Jesus is Tempted

In today’s scripture covering the words of Jesus, we look at Luke 4. This is a continuation from yesterday’s message in Luke 3, where John the Baptist taught about repentance, turning from sin, and being baptized. Luke 4 picks up after Jesus’ baptism and goes right into Jesus being tempted by Satan in the dessert. I love this picture of the human side of Jesus, and I’m going to look across the other gospels to show this full picture, because I love everything about this passage!

Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record different aspects of the temptation. Most bible scholars agree that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness for 40 days, during which time Satan was tempting him. At the end of the 40 days, Satan tempted him with three specific things that are recorded in detail (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-18).

The situation is intriguing from the very beginning. The Holy Spirit directs Jesus to go to the wilderness to be tempted. Jesus was sent there for a purpose! A lot of times I think we create and walk right into our own messes – we made choices that lead to the storm we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of… But there are other situations that truly pop up out of the blue, and we are left scratching our heads with questions like… Why am I here? How did this happen? What am I supposed to make of all of this? Just maybe we are led there for a reason. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into this temptation for a purpose. And we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to places that have tempting situations. Why? Why would He do that? God uses victory over temptation as an example for others. What example is God using in your life for others? Is there an area you need to take a more black and white stand, as an example for others? Are you tempted to stay silent when you need to speak truth into a situation?

Next, we look at how Jesus was tempted. Sounds pretty familiar to the same types of things we are tempted by… physical needs and desires (bread), power (the world), and lastly, He was tempted to test God (throw Himself off the mountain).  Jesus was tempted in the same ways that Satan tries to tempt us today. It’s pretty cool that Jesus walked before us and showed us exactly what to watch for!  When you think of these three areas of temptation, is there one you need to take hold of today and claim victory?

How? How can we overcome? BAM – Jesus shows us! He responds to each temptation by reciting scripture (we find it in Deuteronomy) back to Satan. What an awesome example for us to keep the Word of God in our hearts and overcome Satan. Do you have some go-to scriptures that you can use when you’re feeling tempted? Here are a few of mine:

Keep thy tongue from evil. Psalm 34:13

Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. Romans 12:19

Whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are lovely, think on THOSE things. Phil 4:8

Fear not, I am with thee. Isaiah 41:10

Depart from evil and do good. Psalm 34:14

My God will supply all your needs. Phil 4:19

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Luke 6:27

As cheesy as it sounds, I like to say them out loud. There’s power in verbally declaring victory over the enemy!

The last piece of Jesus’ temptation is His Father’s care and compassion. After Jesus endured the temptation, God sent help (His angels) to comfort and minister to Jesus. I really don’t know exactly what this means (not much is explained), but I’ve always envisioned some sort of angel cheerleading situation. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, GOOOOOO JESUS! Oh, and I also picture them carrying lots of bread. All the bread. As a grain-a-holic myself, my version of this story is with a satchel full of naan, baguettes, bagels, all of it. I mean, Jesus was fasting for awhile!!  In all seriousness, when we are in the middle of a temptation, we can look forward to being replenished by our Father. God will restore our weary souls. Can you look back and see this provision in your life?

God is so gracious to give us this fully-man Jesus to walk before us and show us how to do life on earth. It’s no coincidence that this temptation by Satan occurred right after Jesus’ baptism.  The enemy doesn’t want us to gain any ground in our faith walk. When we declare our commitment and belief in God, the enemy will work to shake us. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and be ready, armed with the Word of God!

The Tempter

Today’s reading is Matthew 4.

As I mentioned in my previous writing 2 weeks ago, one of the big “ah-ha’s” for me as I became an adult was when it really hit me that Jesus was tempted, just like us and as we see in this writing, but was the only human to live without sin, yet died on the cross to take our place. As new small group members some years ago, there was a couple in our group who seemed to talk constantly about Satan and his temptations in their lives and the lives of others around them. They talked about it so much that it my wife and I found it awkward and thought they were really kind of out there. Not that we didn’t acknowledge Satan is real because if you acknowledge God is real you have to acknowledge Satan is real, but we just felt they were a little over the top about how much Satan interjects and they talked about it. However, as we have matured in our faith, we completely understand it now.

A few weeks ago, I was in a restaurant speaking with a friend who is really struggling to believe God is real and is struggling with other things in his life. We had been talking for over an hour and although there was much activity in the restaurant he was locked in on me, keeping eye contact the entire time. As I began to make a very strong and direct witness to him to the point that you could feel the intensity building in the conversation and I began to tell him we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts only He can fill, “BAM!!” a worker dropped a trash can right in the middle of my sentence and he lost all focus on what I was saying. A few years ago, I would have said that’s crazy and this was just coincidence, but I now believe that was Satan interjecting. You’ll hear similar stories during conversions from other believers and pastors if you ask them.

I find it very interesting in Matthew 4:3 Satan is called “the tempter.” God did not have to use this terminology. This was very intentional. That’s what Satan does. He tempts. That’s who he is. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If he tried to tempt Jesus 3 times here in a short period of time, you can bet he’s going to be tempting us. In fact, it is my humble opinion that he tries to tempt those of outspoken faith and belief the most because that is a huge win for him if he gets us to sin, especially when others find out about it about it. It does a lot of damage when a pastor, elder, small group leader, or strong believer sins and it becomes known by many. He loves this. People expect a known and public repeat sinner to sin so that is not a big win to Satan when they sin again.

How do we avoid falling into Satan’s traps and temptations?

  1. Acknowledge he’s real and tempting us daily..even by the hour and the minute.
  2. Stay in prayer and the Word. Expectancy theory says that which you think about expands. If you spend more time with God, you’ll stay close to and be thinking about Him keeping you insulated. Satan knows the Scriptures as we see her, but so did Jesus as we see here in Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:7, and Matthew 4:10.
  3. Stay in close community with other believers through church and small group to keep you accountable (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Consider reading The Resolution for Men and The Resolution for Women with other male or female believers…committing to the Resolution at the end.
  4. Stay humble and on watch…even as we mature in our faith. If he tried to tempt Jesus, he will tempt us!

Even the Lord’s Prayer tells us to pray “Lead us not into temptation” in Matthew 6:13. Let us put on the armor of God and answer the call today and everyday Timothy gives us in 1 Timothy 6:11-12.

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

 

 

Temptation

Today’s Reading: Matthew 6:13 and Psalm 76

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Matthew 6:13

 Good morning Monday readers. As the temps finally begin to rise and we are seeing God’s work in the blooming tulips we have the opportunity to dive deep into the next verse of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Today, we’re focusing on temptation. As soon as I hear that word, I start thinking about tasty chocolates and expensive purses! Our family is moving to a new home this week and I’ve been forced to face the reality of my sin when it comes to materialism. I’ve given away and yet it still seems as if we have so much. It’s taken so much discipline to avoid purchasing more things! How many of us are filled with wordly desire when we walk into the store? This may lead us to ask, why did God bring temptation to our lives? The Bible teaches that God doesn’t lead us to temptations but he does allow us to be tested by them. Of course, we’re not alone in it. All Christians struggle with temptation. The enemy often chooses to tempt us when we are vulnerable. When we are under physical or emotional stress he uses that opportunity to convince us that we can get reassurance and comfort from things other than God. When we are lonely, tired or faced with a difficult decision it can be easy to look to food, shopping, the computer or phone for comfort. As we meditate and pray on the role of temptation in our life, I invite you to spend some time writing and reflecting on the three areas in which the enemy tempts us:

  • Physical Needs and Desires
  • Possessions and Power
  • Pride

Take some time to write down the ways in which you are personally tempted in these three areas. Ask God to forgive you for the times you’ve given in to temptation. By making ourselves aware of how subtle temptations start us down the path of sin, we can begin to change.

Make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them;
let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared, who cuts off the spirit of princes, who is to be feared by the kings of the earth. Psalm 76:11-12

 

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.