awake and pray for strength against temptation. The spirit wants to do
what is right, but the body is weak.”—Matthew 26:41 (NCV)
“I never resist temptation because I have found that things that are bad for me never tempt me.”—George Bernard Shaw
Oh, so much to change, so little time.  Aside
from all of the “internal issues” that I am trying to work on, I am
also making a concerted effort to get my finances in order.  Not too long
ago, I read that in about a decade, people of retirement age will need at least $225,000 saved for health coverage alone!  Ten
years ago, that information wouldn’t have mattered much to me, but in
2018, I will be (what?!?) about 44 years of age and so, as my
grandmother warned me as a child, now I am starting to care. (I Corinthians 13:11)
so love those Free Credit Report Dot Com commercials that I decided to
take them up on their offer to check my current credit score.  Yes, yes, the beauty of advertising—and fine print.  Now, technically, they are telling you the truth.  You can sign up and, for seven days, you can get free access to a copy of your Experian report.  However,
they want your credit/debit card information before registering and if
you fail to cancel your membership within that time, you will be
automatically billed $14.95 per month.  Oh, and
if you want to take a look at the other credit agencies that have your
info on file with their company, you will need to pay an additional
The beauty of the up-sell.
Now don’t get it twisted.  Because
the initial offer was free, I took them up on it, but it’s amazing to
see just how much ground the Word actually does cover:
friend, if you’ve gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself
into a deal with a stranger, if you’ve impulsively promised the shirt
off your back and now find yourself shivering out in the cold, friend,
don’t waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess. You’re in that
man’s clutches! Go, put on a long face; act desperate. Don’t
procrastinate— there’s no time to lose. Run like a deer from the
hunter, fly like a bird from the trapper!”—Proverbs 6:1-5 (Message)
times past, my bank account would have reminded me to cancel in time,
but enough “in the negatives” have taught me to stay on top of things.
(You see how Romans
8:28 can really work in your favor?)  When I called their customer service line to cancel (of course you can’t deactivate your account online), this is (basically) how the conversation went:
“Hello, thank you for calling Free Credit Report Dot Com.  May I have your name for verification purposes?”
“Shellie Warren.”
“And your mother’s maiden name?”
You know I’m not going to share that in a devotional!
“And the name of your favorite teacher for security purposes?”
That either.
thank you…and do you know that you can keep track of your credit for just $14.95 per month…blah, blah, blah…wonk, wonk, wonk…”
This company knew what they were doing.  With the economy the way it is (and how many days are left until Bush is outta here?), who wouldn’t want something for free?  They aren’t going to show you what you have to deal with in signing up until after you register.  Then, when you want to get away from them jokers, they make sure to have you call so that you can be wooed—or intimidated—to
stay on.
This morning, I was reading a novella by one of my current favorite authors, Francine Rivers.  It’s about the story of Bathsheba.  Although I’m pretty familiar with the tale, Francine writes in such a way that it gives you a fresher perspective on things.  I
am just at the part where Bathsheba’s close to losing it because one,
she slept with King David, her husband’s friend and two, her period is
late and so she knows that she’s pregnant (and not by her husband).
are two passages in the story that I want to share that I think will
assist perfectly in the point that I am trying to make:
“I want you to be happy.”  He searched her eyes and his expression changed.  He looked troubled. 
“Do you remember your wedding feast?  When I looked into your eyes in Hebron, my stomach dropped to my feet.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of
“Is that why you left so quickly.”
“Why else?  He put his arms around her.”
She put her hands against his chest.  She knew she should say something to stop him.  She should be like Abigail and make him aware of the sin he was about to commit.  But her resolve weakened when she felt his heart pounding faster and harder than her own.  He wanted her.  I’ll let him kiss me once, just once, and then I’ll say something to stop him.  I’ll have his kiss to remember.  Just one.
When his mouth took hers, Bathsheba felt herself being pulled down with him into a vortex of desire.  His fingers raked through her hair.  He moaned her name, and words of warning died in her throat.  As her body caught fire, she clung to him and didn’t say a word.
She knew that if she did, David would remember himself and send her home where she belonged.—“Unspoken”,
“I’ve always trusted you, David.  My father said you’ve always been a man of your word.”
David winced inwardly, but anger rose quickly in self-defense.  Why should he feel guilty over spending one night with the woman he desired?  What harm could come out of something done in secret?  He was the king.  Didn’t he deserve some happiness?  Kings have always taken whomever they wanted.  Why shouldn’t he?  Who had done more in bringing the tribes together?  Who had killed Goliath and rallied the Israelite army to victory after victory?  Who had been wrongly accused and pursued for years all because the people loved him?  And during those hard years, who had been the one man to praise God?  Besides, it’s no one’s business but his own what he did in the privacy of his chamber!”—“Unspoken”, pg. 56
“beauty” of the up-sell.
I thought about Bathsheba and David along with my experience with the
credit agency as well as my personal life, my mind went back to John
10:6-10 (Message):
told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about.
So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the
sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of
them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who
goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find
pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
are so many mistakes that I have made in this life, but as I’ve been
learning more about redeeming time (Ephesians 5:15-17) and God’s desire
to restore me (Joel 2:25), more and more, he has been guiding me
through the Garden of Eden; even when it comes to understanding the
power/purpose of temptation.  Ironically, it is in the Garden where we witness the first example of an up-sell.  It was the dialogue between the serpent and the Woman:
“Now the snake was the most clever of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day the snake said to the woman, “Did God really say
that you must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?”
The woman answered the snake, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. But
God told us, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the
middle of the garden. You must not even touch it, or you will die.’ “
the snake said to the woman, “You will not die. God knows that if you
eat the fruit from that tree, you will learn about good and evil and
you will be like God!”
woman saw that the tree was beautiful, that its fruit was good to eat,
and that it would make her wise. So she took some of its fruit and ate
it. She also gave some of the fruit to her husband who was with her,
and he ate it.”—Genesis 3:1-6 (NCV)
Here was a perfected woman in a perfect garden.  Now, just think about it.  If the fruit was so grand, so marvelous, so tempting, why did the serpent need to be there?  I believe that it was because on its own, it wasn’t as fabulous as he, “the salesman”, made it out to be.
I remember when I was about 12-years-old, a girl that I was ushering in church with was chewing some gum.
“Do you want a piece?” she asked.
“No thanks,” I said.  I kind of did, but everything about her came with strings.
“Are you sure?  It’s great.” 
I could smell her breath.  It was the sensation of grapes. I ignored her.  At first.
“It’s so sweet and fruity.  Who knows how long we will be in church?…Aren’t you hungry?…Don’t you want something
sweet and juicy?”
Long story short, I ended up paying her a whopping $5 for one piece of Bubblicious!  Not because of the gum, but because of how she presented it.  Like the serpent with the fruit, she also knew that the gum couldn’t stand alone.  She was going to need to give it a little push.
With what I know in this season of my life, this is now how I choose to look at temptation.  Since
Christ described the Enemy as a thief, and since a thief is someone who
takes something away from someone else, then this must mean that I have something that the Enemy wants, right? 
Then why do we always approach temptation as if the Enemy has something that we want, instead?
The credit company wanted my money.
The Enemy wanted Bathsheba to lose her life and David to lose his crown.
That girl in church wanted my money. (Uh-oh, I sense I cycle)
The Enemy wanted the Woman and Adam’s life. (Another
order to get these things, the tempter had to distract, oven the
temptee’s common sense, with something that would be, well, tempting.  I
remember talking to my mom one time about why I always seemed to fall
(foolishly) for the 6 ft. plus, chocolate, basketball-build kind of men.  Do you know what her response was?  “Shellie, that’s what’s appealing to you.  If it were short, fat, bald men, then the Enemy would present you with that instead.”
(Let the church say, “Amen!”)
But, as I reread some of my, what I call, “old male”, I must admit that none of my encounters with them were instantaneous.  I
didn’t see them across a crowded room one night and ended up at their
house the next night. (Praise the Lord!) The Enemy knew that, for me,
their appearance wouldn’t be enough.  There needed to be conversation, communication…time.  As
C.S Lewis states, because we should not just see ourselves as a body
with a soul, but a soul with a body, because I am not made of up just
flesh but also spirit, the Enemy was well aware that it would take more
than looks to get me trapped.  Something would have to appease my mind as well.  To get me hooked, there needed to be an up-sell.  Of
course, it’s not until after I “signed on the dotted line” without
reading the “fine print” (lust is always presumptuous) that I saw all
of the floss, string, rope, barbed-wire that was attached to the deal
(well, deals)!
Now, I’m starting to understand why Ecclesiastes 3:14 means so much to me:
know that everything God does will continue forever. People cannot add
anything to what God has done, and they cannot take anything away from
it. God does it this way to make people respect him.”
When it comes to the things that God gives, that’s just it.  It’s a gift.  At times, there are conditions, but there are never any strings or (bad) surprises waiting to hang me up or ruin my life.  And,
unlike my free credit report, David and Bathsheba’s night of lust or my $5 piece of gum, what God gives lasts forever.  He doesn’t need to up-sell us because what he gives stands on its own.  There’s no need for any smoke and mirrors in his approach. God’s gifts are perfect.  (Ephesians 3:20)
with the Enemy, he has to use illusions because he knows that if
something doesn’t have God’s blessing on it, not only is it temporary
but there’s a great chance that, eventually, our spirit will overpower
the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17) and reveal the object of our lust for
what it really is—not all it’s cracked up to be and/or worth the
price we had to pay (short or long-term) to have it.
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.
trust me, I still get tempted (even today some prayers today would be
appreciated), but I’m not tempted (at least by the same thing) 24 hours
a day and since God told me that no temptation is new under the sun (I
Corinthians 10:13), that if I resist I am in a blessed state (James
1:12) and that he knows how to deliver me out of such traps (2 Peter
2:9), instead of focusing on what I am missing out on by resisting, I
try instead to figure out what the Enemy must sense I am on the brink
of getting that succumbing to his will would take away from me.  If
all he has purposed himself in my life to do is steal, kill and destroy
me and the blessings that God has in store, at the moments when he’s
working his hardest, at the times when I feel like if I don’t give in,
I will pass right on out, wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7) tells me that is when
I must be the closest to something good, safe and lasting.  Yes, it may take awhile for it to manifest in the physical world, but remember, not only is God a spirit, but so is the Enemy.  HE KNOWS MORE THAN WE DO. (That’s why we can’t put confidence in flesh—Philippians 3:3).
the next time you find yourself having a full conversation with you or
the Enemy about whether or not to do something, a wise man once said,
“When in doubt, don’t”, my Baba has advised to question, “What would
God get out of it and what would the Enemy get out of it?” and of
course, you can always refer to the Word:
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”—I Corinthians 1:20 (NKJB)
in your spirit, you don’t hear a “Yes, “Amen” (or sometimes
“Wait”—Psalm 37:34), then you can pretty much bet that it’s a waste
of your time.  Hang up, turn around, walk away.  It’s an up-sell.
©Shellie R. Warren/2008