Those Powerful Desires (1 Thessalonians 3-5)

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: ...that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable... (1 Thessalonians 4:3a, 4) Desires aren't wrong in and of themselves.  In fact, I would argue that desires are God-given.  The desires to eat and sleep are absolutely essential to life.  Other desires aren't essential, but they're ... [Continue Reading]

Victory or Defeat? (Matthew 26)

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Can you imagine being a soldier on a battlefield and curling up to take a nap in the midst of enemy fire?  Napping doesn't make sense in the midst of physical combat any more than it makes sense in the midst of spiritual combat.  I believe that's why ... [Continue Reading]

The Overflow of the Heart (Matthew 12:22-50; Luke 11)

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Matthew 12:34b) We're pretty good at censoring our words (although even that is a practice that's somewhat waning in our culture), but every once in a while a person slips.  Out comes this expletive or nasty thought that surprises everyone around us, including ourselves.  Where did it come from? Jesus said that, from the ... [Continue Reading]

Tell Him to Go Away! (Matthew 4; Luke 4-5; John 1:15-51)

 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10a) Did you know that you can tell Satan to go away?  In fact, that's the method that Jesus used to get rid of the Tempter on more than one occasion.  The great news for people who are trusting in Jesus' death for the forgiveness of sins is that we're not simply forgiven of our sins, but the power of sin is also ... [Continue Reading]

More Than Words (Joel)

Rend your heart and not your garments. (Joel 2:13a) Have you ever told God, "I'll never do _________ again"?  It's actually a relatively easy thing to say to Him.  Sometimes the statement comes as a kind of bargaining chip to get God to give us what we want or to do as we desire.  Other times, it's a statement of regret in the midst of seeking His forgiveness for ... [Continue Reading]

Bait and Switch (Ezekiel 17, 20)

There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done. (Ezekiel 20:43) There's something about Charlie Brown, Lucy, and a football that makes me cringe every time I see it coming.  It's the same old story: Lucy baits Charlie Brown to kick the football, Charlie Brown ... [Continue Reading]

Be Careful What You Say (Ezekiel 11-13)

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:3) Have you ever told someone that you "have a word from the Lord" or that "God told me to tell you this"?  I'm not saying that you should never say those things, but you must be careful in doing so.  The prophets in Ezekiel are condemned for ... [Continue Reading]

The Danger of Doubt (2 Kings 18:9-19:37; Psalm 46, 80, 135)

Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ (2 Kings 18:30) Doubt is an enemy of trust, and since trust must be at the root of man's relationship with God, doubt is naturally one of the first things that the Enemy seeks to instill in God's servants. ... [Continue Reading]

Getting Too Big for Your Britches (2 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 26)

But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.  He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. (2 Chronicles 26:16) Pride is often hard to see in the mirror.  We recognize proud people when we see them, but they don't recognize themselves as being proud.  Perhaps that's why pride is such ... [Continue Reading]

Managing Your Lion (2 Kings 9-11)

So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel.  However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. (2 Kings 10:28-29) Have you ever seen a lion on a leash?  A couple of years ago I had the privilege of visiting the Greenville Zoo in Greenville, South Carolina, and one of ... [Continue Reading]