Thursday, May 18, 2017

It's Closer Than You Think

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:14

         “Stay away from the place of temptation.” Certainly a good rule to follow through life. The only problem is, according to James, the place of temptation is too close to home to avoid altogether. In fact, he says, we carry it around with us everywhere we go. Lust is the chief enticer, and we all have our own in-house brand. James goes on to say later in his book that it leaches out of the very members of our body (4:1), doing battle with any inclinations for good we may possess.

         Obviously, lust includes, but does not merely encompass, sexual intemperance. Such verses as Exodus 15:9, Psalm 78:18, Romans 7:7, and 1 Corinthians 10:6 indicate that anything outside the boundary of God’s Word, in general, and His will, in particular, are potential lust items, where you and I are concerned. In fact, according to Galatians 5:17, as children of God indwelt by the Spirit of God, we routinely experience a virtual war of lust between the Spirit and the flesh.

         Let’s face it: some temptations can be avoided, but others will find willing reception within us, in much the same way a radio receiver picks up sound waves. Therefore, rules, like blinders, are not sufficient. We will need to regularly change the channel, as it were, inside. We do this, says Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:5, by “[c]asting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.” We will always be confronted with evil. It cannot be overlooked; but it can be overcome (Romans 12:21). Sin is not the result of outward attraction, but inward appetite. 

Lust is the traitor on the inside, in league with the Enemy on the outside.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

All the Way Home

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus…” Acts 20:24   

         “I often think how sad we shall be at the end, if we have failed in joy.” I have quoted these words of Amy Carmichael many times. I’m so glad I learned early in my Christian life how important joy is, and best of all, how accessible it is. Jesus told His disciples in John fifteen that one of the main reasons He spent time teaching them was so that His (Jesus’s) joy might “remain” in them (v. 11); and manifest itself continually as their own.

         I’ve made a personal study of joy for many years now, knowing God meant for me to have it. In fact, it’s been the very source of my spiritual strength (Neh. 8:10). Paul told the elders of Ephesus at his leave-taking from them (chap. 20) that now, as he faced what would, in all probability, be his final glimpse of them on this earth that his great desire was to “finish [his] course with joy.” When I re-read this recently, my prayer to God was, “That’s what I want too, Lord. We’ve walked together in joy for over sixty years now; I don’t want to “fail in joy” now at the end.”

Paul spoke one other time abut finishing his “course.” This time to his young Timothy (2 Tim. 4:6 & 7). “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” And my reference verse at the top tells us just how to finish our course with joy: Don’t hang onto life. And have you noticed, as I have, the older we get, the less this world seems worth hanging onto? Good-byes may be hard here; but Hello’s are so sweet there. And, O, there are far more of the latter than the former! In fact, dear ones, as we used to sing when I was a young girl, “We’ll never say ‘Good-bye’” in Heaven; we’ll never say ‘Good-bye.’” For in that land of joy and song, we’ll never say, ‘Good-bye.’” By God’s grace, there’ll be joy all the way Home…for me and for you!