Kathy Bernard – Publisher
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” – Matthew 26- 41
SO many of us have followed Satan without realizing we have fallen into his trap. The allure comes in so many forms and we are tempted because we are human. Even though we think we are strong and believe we can resist, Satan is wily and crafty, cunning and deceitful, and he will use every ploy to steal our souls since he knows the deep secrets of our hearts, knows our weaknesses as well as our strengths, and he will put temptation squarely in our path and make it irresistible. He makes his offerings so enticing our desires come alive, and before long we will be stretching out our hand to Satan, finding his offer too inviting to let go. “Just this once” we say as we start our dance with the devil…on his terms. It is only later that Satan will whisper, “Why stop now? You have already become a sinner and are lost to the Lord so you might as well enjoy yourself while you can. Jesus cannot help you now so enjoy life!”
THE world today is changing rapidly. Around the world Christians are being killed and tortured because of their beliefs. And yet, we believers here have so far been blessed. However so many have chosen sinful behaviors and lifestyles that are disobedient to God’s teaching. They call this “our rights”. They choose to follow their own ways, yielding to their own desires, ignoring God.
FOR those of us who are holding firm on to God’s truth, read Ephesians 6: 10-11: “….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, hold tight to your faith. Ephesians 6:13 – 18 continues, “… 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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
SADLY we see our world changing. Through scripture, the things that God’s word has told us are being ignored by some, with many focusing on the desires they want to fulfill; some turning their backs on truth and following Satan’s path leading to eternal damnation. The change from God’s truth runs rampart and so many embrace the wickedness of Satan as he steals the souls of those who are compliant to his wiles. Let not evil snatch away how God wants you to live; but follow His path. Turn your face to the Lord, letting Him guide you on the path of righteousness. Let not your heart be troubled when man pronounces a sinful act as your “rights”; rather move on in the Lord for He promises an eternity filled with joy. No more uncertainly, no more temptation from the wiles of Satan. This world is only temporary, not our home. We are just passing through to glory. We must stand our ground, with “the belt of truth buckled around our waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,” and our feet fitted in readiness to continue on God’s road. With the Holy Spirit and God’s biblical Word, we can feel God’s mighty presence and we will be warned of the potholes of sin.
SOMETIMES we allow Satan to draw us into sin without realizing it is a trap he has set for all Christians. We may refuse the bait at the onset, then ‘need’ settles in full force and we give in because what he offers sounds and feels unbelievably good and we think we must have it. Surely we are entitled, right? We reason we can follow God’s decrees and admonishments later. No hurry on that. Satan tells us we can repent later. Enjoy yourself”, he tells. In our weakness we reach for Satan’s hand and we begin our self indulgence. But time is not promised us. Don’t be like the man who stored up his treasures and thought he would enjoy them for the coming years. But God said, “ You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Luke 12:20.
FATHER Phil Bloom tells a story of Satan’s temptation in one of his Lenten Homilies: ”The first reason that God allows the devil to tempt us is to expose our real selves. I remember once I was having a pretty good Lent. I had given up candy and had set-aside extra time for prayer and spiritual reading. When I got to Holy Week I felt pretty confident. On Palm Sunday someone gave me an early Easter present – a box of See’s Chocolates. They are my favorites. I looked at the box and started thinking about which one I would eat first when Easter came. Then I reminded myself that today is Sunday – a kind of little Easter. And I noticed that some of the chocolates have nuts which, of course, are nutritional. Well, you know what happened: I stripped the plastic off the container and ate one. By the end of the afternoon I had finished the entire box.”
“THAT temptation exposed my true self. I am nowhere near as strong as I think. It’s a good thing to recognize one’s weakness. It is part of our common humanity. Our common humanity, however, has an unattractive side: As we heard in the first reading, ever since our first parents reached for the forbidden fruit, we humans have developed an almost unlimited capacity to deceive and allow ourselves to be deceived. When we want something badly – like me wanting that chocolate – we easily fall into self-deception. Temptation – and in my case, falling into it – left me with a reminder: a nauseous stomach and the blues that follow a “sugar high.” It was a lesson in humility. When I recognize my true self, I grow in humility – and that leads to another purpose of temptation: To acknowledge dependence on God….. When we give in to temptation, when we sin, we go it alone. At first a guy feels like he is freeing himself from restraints, but in fact he is falling into bondage. On the other hand, to resist temptation requires God’s help. It takes humility to ask for help, but in the end it leads to freedom. A classic example is alcohol. A man might think, “I am free to do what I want. I can have a second or third drink, if I like. I am free.” That man becomes a slave – to alcohol and ultimately to the devil. But the person who recognizes his powerlessness and entrusts himself to a Higher Power becomes a free man. So the second purpose of temptation is to lead us to depend on God, to trust him.” – Father Phil Bloom is the pastor of St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church in Monroe, Washington.
THERE is a way to escape from Satan’s deceitful temptation. Read 1CORINTHIANS 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
AND so, when Satan stands before you, holding temptation wrapped in beautiful, exquisite coverings, or whispering sweet desires that God expressly forbids yet the world clamors insistently for, remember James 4:7 “Subject yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you” for you have been dipped in the blood of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for you and for me.
Kathy Bernard – Publisher
Heavenly Father, keep me focused on your path of righteousness. Do not let me linger before Satan’s wiles. Sometimes I grow weak and I need your help to turn my back against his trickery. Help me to be mindful that he wants to steal my soul, offering temptations that will take me away from You. He is cunning and wants to separate me from You forever. Keep my eyes open to see that these allures will cost me eternity, and will lead me into hell and damnation.
Thank You for loving me, dear God, even when I stray into sin. Thank You for calling me back to You through the Holy Spirit because I know through it all, You stand waiting for me to return contritely to Your loving arms. Stay close to me; do not let me stumble. Give me the courage and the strength to avoid sin and just walk away. I ask all this in the mighty name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. AMEN!