Godly Men and Their Daily Surrenders

checkmate-1511866_960_720The Dilemma

No man fails on purpose. Yet, spiritual, and moral failures abound.

A few years ago I taught a lesson to my church’s men’s group which focused on temptations men face. The workbook we were using quoted C.S. Lewis on this subject and was a turning point for many in the group. Lewis wrote,

“It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the person away from the light and out into the nothing… Indeed, the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

The truth communicated by Lewis rang true. It reminded me of something a former mentor of mine once said. He emphasized repeatedly that compromise comes through the smallness of our daily surrenders.

It’s giving up that little bit of personal conviction each day. It’s the little piece of candy no one will ever know you ate. It’s watching that program or visiting that website when you are all alone. You get the picture.

Usually the first surrender to “small, insignificant sins” makes it easier to fall prey to them again and again. The damage comes from the “cumulative effect” Lewis was pointing to. Few people wake up in the morning planning to sin spectacularly later in the day. Yet those daily surrenders build up over time. Give a little ground here and there and before you know it, you’re in trouble. In fact, you become practically unrecognizable, even to yourself. You didn’t plan for this to happen, but those daily surrenders were enough to do the trick.

The Solution

Therefore, we must be vigilant. We need to work from the foundation of knowing who we are in Christ. We need to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Those “daily surrenders” needn’t reign over us. The same Spirit who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead dwells in us as well.

Yet, we also need to exercise the self-awareness that recognizes those areas in our lives wherein we are weak. Every man ought to ask himself: Am I being less watchful in some areas of my life than others? Even the small, seemingly insignificant areas? Am I overly confident I would never again fall prey to that particular temptation? A member of my church used to remind me often, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

If you want to avoid those small daily surrenders, then pray for God to deliver you from temptation. But don’t forget to do your part. Name those temptations in advance. Talk with a godly person you trust and ask them to hold you accountable. Renew your mind daily in God’s Word. The Apostle Paul shared God’s wisdom on this point when he wrote in Philippians 4:8-9,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What are you thinking on?


Walking Points

• What are those areas in your life that tempt you the most?
• How do they usually “sneak up” on you?
• What are some ways you can see such temptations before they get to you?
• What are some practical things you can do to resist them once you’re confronted with them?
• Set an appointment today with a Christian brother and ask him to pray for you and to help keep you accountable.


Prayer

Merciful and patient Lord, I don’t want to sin. I don’t want to “fail on purpose.” Yet I confess to you that I have not always put in place or practiced those wise spiritual disciplines that would draw me ever closer to you and protect me from the snares of the devil and my own fleshly weaknesses. Please forgive me and renew me. As David cried out, put a right spirit within me. Give me such a desire for you that turning away from you would be the last thing on my mind. Give me greater Spirit-enabled self-discipline and self-control to practice those means of grace you have given to your children to help us conform more and more to the likeness of your Son, our Lord and Savior. For it’s in his name and for his sake I pray. Amen.


This Week’s Prayer Guide

[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]

Petitions – prayers for yourself

• Spiritual Warfare
• Growth in Christlikeness
• Increasing faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines
• My health
• For my ordinary appointments and activities to become divine appointments and activities.
• Other needs

Intercession – prayers for others

• My Family
• Mercy for those who are poor and hungry
• Justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted
• Love for those who oppress and persecute others
• Peace for those in the midst of war, crime, and violence
• Other needs

Prayer Journal: Week 1

Prayer Journal1Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your thoughts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows. (Richard Baxter)

This Week’s Scripture

• Jeremiah 4:11-28
• Psalm 14
• 1 Timothy 1:12-17
• Luke 15:1-10

Adoration

Psalm 27:4
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

Jesus, Lover of My Soul (verse 1)
Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.
(Charles Wesley)

Take time now to offer God your praise and worship.

 

Confession

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Almighty and most merciful Father, We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But in thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer, 1552)

As David did in Psalm 139, ask the Lord to search you and know you through and through. Confess the sins God brings to mind, knowing you are forgiven and that He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

 

Thanksgiving

God of abundant mercy and grace, truly you are more willing to forgive me than I am to receive your forgiveness. I am profoundly aware of my own sin, yet my self-knowledge pales in comparison to what you know about me. And yet, you still desire to be in relationship with me and lavish me with your love. Like Paul, O Lord, I truly am the chief of sinners and am unworthy of your goodness. Yet I praise and thank you for it and pray I might spend all my days living in humble gratitude, sharing that same love with others. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen. (based on 1 Timothy 1:12-17)

Spend some time reflecting on the prayer of thanksgiving above and then thank God for who he is and the many ways he has poured out his goodness and grace in your life.

 

Supplication (Petition – prayers for yourself)

• Help me to mature in my faith and to increasingly please God by my thoughts, words, and deeds.
• Particular struggles in various relationships
• My activities for this day
• Other needs

Supplication (Intercession – prayers for others)
• My Family
• My local church
• My denomination
• Para-church ministries, particularly Christian education and discipleship
• Evangelistic ministries
• Other needs

So help us to live life in love, in service, and in fidelity, that we may come to the end in peace, and enter into blessedness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (A Barclay Prayer Book)

John Maxwell on Sexual Temptation

appleSeveral years ago our men’s Bible study took a look at how to pursue godliness in the face of temptation. It was a very helpful study and definitely hit us where we all live. The “relevance” factor was high.

To be sure there are many temptations men face every single day. But certainly sexual temptation appears to be most “in our face” in the culture in which we live. It seems everywhere you turn you are met with temptations in this area of life. As a mentor of mine once said, “Our culture does not cultivate Christian character.” That is the understatement of the century.

To kick off our study we watched a video by John Maxwell speaking on the subject of integrity. It was a great message with a much insight. Below is part of the outline from his message. By the way, if you’re interested in using the study we used, it was entitled, “Being God’s Man in the Face of Temptation,” (and it was a great one). You can learn more about it by clicking here.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

John Maxwell’s ten guidelines for handling sexual temptation

1.) Run

“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)

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

2.) Accept responsibility

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Every time we choose righteousness, we not only become closer to God, but stronger in our ability to resist temptation.

3.) Be accountable: Dr. John Maxwell’s list of accountability questions:

* Are you spending time alone with God?
* Are you in studying the Bible?
* Are you praying?
* Is your thought life pure?
* Have you seen something you shouldn’t see (movies, magazines, Internet)?
* Are you misusing your power on the job? At home?
* Are you walking in total obedience to God? (Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.)
* Have you lied about any of the previous questions?

4.) Listen to your wife

5.) Be on guard. Try John Maxwell’s practical steps:

* Seldom travel alone.
* When you have to travel, call your wife every night.
* Talk positively about your wife to others.
* Choose friends wisely. “Bad company corrupts good character.” ( Corinthians 15:33)

6.) Determine to live a pure life today.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

7.) Realize that sexual sin assaults the lordship of Jesus Christ in your life.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” (1 Corinthians 6:15)

8.) Recognize the consequences of sexual sin.

“But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.” (Proverbs 6:32)

“For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.” (Proverbs 6:26)

9.) Think about your children.

10.) Get a new definition of success.

John Maxwell’s definition: Success is having those who are the closest to me love and respect me the most.

Prayer Journal: Week 51

wisdomHe who labors as he prays, lifts his heart to God with his hands. (Bernard of Clairvaux)


This Week’s Scripture

·         Exodus 3:1-15
·         Psalm 105
·         Romans 12:9-21
·         Matthew 16:21-28


Adoration

Psalm 105:1
Oh give thanks to the LORD;
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!

O Happy Day, That Fixed My Choice (verse 1)
O happy day, that fixed my choice on thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice, and tell its raptures all abroad.
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day.
(Philip Doddridge)

Take time now to offer God your praise and worship.


Confession

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:9-10)

Righteous Father, I have acted as if I hated thee, although thou art love itself; have contrived to tempt thee to the uttermost, to wear out thy patience; have lived evilly in word and action. Had I been a prince I would have long ago crushed such a rebel; Had I been a father I would long since have rejected my child. O, thou Father of my spirit, thou King of my life, cast me not into destruction, drive me not from thy presence, but wound my heart that it may be healed; break it that thine own hand may make it whole. In Christ I pray. Amen. (The Valley of Vision)

As David did in Psalm 139, ask the Lord to search you and know you through and through. Confess the sins God brings to mind, knowing you are forgiven and that He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).


Thanksgiving

All-wise Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful for the direction you give me for my life. I am humbled and thankful that you have not left me to grope in darkness to search in vain for the right path, but your Spirit has provided a light for me so I may follow the same road as my Savior. I pray Father, in your power, give me strength to follow your will for my life. Enable me to let my love be genuine and to abhor what is evil. Help me love others with a brotherly affection and continually and consistently show them honor. May I never be slothful in my zeal, but fervent in spirit, always serving you. Let me faithfully rejoice in hope, show patience in tribulation, and be constant in prayer. And may I think of others before myself by contributing to their needs and showing hospitality to them. Then, gracious God, when people see my life, let it point to you so that you, and you alone, receive all the praise and glory. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen. (based on Romans 12:9-13)

Spend some time reflecting on the prayer of thanksgiving above and then thank God for who he is and the many ways he has poured out his goodness and grace in your life.


Supplication (Petitions – prayers for yourself)

·         Help me to grow in wisdom and become who you created and redeemed me to be.
·         Renew my mind and enable me to cultivate a godly perspective and attitude regarding the various spheres and circumstances of my life.
·         Today’s events and interactions with others, planned and unplanned
·         Other needs

Supplication (Intercession – prayers for others)

·         My family, immediate and extended
·         Those struggling with sin, illness, or difficulties in their workplace
·         Other needs


God wants to get us out of the love of virtue and in love with the God of virtue – stripped of all possessions but our knowledge of him. (Oswald Chambers)