Take 5 (February 23-27, 2015)

take5

Tim Abraham • Chief Operating Officer

Face-to-Face with Temptation

Monday: Temptation until Redemption

Romans 8:23; Ephesians 6:10-13; Lamentations 3:22-23

Calendars with a string of X’s marked over days before a big event. Countdowns before the premier of a movie or opening day in a sports season. Have you eagerly anticipated something so much that it seems like the days go by slower and slower? The more you desire it, the more painful it is to wait! As maturing disciples of Christ, we are eagerly anticipating the fullness of our redemption and the completeness of our sanctification when we are with the Lord. Until then, we are in a spiritual war against the forces of darkness and evil. It’s in this war that we find ourselves internally wrestling—whether it is minute-by-minute, day-by-day, or even year-by-year. Oh, how we long for the battles to be over! Our spirits groan in anticipation of the war ending, but praise the Lord that we can be strong in His strength while standing tall against the devil’s schemes! God’s mercies are indeed new every morning!

For Today: Walk clad in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17) and in His faithful love and mercies.

Tuesday: Sifting and Tempting

Luke 22:31

Jesus and the apostles used imagery that their listeners and readers would understand in the culture of that day. Two thousand years later, sometimes we do not fully grasp or appreciate its meaning because our culture and our daily routines are very different. Just what is the sifting of wheat, and how do you do it? To sift wheat means to literally tear it apart to separate the wheat grain—the valuable part—from the chaff – the worthless part. Listeners and readers in Jesus’ day would immediately know of the violence that marks the sifting process. You first threshed the wheat by spreading it onto a hard floor and then beating it with a wooden staff with a short heavy stick swinging from it. After threshing, the wheat was then winnowed. You would throw the now-beaten grain into the air; and, the lighter, worthless chaff would blow away in a decent breeze. All that’s left, then, would be the heavier, valuable wheat grain. The greek form of the word “you” that Jesus spoke was plural. He was not only talking to Peter; He was talking to us as Christians, too. And, we can now more fully appreciate Jesus’ warning. Satan wants to tear us apart and separate us from God’s goodness and holiness in our lives. We shouldn’t be surprised if we literally feel torn when wrestling with temptation—Jesus told us to expect it!

For Today: Read the encouragement Jesus said next in Luke 22:32. Thank Him for His prayers for you, and pray for someone you know who is facing the same temptation as you.

Wednesday: Temptation’s Test

James 1:13-15

We’ve all been there. As a Christian man, you see a beautiful woman walking towards you on the sidewalk. As a Christian woman, you find yourself in the midst of a conversation about another woman and her family. Internally, you experience a palpable sense of uneasiness and uncomfortableness. Christians may question whether they’ve sinned simply if they’ve been tempted. Does temptation equal sin? No! James delineates the difference between being tempted and sinning. Yes, temptation entices, allures, and attracts us. However, it leads us to a conscious decision that we have to make each and every time. We can choose, as difficult as it may seem, to bear and endure the temptation without succumbing to our fleshly desires and sinning. Or, we can live out the process James describes in verse 15: our evil desires lead to sin, which leads to death. On paper, that’s an easy decision to make. It’s a lot harder when walking on the sidewalk or talking with a group of friends. By holding fast to our love for God through faith, though, we can do it!

For Today: Read James 1:12 to discover what God has promised to those who love Him. Persevere and pass the test of temptation!

Thursday: Escaping Temptation’s Trap

1 Corinthians 10:13

A sense of failure. Feelings of shame, disappointment, loneliness, and unworthiness. A yearning for repentance. How do you feel in the moment after you’ve been tempted and then, as a result, sinned? Do you wonder if you’ll ever be able to face that temptation with it not ending in the same way, with the same feelings? You can! Paul describes a common escape hatch we can all run to in the midst of temptation. First, he wants you to know that you’re not alone or unique in your struggle. There’s another Christian waging war on the same front line as you. You probably even know the person without realizing it. Moreover, God won’t allow the temptation to be more than we can bear; He’s provided a way for us to pass the test, to win the battle. Pause and think about that for a moment. Let it soak in. God gives us a way out! We may feel like the walls are closing in all around us, but we can open up the hatch and escape before we’re trapped. We’ll see it if we consciously look for it!

For Today: Our escape hatches are found in God’s Word. Read and memorize Psalm 119:11.

Friday: A Tempted Savior

Hebrews 4:14-16

Do you remember a time when you were facing a situation that was new to you, and you didn’t know what to expect? Where did you turn? We’re often comforted and reassured after listening to someone who has already gone through what we’re about to experience—whether it’s going to college, becoming a parent for the first time, or enduring a particular surgery. We are more at ease after understanding they were in that same situation and are still here to talk about it. In cases of temptation, we can turn to Jesus. Anything you or I have been or will be tempted with, so has Jesus. And, He never sinned. On top of that, when we’re tempted, our perfect and holy Savior is at the Father’s right hand interceding for us at the throne of grace. Through faith in Jesus, we can receive God’s mercy and grace each and every day. To a Christian, there’s nothing more comforting or reassuring!

For Today: When temptation comes, praise the Lord that we have a risen, ascended Savior, who empathizes with us and intercedes for us!