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“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

What gives you victory in life? At the end of the day, when you look over the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory, what do you attribute to the gold medal hanging around your neck?

For some people it might be that you finally made it a whole day without a cigarette (or a whole week or month or some other milestone). Others may mark it as a victory because even though the words were on the ‘tip of the tongue’ no foul language made it through the lips. Maybe you were actually at the computer and resisted the temptation to visit ‘the sites’. Perhaps you bask in the glory of the fact that you didn’t kill your teenager with words.

We all like victory over some of the bad habits we struggle with daily. Unfortunately those victories can be few and far between. Rather than putting notches in our belts for ‘making it through another day’ we sigh and wonder if we’ll ever be able to break that habit. Seems like the more we fail the harder it is to pick ourselves up, brush the dust from our clothes and move on. “Why try, really? You just know you are going to fail again. And, where is God in all this.”

You look to heaven, maybe even shake your fist and say (sometimes even audibly), “Where were you. I thought you were going to help me? I thought you loved me. I thought you’d never leave me. I thought…”

It might seem strange to you. It might be hard to understand, but God uses the struggles in our lives to make us stronger. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us fail any more than we do. Yet he knows, in all his wisdom, that today’s failures make us stronger for tomorrow’s crisis. It might be that God refuses to remove the habit we struggle with so we will rely on him more and us less.

The warrior overcomes his enemy be rendering him helpless. The athlete overcomes his enemy be defeating him in the arena. The Christ-follower overcomes the struggles in life by reliance on God and believing that someday victory will come, even if it comes through death.

Rather than focus on the battle, focus on the one who has already defeated the enemy. Rather than dwell on your failures, remember that Jesus knew the day he went to the cross that you would fail once again. He went anyway.

Today, just for today, dwell on the fact that God lives within you. He’s walking where you walk. Seeing what you see. Feeling the temptation and frustration and anger you feel. Hearing the critical words hurled at you like a nuclear missile. Be patient with others and more importantly yourself.

Do your best today as you go to battle. Try to rely on God’s Holy Spirit who dwells within you. The one who wants to guide your thoughts and your actions in every situation. Do what you know is right. And no matter what happens, remember that whatever you do, God will do what he does best—extend his grace in your life.

PRAYER: Father God, there are days when I feel like such a failure. If I were to look up failure in the dictionary I’m sure I’d see my picture right there. I try so hard and fail. I blame others. I blame myself. I even blame you from time to time. Help me, during the frustrating times of life when I’m tempted to go against what I know is right,  to remember you are right here with me to help me. Thank you for the grace you extend when I fail. Help me to remember the failures of today build the strength for tomorrow. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Comedian Flip Wilson used to do a skit in the 1970’s in which his ‘character’ did all sorts of things wrong. Whenever he was caught his quick response was to say it wasn’t his fault, “the Devil made me do it!”

It was just a silly skit but lurking in the shadows of the laughter is a truth that none of us should ignore. When bad things happen to us, or to others, our first tendency is to place the blame on someone. We blame other people, we blame God, we blame government or employers. We even may blame the Devil, or Satan.

There are three things each of us must realize about ‘the Devil’. First of all, the Devil, or Satan, is a real spirit person just as God is except that he doesn’t have nearly the power God does. Secondly, the bible is very clear that Satan is the root of all temptation and that his main goal in life is to draw us away from God. Lastly, and this is the most important thing, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we can order Satan to leave. In fact the Bible says that if we resist him, he flees from us.

The third statement about Satan is very important when we are tempted to do things we know we are not supposed to do or when we don’t do things we know we should do. Temptation is not sin. Being tempted is a thought; sin is acting on the thought. The bad news side to temptation is that if we act on the temptation we have no one to blame but ourselves. If we get angry or bitter or unforgiving, that’s a choice. When I over eat, refuse to exercise, text while I drive it’s not the fault of the person who wronged me or the person who made the good food or the cell phone company. If I sin, I’m the one to blame. Not Satan, not God, not you. Me.

The good news is that when God allows temptation to come (He is never the source of temptation) He will also provide a way of escape if we ask Him. His desire is to see us succeed, not to see us fail.

Those of us who struggle with addictions know all too well the struggle of giving in to temptation. Whatever that addiction is (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, pornography, food) we want in the worst way to resist and yet we find ourselves giving in over and over again.

If you struggle with sin (if you think you don’t you are in denial) let me remind you that the same Paul who wrote to the Corinthians to say that every temptation has an escape, also wrote to the Romans to say that the very things he wants to do he doesn’t do and the things he hates doing he finds himself doing.

In Jesus Christ we have hope. Jesus’ desire is to walk with you through temptation so that you can see victory in those areas of your life that seem out of control. Be patient with yourself. Know your enemy. Plan your escape through Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. You alone know the struggle I have with giving in. It seems no matter how hard I try I can’t have victory over the things I hate doing. I thank you for your forgiveness and patience with me. Thank you for giving me second and third and fourth chances. I ask that you would help me to battle the habits and actions that plague me daily. Help me look to you for the victory I need. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to resist the temptations as they attack me. In Your name I pray, Amen.


So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 (NLT)

Fear has the power to cripple us in ways that are almost impossible to overcome. We can be crippled with fear when because of natural disaster, relational issues, physical or emotional abuse, false accusations and the personal bias of others, to mention just a few.

One of the reasons fear is so effective in rendering us powerless is that we see no way to change the outcome of the situation. To compensate we may make accusations, get angry, withdraw or find something else we can control so that we feel powerful in at least one area of our lives.

The writer to the Hebrews gives us another idea. When we enter into any situation in which we feel helpless he challenges us to conquer our fear by claiming the power we have in partnership with God. When a fear-filled situation attacks us we can call on God to help. It’s as though that situation you are facing with fear is a bully and God is the big brother. While you stand up to the bully, God is standing behind you. The bully doesn’t see you. He sees God! While he knows he can beat you, he also knows he’s no match for the guy standing behind you. He turns and runs in fear!

There is no one and nothing on this earth that we need fear when we are in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As mere mortals, we have nothing to fight with against the weapons of our enemy. But because of Jesus we can claim the victory!

What is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a human being? Ask that question of people and they may say financial devastation, natural disaster or cancer. In essence what they are saying is that the worst thing that can happen to us is death. But death has no power over us as followers of Jesus Christ. Death is not the end of our lives but the beginning of eternal life with him.

What can man do to us to destroy us? The answer, if we are Christ-followers is: NOTHING! With the Almighty, All-powerful, All-knowing God on our side we have nothing to fear!

PRAYER: Most Holy God. I come to you today to thank you Jesus and for the partnership I can have with You through Him. You know that today I am fearful of many things. I worry. I’m afraid for my finances, my health and my children. I praise you for the fact that no one can do anything to harm me when you are with me. Help me this day to remember, when worry attacks, that you are my constant helper and friend. Amen.

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