The Original Temptation

GENESIS 3:1 NKJ 1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

The original temptation, still being used by the devil to keep people away from the blessings of God today, is to doubt that God’s Word is truth and that God desires the best for us.

The devil’s false idea is that God is holding out on us, keeping back something good that would make our life better and more enjoyable.

But God is not withholding anything good from us. When He gave us Jesus He gave us everything. Now it is our responsibility to learn how to receive what He has given us and use it for the glory of God and the good of mankind.

God’s way is actually the very best for us. God’s will for you is actually what you would also choose for yourself if you had all the information God has.

Just like a good parent, God does try to protect us from bad things — which can sometimes seem good. But just because things look good and we think they will make us happy is no guarantee they will. God knows more than we do about what will make us safe, happy, and fulfilled.

We should trust God. At Calvary God proved He is not selfish. Jesus suffering and dying in our place should convince us that there is nothing God will not do so we can be blessed.

The devil is a liar and a deceiver (John 8:44). Don’t fall for his strategies to separate you from God and His blessings.

God cannot lie! He is dependable. God gave His Word to you so you could know the truth and be set free.

Believe that God desires the best for you, and is providing the best for you.

Don’t be tempted to think you can be happier, richer, or more blessed by going your own way. You may need to learn to follow God’s instructions more accurately, so you can walk in the fullness God desires for you, but there is no way to be blessed more than by following God’s Word.

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Are You A Pharisee?

MATTHEW 16:6,12 NKJ 6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Why did Jesus warn His disciples to beware of the Pharisees? What did they do wrong?

(An entire chapter of the Bible (Matthew 23) is Jesus’ teaching against the Pharisees.)

The Pharisees were conservative, faithful “church” members. They accepted the Bible as the written Word of God. They paid tithes. They believed in miracles (at least in days past). They wouldn’t dream of stealing, committing adultery, or such things. You would like living next to a Pharisee as they were model citizens.

But instead of having a living relationship with God, the Pharisees took the Word of God and made just another dead religion out of it.

The Pharisee way of thinking is: keep up appearances. “It doesn’t matter so much what you are on the inside, as long as you keep the rules (at least publicly).”

Notice that Jesus likened their teaching to leaven, or yeast. Why? Yeast spreads easily and rapidly. Humans are very susceptible to approaching God in this manner, “Keep the rules. Just do these 10 things and you are OK.”

Different groups may have different rules, but we all accumulate them. It may be how many times each week you must attend church meetings, or what kind of clothes you must wear, or how you must wear your hair. Or, it may be a list of things you cannot do. But, as long as you meet these requirements, you are in good standing with your group (or denomination).

But, good standing with God is based on only one thing according to the New Testament: faith in what Jesus did for us. That alone is what makes us right with God. Not our works, but Jesus’ work.

LUKE 12:1 NKJ 1 … He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

The Pharisees were hypocrites. That is, they put on an act. What they pretended to be in public was not really what they were like in private. They claimed to be perfect in keeping God’s law, but as humans they were all sinners, just like the rest of the people were. Yet, in public, they insisted that others keep the Law perfectly, or be condemned.

They were quick to pass judgment on others, and slow to extend mercy or help. The Pharisees had a legalistic view of God’s Word and did not realize that God was merciful and wanted to help people.

2 CORINTHIANS 3:6 NKJ 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Using God’s Word to “kill” instead of using it to minister life is wrong. God’s Word is meant to help people and lift them up, not place such hard demands on them that they cannot ever measure up. When we load people down with heavy loads of rules to keep in order to be right with God, we are ministers of death.

MATTHEW 23:1-5 NLT 1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 5 “Everything they do is for show. . . .

If your “Christianity” is nothing more than a list of “do’s and don’t’s” then you are missing real Christianity, which is a living relationship with Jesus Christ.

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Get Answers To Prayer

MARK 11:24 NKJ 24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Jesus says we must believe we receive our answer WHEN we pray, not wait until we see it.

But no one can believe they receive without evidence. God’s written Word is our evidence.

MARK 11:24 AMPLIFIED 24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].

Whenever we ask the Father for anything we really desire, we must believe that we receive our request granted to us when we pray. Then we act like we already have it, and the thing we prayed for will eventually show up.

But we must pray in line with God’s Word. We cannot just “believe” anything out of thin air — if it does not agree with God’s Word — and expect to receive it.

1 JOHN 5:14-15 NKJ 14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Bible-based prayer that works is not getting God to do something, but receiving by faith from God based on what He has already said and done.

In other words, we do not need to change God’s mind or get Him to do something. We just need to enter in by faith to receive what God has already decided and provided.

So, find Scripture that promises what you need or want, then take that to God in prayer and believe you receive it when you pray.

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Be Willing To Suffer

PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8 NET 5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, 6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. 8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!

God’s plan is to make you like Jesus (Romans 8:29). This does not mean you will have the same hair color or be the same height. It means having the same character, so you will act the same.

In order to help you, Jesus gave up the greatest privileges imaginable, and was obedient to God even to the point of death. Jesus was willing to suffer to help you.

It is God’s highest ideal that you also be willing to suffer, if necessary, in order to help people. We cannot save people in the same way Jesus did. Yet we can show God’s love by being willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of others, so they can know the love of Jesus.

We are not supposed to suffer what Jesus suffered in our place as our Deliverer. We should not suffer what Jesus bore as our Substitute. So suffering sin, sickness, or poverty is not God’s will for anyone.

But there is a suffering God approves and expects from us — suffering so people can be helped. It is walking in love in a world of people who are not always nice.

1 PETER 4:19 ESV 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

We live in the midst of selfish people — who God loves — but are still lost in darkness and living in sin.

God loves the world and wants them to know the truth and be saved. God wants us to also love them enough to be willing — just like Jesus was — to put up with inconvenience and discomfort in order to touch them with God’s love.

This type of suffering is the heart of Christianity. It is an expression of the love of God. It is the kind of love that is willing to pay a price to help others.

ROMANS 8:17-18 ESV 17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

According to Romans 8:17, God’s children are supposed to suffer WITH Jesus. But we are not to suffer apart from Jesus.

What is Jesus suffering today? Not sickness! Not poverty! Not separation from God! But He is still suffering rejection by people. So we are called to suffer the rejection, ridicule, persecution, misunderstanding, and disrespect the world gives Jesus.

Being willing to suffer so people can be helped is proof of God’s love in our hearts, confirming that we are born of God and allowing His nature to dominate us. Thus demonstrating that we have matured to become like Jesus and are qualified and ready to rule and reign with Him in His kingdom of love.

COLOSSIANS 1:24 NLT 24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.

When someone is willing to suffer so that God’s will may be accomplished, it shows they have died to self (interest). They are putting God’s will ahead of their own interest.

PHILIPPIANS 1:29 NLT 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

It is actually a great privilege to suffer for Jesus. And the glory and reward we will receive for doing so is beyond compare — not only in Heaven but also here and now!

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One Thing Is Necessary

LUKE 10:42 WEYMOUTH 42 and yet only one thing is really necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion and she shall not be deprived of it.”

This is the word of Jesus. Someone who knows more than we do — and loves us more than we love ourselves. So, we need to listen and take heed. (After all, we should realize that Jesus did not say things for His own benefit, but to help us.)

It is easy to get busy in life and let ourselves be distracted from what we know is important. That was the case with Martha, the sister of Mary, in the scripture quoted from above. Martha knew she needed to hear what Jesus had to say — but she also knew that she was responsible for preparing something to eat. What could she do?

We all face such problems — which are actually choices.

WE choose what our priorities are. WE decide what we will spend our time and energy on. And we should choose wisely.

(Here’s a tip: if it won’t be important one hundred years from now, it’s not that important now, either.)

In this situation, Jesus brought a calming — not a condemning — word to Martha. (Jesus is still not interested in condemning people, but in helping them.) In effect, Jesus said to not worry, but to put hearing what God has to say first, and then somehow things will work out with God’s help.

Jesus is saying the same message to you, today.

The most important and productive way we can spend time is in getting God’s wisdom, guidance, and help. Hearing and heeding His Word will pay rich dividends in this time, as well as for eternity.

Never forget that God can do more for you in one minute, than you could accomplish in a lifetime by yourself.

Don’t make the wrong choices.

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When You Sin

1 JOHN 1:9 NKJ 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Many people let sin separate them from God. But the devil is the one who tells us God does not love us when we sin.

Jesus paid a great price so you can be forgiven and freed from sin and its penalty.

ROMANS 5:8 NKJ 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God is against sin because it harms people, but God loves sinners!

When we sin, it does not make God hate us. We should not run away from God, but run to Him for help and cleansing, so that our fellowship with Him will not be hindered in any way.

We confess our sins to shut the door on the devil so he has no place in our affairs. We don’t confess our sins to convince God to forgive us. God has already forgiven! We confess our sins to get rid of them, and keep the devil out.

EPHESIANS 1:7 NKJ 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

God loves people, including you. His ultimate plan is to have a family of people who do not sin, but voluntarily choose the way of love, which is God’s perfect way.

But just as a good parent does not throw their baby into the street because they are not perfect yet, but still mess their pants, so God does not discard His children when they sin.

God loves you more than any good parent ever loved their child. So look to Him for help in overcoming sin, instead of expecting condemnation from Him.

When you sin, confess it to get rid of its influence in your life and to keep the devil from having any place. I don’t mean begging God to forgive you and promising to never do it again. Instead say, “That is wrong. I should not have done that. Lord, I need your help to overcome it. Please continue working your will in me.”

Sin has already been paid for with the precious blood of Jesus. God has already decreed that sin is forgiven, so that it should not keep people from fellowship with Him.

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God’s Mercy To Nineveh

JONAH 1:2 NKJ 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

Remembering what happened with Nineveh will give you a clearer picture of God’s mercy.

God told Jonah that Nineveh would be destroyed. But when the people of Nineveh changed and repented before God, things changed.

JONAH 3:3-10 NKJ 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three- day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? 10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

The people of Nineveh were very wicked, but when they heard God’s Word of judgment they humbled themselves and turned toward God. Because of their response, God changed His judgment and their lives were spared.

When people repent and turn toward God — no matter how evil they have been — God shows mercy.

God is still the same. He delights in mercy.

MICAH 7:18 NKJ 18 Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.

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Expect Favor

PSALM 5:12 NIV 12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

If Jesus is your Lord, then He is also your righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30, Romans 5:17). So, you are righteous in Christ and qualify for this blessing.

Favor is the blessing of God causing people to like you and treat you well.

Why expect favor?

Because God is your Father. He loves you. And He responds to faith. When you walk in faith you expect blessings.

PROVERBS 16:7 NIV 7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Some people always talk of how badly they are treated and how things always go wrong for them. Should we be surprised? After all, Jesus told us in Mark 11:23 that we would have what we say.

Why not begin to say that God surrounds your life with favor?

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You Can Live In The Kingdom Of Love

1 JOHN 4:8 GWN 8 The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, because God is love.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live where every one loved and was loved with a perfect love? A place where there was no selfishness, where everyone put the interests of others before their own interests.

The good news is that there is such a place! It is where Jesus is Lord. It is the Kingdom of God, which could also be called the Kingdom of love, because God is love. Everyone is invited. All are welcome. There is room for everyone.

There is just one problem. If you are allowed in — while still a selfish being — you would ruin it for others.

So you can’t enter until you are changed, made right, made into a person of love, a person who is not selfish.

“But all humans are born selfish! We can’t help it! It is who we are.”

JOHN 3:3 GWN 3 Jesus replied to Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

Yes, humans are selfish. That explains why in order to enter the Kingdom of Love, you MUST be born of God and receive a new nature. John 1:12 tells us how we can be born again as God’s child — by receiving Jesus Christ.

ROMANS 5:5 GWN 5 We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

When we receive Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit instantly changes us on the inside and fills us with God’s love. Then we must believe that God loves us, so we will not live in fear. Fear is the reason people are tempted to act selfishly.

1 JOHN 4:16 GWN 16 We have known and believed that God loves us. God is love. Those who live in God’s love live in God, and God lives in them.

People act selfishly because of fear. God’s perfect love (which guarantees God’s perfect and abundant provision), casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

REVELATION 1:5-6 GWN 5 and from Jesus Christ, the witness, the trustworthy one, the first to come back to life, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. Glory and power forever and ever belong to the one who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and has made us a kingdom, priests for God his Father. Amen.

All sin is selfish. We sin only when we think it will benefit us. To be freed from our sins means we must be freed from selfishness.

Jesus died not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but also to set us free from them. That can only happen as God’s love displaces the selfishness inside us. And that can only happen as we are born of God, filled with God, and trust in God’s goodness and abundant provision for us.

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Sing A New Song

PSALM 96:1 NIV 1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.

No doubt God, who makes every snowflake different, enjoys new things.

Five times Scripture tells us to sing to the Lord a new song.

You, with God’s help, can sing a song to the Lord that’s never been sung before.

Don’t say you can’t do it! God made your mouth and He can give you words to sing.

God is a Creator, and you are His child. Step out in faith. Ask the Lord to help you.

PSALM 105:2 NASB 2 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders.

Get by yourself and practice. Sing a new song. Make it up as you go. If you mess up, God won’t laugh at you. It may not be very good. But every parent cherishes their child’s first attempts.

Make a joyful noise. Rejoice in the Lord. Both you and the Lord will enjoy it.

EPHESIANS 5:19 NIV 19 . . . Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,

After you practice in private, you may even want to try it in public.

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