Daily Archives: November 20, 2013

WHEN TEMPTED PART 2

Scripture Reference: James 1

We will be tempted. From day one, literally, that’s how it’s been. Christ wasn’t immune to temptation himself. After all, it is a part of life. It always has been, even then. The difference, as we all should know, was how he responded to this temptation. Jesus was fully a man, even as he was fully God. Two times, in particular, the Gospel records the temptation of Jesus. The first time was after he was baptized. He went off alone into the wilderness. Forty days and forty nights. It was there he encountered the tempter. Preparing for three intense years of proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom, Jesus was tempted with a false gospel. The devil tempted him three times.

“Turn these stones to bread,” said the tempter, and a hungry world will follow you. “Throw yourself down from the temple,” the angels will save you and the people will proclaim you Messiah. “Bow down and worship me,” and I’ll give you every nation, every empire.

Jesus faced them, and said “no”. “Away from me, Satan,” he said. But temptation did not leave, even though the tempter did.

The Bible records another instance when Jesus squarely faced into temptation. That second time it was in the garden of Gethsemane. Face to face with God and not the tempter, Jesus asked that the cup he was about to drink from upon the cross, might be taken away. Three times he prayed this.

The temptations of the devil in the wilderness may have returned to Jesus in his final hours. But finally, Jesus put them aside, and drank from that cup and took upon himself the responsibility for our sin, not his own. What Adam and Eve avoided that day in Eden, Jesus accepted. He took responsibility for that fatal bite of the apple, and every bite mankind has taken since.

You see, the tempter couldn’t make Jesus do it, and he didn’t make Adam and Eve do it. They chose! Adam and Eve (both of them) made the wrong choice. The tempter just placed the possibility in front of them. They were the ones who acted upon it. The devil didn’t make them do it. But how do we combat temptation?

It’s summed up in verse 21, which follows today’s reading “21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

It has two parts. The second produces more success than the first.1. “get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives”.

To illustrate this, think of Joseph in Genesis 39. Joseph had risen to a prominent position in the house of Potiphar and one afternoon when Potiphar was away, his wife made sexual advances toward Joseph. Joseph’s response when she pulled him in close by his coat was to slip out of her grasp and run away from her, leaving his coat in her hand.

And that is certainly good advice. If we find ourselves in a situation that is tempting us to sin, we are well-served to flee from the situation. If it’s right in front of you, get it out of your face.

If temptation sneaks up on you, don’t hesitate. Run. Christ says “Get behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling-block to me”

This is indeed a great strategy for dealing with certain kinds of temptations-if we can minimize temptation by avoiding situations and things that tempt us, then that’s what we should do. But let’s be honest, we already know that. It works sometimes, but not really. Not really because, as human beings, we’re not all that strong.

Then comes part 2 of verse 21 “humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”

Think about some of the temptations we face, and to each, James has a response:

Tempted to rely on your own strength “be sure that your faith is in God alone.”

Tempted to get angry with God when things get tough “do not say, ‘God is tempting me’ God is never tempted to do wrong”

Tempted to become lazy “Do not waver”

Tempted to despair and give up “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.”

Tempted to blame others “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.

Tempted to keep beating ourselves up for past mistakes “He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”

No matter what the temptation is, bring it before the Lord. If we insist on fighting our battles alone, chances are we will lose them alone.

Posted by Fay-Ann Swearing Copyright @ Daily Devotionals. All Rights Reserved

WHEN TEMPTED

Reference Scripture: James 1

Notice that James tell us . . . “WHEN TEMPTED”. James does not write “IF you are tempted.” James affirms that we will all be tempted. It happens to every one of us. And though we do not HAVE to sin, with Christ we have the power is within us to resist sin, we sometimes, if not often, do sin. James says, ” Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

James places the blame right where it ought to be . . .on us. WE are responsible. WE fall short. It is OUR evil desire that leads us to sin. The tempter will exploit every weakness we reveal. But this is not His fault or God’s fault . . . it is ours.

Adam and Eve, living in the garden of Eden, could eat the fruit of any tree, any tree but one, that’s what God told them. Of course, you know what happened? They went right ahead and ate the fruit of that tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And when the time of reckoning came, how did they respond? Adam blamed it on Eve and Eve blamed it on the serpent. “The Devil made me Do it”, they said in so many words, but which was worse: eating the fruit, or blaming someone else?

We might say, Eve’s temptation was completely different than ours, because we’ve never been tempted to eat forbidden fruit, but we’d be wrong. The root of Eve’s temptation was not about forbidden fruit. It was not about the serpent.

Eve was tempted to think that God was holding back, that he was being unfair and that she deserved better. Eve’s temptation was to elevate herself above God, and to trust herself rather than what God told her. We not only have faced exactly the same temptation, we face it almost every day!

The writer of Proverbs explains that man is his own worst enemy in Chapter 19, ” People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”

But the people say “You don’t understand, my situation’s unique.” No, our situations are not all that unique.

  • We justify spending too much time at work because, “people don’t understand the demands on my life.”
  • We justify fits of rage because, “people don’t understand how aggravating that person can be.”
  • We justify sharing gossip because, “other people really need to know about this.”
  • We justify are dishonesty in business because, “it’s the only way I can compete with the other people who are cheating.”
  • We justify greed because, “You don’t know how hard I work. I deserve this.”

The fact is, no matter how highly we like to think of ourselves, or how great we like to imagine our crosses to be, our situation isn’t much different from that of everyone else.

James explains ‘Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away’ because he wants to encourage us. He wants us to know that our temptations are not unbearable. We can look around at others and see that they have succeeded in overcoming these temptations as well.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can stand, it means 1) that God is paying attention to our situation, and 2) that God will intervene when the temptation gets too great.

He will help us to say “No Thanks, I’m with Jesus”.

However, people sometimes misquote this passage by saying, “God will not give you more than you can HANDLE.” The fact is that some situations are way beyond what we can handle in our own strength. And these are the times when we need to tap into God’s strength for help.

God promises he will limit the temptation we face, and that He will provide a way out so that we can bear or withstand the temptation. In other words, we are never in a position where we MUST give in to sin.

Posted by Fay-Ann Swearing Copyright 2013 @ Daily Devotionals. All Rights Reserved

‪ Choose to Trust

Reference Scripture: Ruth 1:3-5

“Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband” (Ruth 1:3-5).

The Old Testament book of Ruth is rich with examples of God’s faithfulness. The story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz took place in a time when the people of

Israel had strayed far from the Lord. Yet even in those dark days, some still chose to follow God. Naomi was one such woman. How do we know? We know that Naomi was a godly woman because there was something about her faith that attracted her daughter-in-law, Ruth, to God’s heart.

Naomi was a woman who had to pack up her family and belongings and leave her home, her friends and everything familiar to relocate to a foreign place. She moved due to a famine in her hometown of Bethlehem. Naomi and her family moved from Bethlehem to the country of Moab. But in Moab, things went from bad to worse.

Naomi was a God-fearing woman who endured some serious shattered matters. She had left her home in a desperate situation and experienced even greater loss in the deaths of her closest loved ones. Her circumstances were undesirable and her future looked bleak.  So…she made plans to head back home: to Bethlehem.

As they prepared to leave for Bethlehem, Naomi displayed loving kindness to her daughters-in-law as she released them from any obligation to relocate with her. She encouraged them to return to their mothers’ homes (v. 8) and pushed them toward new possibilities in their home country. She wanted them to have a fresh start, even though the prospects for her were dull.

Naomi knew that she was walking into uncertain territory as she headed home to Bethlehem. She had been gone for so long that she had no idea if there was any remaining family to care for her. Naomi was gracious and kind in not wanting Orpah and Ruth to endure the hardships she would probably face. What a selfless response. When shattered circumstances were all she could see, Naomi looked past her own need to the hopes, dreams and needs of her loved ones. When you and I face complex circumstances, we have that same opportunity to bless others in spite of the pain.

Theirs was a goodbye filled with tears, hugs and great pain.

Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side. Determined and loyal, Ruth held tightly to the woman she loved deeply. Not only did Ruth cling to Naomi, she held tight to Naomi’s God, the One true God of Israel. Though our natural tendency in hard times is often to try to go it alone, I’ve learned from Ruth, and from my own experience, that in turbulent times it’s vital that we hold fast to the ones we love and that we choose to trust God regardless of the circumstances that surround us.

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