Sermons

Summary: #4 in the James Series. This one has a sub-title, "The Real Source of Temptation".

4 The Devil Made Me Do It

(The Real Source of Temptation)

By Pastor Jim May

Book of James

James 1:13-17

I am on a diet again. But like most people, diets are only a temporary answer. On my diet I am supposed to not have chocolate candy. In fact, I’ve heard that most chocolate isn’t good for the heart anyway. But one person had this to say they were told that they had to give up chocolate as a part of their diet.

1) A good piece of chocolate has about 200 calories. As I enjoy 2 servings per night, and a few more on weekends. I consume 3,500 calories of chocolate in a week, which equals one pound of weight per week. Therefore, in the last 3 1/2 years, I have had chocolate caloric intake of about 180 pounds, and I only weigh 155 pounds, so without chocolate, I would have wasted away to nothing about 3 months ago! I owe my life to chocolate.

2) Then there is the story of an enthusiastic but somewhat unscrupulous salesman who was waiting to see the purchasing agent of an engineering firm. The salesman was there to submit his company’s bid, or price quote, for a particular job. He couldn’t help but notice, however, that a competitor’s bid was on the purchasing agent’s desk. Unfortunately, the actual figure was covered by a can of juice. The temptation to see the amount quoted became too much, so the salesman lifted the can. His heart sank as he watched thousands of BB’s pour from the bottomless can and scatter across the floor.

3) Many of you will remember Iron Eyes Cody. He is the native American actor who did a TV spot for the Keep America Beautiful campaign in the early 70’s.. He was an Indian drifting alone in a canoe. As he saw how our waters are being polluted, a single tear rolled down his cheek, telling the whole story. This public service commercial is so powerful that it is still aired to this day.

In 1988 Cody told an old Indian legend in Guideposts magazine and I want to relate that legend to you. Many years ago, Indian youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers. There he fasted. But on the third day, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one tall rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow. I will test myself against that mountain, he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the peak. When he reached the top he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke.

"I am about to die," said the snake. "It is too cold for me up here and I am freezing. There is no food and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley."

"No," said the youth. "I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me."

"Not so," said the snake. "I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you."

The youth resisted awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass. Suddenly, for no reason at all, the snake coiled, rattled, and struck, sinking his poisonous fangs into the boy’s leg.

"But you promised you wouldn’t bite me," cried the youth.

As the snake slithered away he turned and said, "You knew what I was when you picked me up."

4) I recently read a story about a little boy named Bobby who desperately wanted a new bicycle. His plan was to save his nickels, dimes and quarters until he finally had enough to buy a new 10-speed. Each night he asked God to help him save his money. Kneeling beside his bed, he prayed, “Dear Lord, please help me save my money for a new bike, and please, Lord, don’t let the ice cream man come down the street again tomorrow.”

5) Jim Grant in Reader’s Digest told about someone else who faced temptation. An overweight businessman decided it was time to shed some excess pounds. He took his new diet seriously, even changing his driving route to avoid his favorite bakery. One morning, however, he showed up at work with a gigantic coffee cake. Everyone in the office fussed at him, but his smile remained nonetheless. “This is a special coffee cake,” he explained. “I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window was a host of goodies. I felt it was no accident, so I prayed, ’Lord, if you want me to have one of those delicious coffee cakes, let there be a parking spot open right in front.’ And sure enough, the eighth time around the block, there it was!”

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