Daily Update #283

Today’s reading:

James 1:13-18

“When tempted, no-one should say, “God is tempting me.”   For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.   Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth,  that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all He created.”


We know as a Church how hard it is to go through testing.   When we don’t understand God’s purposes we are tempted to stop trusting Him and go our own way.   
The world we are living in offers choices about the way we respond to situations.   We find ourselves being pulled in two different directions at the same time. Temptation happens to everyone, we should not think it only applies to weak Christians.       Will we hold onto the “Father of Lights” who wants and plans only good things?    Or will we listen instead to other voices which appear to offer an easier, more attractive way, but lead ultimately to death? 

In the beautiful Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) everything was perfect for Adam and Eve who had a wonderful relationship with God, until the devil put it into Eve’s mind that God had withheld something good by commanding them not to eat of the tree in the centre of the garden.   To Eve and then to Adam, came the idea that God was not completely trustworthy and that what the devil offered was more attractive.     In her heart Eve toyed with the offer and succumbed, especially when it included the opportunity to make decisions independently from God.
In his epistle James says that it is not God who tempts us, but our own evil desires.   We want what we cannot have because we don’t think that God is big enough to meet our deepest needs, or He is a killjoy and His way is restrictive.   Eve had everything, but wanted more.  Through the process of her own heart she was lured into sin, first in her mind and then in action.  
The oldest trick in the book is looking around for someone else to blame when things go wrong.  We see it all around us today in the litigious society we have become.   Back in the garden of Eden Eve blamed the serpent for tempting her, Adam blamed Eve, and in a subtle way he also blamed God for giving Eve to him in the first place! 
God created us to be responsible people by giving us free-will.  This makes us accountable for choices we make.    Sin starts in our hearts when we become discontented with what we have at present.  Through lust, through mistrust and disobedience, we wander into sin when we stop listening to God and accepting His will, however hard that may seem at the time.  
God is the One who gives every good and perfect gift.  He is completely reliable and trustworthy.  His plans for us are beyond our comprehension.  We are safe in His care, as long as we stay close to Him and obedient.  
Centuries after Adam and Eve, in the barren wilderness Jesus was tested before beginning His mission to save the world (Matthew 4).   He was lonely, hungry, thirsty, tired, and possibly in danger from wild animals.      Weak and vulnerable as He was at the time, the devil tempted Him, apparently offering an easier way, which would have avoided pain and the cross. 
We will never know how strong the pull of this temptation was, but giving in would have been a total disaster.   Jesus knew without any shadow of doubt, that God was all-sufficient and would provide for His needs.  Hard as it was, He stayed obedient to His Heavenly Father.   The master of lies could not draw Him away.  
Day by day we have to make choices between who we will listen to and obey.  Advertisers and people of strong influence are constantly telling us that we need all sorts of things for our happiness and well-being.     Trusting God to meet our needs is thought to be old-fashioned because He is “out of touch”.    
In order to conquer sin we have to know ourselves deeply and face up to our own pressure points. Sin starts with what is going on in our hearts and minds.   When we are feeling weak, tired and afraid, hurting or lonely we are at our most vulnerable to temptation.   We have to admit our own weaknesses and temptations and be real about them.   Praying alone is good, praying with others is even better.  Jesus conquered by staying close to God’s Word – we should do that too. 
At this testing time we may not understand God’s purposes but will we trust Him and stay true and obedient to Him? 

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear –
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness –
Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?