Day 27 – Defeating Temptation

There is always a way out!

“Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”  1 Cor. 10:12 (Msg)

You may sometimes feel that a temptation is too overpowering for you to bear, but that’s a lie from Satan. God has promised never to allow more on you than he puts within you to handle it. He will not permit any temptation that you could not overcome. However, you must do your part too by practicing four biblical keys to defeating temptation.

 

Refocus your attention on something else. Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it, just hang up!

Reveal your struggle to a godly friend or support group. Authentic, honest fellowship is the antidote to your lonely struggle against those sins that won’t budge. God says it is the only way you’re going to break free.

 

Resist the Devil. Without Christ we are defenseless against the Devil, but with “the helmet of salvation” our minds are protected by God. Remember this: If you are a believer, Satan cannot force you to do anything. He can only suggest.

 

Realize your vulnerability. Given the right circumstances, any of us are capable of any sin. We must never let down our guard and think we’re beyond temptation.

 Don’t carelessly place yourself in tempting situations. Remember that it is easier to stay out of temptation than to get out of it.

Pastor Tilton

 

Day 26 – Growing Through Temptation

Every temptation is an opportunity to do good!

“Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him.” James 1:12 (LB)

On the path to spiritual maturity, even temptation becomes a stepping-stone rather than a stumbling block when you realize that it is just as much an occasion to do the right thing, as it is to do the wrong thing.

While temptation is Satan’s primary weapon to destroy you, God wants to use it to develop you.  Every time you choose to do good instead of sin, you are growing in the character of Christ.  To understand this, you must first identify the character qualities of Jesus. One of the most concise descriptions of his character is the fruit of the Spirit: “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

 

Character development always involves a choice, and temptation provides that opportunity.  Temptations keep us dependent upon God. Just as the roots grow stronger when wind blows against a tree, so every time you stand up to a temptation you become more like Jesus.

Instead of giving in or giving up, look up to God, expect him to help you, and remember the reward that is waiting for you: “When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy. After they have proved their faith, God will reward them with life forever.”  James 1:12 (NCV)

Pastor Tilton

Day 25 – Transformed by Trouble

God has a purpose behind every problem!

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)

He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, he depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than he depends on our reading the Bible. The reason is obvious: You face circumstances twenty-four hours a day.

Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days—when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great—and you turn to God alone.

Everything that happens to you has spiritual significance.  Everything!  Romans 8:28-29 (NLT) explains why:  “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son.”

 

You see, every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber.  Paul said, “We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.”  Romans 5:3-4 (NCV)

What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.

Pastor Tilton

Day 24 – Transformed by Truth


The truth transforms us!

Spiritual growth is the process of replacing lies with truth. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”  John 17:17 (NIV)

Sanctification requires revelation. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God.  To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word. The Bible says, “Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”  2 Timothy 3:17 (Msg)

 

Jesus called it “abiding.” He said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.”   John 8:31 (NASB, 1978 Edition)  In day-to-day living, abiding in God’s Word includes three activities.  You must accept its authority. You must assimilate its truth. And you must apply its principles.

The best way to become a “doer of the Word” is to always write out an action step as a result of your reading or studying or reflecting on God’s Word. Develop the habit of writing down exactly what you intend to do. This action step should be personal (involving you), practical (something you can do), and provable (with a deadline to do it).

What has God already told you to do in his Word that you haven’t started doing yet? As D. L. Moody said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.”

Pastor Tilton

Day 23 – How We Grow

God wants you to grow up!

“God wants us to grow up … like Christ in everything.”  Ephesians 4:15a (Msg)

Your heavenly Father’s goal is for you is to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up. They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties. The reason is that they never intended to grow.

When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation. That’s all you need to get started: decide to become a disciple. Christ-likeness is the result of making Christ-like choices and depending on his Spirit to help you fulfill those choices. Once you decide to get serious about becoming like Christ, you must begin to act in new ways.  You will need to let go of some old routines, develop some new habits, and intentionally change the way you think. You can be certain that the Holy Spirit will help you with these changes.

 

The Bible says, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)

The Christian life is far more than creeds and convictions; it includes conduct and character. Our deeds must be consistent with our creeds, and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior.

Pastor Tilton

 

Day 22 – Created to Become Like Christ

You were created to become like Christ!

“God knew what he was doing from the beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son … We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.”  Romans 8:29 (Msg)

 From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus.  God announced this intention at Creation: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image and likeness.”  Genesis 1:26 (NCV)

God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development.  He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn’t want to destroy it.

We allow Christ to live through us. “For this is the secret: Christ lives in you.”  Colossians 1:27 (NLT)

How does this happen in real life? Through the choices we make. We choose to do the right thing in situations and then trust God’s Spirit to give us his power, love, faith, and wisdom to do it.  Since God’s Spirit lives inside of us, these things are always available for the asking.

Jesus did not die on the cross just so we could live comfortable, well-adjusted lives. His purpose is far deeper: He wants to make us like himself before he takes us to heaven.  This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility, and our ultimate destiny.

Pastor Tilton

 

Day 21 – Protecting Your Church

It is your job to protect the unity of your church!

Unity is the soul of fellowship. Destroy it, and you rip the heart out of Christ’s Body.  It is the essence, the core, of how God intends for us to experience life together in his church.

In his final moments before being arrested, Jesus prayed passionately for our unity. It was our unity that was uppermost in his mind during those agonizing hours. That shows how significant this subject is. Nothing on earth is more valuable to God than his church. He paid the highest price for it, and he wants it protected, especially from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)

How are we to do this? The Bible gives us practical advice:

– Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.

– Be realistic in your expectations. Choose to encourage rather than criticize.

– Refuse to listen to gossip.

– Practice God’s method for conflict resolution.

– And most importantly, support your pastor and leaders.

What are you doing personally to make your church family more warm and loving?  There are many people in your community who are looking for love and a place to belong. The truth is, everyone needs and wants to be loved, and when people find a church where members genuinely love and care for each other, you would have to lock the doors to keep them away.

Pastor Tilton

Day 20 – Restoring Broken Fellowship

Relationships are always worth restoring!

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you … Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.”  Philippians 2:1-2 (Msg)

Because life is all about learning how to love, God wants us to value relationships and make the effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there is a rift, a hurt, or a conflict.

Paul taught that our ability to get along with others is a mark of spiritual maturity. If you want God’s blessing on your life and you want to be known as a child of God, you must learn to be a peacemaker. Here are seven Biblical steps to restoring fellowship:

1.  Talk to God before talking to the person.

2.  Always take the initiative.

3.  Sympathize with their feelings.

4.  Confess your part of the conflict.

5.  Attack the problem, not the person.

6.  Cooperate as much as possible.

7.  Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.

Who do you need to contact as a result of reading this today?  With whom do you need to restore fellowship?  Don’t delay another second. Pause right now and talk to God about that person. Then pick up the phone and begin the process.

It takes a lot of effort to restore a relationship. That’s why Peter urged, “Work hard at living in peace with others.”   1 Peter 3:11 (NLT)

But when you work for peace, you are doing what God would do. That’s why God calls peacemakers his children.

Pastor Tilton

 

Day 19 – Cultivating Community

Community requires commitment!

“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” James 3:18 (Msg)

Cultivating community takes honesty. Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.

 Cultivating community takes humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.

 Cultivating community takes courtesy. The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: We’re family.

 Cultivating community takes confidentiality. Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes. Confidentiality does not mean keeping silent while your brother or sister sins. It means that what is shared in your group needs to stay in your group, and the group needs to deal with it, not gossip to others about it.

 Cultivating community takes frequency. You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time.

 When you look at the list of characteristics, it is obvious why genuine fellowship is so rare. But the benefits of sharing life together far outweigh the costs, and it prepares us for heaven.

Pastor Tilton

 

Day 18 – Experiencing Life Together

Life is meant to be shared!

“Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace.” Colossians 3:15 (CEV)

God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship. “Fellowship” now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food, and fun. The question, “Where do you fellowship?” means “Where do you attend church?” “Stay after for fellowship” usually means “Wait for refreshments.”

Real fellowship is so much more than just showing up at services. It is experiencing life together.  It includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting, and all the other “one another” commands found in the New Testament.

The Body of Christ, like your own body, is really a collection of many small cells. The life of the Body of Christ, like your body, is contained in the cells.  For this reason, every Christian needs to be involved in a small group within their church, whether is it a home fellowship group, a Sunday school class, or a Bible study.

The Bible says, If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other… If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves.”  1 John 1:7-8 (NCV)

The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. Darkness is used to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in the light, we bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are. You were created for community.

Pastor Tilton