Conquer Personal Temptations

Conquer Personal Temptations

Chapter One

Conquer 'Personal' Temptations
Conquering The 'Giant' Of Fear! 8 Conquering The 'Giant' Of Destructive Doubt! 16
Conquering The 'Giant' Of Worry! 10 Conquering The 'Giant' Of Despair! 18
Conquering The 'Giant' Of Destructive Anger! 12 Conquering The – 'Giant' Of Lust! 20
Conquering The 'Giant' Of Resentment! 14 Discussion Questions 22

Joshua 1:1-9; Psalm 34:12-22

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Fear!

One of life's greatest temptations is the temptation to succumb to life's many fears. Practically-speaking, how can you use faith to cancel out (conquer) your fears? First, you must face your fears and determine to overcome them. One old cowboy noted that during a severe storm (high wind and blinding snow), the Hereford breed of cattle, in contrast to other breeds, would stand shoulder-to-shoulder facing the storm's blast, with their heads down against its onslaughts. "You most always found the Herefords alive and well," said the cowboy. "I guess that is the greatest lesson I ever learned on the prairies – first face life's storms." Theodore Roosevelt one time wisely said, "I have often been afraid, but I wouldn't give in to it. I made myself act as though I was not afraid and gradually my fear disappeared." Joshua was doubtless afraid when the leadership over the Israelites was placed in his hands, following Moses' death, but God spoke to Joshua and alleviated his fears: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified: do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9, NIV) There are hundreds of times throughout the Holy Bible when God tells His people "Fear not, for I am with you!" How very comforting! Face your fears honestly (don't deny their presence), but listen to the calm voice of faith, not to the clamorous voice of fear! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, remember that whatever happens to you in life, God is right beside you, protecting you, correcting you, and guiding you through all of life's storms (troubles and tragedies)!

The second step in 'conquering' your fears in this: Find out why you have these fears. Use the reasoning quality of your mind to attack the illusive emotions of fear. List the fears individually and pray about each one. It may be necessary to seek the counsel of a wise friend. Try to identify those fears, for instance, which originated in your early childhood, fears that have long been suppressed in your subconscious mind.

Third, relax, let go of your fears, and let God constantly fill you with His power and poise. God conquered all your fears on the Cross and through the Resurrection, and He is able to impart the benefits of that victory to you. There is no problem too big but what Christ's power is bigger yet! Regularly tap into that limitless power!

Fourth, exercise yourself daily in faith meditations and faith affirmations. One man who was haunted for a long time with fears, read through the Bible underlining in red pencil every statement relative to courage and confidence. Engage daily in faith prayers. Memorize 'faith verses'. Associate with people of faith. Involve yourself in faith actions and projects. To see God work miracles through your life, in answer to 'faith prayers', will make your faith grow more and more throughout your 'life pilgrimage'.

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"Father, heal me of the paralysis of fear, and help me to rise and walk straight into the face of life's challenges and problems, not with a screwed-up courage of my own but with a Spirit-wrought trust. I am calm in the calmness of Christ."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When fear comes knocking on my heart's door, I will send Jesus to the door.

– Ron Christian –

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Philippians 4:4-7; James 1:3-17

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Worry!

One 'trap' (sin) in which many Christians are ensnared is that 'worry'. It seems that the temptation to worry is ever present. Perhaps the most powerful 'trinity of evils' is that of 'fear, worry, and anxiety'. There are few sins which Christians indulge in that have more serious consequences than that of 'worry'. One morning when Martin Luther was 'blue' and discouraged, his wife appeared, dressed in black. At Luther's inquiry as to what the mourning meant, she replied, "Haven't you heard? God is dead!" This dramatic portrayal of the 'folly of worry' helped Luther to regain the perspective of faith. When believers worry and fret, they declare that God is weak or unable to cope with life's circumstances. Worrying is a characteristic of the pagan – not the Christian! Here are a few 'steps' you can take to help you conquer the 'giant' of worry:

First, remember that Christ overcame all sin, including the sin of worry, on the Cross, and through the Resurrection, and that He thus is able to help you overcome your nagging fears and worries. Notes E. Stanley Jones: "When fears and sicknesses and sins come upon you to overwhelm you and to beat you into submission by their very overbearing presence, just calmly look each one in the eye and say, 'I am not afraid of you. You have been and are decisively beaten by my Lord. Will you bend your neck?' There, I knew it! The footprint of the Son of God is upon your neck." (Abundant Living: pg. 73) "One man had 'A Worry Tree' in his front yard, where he hung his worries before he came into the house. For the Christian, that 'Worry Tree' is the cross of Christ. Hang your worries there." (Ibid; pg. 353)

Second, realize that worry itself is usually worse than the thing you are worried about. Said a great father to his son as his son was leaving the nest of the home, "Johnny, remember the biggest troubles you have got to face are those that never come."

Third, relax in God's presence, and don't try to hold up the world by your own strength. The story is told of a Bishop who was so worried about the affairs and problems of the world that he could not sleep. As he lay awake, tossing and turning, the Lord lovingly spoke to him, "Bishop, you go to sleep and I will stay awake all night and watch over the problems of the world!"

Fourth, meet troubles one day at a time (Matthew 6:34).

Fifth, become involved in tasks. Those who are most involved in loving projects, are those who think and worry less about their own problems. Focus on need of others.

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"Father, help me to cast all my cares on you, knowing that you care for me. Cleanse me from the acid of anxiety that erodes' away my sense of security, and please give me a childlike trust that cancels my paralyzing worries. Let me enjoy life in all its fullness!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Realizing that worry contradicts my faith in a God of infinite love, power, and wisdom, I determine to turn my 'worry energy' into 'prayer energy'!

– Ron Christian –

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Ephesians 4:26-32; Luke 9:51-56

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Destructive Anger!

Although it is likely true that most believers who experience 'anger' indulge in a destructive (carnal) type of anger, it is also true that there is a Biblically sanctioned and God-honoring type of 'anger'. Call it a 'righteous' anger if you wish. Jesus was without sin of any kind, and yet the pure Son of God experienced anger, on some occasions (see Mark 3:1-6; John 2:14-16). The apostle Paul was (righteously) angry on one occasion with his fellow apostle Peter, because the latter betrayed the basic principle of 'salvation by grace through faith', and Peter attempted to bind Gentile converts with Jewish laws (Galatians 2:11-16). When Abraham Lincoln, as a young man, saw the slave market at New Orleans for the first time, be is reported to have said, "Let's get out of this boys. If I ever get any chance to hit this thing, I'll hit it hard." Lincoln's anger over the slave trade proved productive when eventually, as President, he signed the "Emancipation Proclamation" which freed all slaves in the United States!

Aristotle once said, "Anyone can become angry; it is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy!" Unfortunately, many Christians get angry for less than holy reasons! Declared the distinguished minister, Clarence E. Macartney, "Anger is one of the most common sins, yet one of the most dangerous and injurious to the peace and well-being of man. More than any other sins, it blasts the flower of friendship, toms men out of Eden, destroys peace and concord in the home, incites to crime and violence, and turns love and affection into hatred." It has been shown by some scientists that anger can cause ulcers, arthritis, indigestion, partial blindness, and a variety of other physical problems.

The answer to controlling anger is found in surrendering the anger to the Spirit's control "Many of the forces which consume men – like anger – most themselves be consumed by something more powerful. Only the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit is capable of devouring the driving forces that devour us and waste our lives. There is only one answer – turn your anger and your life over to Christ." (Robert Andrews) James and John were called 'sons of thunder' in their early lives, for they apparently were often filled with anger. Even as followers of Christ they found themselves wanting God to exercise His divine powers to destroy God-rejecters (Luke 9:51-56). But Jesus cleansed and rechanneled their anger, and the day came when they were love-filled disciples. John is now known, not as a 'son of thunder', but as the 'Beloved Disciple'!

"Father, many times I have felt the turmoil of inner anger, and have seen that anger either well up into outrage or harden into a bitter grudge. O God, cleanse me from all

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carnal anger. Re-channel my anger into constructive channels of expression, and may my anger be motivated by unselfish consideration and focused on righteous causes. Through the cleansing power of Christ. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My anger can be a powerful force for either good or evil causes. I will allow the Holy Spirit to use my anger for His holy cause!

– Ron Christian –

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Matthew 18:21-35

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Resentment!

Because the human body is weak, and temptation is strong, and Satan is subtle, it is possible for a Christian to stumble into sin and, as a result, seriously to offend his 'brother'. Your forgiveness (of an offending 'brother') is important to assure your own continuing happiness and health. You are not built to hate and to carry grudges, but to love. The apostle Paul wrote: "Be kind to one another; be understanding. Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32, Phillips) "Never pay back evil for evil… Don't quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone just as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don't take the law into your own hands. Instead feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be 'heaping coals of fire on his head.' In other words, he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you. Don't let evil get the upper hand but conquer evil by doing good." (Romans 12:17-21, Living Bible) There is a saying: "Doing an injury puts you below your enemy, revenging an injury makes you but even with him, forgiving it sets you above him!"

"I never forgive", General James Oglethorpe said to John Wesley. "Then I hope, sir", replied Wesley, "you never sin!" Said Jesus, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14, Matthew 6:15) When you pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," you are proposing to God that He treat you in the same way you treat your fellow men, in regards to offenses and sins. How do you want God to treat you? With justice or with mercy? With mercy! You want God to forgive you Immediately, Constantly, Finally, Completely, and even Forgetfully!

George Herbert once wrote, "Be that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which be himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven." Bishop Herbert Spaough of The Moravian Church in the U.S.A. writes about four symbolic objects in a try on his desk. "First is the pincushion. The purpose of a pincushion is to receive the pins and needles stuck into it. So part of our tasks in maintaining emotional health is bearing the pin pricks of others who are frustrated and harassed. The purpose of the second object – a nail – is to remind me that I must keep myself nailed to the Cross and keep Christ on the throne of my life. The third object – a sprinkler head – is a part of a sprinkler system. This is a reminder to turn on the Bible promises and let them permeate my thinking and my emotions. The fourth object – an oil can – is a reminder of my responsibility to be loving and appreciative in human relationships. This is the best lubricant…"

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"Father, help me not to hold grudges. May there never be room in my heart for the memory of a wrong. Release me from all bitterness and resentment! In Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My God-honoring goal in my life: Hardly even notice when others do me wrong, and when I do notice, to quickly forgive and to restore fellowship.

– Ron Christian –

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Ecclesiastes 4:1-8; Matthew 14:25-33; John 20:24-29

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Destructive Doubt!

Not all doubting is destructive. Honest doubts are compatible with an honest commitment to Christ, and in fact the degree of commitment to Christ will be reflected in the degree of serious thinking one does in finding a satisfying answer to the difficult questions of life. Honest intellectual doubting will lead you to the adequacy of the evidence which will result in the assurance of the heart! An intellectual understanding of Christianity is vital, for Jesus commanded us to love God with all our minds as well as with all our hearts. "Always be ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:15) An unexamined faith is not a faith worth having – and is indeed dangerous! One must know that his beliefs are based on objective truth, for it is the object of belief that determines the value of belief. To accept anything in an unthinking way is possibly to accept error. Also, to accept truth on the basis of dogmatic authority, without thinking it through yourself, is to accept a secondhand faith. A secondhand faith is a dying faith! There is that type of doubting (questioning of 'religious belief') that can be an 'ally' rather than an 'enemy' of your Christian faith. There are times when you need to 'work out your salvation' with the aid of honest doubts which will eventually lead you to the outcome of honest beliefs. So, in dealing with doubting 'in general', realize that not all doubting is destructive.

The following are some 'steps' you can take to help you to combat destructive doubting. First, make a' daily surrender' of yourself to God, and allow the Holy Spirit daily to impart the gift of faith to your seeking mind and tender heart. Second, let Christ handle your doubts as they arise. Say to the Lord, "I believe, help Thou mine unbelief." Third, recall past mercies of God. Build your faith, based on the faithfulness of God's past actions. Use a daily journal to recall His past mercies in your life. Fourth, reaffirm your present confidence in Christ's sufficiency for you. His grace is sufficient, even for your doubts. Fifth, wait on God and don't try to reason. "The righteous shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4) is a statement of men's faith in the faithfulness of God, when facing a problem (of evil) which causes your nagging doubts. Trust God during your times of 'unexplained suffering and sorrow'. Notes William Sangster: "We believe that in the same way as human parents must sometimes allow pain and discipline to press upon their dearly-beloved children, so must the gracious Father in Heaven allow pain and discipline to press upon us, not in any neglectful and unloving spirit, but for some high and holy purpose known to Him. Though He does not will the calamities, He wills the conditions in which these calamities are possible… When we cannot interpret the dark mystery of life… it is just because, as yet, our minds are too small, and we cannot take the explanation in." (Daily Readings; pg. 29)

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"Father, when I cannot understand with my mind, help me to trust with my heart. When my doubts assail and my fears annoy, I thank you that you are totally in charge of my world, and that you will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Resting in the arms of Jesus, I can go through the darkest night, for He assures me that 'joy comes in the morning'!

– Ron Christian –

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Habakkuk: 1:1-4; Habakkuk 2:1-4; Habakkuk 3:17-19

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Despair!

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk felt the unfairness of a situation at a time in history when it appeared that the wicked nation of Babylon was devouring God's chosen people, the nation of Judah. Boldly the prophet asked the Lord his question: "Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" (Habakkuk 1:13 b) When the wicked man (or nation) prospers and the righteous man (or nation) suffers loss, the godly man is tempted to question the justice of Almighty God. Doubt and confusion can give birth to anger or to depression. Getting one's focus off of God and onto others can cause one to lose his spiritual foothold.

What should a believer do when righteousness goes unrewarded and when evil seems to be rampant, to go unchecked and unpunished? In the midst of a set of circumstances which seemed so unfair, and at a time when the prophet Habakkuk could have so easily succumbed to despair, or to anger, or to envy, he instead learned to flex his spiritual muscles and to put his full trust in his Sovereign God. The Lord instructed Habakkuk during this time of national crisis and moral turmoil: "The righteous will live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4 b)

Habakkuk chose the way of faith in God instead of the pathways of despair or envy or bitterness. How do you exercise faith in God during a time when, morally-speaking, things are "topsy-turvy" – when the wicked are prospering and the righteous are suffering? Faith means you wait for God to vindicate the righteous and to punish the wicked. Said the Psalmist: "As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them (the wicked) as fantasies. " (Psalms 73:20) Said the prophet Habakkuk: "Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the (wicked) nation invading us. " (Habakkuk 3:16 b) Years later, God vindicated His people (Judah), and the wicked kingdom of Babylon was conquered!

Faith, during a time of personal or national crisis, means that you continue to serve God regardless of the material or the visible benefits that you derive from serving God. To succumb to despair is to fall away from faith in the God of ultimate justice. Faith means trusting God, regardless of visible results, and in spite of the fact that the wicked appear to go unpunished and unchecked in their wickedness. Faithfully loving and serving God, even when outward circumstances are' dark' and 'forbidding'! "Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom left nor fruit, and though the olive crops all fail, and the fields are barren; even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. " (Habakkuk 3:17-18, Living. Bible)

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"Lord God, you are my strength, and you will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains." (Habakkuk 3:17, Living Bible)

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When the 'outward' look is dark, the 'upward' look is always bright!

– Ron Christian –

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Matthew 5:27-30; Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 4:1-5

Conquering The – 'Giant' Of Lust!

Sex is beautiful and sexual feelings are normal and God-given, but lust is always wrong. Paul told young Timothy, "Flee youthful lusts." Lust is wanting to use another person to gratify your own selfish desires. Adulterous actions and adulterous thoughts are both wrong. Said Jesus: "You have heard that it was said, 'do not commit adultery. ' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27) Treating people as 'things' to be exploited is sinful! Lust turns the beautiful into the ugly, the sacred into the profane.

God is of "purer eyes than to behold evil", and, as God is holy, so Christians also are to be holy! What is the secret of self-control in your life? Cultivating the mind of Christ! Learning to 'think Christ's thoughts'! Submitting to Christ's lordship! As a man thinks, so is he! You are the product of your thoughts! What you imagine, you will become! "What you hold in the mind passes automatically into act, if you hold it there long enough… Your secret meditations become you, for good or ill." (Growing Spiritually, pg. 2021; E. Stanley Jones) "Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about." (Philippians 4:8, Living Bible) "Meditate on God's laws day and night! If you do, you will be like a tree that is planted by the rivers of water which bringeth forth its fruit in its season. Its leaves also shall not wither and die." (Psalms 1:1-6) Why do people wither and die morally? Because they wither and die mentally! Ignoble thoughts lead to ignoble lives! Lustful thinking leads to lustful living! Dr. George A. Buttrick says, "We dramatize temptation in our secret thought, thus gathering gasoline for the devil's spark."

When lust has conceived it eventually brings forth death! (James I: 15) How is lust conceived? By failing to control the thought life! You cannot help it if birds fly above your head, but you are responsible if you allow birds to make nests in your hair! You cannot help it if Satan suggests evil thoughts to you, but you are responsible if you entertain evil thoughts, resulting in developing patterns of evil thinking! You are not responsible for having temptations, but you are responsible for yielding to temptations. You may not be responsible for the 'first look', but you are responsible for the' second look'! If you can 'go around' temptation, you cannot expect God to take you 'through' temptation. If you put yourself in the very 'trap' of temptation, don't be surprised if you are trapped in sin! How do you conquer the 'giant' of lust? By prayer. By committing your mind to Christ's cleansing blood, by guarding what you look at and what you mediate on and what you read, and by guarding what music you listen to. "Sow a habit, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a thought, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny!" It all begins with your "thought life".

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"Father, help me to guard my affections, for my affections guide my life. Make me pure in thy purity, and holy in thy holiness. In the holy name of Jesus. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will focus my attention on the Holy One in order that I might become a man of holiness!

– Ron Christian –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Put a check beside the following "Fears" which have most troubled you, and which you would most desire to conquer:

    1. __ Fear of failure in job or occupation.

    2. __ Fear of rejection by others (peers).

    3. __ Fear of the future.

    4. __ Fear of pain and loss of health.

    5. __ Fear of financial loss.

    6. __ Fear of loss of loved ones and friends.

    7. __ Fear of physical death.

    8. __ Fear of future condemnation for personal sins.

    9. __ Fear of apostasy (i.e., fear of "falling away" from God because of "hardening of heart").

  2. From your own personal experience, and from your observation of other "victorious" Christians, and from your knowledge of "Scriptural Principles", what steps can you take which will greatly aid you in ridding yourself of your debilitating fears? (Note Joshua 1:1-9; Psalms 34:12-22)

  3. What has been considered by some experienced observers of the Christian Life to be the greatest "trinity of evils"?

  4. Why is "worrying" considered to be a characteristic of the "pagan" – not the "Christian"? (Note Matthew 6:25-34)

  5. Share ways in which "worrying" can be most destructive to one's spiritual, mental, emotional, and social life.

  6. Have you learned to turn your "Worry Energy" into "Prayer Energy"?

  7. What specific "steps" have you taken (or can you take) to successfully conquer the giant of worry?

  8. How would you distinguish between "righteous anger" and "unrighteous (destructive) anger"?

  9. What specific steps have you taken to conquer your destructive anger? Tell if you agree with the following statements: "Only the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit is capable of devouring the driving forces that devour us and waste our lives. There is only one answer – turn your anger and your life over to Christ."

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  10. Why are resentment and bitterness such destructive forces in the life of a Christian?

  11. How can justice properly be administered to those persons who intentionally mistreat you, without at the same time you yourself becoming involved in vindictive actions and resentful feelings? (Note Romans 12:17-21)

  12. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; revenging an injury makes you. but even with him; forgiving it sets you above him!"

  13. According to Matthew 6:14-15, what terrible consequence do you personally incur if you (as a believer) refuse to forgive a person who has wronged you? Give your personal response (or reaction) to the following statement: "He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need to be forgiven."

  14. During the times when you (as a believer) are "assailed" by doubts and tempted to despair, which of the following Biblical principles would you likely find the most helpful (in aiding you to gain victory and to find reassurance)?

    1. __ Make a "new surrender" of myself to God.

    2. __ Allow the Holy Spirit to impart the gift of faith to my troubled mind and the gift of comfort to my sorrowing heart.

    3. __ Committing doubts in prayer to the Lord Jesus, who Himself battled doubts when He dwelt as a man on earth.

    4. __ With the use of a Daily Journal (diary), rebuild my faith as I recall God's past mercies and miracles in my personal life.

    5. __ Through personal verbalization of praise and thanksgiving, reaffirm my confidence in God's faithfulness and sufficiency to deliver me from my doubts.

    6. __ Through reading the Bible, recall those accounts of persons (like Elijah and John the Baptist) who struggled with doubts and who eventually discovered reassurance of God's goodness.

    7. __ Through heart sharing and confidential counseling with a personal friend (or pastor), discover the "reasons" for my doubts and, through prayer with my friend, claim victory over my doubts.

    8. __ Wait patiently upon God and don't try to "reason out" my problems during my times of "unexplained suffering and sorrow."

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    9. __Humbly acknowledge that God, who is full of goodness and who never directly causes calamities and evil happenings,. nevertheless wills the conditions in which these calamities are possible; and acknowledge that God has the power to use the evil happenings of life to serve His ultimate righteous causes.

    10. __ Retrain my thinking to affirm the fact that, although I may not have visible rewards for, my efforts, I can nevertheless remain steadfast and faithful in my loyalty to the Lord (Note Habakkuk 3:17-19).

  15. How would you distinguish between legitimate (God-given) sexual desires, and illegitimate (sinful) sexual lusts?

  16. How do you conquer the 'giant' of lust?

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