Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
Matthew 4:1 (NLT)
It’s the middle of July and the heat has arrived with a vengeance. The sun glares and we move with aching slowness. Temperatures rise and with them, tempers, followed closely with the temptation to snap and grump, moan and complain. Restlessness, discontentment, rattle around our hearts, taking up residence in spite of our best efforts.
Somewhere this side of the fourth of July, I feel a proverbial noose begin to tighten. I am trapped inside with a disease that does not react nicely in hot weather. I see the distance between the rising of the sun and the evening glow shorten. Days dwindle without permission. We hang in the balance of where we are, desperately tightening our hold with a restlessness unfurling inside. Heat and all.
The tension lies somewhere between slowing summer and chasing Autumn. At the same time, I want to be present here, in the slow hazy heat.
It’s exactly here where I turned to the pages of Matthew, chapter four, and read the temptation of Jesus. I love this passage. I can relate, stranded in the wilderness myself. I read every temptation, Jesus is faced with in the wilderness. I mark the red letter words, His words, copy them on my pages.
Faced with gnawing hunger, he was challenged to turn the stones to bread.
For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’
Jesus responed, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.'”
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him, “for the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'”
Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Matthew 4:2-11 (NLT)
I’m wondering how I would hold up under these circumstances. What would I have been tempted with? How often, or quickly, would I have greedily grabbed the bread, turning from Father, only to feed the gnawing hunger of my wretched heart?
How quickly would I worship the things of the world? How often do I crave the adoration of others?
When I am stranded here in my wilderness, when you are stranded in your wilderness, how in this unholy world can we battle temptation? By defining and knowing our own weaknesses. Know the prowling enemy who is out to steal, kill, and destroy, and will invade the weakest pieces of our hearts, the jumbled up places in our minds.
There are three things we can learn about our enemy, from this passage of Scripture:
Satan knew Scripture. Jesus not only knew Scripture, He obeyed it.
Satan wanted proof. We must live by faith. (Galations 2:16, Romans 4:3, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:20)
Satan was going to give Jesus the world if He would only bow down to him. Jesus worshiped His Father only.
Every moment of our lives we are tempted. The higher the heat, the harder the battle. There is a real enemy who knows the cracks of every broken place in our lives. And he will slither through.
What can we do when tempted? What should we do when tempted?
Know and obey Scripture. In other words, commit to spending time in God’s Word. This may look like giving up something else: Netflix, social media, a good book.
Live by faith alone.
Worship Him alone.
When all was said and done, when Jesus faced the enemy and won, walking away battle weary, His Father sent angels to take care of Him.
I can’t help but think, when I, when you, stand strong, facing the enemy, God will take care of us.
Hannah Anderson in her book Humble Roots said this:
“Pride blinds us to God’s good gifts.”
Somewhere deep in my aching soul, pride is the root of all that lures me toward the clutches of temptation. I must stand strong, know my enemy, know my God, and walk by faith. Engaged in His Word. Meditating on it day and night.
Gifts of Grace
I’m blessed to serve you in this place, to share with you the Gifts of Grace as I journey through the wilderness. I picture you across the table, hands wrapped tightly around your cup, sharing life, and laughter, and tears. As I share with you, my own daily struggles, I long to hear what yours may be. Sharing the realness of life. You can do that by commenting below or reaching out to me here.
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