Bible Studies & Devotionals
From Olive Branch Ministries
By Mark and Tinsley Baker
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Guarding Your Spirit and Soul
Proverbs 22:3,5: A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punishedÖThorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards his soul will be far from them.
This is an interesting statement made by the author of Proverbs. The prudent or discreet man foresees evil and hides himself. The man who guards his soul will be far from thorns and snares. It is important for us as believers to guard our souls and sanctify ourselves for the Lord. Sanctify meaning set yourself apart from the world.
-- Living Bible
Proverbs 22:5 The rebel walks a thorny, treacherous road; the man who values his soul will stay away.
It is very important for us to realize that in our Christian walk, there will be evil, temptation, and "thorns and snares". We all have weaknesses and it is important for each of us to identify these stumbling blocks in our lives, and guard our spirit and soul from them. The enemy knows what our weaknesses are and exploits them daily to cause us problems in our lives and cause us to stumble in our walk. If the enemy causes you to lose your witness, then he, not God, has the victory in your life,!
Matthew 5: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Everything we do in our lives should glorify God. Every action we take, decision we make, deed we do, or things we say should glorify God. We as believers should live a life that glorifies God to the world, so that others will see God in our lives and want what we have! Amen?
If we are constantly living a "double life" of sin and doubt, then we are not glorifying God.
It is the every day things in your life that really speak of your witness. It is not how much you talk about God, and what Jesus has done in your life, but how you live it! Amen!
Talking and sharing about Jesus is important, but as the old saying goes, "actions speak louder than words."
So how do we guard ourselves? It is amazingly simple but hard. Amazing, in that God has provided a way through our relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. Simple, in that it is spelled out very clearly in Godís Word. Hard, in that it takes commitment, dedication and willingness to give up our pride and control, and yield ourselves to God and to His will in our lives.
Giving up control is probably the hardest thing we as believers do. It is human nature to want to be in control all the time, some more so than others, but just like driving a car only one person can drive at a time. In your life, only one person can be in control and that needs to be the Lord Jesus Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit, not you.
Jesus, when he taught the disciples how to pray, told us a very basic truth in starting this process.
-- King James
Matthew 6:13: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Jesus told us to pray not to be led into temptation, but to be delivered from evil.
-- New King James
Matthew 6:13: And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
We are to make praying for deliverance from the enemy part of our daily prayers. We are also to pray not to be led into temptation. Trials and temptation are not the same thing. Trials come into your life, to test your faith. Temptations come in the form of a stumbling block, to cause you to fail and loose your victory. Know the difference and as Proverbs 22 tells us, foresee the evil and hid from it.
James 1:2-5: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
When you reach a situation that tests you, remember that you can ask God for wisdom on how to get through it and he will give it to you. Lean on Godís Word and not your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5-7: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.
This is an important statement, do not be wise in your own eyes! Worldly wisdom will always lead you the wrong way. It is not what some talk show host on afternoon TV or your best friend tells you, but what the Word of God says about your situation. Amen?
Staying away from evil is what I really want to talk about. I think I need to define what evil is. Websterís II New Riverside Dictionary defines evil as something morally wrong or bad, wicked; causing harm, suffering or injury.
This can be different things to different people. In todayís society so many things are taken for granted as acceptable that we donít even think twice about doing something that is clearly defined in Godís Word as sin. Looking at many of the TV shows that are on today, you see show after show about sex, infidelity, murder, rape, robbery, and homosexuality. These things cause our hearts to be hardened. We accept without blinking drug use, alcohol abuse, and sex outside of marriage. We go to movie after movie where Godís name is taken in vain. This is a sad commentary on us as Christians. We think, "I am not a bad person, I donít kill, swear, cheat on my spouse, abuse alcohol, or use drugs. I havenít robbed a bank or stolen anything." We have become so used to sin in our lives, that we have classified them as small and large sins. It is all right to tell a "white lieí", but not rob a bank. It is all right to think someone is "hot and sexy" but not sleep with him or her. Believe me, sin is sin in Godís eyes and unless we are willing to get before him, lay our life down and change our thinking, we will fall prey to the "thorns and snares", the devil puts in our way.
James 1:13-15: Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God''; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
The enemy knows your weaknesses and uses them against you. The little and the big.
Do you enjoy gossiping about your boss or job? Do you have a weakness where drugs or alcohol is concerned? Do you drive too fast, not obeying the speed limit? Are you constantly late for work? Do you constantly criticize others? All these things are ways the enemy drags you down and causes you to loose your way. You speed on your way to work, getting a speeding ticket. You then get mad, loose your temper and take Godís name in vain. It is all a downward spiral if not guarded against and can lead you to destruction.
You sit around at work, listening to others complain about the boss, the job and your coworkers, before you know it, you are angry about your job, unhappy and constantly complaining yourself.
"Yea, but these are just little things," you say.
Song of Solomon 2:1: Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.
It is the little things that cause us to stumble in our walk, not the really big things. You probably wonít go out and plan to rob a bank, but you may not tell the cashier at the grocery store when they give you back too much change. Both are equally bad in Godís eyes.
2 Timothy 3:1-4: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
This is what is happening in society today, and as a believer you cannot be a part of it.
There are a few simple things you can do to guard your soul and spirit.
-- King James
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Romans 12:1-2: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We need to spend time in Godís Word, studying it, learning it, meditating on it, getting it into our hearts and minds so that we will not be conformed to the worldís way of doing things. And we will be quick to lean on God and His wisdom and not our own. If we do not spend time in Godís Word, we will not know His wisdom. If we do not spend time praying we will not recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let me leave you with this Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-23: Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The first and foremost way to guard you soul is to know Jesus as your personal Savior.
If you do not know Jesus as your personal Savior, I urge you to earnestly pray the following prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. Your word says, "Öand the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (Jn.6:37),
So I know You wonít cast me out, but You take me in, And I thank you for it. You said in your Word, "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'' (Ro. 10:13).
I am calling on Your name, So I know You have saved me now, You also said, "Öthat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Ro.10:9,10).
I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe He was raised from the dead for my justification. And I confess Him now as my Lord, Because Your Word says, "Ö with the heart one believes to righteousnessÖ" and I do believe with my heart, I have now become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21),
And I am saved! Thank You, Lord!
I can now truthfully say, I see myself as a born again child of God!
Glory to God!!!! Amen.