Overcome temptations in the midst of the storm

Overcome temptations in the midst of the storm

I recently experienced a period of intense activity that left me drained, both physically and emotionally. The physical exhaustion dissipated within a day, but after a few days, I noticed I was still getting agitated when insignificant things did not go my way. Amanda Buys from Kanaan ministries compare our emotions to warning lights on a car’s dashboard. These warning lights are a signal of something happening elsewhere in the car such as the fuel or other essential juices running low. Ignoring these warnings can be anything from inconvenient, like running out of fuel, to detrimental, such as when the engine overheats.

Getting agitated by little things is normally a tell-tale sign for me that all is not well with me. It is like warning lights flashing. It is when we are running on low that the opportunistic enemy of our souls come to spring a trap.

And when the devil had ended all his testings, he left Jesus alone until an opportune time. – Luke 4:13 (CJB)

The enemy came with his temptations at a time when Jesus was tired and physically weak having fasted for 40 days. He is always watching, looking for that moment when you are weak. Jesus did not fall for his trap because He was alert. Peter, however, stepped right into it even though Jesus warned him.  He slept rather than following Jesus’s advice to be vigilant.

Then Jesus comes back and finds them sleeping; and he tells Peter, “Simon, you’re asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying so that you do not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Mark 14:37-38

Peter just experienced his foundations being pulled out from under him. I cannot begin to comprehend his emotional alarms going off. He must have been on emotional overload. That is exactly the time that the enemy would recognise as a great opportunity to increase the destruction. 

No temptation has taken hold of you except what is common to mankind. But God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle (your power to resist). But when the temptation comes, He will also provide a way of escape, so you will be able to endure it. –
1 Corinthians 10:13

Yes, it was devastating circumstances, but this scripture says, had Peter been alert and watchful, he would have been able to recognise the trap. God knows what He has placed within each person’s spirit to prepare them for all they would face in life.

For you have created my conscience. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw me when I was unformed, and in your book were written the days that were formed – when not one of them had come to be. – Psalm 139:13&16

We were pre-loaded with what we need, first to recognise the traps, and then to be able to resist, to endure, or recognise when we need to run away.

James 4:17 Resist the devil, and He will flee from you.

But how do you resist when you are already at the end of your strength? James started off saying “Subject yourself to God”. This circle right back to Jesus’ advice to Peter, John and James: “Keep watching and praying so that you do not enter into temptation.”

What are some of these temptations?

But those who want to be rich, fall into temptations and traps and many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. –
1 Timothy 6:9  

Reading this scripture, it reminds me of Solomon’s many proverbs about the wise man and the foolish man. Could we be setting a trap for ourselves by submitting to our desires?

Today, as I am writing this, it is Human Rights Day in South Africa. This day commemorates actions of gross violation of human rights in our history. Internationally, Human Rights Day is celebrated on 10 December as on that day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As I read through this list of fundamental human rights, I can’t help but wonder whether the gross violations we have seen over the ages as a human race could have been prevented had we followed God’s advice. What were the temptations the perpetrators of human right violations did not flee from at the time? 

But each one is tempted when dragged away and enticed by his desire. – James 1:14

It reminds me that my desires are not necessarily the same as human rights. When I feel agitated, I might desire to say the first words that come to mind in the heat of the moment. Those words, however, may be hurtful to other people. But if those words are of an abusive nature, it might even violate their human rights. If my desire violate another person’s human rights, surely that desire is for more than just my human right?

I wonder whether these human rights are not closer to our basic needs as humans rather than what we desire. I can see embodied in these rights the need for acceptance, to feel safe and secure, to be allowed to live a life of purpose that leads to fulfilment. The violations, however, seem to be based on a desire to control others,  greed after more riches and a belief system that there is not enough for all. Where do these things originate from?

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the boastings of life – is not from the Father, but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desire, but the one who does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17

How does it happen that we find these worldly desires within us? Some of these human rights listed are freedom of thought and expression. Early on our thoughts and expressions are influenced by the rules and beliefs that apply in our homes. As we lead our lives, we are constantly adding experiences. These experiences prompt thoughts in our minds, and we might adopt new ways of expression. That what we allow in our lives will influence our thoughts and behaviours. Over time these become our belief system and the rules by which we live our lives.

Our belief systems are formed through our accumulated experience throughout our lives.

I have written you these things about those who are trying to mislead you. As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. – 1 John 2:26

God had placed in you a conscience when He was weaving you together in your mother’s womb. That soft voice is ready loaded with guidance and teaching to help you submit to God. I bless you to be acutely aware of the temptations you are prone to struggle with and to discern the warning signs when those are lurking on your path. I bless you to recognise the desires that flare-up within you and to be aware of your spots of weakness.

But as His anointing (the Holy Spirit) teaches you about all things – and it is true and not a lie – and just as it has taught you, abide in Him. – 1 John 2:27

I bless you to adhere to the guidance The Holy Spirit gives you as you continue to abide in the Vine.

But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this – whoever claims to abide in Him must walk just as He walked. – 1 John 2:5-6  

Scripture references from the TLV (Tree of Life Version) unless otherwise indicated.

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