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Planning for Temptation

Leonardo da Vinci reminds us, "It's easier to resist at the beginning than at the end." Thinking on that one for a moment, we all probably could benefit from keeping that in mind because most of us try to resist closer to the end than at the beginning of the temptation. We go to the store hungry - then wonder why we are tempted to buy all the things we aren't supposed to be snacking on if we are to maintain our healthy lifestyle. Now, if we had planned a little better, having a nice breakfast before we head out to do the shopping, we are likely going to stick closer to the shopping list and avoid those unhealthy choices! Why? We resisted by planning on the temptation to be there!

So give yourselves to God. Stand against the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. You are sinners, so clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure. Be sad, be sorry, and cry! Change your laughter into crying. Change your joy into sadness. Be humble before the Lord, and he will make you great. (James 4:7-10 ERV)

Resistance takes on meaning when we 'come near' to God - why? Because God comes near to us - giving us the ability to resist (flee from) temptation. Come near - what does that mean? Do we have to go to church to be 'near to God'? No - but God encourages us to gather together because 'corporate worship' is important to help us grow in Christ. There is to be a sharing of our lives with each other, but we don't have to 'go to church' to come near to God. We can do it in our everyday trust in him - in our time, talent, and treasures. We learn to trust him with our time - giving him the first part of it each day. We trust him with our talent - those things he gives us skills to do - because they are what help us be productive and find purpose in our daily lives. We trust him with our treasures - because our heart will follow our money!

Sin has a way of 'getting into' our lives in ways we may not readily see at first, but the fact is that it is there. Sin has a way of 'getting us to do something' because we don't resist it very well BEFORE the temptation has a chance to appeal to the desires of our flesh. Sin needs to be 'cleaned out' much like when we do spring cleaning of our closets. We go through, get rid of stuff that has just gathered in those places that doesn't belong, things that don't work well anymore, etc. Then we organize what is left - leaving us with a sense of feeling accomplished and satisfied. Why does 'spring cleaning' of our closet or drawers make us feel accomplished? There is order again! Sin creates disorder in our lives - we need to get rid of it if we are to feel 'order' again.

Make your thinking pure - the temptation begins with our thinking. We don't entertain the unhealthy snack until we see the end-cap display. This is the purpose behind using end-caps - to draw us into purchasing what we didn't even know we needed or wanted! The truth is that Satan uses a whole lot of 'end-cap' tactics to get us to 'buy into' things we don't need to buy into, my friends. The temptation isn't new - it is 'usual' and 'typical' of all the things we have been thinking on, my friends. The way to overcome the temptation begins in changing the way we have been thinking about the 'end-cap' appeals! This begins by drawing near to God - because he helps to change our focus. He helps to change what is on those 'end-caps' in our lives.

The truth is that we are ALL tempted to sin. We ALL have to change our thinking. We ALL change it not by being 'more religious', but by 'drawing near' to the one who changes our thinking. It is God that takes what the enemy means for evil in our lives and turns it for good. He is the one who changes what we cannot change on our own. He is the one who not only helps us recognize our temptations, but to turn away by 'pre-planning' for their eventual occurrence in our lives! It isn't that we won't have temptations - we will just have thought through how we will respond to them in a way that keeps us from giving into them! Just sayin!

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