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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

God Is Not Out to Get You!

By Ken Horn
Aug. 14, 2011

"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 will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV).

God doesn’t tempt people with evil (James 1:13). He is not running some great cosmic sting, casting sin in your path and delighting if you give in.

The word “temptation” can also be rendered “testing.” It is this broader sense that 1 Corinthians 10:13 probably carries.

The greatest temptation to many is to give up in the midst of testing. No matter what you’re facing, or will face, don’t do it! Don’t give up!

Everyone faces life challenges — tragedy, disadvantage, loss, injustice, disillusionment. God has not promised a life free of these tests.

But He has promised that, as Christians, we can bear up under any weight.

The only exception to this is the weight we willfully choose to carry. And it is this weight, the weight of sin, that often keeps us from coming through our trials in victory. “Therefore … let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Ty Cobb, baseball’s all-time top base stealer for more than half a century, trained off the field by wearing heavier shoes lined with lead. But he never carried the extra weight into the game.

Why carry extra weight with you? It could become “the straw that broke the camel’s back” when you go through a stiff trial.

People are often broken because sin does not let them bear up under the burden of a trial.

Don’t carry a handicap of sin with you. It makes everything harder. Admit it; confess it; repent. Get right with God.

There’s another significant aspect to this weight — worry. Worry is simply not trusting God. Norman Vincent Peale said, “Worry is a destructive process of occupying the mind with thoughts contrary to God’s love and care.”

“Do not worry,” Jesus said clearly in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:31). Don’t borrow from tomorrow or carry the weight of yesterday. Bearing today’s burden is your concern (Matthew 6:34).

Concern and awareness are valid, even necessary, but anxiety can do nothing but weigh you down.

One positive way to accomplish this is to fill your mind with the things of God. (See Philippians 4:8.) It has been rightly observed that when one’s mind is full of God, there is no room for worry.

Let’s look at four specific portions of 1 Corinthians 10:13.

1. Every testing you face is “common to man.” Realize that someone else has gone through it!

The devil often gains ingress into your thought life by persuading you that no one ever had such a trial before, and no one could possibly understand what you are going through — when in reality you are often surrounded by those who have been through it, or worse. This is why testimonies must be shared in churches. We are strange creatures. Though we would never wish harm to anyone else, it still reassures us to know someone else has been through it.

There are two facts to hold onto here:

You are not alone. When Elijah fled from Jezebel’s bloodlust, he felt he was the last remaining prophet. He complained to God: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10, emphasis added).

We often lament like Elijah. “I’m all alone, and the devil is out to destroy me.”

But it wasn’t true for Elijah — 7,000 hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal (verse 18) — and it’s not true for you.

And Jesus understands. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

That people can so easily feel so alone, so singled out in their distress, shows us also how important it is for Christians to share with others. People can’t come alongside you if they don’t know you’re hurting. This is Body ministry. There are saints of God all around who have suffered. And they can help.

When I went through cancer (first mine, then my wife’s), I sought the help of those who had been through it. I, in turn, aided others who came to me later when they faced it.

The apostle Paul described this relationship to be as close and interdependent as parts of one body. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

Don’t believe the lie that says suffering or trial reflects God’s judgment or displeasure. It may — but certainly not as a rule. Godly people go through trials and come through as pure gold, just the way God can bring you through.

There is hope. Just recognizing this can often give you enough strength to carry on.

2. “God is faithful.” God is the emphasis. If you cast your cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7) you’ll have the strength to get through anything (Philippians 4:13).

3. You are “able to bear it.” He will keep the trial at a level you have been equipped to handle. Continue to believe in God and cling to Him.

During World War II, a Jew scrawled the following on the wall of a German basement:

“I believe in the sun when it is not shining,

 I believe in love even when I do not feel it.

 I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

There may be times when God seems silent, but He is always there, constantly watching, aiding, monitoring, empowering you to walk through your valley.

I was struck with a severe illness while ministering in Eastern Europe in 1988. We had to return to the United States. I lost my ministry and our means of support; it looked like I would never be able to be in full-time ministry again. The trial lasted for four years, during which I felt like anything but a champion of faith.

And God seemed silent. But He was there. And He eventually broke His silence and brought us through to victory.

Some people ask, “Why do so many go through less than I do?” We could ask, “Why do so many go through more?” There is always someone going through a greater trial. God is always faithful to give us the grace we need in any circumstance: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

4. He will provide a “way of escape.” The Greek word for “escape,” ekbasis, can refer to a passageway in a mountain. The imagery suggests an army trapped in the mountains, which escapes through a hidden pass.

One of the most important decisions you may ever have to make could be the decision to not give up. Holding on can be a positive thing; it can actually build strength.

Your answer may come as:

1) A snatching away: “And some of them would have taken [Jesus]; but no man laid hands on Him” (John 7:44, KJV).

2) Protection: “My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2, NIV).

3) God-directed flight: Joseph fled rather than yield to the seductive offer of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:11,12).

The most effective way to conquer temptation is to avoid it. Don’t put yourself or keep yourself in positions where your weaknesses can be exploited by the enemy of your soul.

But Christians can’t always flee other problems like they can temptations. Problems come that we can’t avoid. But we need not wallow in them. There are times throughout our lives when we need to get away. This is the benefit of a “retreat” — a time away that brings refreshing and renewal. I always come back from a retreat with a better perspective.

4) Staying power: Paul, near the end of a life filled with challenges, said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, NKJV).

No matter how difficult your course, God gives you the strength you need to finish. Falling is not failure (Proverbs 24:16). But quitting is.

What are you going through? Is it the worst trial of your life? God is not trying to catch you in sin, and He does not want you to fail. God will see you through.

KEN HORN is editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

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