When Temptation Lingers Near

A few years ago, we endured a time of discouragement and trials galore.  My husband and I were both under a lot of external stress, both personal and from ministry, and our marriage temporarily suffered.  I faced the temptation to give up nearly daily!

I felt like one of the Israelites in the desert, bemoaning my situation and feeling helpless to enact change.

I share this story with you today, hoping that it may encourage you if you’re facing a situation that seems impossible, or even unbearable.  I hope you find comfort in the fact that you are not alone and that He always provides a way out! :)

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It’s almost supper time, but the stove top sits empty and no pleasing aromas fragrance the air.  I’ve not even yet decided what to cook, let alone made any sort of preparations.  Instead, I’m sitting in my bedroom trying desperately to pray while my preschoolers whine for attention right outside of the bedroom door.

My husband, weary from our recent argument, sits slumped over just outside the door at the dining room table.  He’s grumbling over the budget and seems unaware of the noise around him.

There is no peace, no quiet.

But I need to pray because I am one moment away from falling into temptation.  One moment from allowing my impatience, anger, resentment, and frustration to spill over onto my family.  One moment away from blowing any chance at doing right.

At this moment I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Satan has set his sights on me; I’m being tested.

Life is difficult; marriage is difficult; parenting is difficult. And just when we decide to make changes in our lives, the enemy strikes even harder. And we face even greater temptation. Find out how to overcome when temptation lingers near.

It isn’t the first of such evenings in my home.  In fact, our marriage relationship has been under strain for a few months now, and I’ve grown oh-so-weary of “fighting the good fight.”  However, this past week, God has shown me the truth of my situation; I haven’t been doing my part, either.

I have been selfish.  I have been lazy.  I have been avoiding the time with my Lord that I need.  Thus, I recently resolved to make some positive changes, knowing full well that temptation would linger near.

So as I sit here in my room praying while the chaos rages just outside of the door, I laugh.

Yes, I laugh!

It’s absurd, even comical, that every other person in my home would suddenly become distractions at the very moment I attempt to find peace.  I want to complain to the Lord that I’m trying so hard to do what is right, to seek Him in my moment of weakness, but He’s not making it very easy!

Just when we've decided to make changes in our lives, then the enemy strikes hardest! A little story about temptation and finding a way out. "It's almost supper time, but the stove top sits empty and no pleasing aromas fragrance the air ..."

In that moment of laughter, I realize the truth that as long as I’m trying to do right, to obey God, Satan is not going to leave me alone.  In fact, He’s even going to use good things like bible study and prayer against me by causing frustration and chaos at just the right moment.

Thankfully, now that God has shown me the truth of the matter, Satan cannot win.  I see his game plan for what it is, and prayer is a powerful tool!

Sorry, Satan, I’m getting up from my throne of self-pity and frustration, and I’m cooking supper tonight.

 

Lord, I thank you for always providing a way out for us, even when it seems impossible or unbearable!  I ask that you would encourage my sisters in Christ today to look for the way out when they face temptation. Help them to see the truth in whatever situations they face.  Remind them that You are with them always, every step of the way, even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Give them the strength they need to resist temptation and to flee the Devil and remind them of your unfailing love and grace for them because of your Son, Jesus Christ.  I ask all of these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Jen :)

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

Choosing Mary Moments in a Martha World

Like many women, I’ve been really busy this week with a lot of good things.  In addition to my everyday tasks, two things in particular have taken up a fair amount of time: a Mother’s Day talk I am working on for church and a future blog post that just isn’t quite right yet.

They are both really good things, both uplifting to the Body of Christ and instructive for me, the writer.

However, last night and this morning God was working in my heart to show me a truth that I had learned before, but temporarily forgotten.  Good things can become bad things when they distract me from the BEST thing – my relationship with Him!

You see, I thought I was doing good by feverishly working on these projects in my spare time, which you can understand as a mother of four children is indeed very spare.

In my zeal and enthusiasm for this good work, I forgot to turn to the Source from whom the words flow.

I neglected the best work!

Sounds an awful lot like Martha, doesn’t it?

 

Luke 10:38- 42 reads:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was busy doing good things – taking care of others, preparing food to serve them, and so forth.  They were necessary preparations.  But when she expressed her frustration to the Lord about her sister Mary, He actually rebuked her instead!  He told her that Mary’s choice to fellowship with and learn from Him was the better choice, the BEST choice.

Jesus audaciously suggests that perhaps Martha should be choosing some Mary moments!

In a fast-paced world, we neglect the best things because we are busy with merely good things. Focus on choosing Mary moments in spite of your Martha world.

 

I had the opportunity earlier this year to attend a women’s conference, and the main speaker, Kimberly Sowell, so aptly narrated this story to us.  She reminded us that we live in a Martha World – full of work and busy schedules.

Those tasks, those good and necessary things that we do on a daily basis (raising up children, working, serving others, preparing meals, even work related to ministry) have to be done, but we must be careful not to let them distract us from the most important thing – abiding in Him.

Don’t make the mistake I made; don’t choose simply good things over the BEST thing.  Choose to make time for a Mary moment in spite of your Martha world.

In a fast-paced world, we neglect the best things because we are busy with merely good things. Focus on choosing Mary moments in spite of your Martha world.

And as soon as you start choosing Mary moments, don’t be surprised if something needs your immediate attention.

This morning, as soon as I sat down on my bed and opened my Bible, my preschoolers who were playing so nicely together suddenly needed my TOTAL attention.

Thankfully, God reminded me that Satan is always at work, and rather than getting frustrated and giving up, I was able to quickly attend to their needs and come right back to my Bible.

It wasn’t easy with two distracting 4-year-olds at my feet (and on my bed, sometimes even in my lap), but it was worthwhile, and I know He was pleased with my obedience.

I know because when I finished, I had peace.

Will you be choosing Mary moments today?

Jen :)

Question:  What “good” things tend to distract you the most from the BEST thing? (feel free to share in the comments)

For practical advice on how to focus on the Best thing, read more here.

*After writing this, several readers mentioned this book. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks excellent! (affiliate link)

My Monday Morning Confession

Yesterday was Sunday.  Yesterday I was so excited about actually starting this blog (and not just talking about it), about the potential to reach others, like myself, and encourage them, spur them on.

Yesterday, I was swept up in awe of God and the paths He leads us down, often paths we might not have chosen for ourselves.  I was typing out oh-so-many ideas at once.  I was working and re-working potential posts and the format of the blog itself.

I was confident.

I was on FIRE!

But today is Monday.  Today brings with it uncertainty and doubt, perhaps mixed with a little fear that I’ve gotten myself in waaaaaaay over my head.

 

Today, after having looked around at fellow faith bloggers, I’m feeling insignificant, untalented, and overwhelmed.  Maybe even a little foolish.  Today I’m tempted to listen to that voice that says, “What were you thinking??”

Isn’t that how it starts, though?

For one second we take our eyes off of the Father, and suddenly we’re bombarded by these devastating untruths.

Insignificant – it’s an untruth straight from the depths of self and Satan.  Self tells me I need to create something I can be proud of, something of worth.  Self tells me to be careful; don’t let your pride be wounded.  Self makes it about me instead of about Christ.

How is it that we so easily doubt on Monday what we so fervently believed on Sunday? "Isn’t that how it starts, though? For one second we take our eyes off of the Father, and suddenly we’re bombarded by these devastating untruths." My Monday Morning Confession from Being Confident of This

Then Satan, being the opportunist he is, inserts his voice…insignificant.  Wouldn’t he love for all of us women of faith to believe that?!  It makes his destructive work so much easier to accomplish!

Thank the Lord that we have His word, the Sword of the Spirit, to combat these untruths.  Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  He “knit” us together in our mother’s wombs.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He has loved us with “an everlasting love.”

And His Son Jesus, His one and only, perfect Son calls us His brothers and sisters.  That doesn’t sound so insignificant to me.  These are just a few nuggets from a gold mine of Scriptures detailing the Father’s love for us.

Even more, consider Romans 5:8, which says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  If nothing more, surely that nugget alone makes us significant!  For a Father to sacrifice His only Son in my place while I remained a helpless and unworthy sinner, means that He places extraordinarily great value on me.

And on you, friend.

What a comfort for a Monday morning!

Sunday, Monday, identity in Christ, armor of God, chosen people

So, if you’re like me today, and the reality of a Monday morning world has dampened your Sunday fire, remember who you are.

You are the redeemed,

the beloved,

the chosen,

the loved-beyond-measure child of the Most High.  

Put on the full armor of God so that you can confidently conquer that Monday world!

Epheisans 6:10 – 17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Arm yourselves, friends,

Jen : )

Sharing with: Grace and Truth