Did You Take the Bait in 2020?
Thursday - December 31st
Devotionals from the Book of James
Scripture to Read Today: James 1:12-18
Each person is tempted when they are dragged away
by their own evil desire and enticed.
During my childhood, our family loved spending a weekend at Pla-Mor Campground in Bremen, Indiana. Pla-Mor seemed to be the perfect place for my little brother Troy and me to have fun when we were kids. This campground was about a thirty-minute drive from our childhood home in Mishawaka, Indiana. Pla-Mor had it all. They had miniature golf, an ice cream shop with all kinds of candy, a small lake for swimming and fishing, some woods for walks and adventures, and many daily activities for families staying at the campground.
Dad, Mom, Troy, and I would spend a few days at Pla-Mor in either our converted 1960s bread truck camper (which was Pepto Bismol pink and had "The Magic Bus" written on its side) or our pop-up trailer camper. We were close enough to home that Dad could even go to work from there. The location was so remote, and the campground so tightly knit, that kids could run and play unsupervised freely all day.
As kids, we spent hours fishing at the lake. The word "lake" may be a bit too generous for what was truly a glorified pond. But it was perfect for the kind of swimming and fishing we did as kids. The management of Pla-Mor stocked the pond annually with fish. None of the fish got very big. Most of the fish were two to four inches in length and were sunfish and bluegill.
Fishing in the Pla-Mor lake was the closest thing to shooting fish in a barrel that I have ever experienced. We would roll a piece of bread in a ball, put it on the end of a hook, and barely dip it in the water, and hundreds of little fish would grab at the white ball on the end of the hook. Fishing at Pla-Mor required no patience at all. Most of the time, we threw the fish we caught back into the lake. Sometimes we took twenty or thirty of the small fish back to our campsite, cleaned them, and added them to our next meal. If you have ever cleaned fish, you know how messy and tedious this was.
The New Testament includes a lot of references and stories about fishing - especially in the Gospels. Most of the fishing incidents recorded involve large nets used to catch fish in the Sea of Galilee. One reference in the Book of James uses a Greek word to describe a fish being enticed by shiny bait on the end of a hook. James 1:14 uses the phrase "dragged away" to describe what happens when we are distracted and dragged away by temptation. The two words "dragged away" come from the one Greek word about shiny bait on a hook.
James says that temptation to do something sinful entices us. It grabs our attention. Once it has our attention, we lunge at and bite the bait. We do not understand (much like fish biting at bait on a hook) that there is a hook under the shiny lure that will grab us and drag us away. Satan tries every way possible to distract us from what God has for us as His children. He wants us to notice the enticing, disguised opportunity for us to act with greed, lust, or pride. He knows if we focus on the bait he dangles before us in this world, our flesh will soon lunge at the opportunity. Sin then ensnares us.
Many Christians focus on how Satan wants to defeat and destroy them. James suggests that we need to be aware of Satan's strategy to distract us. He knows that sin will leave us ineffective in our impact for Christ and His Kingdom. He knows that dangling the world's enticements before us feeds the cravings of our flesh. When we take the bait, our own sinful desires of the flesh drag us away from what God has for us.
Know Satan's strategy. Pay attention to the shiny things of this world that he dangles before you. Understand that while you do not see it, there is an awful immobilizing hook behind the bait. Be aware of Satan's desire to distract you from the very best God has for you. Ask God to open your eyes that you might see beyond the shiny object and understand the damage Satan intends for your life and witness for Christ.
Look back at 2020. What a year! Did you take the bait that Satan put before you? Remember, God forgives us when we go to Him and humbly confess our sins to Him. Be aware that in 2021 Satan will dip a lot of hooks disguised with shiny enticing bait in your life. Be ready to run fast and far from the temptation!
Satan seeks to distract us from God's path for our lives. We need to notice what Satan is doing and flee from it!