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Seven Things to Do When Temptation Comes

23 Sep

My pup Roscoe is a sneak and a thief. No matter the temptation, it proves to be too strong. We’re working on some discipline to HELP him make wiser choices, but in the meantime, he’s a real scamp.

I’ve had to take the toilet paper off the roller recently and place the paper up on the bathroom cabinet… or simply shut the door. The fluffy roll of TP is just too tempting. He grabs the end of the roll and races through the house and out the doggy door into the back yard.

One day, he grabbed a fresh roll and I found it all over the cement sidewalk on our side yard ~ including the cardboard roll. He had a totally self-satisfied look on his face.

But it’s not just toilet paper.

If I don’t place a washcloth on the towel bar when I’m done at the sink or in the tub, Roscoe snatches the washcloth and runs for the bed. He rolls over and over, “enjoying” his soggy prize until our bed is soaked!

BAD dog! Such a sneaky little thief.

He’s not getting away with anything, of course.  His master, “Mama,” always knows. He can’t hide the evidence for long.

I’m a little like Roscoe sometimes. I know good and well that my Master sees and knows what I do. Everything is open to His eyes.

The Bible says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). It’s not just what He sees, but what He knows about us. He knows our heart (Acts 1:24). He knows our secrets (Psalm 44:21).

Because God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-8; Proverbs 15:3), He knows when we fall into temptation and sin (Jeremiah 16:17). He can see even in the darkness (Psalm 139:11-12).

No, we’re not getting away with anything!

Yet, though God sees us, He is compassionate. He can search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24), and He will call us to repent ~ to turn back to righteous living and godly choices (Acts 3:19) . He knows that we will eventually reap harm or destruction if we continue in sin (Galatians 6:7).

And when temptation comes, we can do those things that lead to victory.

1. “See” Your Temptations for What They Are!

Identify whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual (or a combination of these). Is it something that will contribute to poor health, financial ruin, or guilt? What is your motive? Is it a matter of compromise? Indulgence? Are you toying around with a relationship or a habit that could easily bring you down? Is it lust of the eyes, desires of lust, or something born in pride? (1 John 2:16) Is it something you keep rationalizing or excusing … but you sense or know it is wrong?

2. Stand on What God Says

Is there a clear scripture that reveals God’s will about your temptation? Have you studied the scriptures to determine what God has to say? Is the Spirit of God tugging at your heart whenever you give in? It might not be something that is overtly wrong or sinful, but perhaps God is saying it is wrong for you at this time (or all the time). Find and stand on the truth of the Word of God.

3. Sort Out Your Triggers

Is there a certain place or event that triggers your temptation? Are you bored? (Boredom has sometimes been called the devil’s workshop.) Are you indecisive about what God has called you to do… unmotivated and perhaps lazy? Are you not dealing with stress, frustration or depression ~ and so, in a weakened state? Dig down into your heart… what are your specific triggers?

4. Strategize ~ Make No Provision for Sinful Desires

Accept the fact that you’re going to face temptation, and work to manage your life so you can deal with them. You can overcome temptations before they grab your heart. Instead of enabling temptation, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and allow Christ to transform your mind (Romans 12:1-2). Avoid circumstances or people that lead you into temptation, if at all possible. Choose your friends carefully (1 Corinthians 15:33). Don’t buy things you know you shouldn’t have. You might have to take some drastic actions (getting rid of a TV, computer, or other items, perhaps), but do what is necessary to live a clean life. Be sure to “… make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires …” (Romans 13:14).

5. Surrender to God Rather than Your Temptation

Read Romans 6. Practice yielding the members of your body to the Lord as a servant of righteous living. Seek and set your mind on the things of God, and learn how to live “in Christ” (Colossians 3:1-17).

6. Substitute Sinful Desires with Godly Ones

Replace wrong thinking (Romans 12:1-2), but also, substitute some new activities (or even healthy distractions) with old unhealthy or sinful habits. Take up a new hobby, get some exercise, join a class … and do it with your whole heart with the desire to please and honor God (Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

7. Seek Help (Counsel, an Accountability Partner)

If you struggle, get some practical “skin on” help (Proverbs 17:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Seek out a minister, counselor, Christian teacher or support group that deals with your area of temptation. Be honest with a godly, mature-in-the-faith person about your struggle; and set up some accountability guidelines. Meet or talk on a regular basis.

So remember my sneaky Roscoe ~ always giving in to temptation ~ and recognize that you’re not getting away with anything. There’s going to be a pay day of some kind for unhealthy or sinful behavior, even if it is simply lost opportunities or the burden of a guilty conscience.

– Dawn

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Wearing Clean Clothes?

2 Sep

While waiting for my husband to try on some clothes at Macy’s the other day, I remembered a joke someone told me:

A man sat in the “husband chairs” as his wife tried on clothes in a fancy store.

After almost an hour of watching his wife parade outfit after outfit for his “approval,” the poor man had definitely had it!

So the next time his wife came out of the changing room, he exclaimed, “Wow, Babe. That’s a knockout! Why don’t you buy that one?”

His wife frowned. “Oh, right,” she said, “This is what I was wearing when we CAME IN!”  

LOL … and hold that thought.

Maybe I’m a little strange, but I had a spiritual revelation when I heard that joke.

I heard this little voice ask me, “Are you wearing what you had on when you came in?”

Let me explain.

I thought about the day I came to Christ ~ that wonderful garment of holiness I received when I became a Christ-follower. I remember how clean and pure I felt when I first gave my life to Him.

But I get my spiritual “clothes” so soiled sometimes. Don’t you? That’s why the writer of Hebrews urges us to “Make every effort… to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). It takes effort!  Yes, it’s true that when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), we are clean through the blood of the Lamb ~ but the scriptures tell us some things to “put off” and other things to “put on” (Ephesians 4:22-24). When we do, our spiritual garments stay fresh and clean.

The apostle Paul uses the words “put off” to illustrate that we need to “divest” ourselves of some things … to strip them off just as we would some dirty clothes. We need to do this daily, because the corruption in the world tends to cling to us.

What kinds of things do we “put off”? We put off anything that belongs to the corrupted old self. Things that we repent over and leave behind. Various lusts within and influences without make our spiritual garments spotty and smelly!

I read recently that harmful bacteria can linger on clothes we think are clean. In the same way, we may think we are “clean” before the Lord … but it’s good to ask Him if there is “something else” lingering in our lives ~ a “hint” of the unclean (see Ephesians 5:3), or perhaps something we need to see from God’s  perspective.

After we “put off” the unclean things, there are things that we “put on”… things that relate to the new self. It’s not a matter of us trying to “launder” our soiled clothes, but rather to strip them off and allow the Lord to give us fresh, pure garments as He transforms us from within. We are a new creation in Christ … created for true righteousness and holiness. And God’s Word lists many ways that we can put on the pure character of Christ. 

This is not an exhaustive list* by any means, but simply some suggestions for consideration:

Can you imagine how exciting and effective your life would be if you Put Off and Put On all of those things? Wow!

The important thing is that we realize we have the opportunity every day to wear clean spiritual garments, just as when we first came to Christ.

His grace, mercy and forgiveness are powerful, and our Father God is working to transform us every day into the image of Christ. And ONE DAY, we will receive a spotless garment ~ “fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14) for all eternity! Praise God!

* There are many such lists on the internet… here is one.

– Dawn

Up with Upgrades!

3 Jun

Upgrades. We all love them, don’t we? My husband flies internationally many times during the year, and with his long legs, he always is eager for an upgrade to sections of the plane with more leg room!

I saw this photo that made me think how desperate we get sometimes for an upgrade. This is one man’s attempt to upgrade while waiting to move up from his iPhone to an iPad! LOL.

I also saw an overworked computer mouse that needed a serious upgrade!

Upgrades are fun, and often a wonderful blessing. We might upgrade appliances when we remodel our homes, or upgrade our wardrobe when we lose a lot of weight.

Did you know you can upgrade something every single day?

As a midlife woman, I suddenly came to the conclusion that I had spent all of my life serving others, but needed to focus some time on much-needed changes in my own life. My appearance was a little ragged. My quiet times were a little desert-like. My times with loved ones were a little scarce.

It was time for some upgrades! I discovered that even little changes each day make a difference, and it doesn’t matter the season of life you’re in, either!

Let me give some examples:

Appearance: Making sure my hair is neat and wearing simple makeup helps. So does watching what I eat. (For me, cutting out wheat is a major change ~ but simple choices every day are still required.) Writing in appointments for the gym make a difference (when I make the choice to keep them)! I’m starting to feel like a new woman, one choice at a time!

Quiet Times: Just as in marriage, doing the same thing the same way brings a level of comfortableness, but if we’re not careful and creative, the relationship can get stale. Likewise, in my relationship with God, I don’t want my interaction with God to suffer from sameness. So I started memorizing bits of scripture, and praying them back to God. I imagined God saying many of the “red letter” parts of scripture to me personally. I put a Bible on a chair near my Quiet Time spot to remind me that the Living Word is always present with me. Simple things.

Relationships: My girlfriend Pam Farrel is such a people person; but I’m a blinders-on task-oriented person. If I’m not careful, I’ll go a whole week and not see anyone! That’s not healthy, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to building a marriage or leaving a legacy with children and grandchildren. I need to see, interact with, and serve people. I need to rub shoulders with people who don’t know Jesus, too. So I have scheduled “timer breaks” from my work to either pray for or call people, or to jot down a note about something I want to share with others. And I clear out spaces in my calendar each week to “see people” ~ lunch dates, social gatherings, church, special meetings, “dates” with a grandchild, etc.

The point is, I can do a little bit of something every single day to upgrade these weak areas (and others) that need change. Every little choice helps!

Four questions help me know how to upgrade, and I hope they’ll help you!

1. Ask: What’s Going on Now? ~ You have to see and admit where you are, what your circumstances are (your weaknesses as well as your strengths) before you can see clearly what needs to be changed. Before you can upgrade, you need to drop any pride (Proverbs 18:12) and stand humbly before God, asking Him to show you your heart attitudes and behavior as they really are.

2. Ask: What Do I want to Be Different? ~ Get specific about upgrades. You have to decide what you want to do or change before you can make any plans for progress. You might also want to clarify what you don’t want … but spend more time on what you do want to be different. Let that be your focus. (Where you place your attention is where you’re going to see the greatest benefits and blessings. )

3. Ask: Lord, Is This Something YOU Want Me to Upgrade? ~ Always check with God to be sure your goals are good, godly, wise, worthy, and in His will (biblical) ~ see Romans 8:28.  If they are, you can ask Him to help you upgrade (believing that it is possible, because He put it in your heart).

4. Ask: What Choices Am I Going to Make TODAY to Get There? ~ This is the tough part, but it’s necessary. Ignore the arguments in your mind. Eliminate the excuses. Just act … take a first step. And a next step. Take baby steps, if necessary, but get moving forward on your upgrade. The point is to make a situation or attitude better.

When you change one little thing, you may find that an entire pattern of life changes, necessitating other changes.  How fun!  (Your habit patterns got you where you are, and new habit patterns will take you somewhere else! This Replacement Principle is illustrated in Romans 12:2.) When it comes to the nitty-gritty of life, upgrades happen in day-tight, bite-sized pieces.

And the wonderful truth is, God is in the process of a major upgrade in each one of us who are in Christ! His eternity-focused upgrade goes beyond “a little bit better” to total transformation ~ He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:292 Corinthians 3:17-18).

When you woke up this morning, it was another day for God to work in and through you for His glory and purposes and for your eternal good. Praise Him … thank Him … cooperate with Him!

No matter your season of life … think of at least one thing you can do right now to change your life for the better (An action? An attitude?).

Consider it an adventure with God. Up with Upgrades!

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