Temptations Everywhere

Temptations Everywhere

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

temptation.newlife

If you stop to think about it, the cold, hard evidence is right in front of your eyes: you live in a temptation-filled world. The devil is out on the street, hard at work, causing pain, stress, and heartache in more ways than ever before. Here in the 21st century, the bad guys are working around the clock to lead you astray. That’s why you must remain vigilant.

In a letter to believers, Peter offered a stern warning: “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NASB). What was true in New Testament times is equally true in our own. Satan tempts his prey and then devours them. As believing Christians, we must beware. And, if we seek righteousness in our own lives, we must earnestly wrap ourselves in the protection of God’s Holy Word. When we do, we are secure.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus went through agony of soul in His efforts to resist the temptation to do what He felt like doing rather than what He knew was God’s will for Him. ~Joyce Meyer

Temptation is not a sin. Even Jesus was tempted. The Lord Jesus gives you the strength needed to resist temptation. ~Corrie Ten Boom

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, life is filled with temptations to stray from your chosen path. But, I face no temptation that You have not already met and conquered through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One who empowers me with His strength and His love. Amen

Counting Your Blessings

Counting Your Blessings

Blessings crown the head of the righteous . . . Proverbs 10:6 NIV

countyourblessings.newlife

Because we have been so richly blessed, we should make thanksgiving a habit, a regular part of our daily routines. But sometimes, amid the stresses and obligations of everyday life, we may allow interruptions and distractions to interfere with the time we spend with God.

Have you counted your blessings today? And have you thanked God for them? Hopefully so. After all, God’s gifts include your family, your friends, your talents, your opportunities, your possessions, and the priceless gift of eternal life. How glorious are these gifts . . . and God is responsible for every one of them.

So today, as you go about the duties of everyday life, pause and give thanks to the Creator. He deserves your praise, and you deserve the experience of praising Him.

God’s kindness is not like the sunset—brilliant in its intensity, but dying every second. God’s generosity keeps coming and coming and coming.   ~Bill Hybels

When you and I are related to Jesus Christ, our strength and wisdom and peace and joy and love and hope may run out, but His life rushes in to keep us filled to the brim. We are showered with blessings, not because of anything we have or have not done, but simply because of Him. ~Anne Graham Lotz

Do we not continually pass by blessings innumerable without notice, and instead fix our eyes on what we feel to be our trials and our losses, and think and talk about these until our whole horizon is filled with them, and we almost begin to think we have no blessings at all? ~Hannah Whitall Smith

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, I have more blessings than I can count, and I praise You for Your gifts. Let me use my talents and my possessions for  Your glory . . . and for Your Son. Amen

Neighbors in Need

Neighbors in Need

Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”  That’s exactly what Jesus did. - Romans 15:2-3 MSG

goodneighbor

Sometimes, it’s not you, but instead your neighbors, who are experiencing stress. And, of course, we know that we’re instructed to love our neighbors, and yet there’s so little time . . . and we’re so busy. No matter. As Christians, we are commanded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love our neighbors just as we love ourselves.

This very day, you will encounter someone who needs a word of encouragement, a pat on the back, a helping hand, or a heartfelt prayer. And, if you don’t reach out to your friend, who will? If you don’t take the time to understand the needs of your neighbors, who will? If you don’t love your brothers and sisters, who will? So, today, look for a neighbor in need . . . and then do something to help. Father’s orders.

Make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say: “I have made one human being at least a little wiser, or a little happier, or at least a little better this day.” ~Charles Kingsley

Encouraging others means helping people, looking for the best in them, and trying to bring out their positive qualities.   ~John Maxwell

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can. ~John Wesley

 

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, help me be a Good Samaritan to the people You place along my path, today and every day. Amen

Are You Fitting In?

Are You Fitting In?

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you. – John 15:19

fittingin.newlife

“Don’t love the world’s ways.  Don’t love the world’s goods,” wrote the apostle John.  When he wrote of “the world,” he meant everything in life that ran counter to staying connected to Jesus; everything that contradicts what the Bible teaches and undermines a life of faith and discipleship.  Indeed, the world has a different take on how we should live.  Many today believe that all ideas are valid; that no one is wrong, because no absolute truth exists.

We are encouraged to believe whatever we want in the name of tolerance and diversity, no one’s viewpoint can be dismissed.  But Jesus presents Himself to us as the Truth, meaning all so-called truths must be measured against Him if they are to truly be considered truths.

Jesus Christ’s message to his disciples is His message to you: Fitting in with the world isn’t the mark of a follower of Christ.

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Lunch With A Friend

Lunch with a Friend 

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. – Hebrews 13:18 NIV

godsgoodness.newlife

Only the good news of Jesus Christ encourages us to honestly think about who we really are and to address our shortcomings in a way that won’t cause us to wrongly rely upon our own efforts.

Let me explain with this example: A while back I had lunch with a non-Christian friend. As we ate, we began discussing spiritual things. I made reference to the prodigal son, and no sign of recognition crossed his face. He’d never heard the story; he knew nothing about the Bible.

As the conversation progressed, he got around to stating his theology: namely, good people make it to heaven. He considered himself a kind, loving, and good person. And without a doubt, he’s one of the nicest people I know. But as we talked longer, he discussed his internet relationships with women ready to leave their husbands to live with him. His “goodness,” as he called it, gave these women new hope about men.

I felt compelled to challenge his thinking. “What would these ladies’ husbands think of your so-called goodness?” I asked. “Has this ‘goodness’ ever prompted you to call one of these men and ask if he minded that you were having an internet relationship with his wife?” As it turned out, his “goodness” wasn’t as good as he thought it was.

Rely upon God’s goodness. As good as you think you might be, that goodness is nothing next to His.

Reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does.
– Josh Billings

Called by Name

Called by Name

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. – John 10:3-4

calledbyname.newlife

There’s no group discount for the kingdom.  Instead, God tugs at your heart as an individual, calling you one by one.  When God calls someone, He calls him or her personally.  It’s a biblical pattern repeated time and again.

The Lord called young Samuel by name until he responded. (1 Samuel 3) Jesus stopped at the fishing boat of Peter and Andrew and said, “Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus halted Saul of Tarsus in his tracks in the middle of the highway, again calling him by name. (Acts 9:1-9)

And so it’s been through all of time. The manner and circumstances of the call are radically diverse, but its personal nature is the same. The Bible compares such a relationship to a shepherd’s intimate knowledge of his flock. The shepherd knows the peculiarities and habits of every one of his lambs.

Jesus Christ knows you intimately. He calls you by name. Listen for Him today!  When you hear Him—respond to Him!

 A leader takes people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be. – Rosalynn Carter

 

The Key to Success

The Key to Success

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. - Psalm 42:1

Key to Success

Looking for an edge in life?  Consider this: God is the key to any success you may have in learning to control your desires.  He must be your strength, your counselor, and your sure foundation.

Why is God so important?  Because He’s the source and fulfillment of all human life, including yours.  In other words, you were created by God as well as for God.  We often forget the latter.

St. Augustine made this beautiful confession nearly seventeen centuries ago:  “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You, O Lord.”  It was true for him then, and it’s true for you now.

“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:2)
“Whoever drinks the water I give Him,” said Jesus, “will never thirst…[it] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 14)
“I am the bread of life,” said Jesus, “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Behind all your cravings is a craving for God.  And this craving can only be filled through a relationship with Jesus Christ—your true food and drink.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. - Michelangelo


 

Rest For The Weary Soul

Rest for the Weary Soul

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. ― Psalm 38:4

weary.newlife

There are plenty of roads in life that promise joy, health, peace, or transformation. Most of them, however, don’t lead in that direction. You can literally exhaust yourself seeking spiritual refreshment. And that doesn’t make any sense.

We work hard at building a good life, but instead of joy on the journey, we often feel weighed down by life. Have you grown weary going down one wrong road after another?

Proverbs tells us, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12) The fact that a way looks right at first glance doesn’t mean it’s leading toward spiritual renewal . . . it could be leading to a dead end. If you’re someone who has taken many paths but still finds yourself weary, turn to Jesus. He said these words for you: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Any spiritual path that doesn’t lead to Jesus Christ won’t lead to true spiritual renewal . . . no matter how right it seems at first.  In fact, Jesus Christ Himself is our way. Remember, the burden He calls you to bear on your journey is light, and the yoke of His expectation fits you perfectly. When you do this, He promises rest for your soul.

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. ― George Müller

We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, “I give up, Lord; here’s my life. I give you my world, the whole world.” ― Bruce Larson

If we believe that God is always at hand, always ready to hear, surely we should take delight in telling Him all our little cares, and woes, and hopes, as they flit by. ― H.L. Sidney Lear

Redeeming Power Of Love

Faith in God’s transforming power means you have hope in His redeeming love. People struggle to imagine a love that doesn’t regard actions or attitudes’men especially struggle to understand this type of love. Our love is so often a response to the conditions surrounding it that using the word unconditional to describe it, to describe love, seems like an oxymoron.

redeemingpoweroflove.newlife

But with God, it’s not. God’s love for you is beyond human understanding; you simply can’t grasp it. Yet that doesn’t stop it from transforming your heart, your mind, and your entire life.

It’s hard sometimes to understand how much God loves me or why He loves me. But the idea that He loves those we consider our enemies just doesn’t make any sense at all. Yet that just shows the depth and extent of God’s love.

When you place your hope in a love of such magnitude and manner, you’ll finally see that whatever sin you’ve committed, whatever evil has been done to you, or whatever good thing life has taken from you can be used by God for good.

You can’t redeem your own life. Redemption isn’t pulling yourself up by your own spiritual bootstraps.  Aside from the fact that it’s utterly futile, it doesn’t glorify God. On the contrary, it insults Him. God is ready and willing for you to accept His gracious work of redemption. The only thing He requires is that you receive Jesus Christ with the open hands of faith. It’s a simple act of surrender.

What is 12-Step Recovery?

 

12-steps-recovery.newlife

As a seminary graduate and pastor, I was skeptical about much of psychology and recovery programs. I did learn a little more when I watched My Name is Bill W.–the story of the man who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous–but not much. I suspected that group meetings were touchy-feely, superficial gripe sessions that allowed addicts to blame everyone else in their lives for their problems. My greatest reservation stemmed from the commitment to speak of the generic ‘higher power’ instead of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the true life-changing power.

My views changed immediately and dramatically when a new job required a visit to a substance abuse rehab center. I found myself sitting in a group therapy session with men and women from their late teens to 60′s. They came from upper class homes, middle class working families, and the streets. I was amazed that they treated each other as true peers. Their pointed questions and frank confessions scared me, but I recognized that this is what real conversion looks like’people struggling with real guilt having no other hope than experiencing genuine rescue through faith in Jesus Christ. In short, they were living in true Christian community.

12-step recovery is biblical:

In my personal Bible study, I have found the principles that supported the steps. I finally became convinced that the steps were biblical when I recognized that Paul made his confession in 1 Timothy 1:15 as the result of completing the work of the 4th step: ‘Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.’ In verses 8-11, Paul outlines the basis for a searching moral inventory: the 10 Commandments. He then confesses, ‘I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man’.’ In verse 15, Paul then explains why he can complete his moral inventory without fear: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’of whom I am the worst.’ Later, I recognized the prodigal son experienced the admission expressed in the first step when he came to his senses. The 5th step is completely in keeping with James’ instruction in his letter: ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ The 12 Steps help addicts face their sin and apply the remedy of the Gospel.

12-step recovery is progressive:

Working the steps requires following a process that moves the addict from a life of isolation to healthy relationships with others. In working the first 3 steps, you recognize the futility of your efforts to overcome your addiction by your own efforts and acknowledge your total dependence upon the Lord for help. In steps 4 through 6, you face the reality of your own brokenness due to sin and declare your readiness to have God transform you through the Gospel. In steps 7, 8, and 9, you work to repair the relationships that have been broken as a result of your addiction. In the final 3 steps, you work to advance the work already by growing in your knowledge of God and sharing what you’ve experienced with other addicts

12-step recovery is not self-help:

Anyone who hopes to end addiction must work the steps personally, but cannot work the steps without help from others. Groups urge members to find a sponsor/mentor who has already worked the steps or a partner who can work them at the same time in order to provide accountability for working the steps. Demonstrating a willingness to be in relationship through the steps is one of the most important foundations for completing the work. You are choosing to end the hiding and isolation. You must begin by deepening your relationship with God first. If I don’t really trust Jesus, then I won’t be able to trust His people. In the group meeting, you invite the other members to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. Knowing the God Who has walked that valley first is essential.

12-step recovery is an adventure:

The function of a 12-step group is not a precise science, as group veterans will attest. There are healthy and unhealthy groups. A healthy group fosters wholeness as the members progress through the steps. An unhealthy group permits members to repeat the same confessions they have made previously. Healthy groups can have unproductive meetings and unhealthy groups can have productive meetings.

The single greatest factor influencing a group’s health and effectiveness is the commitment of each member to work the steps. Members must help each other face the external and internal triggers that make up their patterns of addiction. Each person experiences moments of strength and of weakness’moments when it seems much easier to return to the life of denial and blame-shifting than to keep growing by answering that difficult question that has just been posed.

Following the well-trod path outlined by the 12 Steps will help you to escape the pattern of self-defeating behavior that has dominated your life and prevented you from experiencing wholeness through faith in Christ.

If you have a struggle with alcohol or drugs, we can help. Please see contact New Life Ministries at 800-639-5433.
If you’re struggle is with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.