There was a young seminarian who was taking a pre-ordination oral examination. During the questioning, one of the examiners asked him if he believed in a personal devil. "No," he replied, "I do not believe in the devil." Hearing this, the examiners began to discuss the seminarian's fitness for ordination. They were on the verge of disqualifying him when one of the older faculty members spoke up: "Don't worry about this young man's present position on whether or not the devil exists. This whole thing will take care of itself. After working in a church for a few weeks he'll change his mind."
In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus withdraws to the desert wilderness for a long prayer retreat. There He is put to the test when he encounters Satan who offers Him the ultimate in power, money and creature comforts. The offer is conditional, of course: Jesus is to acknowledge Satan as supreme being. "I will give You all these if You fall at my feet and worship me," the devil says to Jesus (Mt. 4:9). But there's no changing Jesus' mind. Instead, He answers with an emphatic "No," saying in effect, "Have you forgotten, Satan, that God exists?"
Not long ago it was reported that a woman accused of taking more than $73,000 from a church in Washington state told detectives that (quote) "Satan had a big part in the theft." If you are old enough, or a fan of iconic performers from the past, you'll likely be reminded of comedian Flip Wilson, and his most popular character, Geraldine Jones, whose line "The devil made me do it" became a national catchphrase.
While we could say that Satan may have played a role in that woman's choices, we can also say she has some more thinking to do about about the subject of temptation and sin. The devil tempts all of us, but he doesn’t make us sin. James tells us that God isn’t to blame either: “Never, when you have been tempted, say, 'God sent the temptation'; God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and he does not [...]
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Stories you can use...
We've got a million of them (well, almost).
An elderly woman was filling out an application for residency in a retirement village. With some anxiety, she answered the questions relating to the state of her health, then signed her name and put down her current address. After “ZIP,” she printed: “Normal for my age.” Griffith, J., Henry, R., Robertson, J., Blakely D., “Keep ‘Em Laughin’” (adapted)
God, Presence of
A Church newsletter included this essay by an eight-year-old boy. His third grade Sunday School teacher had asked her students to write about what “God’s jobs” are. ”One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes these to put in the place of the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things here on earth. He doesn’t make grownups, just babies, I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way He doesn’t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that up to the mothers and fathers. I think it works out pretty good. ”God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, ‘cause some people, like preachers and things, pray other times besides bedtime, and Grandpa and Grandma pray every time they eat (except for snacks). God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV on account of this. Cause God hears everything, not only prayers. There must be a terrible lot of noise going on in his ears unless he has thought of a way to turn it off. I think we should all be a little quieter. God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere. Which keeps him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t go wasting his time asking for things that aren’t very important, or go over your parents’ heads and ask for something they said you couldn’t have.”
Don’t make tragedies of trifles! Don’t shoot butterflies with rifles! Laugh it off. Anonymous
A father relates the following story: When my wife and I want to discuss treats in front of our three-year-old son, we often spell out words to avoid a confrontation. A friend commented that this was an admission of being unable to say “No” to a child. I felt duly chastised until he dropped by with his child, our son’s playmate, and asked, “Would your first-born care to accompany my offspring to our abode for the purpose of recreation?”More