TESTED BY THE DEVIL
“Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.
The Devil [laying on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn unto a loaf of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more that bread to really live.”
For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”
Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the lord your god and only the lord your God. Serve him absolute single-heartedness.”
For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said. “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”
“Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”
That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.” Luke:4: 1-13 (Message)
Prayer: Lord God, our strength, the struggle between good and evil rages within and around us, and the devil and all the forces that defy you tempt us with promises. Keep us steadfast in your word, and when we fall, raise us again and reclose us through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
“So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from or my drink? Or my clothes” (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” Matthew 6: 31-34 (TEV)
There are different kinds of worry: people worry about things that have already happened; people worry over things that will inevitable happen; and people worry about things that will never happen.
Matthew 6:24-34 tells us to not worry that it is unnecessary to worry. Worry is preventable, useless, cruel, irreligious, futile and without mercy and faithless.
I like the Today’s English Version of verse 27 where it asks, “Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?” No, worry is in our time, not God’s. Worry is a waste of time; can impair our health; disregards the commands of God; robs us of joy and happiness, and bars our prayers from being answered. Instead we should be concerned about our faith journey with God and what is right in His sight.
We can learn how to overcome worry by making up our minds up that we are going to conquer it and through prayer ask God about it. Daily form a right relationship with God through scripture reading and study, worship and fellowship with others. Do the best you can to master worry and then turn everything else over to God. Rest easy and live one day at a time.
Prayer: Lord, we come before you to rest our worries and give them to you. Thank you for receiving our prayers through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 (NLT)
While living in Florida over the winter months, friends from the north would call and ask,” How’s the weather down there?” and proceed to tell of the snow and ice up north. I heard somewhere that “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.” So very true.
Many things in life we find we can’t change. We just talk about these situations in life, and yet we aren’t able to do anything about them. Weather and natural disasters are a few examples.
However, God not only talked about saving us from our sins. He did something about it. He rescued us from our sins by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us and be raised again.
Think about it. God did this for all of us. We had no part in it. He is the true God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He did this to show His true love in action for us. What a sacrifice of behalf of us sinners. Jesus redeemed us with his precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. So that we may be his own, to serve him and to live with him eternally. Thank you, Jesus.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, thank you for sacrificing yourself for us. You truly are the “Lamb of God who takes away on sins. Grant us peace.” Amen
“Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 (RSV)
Sometimes it is hard to imagine that God knows each one of us by name. That God loves each one of His creatures individually and made each one of us unique.
We know God’s love because he sent his only Son to be our redeemer. In Holy Baptism he called us by name and made us His own, bestowing on each one of us the redemption Jesus earned for all of us on the cross.
In the moments of our lives when we feel unimportant and insignificant to others in our world, remember that we are very special in God’s insight. We are all important to Him at that moment. We are His baptized children. And he reminds us that, “I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, YOU ARE MINE.” What wonderful comforting and reassuring words.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for choosing and knowing us when we call upon your name. Amen
BEGINNING AND ENDING
“Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last. I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever.” Revelation 1:17-18 (Message)
The librarian handed me a new mystery book to read and said, “You have to read this from the beginning to the end. You’ll never want to put it down until it’s finished.”
The beginning and the endings of life can be scary just as in a book: giving birth can be frightening; ending a long relationship; moving across the country to a new job or the finality of dying. These can be frightening yet they can be exciting, renewing or freeing; the birth of a child, a new relationship, a new job or career or the opening of heaven’s portal.
What makes the difference between the beginning and ending, the frightening or the exciting? The difference is in the trust in God, who sent His Son, Jesus Christ to stand at the beginning and the end. He is the First and the Last. The Living One. No matter what opens and shuts or starts and finishes, Jesus is always with us. He is our living companion. There is no need to fear. Praise be to God.
Prayer: With you, Jesus, you are our First and Last always. Thank you for that undying, unconditional love. Amen
I STAND AT THE DOOR AND KNOCK
“Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door. I will come into his house and eat with them, and he will eat with me. To those who will win the victory I will give the right to sit beside me on my throne, just as I have been victorious and now sit by my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3: 20-21 (TEV)
In Revelation 3:20-22 God’s talking to each of us. He’s knocking on our hearts to enter into imitate fellowship with us. To those who are for Him, He says, “I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Just imagine—our sitting with Jesus on his throne. We are assured of that. God speaks to us through His word. We respond to Him through our obedience but God has also given us access to His presence through prayer.
Prayer has been defined by Tony Evans as “regular communication with God in which believers develop as intimate fellowship with their Father.” Unfortunately, many of us know our prayers so well that we don’t think when we pray; the words automatically roll off our tongues reflecting the ‘depth’ of our relationship with God. Prayer is intrinsic to the life of Christ because the growth on our prayer life equals the growth in our spiritual life.
Mark 1:35 describes one of Christ’s busiest days on earth. Christ preached in many synagogues, yet on that day He did not sleep to get more energy; instead He rose before daylight to pray; the busier His schedule, the greater His need for God. When Jesus was on His way to the cross, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. When He was suffering on the cross He prayed.
How do we respond to our busy days? Paul made it clear that Christians can enjoy the things of the cosmos (1Timothy 6:17) as long as they maintain their dependence on the first love of God. God cannot have an intimate relationship with us if we are having an affair with the world.
Are we leaving Him at the door to knock, and we don’t answer because we are too busy in worldly things?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, with contrite hearts we prayer for forgiveness, when we don’t answer your knock. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
LISTEN TO WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS
“I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One. Just as I do not belong to the world, they do not belong to the world.” John 17: 15-16 (TEV)
We are to be in the world, but not of the world. (John 17:15-16) We have television, drive nice cars, enjoy leisure time, do yard work in the nice house, shop, etc., yet, Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:31 “commends those who use the world as not missing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” He is suggesting that we use the things of this world, but warns us not to lose sight of our first priority.
When the television, shopping, cleaning, etc., competes successfully for our devotion and prayer time, God is being left out. When the leisure time and yard work begin to rise toward first place in our life, God is being left out. We each must examine our hearts if we want to keep our relationship with God vital and flourishing. For one believer, to have a TV in the house is a temptation, for another believer, may have 5 sets and that person serves God faithfully. We each need to be honest and reflect on what is keeping us from God. Another reliable measure of our entanglement with “things” is: how would we feel if we lost these things? Would we gripe and complain or would we thrive in faith? Would we enjoy things and possessions but not cling to them so tightly that we could not survive the loss?
Are we putting the things/events of the world before our prayerful relationship with God? Are we leaving God at the door to knock and we don’t answer because we are too busy? ---Answer yourself honestly.
Prayer: Lord, you should be foremost in our lives. Forgive us when we stray and leave you knocking at the door. Open our hearts to only you Lord. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen