(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 27 & Day 28 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
Defeating temptation is probably one of the most difficult things for us to do in our Christian walk. As we learned in last week's post, we are all tempted. So how can we defeat temptation in a way that we continue to grow as Christians? We've learned that God will never leave us, he'll never give us too much that we can't handle and that he knows we can overcome these temptations. On Day 27, Rick Warren gives us four "biblical keys" to defeating temptation. They are as follows:
1. Refocus your attention on something else. As a parent with a child with autism, I face temptation every day. My temptation is to think negatively about where my son is. With this "key", I'm reminded to not focus on the negative things that he's doing and instead focus on all of the positives he's doing. In other words, I'm going to remember how well he did yesterday at his new social skills group instead of the fact that he's not playing with the neighborhood kids. Don't be tempted into thinking about how far they have to go, instead remember how far they've come in such a little time.
2. Reveal your struggle to a godly friend or support group. This is really important. I think it's wonderful to have friends who can pray with you, over you and that you can pray for as well. Especially autism moms who are also believers.
3. Resist the Devil. That tricky Devil is very clever. It's amazing how quickly he can get control of our mind. Rick Warren reminds us that we need to take two very important steps to resist the Devil. They are to accept God's salvation and to use the Word of God. Rick reminds us on page 214 "Jesus modeled this when he was tempted in the wilderness. Every time Satan suggested a temptation, Jesus countered by quoting Scripture. He didn't argue with Satan." We can do this too. We just need to invest the time in knowing Scripture. God's Word will help us when we too are tempted. So when the thoughts of my son never being healed from autism crosses my mind I will remember Matthew 15:30 A vast crowd brought him the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and many others, and they laid them before Jesus. And he healed them all. (New Living Translation)
4. Realize your vulnerability. Too often, we don't recognize how vulnerable we are to temptation. This is when we get tempted by the same thing over and over again. If you know that when you get together with the other families in your neighborhood it always gets too overwhelming for you, then prepare yourself. Read your bible. Remember all of the good things your child is doing. Be prepared to go into battle with Satan so that he will not reign negativity over your thoughts.
I know for me, temptation is very real. Especially in dealing with autism. It always seems that when my son takes a humongous step forward, something happens to steal his thunder. Autism shows up and shows it's face tempting me to give up.
The one thing that is essential for us to remember is that it takes time for us to grow into the Christians that God needs us to be. Day 28 reminds us of this. On page 218, Rick tells us "While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow. God views our lives from and for eternity, so he is never in a hurry." We are also reminded how our generation especially is the "I want it right now" generation. We are spoiled with Internet, email, debit cards, credit cards, cell phones, etc. Why wouldn't we expect a miracle to happen right away? Day 28 reminds us that God is taking his time with us. We have to remember that we will experience struggles, problems, worry and doubt. However, it takes time to grow spiritually. You can't rush it. But, why? Why does it take so long? Day 28 gives us the five reasons. They are:
1. We are slow learners.
2. We have a lot to learn.
3. We are afraid to humbly face the truth about ourselves.
4. Growth is often painful and scary.
5. Habits take time to develop.
We have a lot to learn during our time here on earth. God knows what struggles we are going to have to face in order to prepare us for eternity. Rick Warren says on page 222..."The Bible is filled with examples of how God uses a long process to develop character, especially in leaders. He took eighty years to prepare Moses, including forty in the wilderness. For 14,600 days Moses kept waiting and wondering, "Is it time yet?" But God kept saying, "Not yet." I find myself asking God the same thing. Is it time for my son to be healed from autism. He replies the same...not yet. I know that during this storm of autism God is developing my character. I also know that Satan is throwing temptation my way. I'm going to take these principles that Rick Warren gave us on Day 27 and Day 28 and apply them to my temptations in autism and other areas of my life. As a badly as I want to take that shortcut in getting to where God needs for me to be, I want it done right so that I'm the person that God needs for me to be.
Bible Verses from Day 27 & 28
Run from anything that gives you evil thoughts...but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right. 2 Timothy 2:22 (LB)
Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different form what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
Everything here on earth has it's own time and its own season. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (CEV)
I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns. Philippians 1:6 (LB)