Before work, an overweight man always stopped by a bakery to buy goodies for coworkers’ coffee breaks.
One day, he decided it was time for a diet. To avoid the temptation of daily bakery visits, he devised a different route to work. Coworkers knew of his new plan and encouraged him in his diet.
However, one day, he arrived at work with a large box of doughnuts.
He said he had to run an errand in the neighborhood of the bakery. As he approached the bakery, he said to himself, "Maybe God wants me to stop by the bakery this morning and pick up some goodies for the office staff." So he prayed, "Lord, if you want me to stop at the bakery this morning, make a parking spot available right in front of the bakery so there is no question in my mind."
The man told his coworkers, "Sure enough, there was the parking spot right in front of the bakery. It took me eight trips around the block, but there it was!"
An interesting thing about temptations — we find them whenever we want to, and we don't have to look hard or long.
Often, all we have to do is open the refrigerator, turn on the computer or open the cabinet. Voila! There it is.
You, like TV’s Flip Wilson, might say, "The devil made me do it!"
The devil may plant the seed for giving in to temptation, but we make the final decision to give in or ignore it. We put ourselves in the position of succumbing to its lure.
We often believe we are strong enough to resist the temptation on our own, even when we stare it in the face. However, we cannot overcome temptations alone.
Fortunately, Jesus gives us a lesson on how to overcome temptations:
●Rely on Scripture
●Stay true to your calling
●Refuse to put God to the test.
Equipped with these attributes, temptation can be averted.
When Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, he fasted. He was hungry and the devil came to tempt him. The first temptation was to turn a rock into a loaf of bread.
But Jesus said, "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The second temptation was to acquire all the world’s kingdoms and rule them with endless power. The only catch was Jesus would have to worship the devil.
Jesus said, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"
Again, he used Scripture to confront the temptation. He also declared who he was and who he was to worship. He remained true to his calling.
The third temptation was to make a spectacular death-defying flying leap off the temple’s roof to demonstrate how God favored him by not letting him get hurt.
Jesus quoted Scripture yet again, using Deuteronomy 6:16: "You must not test the Lord your God," and not demand that God prove himself because of our foolishness.
When temptations strike — and they will — if you decide up front that you will be prepared with the Scriptures, that you will stay true to your calling as a disciple of our Lord, and that you will refuse to put God to the test, you will overcome adversity.
You can claim a victory. And you can give glory to God.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.