To Defeat Temptation

Resist It

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way – Daniel 1:8.

The heart’s desire of a true child of God must be to fear defiling the holiness of God.

We make resolutions but cannot follow through for various reasons. We cannot take the steps that would ensure compliance. Daniel could have feared to suggest to the chief official to permit him to abstain from the royal delicacies. What young man would not delight themselves in them? But not Daniel! His major priority was God and His holiness.

When our heart truly years to honor and glorify God, we will move to do so, regardless of the perceived obstacle. The obedient child of God is a person of faith, and that faith carries them along the treacherous path to glory. What motivates them is the glory of God. Their faith energizes them to glorify God with their obedience. That is the Daniel example worth emulating.

Unfortunately, we have focused on the result of Daniel’s determination not to defile himself with the royal food without giving proper attention to the heart and effort that birthed it. We have given it a beautiful name that everybody proudly huddles under its shade. They call it the Daniel Fast. I do not consider it as fasting. It was a deliberate decision to avoid defilement—a strategic move to avoid sin. It was a bold step away from temptation.

Did Joseph fast when he rejected the wife of Potiphar? 

The world is presenting so much that glitter and appeal to the flesh. They sparkle and seem innocent. However, those enticing? offers seek to divert us from a deep commitment to holiness, if not to move us to outright sin. Our insensitivity to the Holy Spirit succumbs to their proposals, so we fall most of the time. We rationalize and brush them aside as nothing, but they are something. It is a favorite tactic of the enemy to weaken the Saint. As the saint goes, so the church—weak in testimony and exploits for the Lord.

May we focus on the holiness of God always and strive to avoid everything that defiles. The grace of God is available to carry you if you want to honor Christ as Lord.

Dangerous Presumption

“I will do as before and shake myself free” – Judges 16:20

Is it not pathetic how we have turned the name of our Lord Jesus into a magic wand to crack at will?

Throughout the Bible, many people have presumed on God with dire consequences. Yet, we keep on making the same mistakes every day. For those blessed with the glamorous gifts of the Spirit, the temptation is to assume personal ownership of the power to use without responsibility. Samson was such a man in the Old Testament who carelessly used his tremendous strength and suffered for it.

His morals, especially concerning the opposite sex, did not match up to the high level of his physical strength. He got himself into trouble many times, but in each of those times, he used his brute power to get out of trouble. As long as he kept the terms of his Nazirite vows (Judges 13:7; Numbers 6:1-21), God sovereignly worked through his sexual escapades to deliver Israel. But that is the folly of humans. We assume on God without considering the purpose for His patience with us.  

Sampson played a dangerous game with Delilah that placed him in the hands of the Philistines (Judges 16:4-21). What happened in this terrible episode is better expressed by King Solomon in Proverbs 21:19. No husband should underestimate a nagging wife. The strongman Samson could not withstand the power of a nagging Delilah, so he gave himself away to her. A razor on his hair would negate his strength and make him like everybody else – he told Delilah (17).

With the cat out of the bag, Delilah went for gold. She got Samson into a deep sleep in her lap and shaved his hair. He woke up to face the Philistines as usual, but his strength had left him.  

“But he did not realize the Lord had left Him” (20c). 

What a tragedy!

How presumptuous the powerful man had become! His pride had carried him beyond the limits of grace. He died as a captive in the arena of the Philistines with his eyes plucked out (21-30).   

Many gifted Christians live the same way today. They think it does not matter how they live; God must respond to their beck and call. The holiness of God does not matter as much as the power (1 Sam. 4:3-5). We, like Israel, have turned God’s grace into a license to live anyhow. But as Paul asked, “Should we keep on sinning that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Of course, not” (Rm. 6:1-2)! 

We have a responsibility, brethren, to maintain the sanctity of the covenant blood of Jesus in our relationship with Him (1 Cor. 11:25). We should never forget this! Neither should we presume on God’s grace. Instead, each one of us must watch our “life and doctrine closely and persevere in them” (1 Tim. 4:16). It is for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). This way, we may harvest the blessings that come with “seeking His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33) and avoid the pitfalls of hell in our lives. 

When Disappointment Dulls the Heart and Mind

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25)

Breaking News! The tomb is empty!

Ruffled, Peter and John sprinted to the tomb and returned, puzzled. Unable to make sense of these things, Cleopas and another disciple talked along as they journeyed to Emmaus.

Jesus interrupted their conversation (15-19), but they could not recognize His voice as Mary Magdalene did at the tomb (25). How could they when the dark cloud of disappointment had eclipsed their vision (21)?

Thank God for His grace! Dining with their stranger in Emmaus, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks, gave it to them (30). Their eyes opened, and they recognized their Risen Lord. But He disappeared from their sight (31). Overwhelmed with joy, Cleopas and his friend returned to Jerusalem and shared the good news with the others (35).

You may be like the two men on the Road to Emmaus. Death has snatched a loved one from you. Maybe something has shocked you in the office, or a business deal has gone bad. Whatever it is, your path has become too foggy to navigate. The weight is overbearing, and you cannot recognize your Master again nor hear Him.

The good news is that Jesus will never leave you to wallow in your disappointment. His gracious will hand reach out to you to encourage and give you hope. Things may be difficult now, but God, who always comes through for His children, will soon favor you if you persevere. In His perfect time, He will clear the fog and lift the weight from your back; and a joyful wonder will replace the gloom. Then you will recognize how your hearts burned within you while He talked with you through the Scriptures (32). 

That is how good God is.

The Death Of The Faithful

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants—Psalm 116:15

The Oldman sat up in his sickbed with sensors attached all over his body, monitoring his vital signs. He cleared his throat as he talked with his four children surrounding him. He spoke candidly and with great optimism in his eyes.

He had known a lot of years and what he characterized as a very blessed life in Christ. But now, his body has known better days, and nothing stirs desire anymore. The Oldman reviewed his illustrious life with honesty. He was fearless in declaring that the time had come for him to go home to the bosom of his Savior and Lord—Jesus Christ. Dust would return to the ground it came from, and his spirit would return to Almighty God who gave it. Then, he would be no more with them (Ecclesiastes 12:2-7).

He had no regrets, no intention of fighting the cancer that was ravaging his body. Did everything seem meaningless to him like they did to the Teacher in Ecclesiastes? “If you do not know Jesus, ‘Yes,’” the old man insisted with a pleasant and confident smile. “It is only when a person acknowledges Jesus as Savior and Lord that anything becomes meaningful.”

 So, what advice did he have for the children?

“It is the reason I have called you all here today. You know all about my life. I have kept nothing hidden from you, including the fact of how terrible I was before the grace of God found me and Christ took hold of me. Life after my conversion has been my best years, and I would never trade it for any other. Christ is all that I have and all I can leave for you. Please make sure none of you deny Him. Insist on living for Him every day. I am looking forward to meeting my Savior with the crown of righteousness to award to me (2 Tim. 4:7-8). I want to see you all in heaven, and you should make sure you bring along your children and your children’s children I will never see here on earth.”

With that, the old soldier of the Lord drew his legs in and breathed his last. His body – gradually stiffening – laid there, perfectly still, but with the same smile adorning his face. He was now at peace, and heaven had opened to receive its child.

With no tears on their faces, the children held hands in a circle and thanked the Lord for their dad and the life they had shared with him. They embraced each other as the nurses came in to prepare their father’s remains for the mortuary.

What a way to go! But that is the anticipation and joy of the child of God who enjoys their earthly life in Christ Jesus. Even if wracked with pain, they pass on with contentment and a smile on their faces. 

The Psalmist was right, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants (Psalm 116:15). 

Are you prepared to go that way?

The Value of Fatherhood

Father and Daughter Stroll

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it – Proverbs 22:6.

What kind of treasure do you want to bequeath to your children in this life? What is the one thing you could give them that would be most beneficial to them in life? 

I am sure that answers like good formal education, money, houses, cars, and businesses will lead in our responses. These things are good, and King Solomon had them in abundance. Yet, despite all his riches and fame, King Solomon did not plead with his son to seek more of them. In the first seven chapters of Proverbs, he admonishes his son to listen and abide by his teachings, that it would go well with him in life.  

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about the vanity of riches, fame, and pleasure. He wisely counsels his son against their ensnarement. Instead, he pleads with his son to choose godly instructions as the recipe for prosperous living.

The most significant duty of every father is to train his children the way they should go, that when they are old, they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6). That blessed way is Christ Jesus (John 14:6). It is a God-given responsibility no father should neglect. When the father has done this, then he can expect the guidance and counsel he has given to the child to guide him in life. 

Unfortunately, most fathers today do not make time to instruct their children as Solomon did. They are too busy working to make a good living for their families. They have abrogated this critical role to housemaids, schools, electronic devices, television, movie stars, athletes, and many others. It is not surprising that we have confused our children today. 

On this Father’s Day, the Lord wants all fathers to take their role seriously and devote more time to the upbringing of their children. When you do, you give Him space to use your godly teachings and guidance to prosper them for victorious living in Christ.

To all fathers: Happy Father’s Day

Living as Prince of the Kingdom

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?—Matthew 7:16.

They were cousins—sons of two sisters. According to Akan tradition, either of them could be the Asantehene, king of the Ashantis of Ghana. With multiple claimants presented to the elders, the first consideration is usually age. Since Kofi was the older nephew, he assumed he was the automatic successor to the aged king. He was the local boy and easily recognized as the Crown Prince.

Kwaku made his living abroad. Growing up, his mother reminded him to live like a prince—above the ordinary. To help him maintain that perspective, his mother sent him to live with a royal family in another region for a crash course in royal protocol. Kwaku took it seriously, and that instructed his lifestyle. Decency and integrity marked his life, and people respected him.

When the king died, the elders chose Kwaku as his successor. Kofi took things for granted as the Crown Prince and lived carelessly. His unroyal character cost him the stool. His desperate appeals could not bend the customs and tradition of the Ashantis.

The moral of this story is that claiming to be a descendant of a royal family and heir apparent does not guarantee the throne to anyone. A person’s character makes the difference. 

God does not reckon membership in His Kingdom through birth into a Christian family or church membership. Simply praying the sinner’s prayer does not automatically guarantee heaven to anyone. Their transformed life that glorifies must always validate a person’s confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord God (Jn. 1:12, 13; Rm.10:9, 10; 12:1-2). 

John the Baptist warned the Jews to “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For… out of these stones God can raise children for Abraham” (Luke 3:8). As Jesus said, “By their fruit, you will recognize them… A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matt. 7:16, 18).  

We thank God that He did not raise children unto Himself out of stones to fulfill His promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:3) but has done it through His Own Son, Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16; Gal. 3:14, 29). That is why we who have put our trust in Jesus are sons of God and “heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16, 17). As children of God, Paul admonishes us to walk by the Spirit that we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:15). The only valid claim of a person to heaven is evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit and His fruit in the person’s lifestyle (22-23).     

So, can others say that your lifestyle validates your claim to sonship of the Most High?

Not Time to be Quiet

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:48

The billionaire business executive’s seminar on entrepreneurship had passed. He met with Jones later and asked, “Why didn’t you talk to me after the group session? Remember, I offered to meet one-on-one on the issues.”

“I wasn’t sure you would meet with me, knowing my notoriety in the community as an ex-con.”

“Well, I called you to my office this time because I like people who challenge themselves to make right, their sordid past by doing something with their lives. I also like your project. So, how can I help?”

Many have lost countless opportunities because they did not step out with confidence to seek help or present their proposals. Jones almost lost the opportunity had this executive not been benevolent.

Blind Bartimaeus is clearly so different. He defied the people who shouted him down and called out to Jesus for mercy until the Lord stopped and called for him (Mark 10:46-52). Though he was blind, he compensated with his ears and mouth (47). It is a marvel how he knew Jesus was the Son of David when those with eyes and the learned disbelieved.

He recognized his need and persisted in his plea for mercy to Jesus, who alone could help him (48). His unyielding faith against extreme opposition from the crowd is inspiring.

It can be your story only if you step out by faith and persist in your plea to Jesus concerning your situation. Maybe it is your need for salvation, healing, protection, or peace. It could be counsel, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, or reassurance. None of these is impossible for Jesus to do, if only you would ask.

If you call on Him, the Lord will hear your cry for mercy above all the thunderous distractions of your issues! In astonishment, you will see the grace of God embrace you with the greatest surprise of your life. Why? Because you trusted Jesus. Amen!

Have You Told God?

I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! – Psalm 66:17-20 

What is on your mind today? What is your source of worry this morning?

  • Are your financial walls collapsing around you? Does your future look bleak?
  • Is it a job need or a situation in your job that is eating you up and sapping all your joy and strength away? Could it be your business in distress?
  • What is the situation on the home front? Is your marriage on the rocks? Is it about the children, or have your in-laws become obsessively intrusive? How do you feel right now?
  • Do you want to talk about it? Why not go on your knees and talk to your Father upstairs before you open your mouth to anybody else? 

The good news is that God has waited to hear from you for the longest time. He is the only One who can help you. I do not have to tell you He will surely listen and hear your prayer (Psalm 66:19). So, lift your voice and call on Him now. See the calm and peace that will flow from His grace to you.

Your Father in heaven is a merciful God who will never withhold His love from you (v.20). He is gracious and kind and will address your concerns with all the seriousness and fairness they deserve. 

Besides, you have Jesus Christ, your merciful and faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17) who feels your every pain and sorrow. He empathizes with you in your weaknesses (4:15). He is patiently waiting for you to “approach the throne of grace with confidence [to] receive mercy and find grace in [the time of your] need” (v.16).

But are you so down and weak that you cannot pray? Lean on the Holy Spirit. He will intercede for you “with groans that words cannot express” (Rom. 8:26).

So, may you take this challenge now with passion, and find peace in Christ Jesus” (Philippians. 4:7).

Can you praise the Lord this morning?

Happy Pentecost Sunday!

Equipped for Service and Growth

So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up—Eph. 4:11-12

A gift must be purposeful if it is to benefit the recipient. Sadly, many gift-givers miss this point.

Some people can afford something beautiful, so they give, with pleasure. They expect the recipient to appreciate it, but that could be an illusion. Many beautiful gifts idle in closets and storerooms, never to be used because they are neither what the beneficiary expected nor valued. Grateful for the gesture, but never appreciative of the gift! Other givers, however, invest in discerning the needs of the intended recipients and labor to choose the right fit for them. God is the best example in this grace of gifting.

Every gift that God gives is not only good. They are perfect (Ja. 1:17). The reason is that He is good, and His intentions are perfect. God loves—for He is love (1 Jn. 4:16). His gifts fit the needs of the people He blesses because He knows everything—even more than the recipient. His goal for giving is to restore everything to perfection in Christ Jesus. Therefore, none of God’s gifts must end up in the cellar. We must use them for their intended purpose to accomplish what God desires (Is. 55:11).

Christ has gifted His church with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4:11). They are God’s instrument for equipping the saints, “for works of service, so that the body of Christ—the church—may be built up” (12). That’s the purpose of God for endowing the church this way.   

The goal of God for enriching the church with these gifts is Christlikeness (13). Jesus is the focal point for the growth of the believer. As a baby feeds on the mother’s breast milk and grows, so must the child of God feed on the word of God to grow. It is a lifelong process until glory dawns on the church. There are three principal means to a healthy spiritual growth—feeding on God’s word, cleansing the inner man through confession of sins, and using the gifts God has given them. But there is more.

As the child of God grows in Christ, they become conscious and alert to the deceptive schemes of the enemy—the devil. Peter warns about how the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour the careless Christian (1 Pt. 5:8). He works through the false pastors and teachers, evangelists, and the self-styled apostles and prophets of our day.

Satan bounces unsuspecting believers around to different ‘churches’, confusing and destabilizing them. Such people never grow. They remain infants and more susceptible to Satan’s other schemes. Peter counsels the believer to resist the devil by “Standing firm in the faith” (9). Paul adds the fact that they grow with the church (Ephesians 4:11-13).

So, may the children of God get wise and stay alert, determined to feed on the word of God and to grow in the power of the Holy Spirit towards maturity in Christ Jesus, for the glory of God the Father. He is counting on the faithful in this challenge until Christ returns.