WEEK 4, DAY 4 OF CHOOSING GOD INSTEAD OF THE WORLD, A LOVE GOD GREATLY STUDY
The Crown of LIFE
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. NLT
The Genesis Saga: Joseph’s Story
After being sold by his brothers (chapter 37) Joseph was taken down to Egypt. Away from his father and all the “comforts of home” he now belonged to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officicals and the captain of the guard. Scripture makes it quite clear though that the LORD was with Joseph, so much so that Potiphar could see that the LORD made everything he was doing successful, so he appointed Joseph over all that he owned, and the LORD blessed it all.
Potiphar was not wrong to trust Joseph as he did. However, it does seem that he was wrong to trust his wife. I’m sure you’ve heard the story – she continually propositioned Joseph and while he faithfully turned her down, in the end he was forced to run away from her bold advances – unfortunately not before she grabbed his outer garment. She used this as a weapon against Joseph making Potiphar believe that Joseph had taken advantage of her. Potiphar, of course, was furious and threw Joseph in prison. Even there, the LORD was with Joseph, showing him kindness and granting him favor in the sight of the prison warden – so that he was put in charge of all the prisoner’s care.
If we watch and listen – even in the hardest times, we will see and hear God with us and around us.Me-from the inside-out
TODAY’S FOCUS VERSE
James writes that the one who “endures testing”, or testing and temptation as the NLT translates it, is blessed. While most translations explain this blessing as happening because “he has stood the test”, I love the way the NET phrases James’ words of explanation: “because he has proven to be genuine in his faith.” Regardless of which translation you read, the result is the same – the one who endures receives the “crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” While there are differences of opinions among commentators as to whether the crown of life is equal to eternal life, I fall on the side of those that say they are different – in that, all believers are promised eternal life based on their faith in Christ, while the crown of life seems to be a distinct reward for loving God and enduring the testings of this life.
Other note worthy observations in these three verses would be ….
- God cannot be tempted and does not tempt anyone.
- Every good and perfect gift is from God.
- God does not change.
APPLICATION: HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE?
Today’s application is, like most applications of God’s Word, challenging. I mean, let’s face it, enduring the trials and temptations of this life is rarely easy and can at times seem impossible. I have found a helpful key to this challenge is to remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians about temptations. He told them that when they are tempted God would show them the way out so that they could endure. We can and must TRUST GOD to show us that way of escape, actively looking for the escape in each struggle. We must purpose in our hearts and minds to endure, meaning we choose to press on to prove ourselves genuine and obtain the ‘crown of life’. We must guard against the mental and spiritual battle of questioning God’s motives in our troubles and trust that they are to strengthen our faith and produce endurance, (James 2:2-4, 13). We must also guard against trusting God less because of our trials and instead rely on Him even more. To paraphrase one commentator, if we don’t see Him as trustworthy we will move away from Him when trials come.
A Little Extra Insight from james
In light of today’s portion of the Genesis saga, I think we would be remiss to not make note of why we are tempted. Like Esau, Judah, Tamar, and so many others we have seen throughout our cast of characters, we are tempted when we are lured and entice by our own desires. Once the desire is born, it gives birth to sin and grows – and gives birth to death. James’ final warning here is a notable application for us – “Do not be led astray” or in other words – “choose God (life) instead of the world (death).
PRAYER: RESPONSE TO GOD’S WORD
Father, when we remember that every good and perfect gift is from You – the enemy flees*! As we name the good gifts we defeat his use of the trial to move us away from You. He seeks to steal, and kill, and destroy – help us to constantly be in the habit of naming the gifts and blessings of Your generous hands. Alert us to the temptations of this world and help us to always choose You! – Your ways – Your power – Your love – and Your strength! To Your Glory and the promised reward of The Crown Of Life! – AMEN and AMEN – In Jesus’ Name!
- How can you prepare today to resist temptation in the future?
You can also dive deeper into James with these helpful commentaries from BibleRef.com
[James 1:12] makes the connection between our love for God and our ability to remain faithful to Him in hard times. Those who truly love God trust Him, and those who truly trust Him continue to obey even when life gets hard. https://www.bibleref.com/James/1/James-1-12.html
[James 1:13] The temptation attached to trials is to trust God less. We might decide He is not strong enough to provide for us, not faithful to meet our needs, not compassionate about our pain and heartbreak. Is God good? Is He loving? Is He powerful? James is talking about how we choose to answer those questions about God on our worst days. If we decide to tell ourselves God is not faithful, we may declare our independence from Him by choosing not to obey. If we decide He is trustworthy, we will move closer to Him looking for more help, more connection.
James makes clear that blaming God for tempting us to reject Him, by allowing trials into our lives, is not a valid response. God never orchestrates the events of our lives with an intent to lure us away from Himself. He always roots for us to move closer. That’s who He is. The purpose of trials is not to drive us away from God, but to draw us closer to Him.
In the previous verse, James urged his readers not to be deceived. Emotions and sinful thinking can trick us into turning away from God. It’s important to cling to the truth, which is that every good thing in our lives is a gift from God. In the midst of our trials, we are tempted to change our opinion of the trustworthiness of our God. We start to make lists of all the things we think we are missing in our lives, of all of the things we have lost. If God were good, wouldn’t we have those things?
This attitude leads to even more temptation. We begin to look elsewhere for the good things we think we’re missing. “If God won’t provide them,” we think, “we’ll have to go and get them for ourselves.” We attempt to take control. We struggle to find our own satisfaction.