Knowing the Difference

Putting on my sage old rancher hat, here’s an axiom I hope you’ll remember; “Your destination is determined by who’s driving.” The greatest lesson I’ve learned since starting the Cross-Dubya ranch is the calmer you remain, the easier it is to get to where you want to go. Whether that’s driving cows into the barn or working pen; or pulling a 14-foot wide implement behind your tractor down a highway that’s only 12-feet wide, remaining calm is key.

I’ve learned the key to remaining calm in every situation is ensuring you know who’s driving; and they know where they’re going. It’s a lesson I’m still learning, but with each time I surrender my will to God’s it gets easier to do the next time. The secret I’ve found is in the words of the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 30. Almost the entire chapter is exhorting Judah to return to the Lord; I especially like how the Lord described how He guides us in verse 21.

“Your ears will hear a word behind you saying,

‘This is the way, walk in it,’

Whenever you turn to the right hand

Or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21, NKJV)

Knowing which way to go. Allowing God to guide you in which direction you should turn. Oh, what a wonderful difference this can make in our lives.

Knowing the difference between testing and tempting makes your journey through this life so much calmer. Click To Tweet

Many of you have heard the phrase God tests, Satan tempts. For me, this means that testing helps strengthen our faith (James 1:2-4) and glorifies God when we pass the test. Temptations are worldly attempts to separate us from our faith (1 John 2:15-17); playing upon our sinful human nature that looks only to satisfy our personal desires. I always thought James 1:13-15 made that point very clear. What chapter 1 of the book of James didn’t do a great job of is telling readers how to know the difference between the two.

I discovered a simple way to tell the difference between a test, or trial, and a temptation. One morning during my “God time”, I realized how a test encourages me to make a godly decision. This could be in how I react to something, or how what I say or do aligns with God’s word. Example, something goes wrong during my day. Do I become angry, depressed, etc. or do I turn toward God and ask Him to come close to help me through it? A spiritual test often results from some external force applied to our life.

A temptation is internal. Since each person is tempted by what is individually appealing (tempting) to them. A temptation always entices you to turn from God by making an ungodly choice. Our human spirit drives the desire to give into a temptation; while the desire to follow God rests on our reliance upon the Holy Spirit. Which do you give into more?

Do you follow your human spirit more than the Holy Spirit? Click To Tweet

Getting back to that old saying I started this post with; it’s important to recognize who is driving your life. While we all sin, it’s part of the curse of being human, we don’t have to surrender our lives to it. Part of maturing as a Christian is learning how to recognize temptations when they arrive and using our spiritual gifts to keep us from sinning. Unlike some religions or factions, the temptation to sin entering your mind is not a sin. The sin occurs when you entertain that idea; when you dwell on the temptation, and you develop the desire for it rather than bringing it under control.

Sometimes events happen in our lives that can present themselves as both test and temptation at the same time. One example might be a terrible disease or illness. Satan will do his best to tempt you to forsake God (i.e. why would God let this happen to you if He were a loving God). However, if you choose to lean closer to God through the trial, your faith is tested and you glorify God. In these cases, the decisions we make determines the result.

I pray you learn to better discern between temptations and tests in your life; and in all cases, trust God to help you through every situation.

God’s blessings,

 

Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

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38 thoughts on “Knowing the Difference

    1. Absolutely Ms. Gail. I think more important though is who we place in it. 🙂 God’s blessings gentle friend. I can’t wait for my friend to receive her CHRISTmas gift from you. What a kind gesture to sign them ma’am.

    1. Amen Ms. Ann! Me too ma’am. It’s when those situations arise that can be both test and temptation that are most difficult to discern isn’t it? That’s when we start to realize how fierce is the spiritual battle within each of us is raging.

  1. Love this post as always! Isaiah 30:21 is a favorite! Good insight on knowing who’s driving and the difference between testing and tempting. Whenever I’m in the valley and going through a trial I know the testing of my faith will prove benefial on this journey. I surrender all!

    1. I hear ya Ms. Karen. Those are some of my favorite verses. I find myself humming “I Surrender All” so often when I’m in the midst of a trial. What a wonderful mindset you have ma’am. God’s blessings.

    1. Shucks. Coming from a great Bible teacher and encourager like you, I am deeply humbled my friend. Thank you; and Merry CHRISTmas and God’s blessings to you and your beautiful family. All those girls. Living in your house when they were all at home must’ve been a hoot and a half. 🙂

  2. “The calmer you remain, the easier it is to get to where you want to go.” That, my friend, is very wise advice indeed. I have found in my long career as a teacher, as a wife, a parent, and an active member and leader in my church, that being calm in any situation is necessary if we are going to live by the Fruit of the Spirit. If Jesus is going to shine through us in all that we do, we must be calm and loving in our interactions and, as you say, make sure that He is in the driver’s seat. Thanks for sharing your wisdom today. Wishing you blessings, my friend.

    1. Boy, I sure had to learn that one the “hard way” my friend. But I’ve learned that if you want to really add impact to your Christian testimony, remain calm in situations where everyone else is not. People notice; and they’ll want to know your secret. We both know; it’s “Jesus”, but the opportunity to share Him with best occurs when we show Him impact in our lives. Thank you so much for adding such value to our conversation ma’am.

  3. I like the saying. It reminds me of something that my father once told me: “Be very careful about who you get into a car with”. He meant this more literally, as a warning against intoxicated drivers or people who you don’t know well. I think it can also apply to what you wrote in this post. Be careful about you simply hop into a car with and allow to control the ride.

  4. Wonderful post and I loved how you explained the difference between a testing and tempting. It really makes sense. So many great nuggets of wisdom.

  5. It is a great goal to gain godly wisdom and with it, understanding. I see that has knowing and doing the right thing. Preparing for and going through the test can make you worn out and weary. But once you’ve come through it there is joy. There is no preparing for a temptation. But when it is over, the lingering affects can cause a lot of weariness and there never is true joy.

    1. Great wisdom in these words my friend. Thank you so much for sharing with us. So very true, while we can’t prepare for a temptation, we can prepare our hearts and souls for them when they show up. Well said sir.

    1. Awww shucks! And Merry CHRISTmas to you, Mr. Lynn, and your entire family my sunny and warm friend. God’s blessings Ms. Jackie. You and Ms. Beckie Lindsey be sure and enjoy those pretty CA winter days; ya’ll pay a high price for them. 😀

    1. I LOVE that Mr. Warren; and will be borrowing that phrase tonight for my PJNET TV (www.pjnet.tv) program at 9:30pm EST. Will be sure to give you credit! That’s a great analogy; and it’s comforting to know I have other “witnesses” to back me up. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this with us; and adding to our conversation. I love that analogy. “If you’re not living out your faith every day, then take it out of Park folks!” Amen!

  6. Powerful message, JD! The following paragraph speaks more loudly to be because of the continued spread of Covid. It’s getting quite bad in my community, and I know lots of people who are being affected by it:

    “Sometimes events happen in our lives that can present themselves as both test and temptation at the same time. One example might be a terrible disease or illness. Satan will do his best to tempt you to forsake God (i.e. why would God let this happen to you if He were a loving God). However, if you choose to lean closer to God through the trial, your faith is tested and you glorify God. In these cases, the decisions we make determines the result.”

    I will hold on to this reminder in the coming days.

    1. Oh, Amen Ms. Candyce. COVID-19 was on my mind as I thought about that example. So many have chosen “fear over faith” rather than #FaithOverFear my friend. God never tells us not to ignore danger, but He does tell us to trust Him in all things. I think what has bothered me most during this pandemic is it has shown me how very weak, fragile, insecure (pick the word that best fits) our faith is. Many become so worried and fearful about what might happen to them in this life that they completely ignore what James 4:14 so clearly reminds us; this life is but a vapor. Instead, we should remember to focus on eternity rather than the now. Great insights ma’am. Thank you!

  7. I was tempted to put off reading this until later, but it was only a test, and I passed with flying colors. Just kidding, of course. Once again, you’ve taken me to places I haven’t been in a long time and put lessons in the journey that I would have missed. I haven’t pulled as many loads of hay as you have, but I’ve been on a few of those roads that weren’t nearly wide enough. Your encouragement to stay calm and let the One do the steering who knows how to maneuver the tight spots better than we ever could is so spot on right now. Your verbal visit to the ranch has been another uplifting and instructive respite from the garbage unfolding all around us. God bless you, my friend, and may God bless you and your family with invincible hope this Christmas and joy that defies the circumstances.

  8. I love your explanation of knowing the difference between testing and tempting. Indeed, if you choose to lean closer to God through the trial, your faith is tested and you glorify God. In these cases, the decisions we make determine the result.”

    Such a helpful post.

    Thanks, brother!

  9. I’m so thankful for the lesson on the difference between a test/trial and a temptation. The Lord steered me to the book of James many years ago, and I memorized a big chunk of the book, especially the first chapter. I love the clarification! Thank you, brother J.D. Merry Christmas to you and Ms. Diane!

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. I too love it when God helps me to find a deeper understanding of things. In this lesson, I learned that Trials are by their very definition, a decision point for Christians. We can choose to accept the trial and a test; to endure while relying on our faith. Or, we can succumb to Satan’s attempt to tempt us away from our faith. Isn’t James a wonderful guide to living a faith-driven life? God’s blessings ma’am; and Merry CHRISTmas my dear Texas friend.

  10. “Knowing which way to go. Allowing God to guide you in which direction you should turn.” When I read this, I thought of my reading from Psalm 25:4-5 today: “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Thank you for the reminder, J.D., to always allow God to guide me.

  11. I know this blog was written weeks ago and I’m just now reading it, but I wanted to tell you it was exactly what I needed to read as I was placed on hold for a recurring problem that has generated much frustration. I read where you said “the calmer you remain, the easier it is to get to where you want to go.” I wanted to lash out at the unsuspecting soul on the phone for an oversight that should never have happened, but I tried to exercise your words. We will see what happens . . .

    1. However your situation is resolved Ms. Karen, I pray you’ll accept it in peace and grace my friend. It’s so difficult sometimes to not lash out in anger, frustration, or sheer exasperation, but I too am learning to let God help me to channel those emotions away from my core so His peace can remain within, uninterrupted. Will be praying for fast and full resolution. Things aren’t always resolved the way I think they should be, but I try and view it as God is growing grace in me. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you for your kind words.

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