When we last met, I asked you to read Matthew 4:1-11. If your done with your homework, grab your bible and an iced latte and let's dig in. When I first read this, as I mentioned in the last devotion, I was surprised by the very first verse; "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." I couldn't comprehend why God would allow His Son to be dragged off into the wilderness to be lied to and manipulated by the devil. This, to me, made no sense. How could a loving God allow His own child to be taunted, tempted and even spoken to by His very own enemy? After reading it many times, however, God allowed me to see, and there is so much here in these eleven verses to be seen.
The passage tells us that Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights. He had to be seriously hungry. I can't seem go more than a few hours and I'm whining already. So when Satan began to speak, I would believe that Jesus was most likely hungry, thirsty and tired. Lets just park there a second. I don't know about you, but I always seem to fall apart when I'm hungry, or tired. If you know anyone that is a part of Alcoholics Anonymous, they can tell you about the acronym, HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) What this tells us is that when you are any of these things, you need to be on your guard because this is when it's easiest to fall. So they know that they need to HALT and realize that temptation is right there waiting for them.
Ok, verse 2 says that Jesus was hungry. The devil came to Him and started chirping "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." Now Satan's request didn't seem all that bad, after all he was concerned for him right? Wrong! He was tempting. Why? For the sole purpose to take Jesus eyes off the Father and His will. But it's in Jesus' response that speaks volumes. Three little words that accomplish so much, "It is written". These words come out of my mouth with every battle I fight against fear and anxiety. Following those three words, is scripture. He replies with "Man shall not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God."
You would think that once He refuses to fall for Satan's ploy to distract Jesus and to lessen His trust, that the devil would flee. James 4:7 says "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." But our relentless foe wasted no time before he was at it again, only this time something was different. In verses 5 and 6 he takes Jesus to pinnacle of the temple and says "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you" and "on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone." Did you catch that? Satan used scripture to tempt Jesus!
Ladies and gentlemen, if we do not know the word of God, we are in trouble. Even the devil knows the word of God! How can you battle an enemy in a war of the Word, when the only one who knows the Word is your opponent? The other point that I would like to make is that just memorizing scripture isn't going to help much either, we need to pray for understanding. My dear friend Edie always says, the biggest lie is a half truth. Oh Edie, you are so right and those half truths are being spread all over the world. They are making it through our radio stations and television screens daily. The Word of God is being so twisted, it's hard to know what the bible is even saying anymore. But thankfully, wisdom comes from God alone and we can to pray for it so that we are not derailed.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says "but test everything; hold fast to what is good". Acts 17:11 says "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." This is our call, to examine the scriptures to see if what the messengers in our lives are speaking, is truth. Wether it be Lady GaGa, Oprah Winfrey or our own Pastor, we need to be reading the scriptures to make sure that we aren't being led astray. I am so thankful for my pastor, he teaches from the word and he tells us all the time to be in the word testing what is taught by him and others. One of the hardest lessons I've ever had was lies from another Christian. Sometimes the enemy uses our prayer grounds to breed the lies. Remember that when Jesus carried that cross to His place of temporary death, He did so at the hand of men who attended and were very active in the church.
The other part of this lesson that is so clear to me, is back in that first verse again. It says The Spirit led Jesus to the devil. God is Sovereign, meaning reigns over all. He allows some yucky stuff to happen to us to mold us to look more like Him. He uses the times of deceit and betrayal to shake the pride right off of us. I'm sure many of you reading this have been chirped at by the enemy. "If you really are Christian (your name here) you wouldn't think that" or maybe "Go ahead (your name here) and take a sip, no one will see it, and Gods got your back, you won't be addicted anymore." The enemy uses us to speak to each other if we aren't praying over our words with comments like "(your name here) you deserve to be happy." Oh he is a liar, the father of them says John 8:44. The devil is crafty says Genesis 3:1. The warnings are all the way from Genesis to Revelation. But the Truth prevails and trumps evil in the end! Amen?
The third time Jesus is taunted, Satan tells Jesus that He could have reign over everything, if only Jesus bows down before him. Sounding a bit irritated, Jesus says "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship The Lord your God and him only shall you serve." Verse 11 says that the devil left and the angels attended or ministered to Jesus. Gods word can minister so sweetly, especially after a tough season. Psalm 91:1 says "He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." Meaning if we dwell in His word and in His Truth, we will be protected as a baby bird under the wing of his daddy.
Let's pray "Oh Lord, thank You for Your word. Thank You for truth. God without it, we are lost. I pray for each one reading that You give us wisdom and discernment of scripture. It's not enough to just read it Lord, only You can help us understand. I pray for the lies to be revealed. I pray for healing to begin. I pray for a sense of awareness to be prevalent from here on out, that no one be able to deny the conviction that Your Spirit so gently speaks. Lord, I thank You for loving us. It's in Jesus name that I pray this. Amen"