We can resist temptation
Spiritual Spinach

We can resist temptation

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Daisy answered the call of the wild again this week.

My prodigal dog hadn’t gone on the lam for a year or two.

And actually, I figured my elderly beagle had given up on her cross-country runs.

After I adopted Daisy in 2014, she had a habit of running away – even climbing the chain link fence in my backyard and escaping to the great beyond.

Daisy was somewhere between 5 and 7 years old, back then.

Now, she’s between 10 and 12, a ripe old age for a dog.

These days, I leave the small door by my garage open while I take out the trash.

Daisy usually sticks her nose out of the door, gets a little whiff of freedom and then heads back inside.

So I wasn’t too worried when I had the garage door open while loading my car with stuff before going to work one morning.

I assumed too much.

The next thing I knew I was minus one beagle.

I hollered Daisy’s name and flagged down a passing SUV. The people inside gave me sympathetic looks and promised they’d watch for her.

Just before hopping in my car with a leash, I prayed that God would help me find Daisy and I wouldn’t be late for an interview for a story.

“Please show me where to look,” I prayed.

I’m not sure why, but I turned left at the corner and headed west.

I saw my elderly beagle meandering across the street. Before long, I was loading her into the car and heading home.

Funny thing, I hate to see Daisy get older, but I’m glad she can’t run so fast anymore.

I’m sure like other dogs, she still has that desire to explore – something I was reminded of after seeing the new movie, “The Call of the Wild” with Harrison Ford.

Based on the novel by Jack London, the book deals with the adventures and heartache of a dog named, Buck, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. At one point, he’ll come in contact with wolves—the ancestors of dogs—and need to choose between them and his beloved owner.

I don’t picture Daisy running off with a pack of wolves, but I can see where she’d be tempted to explore past the border of my driveway.

And aren’t we all tempted by something like:

  • The leftover dessert in the refrigerator?
  • That thing we shouldn’t say, but want to because it would be so funny?
  • The movie we probably shouldn’t see, yet has sparked our curiosity?

Sometimes, we battle with mean thoughts. We struggle with pride or fear. We’re tempted to hold a grudge.

Temptation can be tough, but our Lord Jesus showed us how to handle it.

We can find the account in the New Testament book of Matthew, chapter four.

At this point, Jesus is in the wilderness where he’s been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.

Jesus is hungry.

That’s when the tempter says: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

Oh my.

Food is a basic need and I can’t imagine going without it for that long.

To make matters worse, the devil is challenging Christ to prove who he is.

But Jesus doesn’t have anything to prove.

And we see how Christ combats temptation—with the word of God—as he says:

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The quote comes from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy where Moses recounts how God brought the Israelites through the desert and let them be hungry, but then fed them with manna from heaven.

Why did God do all that?

The Fire Bible states that through such testing and troubles, the people would learn that life doesn’t only consist on a physical level and that “each person’s well-being—physically and spiritually—depends on a close relationship to God and obedience to his word.”

Jesus understands this and will remain obedient to our Father.

Seeing that his challenge didn’t work, the devil takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple.

This time, the devil tries to use Scripture to his own advantage as he says:

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus doesn’t fall for the devil’s scheme.

Instead, Christ says “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The devil takes Jesus to a very high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

In the book of Luke it adds that the devil showed him all the kingdoms—in a moment of time.

Wow.

Can you imagine the sensory overload?

All the beauty?

All at once?

And so very different than the wilderness where Christ has spent the last 40 days and 40 nights.

Then the devil says: “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

I wonder if Jesus figured he’d had enough, because that’s when he says: “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

The devil leaves and angels come and minister to Jesus.

But in the book of Luke, the account ends with an ominous tone as it adds: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him (Jesus) until an opportune time.”

Sounds like the tempter wasn’t giving up.

Travel ahead in the Scriptures to Matthew, chapter 27, starting in verse 39.

While Jesus is dying on the cross, people mock him.

And to me, their words sound eerily similar to the tempter’s.

“If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross,” they say.

Religious leaders mock Jesus, too.

“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now….’”

Who wouldn’t have wanted to escape the excruciating pain of crucifixion?

And Jesus could have been rescued.

Before the crucifixion, when Christ was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, a disciple pulled out a sword and cut off the ear of a religious leader’s servant.

Jesus told the disciple to put away the sword and said: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than 12 legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled….?”

And how could we have been saved?

Jesus gave his life so believers can spend eternity in heaven with him.

I was 16 years old when I learned I could go to heaven if I believed Jesus died on the cross for my sins; repented of my sins and asked Christ to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior.

Kind of like Daisy, I strayed. I left the God’s protective borders, but I’ve learned our Lord has a way of retrieving his lost lambs if they want to return.

I don’t know if Daisy likes being caught and brought back to our house, but she doesn’t protest.

Daisy knows where she can get some great treats.

I’m so glad God brought me back into his fold and I’m grateful that Jesus shows us how to resist temptation—by recalling his word.

How can we remember it?

Before he died, Jesus told his disciples that God would send the Holy Spirit, who’d remind them of everything Christ taught them.

When we ask Christ to come into our hearts, we get the Holy Spirit, who will help us remember, too.

And our God—three persons in one—is enough to help us combat temptation and any tempter.

As it says in one of my favorite Scriptures: “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4b

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.

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