This Sunday's message is entitled "Fighting Temptation: Normal Isn't Working." Have you ever said something or done something that you regretted later? I know I have! It's so natural to give into your normal desires, and normal people do it all the time. We are tempted to do and say things that are sometimes so out of character that people can't believe we did it. There's one thing I have noticed while on my journey through life. Temptation often comes through a door that's been deliberately left open. Temptation seldom breaks your door down; it quietly and cunningly enters the open portals of your mind.
Today's culture often makes us think everything is okay and normal. You know, it's okay for normal people to take this, do that, and act in a way that just makes no sense. Pretty soon, every thing, every sin, every desire that's destructive seems so normal. I will have to admit, when you get my age (65), you don't worry as much about avoiding temptation as you do about temptation avoiding you. I'm just saying!
The Bible is crystal clear when it comes to temptation. Everyone who follows Christ will struggle with temptation, and Jesus was no exception. I've also noticed that temptation usually comes our way at a time when we're at our weakest. It happened to Jesus after he had fasted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus may have been weak physically when the evil one approached him, but he wasn't weak spiritually. Jesus used a sword to rebuff Satan's temptation. What kind of sword did Jesus use? He used scripture, the Word of God, to resist all of the devil's temptations. Jesus not only used these scriptures in spiritual battle, but He obeyed them. We all have access to the same sword that Jesus used when dealing with temptation.
I've heard people say, "The Lord won't put more on us than we can handle." But you need to remember, He was talking about temptation. God has promised that he won't allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. 1st Corinthians 10:13 says, "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."
I have to admit that sometimes it's difficult to know who's knocking at your door. You see, it could be opportunity knocking, but then again, it could be temptation. I usually pause and scan the situation before I open the door in my world. Do I always open the door at the right time, or is temptation standing on the other side? It's hard for me to admit this, but I'm not always right and sometimes, I fall into temptation's snare just like everybody else does. But I have learned a lot through my mistakes. Here's one thing I've learned. Some people don't go very far in life because they sidestep opportunity and shake hands with temptation. I've been guilty of that in my life!
Today, I know where I fall short when it comes to temptation. I need to take more time before I speak. But I really dislike it when people try to take advantage of the church and my kindness. I need to learn that my temptation to say an unkind word should be first rehearsed to see how it sounds before I speak. I plan to work harder in this area by standing up before I just jump in and say something that I will regret later. Here's something else I've learned about temptation and getting old. "At my age, by the time I find temptation, I'm usually too tired to give in to it." I'm just saying!
I hope this little newsletter tempts you into coming to church this Sunday. I hope it tempts you into finding a better way to live because what many consider normal today is not working. At least I'm tempting you in a good way! See you Sunday!
We love you all, and we will see you soon!
David Friedli, Associate Pastor
Highland Park Church
615-352-5710 ext. 2