Encouragement for Today 04-01-05


April 1, 2005

Encouragement for Today 


Fighting Within the Animal Kingdom  

Bonnie Schulte, Director of International Ministries




Meow…hiss…growl…meeeoooww!  It was early morning and the animal kingdom was alive and active in our home.  Our eight-month old kitten, Wendy Ann, was on the hunt after Sarah Marie Otis, our nine-year old cat. 


Like a scene out of Animal Planet, Wendy chased Sarah through the kitchen.  Around the table, they ran at top speed.  As they bolted through the doorway and into the dining room, Wendy was hot on Sarah’s heels.  The pursuit finally ended in the family room, where I was now having my not-so-quiet quiet time. 


Sprawled out on the floor, Sarah was beaten.  She was powerless in her fatigue.  Having won the chase, Wendy sat on top of Sarah, appearing to dig her kitten-sharp teeth into her jugular vein.  I called, “Here, Sarah.  Come here, kitty, kitty.” Sarah’s eyes met mine from across the room. Trapped in Wendy’s clutches, they pleaded for me to rescue her.  With one last burst of energy, she made a dash and landed on my lap and in my open arms.  Caressing Sarah, I could feel her heart pounding and hear her breath racing.


What is rather comical about this daily episode is the fact that at 16 pounds, Sarah is almost twice Wendy’s weight.  She could put an end to this aggravation by simply sitting on Wendy!  However, whether out of fear, her passive personality or simply having forgotten how to fight after living nine peace-filled years in a non-combative home, Sarah allows this rather unmerciful event morning after morning.


As I sat stroking Sarah, a picture went through my mind that this is what temptation feels like.  I feel as if I am in a constant chase trying to outrun my wrong desires and Satan’s deceptive appeals. 


After being in God’s Word during my morning quiet time, I feel strong. I have the speed of the swiftest gazelle capable of outrunning tempting situations.  All too many times, however, I resemble the weakest member of a water buffalo herd.  Fatigued and unprepared, I’m defenseless.  The lure is too great for me and I give in with little or no fight.  Worse still are the times I’m feeling good about myself.  Like a prideful hyena, I laugh in the face of temptation, realizing all too late, that I’ve been backed into a corner with what seems no escape.  


While God may test us to bring good, Satan tempts to bring out the bad.  Yet temptation in itself is not sin. In the New Testament book of James, we are told we are enticed by our own desires. (James 1)  Once that desire is conceived, there is sin.


Like Sarah, however, we have more than enough weight at our disposal to fight against temptation.  We have the power of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit!


In the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus Christ himself gives us a perfect example for fighting temptation.  The time was just following His baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.  In Matthew 4:1 we are told, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said…”


When Jesus is physically exhausted, Satan confronts Him with three big temptations.  He tries to get Jesus to forget that He came to this earth to suffer for our sins and take the easy way out.    In each case, Jesus responds with Truth from the Word of God, “It is written…man does not live on bread alone…do not put the Lord your God to the test…worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”


In the New Testament book of 1 Peter 5:8, the apostle Peter tells his readers, “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan is real.  His enticements are undeniable.  We, too, are enticed by the same three temptations as Satan tried to use against Christ Jesus: craving of the eyes, craving of the flesh and the pride of life.  We are by nature sinful; and as a result, we want to satisfy our desires when we want and how we want.


What is tempting you?  Are you tempted to watch just one more television show only to find you’ve wasted a full afternoon?  Maybe you’re tempted to think so much about the future that you begin to worry about what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month.  Are you tempted to share with your friends how frustrated you are with your husband?   Are you tempted to flirt with an office co-worker because it’s just harmless fun?


We have a choice when faced with temptation.  We can turn and run from it in the opposite direction.  Like me, however, when you are fatigued or stressed out, you may be too tired to fight and you give in.   If we let our egos take over, thinking we can handle it, face it.  The chase is over.  Fighting against our selfish desires on our own power is always a losing proposition.  Like Sarah, we need to look to our Rescuer, running straight away into the arms of our All-Powerful Jesus Christ.  Through His Holy Spirit, we have the power of His Word to fight against temptation. 


My Prayer for Today:


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being my Rescuer.  I can’t fight temptation on my own.  When I am lured today to something that is not of you, help me to run directly into Your powerful arms.  Amen


Application Steps:


Resolve that you are not strong enough to fight temptation on your own. Commit today to memorize Scripture to help you in your battle against temptation.  When faced with a choice, call on Jesus through His Word.


Reflection points:


What tempts you?  Read 2 Samuel 11.  How did King David allow his own desires to corrupt him?  How are we told to prepare for temptation in Ephesians 6:10-18?


Power Verses:


Genesis 4:7, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”


Psalm 31:2, “Turn Your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.”


1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”


Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”


Hebrews 9:14, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”


1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”


Additional Resources:


P31 Woman Magazine



Message of the Month Club





Originally published Friday, 01 April 2005.