Testing…Testing…1,2,3?

 

Luke 4:1-13 offers the sweet reassurance that Christ passed all the tests the world and Satan put before Him. Hear God’s Word.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written,‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’and, ‘On their hands they will bear You up,
 So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. NASB

It’s appropriate for this week’s lessons to be about temptation with this scripture in the path. God’s tests are never easy because He knows just what I need just when I need it. The good news is that they are never too difficult for me to pass with the help of His Holy Spirit. The teachers in this world don’t encourage assistance, but God insists upon it. When I attempt to follow Him alone, I fail. When I allow the Holy Spirit to help and keep me accountable, I am able to pass the tests before me. God’s ways and the world’s ways are different indeed, and that is never more obvious than with the lessons in temptation.

Temptation is a necessary part of my spiritual growth. Without it, I am a lukewarm Christian at best and a pious hypocrite at worst. I not saying to look for temptation, but when it appears, I must face it. I have to be tested, but the passage today makes it clear that God is never to be tested. When I test Him, He reminds me of Who He is and Who I am not. Those are lessons not easily forgotten, and I have had more than my share of them. I’m learning to go to God in earnest, honest supplication when I find myself in the throes of temptation. He sees what I do not and helps me find His truth. It’s never what I expect but always what I need.

I’m humbled by God’s lessons this week and thankful for His patience and love. Temptations are great for humbling, and they bring me to God’s presence with the proper attitude by reminding me that I am not only human but also a sinner. Knowing that brought me to the place of accepting His love 48 years ago, and God reminded me of that special time this morning in worship. He bid me to remember that special moment when I first realized I needed Him and know that I need Him all the more now:)

Obeying, Not Just Saying

God’s Word in our greatest defense against the forces of evil in this world. And when it comes to that defense, it has to be obeying, not just saying His Word. The scriptures this week take us to the wilderness where Jesus comes face to face with those temptations. A forty-day fast left him famished, so the first temptation, as is often the same for me after an hour or so, is to eat! Jesus teaches me a beautiful lesson as He was filled with the Holy Spirit, followed His lead, and obeyed His Father’s Words. Hear the Word of God.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’and, On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. NASB

I need to be mindful as I travel in the dangerous territory of the wilderness that Satan knows God’s Word better than I do. He uses God’s Word to his advantage, but the big beautiful difference between Jesus and Satan when it comes to God’s Word is that Satan is just saying, and Christ is obeying. It isn’t enough to memorize and quote scriptures to others along the way, and knowing His Word does not ensure safety along the path.

Obedience is our only defense against temptation. The Word of God is the only offensive weapon mentioned in that set of armor in Ephesians, and it must be wielded as Christ wielded it. Gently in obedience. I tried to do battle on my own yesterday as Satan convinced me to run. He had me believing it was best for me and for those I love dearly. I was worn and torn by the time I got home from morning worship because I had been doing God’s job instead of my own. Winning the battle is what Jesus did on the cross, so I don’t have to fight that battle each time I’m tempted. Thanks be to God!

I do have to hide God’s Word in my heart and let it be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105-112 reminds me of the importance of obedience. I often don’t go past 105, but I should. Hear again the Word of God.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. I have sworn and I will confirm it,
 That I will keep Your righteous ordinances. I am exceedingly afflicted;
 Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word. O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord,
 And teach me Your ordinances. My life is continually in my hand,
 Yet I do not forget Your law The wicked have laid a snare for me,
 Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
 For they are the joy of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end. NASB

Remembering that God’s precepts are indeed the joy of my heart puts obedience in its proper light. I obey to get to joy not out of obligation. I hide His Words in my heart, not in rote memorization like a concealed weapon, but in order to protect me from my own sin which opens the door to Satan. I obey God’s Word because in that obedience, I find His joy and sweet peace. I slept like a baby last night after a twenty-four hour bout with the tempter. God reminded me when I was face down on the mat in tears that I don’t have to fight His battles for Him. He also reminded me that He wasn’t going to force me to obey. Obedience, like love, has to be a choice. Both lead me to a beautiful place of peace that opens the path to the praying life a little wider and makes this journey a walk in His kingdom:)

Temptation

When Satan tells me what I want to hear,

I’m tempted.

When he says it’s best for those who are dear,

I’m tempted.

When I’m at the end of my rope,

I’m tempted.

When he offers a ray of hope,

I’m tempted.

When I am divided and filled with fear,

I’m tempted.

When I can’t feel God’s presence coming near,

I’m tempted.

When I breathe in the Spirit’s breath,

I stay.

When I stop and think of Christ’s death,

I pray.

When I open my heart and ears,

I hear.

When I take a look at my fears,

I see.

When I remember Who God is,

I exhale.

When I remember I am His,

I smile:)