Tempted in All Ways (2 of 4)

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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.

Tempted in All Ways (1 of 4)

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    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.

Provision to the Faithful

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    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.

Prayer to Align Our Hearts to God

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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

Changed By The Spirit

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                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)

Communion Daily

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    Jesus gave communion at The Last Supper so that those who follow Him would later receive those elements and remember what He sacrificed as God’s lamb for us. I see that the feelings that are supposed to be invoked from communion according to (1 Corinthians 11:28-29) Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves, are feelings we would do well to consider every time we sit to nourish our bodies. As we sit to nourish a body that is slowly returning to dust we can take a moment to glorify the savior that gives us spiritual nourishment and eternal life. We are meant to remember Jesus any time we eat. We honor God in all things. Because we always have to eat to sustain our bodies, Jesus desired that we remember Him so that we can sustain ourselves spiritually. We need to remember to dwell in God’s word and listen to His spirit at least as often as we eat. Just imagine how much closer you can walk with the Lord if every time you sit to fulfill the hunger of your body you also take the time to allow Jesus to fulfill the hunger of your spirit. There are many things we do that keep us from feeling hungry: appetite suppressants, busy lifestyle, or allowing our bodies to get use to not eating. Sin acts in the same way to reduce our connection (appetite for) Jesus. Just like eating less lowers our metabolism so that our body needs less food to operate, falling away from a focus on Jesus reduces our hunger for His Word and provision. Glorify Him in all things and take a moment as you sustain your body with food to thank Him and nourish your spirit with His all sufficient provision.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Knowledge or Love

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      How many times have we met someone that knows there must be a God? How many people do you know who say they believe in Jesus, but their life doesn’t show signs of His presence? The bible says: You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder (James 2:19) There are times in the ministry of Jesus where the demons refer to Him as the “Son of God.” Even the demons know who He is which means that knowing is not enough. We are called to know Jesus through a mutual love. We are meant to know Christ with our hearts and not only our minds. Christ dwells in our hearts and the deceiver dwells in our heads to continue the battle between our spirit and our flesh. The closer we get to God, the more familiar His voice becomes and the less effective the deceptions in our minds become.
    Many people seek God through knowledge. They read and study in an attempt to know Him and get closer to Him. They miss the opportunity to experience the true glory of God only found in love. It’s only possible to know God through what He reveals to you about His infinitude, through His love and grace. We are meant to grow in Christ through love and not knowledge. God’s Word says: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8:1-2) God reveals to the humble believer everything they need to know. The Holy Spirit came to lead us to all truth. Let love lead you to communion with God and let God’s Spirit lead you to the knowledge given by God for you to accomplish your purpose.
    We also influence those around us as we walk with God in the process of sanctification. Focusing on knowledge over love leaves us in a position to lead others in knowledge over love. We have to be careful to bring new believers along at a pace based on God’s timing. Don’t let your head hurt a believer where your heart can show them the Lord. And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. (1 Corinthians 8:11)
     Let your spirit of love draw you closer to God as it also draws those around you to the truth of Jesus Christ. Let love be the basis for your testimony and what you call on to show Jesus to this dark world. Let your knowledge come from the Holy Spirit. It will be designed for you at each moment of your walk and it will always prove a trustworthy as the Source.