“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”
–Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)
Raring to go and dressed to kill, the man we’ll call Mr. Smith took one last look in the mirror after finishing his hearty breakfast. Then, with great satisfaction, he whistled as he went outside. After all, he was the guest speaker at today’s meeting. Surveying the magnificent estate he had built, he thought how lucky these people were to have him.
As he pulled out of the driveway, his mind turned to the book he had just written. It was already on the bestseller list, and his dreams had come true. He was getting calls from all over to speak, not to mention the keynote address at this convention.
Mr. Smith was glad he had gotten on the road when he did, as he was running a few minutes late. Then again, they couldn’t start the meeting without him. So, glancing at his phone, he hurried to get to the meeting on time.
It was quite a distance, and in order to pass the time, he decided to mentally go over his speech. But just then, he heard a strange noise. Getting out of the car in irritation, he walked around, looking for any telltale signs. Then, hearing a hissing sound, he realized that one of his back tires was leaking.
Never having changed a tire before, Mr. Smith was frantic. Getting out his pump, he filled the tire with air.
“That will just have to do until I get there,” he thought. “I’m late as it is.”
He was driving as fast as he could to make up for lost time. There wasn’t another car in miles, however, and he began to relax.
A few minutes later, though, he heard the hissing once again, and he felt a bumping, jarring sensation. He tried using his cell phone, but since he was in the middle of nowhere, there was no service.
With no way to reach a garage, our friend was at a loss. He could only wait by the side of the road, cursing his luck and wondering how late he would be to his own meeting.
Many times, we ignore temptation in the same way that Mr. Smith ignored his flat tire. We may just hope it will go away and do nothing, or pump our tire up with the air of pious platitudes. But instead of ignoring the test we face, we need to focus on the One who is in the business of restoring our souls.
Think about the life of Jesus with me. The Bible makes it clear that He was tempted in every humanly possible way. Yet, He remained pure and sinless. And thanks to His focus on the Father, Jesus wasn’t left alone by the side of the road.
The Bible records that Satan tried to destroy Christ and His mission through temptations. In the same way, the devil wants to destroy you and me. Despite all appearances, he isn’t our friend, and the temptation that seems like fun and games for a while will overtake you if you let it. But the good news is that if you look at the temptations of Jesus, you will see that you don’t have to let Satan hold you in the vice-like grip of defeat.
So if you are a follower of Christ, the good book says that you are more than a conqueror. I know that this is the last thing some of you feel like, and Satan would like nothing more than for you to be trapped in a prison of emotions. Instead of feelings, then, we need to depend upon God’s Word.
The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. Jesus knew how to use it, but more importantly, He knew how to use it correctly.
Instead of a sword, Satan will use God’s Word as a sledgehammer, seeking to pound and destroy you by using the emotions which I mentioned above. Just as Satan once tried to make Jesus stumble when He was tempted, he will now do the same to you and me if we don’t guard our hearts against him. He did this in the life of Jesus by throwing out partial quotes of God’s Word, and the many schisms in the body of Christ attests to the fact that He hasn’t changed his methods one iota. Instead of coming directly today, however, He uses other people as His puppets.
For example, say that you have found yourself in a compromising situation, and you gave into temptation. One way that Satan uses people who try and trip us up is by deliberately miss-using scripture. In order to make my point, please read this hypothetical story.
You have confessed your sin to God, and you know that by the authority of His Word, you are now forgiven. You walk into church overflowing with joy, and your friend sees a glow on your face that has been missing for a long time. But, not being able to talk about it during the church service, you make plans to go out with your friend for coffee.
After sharing your joy and peace about the cleansing which has taken place, your friend gets out his Bible with a stern look on his face. Then, flipping to a certain passage, he skillfully uses the hammer of condemnation, telling you how wrong you were about your forgiveness in God’s eyes.
“But I already know that,” you start.
“Now wait a minute,” he says, holding up his hand for silence. “I’m not finished yet.”
As you listen to his rebuttal and nodd in agreement, your joy begins to vanish, and those condemning emotions start to creep back in. By the time his tirade ends, you are convinced that God wants nothing more to do with you.
But that is not true at all. Just as Jesus healed the paralytic man in scripture, He now says to you and me, “I have heard you. Now get up, and walk in the newness of life.”
As followers of Christ we must learn that the newness of life and the avoidance of temptation stem from filling our lives with God’s Word. Whatever you may have done that was wrong as a believer is between you and God. If you confess your sin and go on from there, scripture promises that the leaky tire of your life will be sealed by His spirit. He corrects those whom He loves, in order that we would experience the best, and live in line with His Word. Because of that, the leak of condemnation no longer has to be a reality in your life.
On the other hand, if you don’t know Him today, why go through life patching and re-patching something that is constantly leaking? Or to put it another way, why go around lost in the wilderness of emptiness? Scripture says that if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you are saved, and you are now a new creation in Christ.
Whether you are Jesus’ follower or not, I pray that you will seek Him or re-dedicate yourself to Him today. No patch in your figurative tires is too large or small for Him to repair. With His help, you’ll soon be filled with His spirit and driving off on a journey that will take you farther than you could imagine.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.