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And now he can help those who are tempted, because he himself suffered and was tempted. Hebrews 2:18 (NCV)

In his book “From Values to Action” author Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. states it is important for each of us to ‘remember the cube.’ His statement is in reference to the importance of leaders to remember what it was like in their career journey. To be reminded of the long days working in the small 4’ X 6’ cubicle where there was little room and no privacy.

A leader who ‘remembers the cube’ will be more likely to understand the struggles of those who they work with. They will be more sensitive to the mistakes, the failures, and the insecurity of the new people on staff.

One of the blessings of our walk with Jesus is that he ‘remembers the cube’ in relation to our own spiritual journey. We are told in several places in the Bible that Jesus was tempted ‘just as we are’. Does that mean that Jesus was tempted to visit inappropriate websites? Of course not, but he was fully God and fully man. That means that, although we don’t like to think of it, he was tempted with feelings of lust. Those temptations didn’t lead to sin, but because he was tempted in that way, he knows our struggle.

It’s easy for those of us that have experienced victory in certain areas of our lives to look down our noses at those who still struggle with the walk. “They’ve been to church; I had a Bible Study with them once. They should know better” isn’t a statement of understanding but of judgment. Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, but to set us free.

While Jansen’s remarks are directed mainly towards those in leadership positions, his words have spiritual merit as well. If we remember our own weaknesses it will be far easier to extend God’s grace to those who continue to fail, continue to struggle and continue to make harmful choices for themselves and others. Does that mean we agree, condone or enable them to continue down their destructive path? Certainly not. But basing our attitude towards their failure on our own weaknesses does much to direct our approach in a more merciful direction.

Jesus Christ was tempted to sin. His temptation wasn’t confined to the wilderness. It was a daily occurrence for him, just as it is for us. Even though he never gave into that temptation, he knows its power and its pull.

Because of that, he understands your struggle, and how easy it could be to fail. He understands mine as well. Temptation isn’t failure, it’s an opportunity for us to grow our character. Every time we resist temptation in our lives our character grows stronger. We can help others grow a stronger, deeper character when we ‘remember the cube.’

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you that you endured the same types of temptation I do so you can better understand my struggle. Empower me to resist the temptations I face through the power of your Holy Spirit. When others harm me, help me to ‘remember the cube.’ In your name, Amen.


I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws. Psalm 119:30

Remember the story of the Little Red Hen? She scurries around the farmyard trying to get the ingredients for making some her great homemade bread. She asks for help from all the farm animals and none of them are willing to help so she does it all herself. When the aroma of the bread wafts through the farmyard all the animals gather together for a taste only to find that she wasn’t willing to share since they weren’t willing to help.

One moral of that story might be that you have the choice to do whatever you want, but you may not like the consequences of your choices. Little Red Hen never appears to be angry with those who refused to help. She didn’t chastise them in the least. The request was made, the refusal received, and life went on.

Perhaps one of the most precious gifts God has given us, next to salvation itself, is the freedom to choose. He didn’t create robots, he created humans. He didn’t put within us a computer chip programmed to respond correctly in every situation. He gave us a mind that, like his could reason, explore and think. He gave us emotion so we could enjoy the sunsets, smell the fresh spring rain and look in awe at the mountains majesty.

But choice has a downside. Choosing to follow the path of faithfulness isn’t the easy button in life. In fact, choosing the path of faithfulness often leads us along a trail that is most difficult. Choosing to follow God is easy when things are going well, but true character, true faith, is shown when things don’t go the way we want them too.

It’s easy to believe in a God of love and grace and mercy and all things comfortable. It’s hard to believe in a God that allows us to suffer the consequences of our own poor choices. It’s easy to choose a God who rescues us from adversity. It’s hard to believe in a God that allows us to go through the frustration of being falsely accused; of being attacked for openly sharing our faith; chided for following a list of rules that seems antiquated and irrelevant in comparison of with the way the world is going.

The apostle Paul writes, “Don’t grow weary in doing good.” He knew what he was talking about. His life in Christ was full of pain, adversity, being falsely accused and physically attacked. Yet he finished the course, he fought the good fight.

God doesn’t always ask the big things of us. Sometimes he asks for a series of little steps, little choices. The decisions we make along the way will be hard but the reward is worth it. True faith says we will follow more closely to him when human wisdom screams at us to go the other way.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s easy to follow you on the good days when I’m not tempted, not mistreated, not feeling under attack. But I haven’t seen very many of those days. Empower me to see you on the hard days; those days when nothing seems to go right. On those days help me to choose you regardless of the cost. Amen.


Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

A lion roars to defend his territory. We as believers must always realize that we are in Satan’s territory. Because of this we must always be on our guard against his attacks. If you’ve ever seen a cat on the prowl you know that they are quiet and agile. They waste no energy in pursuing their prey.

Peter reminds us to be alert but it’s hard to stay alert to enemy attack when we have so many things that distract us. It’s the things that distract us that allow the enemy a foothold to attack. He lurks in the shadow ready to prey on the slow, the weak, the distracted.

We get cutoff on the interstate and give the enemy opportunity to make us angry.

We find out a close friend is the root of a vicious rumor and give bitterness an opening.

The woman in the office cubicle next to ours makes a statement that could be taken in a lustful way and gives the idea of an affair a nudge.

The credit card company notifies us of a credit line increase at the same time an email announces a discount on the ‘toy’ we’ve always wanted and desire whispers in our ear.

Friends in school ridicule a fellow student for the same convictions you hold to and you hide in the shadows allowing the name of your savior to be mocked. Apathy taps you on the shoulder.

A co-worker convinces the boss to take one of your accounts away from you and give it to him and revenge squeezes your hand.

One of your children makes an irresponsible choice. You feel the urge to be reactive and sarcastic rather than understanding and forgiving.

Distractions. Those little things that cross our path every day. Distractions give the enemy opportunities for attack. We must choose to let our guard down or to stand firm in the face of the enemy.

The good news is that we have a God who offers us the power to resist distractions through his Holy Spirit. And when the distractions of life catch us unaware and we give in to the enemy we can find mercy and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Heed the warnings Peter offers us. Stay alert in the face of the enemies attack. Stand firm when distractions urge us to give in. It’s difficult at first, but like any discipline, the more we practice standing firm the easier it is to handle the distractions he throws at us.

PRAYER: Father I confess to you that I’m all too often distracted by the attacks of the enemy. Forgive me for the times I’ve stumbled. Empower me with your Spirit to stay focused on your love and forgiveness. Thank you for the grace and mercy you give every day. Amen


“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.

 


Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Let the last few words of the above verse sink in. ‘Never will I leave you. NEVER will I forsake you.’

Think for a moment about what that means for you on a daily basis. There is never a time that Jesus is not within hearing range when you need to talk about the things you are troubled by. Never a time in your daily walk that he is not willing to talk with you, comfort you, celebrate with you. There is nothing you can do to make him leave. Nothing you can say he’s surprised by. He’s always there.

Jesus is with you when the doctor tells you the test results. He’s with you as you tend to a sick child. He’s sitting beside you as you write out the bills and worry about where the money will come from.

Sometimes the thought of his presence is comforting. It’s such a relief to know he’s there when the car breaks down, the relationship goes in the tank, the company reorganizes and you don’t make the cut.

Sometimes we ignore his presence. Like the times our minds linger as we watch the cute young thing walks past. The times we willingly visit that site on the internet one more time. Those times when the anger and frustration of life get the best of us and we lash out at those we love the most. The times we lay awake with the enemy named worry by our side.

There are times when the pain is too much. The anxiety to great. The news is too horrific to hear he still, small voice reminding us of his great presence and power. But our awareness of God has nothing to do with the reality of his presence. Our own desires may take us places we never thought we’d go, but they don’t take us from his presence.

When we sin for example, we may feel that we’ve separated us from God, but that’s not true. The issues of life can separate us from SENSING God’s presence, but nothing separates us from the REALITY of God’s presence.

Whatever is troubling you today, whether it is something on a world-wide scale or something close to home; don’t allow the issues of your life to make you numb to his presence. God has promised that he will NEVER leave you or forsake you, and you can take that to the bank!

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many things of late that have distracted me from sensing your presence. So many times I’ve ignored you when life gets in the way. Please forgive me for not living in the reality that you are always by my side. Empower me with your Spirit to live in such a way that your presence will continually guide my thoughts, words and actions. In your name I pray, Amen.

 

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