3 Strategies For Breaking The Chain Of Sin

Despite our conversion to Christ, we as Human beings are naturally inclined towards sin.

All of us feels the urge to sin at some point because sinning gives us tangible yet fleeting benefits at the cost of moral and spiritual ones.

Temptation is the urge to sin. However, God wants to give us the power to thwart our temptations. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. However, God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted be yond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

In this post we will discuss 3 strategies we can take for breaking the chain of sin.

1. Fill Your Mind With God’s Word

Memorizing Bible verses and passages is a great way to fill your mind with God’s Word. Philippians 4:8 tells us

“..brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

The Bible fits the description of all these things. Packing your mind with the honest and pure teaching of the Bible is a wonderful hedge against the temptation of sin.

2. Establish Accountability with Someone

Hebrews 10:24, 25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

God commands us to find Christian friends who can hold us accountable.

Proverbs 11:14 and 15:22 say that we should surround ourselves with counselors. These are church friends and other mature Christians who can help with accountability. Being around other people who want you to do right will give you good examples for how to live.

I have an accountability partner that I regularly email to let him know what is going on in my life. He knows that when I don’t write him on a regular basis it is because there is something I am not wanting to share about what is going on in life. Knowing that he expects me to report to him helps keep me accountable.

3. Avoid Temptation

I will tell you from personal experience often we make temptation easy for ourselves.

Let’s face it we often do not make any attempt to avoid it. I play it as close to the flame of sin as possible and then get t upset when we fall into that sin.

Romans 13:14 gives us clear advice for helping us avoid temptation. ..clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Claiming the power of Romans 13:14 can give us the confidence that the God who wrote this in His Word has the power to help you apply it in your life. So that we can do the following:

  • If we want to avoid the sin, then we must avoid the situations that give you an opportunity to sin.
  • We must vow to stop playing with temptation and then claim that the devil made you do it.
  • We must realize that we bring the temptation and sin upon ourselves and that God will give us the active means to overcome it.

Final Thoughts: We Can Break The Chain

The temptation of sin will always be with us. The closer we are to God the better we are equipped to break the chain of sin.

For me Proverbs 3:5-6 gives me all the strength I need to beak the chain:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

7 Ways To Trust God Like We Trust Our GPS

Do I trust God the same way I trust my GPS?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based navigation system developed by the US government. GPS provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight a GPS satellite.

As a consultant and speaker who drives to hundreds of client sites around the world. I have come to trust GPS to plan trips and to keep me on track while on them.

Thinking about my trust and dependence on the GPS, caused me to reflect on this question: Do I trust God the same way I trust my GPS?
– Do I trust God to guide me?
– Do I trust God to tell me where to go?
– Do I trust God to take full control of my life?

Giving Up Control To God

The majority of my client visits are to areas that I have never been to and many times I am driving to those sites late at night after a flight from another city.

On these drives on dark and dangerous roads I give up complete control to the GPS putting all of my trust in the device.

In this regard I have stated to think:
– If I can give full control to my GPS why I can’t I do the same to God?
– What areas of my life have I given up control to God?
– Why I have I not given the full control of my life to God?

Perhaps like me you’ve been told that as a Christian we must learn to “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” However, this famous passage from Proverbs 3 contains more than just a general statement about living. Instead, it tells us these 7 ways that we can trust God that we can trust our GPS:

1. Stop Depending On You

We live in a world where trust must be earned and seems to be in short supply. But Solomon, the famous king who wrote Proverbs, knew that trust is exactly where we must start:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)

Most of us have faced disappointments, which have taught us that we can only depend upon ourselves. But living the life God has called us to means unlearning that lesson. Instead, we’re meant to rest in God’s understanding.

2. Cry Out To God

Surrendering to God begins with our lips and our thoughts. We need more than a commitment to depend on Him; we need to cry out to Him to show that dependence.

“in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6)

When we pray, we admit that His ways are higher than ours. We show that we’re leaving our troubles and burdens and dreams in His capable hands. In fact, the Bible promises that when we reach out to Him in prayer, He hears us:

“Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. ” (Psalm 55:17)

We handed the keys of our lives to Him, and we know that He’s able to lead us. But in order for that to work, we have to…

3. Ask God To Protect Us From Evil

So much in this world can clutter up our relationship with God. John, the writer of the fourth gospel, describes them as the desires of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride in our lives (1 John 2:16). In other words, our blessings can easily become our stumbling blocks when we think of them as what we deserve or what we need to be happy.

Instead, life works best when we remember the true source of our blessings—God—and focus on the things that please Him:

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7)

Sometimes, the only way to live the life God wants us to live is by separating ourselves from the bad influences that keep dragging us down. That works the best when we start pursuing something else in their place:

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Is that easy? Not at all. Fleeing from the evil desires that pull at us means spending a lot of time crying out to God and leaning on Him. But our Creator promises to honor our commitment to Him when we shun evil:

4. Put God First in Your Life

It’s easiest to put ourselves first. When something good happens, we want to congratulate ourselves with a reward. When something bad happens, we want to console ourselves or find someone to blame. In other words, we often have a “me-centric” starting place.

And when it comes to money, the struggle is even harder. But Solomon, who had quite a bit of wealth himself, knew that his money didn’t belong to him:

“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9–10)

If we can trust God with the first of our wealth, we’re truly showing how much we depend on Him. Handing over the first part of our paycheck takes a huge amount of faith, after all. But doing so means being God-centric.

To get there, though, make sure you…

5. Check Yourself By God’s Word

Let’s be honest. We aren’t so good at evaluating ourselves. We will go to great lengths to excuse our behavior, our actions, and our sins. Who needs a defense attorney when we can pretty much find a reason for any bad thing we do? The prophet Jeremiah captures this very well:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

If we’re ever going to truly trust in God and flee evil, we have to know exactly where we stand. We have to find an objective measure that tells us the truth. And that truth comes from God and His Word.

6. Listen To The Holy Spirit

When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the church, He told His disciples that this Counselor would be their spiritual GPS:

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

As we go through our day, this same Holy Spirit guides us, too. That means we don’t have to go it alone or hope we’re getting it right. No, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and protects us:

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14)

After all, the gift of the Holy Spirit to us believers reminds us that we can truly…

7. Rest In God’s Love

When we face a difficult world each day, we can sometimes wonder if God even cares. Why do bad things happen? Where is God when I need Him? Solomon reminds us that God never takes a break or leaves us to fend for ourselves:

“because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:12)

The God Positioning System

In reality God has always had a GPS on us.

Think about it even in the midst of turmoil, God sticks with us and uses the challenges of our lives to give us direction.

When we understand that, our perspective completely flips. No longer do we see our setbacks as failures; we see them as moments when God, using his GPS, works on us. Making us better so that we can do His will.

Therefore the key is to trust the Lord so that we can fully turn on God’s GPS.
Trusting God takes a whole-hearted commitment from dawn till dusk. But we’re never alone in it for as Jesus tells us……

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

Trusting The Lord To Be The GPS Of Our Lives

Yesterday, after spending a wonderful weekend visiting with my son, daughter in law and three delightful granddaughters. I set my GPS for the drive from their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Ft. Wayne, Indiana for a week of speaking and consulting engagements in the Midwest.

The drive to Ft. Wayne included a long stretch of backroads and single lane highways that caused me to question whether that “nice” voice on the GPS really knew where “we” were going.

However, despite my trepidation I decided to trust the GPS. That trust was rewarded because as I continued to drive through those backroads signs appeared pointing the pathway to Ft. Wayne.

“Trusting In God”

Clearly we have our ups and downs in our lives including various times when we seem lost without a view of where we are going. In those various seasons we hear the cliché from well-meaning people “you just have to trust God”.

But, when you are the one in the middle of a crisis, the phase “trusting in God” seems to ring hollow.

For me many times in my life I allowed the phase to go into the heap of all of those nice things that people say. Like, “I will call you” “I am thinking about you”, I will pray for you.

Yet how many people follow up on those promise especially the one to pray. Therefore, for many years the phase trusting God was a term that I had no “trust” in.

Trusting the GPS : Trusting the Lord

Let’s use my experience with the GPS as a guide for trusting in God. When I set the device to get me somewhere I decide to give up control and surrender all decisions to the GPS.

I have the confidence that no matter how lost I may think I am. The GPS knows best, the GPS will make things clear, the GPS will not fail me and I will arrive at my destination.

Yes trusting God is like trusting the GPS.

We must have the faith to believe that God loves you, that God is good, that God will direct our lives in a way that we get to the destination that He wants us to go. Despite the distance and sometimes rocky roads we must travel to get there.

Jeremiah 29:11 puts it best” “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Trusting the Lord to be our GPS

Trusting the Lord, is the first step in that leap of faith that will make God the GPS of our lives. In tomorrow’s post I will explore this concept in greater detail with scripture and more ways for us to give up the control necessary to make God the GPS of our lives.

In the meantime drive safely, keep praying and place your trust in God

I am a friend of God

Who am I that you are mindful of me

Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it’s amazing (Who am I Lord)

CHORUS:
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Words and music by Israel Houghton two time Grammy Award winning,
Christian worship leader and singer.

This is what it looks like when a prince dies

God will work out our grief, our pain and our loss, because through our faith God will be with us even when our prince die

Billboard.com notes that Prince’s catalog of Hot 100 hits, which includes huge smashes like “Purple Rain,” “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry,” is staggering.

The Purple One has claimed 47 entries on the Billboard Hot 100, including 19 top 10s — with five of those going all the way to No. 1. In the 20 year span between 1980 and the end of 1999, Prince charted more Hot 100 entries (44) than any other act.

His surprised death at age 57 is a reminder that life is fragile.  It further reminds us that we all must deal with the grief of death while at the same time we must consider our own death.

When a prince dies

Over the course of time we will all know with it looks like when a prince in our lives dies.

  • The death of our prince could be our parent
  • The death of our prince could be our sibling
  • The death of our prince could be our child

Grief is an emotion common to the human experience, and we witness the process of grief throughout the biblical narrative. Multiple Bible characters experienced deep loss and sadness, including Job, Naomi, Hannah, and David.

Even Jesus mourned (John 11:35; Matthew 23:37-39). After Lazarus died, Jesus went to the village of Bethany, where Lazarus was buried. When Jesus saw Martha and the other mourners weeping, He also wept. He was moved by their grief and also by the fact of Lazarus’s death. The astounding thing is that, even though Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, He chose to partake of the grief of the situation. Jesus truly is a high priest who can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).

How to overcome grief  

Overcoming grief is about having the right perspective on it.

First, we recognize that grief is a natural response to pain and loss. There is nothing wrong with grieving.

Second, we know that times of grief serve a purpose. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” This verse implies that grief can be good because it can refresh our perspective on life.

Third, we remember that feelings of grief are temporary. “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). There is an end to mourning. Grief has its purpose, but it also has its limit.

This is what it looks like   

Since Thursday we have been dealing with what it looks like when a prince dies.

However, through our collective grief of the death of this prince and the death of the princes in our lives, God is faithful.

There are many Scriptures that remind us of God’s faithfulness in times of mourning.

  • He is with us even in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).
  • When David sorrowed, he prayed this in Psalm 56:8: “
  • He works all things together for the good of those He has called (Romans 8:28).

God will work out our grief, our pain and our loss, because through our faith God will be with us even when our prince dies.

 

 

A man of faith response to religious freedom laws

It is my faith in Jesus which gives me freedom not some law passed in the name of religion.

An April 2016, Time Magazine article tracks the history of religious freedom laws to 1990, when the Supreme Court ruled against an Oregonian named Al Smith, who argued that his use of peyote in a Native American Church ritual—an act that cost him his job—should be protected by the First Amendment.

Smith who was a quarter American Indian lost his case and as result the ruling made it easier for the government to place restrictions on the freedom of religion.

The ruling was seen as an overreach by the court and in response measures were passed in Congress and the states to restore the standard the Court had overruled.

The religious freedom laws passed in the 1990’s including the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 enjoyed broad bipartisan support. The laws were endorsed by a diverse cohort consisting of evangelicals and progressive civil rights advocates.

In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1993 federal law applied only to the federal government. In response more states quickly passed their own religious freedom laws to restore similar provisions at the state level.

The 2016 renewed movement to pass religious freedom laws on the state level has been powered by the Supreme Court’s legalization of same sex marriage and the civil rights movement of the LBGT community.

Social conservatives and religious leaders are now championing these religious freedom bills as a way to protect them from having to provide service to LGBT people and legally married same sex couples.

Many critics worry that these states will use such laws to combat existing non-discrimination measures in court, providing legal cover for stores that refuse to serve gay customers or businesses to fire LGBT employees.

State Regious FreedomAs of the writhing of this post some 36 posts have passed religious freedom laws in either the 90’s or 2000’s versions.

 

While these laws were passed by man for the protection of man’s religious freedom.  The question is how would Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” view these laws.

The New Testament records that the religious leaders hated Jesus to the point that they arrested Him, tried Him, and brought Him to Pilate for a sentence of death.

What made them so angry at Jesus that they wanted to see Him dead?  Chief charge that they had was people with whom Jesus socialized with.

The religious leaders were filled with pride and arrogance. They were particularly proud that they did not socialize with “sinners.”

They did not believe that the Messiah would socialize with such a crowd. When one Pharisee saw Jesus allow a woman to wash His feet, he said,

This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner (Luke 7:39).

It is the opinion this man of “faith” Marben Bland, that the religious freedom laws of today are designed for “religious people” who do not believe that they should socialize with “sinners”  who happen to be LGBT, or legally married to someone of the same sex or any other status which makes them unacceptable to these “religious people.”

Therefore It is the opinion this man of “faith” Marben Bland, that I and others like me who follow Jesus instead of some religion.  Have no need for a religious freedom law because Jesus commands us to socialize with “sinners.”

God sent his only son Jesus to this earth to save all of His people not just the ones favored by a “religious community”.   I sincerely hope you will join me and other people of “faith” in opposing these religious freedom laws.

For how can we as people of “faith” fulfill the Great Commission as described in Matthew 28:16-20 without having association with sinners.

I urge you to take your freedom of “faith” not your upholding of religion and do as the master has commanded:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

It is my faith in Jesus which gives me freedom not some law passed in the name of religion.

When Our Bubble Burst

Stories of Forgiveness and Restoration

On August 14, 2014 David Gregory, the moderator of the venerable Sunday morning interview program Meet the Press was driving through the mountains of New Hampshire when he got the call no TV personality every wants to answer.

As reported by Luke Mullins of the Washingtonian Magazine, on the line were NBC news executives from New York, telling Gregory he was being dismissed from his job due to the poor ratings of his program.

The professional bubble for David Gregory had busted.

We do not have to be a high flying TV type for our bubble to burst.  Our bubble can bust:

  • When we lose our job
  • When we are in financial distress
  • When our health fails

However, the bubble of our relationship with Jesus will never burst. Even when we betray the son of God.

Through the Last Supper Jesus communicated why he came to earth to die on the cross.  Jesus also told his trusted disciple Peter that he will betray our Lord and Savior three times.

Just as Jesus predicted Peter betrayed him.  However, despite the lowest moment in his life; a moment when clearly Peter’s bubble should have busted it did not.

Because despite our sinfulness Jesus forgives us and has confidence in us. Jesus does not lock us in by mistakes of the past or present.

In John 21, Jesus after his death and resurrection appears to Peter.  He allowed Peter to confirm his love for Him so that Peter could forgive himself for his sin of betrayal.

Then Jesus does what He will do for you and for me after we forgive ourselves and request forgiveness from God.  He restored Peter commanding him to “feed my sheep” by teaching and preaching the gospel.

Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here.”

In instead allowing his bubble to bust, Jesus give Peter the opportunity to outgrow the mistakes of the past.

David Gregory despite the public busting of his professional bubble has also been restored by God.

He used the time away from television to write How’s Your Faith? a book about his spiritual journey with Judaism being born to interfaith parents and his marriage to a Christian. It was released in September 2015.

Gregory is also back on television as a CNN political commentator. He is also back interviewing important figures on the David Gregory Show a new podcast on Earwolf

So if your bubble has busted take comfort in the stories of David and Peter and these words from Psalm 30.

I will praise you Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave

The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.