“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31)
Have you ever noticed how many times it is recorded that Jesus “went away to a quiet place?” His need for solitude was so great that He even left the crowds and the work behind in order to observe it.
Solitude is the practice of intentionally unplugging, and it allows us to experience God as He restores our soul. Stepping away for lengthy periods of time serves to rid us of the deterioration of soul that results from constant interaction. In this place of quiet communion, we rediscover our soul.
Additionally, we experience the presence of God and understand once again that He will not compete for our attention.
Back in the 60’s – 70’s there was a popular comedian named Flip Wilson. One of his most famous lines was “The devil made me do it!” While everyone thought that was funny, it is not biblically correct. The devil CAN tempt you (and he will) but he can not make you do anything against your will.
That is where temptation comes in. When God created man; He put within him certain desires. These desires were holy and good but that all changed after man yield to the first temptation. It is my personal belief that the essence of sin is trying to fulfill God-given desires in a way that God never intended. God intended mankind to have a full and happy life but Satan wants us to bypass God and fulfill those desires through the flesh.
The Disciple James wrote, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Satan crafts each temptation to the individual; “his own desire,” What tempts one person may not appeal to someone else. James uses two fishing terms: “lured” and “enticed“
Fisherman know what lures work for certain fish; you wouldn’t use a bass lure to catch crappy. And often you have to change lures depending on weather and water conditions. But the goal is to make the “bait” attractive to the fish! Satan makes the temptation so attractive, promising how much you are going to enjoy it. But if you take the bait; you are doomed!
Satan cannot give you what only God can: Peace, fulfillment, and eternal life.
In two weeks many will be observing Good Friday and I would like to share my thoughts on a phrase that was spoken on that day. That phrase is often overlooked by many.
Matthew 15:30 “…save Yourself, and come down from the cross! VS 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe”
Of course Jesus being the Son of God could easily have done that but in so doing, He would not have fulfilled God’s will in providing salvation for all of mankind.
Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 that Christ followers have been crucified with Christ… Paul was not speaking of our physical life but our old life while living in sin. Again Paul tells us in Roman’s 6:6 “We are those who have died to sin;…” Jesus commanded His followers to take up their cross daily and follow Him.
Any time we yield to SELF; we are technically coming down from our cross. Often in a divorce; some one (or both) have come down from their cross. Many church conflicts are a result of coming down from the cross wanting their way. When a man yields to the temptation to look at pornography, he has down from his cross. (Dead men do not experience lust!)
Satan was defeated because of Christ’s cross and we defeat Satan in our lives as long as we remain on our cross. Any time you come down from your cross; you are open to the attack of Satan. The only place of safety is the cross. The only place of victory is the cross.
The human imagination is a wonderful thing! When I think of imagination; I immediately think of Walt Disney. On October 1, 1971, five years after the great Walt Disney passed away; Disney World had its grand opening. During the dedication ceremony, someone turned to Mrs. Walt Disney and said, “Isn’t it a shame that Walt didn’t live to see this?” Mrs. Disney replied, “He did see it, that’s why it’s here.”
All of us to some degree or another have an imagination. Many of the modern conveniences we have today started in someone’s imagination. As I was falling asleep one night; I started remembering how God led my wife and me in our lives. I started to use what I call my “sanctified Imagination.”
By that, I mean using my imagination to “flesh out” passages of Scripture and the character of Jesus.
Example: I wondered what does God do while I sleep? I know, He has a whole universe to oversee but what is He doing in my life while I sleep? Psalm 121:3-4. The psalmist writes, “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Here’s where my imagination comes to play. I can imagine Jesus sitting beside my bed, smiling as He puts together the events of my coming day. Psalm 143:8 I would like to think He says with pleasure, “Just wait and see what I have in store for you when you wake up.” (It just might be possible.”)
A pastor once asked his church to pray that God would shut down a neighborhood bar. The whole church gathered for an evening prayer meeting, pleading with God to rid the neighborhood of the evils of this bar. A few weeks later, lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
Having heard about the church’s prayer crusade, the bar owner promptly sued the church. When the court date finally arrived, the bar owner passionately argued that God struck his bar with lightning because of the church members’ prayers. The pastor backtracked, brushing off the accusations. He admitted the church prayed, but he also affirmed that no one in his congregation really expected anything to happen.
The judge leaned back in his chair, a mix of amusement and perplexity on his face. Finally, he spoke: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Right in front of me is a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and a pastor who doesn’t.”
I have heard the above story all my life but I cannot vouch if it is true. The truth is some Christian believe in God, but they don’t believe in prayer. They might claim to believe prayer works, but their actions say otherwise. Some rarely pray, and when they do, they don’t expect anything to change. If we truly believed in prayer, I think we would pray more and more fervently. James 1:-6-8 Mark 11:24
In the film, Bruce Almighty, (2003) Bruce Nolan is passed over for a coveted position as a TV anchor. When he complains to God about how unfair his life is, God (Morgan Freeman) shows up and ask Bruce if he could do a better job as God. Bruce decides he could do a better job and God grants him temporary limited authority to be God. God does limit his power. He cannot violate man’s free will. His power only extends over several blocks in New York City. But you have to admit it is an interesting idea: What would you do if YOU were God? Lose that weight you have been unsuccessful in losing? End all wars; sickness, stop all natural disasters from happening, end racism. Who would you like to see win the Super Bowl? I WOULD DEFINITELY END ALL ABORTIONS!
Bruce prepares for bed but cannot sleep because he hears thousands upon thousands of prayers in his head. No problem; he’s God! He answers EVERYONE’S prayer! I mean that what God is supposed to do. Right? Everyone who bought a lottery ticket WINS! Everyone is healed instantly! There is a sudden rise in pregnancy! The stock market explodes! Everyone drives the car of their dreams ( prayer) Unfortunately, it all became chaos!
I am reminded of the Old Testament passage (1 Samuel 8) when the nation of Israel wanted a king just like the pagan nations around. God tried to dissuade them telling them what would occur if they choose a king and it was not favorable. : He (God) gave them exactly what they asked for— but along with it they got an empty heart.” (Psalm 106:15) I admit that have been times I prayed for things that I regretted it later.
I thought if I was God, I would right every wrong and punish all evildoers. If I was God, I would ask for incredible wealth so I could help people in need. If I was God, I wouldn’t do any of those things because I am like most of us; selfish!
If I were God; there are some people that better run for the hills!
What is God like? How would you describe Him? I am sure that there would be a variety of answers. Most have a wrong idea of who God is. Some people view God as kind, benevolent like a heavenly grandfather granting his children every whim they desire. On the other hand, some see God as the celestial cop; waiting to punish us as so as we step out of line. And others, fall somewhere between the two.
Those familiar with Facebook are familiar with the term “befriended.” It refers to one person who is enrolled in Facebook inviting another person to be their “friend” which enables them to share information.
Recently a new television program, God Befriended Me premiered. It is a humorous, uplifting drama about an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him.
That got me to thinking. Isn’t that exactly what God is all about? He has called each of us to close relationship with Him. ““No longer do I call you slaves…but I have called you friends.” John 15 Abraham, the patriarch of the Old Testament was referred to as the friend of God. James 2:23.
When people think about God being your friend, they think it is sacrilegious. But Jesus, Himself, calls us His friends because He communicates with us. John 15:14 Our relationship with God is the most personal relationship we can ever have but the choice is yours. Will you accept His invitation to be His friend?