The beautiful picture above is of the historic Forth Bridge, which one can travel over by train from Fife into Lothian on the way to Scotland’s Capital, Edinburgh. The construction took eight years and the bridge was opened on the 4th March 1890, making it one-hundred and thirty-two years old this year. When completed it was the largest cantilever bridge in the world, until 1919 when Canada’s Quebec Bridge superceded it, but it still remains the second largest to this day. It is the only rail bridge over the River Forth.
As the Forth River separates Fife from Lothian there is a river between mankind and God his Creator; yet it was God’s intention for mankind to live in close proximity to Him as a Father. What separates man from God today is his own rebellion and the sinful life he chooses for himself; mankind is a prodigal son avoiding God just as a naughty child avoids their parents. But like every good parent should God made a way for man to come home to Him, so that He could forgive his sins and show His love to him. He sent His Son Jesus to bring mankind home; He found mankind in sin and He paid the penalty fine of that sin. The penalty for mankinds sins was death, but God’s Son paid all the penalties for everyone. In this Jesus laid a bridge across the chasm of sin that mankind can choose to walk across with Him, into the open arms of Father God.
Dear reader, I share this short message with you today to bring you hope in this broken world we live in. Maybe you have wondered what makes someone a Christian, well here it is in all its simplicity. It is an offer open to the best and the worst of mankind, regardless of how many bad things you have done. God loves you and like the prodigal son’s father He is looking for you coming home. Will you cross His Bridge of Love today?
“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide.
You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”
Who remembers being marched to the Headmasters office at school for some infraction of acceptable behaviour? I remember my first and only time standing before his desk at Denend Primary School; I knew I had done wrong and I deserved punishment, I pleaded for mercy with tears in my eyes to no avail. That was my first experience of the belt at school. I was reminded of this old memory where I sought mercy when I read today’s verses; indeed it was not the only time in my life where I pleaded for mercy in relation to sins committed. But there was a time I found real mercy that made a life changing difference.
As I thought of this I remember the youth who had originally believed the lie of being born into a Christian family was sufficient to get to Heaven. He came face to face with his own personal need of a relationship with Jesus Christ the Son of God on Good Friday night 20th April 1984 in Livingston Salvation Army, the preacher’s words pierced his heart and pulled him in his need of forgiveness to God at His Mercy Seat in tears. That night after my penitent prayer, the curtains of my soul were parted and His Son shone in and through me. What a burden was lifted from my shoulders that night! Since then life has not been free from troubles or temptations over the years, but with my Lord and Saviour within me I have conquered life’s trials.
Dear reader, I remember that lovely mercy seat today as I write this for #TestimonyTuesday but it was just a wooden bench. What made it holy was that sinners met Almighty God there in repentance; where is your mercy seat? It could be beside your bed, chair or even outdoors in a wooded glade, it does not matter where as long as you come to God in complete surrender. Have you found the truth that I faced in 1984; that there is nothing in this life can save you for Heaven except salvation in Jesus Christ who died for your sins on a rough Cross at Calvary? All other saviours are fakes and will lead you to Hell; seek Him today while you still can.
Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.MARK 14:38
This is a subject that I feel that there is not a lot said about in christian circles, we find temptation uncomfortable to discuss. We try to avoid it,yet it is something that we are all prone to. It can do real damage to a person’s walk with God.
When I decided to write about this I asked for God’s guidance, he answered me the next day in my Bible reading in 1 Kings 13. King Solomon had died and his son Rehoboam was now king but only of Judah, Jeroboam the returned exile was king of Israel. Jeroboam led Israel into worshipping false Gods. God sent a prophet from Judah to Israel with strict guidance on the message and then to return to Judah. Sadly the prophet was tempted by another who lied to him, and he disobeyed God’s original ordinance which cost him his life.
A point worth taking note of is that the temptation took the prophet away from God and His protection. When facing temptation we should stop and ask will it take us out of God’s will and therefore away from His protection?
We often ask what appears to be a good question; “why does God allow me to be tempted?” The reasoning for this is to build up character and spiritual strength in His people. Satan does the tempting, setting the lure for the unwary soul, God trusts us to manage our own response and spiritual life. God allowed Satan to tempt Job in the Old Testament by taking all he had and even afflicting his body, but Job held strong and did not blame God. After his trials of temptation his reward was great! The letter of James tells us that such trials of faith produce endurance and build character.
There is a limit to how much temptation a person can withstand, God knows our limit. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
We are responsible for our own response to temptation. We need to “be on the alert. Your [our] adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”1Peter5:8. It is important that we “keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark14:38. We are advised here to “watch” which is to take common sense precautions against areas of known weakness. But this goes in hand with seeking God’s protection by “praying” that He will guide us daily. By submitting to God we take a stand against Satan (James4:7) and he will flee from us.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ understands temptation all too well, yes He was the Son of God but He had a human body on earth. He was tempted in every way just as every man has been, but He withstood the temptation and ŕemained sinless (Hebrews4:15). He knows your pain from firsthand experience! In the garden of Gethsemane after the Passover Supper Jesus instructs the disciples to “pray that you may not enter into temptation“(Luke 22:40b). He knew the sorrow and the weakness of their humanity made them vulnerable to temptation, hence when He returns to them and finds them asleep He further instructs them “why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”(Luke22:46). We are like them in that the weakness of our bodies make us vulnerable to temptation, but by staying alert and praying we can withstand temptation rather than “entering into temptation.”
So what guidelines can we take from this? We must be clear that Satan will lie to us, after all he lied in the Garden of Eden. He will tell you facing temptation is a sin and failure, that you might as well give in to what he offers…that is a lie! Our Lord Jesus was tempted, He stood firm and rebuked satan. In the face of temptation it is a useful weapon to know some good scripture verses by memory to quote for yourself and at satan, maybe verses quoted in this text. This takes us to the first of two steps of self defence; soak yourself in the Word of God. Filling your mind and heart with the Bible will leave little space for sin in your life! The second step is one of common sense action, be careful what company you keep, what books you read, what tv/movies you watch. It is important that we need to divert our attention from areas of weakness, where we are at most risk of surrendering to temptation.
Falling to temptation is not the end, despite what satan tells us. Our Father God is a compassionate God who forgives those who repent of sin. King David was a sinner when he committed adultery and murder, but he repented and returned to God. My prayer would be that this short guide to temptation has been helpful to any who are hurting.
Father God, thankyou for your Compassion to me that You redeemed me through Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. You know my weaknesses Father that I lay before You, I repent of any sin and ask that You lead me away from temptation. Build me up in Your Word and draw me closer to You, saving me from the evil one and sin. Amen.
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.”PSALM 51:1
This psalm was written by King David after his adultery with Bathsheba, and return to God. The whole story is a truly heartbreaking time in David’s life of falling from grace and out of favour with God. But the good news is that David was repentant when confronted with his sin. At that moment he realised there was nowhere he could hide from God. In psalm 139 David further expounds on the presence of God in all places, and the inability of any individual hiding from Him.
Psalm 51 shows us five steps to full repentance taken by David:
V.1-4 – Repentance of sin. When we sin we put an unclean barrier between ourselves and God, one which our Holy God cannot cross. The sinner creates the offensive barrier, he must be the one to seek its removal by God. A sinner needs to seek God’s forgiveness.
V.5-9 – Request cleansing. The sinner needs to realise how repulsive and filthy sin is to God, that they require cleansing of it before being in His presence again. Only God can cleanse the sinner and remove the stain.
V.10-13 – Renewal by God. The space that is created within by removing sin must be filled again, renewed in the ways of a man of God. The heart needs holy cleansing and filled with joy in God’s salvation. Communion with God in prayer and reading His Word are excellent spiritual nutrition in rebuilding the heart of a repentant sinner.
V.14-17 – Rejoicing in God’s Compassion. Secret sin is poisonous and secret thankfulness is of little value. The forgiven sinner needs to look and sound forgiven! That is not meaning airing your dirty laundry in public, but sharing the joy of God’s compassion.
V.18-19 – Restoration by God. By humble petition the man of God seeks benefit for God’s kingdom. Humility of the saved sinner and love for God’s work continually offer protection from further backsliding. The Word of God tells us that David returns to God and is restored as King of Israel.
Reading this psalm along with the story of David is a great source of reassurance of God’s Compassion. If David can be forgiven for his sins, then so can we. Our generation has the benefit of having the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and His work of Redemption at the cross of Calvary. By His death and resurrection He paid the full price of our sin, if we would just accept it and repent our sin before God. The price paid is a high one, for all sins of all people for all time! Thus this includes salvation for backsliding christians too, we need not suffer in sin any longer.
Dear Father God, I thank you for Your work of redemption through Jesus Christ, Your Son. I cannot understand the depth of Your Love that Your forgiveness covers even me. I repent of my sin Father God and wish to be cleansed and renewed, that I may rejoice again in Your presence. Amen