James 1:22-27 (Devotional Thought)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:22-27 ESV)

Imagine that you are dressed up in nice clothes. Nicer clothes than you have ever worn before and then a friend comes by and invites you to a food fight. You forget you are wearing nice clothes and so you go and end up staining everything. The food fight is over and so are your clothes because even with the best of cleaners your nice clothes are left in such bad shape that they now have become the clothes that you wear to paint in… all because you forgot what you were wearing.

Now it may be hard to forget what you are wearing, but James warns us that it is easy to forget who we are in Christ. When we trust in Christ the bible says that we are a “New Creation” the “old is gone and the new has come.” We are growing to be more and more like Christ. But sometimes we can hear God’s word (Which tells us who we are in Christ) and then go live like we haven’t heard it. We act just like we did before we trusted Christ. But those who “Do” God’s word are those who remember who they are in Christ. Temptation comes and they flee. The opportunity to serve others occurs and they represent Christ. They remember that they were bought with a price. They remember who they are in Jesus.

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James 1:12-15 (Devotional)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:12-15 ESV)

I was blessed to know my great-grandfather growing up. I remember on one occasion fishing in a clear water stream in Montana. My great-grandfather was hoping to catch a big trout for dinner. The problem was that even when he put his hook and bait seemingly in front of a large fish, they would not bite. Finally he got fed up and packed his pole to leave. I had the crust left over from my PB and J sandwich and I threw it into the stream. Suddenly fish darted from everywhere and started fighting each other for a bite of my crust. Apparently trout love discarded bread crust from a little boy’s lunch a lot better than the bait my grandfather used…I learned from my grandfather that the secret to fishing is to use bait that appeals to a fish’s appetite. You do not catch fish using just any kind of bait. You have to use bait they like. The fish’s appetite is ultimately what makes them bite into a hook.

Sometimes in the midst of a trial we are tempted to think that God does not have our best interest at heart. We can think that God is “tempting” us to sin. Like God is the one baiting the hook for us. But that is not true. The writer of the book of James reminds us that God does not tempt us, but that temptation comes internally from our own brokenness and desire to sin. Just like a fish biting into a hook we become a victim to our own desires. We can actually trust God in the midst of our temptations. The bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus was tempted just like we are, but that He was without sin. That means that we can run to Jesus when we are tempted and He knows exactly how to help us and how to encourage us to overcome our temptation because He has overcome.

As One Devil to Another by Richard Platt (A Review)

I read As One Devil to Another last week and was blown away at the insight into human nature the book provided.  The Author, Richard Platt, writes in the same style as C. S. Lewis in his book, The Screwtape Letters. The book chronicles a series of fictional letters exchanged between two demons on the nature of deceiving and tempting the human to which one is assigned.

As One Devil to Another is well written for it’s genre and reads faster than one might suspect for a book full of “letters.” There are a few points where the author seems to press his view a bit more than the writing style intends to hold, but for the most part the insight into the human heart is spot on and even creepy.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of C. S. Lewis’ The Screw Tape Letters. As One Devil to Another is also a great read for pastors, teachers, etc. who are looking for a reminder or need a refresher on just how easily we are deceived. I give it 5 Stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mark 14: temptation and prayer

Mark 14 details the events leading up to the arrest of Jesus. There is really slot in this passage to unpack, but what jumped out to me was how Jesus prayed in the garden.

He brought a few of the close disciples with Him and then went a little further to pray. He wanted them to watch and pray. However, they let hum down by falling asleep. Jesus comments that they should pray against this temptation because, “the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak.”

This is how temptation often occurs. My desire is to be up early in prayer, but my body says it’s comfortable in bed, my spirit says wake up. I enjoy a reasonable portion for dessert and my body says to try some more, my spirit says you’ve had enough. I see a provocatively dressed woman my body says to stare, my spirit says to look away. I see an opportunity to cheat at a game my mind says no one will know, my spirit says God will know.

We all wage the war of temptation between the flesh and the spirit. Jesus tells his men to watch and pray for their bodies are weak. Jesus was facing his own time of temptation. He asked God if there was another way, but not to do what He wanted, but to execute everything according to the fathers plan.

How do you handle temptation?