One evening when my son John came home from football practice, I noticed that his arms and hands had an unusual number of cuts and bruises on them. “What happened?” I asked.

“Have you ever noticed, Dad,” he replied, “that pain is optional, but suffering isn’t? I wanted to be on the starting team, so I knew it would take some ‘pain’ on my part. I’d been ‘playing,’ and now I wanted the coach to know I could be a ‘winner’ at football.”

The Psalmist reminded us that Joseph was sold as a slave, and that “They bruised his feet with shackles and that his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.” 

Tucked away in the great plan that God has for each of us is our fair share of suffering. After Joseph was sold into slavery, he did not complain about his situation. He persevered through the horrible conditions that were placed on him. By honoring and trusting God, the King of all kings honored him.  

When he was tempted by King Potiphar’s wife, he resisted her seductive behaviors. She did everything she could do to seduce him, but through his dependence on God, he did not give in to his passions. And, when she grabbed him physically, he was able to escape through God’s strength. When she lied about him, he was thrown into prison. And, rather than becoming bitter, he became better. Because he was true to God, he triumphed and eventually became the premier of Egypt. His path to power was through suffering, pain, and imprisonment. If we are true to God in our times of trial, we will be triumphant. 

Prayer:  Thank you Lord for carrying us through. Help us to be faithful to You, in all things at all times. May we understand and know that temptation and suffering, are part of Your plan for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  They bruised his feet with shackles and that his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. Psalm 105:18-19

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Matt came home from school with a note from his teacher. He had misbehaved in class, and the teacher wanted his mother to know what he had done. 

After reading the note, his mother said, “Son, why did you trip James as he was walking to his desk?” 

“It wasn’t my idea, Mom. It was Donald’s,” he responded quickly. 

“Now, Matt, you know that Donald can’t make you do anything,” replied his mother.  

“Well,” he said after a moment’s thought, “it must have been the devil that made me do it.”  

“Son, shame on you. You know that when the devil tempts you, it is important to turn a deaf ear,” she admonished him. 

He put one finger in his left ear and listened to the sound coming from the TV and shook his head. Then he put a finger in his right ear and listened to the sound once again. After a moment, he looked up at his Mom and said smilingly, “Mom, I don’t have a deaf ear.” 

Temptation comes at us from every direction all of the time. It could be something we see or hear or think we would enjoy. But James had the best answer and the surest way to end being tempted: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” Such a simple solution that it is almost unbelievable! 

But it is neither simple nor unbelievable. Getting close to God requires time, effort, and energy. And God knows, the devil will fight us for each of them. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help us to take control of our time and our lives by “seeking first the Kingdom of God.” May we begin each day with Your Word and prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God and God will draw close to you. James 4:7-8  

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Roger was sent home from school with a note from his teacher. “Mrs. Arnold,” the note read, “your son was involved in an incident in the cafeteria today at noon. He and two other students took the food from another student’s tray and would not allow him to eat. He has been assigned a week of detention starting tomorrow.”
After reading the note to Roger, Mrs. Arnold said, “Son, why did you do such a thing?”
After a moment’s thought he replied, “Mom, the other guys asked me to help them and I thought it would be fun!”
“Shame on you Roger,” said his mother. “When you are asked to do things that are wrong you should turn a deaf ear.”
“But Mom,” he protested, “I don’t have a deaf ear.”
It is difficult to go through one day without being tempted by Satan to disobey God. He’s always there presenting one opportunity after another to get us to turn from the Lord and follow his invitation to break God’s laws. However, being tempted to disobey God’s teachings is not sin. Giving into a temptation to disobey God’s commandments is.
Perhaps we can describe temptation as Satan peeking into the keyhole of our heart trying to find a weak spot. He comes without any warning or notice and will only leave when asked. Resist him and he flees.
Prayer: Alert us, Lord, to the subtleties of Satan when he begins to tempt us to follow him and turn from You rather than to worship You and obey Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:25-31 …do not give the devil a foothold…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption…
A customer was watching young James help his father move boxes of shoes from one location to another. The father would place boxes of shoes in his arms and then he would move them to another location. Seeing the pile grow higher and higher in the boy’s arms, he politely asked, “Son, I don’t see how you can carry any more. Isn’t that too much for you?”
Cheerfully he responded, “Sir, my father knows how much I can carry.”
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, wanted to give them a burst of encouragement as they faced the temptations in a sinful culture. So, he said, “God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it.” In other words, “He knows how much you can carry.”
No one is immune from the temptations of life. Even if we feel that we are being singled out by God for a special examination, we must realize that others have faced similar temptations and have successfully resisted them. We have God’s Word that He will always give us the strength to face the temptations and avoid sinning – if we choose to.
The issue is not about being able to face and flee temptation; the issue is whether or not we want to.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to realize that Your Son faced every temptation that we will face, yet remained sinless. May we, as He did, call on You for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:13 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.
President Theodore Roosevelt had a very feisty little dog that could not resist fighting with other dogs. Sadly, he lost every fight.
After one such loss a friend said to him, “Mr. President, your dog isn't much of a fighter.”
“On the contrary,” he replied, “he's a good fighter. Unfortunately, he underestimates his adversaries!”
“Know thyself. Know thy enemy” was the advice of a Greek philosopher. We often think that we know our strengths and limitations and how to meet the challenges of life. But, for whatever reason, we know neither one of them well enough to keep us from falling into temptation and then into sin.
Paul said that “God is faithful and…He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you the way out so that you can endure.” Note that Paul said God “will show us the way out.”
The important fact here is that God's faithfulness must be coupled with our willingness to accept a way out. God always provides a moment between the temptation and the choice to sin. But we must seize the moment of decision.
Prayer: We pray, Father, that we might become more alert to the temptations we face and know that with Your strength we need not fail You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:13 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.
Some folk were called “Quakers” because they quaked at the presence of sin and the preaching of the Scriptures. David must have wished for a congregation of “quakers.” He said in Psalm 4:4, “Stand in awe, and sin not.” It means, “Tremble and sin not.” But many have reversed the verse. They say, “Sin and tremble not.”
Perhaps the greatest mistake in the world today is that men and women have lost their fear of sin. If you want to play with something dangerous reach into the heavens and play with forked lightning, or reach into the fireplace and play with hot coals, or reach into the forest and play with a rattlesnake, but don’t play with sin.
Two boys poked a piece of copper wire around a live rail on the subway tracks. There was a bright flash and a loud cry as ten thousand volts of electricity passed through their bodies. Was that dangerous? Yes, but not as dangerous as playing with sin. So pay attention to Psalm 4:4, “Tremble, and sin not!” And remember, where sin is mighty, the Savior is almighty.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to search my heart and to understand when I have sinned. Give me wisdom and help me to turn away from sin when the evil opportunity presents itself once again: in Thy Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 4:4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
A chauffeur was being honored for his record of having driven for more than 45 years and never having an accident.
“What’s your secret?” asked the Master of Ceremonies.
Quickly he replied, “I stay away from dangerous places – places where accidents are likely to happen.”
What great advice. All too often we find ourselves in places or situations where danger is awaiting us. Acting carelessly, we sometimes get into difficulties that present problems that we cannot solve or are forced to make decisions that exceed our experience.
We can get great insight for living from God’s Word. The Bible puts it this way: “Hold on to whatever is really good. Steer clear of evil in any form.”
The Bible will give us insight into dangers and the destructive nature of sin. It will help us see sin for what it is – an enticing, inviting, ensnaring, and an easy path to self-destruction with no warning signs or signals.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be alert to the dangers of sin that would wreck our lives. May we always be aware of the temptation to travel on unsafe roads. We know that Your Word will take us safely through life if we follow its directions: in Your Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22 Abstain from every form of evil.
A small boy got into a fight with the school’s well-known bully. He was getting the best of the bully and was sitting on top of him when, suddenly, he began to call for help.
“Why should we help?” came the response from a friend standing nearby.
“I can feel him starting to get up and he might win the fight!” was the quick answer.
So it is in the fight against temptation and sin. We are in a constant battle to overcome the strength and power of Satan. He is always there waiting to attack us and wanting to get us involved in a contest where he has the upper hand.
As Christians, we must always be aware of the fact that we cannot avoid being confronted by Satan and challenged to sin. We should always be vigilant to be victorious. We know the “schoolyard bully” by the way he looks and how he acts. But most often, the temptations we face are not obvious until after the fight begins.
We live in a sinful world. Our minds and hearts have been numbed by the things we see, the words we read, and the stories we hear. We must be careful to be on guard at all times by avoiding tempting situations. We must be aware of our playgrounds, playthings and playmates.
Prayer: Father, may we recognize that through You we can overcome sin by following and obeying Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Two men were having an intense discussion about the Bible. Said one, “So, you think that you know a lot about the Bible. O. K. Here’s ten dollars that says you can’t repeat the Lord’s Prayer without making a mistake.”
The other quickly replied, “Here’s twenty dollars that says I can.” With a brave smile and a voice filled with confidence he began: “Now, I lay me down to sleep…”
Interrupting him, his friend said, “You sure surprised me. I didn’t think you knew it. Here’s the money.”
What an insightful story. Over one hundred million Bibles are sold each year. How astounding! Dare we ask: What difference will they make in the lives of people who purchased them? Or, what difference has the Bible made in the lives of those of us who have owned one for years? With all of the Bibles in circulation, no one can estimate how many are opened, read, understood, believed and have brought about changes in the lives of the owners.
People, even Bible owners, seem to be losing their moral compass. There is a lack of direction, determination and diligence to live God-honoring lives. The Psalmist said that the only way a person can “stay pure” is to “obey Your Word and follow its rules.” No matter how corrupt our environment may be, or how strong the temptations, or how much the “evil one” may try us, we can “stay pure” if we stay in His Word – the Bible.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to allow Your Word to make a difference in our lives as we accept and apply its truth. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:9-16 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
School was out for the summer and Ronnie decided that he needed to make some money. Waking up early one morning he went to the berry fields and spent most of the day picking pails of beautiful, tasty blueberries. His Dad took him into town where he decided to go from door to door to sell his produce.
When the lady of the house opened the door, he politely asked, “Would you like to buy some berries, Ma’am?”
“Yes,” she answered. “I’ll take your pail into the kitchen and measure two quarts and bake a delicious pie.”
Ronnie decided to stay outside and play with their big dog. Puzzled, the woman asked, “Don’t you want to come inside and see that I measure your berries right? How do you know I’m not going to cheat you?”
Petting the dog, Ronnie said, “Oh, I’m not afraid of your cheating me. You’d get the worst of the deal.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I’d just lose my berries,” he answered, “but you’d make yourself a thief!”
Temptation is ever before us and always around us. It is there when we feel strong and present when we are weak. It never leaves us and always confronts us. But we need not give in! God will always provide us with an escape route. We must turn our eyes to Jesus, believing He’ll help.
Prayer: Lord, we will always be tempted and tried, but can be assured that You will provide a way out if we ask. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 10:13 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.
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