Pray and ask God to provide guidance during temptation.
Have you ever quoted I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”? Have you ever thoroughly processed the meaning of that scripture? Before you begin this week’s devotions answer that question in your journal: “What does this scripture mean to you?”
This week we are going to focus on the temptations we face and how we actually handle them and how we should handle them. We will delve into the proper perspective of the temptations we face and how we should view those temptations and why we have temptations.
Why am I struggling with these temptations?
Sunday: Read James 1:9-11 “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.” Before we get into the aspects of our temptations and struggles with temptations, let’s take a day to focus on the magnitude of what God does for us and what He is to us if we allow Him and trust Him to that degree. As you ponder on the scriptures James 1:9-11, think about how you view yourself. Do you see your accomplishments based on your own abilities? The correct perspective should be that of the nature of humility and that we are only successful according to God’s abilities and His designs in our daily lives. If we go about our daily routines in our wisdom and strengths, we may find a bit of success, but it will fade away. We can only go so far on our own. We have got to humble ourselves before an almighty, all powerful, and Holy God. We have got to recognize that just as the sun rises and scorches with heat and withers the grass, our self-induced accomplishments will do the and eventually wither as the grass and the beauty of it all will perish as the beauty of a flower eventually perishes. The only way to ensure that our accomplishments and success remains steadfast and eternal is to ensure they are founded through the power and strength of God as he desires to bestow blessings upon us. We will only be as great as He desires and allows, and we will only rise to greatness as we acknowledge it is not us, but it is God who is working through us. Basically, we can do nothing of greatness unless we remove ourselves and allow God to completely infiltrate us and consume our thoughts, actions, and words.
In your journal today, reflect on your most recent accomplishments and discuss your thoughts on who had more control, you or God? Discuss in your journal accomplishments you have wanted but have not been able to achieve. Is it possible that God is withholding such accomplishments from you till you get your focus and heart in line with His thinking? Is He protecting you from something that will eventually be harmful to you?
Monday: Focus on James 1:12 “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.” Today let’s focus on why we face trials and temptations. Write this scripture passage in your journal. Now, let’s take this scripture apart a section at a time. Write your thoughts in your journal as you work through each section of the passage.
First, we see that the one, who remains steadfast under trial, will be blessed by God. What an awesome thought of being blessed by a loving Father and an all powerful God. The blessings He can bestow upon us are so much more amazing than we can fathom receiving on our own. Think about the blessings that you have received in the past following a time of standing firm in trials or against temptations. List those in your journal. It helps to see it written out. You may begin to realize you have way too many blessings to write them all down. That’s a good thing!
Next, focus on the last part of that verse, “for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” The crown we will receive is the Crown of Life for those who remain faithful to God regardless of the trials and temptations. Resisting temptations are never easy; if they were easy, they would not be temptations. If we can stand strong in our faith in Christ and remain true to Him in the midst of our temptation, God will honour and bless us with the special Crown of Life when we stand before Him in Heaven. Not only is it worth our while to resist temptations here on earth, but that action will be remembered when we enter our eternal home of Heaven in the end.
In your journal, write the temptation or temptations you are currently facing. Beside the temptation or the temptations you listed, write down the reasons why you fall prey to them. Consider the reasons why it is so hard for you to resist those temptations. Next, write down the reasons it would be more beneficial for you to walk away from those temptations. Ask God to give you the strength to resist your temptations and stand firm in your commitments to God. Remember, God is always faithful to those who are faithful to Him and truly love Him.
Tuesday: Focus on James 1:13 “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.” This verse makes it clear that God cannot be tempted with evil, and he will not use evil to tempt any of us. I have heard others in the past say, God is tempting me to test my faith.” That simply is not true. This scripture clearly indicates that God has no part in tempting us. However, He does allow us to be tempted, and there is always a reason for the temptation being allowed. One reason it is allowed is to give us the opportunity to make decisions for ourselves, so that we are not being controlled by a dictator. The other reason is to strengthen and teach us something to make us stronger in our faith and relationship to God. It is for us to spend time with God to discern the exact specifics of the second reason. Although today’s thought will be short, it will be a powerful time of spiritual growth. Reflect on your journal from yesterday and the list of temptations you wrote. What is God trying to teach you by allowing this temptation to present itself to you? Keep in mind, God may not reveal the answer to this question to you at this very moment. Be patient and spend some quiet time listening to what God is doing within you. Also keep in mind that the revelation might come to you in pieces. As each peace comes, write it down in your journal.
Wednesday: Focus on James 1:14-16 “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.” Yesterday, we discovered that it is not God who tempts us although He allows it. If it is not God, then who tempts us? Verse 14 tells us temptation arises as we are lured and enticed by our own desires. Verse 15 tells us that if we do not stand strongly against those luring desires, we will fall prey to the sin, and when sin is fully grown, it brings forth death. This process of moving from desire to sin to death is very deep and intense; therefore, I encourage you to to spend serious time in prayer as you work through today’s devotion.
Let’s start today with how we are lured and enticed by our own desires. There are certain desires that are of great temptation for us. Because everyone is different, everyone will deal with different temptations. A weakness for one person will not necessarily be a weakness or temptation for someone else. Of course, it is Satan who desires to set us up to fall prey to temptation and get us off track with God. When we are not completely in tune with God, we are not effectively being used by God to reach others for His glory. Once the temptation through the form of our thoughts or seeing something presents itself to us, we then have a choice: give in to that temptation or walk away. If we give in, we give birth to sin in our life. Usually, we cannot just give in to it one time, we tend to ponder on it and eventually give in again and again. Eventually, this leads to constant practice of the temptation, which leads to separation from our fellowship with God. Notice, I did NOT say a loss of salvation, but I said fellowship. God cannot be in the presence of sin; therefore, He must remove Himself from fellowship with us while we are involved in the action of the sin that has lured us away from God. Remember, anything that is not of God is there to lure us away from Him. If lured away long enough, we lose touch with Him, and life becomes most miserable.
Take today and write in your journal your recollections of time when you have been separated from God due to continuous sin in your life. Were you happy and peaceful at the time? Chances are you were not. Is there something right now tugging on your mind trying to lure you away? If so, write it in your journal and begin praying and asking God to give you the strength and ability to say NO to the temptation and stay close to Him.
Thursday: Focus on James 1:16-17 “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” God’s Word today cautions us not to allow ourselves to be deceived. He goes on to tell us that every perfect gift is from above, and it comes from the Father of lights. When we think of sin and Satan we think of darkness. Evil lurks in the darkness, and in the darkness there is no light. God does not even allow a hint of a dark shadow to intervene in His blessings and direction. What does this mean? It means that with God, there are not even grey areas. Too many people tinker in the grey areas (also known today as blurred lines). God deals in absolutes. He is in the light; in fact, He is the light. We cannot be in right relationship with God if we are tinkering in the grey areas of life. With God, it is either right or wrong, black or white, and good or evil—sin or not sin. There is no middle ground. We must guard ourselves constantly to remain in the light with God. We ultimately make a choice several times a day to stay close to God, or to venture away from Him. Every time we slightly venture away from Him, we push ourselves further and further away from Him.
In your journal today list some areas that you thought might not be so bad even though you know they are not exactly correct or right behaviors. As you write down those areas, think about each one individually. Pray over each one and come to agreement with God that it is either right or wrong. If you are struggling, ask God to give you His insight and remove your own ways of thinking about the issues. Remember that most of the temptations develop within our own minds. We must learn how to completely give control of our thoughts and ways of seeing and judging our actions over to God. In order for Him to have control over those areas of our life, we must be willing to give up that control. God will give us the ability to give up the control.
Friday: Focus on James 1:18 “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” Today we will focus on the how God brought us to Him. He brought us to Him by the Word of Truth. Nowhere is it stated that He deals in half truths or partial truths. The scripture says, “by the Word of Truth.” Then it goes on to indicate that because we were called into relationship with Him by the Word of Truth, we are to be a kind first fruit of His. This means that as we grow we are to ripen and become the fruit he intended for us to be. We are His fruit and should demonstrate the kind of fruit we are created to be.
When we bite into an apple, we know it will taste like an apple. A piece of fruit cannot disguise itself and lead us to think it is another kind of fruit. In other words, a lemon cannot disguise itself as an apple. A lemon is yellow and sour. An apple is red and sweet. Even if a little tangy, the apple is nothing like a lemon. Too many people try to live a double life and disguise their actions, words, and characteristics based on the crowd with whom they are associating at the time. By doing that, a person is not presenting himself/herself according to the Word of Truth as a first fruit of God. Have you ever found yourself doing this? Have you ever been afraid to speak of or mention the name of God in certain situations? If so, you may have a bit of a struggle with presenting yourself as a first fruit of God.
In your journal write down the times that you have struggled in this area. Write down the places you are when this occurs and the people you are around. Are these places you frequently visit? Are these people with whom you frequently associate? Do you need to stop going to those places? Do you need to remove yourself from those people? This is between you and God. Trust His guidance as you focus on today’s devotion. This may be very difficult to do and deal with. Ask God to give you the strength and ability to know and do what He has called you to do so that you can be exactly the first fruit He has created you to be.
Saturday: Read James 1:9-18 “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.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.Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.”
For today’s devotion, reflect on the entire passage that we have covered this week. Allow God to stop you on the point or points He wants you to focus. Write those points in your journal and ask God to give you direction regarding those points. As you begin to unfold and process those points, write your thoughts in your journal. Consider what God is guiding you to do regarding the points He brought to your attention. Are you willing to take that step and follow God’s plan? Write in your journal why you are not ready if you are still struggling. Write in your journal exactly what you are going to do when you are completely ready to move forward in God’s direction regarding those points.