The world is focused on what they can see and touch. People who don’t have a correct view of God fail to realize that the things we cannot see are much more important and just as real to us if become aware them. The things we see will fade and turn to dust in time. The things we cannot see are the eternal things that have no end. They are also the only things that can bring real fulfillment to the empty places in our lives. People who focus on the things of this world are empty even when they accomplish what they set out to achieve. This is clear because they are always looking to seek even more, they lack the satisfaction we all desire. What they fail to realize is that fulfillment is only found in God and His work which we can only see when we look to Him. He placed an emptiness in us that can only be filled by Him. He desires that all of His chosen look to Him. This is clear in scripture when He calls His people to follow no other god or idol. for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) God want the recognition from His people. He wants the unconditional love He gives as part of His very essence to be returned in the form of worship and obedience. God wants all glory and praise to be focused on Him alone. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (Isaiah 42:8)
The bible uses the concept of money to convey this to us. As we look to scripture I want us to take the word money and allow it to be replaced with whatever other part of creation might fit that place. Anything that gets in the way of you serving God as your only master fits this criteria. It represents anything you seek that might draw you away from your purpose in God. He designed you for a specific purpose. When you seek things other than what God has for you draw your attention away from a calling that will exceed anything you could ever imagine. Refuse to follow God’s creation over God the Creator. Let your Lord lead you in the things that are eternal and come with an everlasting joy and peace. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24) Don’t fall victim to the pain and hardship that is inevitable when you seek the lesser things of this world. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10) Let all of your hopes and faith fall upon your Father, the Creator of this universe. Submit your life to God as He leads all things to serve His will. Let your desires be His desires and your will align with His. Only then can your life fall into alignment with the things that we cannot see, the things that are eternal, the things God will bless us with. When God is truly the one we worship, every other part of life can take its rightful place.
It’s amazing how many parallels can be drawn for the discipline of heath and that of faith. Even non-believers can identify with the struggles of dieting. I was confronted with a comparison I wanted to share that uses this relatable metaphor. We have a choice when dieting: do the easy things that don’t allow our lives or health to change or make changes that come with work and temporary discomfort but lead to amazing changes.
Most people fall off the diet wagon as they struggle to break out of an easy routine. The excuses grow just like their blood pressure and waistline. The easy thing to do is to grab fast food and relax after a long day. It’s easier to avoid the effort of cooking real food. Sure, all of the chemicals in the food leave you feeling satisfied as your body panics and can’t decide what to do with them. The result is disease, sluggishness, and a suffering physical appearance. If by some chance a few changes are made, consistency and patience suffer as the results don’t come fast enough. We should be able to erase decades of damage in a month right? This is a representation of a suffering spiritual life. The easy thing to do is ignore God in order to keep the illusion of control over your life. We grab worldly comforts that sooth us as we fall deeper into the darkness of an unhealthy spirit. We spend free time filling our minds with garbage from TV, internet and social media. With the lack of good things going into our minds it’s no wonder only garbage is available to come out. Then in a moment of desperation in the darkness someone prays for relief but will quickly fall away into self-reliance when the pain is past. They aren’t willing to take the step required for real change. That would involve giving up control and relying on the Creator of the universe.
In contrast we have people who are devoted to their health. They maintain a healthy diet they prepare in advance and have a plan on how their path will proceed. The result is a metabolism that is ready to use the good input to rebuild in the best way. This metabolism causes a hunger that requires for healthy input for continued improvement. The good input creates a good inside where the best output is attained. The result is a healthy heart, more energy and a better external appearance that draws less healthy people to your example. This as a representation of our spiritual life is a hunger for God’s Word that grows with the fruit it produces in your life. The plan to study the Word of God and to let what it says change how you let the Spirit work in your heart is the most important step. As the believer continues to grow in the Word and the Holy Spirit they are changed for the inside as their spiritual health improves. The outward manifestation is obvious to people who continue to be lost in their effortless walk.
We should choose to be spiritually healthy and let that stand as an example to the lost of this world. It’s not a single prayer in desperation (healthy meal) that changes things. It’s a life devoted to God and what He has for us. It requires patience for gradual change to manifest. Just like a month of effort won’t undo years of neglect, don’t shortcut the process of God to grow a spirit inside you that will change your life and motivate those around you to follow your lead and that of your Savior.
Power over the Kingdoms of the Earth
The third temptation shows the deceiver trying to take God’s glory for Himself, which is what caused him to be cast from heaven. Our Savior again goes to God’s Word to defeat the temptations on satan: You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve (Deuteronomy 6:13) This is one of the most important truths for us to live by. We should look to God before all things. That includes wealth, power, fame, people, position, etc. One of the other temptation we can see is how this could have also pertained to Jesus. The deceiver was offering Jesus a shortcut around the suffering He was going to endure at the cross. The deceiver was offering the opportunity to bypass the will of God to gain His kingship by and easier way. He was offering the power without the process, the position without rejection, the easy route without the required work. We may not have the chance to sit on a thrown but this says much more. Many times, we are tempted to take a lesser reward under our own strength than the gift God desires through our obedience to His process. Jesus could have taken an earthly thrown but resisted the temptation to avoid the pain and rejection to receive the Heavenly thrown at the right hand of the Father. If we walk a path that God has not designated for us we take the risk of settling for a life that cannot compare to what God designed us for. We will live a life of emptiness, discomfort, loneliness, and fear that might have come easier and faster under our power; but is a shadow of the life we were made to flourish in. Don’t fall into the temptation to bypass God’s light and end up in a darkness fueled by the void where God desires to place Himself in your life. Jesus resisted all of these temptations and made the meaning of Hebrews 4:15-16 come to life in our spirit. He has been tempted in every way and can now sympathize with us, allowing us to draw near to the thrown if grace. How amazing is the Savior we have the opportunity to place in Lordship over our lives? Let Jesus have your heart and guide your steps. He knows your temptations and wants to walk with you in them as you bypass the snares of the deceiver. Walk in communion with the Lord and know what He resisted so that He could hold your hand and guide you to the light design for your path.
Jump from the Pinnacle of the Temple
The second temptation of the deceiver is for Jesus to prove His identity and throw Himself from the top of the temple so that He would be rescued by the angels (Psalm 91:12) Again Jesus responds with God’s Word: You shall not put the Lord your God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16) What could this illustration tell us about broader temptations we all face? We are tempted to do things ourselves and then wonder why God doesn’t come in and save us from our mistakes without consequence. We don’t always feel like we are looking to ‘force God’s hand’ but we follow our own will and expect God to clean up the mess. God gave us free will so that our love for Him would be voluntary and real. God doesn’t force anyone into the loving relationship He desires for all of His children. He chooses that we are allowed to come willingly and most of the time we don’t turn to Him until out sinful nature and self-will hurt us and remind us that we weren’t meant to walk a path different from the one God design for us and designed us for. If God didn’t allow the consequences for self-reliance, we would all run head long into risk without any regard for the danger involved. We would never have a reason to walk in a consistent, loving, reliant relationship with God. He would be reduced to a gene that was called on when our self-sufficiency finally caught up to us. Imagine as a parent your child ignored all of your direction but ran to you as soon as they got into trouble that you had advised against. God’s love and grace cover our ignorance but His heart is for us to live a better life that gives us joy and glorifies Him. Don’t fall into temptations to that are represented here by a leap that our Savior resisted for the glory of the Father and the salvation of His followers.
Stone to Bread
At first glance, we see a hungry man being tempted to feed Himself. His response is from scripture: …that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3) This temptation represents something that covers the majority of us are tempted with every day. Another way of seeing this is, Jesus was being tempted to seek worldly comfort instead of that which comes from God. This also represents our tendency to bypass the correction and growth God desires for us to walk through in order to be in submission and reliance on Him. People try to sooth their pain and frustration with worldly things like drugs, alcohol, food, people, etc. People sinfully seek a reward without the work and process that God desires to grow our spirit in the times of need. We should look to God, His provision and His Word to sustain us as He leads us through difficult times meant to help us grow in relationship with our Creator. God will always give us the provision we need to walk the path that He has illuminated for us. It is when we lean on the lesser provision of this world that we are drawn away from our Sustainer to seek the things that will perish. The desire to resort to our own strength and power haunt all of us in our fallen nature. We can’t appreciate the process of the timing of God. If we really think about it, something as simple as turning a stone to bread covers the majority of the temptation we face. If we were in a constant relationship with God and His will, we would be the source of abundant spiritual fruit where sin cannot abound.
Following His baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted after 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:1). I heard a sermon where the speaker said that Jesus could not be tempted due to the lack of indwelling sin that we carry from birth. It’s an interesting thought. He prefers to say that the deceiver was testing The Son of God, sizing up his adversary. I like the thought of the deceiver being clueless to what God in the flesh had come to do. He would eventually cause a disciple to betray Jesus, leading to the death that defeated his own power over those who choose to believe in salvation through Jesus.
However we see the time spent in the wilderness, it is clear that the deceiver was on a mission to try and change what God was doing. If we look at the temptations Jesus was presented we can see that the Book of Hebrews presents a truth described here in the Gospels. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16) When I see the ways Jesus was tempted, I see that all three cover the majority, if not all, of the temptations we face. I want to examine how these three temptations encompass more than what might be scanned over as we read. Let’s break down each and see what larger truths exist beyond three attempts by satan.
He tempted toward the good parts of being human without the bad: to savor the taste of bread without being subject to the fixed rules of hunger and of agriculture, to confront risk with no real danger, to enjoy fame and power without the prospect of painful rejection- in short, to wear a crown but not a cross. – Philip Yancey
Jesus forfeited the three greatest powers at his disposal, “miracles, mystery, and authority.” – The Brothers Karamazov
Jesus was not willing to trade away our freedom for control, safety, protection, ambition, or comfort.
As the multitude followed Jesus, it was recorded twice that He stopped and provided for them so that they would not parish in their pursuit of Him and His truth. (Jesus feeds the 5000 –> Matthew 14:13-21) When our focus is on God and serving Him He will provide for us in our faith. Jesus made this clear in the way He provided for those seeking Him. And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:29-31)
The problem occurs when people seek that they want over what God is looking to provide. In our sinfulness we lean toward self-sufficiency and self-guidance. We walk a path we have designed in our own power and look to God for the provision to help us along our own fallen path. We can fall away from fear and anxiety when we realign ourselves with the plan God has for us. We have to realize that we were designed for a Godly purpose. God’s provision is meant to supply us for that walk. Our following of Jesus allows us to appreciate that what we have been provided is more than we need. God will provide excess so that the overflowing of His provision can be showered upon those around us. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much (Luke 16:10) When God sees you walking faithfully in union with Jesus using His provision to accomplish what God has laid before you. He will multiply that provision so that your walk can continue in greater ways.
Don’t look to God for the worldly things you want, but instead ask Him to give you what He desires you to have. This will insure that your path is His, your desires are His desires, your will is His will, and all glory belongs to God the Father through a life transformed through salvation in and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Heavenly Father,
How mighty, infinite and holy is Your name. I humble myself in the idea that You are above all things and beyond what I could ever comprehend. Never let me put You in a box. Allow me to see You at work in all things. Please reveal more of You to me every day. Let me rest in this thirst that can only be quenched by You. May it never be quenched until the day I join You in eternity. Please give me the wisdom to see things from Your vantage, the discernment to see Your work and determine Your will from anything else. Guide my steps as I hold Your right hand. Make me strong in my weakness, wise in my ignorance, joyful in my struggles, and faithful in my doubt. Be the only provision I need and the foundation on which I stand. Let me seek You first always so that it is always You that I fall upon. Allow me to be closer to You every day as I sit at Your feet, growing in faith and righteousness. Draw close to me as I draw close to You so that I may be filled with Your love and grace. Let Your praise always be the first on my lips. I submit to your will and ask that you shape me like clay so that I may be fit for the purpose I was created for. Thank You for calling me out of the darkness and choosing me to be a child of the living God as I walk in the salvation and sanctification available only through my Savior Jesus Christ. It’s in His precious and holy name I pray.
Amen, Amen and Amen
Many people who come to know Jesus as their Savior feel that once they’ve accepted Him, they have reached a point of completion. In terms of salvation their faith has brought them into relationship and reconciliation with God. It is sad when they stop at that point and miss out on the opportunity to submit to God and let Him take control of the life He created for a specific purpose, greater than they can imagine. They don’t acknowledge the new life given to them through Jesus. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Reconciliation to God through faith in Jesus tears down the house we’ve built for ourselves with the fleshly materials of this world and allows the construction of a Spirit based house on the foundation of our Savior. The problem arises when we try to build that new life in our own power. For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. (Galatians 2:18-19) We must rely on the Holy Spirit of God to bring lasting change to our lives. We fall victim to legalism and religion when we try to do God’s work for Him. As we dwell in this world we only have access to worldly materials to build ourselves. It’s important that we let God sanctify our new hearts and draw us out of the slavery to this sinful world. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? (Galatians 4:9) The laws that guided people in the Old Testament to rely and focus on God are just shadows of what we have in the light of Jesus Christ. I’m not referring to the moral laws that Christ fulfills in His call for us to love God and our neighbors. I refer to the sacramental and ritual laws that kept eyes and dependence on God until His chosen could be reconciled through faith in His Son. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24) Don’t fall backward into trying to work for God. Humble yourself to His will and what He wants to do in your heart. Let His infinite power create lasting change, and let that power fight these battles to completion. Live by the Spirit and let your works honor God because of His love, not to attain the love you already have. Let God do the work in your heart and your life that you are unable to accomplish because we were designed to live in reliance on our Creator through faith and love for our Savior. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)