It’s our third week of online bible study as we continue to read No Other Gods, Confronting Our Modern Day Idols by Kelly Minter. We learned that “behind every false god is…” a lie, deceit, intimidation, a door we’ve left open and a prowling lion. We examined the methods the enemy uses to tempt us with false gods and looked in scripture at the Great Temptation when Adam and Eve turned to a false god. They fell for a lie, they were deceived, they were intimidated, and they found an open door when God said “don’t eat this.” The serpent was prowling and when he saw Eve tempted by the fruit, he pounced on her heart. All four needs were tested- mental, emotional, physical and spiritual- when Adam and Eve tasted the fruit. Instead of turning to God for their needs, they turned away and followed the Great Temptation.
There are many opportunities in our modern culture to follow our own temptations. Our mental needs are met through education, reading books, playing electronic games or debating with friends. Our emotional needs are met through Facebook, Twitter, relationships, church attendance, family gatherings and addictions. Our physical needs are met through intimacy, exercise or touching our pets. Our spiritual needs are met through prayer, church, bible study and music. As our needs are met, Satan twists our wants. He convinces us we want more of the flesh and less of the Spirit. He entices us to crave people and things, not Jesus. He teaches us to be self-dependent and not God-dependent. The lies are subtle, and our unsealed hearts are open doors.
We walk into our spiritual trials naked as a newborn baby, or clothed with the armor of God. We fight with hearts of faith, or hearts of man. The battle is won by Jesus’ death on the cross, yet the enemy continues to fight and God allows this.
In our Facebook Chat Room this week, we had an interesting conversation about why God allows obedient people to go through trials. Michelle started the conversation by saying ” Something came up on the No Other Gods study for me this week, and I’m curious what others think about it: There is a premise in the study that God brings pain into our lives. Do you think God brings the pain, allows the pain, or pain is just a result of life? (I realize this is a BIG question, [Essentially: Does God intervene in our lives without us asking Him to?], but it’s one I’ve been struggling with a lot lately in relation to the purpose of prayer.) Any ideas???” Here are the comments in case you are not on Facebook:
- Brystan: I too am in the No Other Gods study and have been thinking about it. I think (personally) that God “allows” for us to have pain, as it is part of life, of course God helps us through it, and I think that is essentially the point. We get pain, and we are supposed to call upon God for help and assistance through it all, and He tells us how we are supposed to deal with it. Does any of that make sense? I’m not even sure I answered your question…
- Michelle: Yes, it makes sense, and that’s about where I am on the issue, as well. I see/hear so much of “God brought this to me” or “God caused this to happen,” and in the Bible, He blatantly DOES cause things to happen, but I want to believe that it is life and not Him causing bad things. If God causes bad things to happen, we’ve opened a huge can of worms. Blaming life is simpler, but maybe not accurate. I’m not sure.
- Deborah: I’m in the Breaking Free study, but I thought I would throw my 2cents in here. Instead of God “causes” bad things to happen I see it more that He “allows” bad things to happen. Pain…heartache…He used those to bring us closer to Him……for His glory to shine through. We may never know how the way that we handled a difficult situation made the difference in the life of someone watching us. It’s hard to be in the midst of bad stuff and see that as something that God can use for good….but He sees tomorrow and sees the big picture…how if we allow it to…it will all work out for His glory.
- Raye: God never promised us life would be a rose garden w/out thorns, but He did promise that He would strengthen us thru the pain of the thorns. God can’t prevent what “man” may do, that is what free will is all about, God is not a magician that …we can go through life w/out pain just because we are His daughters – His princess’s, however He can and is always with us – for He never leaves or forsakes us! Why should we be exempt from pain? Jesus suffered pain so we could live a life of eternity.
- Raye: the following is by Charles Stanley: Psalm 23 describes the Lord caring for us as tenderly and faithfully as a shepherd cares for his flock. This beloved passage of God’s Word is a reminder that He is always present—loving, protecting, and guiding us. Verse 4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God is with us at all times and has a purpose for every adversity He allows. The biblical principle here is We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountaintops.
- Michelle: I agree completely. I have a bit of a struggle with the idea that God can’t interfere with man’s choices because man has free will because the Bible tells us of times when God DOES interfere with man’s choices and causes men to do or not do certain things. So, I guess the logical side of my mind is trying to reconcile these ideas…
- Angela: I just read in Breaking Free that “God never heaps more chastisement on His children than necessary for their benefit and return to obedience”. I thought that sums it up pretty good! There is a phrase in a song by Ayiesha Woods that says something like “if every day was an easy day than you wouldn’t be able to say God brought me through”…I really like that one too!
- Bridget: Michelle, your question is one that I’ve wrestled with before and simply stated it is the tension of the present and future aspects of the kingdom of God. We experience some of it now and the rest of it later. It’s a constant tension between our free will and the will of God and since we don’t see the whole picture, Jesus set the example to humbly trust and pray for God’s will. The challenge is for us to trust in His love for us when He has not intervened in our circumstances the way that we would prefer. My perspective is that the Bible makes it clear that pain comes about for a few different reasons. One is that we live in a fallen world where we have the pain of our fallen circumstances, which includes negative effects of choices made by others and the frailty of our bodies in this fallen state. The second reason is the pain brought on by our spiritual adversaries. Thirdly we often suffer the pain of consequences brought about by our choices. I see God as working through the pain in our lives to further our growth as we experience His love, healing and restoration for our spirit, soul and body – which is a continual, progressive process. Jesus said we would have tribulation in the world, but thankfully we are not destined to suffer the wrath of God and I take great comfort in that knowledge. Sorry for the long answer, but your question is thought provoking for sure 🙂
- Michelle: Bridget, your explanation is especially helpful! Thank you for taking the time to explain all of that. I have been taking it on faith for a long time and just trusting that God knows how it will all work together, but I have such a hard time explaining to others when they ask. I don’t like to use statements like “God has a purpose,” or “He won’t give us more than we can handle,” because it implies God is CAUSING all bad things to happen, and I just don’t believe that. I think he may cause SOME bad things to happen in order to teach us through them, knowing how we will respond in the end, but I don’t think he CAUSES things like rape, murder, and war. I think our human-ness causes those things. But, I see this as such a complex issue that I just want to trust God to “get it” for me. It’s when others ask me, “Well, what about when God did THIS?” that I don’t know how to answer sometimes…
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Kelly Minter Quotes
- Behind every false god is a lie.
- Circumstances often present things that are “true,” but God’s Word always presents truth.
- In order for us to stick with the truth, we have to know it.
- Regardless of the circumstances, it takes confidence to believe that God is going to protect and take care of us as we wait in difficult situations.
- To think that we are unaffected by what we watch, read, or listen to is deceptive thinking.
- Be open to what God may want to purify in your life.
- The wisdom of scripture and the truth of God are ultimately to equip us for carrying out good in our lives.
- True conviction doesn’t look for loopholes.
For Next Week
- Read Week Four in the workbook
- Join our Womens Bible Cafe Chat on Facebook
Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like
- Can you think of something that attracted you, based on a lie?
- Which of the four needs- mental, emotional, physical or spiritual- does the enemy use to deceive or intimidate you into seeking false gods?
- Look back at a specific event in your life that caused you pain. Why do you think God allows trials in your life?
- Share a favorite moment from this week’s study.