Old Habits

Steve Arterburn

All of us have felt the tug of an old habit or former way of life.  And I’m sure you’ve known the frustration it creates as you long for the familiar, even though it may be destructive or may lead you outside God’s will.  At times, the challenge may seem too hard.  Your old life beckons, tempting you with familiar sources of comfort.

Did you know that many Jewish Christians of the first century thought about returning to the Jewish faith?  Some of Jesus’ teachings didn’t seem to line up with the teachings of the Jewish rabbis.  Was Jesus really the Messiah?  Did following him mean they had to give up their old, familiar forms of worship?  Would it be wrong to go back to their old beliefs and traditions?  Did it make sense to follow this new way when it led to harsh persecution?

The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed these concerns of the Jewish Christians.  In this book, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith, to encourage one another and to look forward to Jesus’ return.

What old habits are haunting you?  Addiction? Lust?  Anger?  Spiritual renewal requires that you seek God, surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and follow his ways.  From time to time, you will almost certainly feel a temptation to return to your former ways of life.  But God is more than able to help you overcome and empower you to grow.

Isaiah

Steve Arterburn

God called Isaiah to be a prophet.  His ministry extended for more than forty years.  
All we know about this prophet indicates that he was one of the greatest people of his time.  His name means, ‘The Lord is salvation.’ This meaning is especially appropriate since he speaks throughout his book of God’s gracious promises of comfort and deliverance for his people.  His book is a masterpiece, suggesting that Isaiah possessed considerable intelligence and education.  But that’s not all; Isaiah was also a husband and a father.  

So what can modern men learn from this prophet of old?  Although Isaiah had many gifts, his success was primarily a result of his humility and faithfulness to God’s will for his life.  When God called him, Isaiah had an overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness.  He started where all men need to start:  He admitted his sin and sought God for cleansing and renewal.  Then, when God revealed his will for Isaiah, the prophet pursued God’s plan with determination.  He spoke and lived out God’s will for him despite the opposition he faced.  As a result, God used him to confront his people with their sin and to comfort his people as they faced a painful future.  Through his words and life, Isaiah has blazed a trail for the spiritual growth of all men.  

If you’re a man, you’re called to lead well’to lead well you need to begin with humility and faith.

Warfare Prayer

Steve Arterburn

Are you facing a strong temptation?  Interpersonal conflicts?  Difficult circumstances?  In the Bible the apostle Paul uses the analogy of armor and warfare to teach about the equipment that’s essential for standing against temptation and spiritual attack.  

First, he encourages you to put on the belt of truth.  Satan is the father of lies.  He’s constantly trying to deceive and trap you.  In contrast, all of your armor is held together by truth, which comes from the Father of Truth.

Next, you need to put on the body armor of God’s righteousness.  Though there are many levels of meaning to this phrase, the primary one is that you’re forgiven and accepted through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  You’re not protected by your own righteousness; you need the righteousness of God.

Next, you’re called to put on the shoes of peace and carry this Good News to people everywhere.

You’re also given a shield of faith to protect you against Satan’s accusations and persecutions.  Prayer leads to faith.  It keeps your vision clear when circumstances cloud your way.

The helmet of salvation is next on Paul’s list.  In addition to protecting the wearer, the helmet identified a soldier’s allegiance.  You belong to the company of Christ.  

Finally, you’re armed with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  The sword is your only offensive weapon.  

God never leaves his men behind in battle.  Read Paul’s warfare prayer from the book of Ephesians 6:10-18 for help.