Today's Lectionary Text
Happy are those whose way is blameless; who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.
Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived my beloved.
It would be nice, wouldn’t it – blameless while enduring temptation! James points out that most of our temptations become temptations because we let them, and the Psalmist humbly asks God to not “utterly forsake” him.
In a recent sermon, I talked about how Hannah had given her preschool son, Samuel, to God as a reflection of how precious God was to her. I described how the apostle Paul had given up all he had worked and trained for as a Jew in order to serve the Christ he had come to love. I asked my congregation to write on a piece of paper one thing they could give to God that would express how much God was worth to them, possibly something that stood in the way of God being able to be reflected clearly to other people. We burned those pieces of paper as part of our worship that day. I had no idea how hard this would be until I did it myself.
In recent years, I have learned how to play games on my phone and tablet, and I have enjoyed playing them whenever I had a spare minute. But it had become a temptation that turned into an obsession, and that got in the way of my hearing and seeing God. I knew this. So, in front of a congregation who had no idea what was on my slip of paper, I choked up when I prayed over the flames. Only God knew that those games are gone – forever. But because that temptation has been dealt with, I am able to more fully seek God with my whole heart and more closely observe his statutes.
-- Diana Webster, pastor
Prayer for Reflection
Thank you, God, for not utterly forsaking us when we let our desires turn into temptations and our temptations into outright sin. Show us our failings and help us to seek you with whole hearts. Amen.
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