Temptation is a test

Matthew 4:1-4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He [a]then became hungry.  And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

The work of the Holy Spirit can’t be understood by the natural mind. In fact Jesus said “the wind blows where it will, you hear the sound it makes but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone begotten of the Spirit.” In this case, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

This follows Jesus’ obedience in baptism to commit Himself to obdeience to the Father. Some of us think the devil attacks those who live for the kingdom and that God plays no part in it. In the book of Job, the devil asked God for permission to test Job, God granted it. I am not going to make as bold of a statement as to say that God uses Satan for His own purposes. What I will say is that God works everything for the good of those who love Him.

Jesus demonstrates His love and commitment to the Father no matter the trying circumstance. That is what this whole story is about. We will face adversity and are facing it now. Our test will prove our love for the Father just as this test proved Jesus’ love.

The first trial was an attempt to attack via the body. Jesus had been fasting for forty days. He had experienced hunger like I never have. The devil attacks with thoughts that are designed to distract us from our first love. But Jesus uses the Word – He is the Word – to deal with this deceiful thought that was designed to take advantage of his bodily hunger. He said that we shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Jesus spent His days on earth listening to His Father. He knew what God’s voice sounded like. He entrusted Himself on the cross when they hurled insults at Him to the One who judges justly. He didn’t retaliate. He was entirely committed to the Father. He also knew the voice of the enemy because He knew His Father’s voice so well. He knew the devil is the father of all dies who exists to kill, steal and destroy. He spoke Scripture to refute the devil.

There is so much to learn here. First, know that God is for us. What He allows in our lives He uses for our good. And the ultimate good for us is to be conformed to the image of Jesus.

Romans 8:28-30  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Second, our commitment to God will be tested and the tests pefect us. So, we can see every trial as a reason for joy.

James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Third, God will give us what to think and say during the trial. He is our provider for everything.

Luke 11:8-12 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

For these reasons and many more we can know a confidence in this world that is unlike the pride of unbelievers. God has assignments for us that He will enable us to accomplish as we obey Him. Our love for Him will be reciprocated by the LORD. So, we can find Him in every situation to be faithful even when we are not. Should we fail in this long obedience of life, He will restore us if we admit we have sinned.

1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Thank You Father for showing us the realities of spiritual warfare. You are our only hope in this life and the next. This great gift of a thinking mind must be harnessed and led by Holy Spirit. Otherwise we will slip into darkness and stop practicing the truth. Our enemy lies with the very intention that we will stop walking in Your light. In fact, He will lie about You to have us think there is darkness in You. That’s impossible as light dispels darkness. I look to You today as my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? I put my trust in You today knowing that in You I am established. You are strong and mighty, full of grace and mercy, the lover of my soul. I love You LORD.

Better Business

One morning a bunch of us were discussbbb_logoing the topic of boredom and how that can potentially lead us towards bad behavior.  It wasn’t readily apparent to me that I ever suffered from being bored but, definitely knew that I’ve been considered boring by others.

As we talked, someone mentioned that being busy could actually cause us to miss all of the beautiful things happening around us and to be blind to the needs of others.  So, seeing the alliterative possibilities, I searched for another “b” word that might describe the middle ground from the two extremes of boredom and busyness.  It didn’t take long before the word “being” came to mind.

Somewhere along the line I’ve heard the phrase, “we’re human beings, not human doings”.  There’s a new “word” floating around for the last couple of years – mindfulness – that suggests the idea of being – here – now.

So, we’ve just finished celebrating Thanksgiving and have the holiday season before us.  A time that can be extremely busy but, also has the potential for boredom if we approach our days with a cadence of mindless repetition.  Wouldn’t it be great if we practice the art of savoring every moment and celebrating the people around us?

God celebrates us in a very real sense and Christmas represents His finest gift to us – Immanuel – God with us – Jesus.  If God has become boring to you, look again and realize that we have barely scratched the surface of his deep love for us.  It’s a fascinating way to live.  Find a way to “be” in His Presence, resting in His love.  He promises fullness of life and joy.  

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Baffled

BaffledWe love the birds of Newtown, CT.  We bought this feeder at a moving sale a couple of years ago. The activity around this contraption has been incredible to watch.  There are so many varieties of birds that we actually bought a book and an app to identify them.

Then one day the food starting disappearing way faster than normal.  My wife Ibel told me she had actually seen squirrels and chipmunks eating the seed.  Then, I caught this critter in the feeder with the birds.  I am fortunate to have a camera with a great zoom feature and shot this photo.  Don’t you know that the chipmunk actually saw me and posed? Seems like an Alvin move to me (I hope you catch the reference).  As I moved in closer the chipmunk scrambled down the pole and into the woods.  I was impressed by its ability to do that.

I researched how to prevent these intruders and found that there’s a product sold that is called a baffle.  It’s basically an upside down cone that mounts on the pole.  Then, it hit me.  A baffle “totally bewilders or perplexes”, “restrains or regulates” (Google definition).

The things that once baffled me would often keep me from doing as I intended.  This left me with a choice.  Either walk away bewildered and frustrated or change the way I respond to that person, place or thing.  That is where the renewing of my mind came in.

As I sit before the LORD every morning and meditate on His word my perspective changes and my mind is renewed.  I begin to see things as He does.  In this season of my life I have learned that honesty, prayer and action are my best response to what baffles me.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Inside Out

We Believe - Inside MattersImagine my surprise when I woke up on Saturday and saw this sticker “We believe what’s inside matters.” on my Tom’s deodorant for what seemed like the very first time.  Just the night before, Pat Goodman spoke to hundreds of Young Life volunteers and staff members about this very topic.

He helped us to see that what comes out of us is the product of the condition of our heart. What’s inside matters!  Check out this passage from the Gospel of Mark, ““What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Pat went on to talk about how much more we focus on our outward appearance than the condition of our heart.  He used an iceberg as an illustration that is said to have 15% of it’s mass exposed on the surface with 85% below.  We were challenged to consider focusing on the 85% since that is who we really are.

So, everyday I get ready to start my day, I’ll have a physical reminder of this eternal truth (as long as Tom’s sticks with it’s current branding).  Where are you on this?   I can’t imagine being able to clean up my heart without dying to myself and embracing the life of Jesus.  It’s for this reason that He came, that you might have life and have it more abundantly.