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THE ODYSSEY: PROTECTION AGAINST TEMPTATION
According to Greek mythology, sirens (sea nymphs) inhabited certain Mediterranean coastal areas. As ships passed by, the sirens sang such enchanting songs that the sailors, drawn by the music, would jump overboard and drown.
Odysseus was on a ship that had to pass that way. Aware of the powerful allurement of those songs, he ordered that he be bound with ropes to the mast and that the crewmen's ears be sealed with wax to block out the tantalizing music of the sirens. Having taken such precautions, Odysseus and the rest of the crew were able to sail past without yielding to the lure of the sea nymphs.
As Christians, we should be prepared to resist any temptations to evil. We must hate sin and be so serious about not giving in to its allurements that we are determined to deny our desire to participate in it.
Are there recurring sins in your life that have been defeating you? Drastic measures must be taken. You must keep away from any enticements that you know would play into your weakness. The best protection against temptation is to heed the warning Paul gave to Timothy: "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). That was good counsel then; it's still good today.
One way fans try to follow Jesus without denying themselves is by compartmentalizing the areas of their lives they don’t want him to have access to. They try to negotiate the terms of the deal. I’ll follow Jesus, but I’m not going to sell my possessions. Don’t ask me to forgive the people who hurt me; they don’t deserve that. Don’t ask me to save sex for marriage; I can’t help my desires. Don’t ask me to give a percentage of my money; I worked hard for that cash. And instead of following Jesus with their financial life, they follow Money magazine. In their relationships, instead of Jesus they follow Oprah. In their sex lives, instead of following Jesus, they follow Cosmo. They follow Jesus, just not with every area of their lives.
Kyle Idleman, "Not a Fan" (p. 146)
Joe La Rue
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EINSTEIN AND EMMY
When Einstein fled Nazi Germany, he came to America and bought an old two-story house within walking distance of Princeton University. There he entertained some of the most distinguished people of his day and discussed with them issues as far ranging as physics to human rights.
But Einstein had another frequent visitor. She was not, in the world’s eyes, an important person like his other guests. She was a ten-year-old girl named Emmy. Emmy heard that a very kind man who knew a lot about mathematics had moved into her neighborhood. Since she was having trouble with her fifth-grade arithmetic, she decided to visit the man down the block and see if he would help her with her problems. Einstein was very willing and explained everything to her so that she could understand it. He also told her she was welcome to come anytime she needed help.
A few weeks later, one of the neighbors told Emmy’s mother that Emmy was often seen entering the house of the world-famous physicist. Horrified, she told her daughter that Einstein was a very important man, whose time was very valuable, and he couldn’t be bothered with the problems of a little schoolgirl. And then she rushed over to Einstein’s house, and when Einstein answered the door, she started trying to blurt out an apology for her daughter’s intrusion – for being such a bother. But Einstein cut her off. He said, “She has not been bothering me! When a child finds such joy in learning, then it is my joy to help her learn! Please don’t stop Emmy from coming to me with her school problems. She is welcome in this house anytime.”
(Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2000, Devotional E-Mail, “It Is His Joy” (located at http://www.geocities.com/palmercog/joydevo.html) (last visited April 22, 2008)).
And that’s how it is with God! From it’s very opening pages, all the way to the end of the book, the Bible is a story about how God has pursued us with an unchanging and unquenchable and UNDESERVED love, because he wants us to come to his house! And we do that in this life through prayer! It’s an amazing privilege.
The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, just remember...
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Solomon discovered the emptiness of stuff.
Illus. A young banker was driving his BMW, in the mountains, during a snowstorm. As he rounded a turn the vehicle slid out of control and toward a cliff. At the last moment he unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped from the car.
Though he escaped with his life, his left arm was caught near the hinge of the door and torn it off at the shoulder.
A trucker passing nearby witnessed the accident, stopped his rig, and ran back to see if he could be of help. There standing, in a state of shock, was the banker at the edge of the cliff moaning, "Oh no, my BMW, my BMW". The trucker pointed to the banker’s shoulder and said "man you’ve got bigger problems than a car".
With that the banker looked at his shoulder, finally realizing he’d lost his arm, and began crying ":Oh No, my new Rolex, my new Rolex".
The pull of the world can easily steal our affections away, and cause us to live for the wrong things. See, stuff is not bad, and it is not evil to own stuff, to have money, possessions, nice cars, Rolex’s.
The important thing is our attitude toward the stuff in our life.
For example: Money is not evil, the love of it is.
Many godly men were rich :
Solomon – with his wealth he built the Temple.
Jehoshaphat – with his wealth he built a great Military power
Job - Stayed faithful to God even when he lost all his wealth. Then God gave him even greater wealth as a reward..
Hezekiah – Used his wealth to reform Israel.
Solomon was the richest man who ever lived.
He owned : Houses, vineyards, gardens, parks, fruit trees, slaves, flocks, singers, so much silver that it was as common as dirt, gold shields, a solid ivory throne, a solid gold throne, fleets of ships, robes of the finest materials, weapons, Storage buildings full of exotic spices, herds of mules, peacocks, 1,400 chariots, 12,000 horses, and land that extended farther than the eye could see.
Ecclesiastes 2:10: “He was denied nothing his eye desired.”
From a Sermon By Art Good
W.H. Griffith Thomas scourged Christians this way, “There is no greater foe to Christianity than mere profession. There is no greater discredit to Christianity today than to stand up for it, and yet not live it in our lives. There is no greater danger in the Christian world today than to stand up for the Bible, and yet to deny that Bible by the very way we defend it. There is no greater hindrance to Christianity today than to contend for orthodoxy, whatever the orthodoxy may be, and to deny it by the censoriousness, the hardness, the unattractiveness with which we champion our cause. Oh this power of personal testimony ?with the heart filled with the love of Christ, the mind saturated with the teaching of Christ, the conscience sensitive to the law of Christ, the whole nature aglow with grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.?(Listening to tthe Giants, 149-50, Warren Wiersbe, Baker 1980)
TALE OF TWO KINGS
Two of the greatest love stories ever told. The one, at Camelot; the other, at Calvary. Two of the noblest kings ever to live. The one, King Arthur; the other, King of the Jews. The one is adorned with a jeweled crown; the other, with a crown of thorns.
The comparisons and contrasts between Camelot and Calvary are many, but one scene from Camelot illustrates a great theological dilemma that only the cross could resolve.
Prior to His appointment with destiny on the brow of that fateful hill, Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk. 22:42).
Understand, on an emotional level, that this is the pleading of a son to his father. If your child came to you in such agony, wouldn’t you do everything within your power to grant the request?
But this Father, this time, didn’t respond as expected. And that’s the theological rub. He denied the request of His Son, His only Son, His beloved Son. In Gethsemane, that Son was asking:
"Is there no other way?"
The Son is betrayed, arrested, deserted, denied, beaten, tried, mocked, and finally crucified. Tacitly, the Father answers:
"No, there is no other way."
But why? Why was there no other way?
We find the answer to that question in a scene from Camelot, where the adulterous relationship between Queen Guenevere and Arthur’s most trusted knight, Sir Lancelot, has divided the Round Table. When the scheming Mordred catches them in a clandestine encounter, Lancelot escapes. Guenevere is not so fortunate. She faces a trial. The jury finds her guilty and sentences her to the flame.
As the day of execution nears, people come from miles around with one question in their minds: Would the king let her die?
Mordred gleefully captures the complexity of Arthur’s predicament:
Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let her die, your life is over;
Let her live, your life’s a fraud.
Which will it be, Arthur?
Do you kill the queen or kill the law?
Tragically but resolutely, Arthur decides: "Treason has been committed! The jury has ruled! Let justice be done!"
High from the castle window stands Arthur, as Guenevere enters the courtyard. She walks to her unlit stake, where the executioner stands with waiting torch. Arthur turns away, emotion brimming in his eyes.
A herald mounts the tower where Arthur has withdrawn: "The queen is at the stake, Your Majesty. Shall I signal the torch?"
But the king cannot answer.
Arthur’s love for Jenny spills from his broken heart: "I can’t! I can’t! I can’t let her die!"
Seeing Arthur crumble, Mordred relishes the moment: "Well, you’re human after all, aren’t you, Arthur? Human and helpless."
Tragically, Arthur realizes the truth of Mordred’s remark. Being only human, he is indeed helpless. But where this story ends, the greatest story ever told just begins.
Another Execution Scene.
Another time. Another place. Another king.
The setting: A world lies estranged from the God who loves it. Like Genevere, an unfaithful humanity stands guilty and in bondage, awaiting judgment’s torch.
Could God turn His head from the righteous demands of the law and simply excuse the world’s sin? If not, then could He turn His head from the world He loved? Would the king burn Guenevere?
Like the wicked Mordred, Satan must have looked on in delight:
God! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let them die, Your life is over;
Let them live, Your life’s a fraud;
Which will it be, God?
Do You kill Your world or do You kill the law?
Without even waiting for His Guenevere to look up in repentance, the King stepped down from His throne, took off His crown, laid aside His royal robes, and descended His castle’s polished steps into humanity’s pockmarked streets. Paul’s words in Philippians are thought by some scholars to be the lyrics of an ancient hymn, singing about the King of kings.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Phil. 2:6-8
That scene in the movie was an epiphany of understanding. Suddenly, it all made sense. We know now why He had to die, why there was no other way.
When love and justice collide, only the cross offers a happy ending.
Source: Abridged excerpt from Ken Gire’s book Windows of the Soul. Copyright © 1996 by Ken Gire, Jr. Zondervan Publishing Houses.
My wife and I recently saw a television show on The History Channel titled, “The Man Who Predicted 911.” We were both moved by this hour presentation and its focus on one man by the name of Rick Rescorla. Long before September 11th, Rick Rescorla, the 62-year-old head of security at the Morgan Stanley Bank, developed an evacuation plan for the bank. The bank’s offices were situated high up in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Rescorla was convinced that Osama Bin Laden would use jet planes to try and destroy the World Trade Center. The plan and its preparation were hugely unpopular with the Morgan Stanley staff, many of whom thought Rescorla was mad.
On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 hit World Trade Center Tower 1 at 8:46 am. Rick Rescorla ignored building officials’ advice to stay put and began the orderly evacuation of Morgan Stanley’s 2,800 employees on 20 floors of World Trade Center Tower 2, and 1,000 employees in WTC 5. Rescorla reminded everyone to "be proud to be an American ... everyone will be talking about you tomorrow", and sang God Bless America and other songs over his bullhorn to help evacuees stay calm as they left the building. Rescorla had most of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:07 a.m.
After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. As a result of Rescorla’s actions, only 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 WTC employees were killed on September 11th, 2001, including Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building.
The remainder of this very moving broadcast focused on Morgan Stanley Bank employees who now in tears were praising and acknowledging Rick Rescorla for saving their lives from total destruction that day. Many felt so guilty and apologetic they had thought Rick foolish to keep preaching and standing for what he believed would happen if they were not ready. Those interviewed said they would never forget Rick Rescorla. He was their hero.
Mr. Rescorla left behind a widow, Susan Rescorla, and two children that day. Since 911, a memorial stone was erected in Rick’s hometown of Hayle, Cornwall, to commemorate his life and the sacrifice he made to save others.
James 5:19-20 says, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” As sinners saved by grace, we must have a “Rick Rescorla Attitude.” He was convinced people entrusted to his care would perish if his plan of escape were ignored. Rick Rescorla stayed the course even when unpopular and ridiculed because he believed what he was doing would save lives.
Sadly, many Christians today have a “Cain Attitude” when it comes to rescuing the perishing and having a consistent witness. Unlike Rick Rescorla, they say by their actions: “I am not my brother’s keeper.” How this must grieve the heart of Almighty God who has left us here as His Beloved Children to sh...
Dr. David Nichols states, "There must be a difference between the knowledge that comes from the gathering of information, and that which comes by revelation. The Pharisees and Sadducees had the best information anyone could have in their day. If you asked them, they would tell you they were in touch with revelation, as well. But when revelation of the fullness of God stood in front of them with skin on, they called Him Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24)...How can this be? How can people who are trained in the Scriptures, some of whom are even anointed by God to perform their ministry, deny the revelation of the Son of God? There is a kind of zeal in the teaching gift when it is not submitted to apostolic and prophetic authority that is destructive. This zeal combines itself with pride in knowledge to oppose what cannot be controlled. And Jesus could not be controlled by the religious hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Neither could the apostles in the book of Acts...In Acts chapter 1, Jesus handed off the task of advancing the Kingdom to His followers."
(Page 17, 18 Who’s In Charge?)
A father’s two daughters were begging him for permission to see the latest movie, which happened to be rated "R," with their friends. When he denied their request, their pleading only intensified. "It’s only rated R because it has just a little bad language and just a few scenes that are bad," they reasoned.
Later that night, the father baked some brownies for his daughters. They dug in and commented on how much they enjoyed them. "You like them, huh?" he responded. "Oh yes. They’re great," answered his daughters. "That’s interesting because I used a new recipe," he said, matter of factly.
"Oh yeah? What is it?" they asked.
"Well, I’ve always heard that, if you add a little dash of dog droppings to the brownies that it gives them a distinct taste that people love," he answered, straight-faced.
The daughters immediately stopped chewing and their faces transformed from enthusiastic smiles to panicked looks of confusion. "You’re kidding!" cried one as she spat her brownie out on her plate. "What in the world are you thinking?" complained the other.
The father explained that he would never serve such a dish because even just a small amount of some things is completely unacceptable. He went on to explain that God views sin in much the same way. It doesn’t matter how little it is, it still is so distasteful that God cannot look upon it.
The girls agreed with their father that rated "R" movies were not for them.