How to recognize temptation

temptation

It’s been a week since I started lent (gave up dating and secular music) and began my online devotional (shereadstruth.com) and all I can say is wow. I’ve been wrecked. And it’s been tough. I didn’t think it would be but I’ve been able to learn a lot about myself which I hope to write more on at the end of this journey. The not listening to secular music has been easier and I’ve actually really enjoyed the times alone with God and just worshipping Him while driving. I didn’t realize how much those short times have an impact on my life and my day. The no dating hasn’t been hard in and of itself but it’s challenged me. Not only am I not dating, I am also trying not to engage with guys- flirting and what not. This has been the hard part. There are still a few guy friends I talk to and hang out with but even this has lessened for me. If I’m completely honest with myself, I didn’t realize how much I use guys to feed my ego. The attention is addicting and I am definitely suffering from withdrawals. I like it though because it’s pushed me to God- where I get real love rather than fleeting moments of counterfeit satisfaction. And those moments are what leave me speechless and in awe of God’s amazing love for me.

I don’t know if it’s me or the study, but I keep progressively getting more out of each of my day’s study and quiet time. Normally I’ll post a snippet of what I got out of the day’s study on my Instagram but yesterday’s was so much that I decided to do a blog post.

Matthew 4:1-11. This was part of the reading yesterday and it is probably one of my most favorite passages. It’s the time when Jesus goes to fast and pray alone for 40 days. Just Him and God. And this is when the devil comes to tempt, as well. While reading these scriptures, I noticed a theme in the way the devil attacked Jesus that I think is very real and applicable to how he attacks and tempts us today. I believe if we can be proactive and more aware then we can better avoid the temptations that come our way. The scripture says to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. The devil is sneaky and will slide into your life with any opening you give him. Hopefully what I learned can help you in your walk with the Lord as much as it’s helped me.

  1. Lusts of the flesh. He will attack you where you are the weakest. Do you know where your weak areas are? Do you know what tends to keep you away from God? That is where the devil will try to come in. Jesus had just fasted for 40 days and what does the devil try to get Him to do? Turn stones into bread for food. Hunger was what Jesus was feeling at that time. He must have been starving. And there is where satan decided to try and swoop in. Guard against your weak areas.
  2. To take advantage of God’s goodness. For Christians, the so called “good Christians, this one can be easy to miss. The second temptation Jesus received was to throw Himself down because God promises to protect us. Wow. Have you ever been in a situation you know you shouldn’t have been in or done something you know you shouldn’t have because you knew God would love you anyway? Because you knew He would forgive you? This insight pierced my heart as I realized how spoiled I have acted at times.
  3. Me>God instead of God>me. The last attempt the devil uses to tempt Jesus is to try and get Jesus to love Himself more than God. This is where our humility and humbleness is so important. Do we trust God enough to know that He loves us? To know that He knows and wants what’s best for us more than we do? And what I believe is most important- do we love God enough to keep Him first when we are tempted to put our desires and wants (for the moment) ahead of Him? This would be a no brainer if we really could even fathom how much the God of the universe loves us but it doesn’t keep the devil from trying.

I encourage you to spend some time to dwell on those three areas and see what God shows you. The part I love most about this short passage is the last verse “ then the devil left Him…” The devil will leave. The devil is no match for our God but we have to make sure we are utilizing the power of God. I have to draw close to the Lord everyday to be strengthened. I have no shame in acknowledging that I am totally dependent on Him. He is what makes life worth living and His love is what keeps me smiling. Continue to change my heart, Lord. My flesh may fight but oh how my soul yearns for You.

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Beauty from ashes: my first year celebrating lent and what I’m doing

lent
I’ve never celebrated lent before. Growing up Baptist, I always assumed it was a Catholic thing because we never talked about it. I remember one time telling a girl that she had something on her face (I thought I was being nice and looking out for her) and she quickly told me it was ashes for Ash Wednesday. Whoops. I’ve never been too good about that. All I really knew was that people gave up something prior to Easter and then went on with their normal lives afterwards. I didn’t see much of a change; I didn’t see much of an impact. Sometimes I actually felt like it was kind of depressing. Several people this year have told me that instead of giving up something for lent, they’ve decided to add something positive instead. I thought that was pretty cool.
I recently joined an online women’s devotional community called shereadstruth.com Wow! It has been such a blessing in my life. I just finished their Esther study and today begins their lent study. In addition to the online community of wonderful ladies doing it, I have some personal friends doing the study with me. I am really excited about growing closer to God. It’s always funny to me when people think being a Christian is boring. My life has been anything but boring and I always look forward to what God has in store for me next. He makes me so happy:)
For those that don’t know, lent starts approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday and lasts for 40 days. Actually it’s 47 days because they don’t count Sundays. The 40 days symbolize the 40 days of fasting Jesus did in the wilderness before He began His public ministry. I think what is important to note about that time is that it was just Him and God- and that’s what I’m hoping for my 40 days to entail. I’m just trying to rid myself of distractions that tend to limit my time with Christ. As the study stated this morning, lent is like a pause button. A time to stop and reflect on who we are and what we are doing. Life has a funny way of keeping us busy for the sake of just keeping us busy. But what are we really doing with our lives? We came from dust and to dust we will return.
So what am I giving up? I think we all know what distracts us most so it will be different for all of us. For me, I decided to give up dating and secular music. Dating in the sense that I’m not going to really worry about going out or engaging with men. It’s not that I go out with guys a lot now but they do take up a lot of my free time- either through my actions, communications, or thoughts. Instead of worrying about those relationships, I am going to focus on my relationship with God. Instead of talking with guys, I’m going to focus on spending more time with Jesus. This will be more of a mind and heart issue. I want to be very intentional. In regards to secular music, I often listen to it when I am driving and I just want to be more aware during this time. It’s a lot of quiet time I have. And I’d rather spent it with God honestly. In silence. Listening to worship music. Or listening to podcasts. Praying. We often use the excuse that we don’t have enough time for this or that but the truth is, we all get the same 24 hours in a day. We just need to learn how to use that time more wisely.
I think it’s important to note what this time before Easter is about and what it can do for your life. It’s not about giving up something just to give it up. It’s not about adding something to your life so you can feel like a better person. It’s not that giving up dating or secular music will automatically make me closer to God but the purposeful and intentional acts will serve as a constant reminder of what matters most in my life. For me, it will be a time to really dwell on what Jesus Christ did for us. To remember our sin and our humanity- to remember my desperate need for Jesus. I think we take Him for granted sometimes. But I just want to focus on my love and all His goodness. Not that I don’t already but I want to give Him extra time and how wonderful is it that so many others are doing it too. I’d love for all of us to support one another as we venture into falling more in love with the man who died for us. What a wonderful honor. I’d love to know what you are giving up and please feel free to follow my daily updates on instagram @thevirginheartbreakerKeep me near the cross Lord, that I may never forget the love you have poured out for me.
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