Monday, December 19, 2016

Gifts of Christmas JOY

How do traditions get started?

Cut end off the ham to cook.

Typically we enjoyed an event or an experience and want to duplicate it. We were inspired or had an awe-moment and found something significant about it. We wanted to commemorate it and recapture the moment. Thus creating a tradition.

Sometimes, when it comes to things we  believe, often much is tied to traditions—Why? Because when the Bible is silent people tend to make up stuff. Then that made up stuff becomes traditions that take on a life of their own.

Even many of the things we believe about the Christmas story are based on tradition.
Why do we have Christmas trees in our houses?
            Why do we hang lights?                      
            Why do we exchange gifts?
            Why do we drink wassail?

The nativity scene is a blending of history and tradition. We have the characters in the story but all of them being there at the same time isn’t quite Biblical since the Magi came about two years later.

Also the design of the stable.

We know Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but no one, at the time of His birth, made note of the place or the day. Why would they? It was just another little Jewish boy being born. But tradition needed something to commemorate. A place was designated 150 years later and a date was chosen some 200 years after that.

But there is a much more realistic and Biblical story that gives better understanding.

What if…
·         Bethlehem was overcrowded since all the world was going to their hometowns to be taxed?
·         On the way into town someone told Joseph there were no rooms available?
·         Mary said: Joseph the baby is coming?
·         And along the road was a building called the tower of the flock where shepherds stood watch from the upper level and the lower level was a birthing stable for sacrificial lambs?
·         Within that lower level, specially designated shepherds gave specific care to the new lambs to keep them unblemished by wrapping them in swaddling cloths and laying them in a manger?
·         It was the job of those shepherds to certify lambs acceptable for Temple sacrifice?
·         Mary and Joseph went into that lower birthing area and had baby Jesus in a stall then wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger?
·         When the angels told the shepherds what to look for they knew exactly where to go to find Him?
·         Jesus, as the lamb of God, was to be born in a stable where other sacrificial lambs were born and certified by the same shepherds who certified they were acceptable for Temple sacrifice?

Migdal Eder— the “tower of the flock”—was first mentioned in Genesis 35. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). And Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day. Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. (vv. 19–21).

About a thousand years after Rachel’s death the prophet Micah told us where the Messiah would be born. (Mic. 5:2), But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."

But Micah also told us where God would establish the return of His kingdom. And as for you, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come—even the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the child of Jerusalem. (Mic. 4:8).

The tower of the flock was an agricultural fort where the shepherds would watch over their flock from the second story and where the newborn lambs were birthed in the lower portion.

In a collection of Jewish teachings known as the Mishnah, the flocks kept at Migdal Eder were destined for temple sacrifice. Bethlehem is only 6 miles from Jerusalem. The shepherds keeping watch over these sheep knew the purpose for the lambs under their care. And their job was to keep the animals unblemished and uninjured, to make sure they were a perfect sacrifice for God.

Now set our story in right here: Luke 2:1-20

These weren’t ordinary, everyday, run of the mill shepherds. They were designated shepherds, made special by their selection by the High Priest to certify lambs acceptable for sacrifice.

The same wrappings that protected the lambs from injury were now used to wrap the Lamb of God. The same shepherds that designated a lamb certified for sacrifice declared Jesus was the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord.

It is another glimpse God gave of why Jesus came. He came to die. And by God’s timing, He would die during Passover as the perfect sacrifice for all mankind.

What if Mary called Jesus her little lamb from God?

John the Baptizer said: Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. (Jn 1:29)

Peter said our salvation was brought about by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Pet 1:19)

Paul said, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. (1 Cor 5:7)

Where does joy come in?

And Jahaziel said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's. You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face this enemy, for the LORD is with you…Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. (2 Chron 20:15, 17, 27)

Where does joy come from? From realizing God has shown up.
·         Joy to announce
·         Joy to hear
·         Joy to see
·         Joy to know
·         Joy to believe

And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (1 Pet 1:8)

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (Jn 15:11)

Yet some still sit around like this:

1.       Joy is an abiding confidence that God has shown up.
2.      When we acknowledge He is here, we rediscover the joy.
3.      If you lack joy, you lack that sense of His presence.

4.      Believe and you will know He is there.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Gifts of Christmas - HOPE

Matt 1:18-25

Immanuel – God with us

Jesus – Iesous
Joshua – Yeshua – God is salvation

Who He will be: God with us
How He will be known: The One who brings us God’s salvation.

But the people were not wanting to know what to call Him but how His coming would affect their lives.

Luk 2:25  And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Someone needing consolation has lost hope. That’s what Simeon was looking for—the One who was the hope for his nation. Israel had lost hope of experiencing God again. They had been left hanging for 400 years without a prophet to tell them what was going on.

The last prophet to speak was Malachi. Mal 4:5-6 Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”

Last thing mentioned was the first thing God did.

What did they ask John the Baptizer? "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." (Jn 1:21)

And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" And He answered and said, [It is written] "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, (Matt 17:10-12)

And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. (Mat 11:14)

So, while the nation was waiting, things grew very dark. Then suddenly the light broke through. Elijah appeared to prepare the way.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. (Isa 9:2) Asked John: are you the light? No, just part of the kindling.

Not the star that led the Magi. This light did more than point to a location. It was illumination. The enlightenment that cuts through the darkness of hopelessness and shows the way.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness [will cover] the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. (Isa 60:1-2)

Emmanuel. God, Himself, will come to you. How will you know it’s Him? The glory. Look at Jesus, watch what He does and you will see God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14)

That’s what Simeon saw: Luk 2:26  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

Christ—the promised One – the anointed one
      One who bore the anointing of God
      One who wore the signature of God on His life
      One who demonstrated God by His actions and words
      One who is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.

Many had been anointed, but only One would be the Anointed One.

Luk 2:27-32 


This was the lingering promise. There would be glory for the Jews and the hope for the Gentiles.

Both promises connected by the same Person. For as many as are the promises of God, [whether to the Jew or the Gentile] in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. (2Co 1:20)

There is your hope. Not in what someone said was possible, but in a person who makes the promises real.

The darkness is over. We now live in the Light. We live within our hope realized.

In Hosea 2:15 God says "I will make the valley of Achor a door of hope." The Hebrew word "achor" means "trouble". God was promising, "I will make the valley of trouble into a door of hope.”

There is no such thing as hopelessness for the children of God. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always a doorway to hope.

In the entrance of the Rockefeller Building in NYC is a gigantic statue of Atlas. With all his muscles straining he is holding the world on his shoulders. As powerful as he is, still he can barely stand up under the burden. Ever feel that way? Ever feel like you are trying to live your life carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

The things that you carry are burdensome, A load for the weary beast. (Isa 46:1)

We aren’t designed to carry God’s burden. We cannot carry the weight of our world.

He’s got the whole world in His hands. What does hope offer us – relief.

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His arms. (Isa 40:11) 

We are the sheep of His pasture. We are the lambs in His arms.

If so: Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him... (Psa 42:11)

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11) 

By two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Heb 6:16-18)

How do we take hold of the hope?
We get our eyes fixed: on Jesus: Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus… (Heb 12:1)

It was a fog-shrouded morning, July 4, 1952, when a young woman named Florence Chadwick waded into the water off Catalina Island. She intended to swim from the island to the California coast—22 miles away. Long-distance swimming was not new to her; she had been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions—21 miles each way. On this day, the water was numbingly cold. The fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her party. Several times sharks had to be driven away with rifle fire. She swam more than 15 hours before she asked to be taken out of the water. Her trainer tried to encourage her to swim on since they were so close to land, but when Florence looked, all she saw was fog. So she quit. . . only one-mile from her goal. Later she said, "I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it." It wasn’t the cold or fear or exhaustion that caused Florence Chadwick to give up. She lost sight of her hope. 

What helps me keep my eyes on Jesus? His Word.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance [not giving up] and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4)


1.       A promise is only as good as the trustworthiness of the person making it.
2.      God doesn’t lie.
3.      Therefore, if He promised you a way out or a way through your darkness, you can be assured the light will come.
4.      Don’t give up.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Heart of Romans Chapter 8

When a United flight out of Denver was cancelled, many travelers naturally were irritated at the inconvenience. One man pushed his way through the crowd to the front, slapped his ticket on the counter, and insisted, "I have to be on this next flight and it has to be first class!" The agent politely said, "I will do what I can, sir, but first I need to take care of those who were here before you." The man's face turn red. He pointed his finger in the agent's face and said, "Do you have any idea who I am?" The agent paused for a moment, took a closer look at the man, then reached for the public address microphone and said, "Your attention please. We have a passenger at Gate 22 who does not know who he is. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the counter."

Over the past couple of months we’ve tried to establish who we are—our spiritual identity. We are either a child of God, granted that privilege by the payment Jesus made on the cross, accepted when we believed in what He offered and realized when we called out to Him for salvation, or we are not. Hopefully, if you are not, you are on the way.

Once that identity is set, we then are to discover the freedom that salvation gives us, having had the power of Sin’s ownership over us broken. We also learned that that freedom must be appropriated by refusing the influence of our old self and responding to the promptings of the Spirit of God within us to live a godly life.

The question from our last study was: from which direction we going to accept input that affects how we live—the flesh or the spirit?

Today, we ask a simple question: where do you live? That’s a simple question but the answer depends on perspective: where you are at the moment and who’s asking.

If I’m in Dubai – America
In Massachusetts – Texas
In Amarillo – near Houston
In Houston – Montgomery (Lake Conroe)
In Conroe – April Sound
In April Sound – April Wind South

With familiarity, your answer can get more specific.

If God asks, where do you live? He’s not asking for an address. He’s wanting to know—spirit or flesh, old man or new man, old nature or new nature, in your own strength or by the power of His Spirit.

God knows our tendency is to try and ride the fence so He wants us to choose which side of the fence we intend to live on?

Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

They were caught in indecision.

Vs. 1-2 – Condemnation isn’t an issue. We can’t go back and belong to the condemned side. We have been justified. But we can live on the condemned side and if we do we will feel the same condemnation of those who are permanent residents.
Vs. 3-4 – Requirements of the Law

The Law originally was the 10 Commandments. To better manage life, God gave Moses additional laws to govern worship, social life, diet and hygiene issues. Later, when asked what God meant by certain commands, the priests expanded the laws to 613 by Jesus’ day.

You can understand the question by the Young Lawyer who asked: what is the greatest commandment? Jesus took all the commands and put them into two – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and body – and love your neighbor as yourself.

By loving the Lord – I want what He wants, I do what He wants, I’ll be what He wants.
By loving others – I live responsibly and appropriately with everyone around me.

These commands express who we are and how we have chosen to live. When I am living as a Child of God, this is what my life looks like. This is how a child of God lives.

Vs. 5 – Walk – live – Deportment – Behavior

Where do you stay? Depends on where I am at the moment. He meant: Where is your
How do you walk? Not stride, gate, foot placement, but how do you live?

Vs. 6 – Mind set –Focused on, under the influence of flesh or Spirit – Our will has chosen the influence it will follow.

            The mind set on the flesh is living in the past, living the dead life of the old self.
            The mind set on the spirit is living in the power of the new person God has made
him to be.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Gal 5:16-17)
            Things that please me don’t necessarily please God.

Vs. 7-8 – What pleases God? Living by faith.
            And without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Heb 11:6)

Can’t be two places at the same time – flesh and spirit are opposing directions
            Two-headed turtle – Which head decides which way to go, do, nap, eat?
            Double-minded means hesitating between two opinions – stuck on the fence

Vs. 9 – However! Cf. vs. 16.
      Distinction:  Then Moses said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?" (Ex 33:15-16)

Vs. 10-11 – By living through the influence of the Spirit within us, our whole life is affected.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20)  Don’t desecrate the temple.

Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Cor 9:26-27)

After all I’ve said about living faithfully before God, to walk by His spirit and not by the flesh, even telling them to watch me and follow my example…I can’t afford to let my own life slip.

We don’t arrive at some state of perfection. It is a daily commitment to choose which side of the fence we choose to live on.

Vs. 12-16

In the very first verse of Romans, Paul introduced himself as a bond-servant or bond-slave. It was a common practice when a servant had served his time with his master and had built such a relationship with him that he didn’t want to leave, he could become a bond-servant. He could literally give himself to his master. He became part of his master’s family.

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; my ears You have opened; burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, "Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart. (Ps 40:6-8)

It shall come about if he says to you, 'I will not go out from you,' because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. (Deut 15:16-17)

I belong to my master and the benefit of my life rests in him.
I belong to my Master and the benefit of my life rests in Him.

Vs. 28

Picture a used car salesman. Picture a librarian. Picture a sumo wrestler. What did you see when you pictured each one? Now picture a spiritual person. What does a spiritual person look like? Billy Graham? Mother Teresa? Your grandmother? How many of you pictured yourself?

You are a spiritual person. Made so by the power of God when He brought you into relationship with Himself. So look at yourself and ask: Where do I choose to live?

1.       From the beginning, God’s intentions were to get Heaven into us.
2.      Jesus said He came to give us abundant life.
3.      If we seem to be missing out on that life, realize it is found when we choose God over all other influences.
4.      Those who walk with Him enjoy fellowship with Him and experience all the favor that goes with that kind of relationship.
5.      May God make that privilege real in our lives today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Heart of Romans Chapter 7

To stop the Mongolian raiders from the north, a Wall was built during the Ming Dynasty. It was called the Great Wall of China.  By its height, width and impenetrable structure, it kept China safe from invasion for years. The only weak spots were the passage-ways where travel was permitted through gates. What made those gates weak spots was not the construction, but the guards who could be bribed to allow invaders to pass through. The security of China rested on the integrity of the gate-keepers.

President-elect Trump will now find his life controlled by Gatekeepers. Their job is to limit access and protect him from sources that will try to influence him.

There is a gate-keeper in our lives as well. Nestled somewhere within our minds is our control center. We call it our will. Our will controls the gate through which
every decision, suggestion, impulse, action or reaction comes in or goes out.

Our wills are as unique to us as we are to each other.

Some of us have strong wills – stubborn, inflexible, determined, iron-clad
Some of us have weak wills – impulsive, indecisive, impressionable, pliable
Most of us have some combination of both.

Our wills operate within a context of influence:
·         Outside influences from the world that stimulate, fascinate and captivate us. The advertising world is built on being able to influence our choices.
·         Inside influences we receive as suggestions from our flesh and spirit.

From Romans 6 we learned that our wills before salvation were enslaved to the rebellious and hostile, self-determined nature of rejecting God’s best and seeking our own pleasures and desires. Though we could make good choices those choices were measured by our definition of good and not God’s. Those choices were driven by our body of flesh.
Salvation broke the controlling power of our old self—Sin—and set us free from that old nature driving our lives.

Hey, I still have those things going on.
·         I want things I shouldn’t want.
·         I do things I shouldn’t do.
·         I say things I shouldn’t say.
·         I feel things I shouldn’t feel.

So what got set free? Our will. It no longer is obligated to surrender to the influence and input from our old self. It can override those desires and make a different choice.

A slave no longer has to serve its former master. He has been set free.

Still, even in a redeemed life, there is a weak link. Our old self will constantly try to bribe the gatekeeper to invade our life with its impulses and desires. But a free will can now choose whether it will give in to that influence or not.

I have a sugar addiction. The leftover Halloween candy is in a bag by my chair. Why not put it away? If I get tempted, I don’t want to have to get up and go all the way to the pantry. I sat watching Thursday night football and I kept thinking about the tootsie pops beside me. I kept saying no all the way up until the very moment I was unwrapping the tootsie pop and putting it in my mouth. 

Can the old self control us again? You bet. Whenever the will gives in to the bombardment of self-centered desires, it will climb back on that dead horse and ride. The old nature has had control for so long, it doesn’t realize there is another influence.

That other influence is the spirit. It contains our conscience. Every person has a conscience. It’s that positive force to move our lives toward good. But it has limited influence.
·         A conscience can become seared—hardened by life.
·         It can become insensitive by neglect or lack of use.
·         It can be wounded by hardship, trauma or rejection.
·         It can be overridden by stronger desires.

Our conscience can’t be counted on because it can be molded by society, reprogrammed by education or misled by deceit. A conscience can be reshaped. It’s not dependable.

So the redeemed life needs something else: a connection to the mind and intentions of God.

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. For we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:11-16)

What does the mind of Christ give us? Insight, wisdom, understanding, purpose.

It’s getting direct answers from the one who designed my life.  Like the Owner’s Manual.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (Jn 14:16-17)

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. (Jn 16:13-14)

H.S. is the power to resist our old self and submit to God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, (Eph 3:20)

Because the Spirit of God lives within me, I’m getting input from the very heart and mind of God to direct my will.
            I can know what God wants me to know.
            I can choose what God wants me to choose.
            I can live like God wants me to live.

How does this work? My will—the gatekeeper of my life—blocks the impulses of my old life and opens up to me the input of the Spirit of God.

So, because the Spirit of God lives in my life I won’t sin anymore?

Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with [lose its control], so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Rom 6:6-7)

Freed from Sin but not sinning. Biggest shock to my young spiritual life was I still wanted to sin, I still felt ungodly urges, I still had evil desires, I still was self-focused.

Romans 7:15-24
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

What’s going on? The battle of influence. The gatekeeper, our will, is fighting the battle of which it will respond to. The body (my old self, my flesh) is wanting its control back. My spirit is aligning me with God’s best. My will must decide which to follow.

So if the battle is in my mind how do I fight it? By reinforcing the will.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (2 Cor 10:3-5)

Little kid: what’s your name – No, no Charlie. Tell yourself no and give it to God.

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom 13:14)

Don’t make it easy to fall into temptation.
·         Set up road blocks – Quit looking at inappropriate material: movie, TV, magazine, internet – If you’re struggling with your diet don’t sit around reading cook books or watching the food network.
·         Quit making excuses – This is just the way God made me, I’m just really passionate, it’s the way I was brought up. (No man can succeed if he is willing to make excuses for his failures.)
·         Don’t go there. Avoid the fantasy world between what is and what could be.
·         Move the tootsie pop bag from beside your chair.

Don’t think this is just our effort to be good. It is a battle for what controls our lives. Consider it a spiritual war and pray for the power to resist the urge to give in.

When we try to live without relying on the power of God, we end up caught in the trap of our own making.

Catching monkeys by using their own tendencies. Yelling, complaining, hollering but trapped until they are finally captured.

I cannot allow my old self and its tendencies to control my life.

The ultimate answer: Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

When temptation knocks on your door, let Jesus answer.
            Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

1.       Every soldier knows that freedom isn’t free.
2.      The moment we stop fighting for it, captivity creeps back in.
3.      Jesus broke the power of what enslaved us and controlled our lives.

4.      If we do not live within that freedom we will become entangled again in that from which we were set free.