Or do we simply go by first impressions or first glances. How fair is that to a person, situation or idea? Let me ask you a few questions...

What is your first thought when you see:

someone panhandling?

A teenager pregnant?

A dirty grungy person sitting in the back pew of church?

Or even worse,

A Mexican,

A black person,

A white person?


What do you think when someone tells you about a new way of doing things?

What if its contrary or even complete opposite of what you are used to?

And if their idea is somewhat far fetched do we blow them out if the water?


What if God told you to move across the country or to another country?

Would you be like Jonah and run and hide?

Or be like Isaiah and say "Here am I Lord, send me?"

Are you afraid of a new challenge?

Afraid to step out in faith that where his hand guides, his hand provides?


Here is the truth:

Not every panhandler is going to buy booze with that money? Even if he did, what business is it of ours if the giving was from the heart?

Arms of love need to be extended to that mother and unborn child, not finger wagging of ridicule and judgment. How will she know about the true love of God? She is confused enough. She is broken-hearted enough. How can we preach love if we cannot show love?

Since when does a persons outward appearance and/or smell dictate his passion to get to know the Living God? Did Jesus not call simple, stinky fishermen to follow him?


How can we judge a person by the color of their skin?

Not every Mexican is an illegal drunken wife-beater.

Not every black man is going to rob someone blind.

Not every white guy is going to be judgmental or trick one out of their inheritance.


Did we ever stop to think that there are more than one way of doing things? Have you considered that a change in paradigm is taking place? No one is a carbon copy of you. If every one was like you, how boring would things be? What works for one person may not work for another. What saves one person may not save the next.

God works in new and exciting ways. His ways may never change, but the means by which he goes about doing them are ever changing. Who are we to say that God would not work in that fashion? When it is scriptural of course. I'm not talking about cult rituals or the like. But genuine works of God that line up with his word.


If you put your life in Gods hands, where do we have the right to say in were we are to live? If God calls you to go to San Antonio...go. If he calls you to Walla Walla, WA...go. Or to Bangor, ME...go. Or to South America, Africa, Mexico, or even China...GO!!!

Gods challenges are him trusting you with the blessings he wants to give you. Remember God will not give us more than he can bear. He is always there supporting and guiding us along the way. And if we are in need? Either it will automatically be provided, or we may be tested in our faith to pray for it so we can receive it. Either way it will be given to us.


God does not want us to be cookie cutter Christians. Everyone is different and brings different perspectives and ideas to the game. He uses each one of us according to our abilities, which he gave us in the first place. They were meant to be used for his service. He chose you to have and use that gift and ability. Because there are people out there that only you can reach. God put you in that job, God put you in that church, God put you in line with that cashier, God gave you that friend. Gods hand works in all situations, with all ideas, and with all people.

Even if your are a half black half Mexican, pregnant, dirty grungy teen who sits in the back row who was just called to go to China to teach ESL by using the Bible as your textbook.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Gentle Reminder

Have you in your walk ever feel like God was somewhere else?

Sometimes we may be perfectly in Gods will and yet feel forgotten. We begin to doubt and wonder where the problem could be. We look around with a sense of fear that we did something wrong. We allow our human understandings to creep in and view God as human, there one minute and gone the next.

Gods hand is always there. He will never let you go. Even though we may not feel it. This is where we must have faith and trust. Could this be God giving us a reminder to keep looking to him? Perhaps we are giving in to routine? Maybe he is preparing us for an upcoming challenge?

Troubles can come upon us even if we are in the will of the Lord. Our challenge is to remain focused and not be swayed. This will build character and deepen our roots. Much like a tree will deepen its roots looking for the water and oxygen to sustain itself. If its current depth seems to be drying up it grows its roots to search for the nutrients it seeks.

A tree has its main roots called perennial roots, these sustain the tree. Trees also have what are called feeder roots. These are smaller roots that spring off of the perennial root. While perennial roots are large and stabilize the tree and anchor it, the feeder roots are much smaller and tend to die off and are replaced by new feeder roots on a regular basis. The job of a feeder root is to gather the water and oxygen the tree needs to live.

In our spiritual walk our core beliefs are Jesus' death and resurrection, Jesus appearing to his disciples and ascension into Heaven, and Jesus' eventual return to take all believers to Heaven. These are our perennial roots. They are always there. Big and strong stabilizing us. Even though you cannot see these roots, for they lie under ground, they are always there.

As for our feeder roots. These are our experiences in our Christian walk. From the day we are saved, to the day we are baptized, our blessings from God, our answers to prayer, every verse we read, every sermon we hear, every time we are inspired from God, all of these things give nutrients to our spiritual man. They come and they go. Many different experiences throughout our lifetime. The issue is that we don't always feel excited about our walk. The feelings die and the mountain top experience fades. We need to continue in our walk and continue to have our experiences. Growing new feeder roots as the others die out. When we lose the feeling and nutrients from one, we need to have another to get the Living Water we need.

When we may be becoming blah in our relationship with God he gives us that empty feeling. Its His gentle nudge so we can spend the needed time with him. His reminder that its time to grow a new feeder root.

If we maintain our roots, what others see; our trunk, branches, leaves, and best of all, our fruit can be used to help others in their walk. Seeing us flourish can be a feeder root for fellow Christians.

Maintain your roots. Continue to grow feeder roots. Read your Bible, have a healthy prayer life, listen to uplifting music, get involved in a local church, use your God-given gifts to minister to others, and do whatever is needed to grow your relationship with Jesus. The more time you spend with Him the fewer the empty moments you'll have.

John 10:27-29

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why we suffer: Finally answered

God is patient. Not wanting anyone to perish. (II Peter 3:9)

That is the fact. He wants everyone to be saved.

Since everyone is different and the circumstances are different that would lead some people to come to God, then certain things, even negative, may need to happen for some to ultimately turn to Christ.

For instance, a death in the family due to an unhealed cancer. If the individual who has cancer is unsaved, it may bring the person who has cancer to repentance. If he is saved, then it may draw someone closer to God through missing the loved one or how that person handled himself during his suffering. So the death of a Child of God could lead to another being saved. And perhaps only that death could bring that one person to Christ. If it was the only thing that could've turned that person, then it was worth it.

This is why the good may die sometimes. To help bring that one person, who would have otherwise not turned to Christ, turn to Christ.

Remember. When a saved individual dies, he is with Christ in Heaven. If this is so, then why are we sometimes angered that Christians die? God is taking home his child. We should rejoice!!

Now as for the bad dieing. God doesn't strike someone dead just to please his fancy. That person would have been given several chances to be saved. If that person is so set against God, then before he can cause another one to remain unsaved, he is taken. Thus using a death of an unsaved to save another.

God is Omniscient. This means he knows all. He knows on the last day who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell. So if someone he knows today is ultimately going to hell, and he can use that death to bring someone else to Him, then couldn't that death be justified because that non-christian could deceive or drag down those who have been on the fence spiritually?

We wonder why mass destruction happens? This can be a little more complicated, but the same philosophy applies. Take an earthquake that takes tens of thousands. Or a tornado that wipes a whole town off the map. Or even 9-11 for that matter. Why do these things happen? Why do good people suffer? We dont ever ask why bad people suffer, just the good. Natural disasters do not discriminate. They happen when they happen. The good and bad suffer and die.

God is Omnipotent, this means he is all powerful. He has the power to stop an earthquake. He has the strength to thwart a tornado. He had the power to flick those planes away from those buildings with a finger. But he doesnt, he didnt.

Using natural disasters effect a great number of people. Its putting the personal level on an exponential level. Instead of one or two coming to repentance through a close friend or relative, its saving people on a mass scale effecting hundreds if not thousands of non believers.

The Father would leave the 99 to save the one. ( taken from Matthew 18:12)

This verse in itself explains why the good suffer. The Father does not want anyone to be lost. The 99 are safe. The one is lost. If something happened to one, or all, of the 99, they are saved, so their home will be in Heaven. The one lost is the Lords main concern.

Everyones days are numbered. From your birth day, your death day was set. How and where you are going to pass is set. How we use that life totally depends on how we choose to live it. Accept Jesus, or reject Jesus.

God is patient. Not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Inspired while reading Ps 114-117

Thursday, February 18, 2010

For my new FB friends

I have a blog that I pray you will enjoy. Check it out!! I havent posted anything recently, but hope to change that. Check out my Archives