March 16

Judges 16-18, Psalm 75

As my son began to leave the nightclub lifestyle around five years ago, the process was slow and difficult for him. He had come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, but the world still tempted him in many ways. During those years we spent much time in God's Word. With him living in Manhatten, we spent approximately 15-30 minutes on the phone daily in intense Bible study. This helped, but the temptations in his life were still very strong. One by one he purposely eliminated those areas to walk in the Spirit-filled life. He first became celibate, then decided to give up getting drunk and using any form of drugs. Still, the pull and struggle remained. He next made the decision to stop going to nightclubs, then approximately a year later he distanced himself from his friends. The last thing that he did as his online ministry was growing and his role as a deacon in his church was growing, was to take himself off the group twitter/Facebook/text messages from his friends. Billy Graham said, "It is not a sin to be tempted, for everyone is tempted. The sin is in yielding to temptation, instead of seeking God's power. When you face temptation, follow Jesus' example. Do what Jesus did. Jesus didn't argue with Satan; Jesus didn't debate with him; Jesus didn't rationalize. Instead He replied, "It is written...". Jesus responded to the enemy's temptation with the simple but strong truth of God's Word, Scripture." We are commanded when in battle with the flesh, the world and the demonic powers to take up the armor of God, as we read in Ephesians 6:17, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;".

We read the saga of Samson as he played around with sin and often went where he didn't belong. We read in Judges 14:1, "Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines." Samson who was an Israelite had no business hanging around in the Philistine towns. There are places where we, as a child of God, should never go. We can avoid problems if we avoid the enemy's camp. A little further we read, in 14:8-9, "After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along eating...". Samson knew the lion that he killed was there, and as a Nazarite he could not touch a dead carcass, but he did. Samson then judges Israel for twenty years, but once again goes where he doesn't belong which will result in his downfall. We read in Judges 16:1, "Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her." He didn't belong in the Philistine town of Gaza, and if he struggled with lust he certainly shouldn't be there. We next read in 16:4, "Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah" Sorek means "Valley of the choice vine." As a Nazarite he was to stay away from grapes, but he keeps toying with things that he supposed to avoid. We know this final move of giving into temptation will first cost him his eyesight, as he is caught after losing his strength and they put out his eyes; followed by the loss of his freedom, and finally his life.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." We all struggle with various temptations, but do we flirt with them or avoid them. If we are tempted when you pass certain areas on our drive or walk to work, are we willing to change our route? If we are tempted at the workplace, are we willing to change where we eat for lunch, when we take our breaks, or where we take our breaks? If we are tempted on social media, are we willing to get on it only in public areas? Many a person has fallen under the weight of temptation. We read in James 1:13-15, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death". We can expect no ceasefires from our enemy, Satan. The barrage of attacks will continue. Our flesh and the world will also continue to gnaw at us. We must remain diligent in abiding in Him, our source of strength, as well as not purposely placing ourselves in situations where we will be tempted. Lastly when plagued by temptations or thoughts, consider Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 10:5, "...bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,".

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster