Suit Up

Today’s reading is John 19 and Psalm 121.

John 19:7-8 reads, “The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law and according to that law he out to die because he has made himself the Son of God.’ When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid.” Prior to this in John 19:6, Pilate said he found no guilt in Him, yet we know in John 19:16 he delivered Him to be crucified. Why was Pilate afraid, and why did He deliver him to be crucified, even though he found no guilt in Him? He could have been fearful of Jesus being who He said He was, but most likely he was afraid of a riot, and he did not want the word to get back to Caesar that he could not effectively govern his region. A riot during Passover would be even worse and the word surely would get back to him and may cost him his position.

How many times in our lives do we cave to the demands and temptations of this world because we are trying to please others for our own good and don’t want to stir the pot and start a riot? We either commit a sin of commission ourselves or don’t speak out about something that’s not in line with the Word and commit a sin of omission. We fear not fitting in or being ostracized by friends or co-workers, or maybe even fear of losing our job. Sometimes though, it’s just apathy. Every day we see things the world tells us is ok and normal that we know the Word tells us is not. Yet, how often do we stand up God and His truth from His Word? I know I often cave just like Pilot. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Thankfully, we know we are not condemned by these sins. Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We know from reading later in John that His death, burial, and resurrection make us right, whole, and one again with God. As Psalm 121:1-2 reads, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth.”

As we move forward and think about future tests, battles and temptations to heed to the demands of this world let us look to Ephesians 6:13 and pray we do as it instructs us to. “Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

How the Bible Teaches Us to Handle Temptation

Matthew 4

What can we learn from Jesus? Chapter 4 of Matthew has four subheads, titled “The Temptation of Jesus,” “Jesus Begins His Ministry,” “Jesus Calls the First Disciples,” and “Jesus Ministers to Great Crowds.” If we just look at those titles, we can see Jesus throughout this chapter in Matthew.

In this post I will be focusing of two things: how Jesus dealt with temptation and how Jesus began his ministry.

Everyone has heard the story of how Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, then was tempted. I try to picture myself in those situations to make the Bible more real. I think of a time where I was so hungry I couldn’t think of anything else. I had just run a Tough Mudder. If you haven’t heard of one of it before, just imagine a 12 mile forrest, hill, and sand run filled with military style obstacles. After finishing that, I was exhausted and needed food more than I think I ever did. Luckily, McDonalds was only about 15 minutes away, so I was able to fill my belly with a large amount of fried food. Anyways, I’m sure you have your own stories also. So Jesus is in the wilderness, starving, only to visited by Satan to try to tempt him at his weakest points. Satan tries this three times before actually leaving, but each time he tries to tempt Jesus, Jesus speaks truth through Scripture. What does that tell us?

there is power in scripture

When temptation hits, remember that you have power over that temptation with God’s word.  None of us lack temptation. We are tempted on a daily basis, but the best question to ask yourself is how you handle temptation.

As I was finishing the chapter, one part really caught my eye. It was the part of the chapter where Jesus started calling his first disciples. The part that really caught my eye was how these men dropped everything to follow Jesus IMMEDIATELY. Scripture says it this way:

Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

I try to imagine Jesus coming up to me today at work and saying “follow me.” Would I truly stop what I was doing and go? To be totally honest, I would probably have a thousand things cross my mind first, from “What about my wife?” to “I have a great job here, and I love what I do, so why should I leave?” I think this passage helps us realize that Jesus will call us at some point. The only questions is, are we ready to take the call?

Think about that today.

There are a lot of things that tempt us in this world and make us think this is the best thing since sliced bread. But what we really need to do is remember that we are in this world and not of this world; our citizenship is in heaven, so we need to be ready to answer the call. Reflect on whether you would answer that call, cheerfully, today.

The Lost (and found) iPod

Today’s Reading:  2 Chronicles 1; 1 John 1; Micah 7; Luke 16

In last week’s post, I briefly mentioned being thankful for the person who found and turned in Preston’s iPod. This was no small event; we were in a foreign country at a large resort where there were literally thousands of employees and thousands of guests from around the globe. Preston’s iPod isn’t extremely valuable financially, but it is worth a lot to him. He can’t afford to buy a replacement, and Amy and I would have needed to let him learn his lesson in being responsible.

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. (Luke 16:10)

Preston gave his new hero (Fermin) a small token of his appreciation, a hug, and verbal thanks. Based on Luke 16 I wonder if perhaps Fermin was being tested with very little and reaped Heavenly rewards for his decision. Fermin was beaming with a huge smile when Preston found him to say thank you. I think that Fermin experienced as much, or more joy than Preston through this experience.

While this exact situation isn’t something that occurs daily for any of us, it does make me think about what we are entrusted with each day:

  • Showing up late for work and not making up for it or logging the time inaccurately is stealing. Even if it was just 15 minutes and the employer may never find out, God knows.
  • How we spend our money. If I look at my accounts, what do they reflect? Should I be entrusted with more or less money based on how I’ve allocated the resources entrusted to me?
  • Time; our only non-renewable resource. What did I do in my free-time, and what does my calendar say about how I’m choosing to spend this precious gift?

This section of Luke closes with a blunt statement in Luke 16:13 that should challenge us to our core. Do we serve God or do we serve money? The choice is ours to make, and only God knows our true intentions; he knows how we spend our time, money, and energy. Coming from a wonderful week of vacation with my family, I’m exceedingly thankful for the rest, relaxation, and special days and nights with my favorite people on Earth. In reflection, did I make the most of this time, and did I behave as one who loves money or one who loves God?

Think about what Jesus was entrusted with. He came to Earth as a human baby, but with authority over Heaven and Earth. If I could turn water into wine like Jesus did, it is shameful what I’d do… God knows how much (or little) I can be entrusted with! In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus is tempted by the devil. This includes significant examples of how much Jesus was entrusted with. Also consider that since the devil was trying to temp Jesus, he knew Jesus had the power to do those things, which is further proof of the deity of Jesus Christ.

Father God, may my checkbook, calendar, and heart be filled with more of you and less of me each day. Thank you for giving me such a multitude of second chances. Amen.