In recent weeks, God has shown me His presence through various scripture passages. Among them was the book of Nehemiah. Rebuilding the walls and securing the gates has taken new life in my mind as I seek God’s Will. Each year I choose a theme for the life and work of Tar River Baptist Association. A time will come--or may have come already--when you find yourself facing intense temptation. As I shared my struggle with several this year, I often joked that it should be “Whatever It Takes To Be Acts 1: 8.” What did NAMB choose for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering but “Whatever It Takes.”
In reading Nehemiah, I began to sense what Nehemiah had determined to do when God called him to the task. Whatever it would take to accomplish the task, he would not be distracted by his enemies and neglect his responsibility. In Nehemiah 6: 3 he sent the message that he should not leave the important work he’d been called to do to respond to their distraction- their overall purpose was to destroy him.
In the end, I determined the 2012 theme would be based on Nehemiah 6: 3. The theme is “This ONE Thing: Whatever It Takes To BE Acts 1: 8.” TRBA must do all that we can to assist the local church, to strengthen it and help it impact the lostness of THIS generation. The “all caps” is not by accident. “ONE thing implies the singular priority of Christ. The necessity of being obedient to the commands of God to do the work that He has called us to do.
Then the emphasis becomes the word “BE.” Whatever it takes, we must be faithful to the call/obedient to the command to BE the church. What does it mean to BE the church? It means we are to ABIDE in Him and from our abiding in Him, the NATURAL result will be the production of fruit that remains.
The scripture I listed at the beginning should be our prayer as we seek to be obedient to the commands of Christ. Deliverance from the evil one may not always be a “dramatic escape.” Instead, it could be a subtle nudge of the Holy Spirit to remain faithful instead of yielding to temptation or compromising biblical principles to do “good thing” as opposed to the “God things” He has commanded.
Even when we do not deliberately go out looking for it, the powerful voice of temptation can still call you and lure you to be disobedient to God’s call upon your life. We are OFTEN asked to compromise in the area of sex, lying, or stealing. People may pressure us to get into alcohol, drugs, or gambling. It could be anything and if we are not careful, the enemy will simply lure us “off track.” We can quickly come to the edge of giving in, so we must ABIDE in Him.
Sin is a serious thing. We must never forget that. It is the goal of the enemy to destroy us, our witness. It is Satan’s desire to completely destroy us, but if that is not possible he is content for us to simply drift away a little and “miss the mark.” I was taught the definition of sin is “missing the mark.” Sin, whether it is “big” or “small” is SIN. And SIN keeps us from being all that God would have us to BE in Him.
Too often, we “play with sin.” Too often, we like to get as close to temptation as we can. We justify our actions because “after all, it isn’t________________ like real sinners do.” Sin is sin—we don’t need to “flirt” with it. Often times, our “innocent flirtations” bring disastrous results as we do not pull back at the last minute and fall into deeper sin. We are NOT strong enough to pull back at the last minute. Then to our dismay, we discover that temptation is not as easily resisted as we thought. Sin is a much more powerful foe than we realize. WE have to ABIDE in Him!
Don't walk blindly through life, spiritually weak and unprepared for the temptations you'll meet. Every day when you pray, look to the Model prayer of Jesus:
- Ask God to protect you from evil.
- Ask Him to keep you from situations that can overpower you.
- Ask Him to guide you into His will, away from anything that could sidetrack you or destroy you.
- Don't wait until you're hopelessly entangled in sin to ask God to help you. Ask Him to deliver you from evil now, while there's still time to avoid disaster
For background, I encourage you to read and meditate on Matthew 6: 9 – 15, Nehemiah 6: 1 – 14 (maybe at least the first 6 chapters of Nehemiah for full context), Psalm 27: 1 – 3, John 15, and Ephesians 6: 10 – end of chapter.