Temptations - Not the Motown ones...
Lord, protect me from temptation and from the evil thoughts of the enemy...
People don’t talk about some of the awful things that enter their minds. Thankfully, most people are protected from most of these thoughts, and they just blow on by, and don’t take up any time or energy.
Unfortunately, we’ve all bought in, from time to time, to temptations. Some are minor and so commonly experienced, that people don't even try to hide them – ‘Oh Marjorie, I just HAD TO HAVE that piece of chocolate cake.’
But others, are not so readily shared.
The devil has no problem sending 10,000 temptations to get just one ‘hit’ with one believer. Temptations cost him nothing, but it costs believers greatly. (It can cost would-be believers everything.)
Depending on the person, they might give in to a range of evils, from that piece of cake (Devil’s Food?), to acts of cynical corruption, to acts of violence of every stripe, against one or many, near or far. And everything in between.
But, having found that one 'hit', that one thing that the target is inclined to indulge, the enemy narrows his focus and sends thousands more temptations, like the one they bit on before. That cycle continues, until life becomes one long train of depraved thoughts, distracting and interrupting and obscuring the Lord, and making it difficult to commune with Him.
One earthly word for this is 'obsession.' The sufferer justifies clearly in their mind that whatever it is they focus on, although maybe not 'Godly', is still 'okay.' Others either don’t see the problem, or they don’t know the extent of it.
But the sufferer languishes, unable to fully devote themselves to worthy pursuits, chief amongst these, is their relationship with the Lord. If they had one, it withers. If they didn’t, they probably still don’t.
This is why it’s so important to stay close to Jesus. The enemy doesn’t fear me, or you or any human being. We are no match for him and his minions. But since he is a bully, with mindless lackies all around to do his bidding, he is a coward, but he only fears the Lord. If he sees Him coming, he walks the other way. Or runs. And if He finds him picking on one of your people, he will stop and run away.
Those of us who follow Jesus closely are protected from the enemy’s attacks, distractions, temptations and bad ideas. When we stray, and don’t always seek Him, the danger returns.
It is only through the Lord's grace and mercy that we are even allowed to follow Him. Despite continuing reminders, we still mess up, get lost and get attacked by the enemy. And when that happens, we sin and let ourselves down.
Next, the enemy, who tempted you to commit the sin in the first place, now leads the process of making you feel miserable about yourself, your actions and your future, since the Lord will be angry and will obviously turn His back on you.
But he is wrong. Unlike people, the Lord forgives us immediately. He knows how weak and susceptible we are. He knows the strength of the enemy. He knows the enemy's malevolent intentions. He knows we mess up sometimes.
So, when we pick ourselves up and approach the Lord, apologizing to Him, confessing our failure and how badly we feel about it, He forgives us. He wipes the slate clean, as though it never happened.
Because of His unfailing, constant love, Jesus reclaims us.
Lord, Your love is the number one reason people turn to You. The miracles, the stories, the parables, the peacefulness are all part of who you are. You are Love. And perfect love drives out fear. Your grace and mercy, and the salvation that comes with them, are the ultimate gifts for us sinners.
Lord, I am grateful for the insights you bring to me. I am thankful for your teaching and I am hopeful that I am ‘getting it’ and can share faithfully with others.
I am increasingly aware of how:
When we seek You, we find You.
And when we listen, we hear You too.
And when we watch, we see You, at work through a million small, Godly acts by a billion small, Godly people.
There is much evil in the world, and we must be on guard against it seeping into us.
But there is a much more powerful, persistent and overriding force, that eclipses evil, as formidable as it is. It is the perfect love, the Lord, who lives in each of us.
When we stay close to the Lord, and follow His direction, we become an extension of Him, manifesting His Love for us in service to one another.
Leaving the devil out in the cold. Where he belongs.
God bless you!