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Facing Trials and Temptations

(James 1)

Lesson 1 -- third quarter 1996
June 2, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

I got up at 4:30 this morning so I could catch a 7:00 flight to Mexico. We made it to San Diego just a little bit ahead of schedule after changing planes in San Francisco. From the San Diego airport we traveled to the Tijuana airport via bus, trolley and taxi. And missed our plane by less than five minutes! That was seven hours ago. So here I sit at 7:40 in the evening, waiting for another flight...which is scheduled to depart at 2:05 in the morning! I am so tired.........

Had anyone consulted me about the times and connections, I could have told them it was likely cutting things too close. I was disregarded...and I am paying the price. So I have the "right" to feel peeved and sorry for myself, at least. Maybe angry. Maybe offended. Maybe judgmental. Maybe all that and more.

But I am on my way to present an eight-session seminar called Successful Marriages. And most of one session is on dealing with anger! Time to practice now what I plan preach then.

Time to take my test. Or perhaps this is just the pop quiz to help prepare me for a more significant test later on!

How do you deal with tests? Driving tests, Algebra II tests, ham radio tests, First Aid tests--the best way to tackle them is quite elementary and old-fashioned. Study. Real study entails more than thumbing through a textbook or gaping at a manual. Read with care and pick out the applicable concepts and pointers. Anticipate questions. Know your weaknesses and bone up especially in those areas. Review previous tests and pop quizzes. Ask for help in those difficult areas.

Dealing with life tests isn't all that different. Take my experience above. I had no idea this would take place. But I could have prepared for it! And once the test got under way, I could have chosen to respond in a godly manner.

Preparation. Knowing what I would be teaching, I could have predicted some areas where I would be tested. So I could have taken a refresher course in "Godly Responses to Unpleasant Developments." Furthermore, I knew the trip would be tiring and stressful, so I could have boned up on "Sweet or Sour -- Your Choice." And knowing this trip and its purpose would attack the enemy, I could have anticipated all manner of "Temptations Especially Designed for Mark Roth" -- impatience, bitterness, unforgiveness, self-pity, lust, crankiness, distractions -- and renewed my determination to be strong in the face of them.

Choices. We base them on what we know from study and what we have learned by experience, or else we base them on our emotions and our fleshly autopilots. Instead of reacting immediately to Phase One of the test, God wanted me to give deliberate thought to what He has taught me in the past. At the ticket agent's "Your plane has left," I had to make the choice to react with my knee (an immediate, un-thought-through reaction) or with my heart (a thoughtful, prayerful response). Then as the afternoon and evening wore away (by the millimeter!), I had to make many choices like that in those areas I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

You have some tests coming. Perhaps they are temptations. Maybe they are trials and tribulations. But your living faith will be tested. Study, my friend, study!

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