Understanding Your Temptations – Part 3
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2
Satan knows that when you recognize him as the source of your temptation he loses his advantage. He knows that when you understand he initiated the temptation, you’ll recoil from it faster than if you think you yourself are the source of it. If Satan approached you and said, ‘I’ve come to make you sin and feel condemned,’ your vulnerability to his temptations would evaporate! He won’t tell you that—but if you remember it you’ll have the advantage over him. As Paul puts it, ‘…we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming’ (2 Corinthians 2:11). Another misperception is that temptation is time lost and effort wasted. In long periods of temptation we feel like we’ve lost ground rather than gained it. No! Withstanding temptation is ‘[fighting] the good fight of faith…’ (1 Timothy 6:12), and that’s when God develops your character. ‘When all kinds of…temptations crowd into your lives…Realize that they come to…produce in you the quality of endurance…’ and when that happens, ‘…you will find you have become men [and women] of mature character…’ (James 1:2-4). Indeed, your compensation goes far beyond your present development to the reaping of eternal rewards. ‘…though now for a season…ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith…might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:6-7). Add to this God’s glorious guarantee: ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation…he shall receive the crown of life…’ (James 1:12).
Heavenly Father, thank You for helping me avoid and run from temptation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
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Understanding Your Temptations – Part 2
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
The second misperception is: temptation is sin. The Devil wants you to blame yourself for the temptations you experience. Why? Because when you believe that you are the source of it, you feel condemned and discouraged. As you indulge in feelings of discouragement, you become an easy prey and Satan convinces you to go ahead and yield to the temptation. Ironically, you yield to sin through the fear of having already fallen. No, the temptation itself isn’t sin; the sin only occurs when you yield to it! Many of us feel like we’re spiritually deficient, distant from God, even phonies because we think we initiated the temptation ourselves. Imagine a burglar in your house, and when you detect him he accuses you of being the burglar! Would you believe him? Of course not! Yet that’s Satan’s approach with us. After he tempts us, he accuses with thoughts like, ‘A real Christian would never have such thoughts!’ Knowing our own weakness, his accusations sound plausible and we believe him. Then we feel condemned, spiral into discouragement, and yield to the temptation. Understand this: condemnation comes from Satan (1 Timothy 3:6). The Bible says, ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). When Satan sends temptation, the Holy Spirit goes to work in us, helping us to reject his suggestions and reminding us of Jesus’ availability to help us triumph. ‘Because Jesus was tempted as we are…He understands us and He is able to help us when we are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). So when you’re tempted, reject Satan’s condemnation and reach for Christ’s overcoming assistance.
Heavenly Father, help me to not be confused by what the Devil throws at me and tries to convince me of – and rely on You to guide me away from the temptation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
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Understanding Your Temptations – Part 1
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ Matthew 6:13
Many of us suffer unnecessarily because of our misperceptions about temptation. The first one is: expecting your temptations to cease—or at least to decrease. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land they had the same expectation. They were surprised that the Canaanites were still in the land. So they got discouraged, thinking they must have gone the wrong way. ‘Surely this couldn’t be the land of promise.’ God’s Word makes it clear that the Christian life, from start to finish, is warfare. Paul says we are called to ‘…wrestle…against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’ (Ephesians 6:12), and your level of temptation increases as you draw closer to God. Notice: when Israel first left Egypt, God didn’t lead them through Philistine territory ‘though that was shorter. For God said,” …If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt”’ (Exodus 13:17). God understood their fledgling faith and protected them from their enemies. But later, when their faith had grown, He permitted them to face seven powerful nations. Just like the Promised Land, the promised life of victory requires you to deal with temptation and wrestle your way through to victory, believing that ‘…greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). Indeed, their enemy’s attack proved that Israel was in the Promised Land. So experiencing temptations is proof you are truly abiding in Christ.
Heavenly Father, give me strength to face my temptations, and by Your power overcome them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
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Oh the Places You’ll Go
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
Dr. Seuss wrote a book which is often given out to high school graduates. It is called, Oh the Places You’ll Go. It begins with the exciting thought that this is your day, and you are off to great places. He writes, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Think about the different places we go in our lives. Perhaps college, a new job, a new home, a backpacking trip around Europe, a mission trip, work within the community, etc. There are many great experiences God allows us to have. But there are also tough ones. Dr. Seuss writes, “All alone whether you like it or not. Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot. And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.” Although Dr. Seuss is right that we will encounter things that will scare us, we know that we are never alone because we have the love of God with us.
After Moses died, the Lord appointed Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. That would definitely rank high on the “Oh the Places You’ll Go” list. The Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous because the Lord would be with him wherever he went. The Lord tells him not to be discouraged, and to always keep the word on his lips. Joshua was never to turn away from Him. With obedience in God, Joshua showed his faith in the Lord. It was a difficult time for the Israelites as they entered new territory and conquered the land. But through all of this, God never left them. In all of the places we will go, God will never leave us either. Whether it is a new job, a new school, an adventure across the United States, God is with us, and nothing can separate us from Him. The Spirit has brought us to God, who adopted us as His children. Our Father never abandons us. In Mathew 10, we see the disciples going out to proclaim the good news. God promises to be with them, for there will be people who will be against them. As Christians, there will be people against our faith, and there will be sin trying to bring us down and make us feel alone. But we never have to fear being alone because God’s love is with us wherever we go. His word gives us strength while His Spirit helps us when we are weak. He knows our hearts and hears our prayers. God uses us for His purpose, and nothing can separate us from Him. Joshua and the Israelites, the disciples, and us have God’s love, therefore we are never alone. With brains in our heads and feet in our shoes, we are never alone because God’s love brings the good news.
Dear Lord, thank You for the places we go in our lives. Though some are not as easy as others, we are comforted knowing You are with us, and You never abandon us. Amen
Love and Acceptance
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Growing up in Georgia, living mostly with her grandma because her parents were divorced, Lindsay’s dad remarried and expected Lindsay to be perfect. Lindsay eventually realized she did not have to seek acceptance and love from her dad because she already was loved and accepted by God. She moved to the Bronx expecting adventure, but she ended up having her life changed by her sixth grade students. Many of her students lived in shelters, having witnessed violence resulting in death, and having been filled with empty promises of love and relationships with their parents. They were worn, weathered, and not trusting of love. On the first day of the school year she told her students that she loved them already. Lindsay informed her students that they could make straight a’s and have good behavior all year, or have detention three times a week; she would not love them any less. They could not earn her love and acceptance. Then she spent the year trying to prove it to them. She believed God wanted them to rest and have their hearts healed. Her hope was that they would figure out that God loves them so much more than she ever could. Lindsay paints a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. It is comforting to know that we do not have to do anything to earn God’s love and acceptance because Christ gave us His grace on the cross, so that nothing can separate us from Him. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
Gracious God, we thank You for Your love and acceptance, which we did not have to earn. Help us to love others like You love us. Amen