Monthly Archives: September 2008

A WAY OF ESCAPE


           “THERE HATH NO TEMPTATION TAKEN YOU BUT SUCH AS IS COMMON TO MAN; BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL, WHO WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO BE TEMPTED ABOVE WHAT YOU ARE ABLE (TO BEAR), BUT WILL, WITH THE TEMPTATION, MAKE A WAY OF ESCAPE THAT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO BEAR (CARRY) It.”    ICorinthians 10:13.


          Just a brief note about an earlier post:  I  was talking about the”faithfulness” of God and found myself talking about the necessity of faith.  That was a bit of a jump, but I think it’s logical to go from one to the other.  In my opinion, we can only be faithful as He enables us to be.   One of the writers of Scripture stated about God:  “It is Him in whom we move and live and have our being.”  Just as I am dependent upon divine power and mercy for every heartbeat, for every breath I draw, I am also dependent upon Him to direct my paths, and create a right spirit within me. He says “Be thou faithful unto death, and I’ll give you a crown of life.”  I know that. But, in truth, I am only able to be faithful to Him as He makes that possible.  I recognize my limitations.  I’ve failed Him so often.  Have fallen so far even beneath my own expectations and been often unfaithful to Him.  It is His faithfulness that is the constant.  It is His mercy upon which I depend now and forever.  He keeps His promises.  He continues to love and forgive, even when I feel I’ve let Him down.  He keeps His commitments.  He always keeps “His side of the bargain.”  He never falters in His faithfulness to us nor alters it when we provide reason enough for Him to change His mind.  
           So, it is to the concept of “God’s faithfulness to me,” and never my faithfulness to Him, that I look for the “way of escape” from the “temptations that so easily beset me.” How does God do that?  Doesn’t it make sense for us to “look for an exit,” and not wait until the emergency explodes upon me before making any preparation for escape?
          Theatres have EXIT signs ~ lighted and posted prominently.  It’s required by law.  I believe the same thing is required in all public buildings.  If you are on board a cruise, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know what safety provisions are made?  Where are the life jackets?  The lifeboats?  You certainly don’t want to find out when the ship is sinking and bedlam has broken loose and crowds hysterically bent on survival trample all over each other!  Is it a good thing to know where the exits are? Does that make sense? 
           We aren’t just left here and told to scratch our bewildered heads and figure everything out.  There are some principles laid down in Scripture for our use in the hour of trial.  Clear.  Simple. That can be applied when we are confronted with temptation.  May I share with you some of my thoughts on that subject?  I’d also like to know what precautions you take when you go out to “do battle.”
           1.  Don’t ever underestimate the importance of the written Word of God.  One of the Old Testament writers said: “Your Word have I hid in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.”   Jesus (could you find a better authority?) was tempted just as we are, but never succumbed.  About the time He began His public ministry, returning from a six week stay in the desert, He ran smack into a barage of temptations.  Each one designed to abort His ministry and disrupt His journey toward Golgotha.  If you look at those three temptations, you’ll discover that in each instance Jesus quoted Scripture.  The Old Testament, as a matter of fact.  “Thus it is written,” seemed to be a satisfactory response to temptation for Jesus.  I don’t think I can improve on that “way of escape.”
          
           Everyone who’s served in the military knows the value of preparation.  BEFORE the battle.  They are taught and drilled, and drilled until they automatically react correctly under pressure.  Athletes practice certain plays again, and again until their assignments are almost second nature.  A football player doesn’t think  “what will I do?” when he comes up to the line of scrimmage.  He’s learned the plays and he knows what he’s supposed to do.  Pilots are trained to read and TRUST THEIR INSTRUMENTS.  In a time of confusion, pressure, oe peril, if they resort to their instincts they’re subject to vertigo.  That means they don’t know up from down, or east from west, and the only defense against that is TO TRUST THE INSTRUMENTS.  Do you see my point?  You study Scripture, and you will be amazed at the the way relevant truth will surface at precisely the time you need it most.
           2.  Don’t overlook the importance of avoidance.  In the prayer which Jesus taught us to pray, do you remember the line that says: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil?”  Isn’t it interesting to note the way the prayer proceeds?   He teaches that it’s better to avoid temptation than it is to have to climb out of a pit or a puddle into which we’ve fallen or jumped or been pushed!  It seems that one of the best defenses against temptation then is not to get near it in the first place.  “Avoid the appearance of evil,” has always been good advice.  Until I get something wiser, safer, more effective I think I’ll try that approach.  I don’t plan to “hang out” with rattlesnakes.  The best way I know for me to deal with them is to avoid them.  They’re dangerous.
           3.  Sometimes you’ll have to stand and fight.  But you better be armed!  And you’d better know your Enemy and his motives and methods!  Paul wrote some important instructions to the “First Church of Ephesus” telling them of the nature of the spiritual struggle that’s happening, as well as the equipment you need to prevail.  In certain instances, it is true that if you brace yourself, get tough, and “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Especially if you are right and your stance is in Christ. 
           4.  THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE WISEST THING YOU CAN DO IS CUT AND RUN!  It depends upon the kind of ‘temptation’ you’re facing.  Think about that.   I’m not just mouthing phrases like: “Run away and live to fight another day.”  Or “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  The truth is there are areas where we are all especially vulnerable, and if we’re caught in a compromising situation, the Bible is consistent in its instruction to; RUN.  GET OUT OF HERE!!  We court disaster in certain areas, and anyone with a grain of sense knows an uncontrolled sexual appetite is one of those zones.  There are some “danger” zones which are very clearly marked.  Not to deprive harm us or spoil our fun, but to keep us on the right track.  When God says: “Thou shalt not” do something, it is for our good.  The God who made us in His own image, designed us as we are~male and female~and He said “That’s good.”  But He also established some moral boundaries, for our own good, and expects his human creation to have higher moral standards than pigs or rabbits or alley cats!  Fire is a good thing.  It can warm your house, or burn it down and destroy you.  Sex is sort of like that.  If the temptation you face is of a sexual nature, and you know it is wrong and the wrong choice can bring disastrous consequences, the only sensible thing to do is look for the nearest exit.  Pronto.  It isn’t like you’re “tiptoeing through the tulips” here.  This is more like a minefield, and we’d be wise to recognize the potential danger.
           When Joseph of Egypt encountered the wife of his owner, she put all kinds of “moves” on him to seduce him.   He was young, handsome, intelligent, and she wanted him.  The seventh commandment had not yet even been engraved in stone.  Nor had Paul’s advice centuries later to “flee youthful lusts” been said or written down on papyrus and read to the early Christian community.  But Joseph knew it was not right.  He also knew that the best way to keep his integrity was to get away from her.  And as he did, she grabbed his coat, hung onto it and later used it to accuse him falsely of attempted rape.  I remember reading an old cleric’s comment on that incident and saying: “It’s better to lose a good coat than to lose a good conscience.”  
That is not a course of action most young, red-blooded men would take.  But it was the right thing to do.  His leaving was not an act of cowardice.  Instead, it was the wise, courageos, and right thing to do.  

           5.  PRAY.  But don’t wait until you’re in the middle  of a “mess,” before you practice the art of praying!

       A WAY OF ESCAPE . . . That’s what we’re discussing.   The Exit.   That’s the sign on the door.  The fire escape.  Before you’re faced with temptation (as you surely will be),  consider the ways of escape which God has provided.  Before disaster strikes, take time to find the “evacuation route.  And don’t forget the Boy Scout motto:  “Be Prepared.”
          
         God’s servant, your brother, friend, and fellow student                                          ~donkimrey
Post Script:  For some time, I have been considering the book of Job.  My focus, as mentioned before about “God’s Comeback Kids,’ is to answer these questions. (1.) How did it happen that Job wound up in such trouble?   (2.)  How’d he handle his misfortune?  (3.) How did he recover, and what can we learn from his experiences?

LOOK FOR AN EXIT

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is  
         
faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the
temptation also MAKE A WAY OF ESCAPE, that you may be able to bear (carry) it.”  
                                                                                  I Corintians 10:13 KJV    


      Almost everyone who visits this site knows It’s a “work in progress.”  Nothing is “cut and dried.”  Honestly and admittedly perhaps a bit selfishly, I read and meditate first to find and incorporate Scriptural truth in my own life.  If something doesn’t make sense to me, it seems reasonable that I can’t force it to make sense for anyone else. 

     For that reason, I take my time.  Mining requires patience and commitment.  Hunting requires patience and commitment.  Meaningful study is no different.  Discipleship requires patience and comitment.

    With that in mind, I’ve been mulling over the sentence Paul included in his letter to the “First Church of Corinth.”  They were trying to resolve some problems, and deal with some issues which affected their Christian identity and ability to carry out their assignment*.  While the issues we face may be a bit different, the fact of the matter is that we do face “temptation.”  Whatever form it may take, it’s gonna happen.  Count on it!!  That is a constant.  The only variable is how we’ll deal with temptation. 

     In this single sentence, Paul nailed down some principles:  

(1.) Temptation will “take” you.  That is inevitable and unavoidable.  (2.) It’s a “common” occurrence, so, don’t be caught off guard when it happens.  (3.) God is faithful.  Even if and when I falter, His commitment to me is unwavering.  (4.) Because of that, He will not allow “temptation” to overcome and overwhelm me.  (5.) He’ll not only always be with me,but he’ll provide an exit, a pressure valve release, a “way of escape.” 

     That seems pretty simple to me.  It isn’t as if we’re trying to understand Einstein’s theory relativity.  There are many mysteries beyond my comprehension, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them. If I understand and apply what he’s teaching, I can use it anywhere, anytime I’m confronted by any temptation.

     The thing I’m attempting to figure out now is this:  How do I find the “way of escape?” I can recall, even as a youth, sitting in a darkened theatre and seeing lighted “EXIT” signs over every door.  That is now, in fact, required by law and enforced.  And Fire Departments have strict rules about occupancy, fire extinguishers.  In public buildings EXIT signs must be clearly visible.   People have died when those rules weren’t enforced.

     The question I raised for myself, and which I now pose for you to consider is this: What are the ways God provides as we attempt to escape temptation and “the sins which so easily beset us?”

God’s servant, your brother, friend, and fellow student,   ~donkimrey    

* As I understand it, the Church’s main mission, then and now, is Christ’s Great Commission to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”  The idea of our being “salt of the earth,” or “lights” are simply components of that assignment.

GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS!!

       “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted above that you are able to bear, but will, with the temptation, make a way of escape that you may be able to bear (carry)it. ”                                                                                              I Corinthians 10:13

     One thing I’ve noticed about the Apostle Paul:  He wasn’t much for short sentences.  Wow!  Some of them are almost as long as the chapters in James Patterson’s novels!  This isn’t the only place he does it.  You see it in many places, and every word falls like a hammer blow.  I’ve seen him write no single word or express any idea that is superficial or “flighty.”  He stacks words on top of one another, piling up adjectives, presenting profound ideas that have challenged and changed the lives of many who take time to consider what he says.  And what it means.  And how they can apply the truths to their own lives.

     I noticed in this sentence that he could have stopped in several places and it would have been a complete idea.  He could have just written: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.”  That’s a complete sentence.  What if he’d said that and just stopped? There would be no “dangling prepositions,”* but you and I surely would be left dangling.  Blowing in the wind.  With all our brothers and sisters of all time who ever spent any time on this sphere hung in space!  Helpless.  A lot of company, to be sure, but left at the mercy of every breeze which blew us in any direction.

     I won’t belabor the point here, but will call attention briefly to what was called elsewhere, “A LARGE LITTLE WORD.”*  BUT, is what I’ve been calling an “interruptive conjunction.”  In our language it serves to connect two ideas, each of which is going in the opposite direction from the other.  If Paul had ended his sentence as I mentioned above and simply left it there, we’d be in a “mess” we’d never be able to clean up, correct, or escape! 

     “God is Faithful.”  Now, what does that have to do with my having to deal daily with temptations that are “common to all men?”  What does His faithfulness have to do with my temptation and tendency toward sin?

                           EVERYTHING.     ABSOLUTELY EVERY THING!      We can no more live a successful Christian life without faith than we can breathe without oxygen, or live without water.   

     Paul said: “The just shall live by faith.”  They become and remain “just” in the sight of God through faith in the Redemptive work of His Son.  And we REMAIN just through that same faith.   The Bible is very, very clear on this point.  “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”  But we can only love Him because he takes the initiative and loves us first.  Our being in right relationship with God has nothing to do with our anemic efforts to please Him.  I believe we are only able to love Him, or anyone for that matter, as we respond correctly to His love.  In making redeeming grace available to us through Faith, God has done something for us which we could NEVER DO FOR OUR SELVES.  Not in this lifetime or a thousand others.       

       The point I’m attempting to make is that our being in right relationship to God is not based upon what we’ve done.  Man’s history has not been his searching for God.  On the contrary, Scripture tells the story of God searching for man.  From the moment He first asked: “Adam, where art thou” to this very moment,** Our Father in Heaven has been searching for us.  For me.  And for you. 

        God is FAITHFUL to us in His quest for us and in His commitment to us.  He always has been.  He always will be.  And it is through our response to His faithfulness to Him that He enables us to become faithful sons, daughters, and servants.

         So, how can we cope with temptation?  Dig in with grim, dogged determination?  Flex our muscles, “huff and puff” and engage an enemy we can never defeat?  Toughen up.  Be faithful?   How have you done so far if you chose that route?  Can you name a solitary individual who has ever consistently and successfully resisted temptation?  Can you call to your mind anyone who tried vainly to do battle with the Evil One and can show you a trophy case to prove he won the contest?!  You know the answer to my question.  And I knew you did when I asked. 

        The critical issue here isn’t our faithfulness to God.  I can not consistently keep the promises you make to Him.  My dealing with temptation successfully is completely tied to God’s faithfulness.  Not my feeble faithlessness.   It is His faithfulness to us that creates any chance of response of faithfulness to Him on my part.  As incredible as it may sound and seem, Scripture teaches this is true.  Whether or not we understand it, we are not left alone to grapple with sin. 

          If we were in a worship service this would be a good time to break out singing:  “Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father!”         

God’s servant, your brother, friend, and fellow student 
~donkimrey

* I caught this when I re-read it.  Mrs. Latta, my high school English teacher, would be proud of me.  It’s dangling participles (not prepositions) which should not be left hanging.  Prepositions are the little “thingies” with which you aren’t supposed to end a sentence at!

** See the study we did on Jesus conversation with Simon Peter.  If I didn’t know Jesus better, I’d imagine he could have been exasperated with the one some called “The Rock.”  Read my “take” on this little conjunction in the post entitled:  “A Big Little word.”

** Every time I read Adam’s answer to that question, I get tickled. Imagine, in the first place, the idea of hiding from God.  And, for camoflage I can almost see & hear him saying: “I’m hiding.  Over here behind this fig leaf!”  Don’t ever think the Bible doesn’t have its moments of absolute hilarity.

A “WEE PAUSE” WHILE WE MAKE TECHNICAL ADJUSTMENTS

     We’re continuing our study of I Corinthians 10:13.  I’ll share my thoughts, but I’m wanting and waiting to hear what YOU think. The direction in which I’ve been heading will address what I think about Paul’s saying “BUT, God is Faithful.”  What conclusions do you draw from that?  What does His being “Faithful” have to do with our dealing with the temptations which so often and “so easily beset us?”  And, consider the phrase: “make a way of escape.”  Has it ever occurred to you when you’re “under fire” to look for an Exit?                                                                                                                                                                  At a very trying time in my life, this study has meant more to me than I can say.  And your encouragement has been an added blessing. Please feel free to share your own insights, and also to read the comments when our fellow students post them.  I can assure you that some are thinking and throwing light on the subjects that I had not seen.

         One development which has given me great joy is that, in the process of trying to diagnose and deal with some little medical issues I’ve had, some of the staff members had looked at my “blog.”  To my great delight, they asked if I’d lead them in a Bible Study.  Would I?  WOULD I ??!! The Office Manager (Beth Doles, who’s much sharper with the computer than I am) printed out the entire study I’ve posted.  All of them!  From beginning to the current post.  She made notebooks for every staff member, including notepaper for their use, with their names printed on their own shiny new notebooks.  I couldn’t help but be amused when we had a meeting in their office during lunch (1:00-2:30).  I had to come early for another x ray and a brief exam at 12:00.  When it was completed, I stepped outside for a few minutes and came back for the study in the “Conference Room.” It was in the room where I’d just been “photographed,” and the conference table around which we gathered was the exam table on which I’d been lying  just a few minutes before!

         My reason for this brief interruption is because I’ve had some “glitches” with my computer and getting stuff up right on the site.  That has presented me with greater difficulty than doing the studies.  I may have told you that Tim and Jon ( two of my sons are helping me. )  are both “computer friendly.”  Originally, when Tim set up the site, he was going to entitle it “Scripture SCHOLAR,”  I objected for a couple of reasons: (1) I don’t claim or pretend to be a SCHOLAR, and didn’t want to present that image, feeling it may put distance between the people with whom I  hope to speak and my self.  (2.) My studies would not be of a “Scholarly” nature.  I’ll deliberately avoid any divisive matters or controversial issues dealing with theology (especially as it relates to denominational differences.), or politics. or church dogma.  My focus is intended to be a simple, thoughtful, prayerful, devotional approach. . . Just an attempt on my part to try to listen carefully to the Word of God, understand and apply it in my own life, and share what I see.  I hope it will be helpful and give hope to someone who may have to struggle for faith.  

        This latest development (my admitted bungling  ineptitude in skillfully navigating the internet) has provided a third reason why I didn’t call myself a Bible SCHOLAR!  How’d you like to ride on a bus with a driver who didn’t know where he was going or how to get there!  My bumbling efforts to acquire skills with the internet enabled me to laugh at myself.  Often and out loud!  And never, never, will I pretend to be something I’m not!    Scholar?  No, not I.     Student?  Yes.  Eagerly, dilligently, trying to understand and share Scripture. 

        Just as soon as my sons help me get my latest posts up correctly, I’ll take up where we left off.  If you read this Scripture carefully and thoughtfully, it is going to become a part of you.   Consider it a part of Discipleship “Basic Training.”  Then watch how, under enemy fire, this conditioning will become your best defensive and offensive spiritual weapon!  I’m taking right much time now considering the life of Job, whom I am nominating as one of “God’s Comeback Kids.”

God’s servaant, your friend, brother, and fellow student, ~donkimrey

A VERY COMMON THING

“There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man; But God is faithful, who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will, with the temptation, make a way of escape that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13 KJV

Somewhere, a while ago, I ran across something Albert Einstein said about himself:  “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

It was that “passionate curiosity” which enabled him to unlock some of the secrets of the Universe.  After scientists had concluded that the atom was the smallest entity in the universe, his theory exploded that long-held belief and opened the door to the nuclear age.  Just by being curious.  Listening, thinking and investigating.  George Washington Carver exhibited some of the same kind of patient curiosity and disciplined intelligence when he found many ways to use the common “tater” . . . beside  being boiled, baked mashed, or fried!  Such little things.  Such small details which captured their attention.  But with what results once their discoveries were applied!

That’s usually the way discoveries are made.  “Seek and you shall find.”*  “You will find me when you search for me with all your heart.”   Those are just a couple of places where emphasis is placed on the importance of careful, continued study of the Scripture.

So now, at the risk of being redundant, (Redundancy is highly under-rated!  Redundancy sometimes highlights what’s important! If we miss it the first time around, hopefully we’ll catch it on the second time around. or the third!). Sometimes  we’re digging.  Thinking.  Searching.  Listening.  Meditating.  What  significance does that highlighted phrase hold?  What did Paul mean when he made such a sweeping statement?  The question I raised set my mind to thinking for several days and I share my thoughts hoping they may be helpful.  And I welcome your own thoughts on the meaning of that little phrase.

What did Paul really mean when he said that temptation is “common to man?”

For certain, it means temptation is something with which everyone alive must deal.  In an elementary course in logic, Socrates’ syllogism is an introductory “no brainer.”  “All men are mortal.  I am a man.  Therefore, I am mortal.”  He could just as well have said:  “All men are sinners.  I am a man.  Therefore, I am a sinner.” (Therefore, I sin.)  The logic is not only compelling.  It is solid-as-a-rock-fact.  Every human (man or woman, this isn’t a gender thing. Every member of the species homo sapiens) who ever spent time on this planet is included.

The dress, and time, and language, and location may change.  But the fact remains that temptation is common to mankind.  It is so widespread that it is not rare.  If that fact is established, it isn’t likely that we could honestly ever say: “No one ever got tempted and roughed up like I have been.”  The fact is everyone, everywhere, at some time has been or will have to play the hand which has been dealt to you. You are not the first, last, best, worst, or only person to have to face crucial tests like you’ve had to handle.  You are not the first or only wife who got bored with her household chores and her husband and was tempted to take a walk on the wild side.  You aren’t the first, last, worst, or only man who was ever tempted to cheat, or lie, or steal, or hate, or compromise your standards.  Or run away and hide when the pressure got to you.  You aren’t the only guy who ever got hooked on alcohol or drugs and then got dragged around with a ring in your snout.

Everyone.  Repeat, Everyone who has ever been here is faced with the same trials and temptations: How to live and house and feed your self and your family.  How to make sense of tragedy, how to deal with loss.

Somehow, the acceptance of that fact doesn’t give me an instant desire to break out singing the “Hallelujah chorus.” Even if “misery loves company,” it doesn’t get me all pumped up or help me cope just to know a lot of people are in the same boat.  Or will be.

What it does, though, is provide me with a sense of  perspective. Others have similar trials and temptations! Just like mine!  Surprise.  Surprise!  Some of their experiences are recorded in the Bible.  I have the opportunity to study their lives and learn how they coped.  I can study the lives of others who faced similar temptations and had their faith collapse.  I can learn from their mistakes.

I’m not in this battle alone.  No one is “picking on me.”  I am not the only one who’s been challenged or mistreated. There’s no reason for me to feel “singled out,” or become self-piteous. (Somehow just knowing that others climbed out of the slimy (what-ever-it-was) pit is encouraging and gives me hope, too.  It doesn’t please me that they’ve “been there” – but it does give me hope that maybe I can make it, too.)

Now, we’re making some progress.  Instead of feeling I’m alone and a target, I can realistically face and accept this fact: “Temptation is common to man.”  All men, Everywhere.  This is a fact of life.

A couple of other thoughts occurred to me as I drew to a conclusion of this study.  One is a great thought which had been submerged in my mind and just surfaced:  ’Beloved, we don’t have a ‘High Priest’ who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are. . . yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy in time of need.”**

He knows what you are facing and what you are feeling, and how hard you are trying.  He understands and stands wth you, and it does not change even if the “common” temptation you encounter seems “uncommonly” difficult.

The other is a great thought which has been submerged in my mind and surfaced.  I don’t know who wrote it, but am glad someone did:

“In every pain that rends the heart, the Man of Sorrows has a part.”

~God’s servant, your friend, brother and fellow student, ~donkimrey

* In the Greek language there are ways they would write and say things that we don’t convey precisely in our attempts to translate into English.  One way they’d write a verb was done to convey “punctiliar” action. That is, something was done at a certain point, once and for all.  The action of the verb began and ended at the same point in time.  The other way they’d write was “linear.”  As the adjective suggests, the action began at one point and continued along a line.  In this case, the “linear” mode is used.  So, what it means, literally, is, “If we keep on confessing” our sins, He keeps on being faithful and just and keeps on forgiving and keeps on cleansing us. If you think about that a bit, you may be less likely to judge yourself saying: “I already did this twice.  Now I’m really in hot water if I ask Him to forgive me again for the same thing!”  It seems to me that the truth implied is this: As often as you sin, just that often you sincerely admit it to him.  And with the same grace with which He provides salvation, He provides continuous cleansing.  Just think about his a bit. And you don’t have to think like I do.  Just think:  How often do you take a bath?  It used to be a Saturday night affair.  At present, I’m again reading the poignant Diary of Ann Frank.  She’s just told how the entire group in hiding from the Nazis, made their arrangements to do that chore.  For most of us today, we have the convenience of indoor plumbing hot and cold RUNNING water.  We can take showers as often as we wish, or as often as it is necessary.  It is like that with confessing our sins and being forgiven.  Do it every time you need to do it.

** Hebrews 4:15


DEFINE “TEMPTATION”

(WRITER’S NOTE: Please keep in mind that the basis of this study is chapter ten of the first letter Paul wrote to the young Church at Corinth.  My primary focus is on the thirteenth verse embedded in that letter. ~dk)

     What I’m trying to do is to examine Scripture closely.  Honestly.  Thoroughly.  I hope you won’t consider it ‘nit-picking,’ because there isn’t much demand these days for ‘nits.’ And of all the things to which I might aspire, being a “nit wit” isn’t one of my objectives!!  It seems to me that if God really speaks (as I believe He has done in Scripture), it deserves my attention.  My CAREFUL, thoughtful, honest attention.

       Words are just words.  And sometimes we simply wear them out, or use them so often in such trifling ways that they become meaningless. (Such as “God Bless” and “Beloved, I’m prayin’ for yew” *)  The sharp edges are worn away and we just may as well  stretch and yawn, say “ho hum,” sing “rock-a-bye-baby” and go to sleep.

       The Bible is never meant to be read that way.  The words are used to express ideas.  And ideas have consequences.  Just as you and I are free to make choices, we should know our choices have consequences.  Always.   While we are free to make choices, we are NOT free to choose consequences.  And words and ideas which are chosen carefully, understood correctly,  and used wisely will always produce good results.

       If what we are studying really is the Word of God, I stand in awe of every word and want to spend my life trying to understand it.  Apply it to my own life.  And share it with those who have a similar hunger and determination.

       So it was, that in a certain place in my journey, I began to consider and weigh the following statement Paul wrote to the infant Church in Corinth: There has no temptation taken you, but such is common to man.  But, God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able (“to handle,” my note) but will, with the temptation, make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”* 

       Any time I study Scripture I try to see the entire context.  I like to know who’s speaking, to whom, and why?

       The thoughts and ideas expressed aren’t disconnected with what’s happening at the time.  As I look around here, it is obvious to me that Paul’s trying to address some problems the young church was having. “Temptations” they were facing and with which they were trying to deal.  If you consider that context, you can see more clearly and understand better what his words mean.  And if you are still thinking, you will probably discover similar circumstances in your own life.  When that occurs, you will also begin to be aware of the eternal and personal value of the written Word of the living God.  And you’ll have some real “tools” to use in your own growth and service.

       The “temptations” they confronted were causing concern for the young Church.  No manual had been written, and they were sort of “flying by the seat of their pants,” to say it in today’s language.  The Church was not sure about some crucial ethical, or spiritual issues which, they felt, were critical to their life and Christian witness. Perhaps to their continued existence.   Remember, at this time there had been no Church councils or conventions.  They didn’t have the ‘Apostles’ Creed.’  No “new members’ handbook had  yet  been printed. No papal decrees. They didn’t even have a bishop or even a single seminary grad on staff.  And no ‘committees.’ . (Haven’t we come so far!!???.)

       As we look more closely at the way Paul handled this developing problem, and how he said it should and could be handled, please remember that we’re NOT  here just to observe.  While it is true that we can’t do anything at this late date to help the Church at Corinth, we CAN consider how a very wise man suggested they approach that situation.  And, if we are wise, we can adopt the same principle and apply it where it may be needed in our own life.  And in our own Church.

       The first question I asked myself as I pondered Paul’s assessment of their problem and how he suggested they approach it, is this:  “What is temptation?”

       The First Church of Corinth had its problems.  They may not be ours specifically, but there are “temptations” that I face today.  What are they? How much would it mean to you and me if we take seriously what Paul said to them?  Are there ‘temptations’ which you face?  Has it occurred to you to look for the “exit” (a way of escape) which God provides?

       I’ll be back shortly.  In the meanwhile, if you  will, please take time to consider and prayerfully study 1 Corinthians 10:13 so you will be prepared to route-your-escape!  Please  take the time, to view this section in your own Bible and make some judgments in your own mind about I Corinthians 10:13?

His servant, your friend and fellow student  ~donkimrey

* “yew.” That is Soutern speak for you or “youse guys, (“(Flatbush speak”).  In the deep, old South, it wouls have been translated: “You ‘uns.”                                                                                                                       ** I Corinthians 10:13

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SOME CONCLUSIONS

         As we wrap up our study of Moses, certainly one of “God’s Comeback Kids,” let’s consider a couple things:  (1.)  The basis for the study of his life is the Bible ~ specifically, the book of Exodus.  While I haven’t mentioned specific ‘chapter and verse’ location, the source is Scripture.  I haven’t attempted a verse by verse exposition or an “exegetical,” scholarly examination.  It appears to me that my conclusions have simply been logical deductions and conclusions which anyone can reach.  It is just common sense and observation.  (2.)  God was never absent.  He was working consistently for years, selecting, patiently preparing right leader for the right mission and at precisely the “right time.”  That fact wasn’t evident to a casual observer, and perhaps not even to Moses while he was in the heat of battle.  I’ve given considerable thought to this.  It occurred to me that, in Nature, bulbs and seeds spend most of their lives in the dark and underground. But even though their bursting into dazzling floral displays or fruit, God is at work in the process from start to finish.

         At least a part of Moses’ reurn seems to be a matter of timing.  And that is God’s prerogative.  When the “fullness of time” arrived, He wasn’t caught off guard.  He had the ‘man and the plan’

         I wish that I could be so eloquent here that you would be convinced the Same God may, at this very moment, be working quietly, unnoticed, to prepare YOU for the task He’s chosen for you.  You’ve certainly been taught the value of laws and principles which are firmly fixed in nature.  In mathematics, two plus two equals four.  It has always and will continue to be that case.  Two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen will make water every. Every time.  The law of gravity is so well known and inviolable that a person would have to be a fool (and perhaps a dead one) to defy its reality.  In my opinion, God has recorded the lives of these great men to show us how they got into trouble.  How God arranged their comeback, their emergence from obscurity and a life of  service.  He doesn’t need to keep repeating something we already know.  You and I can safely conclude (based on many examples) that God is also working in our lives. . . even when we feel we’ve fallen or failed  Just as Jesus said many years later, we will never be left nor forsaken.

         Please.  Don’t view these studies merely as an academic endeavour.  Or some kind of intellectual exercise.  The experiences of so many of these figures are so much like what you and I experience.  And, by the same token (and no matter what ‘appearances’ may suggest), HE IS NOT YET THROUGH WITH YOU and me! 

         I hope you’ll do your own reading and thinking. . . and deciding.

(Looking ahead   (I’m continuing to work on “God’s Comeback Kids” and will be very interested in hearing from you.  Job, David, Samson, Peter, the “Prodigal Son,” and others are going to be the subjects of study as I have opportunity to “run a background check” on all of those aspiring to be a “Comeback Kid.”   In each case I’m using pretty much the same formula (How did they “stray away?”  What happened when they were gone, and how did it affect their lives later?

What similarities do you see comparing these men to our own situations  (mine and yours.)?  What will you do with such information? 

          In the meanwhile, I’m going to dig into this single sentence:  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able. . . but will with the temptation also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthans 10/13  You may want to read ahead and also consider the context in which this principle is stated.  Who’s Paul talking to?  What put him into a position where he felt compelled to write theletter in the first place?

         Some of the questions I’m pondering are:  What is “temptation” as it relates to you today?  How does temptation “take” you?” If I am successful in resisting “temptation,” who bears the greatest responsibility for that success?  When you and I are dealing with “temptation” or the things that threaten t o wreck us spiritually, what is one of the wisest things we can do.

         I’ll be back shortly, and would really value your sharing with us your own insights into such a verse 

His servant, your friend and fellow student    ~donkimrey