A Wisdom Retreat - April 18

Me, Myself, and I

Ephesians 4:27

Do not give the devil an opportunity.

All too often, the worst enemy of the church is . . . the church. New believers do not grow in Christ because "older" believers who have not matured become the primary stumbling blocks by their poor example. Selfishness and arrogance so often serve in the church's most visible and crucial positions of ministry. One of the church's favorite hymns, Holy, Holy, Holy,  has shifted its focus from "God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!" to "Me, Myself, and I!"

Warren Wiersbe wrote, "When the enemy fails in his attacks from the outside, he then begins to attack from within, and one of his favorite weapons is selfishness." Selfishness is defined as having the attitude that people exist merely to meet my agenda, my wishes, my needs, and the value of anything [people, church, God, etc.] is determined only in light of what it can do for me.

This attitude is revealed not only in outward behavior but also in secret thoughts. If left unchecked, it ultimately poisons the heart. Selfishness destroys friendships, marriages, ministries, and churches; it also destroys mission fields and all other sacred projects where God is clearly at work.

The Ephesian church was struggling with this problem, so Paul dedicated nearly an entire chapter to exhort the believers. He wrote, "Speak the truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger; and do not give the devil an opportunity."

These verses clearly warn us that the devil actually watches us. And he longs for opportunities birthed by selfish believers. No wonder he baits his hook with self-centered advice, whispering, "Don't think about others, think only of yourself: your desires, your life, your money, your plans, your career, your retirement, your position, your agenda, your ministry."

Frankly, we are all terminally infected with selfishness, and it lies at the core of every  act. That is why selfishness is such a productive and powerful weapon in the hands of Satan. He will use it against us whenever he can. It must never be excused; it must never be coddled; it must be cut away daily!  Sometimes . . . moment by moment.

Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for His example of selflessness and servanthood, and ask Him for the discipline to imitate His spirit throughout this day.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 4:17-32.


The Advent Event

December is one of the busiest months of the year. As Christians, we approach the Christmas season with the intention of focusing on the incarnation and making it a significant time. But it's so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season—the parties, the decorations, the presents and the special events at church. Before we know it, the month of December has flown by, and we wonder where the time went.

One of the most significant things a family can do in December is to be intentional about finding time every day to think about the true meaning of Christmas. The Advent Event is an easy, fun and enriching family project to help focus attention on the birth of Jesus while discovering the big picture of God's plan throughout the entire Bible.

Each day in December, the family sets aside a few minutes together for this activity. There is a simple coloring craft, a story from God's Word and a motion to learn that helps children remember the timeline of Scripture. Most importantly, this resources provides a special family time that Moms and Dads can use to reconnect their families to the spiritual significance of Christmas; the birth of Jesus, our Savior.

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