No, not the musical group. The temptations… As in the everyday temptations we face and the bigger temptations that come along as we go through life.
The series we are in at church is based on the book of James (hence the series title “The Essential James” – wow, right?!). James was a blunt guy, direct and wants you to get the point right away so that you can apply what is shared. One of those things he discusses is temptation and how God is not in those things which tempt us. God may test and try us to stretch us and grow us in our faith, but He is NOT in it – it is our own selfish desires which come forth when that guy Satan decides it’s the perfect time to turn our path in a different direction, to lure us away.
Pastor Steven talked about the fact that when we our faith is growing and we are doing what God wants us to do with our lives, the devil kicks it into high gear. “New levels, new devils.” How true! I can see those times when I have been growing a lot in my faith where Satan has tried to push me down. I am a perfectionist, a problem in and of itself. I expect a lot of myself partially due to that “first born syndrome” (haha) but I also know that God has placed a lot of potential in me and I want to use that potential in the right way. If I find myself slipping up in an area or find that something is tempting me, I can tend to be hard on myself and from there start doubting myself. Whether that is doubting if I’m good enough, if I’m really supposed to be doing something, or belong somewhere doesn’t matter. It happens. What makes it even worse is that AFTER I’m finished with my whole “doubting myself” process, I’m usually more sure than before that I’m doing what I should be or that I am there for a reason. Therefore the whole doubt process was POINTLESS, WASTED TIME.
It’s something to work on constantly. One thing that really stayed with me today was when Pastor Steven said “Don’t let your temptations let you doubt your salvation.” Now I don’t necessarily doubt my salvation, but I really don’t like it when I feel like I’ve slipped up on something even the easy stuff like making sure I’m reading my bible regularly. The fact that I have salvation is what causes me to feel and see those temptations and recognize them as just that – temptations. Something that GOD IS NOT A PART OF. And I know it – you know it and you can feel it in those moments when you are tempted, right? What a challenge from James to recognize temptation for what it is and walk the other way, to want more than just that fleeting pleasure.
Know your “weak spots”. Figure out the times when you are weakest. Equip and prepare yourself to be ready for those curveballs the devil tries to throw at you when you are at a high point in our faith. Have people around you to lean on, who will hold you accountable and ask how you are. Fill your mind with scripture to call on. Train your eyes and ears to know when it is time to turn away.
Something else from this series has really hit home with me that really has the potential to revolutionize how we all interact, learn from and listen to each other if we all applied it not just on Sundays but in our daily lives. However, that is for another post… Perhaps tomorrow?