Sunday, February 10, 2008
Rev Steve Francis (Minister of the Word)
Steve talked about the reality of temptation - that it is a common experience to us all. He assured us that God uses trials for our own good, but the devil uses temptation to bring us down, away from God. Steve warned us that the devil will try to tempt us in two situations, when things are going well (as it had been for Jesus - having just experienced the great spiritual high point of His baptism) and it is easy to let ourselves spiritually cruise and becoming lazy in our relationship with God; or (as it was at this time with Jesus in the desert) when we are suffering difficult circumstances. Steve also mentioned some of the temptations that are common to people at particular times of their lives and reminded us that no-one is without sin.
Steve considered the response of Jesus to the temptation of the devil and exhorted us with three methods of tackling temptation:
(1) Know the word of God thoroughly, memorise it, study it, so that it will be in your heart when temptation comes. Meditate upon scriptures which are pertinent to any temptation that besets you (for me this would include verses such as Proverbs 21:23). Make an effort to recall these scriptures in times of temptation.
(2) Actively resist the devil and draw near to God (1Peter4:7-8). Make a conscious effort to turn from temptation. Repent often if necessary, but always honestly! Be accountable to the standards of God's word.
(3) Surround yourself with the loving and godly support of fellow Christians who may minister to you in prayer and deed and guide you away from temptation, as God provided angels to minister to Jesus in the desert and in a similar way Jesus asked for His disciples to accompany Him to His greatest time of temptation, the night before his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane.
I am so proud of my minister for choosing to preach on this topic. Although my most bessetting sins were not among those that he mentioned as common (although I am sure this was just an oversight!) I know that this message was for me. I do need to be more conscious of the standard that God calls me to in my behaviour and obedience to Him. This will enable me to see myself through His eyes - eyes which love me and forgive me, sure, but also eyes which are saddened beyond my knowing by my sin. Knowing God's standard, and having a high regard for it, makes me sorry when I breach it. It is only from this state of heart that I can move to repentance and ask for forgivenness, of which I know that I am assured. Thank you God. Clean me up and make me new! And always remind me of Your standards, so that mine won't keep falling down so low.