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Storms: Spiritual Torrents

September 10, 2004

Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,

With Frances and Charley over and Ivan on the way, I am reminded of storms and how we handle them emotionally. Some people panic, others are anxious but try to hide it, others are in a buying frenzy right now, some have a plan and are putting it into place and others have no plan and ride out the storms by default. Some Christians pray and others plead and beg. Some use platitudes to carry them through and others find their roots deep enough in Christ to keep them unshakeable during the times of turbulence and spiritual torrents.

And wouldnít you know it? Our study in the Word of God "just happened" to be in James 1, on handling temptations. I realized during these storms that temptations come in ways tailored made for each person. These tests and trials of the heart are not always the kind that might see if you will be led into immorality or murder or something like that. Sometimes, like during hurricane season, they are designed to see how grounded you are in Christ and in His Word, how strong your root system is, and how your faith will manifest in your attitudes, your words, and your actions. Will you get angry? Anxious? Overly fearful? Depressed? Run? Hide? Shut down? What?

According to James 1, every believer can handle temptation by considering the nature of God. Letís look into that this month as the storm clouds loom over us here in Florida.

      1. Consider the judgment of God. God tests what is in your heart, your desires, the bent of your heart, your passion, what fuels your decisions, where and what place He has in your life. You can desire a good thing but get there in a wrong way. Example? You might be hungry and justify stealing food to satisfy a basic need for survival, yet Jesus, when led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, did something different. Jesus was hungry after 40 days of fasting. When Satan came to tempt Jesus to use His power and position to turn stones into bread, Jesus refused to satisfy this basic appetite through a misuse of power for personal gain. He said that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The desire to do the will of His Father was greater than the basic appetite of hunger. His spirit overruled his flesh.

        Sin emerges as an act, but really it is a process. Desires and passions in and of themselves are neutral. The word itself carries no bent either toward good or evil. We all have desires and appetites. For example, we get hungry, we desire to please and be pleasing, to love and be loved, to sleep and rest. God has given sexual desire, too. How we fulfill these desires, however, is what we must think about. Too much food leads to obesity and gluttony. Too much sleep leads to laziness. God wants the best for us and so puts sexual desire within the confines of marriage.

        Desires are like steamóboiling water under heat. No steam, no power. Steam without restraint, destruction. Steam under control, a useful energy source. Desire must submit to our will and not rule, and our will must submit to the will of God.

        The thing is, temptations donít rise up and say to youó"Oh, I am a temptation to do evil and cause you harm. Beware of me." No, there is deception. James 1 teaches us that we are drawn to the bait in a trap. We are enticed. The Greek means "to bait a hook." The bait attracts prey and is deliberately set. But get this big clueóit is hidden! If we saw it for what it is, we would walk away from the bait and trap. The bait attracts and hides the fact that yielding to it will bring sorrow and judgment.

        Had Lot seen the well-watered plains of Jordan (Genesis 13.10), he wouldnít have desired Sodom. David fell into the trap of desire because he didnít see the consequences his sin would bring. He was walking in a kingly anointing and a covenantal relationship with God. But his desires got the better of him, even though he was a man after Godís own heart. We must have the love of Christ constrain us and have a stronger desire to share the heart of the Holy Spirit. We must pray for great grace always and remain humble before the Lord.

        First the emotions (desire) and then the rationale (deception or discernment) and then we move in one direction or another. The emotions and intellect or rationale conceives either a work wrought in the heart of God or a work wrought in our own heart captivated by Satan (2 Timothy 2.24ff; John 3.17-21; Phil. 2.13) What is birthed is either a "good work" or "sin." Disobedience brings pain and leads to death. The soul that sins will surely dieómind, will, and emotions.

        We need only to remember the garden (Genesis 3). The serpent got Eveís attention and interest. This sparked desire. Eve saw nothing wrong. She saw only good. She was deceived and so her desire and her mind led to a decision to eat. She ignored the word of God, added to the commandment, tried to defend God in an argument with Satan, and fell for perverted truth. She failed to consider the judgment of God. (Genesis 2.17) Jesus, however, when tempted by Satan and his scripture bait, saw through the situation and countered with correct doctrine. Clueóget your eyes off the bait and onto the judgments of God. Remember the progression-drifting, doubting, desire, deception, disobedience, death.

      2. Consider Godís goodness. In the stormy seasons it seems that God does not care. I looked up the meaning of the name Ivan. It is a derivative of John, meaning the graciousness or mercy of God. Ivan has caused numerous deaths and widespread destruction. Ivan was packing winds at 165 mph with wind gusts up to 200 mph. Ivan has made it to the top six list for lowest pressure (worst) storms ever recorded. It is a category 5 folks.

        Does God care? Does God have our best interest at heart? Does God really love us? Satan baited Eve to doubt the goodness, the love, the destiny God had for her. "Why are you hungry, Eve? Hereís this forbidden fruit. Surely Godís holding out on you. This is tasty." Jesus decided to be hungry in the will of God rather than be satisfied outside the will of God.

        God is the Father of lights, the giver of every good and perfect gift. Do we believe that? God gives good gifts because in every act of giving, how and what He gives is good. His gifts keep coming down. He sends them from Himself as source. He doesnít change. You can look up 2 Samuel 12.7, 8 and Genesis 39.8, 9 for more.

        Satan bargains. Satan trades. Satan makes deals. Bow down and worship me, he said to Jesus, and I will give you the world. Satan wants our worship and will offer us our heartís desire to get it, but itís a lie. Heís not the Creator and heís not the Redeemer. He does, however, want us to sidestep the way of the cross for the crown. Jesus refused. He chose the destiny God the Father had for Him. He chose the cross. He chose to worship and serve God only.

        Considering the goodness of God and the judgments of God will teach us the patience of waiting for Godís good gifts. Storms do thatóthey teach you patience. Itís about source, satisfaction, and service.

      3. Consider Christ, the glory birthed within you, James says tous in James 1. Consider Godís good work birthed in you from His heart and mind and will, a work from above. It is gracious. It comes through Godís word and the Spirit of God. (1 Peter 1.23; John 3.6) And that which is born of God cannot die. Believers are the best and first fruits of Godís creation. Christ the prototype is pre-eminent and believers are in Christ. Proverbs 3.9 tells us: "Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your increase." Honor the Lord with your faith, your loyalty, and with all He has given you in Christ Jesus.

James 1 gives us three barriers for overcoming temptation.

  1. Look ahead Ė consider Godís judgment.
  2. Look around Ė consider Godís goodness.
  3. Look within Ė consider Godís grace.

James 1.15 says if we take the bait and make the bargain, a coffin awaits. But if we seek the will of the Father with the heart of the Holy Spirit and with the mind of Christ, a crown awaits. James 1.12 tells us: "Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him." Heís talking about loyalty, adhering to Jesus, abiding in Him, staying put in Christ in the storm.

The rest of James 1 talks to us about being doers of the Word. Donít deceive yourself. Donít forget who you were and who you are. You have been born again in Christ by the grace of God. And this grace by the Spirit of Grace will manifest in your life in the form of "good works" as the Holy Spirit conforms you to the image of Jesus Christ. Handle the anger. Bridle the tongue. Lay aside sin. Receive the Word. Visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep yourself unspotted from the world.

As to the latter, we are planning to help the Mayan Mexican and Guatemalan migrant workers in Palm Beach County, Florida. They were devastated by the hurricanes, and we are helping them as part of our Barnabas Project. We will be taking a mission team to their community in a few weeks. Will you help with your gifts? They need clothing, canned goods, school supplies, non-perishable items. Remember, you can give in the form of gift cards from Target or Wal-Mart or Office Depot as well as money donations and "goods." There is a huge need here and we want to do our part. If we all do a little, a lot can be accomplished for Christ as we gather together, the Body of Christ. And always remember to pray!

As you give, receive. As you bless, be blessed. As you do to God and to others, God will do to you. Grace be with all those who love His appearing.

For His glory,

Mary Craig

P.S. Remember to visit either www.craighouse.org or www.marycraig.org for the latest events, updates, articles, and map to Craighouse®. In the area? Worship with us at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. People bring people to help and hope in Jesus, and they are saved, healed, and delivered by the grace of God at Craighouse®.

But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein,
He being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work,
This man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1.25)

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