Temptation

God has provided a way out for you

He always does

 

Temptation is NOT your master

 

Well,

it can be

if God is not truly your Master

 

We are all tempted

 

What you experience is nothing new

 

But the Lord’s faithfulness

will not allow

more temptation than you can stand

 

He will show you your exit

from that which will pull you down

 

He was tempted

and understands

 

Don’t be ruled by something

that will lead you away from Him

and only end in death

 

Let His Spirit lead you

out

 

– Susie Stewart

 

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

– 1 Corinthians 10:12,13 (NLT)

 

Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings.

– Galatians 5:16 (VOICE)

 

Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

– Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)

 

A man must not say when he is tempted, “God is tempting me.” For God has no dealings with evil, and does not himself tempt anyone. No, a man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive. His own desire takes hold of him, and that produces sin. And sin in the long run means death—make no mistake about that, brothers of mine!

– James 1:13-16 (PHILLIPS)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Comparison

Comparison

 

Useful in shopping for a good deal

Not so great with people

 

Comparing yourself to others

usually leads to feelings

of inferiority

or superiority

 

Be who God made you to be

and be glad for others in their gifts, abilities and blessings

 

Compare when you’re shopping

But don’t do it with people

 

Just

Love

people

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

– Galatians 6:4,5 (MSG)

 

You are not to covet what your neighbor has or set your heart on getting his house, his wife, his male or female servants, his ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

– Exodus 20:17 (VOICE)

 

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

– Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Unnecessary Performance

Don’t you know?

Don’t you remember?

 

You are someone’s child

 

You are God’s child

 

And He created you

to be in relationship with Him

 

But you think you need

to perform for Him

 

To get it right

to impress

 

To stop

messing up

 

But His love is not conditional

on your performance

 

Nestle into that love

and stay there

 

Performance is for an entertainer

not a beloved child

 

I was inspired to write this piece after listening to a interview my cousin, Kathy Gray, did on her new book “Light in Our Darkness”.  In the interview Kathy said, “We were never created to perform.  We were created for relationship.”  Amen.  Thank you, Kathy

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Don’t be mistaken; in and of ourselves we know we have little to offer, but any competence or value we have comes from God. Now God has equipped us to be capable servants of the new covenant, not by authority of the written law which only brings death, but by the Spirit who brings life.

– 2 Corinthians 3:5,6 (VOICE)

 

But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

– John 1:12,13 (NLT)

 

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…

– Galatians 3:26 (NIV)

 

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.

– 1 John 3:1,2 (NLT)

 

And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.

– Romans 8:17 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Freedom

I am a slave to no one

and nothing

 

especially to sin

 

It does not rule over me

 

Christ set me free

and I am free forever

 

I am no slave to fear

to people’s opinions

to shame

to evil

 

I conquer

through Christ

 

in fact, I more than conquer

 

The victory is mine

 

And no matter what,

I am free

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

– Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free.”  ~ Jesus

– Luke 4:18 (NLT)

 

Doesn’t it make sense that if you sign yourself over as a slave, you will have to obey your master? The question before you is, What will be your master? Will it be sin—which will lead to certain death—or obedience—which will lead to a right and reconciled life?

– Romans 6:16 (VOICE)

 

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].

– Romans 8:37 (AMP)

 

Photo by Andy Stewart

Freedom

I’m thankful, Jesus,

for the physical freedom that is mine

 

And even more thankful

for my spiritual freedom in You

 

Remind me often, Jesus,

to live free

 

not in bondage to anything

You have already loosed

 

Help me to walk in the wide open space

of You

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

– 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

– Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

 

In him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

– Ephesians 3:12 (NIV)

 

But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

– Romans 6:21-23 (MSG)

 

When trouble surrounded me, I cried out to the Eternal;
He answered me and brought me to a wide, open space.

– Psalm 118:5 (VOICE)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Harvest

Our hearts are soil

and God has provided

all that we need to harvest that soil

 

with love

and righteousness

and goodness

 

 

by allowing His Spirit

to cultivate in us

all for His Divine purpose

 

May the soil of your heart

and mine

not become hardened

and parched

 

but may we be soft

and plantable

with Living Water

and the seed of God’s Word

firmly planted

 

We can be assured of a harvest

bountiful

and huge

bringing glory to the Master Gardener

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.

– Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

 

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

– Galatians 6:7 (MSG)

 

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

– 2 Corinthians 9:10,11 (NLT)

 

And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

– Luke 8:15 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

The Struggle

Struggle is an essential part of the spiritual life.  A profession of faith and performance in service just aren’t enough…It is not enough to superficially say we believe in Christ and then go on our merry way.  It is not enough to mechanically function in one or more church jobs.  Spiritual experiences aren’t enough.  Jesus said that even those casting out demons and performing miracles could be self-deceived.  Since not many can lay claim to such feats, His words should make us pause.

Faith itself is not easy.  Those who think it is have never exercised the real thing.  Faith does not mean a carefree absence of doubt, but it means acting on God’s trustworthiness in spite of the doubts we have.  Do we think it was easy for Abraham to go out from Ur not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8) or to offer his son Isaac as God commanded (Genesis 22:1019)?  If faith is easy, then some of Jesus’ sayings concerning His kingdom become quite difficult to understand:  “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

Entering God’s kingdom by violence or force?  C.S. Lewis said he was dragged into the kingdom kicking and screaming.  Many have become Christians only after the intellectual equivalent of storming the Bastille – leveling the fortresses of ideologies and thought that are much harder to pull down than mortar and brick.

In the services at our church, we give evangelistic invitations.  To Christans who have never done it, let me say that coming down an aisle is a traumatic experience.  Big, strong men come shaking and with tears.  Some have told me they felt the whole world was fastened on their coattails like an anchor.  But still they come to exercise faith, to take hold of Christ, to strain against the gravitational pull of their own deadness with a force that scripture calls violence.

Christian growth almost invariably involves struggle.  Paul says in Galatians 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  What he means is that, as Christians, we should consider our old lives to be nailed to the cross of Christ, stripping our sin of all power over us as we choose to live by faith in Christ (Romans 6:1-11).

I believe there is an additional reason Paul chose the metaphor of crucifixion to express what our attitude toward the flesh would be.  Crucifixion was a slow, painful death.  It was not the only method of capital punishment in those days.  There were certainly quicker ones.  Quite simply, the flesh dies hard.  Few Christians bypass the feeling of certain conceit or cockiness over a rapid spurt of growth, only to fall in an area of their lives they thought was cleaned up.  Christian growth involves struggle.

All those who set out to seek the kingdom of God must pay the price of a disciplined life.  Discipline is the mark where faith struggles against areas of the flesh that are in disrepair. The writer to the Hebrews said it well:  “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness”  (Hebrews 12:11).

We are continually under construction.  Certain areas of life will provide spiritual workouts as long as we live.  We can mark and engage them and grow.  If we ignore them, our Christian life and pursuit of God’s kingdom will flounder badly.

– David Swartz

 

“Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’”

– Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Wide Open

Jesus is a Gate

wide open

 

He is a gasp of fresh air

in a stifling world

 

He is a window to freedom

in a room of religious rules

 

He is water, living and alive

to a parched existence

 

He is a dance

in the midst of a crowd of unresponsive hearts

 

He is the Gate

I have walked through

 

and found Eternal Life

 

in the now

and forever.

 

– Susie Stewart

 

I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

– John 10:9,10  (NIV)

 

David danced before the Lord with all his might…

2 Samuel 6:16 (NLT)

 

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

– John 4:13,14 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Peace

Perfect peace comes from God.  It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit for the Believer, and it comes even in the storm if our hearts and minds are set on Him.

– Susie Stewart

 

The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, how can you hope to find inward peace.

– AW Tozer

 

True faith, by a mighty effort of the will, fixes its gaze on our Divine Helper, and there finds it possible and wise to lose its fears. It is madness to say, “I will not be afraid;” it is wisdom and peace to say, “I will trust and not be afraid.”

– Alexander MacLaren

 

Now may the Lord Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

– 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV)

 

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

– John 16:33 (AMP)

 

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

– Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

 

Walk away from the evil things in the world—just leave them behind, and do what is right, and always seek peace and pursue it.

– 1 Peter 3:11 (VOICE)

 

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,…

– Galatians 5:22 (NLT)

 

A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace.

– Romans 8:6 (VOICE)

 

For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.” The God who has compassion on you says so.

– Isaiah 54:10 (MSG)

 

If our minds are stayed upon God, His peace will rule the affairs entertained by our minds. If, on the other hand, we allow our minds to dwell on the cares of this world, God’s peace will be far from our thoughts.

– Woodrow Kroll

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Adopted

It would be enough if God just cleansed your name, but He does more.  He give you His name.  It would be enough if God just set you free, but He does more.  He takes you home…

Adoptive parents understand this more than anyone.  I certainly don’t mean to offend ny biological parents – I’m one myself.  We biological parents know well the earnest longing to have a child.  But in many cases our cribs were filled easily.  We decided to have a child and a child came.  In fact, sometimes the child came with no decision.  I’ve heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I’ve never heard of an unplanned adoption.

That’s why adoptive parents understand God’s passion to adopt us.  They know what it means to feel an empty space inside.  They know what it means to hunt, to set out on a mission, and take responsibility for a child with a spotted past and a dubious future.  If anybody understands God’s ardor for His children, it’s someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us.

God has adopted you.  God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.

– Max Lucado

 

Long ago, before God made the world, God chose us to be His very own, through what Christ would do for us;  He decided then to make us holy in His eyes, without a single fault we who stand before Him covered in His love.  His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us.  And He did this because He wanted to.

– Ephesians 1:3-5 (TLB)

 

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

– Romans 8:15-16 (NASB)

 

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

– Galatians 4:4-5 (NASB)

 

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Photos by Susie Stewart & Andy Stewart