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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

“Embracing Trials, Resisting Temptation, Accepting Consequences"

(Part 3)

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

James 1:13-15

There is a difference between trials and temptations. Trials are something to be endured which strengthen our faith and lead to a crown of life. Temptations are to be resisted. They are designed to incite evil desires and entice us into sin and will ultimately lead us into death!

James is quick to point out that God is not the source of temptation. Because of God’s righteous nature, He cannot be tempted nor can He ever be the source of temptation. We should not be deceived into believing that God ever places temptations in our paths in an effort to test us or grow us spiritually. Unlike trials, where we are encouraged to “count it all joy” and persevere, here we are instructed to resist temptation. In fact, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 26:41:

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

It is clear that God is certainly not the source of temptation; however in His love and faithfulness He has made provisions for us to face it:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

According to this passage, there is never a time when we are tempted that there is not a way out! Meaning that God’s provision and demonstration of His grace is given prior to the sinful act. Many people get frustrated when, after ignoring the “way out”, they fall into sin, and God does not deliver them from the consequences.

So let’s clarify the differences between trials, temptations and consequences of our sin:

A trial is a difficulty that comes because of a righteous stand we take, or a situation that comes upon us because of no fault of our own (loss of a loved one, the company downsizes and we lose our job, we suffer injury when hit by a drunk driver.)

A temptation is that which we are subjected to with the intention of enticing us and leading us into sin. We are drawn away by our own evil desires. If we fall into temptation, it is by our own willful decision.

Consequences of our sin! This type of suffering is “self-inflicted”! It is a difficulty that we have created ourselves because of our poor decision-making. It too must be endured, but there is no promise to deliver us from our determination to ignore truth and not resist temptation.

Pastor Scott Burr

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

“Embracing Trials, Resisting Temptation, Accepting Consequences"

(Part 2)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4

Most of us, when we find ourselves in a trial immediately respond with weeping, prayer and fasting. James, however, encourages us to rejoice and count it all joy. His instruction is not to begin looking for a way out, but rather to begin by asking God for wisdom:

“If any on you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
James 1:5-8

When we seek God for wisdom in the midst of our difficulty we are asking God for the capacity to see and the ability to respond to the situation according to His Will and His Word. Too often, we forego God’s wisdom for our own, believing that our wealth, position, education or resource will give us some kind of advantage in managing our trials. James says:

“The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”

James 1:9-11

Trials are an equal opportunity offender. They are a leveling agent impacting the just and unjust alike. In the Old Testament there was a man by the name of Job. Job was richest man in the world in the day that he lived, but no amount of wealth, health or position could prepare him or save him from the trials he experienced. He lost all his herds, his children were killed, one of his homes destroyed, his wife turned on him, his health went south, and his friends were adamant that he was sinning and bringing this all on himself! However, Job did not waiver, but trusted God throughout the entire ordeal and God restored to him all that the enemy had stolen. Job demonstrated perseverance and withstood the test and because of that God blessed him. James wrote in James 1:12:

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

This is a promise from God! Nonetheless, you can also depend on the fact that Satan is going to try and thwart God’s plan for your life. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica:

“For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.”
1 Thessalonians 3:5

Paul recognized that the potential of “trials to bring us to greater spiritual maturity could be undermined by the deceitfulness of temptation!

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, February 9, 2012

“Embracing Trials, Resisting Temptation, Accepting Consequences

(Part 1)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4

This passage has the potential to be a stumbling block to many believers. Most people do not associate the idea of joy with facing many kinds of trials. We rarely look at trials as something to be embraced. Most often we are trying to avoid them at all cost. However, these pressures of life play a tremendous role in our growth and spiritual maturity.

James describes trials in this verse as “testings of our faith.” They are circumstances, difficulties or pressures of life that God uses to test the sincerity or genuineness of our faith. It is through these tests that we develop perseverance. Perseverance is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failures or opposition. Without trials no one can mature in their faith completely.

Trials become the pathway to developing, not only perseverance, but also character and hope:

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance; character, and character; hope.”
Romans 5:3-4

Trials are like a refiner’s fire which draws out the dross to reveal the genuine and authentic life that lies within:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proven genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1:6-7

This passage is so important to understand, because the Glory of Christ is not revealed in the outcome of a trial, it is revealed in the “genuineness” of our faith in the midst of it. Sometimes what we walk through doesn’t turn out the way we hoped. In those situations, it would be easy to say that we failed the test in some manner. However, the way we carry ourselves through the trial reveals far more than the outcome:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”
1 Peter 4:12-13

Our first inclination when we are faced with these “trials” is to pray for deliverance! We want out of this mess as quickly as we found ourselves in it, but in doing so we may be short-changing the process God has set in motion to bring us to greater maturity.

Pastor Scott Burr