Uproot and Plant Something

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Look Upstream
One of the devil’s favorite strategies is to tell us that our Heavenly Father doesn’t love us and that we are a disappointment to him. We know, theologically, that God loves us, but we don't really believe it deep down sometimes. We think he's disappointed. We think he's frowning. We look at heaven and think we live under his disappointment. When the enemy can get you to believe that that your Father doesn't love you, you'll go down so many broken roads and try so many things to just find some relief. At the end of the day, the best defense is a good offense. The best defense against your temptations is a good offense where you know your Father loves you and he cares for you. We want to enjoy the love of our Father because James says out of God’s will and desire, he brought you to life and he loves you. And when you understand that, the pleasure of your Father will help you fight the pressure of the desert, just like Jesus experienced when tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  When we put our faith in Christ, we choose to run in a different direction from our temptations and chase after Jesus. In comparison to what you find in your relationship with Christ, you begin to realize how satisfying it can be to lose those earthly joys that you once took so much delight in. And the greatest defense against the chaos of the world is to run into the kingdom purchased for you by Jesus Christ to knit you together with your Father, God, forever and ever. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Recall a time in your life when you struggled to believe that God still loved you after what you had done. What are some ways that you can remind yourself that God’s love is never dependent on your actions or circumstances?
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Paddle Downstream
In James 1:15, we read, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” It is interesting to note that the Greek language that James would have written in has masculine and feminine words. “Desire” is a feminine word. So James is telling us that when you unite with your desire, she conceives and has a baby. She brings forth sin; a step away from intimacy with God that you were created for. But “sin” also a feminine word. This verse says that sin gets pregnant and she has a baby called death, the opposite of life.  James uses this imagery to shock us, because the birth of a child is one of the most exciting moments in a human life. It's meant to surprise the reader and break the allure of sin, because sin always looks attractive, but it doesn't look the same when you turn the lights on and reveal it for what it is. The enemy will always present a destructive way to fill your cup when you don’t fill it with something positive and restorative. So, before you start to entertain something or enjoy it in an unhealthy way, just look downstream and see where it leads. It can look attractive or nice now, but you can see that the outcome isn’t what you desire for your life. If you don't like that outcome, you change it now before you get farther downstream. It’s better to fight a temptation when it's small, then run with it downstream.   DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Can you think of a time when you let a desire get too far downstream? How would things have been different if you had looked ahead to the outcome sooner?
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Eliminate the Moment
We read in 2 Timothy that Paul instructs Timothy to flee from youthful lust and pursue righteousness, joy, and peace. These instructions were two-fold with the being to dispose of and kill the things that don't belong in your life. But there's other ways of thinking and ways of living that we want to vivify or stimulate the growth of. Gardening is a good way for us to illustrate this process. First in gardening, you pull the weeds up. There are things in your life that you used to think, things you used to believe, and ways you used to behave, that don't belong in the soil of your soul. And there's other ways of thinking and others, ways of living that you want to plant like flowers or trees. We want to see them bear fruit and bring life into our souls. But the enemy does not want you to bear fruit or have a close intimacy with the Father that comes through pursuing or cultivating the things of the Lord. The enemy’s goal is to get you to take a willful step away from the intimacy with God you were made for.  Each one of us is tempted and enticed by our own desires, and lured by our heart’s affections. The enemy wants to lure and entice us with our desires, because what you think about and care about is what you will chase. If you don’t know your enemy or yourself, you will lose in every battle. But if you know your enemy, his tactics, and yourself, you can be victorious over his schemes. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: What is shaping your thinking? If it doesn't promote intimacy with God, how do you eliminate that moment?