We all have struggles in our lives that at times can be overwhelming. In our humanity, we tend to feed into the anxiety, making the situation worse. We get frustrated, complain, and get stuck in the muck of the pity party which only leads to annoying everyone around us. Other than God, no one knows our struggles better than the devil, even though he and his minions can’t hear our thoughts. How does he know? We tell him every time we complain, share our fears out loud, and through our body language. We do this partly because it is a part of our fallen nature, and because it is what we have become accustomed to. The good news is that we can choose this very day to stop the pattern. We don’t have to look very far to discover a better way, but just like everything else, it will require an effort and practice.
In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus shows us how to handle temptation when we are weak. The scriptures tell us that he prepared himself for the tempting by fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. When the tempter came to tempt Jesus, he was weak in the body but strong in the Spirit. This indicates to me that fasting is of primary importance. It is a spiritual practice that we Christians have all but abandoned. Fasting for 40 days and 40 nights might seem a bit extreme, but it begs the question of, “How bad do we want our situation to change? Are we willing to endure a little self-sacrifice, so that we will become strong enough to win?”
I often say that we are a bunch of wimps when it comes to prayer and sacrifice. When trouble came across the Israelites lives, they would put on sackcloth, put ashes on their heads and prostrate themselves before the Lord in prayer and fasting until the trouble passed, or the Lord gave them a clear directive (2 Sam 21:10, 1 Kings 21:27, 1 Chronicles 21:16, Nehemiah 9:1, Judith 4:11, Judith 9:1, Esther 4:3, 1 Maccabees 3:47). Once again, how bad do we want freedom? We can all fast from something. It doesn’t always have to be food. It can be anything that would require a sacrifice such as T.V., social media, gossip, a dessert that we’re especially fond of, etc. I encourage us not to fast from things that will benefit the health of our body, soul and spirit. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit what to fast, and make this a regular practice in our lives.
When the tempter came, Jesus was ready. He had been fasting for 40 days and although the scripture doesn’t mention prayer, I’m sure that he praised his Father with every breath as he walked, danced in the joy of his presence, and worshiped in adoration. He prayed for his mission to be accomplished and for us to receive salvation. This models the perfect prayer time for us – praise, worship, adoration, and prayers of petition for our mission and for our loved ones needs.
As the devil taunted him with temptations that addressed his physical hunger, challenged his identity, and poked at the human desire for power, Jesus stood his ground and simply spoke the truth of scripture right back to him. This reveals the absolute need to be grounded in the Word of God. If we don’t know what it says, we will not be able to disarm the devil with it when he comes to manipulate and lie to us. Get into the Word, Christian! Read it, study it, pray it, and use it as your weapon against the accuser. When you do, he will flee and the holy angels will come and minister to you (I love that!).
Get to practicing child of God. Practice makes us strong and less likely to fall prey to the enemy’s tactics. Let's not get stuck in the muck of his trap.
The Temptation of Jesus
Praising, worshiping, and adoring,
In the last few days those of us in South Florida have experienced a range of emotions. We have slipped in and out of faith, fear and trust, as we've prepared our homes for the worst and hoped for the best. In the midst of the chaos, I found my faith rising to a new level as the Holy Spirit within me continually renounced the negative thought patterns that spoke destruction over our area. His voice kept telling me to gather those with faith at the beach and to speak directly to the storm as Jesus did in Matthew 8:23-27.
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
As I pondered the scripture the verse that struck me was when the disciples woke him and said, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm." They cried out in fear and he challenged their faith, got up and rebuked the winds and the sea. He was teaching them that there was no need to fear because with faith all things are possible. He "got up and rebuked the wind and the sea" teaching them what to do. You see Christian, when destruction comes our way we do not need to bow to the spirit of fear and hand over our power and we don't need to beg Jesus to "save us" because he already has. What we need to do is "get up and rebuked the storm in the name of Jesus" because the same power that raised him from the dead is alive in us (Romans 8:11). Looking closer into the scripture we also see that there is an action that took place before the rebuke. Jesus "got up," he could have stayed curled up, rebuked it and then kept sleeping but he didn't. When the eye of the storm is facing us dead on maybe we need to take action and couple it with our prayer. For me in this instance, it was asking others to gather at the beach and pray. I could have simply asked them to pray like Jesus did in Matthew and we could have all prayed from home but this enormous storm required action and prayer. We gathered at the Juno Beach Pier, praised God, and rebuked the storm together as one two days in a row. This built our faith, and stretched us out of our comfort zones. The people around us might have thought we were crazy, but hey, the storm obeyed and we were spared destruction. We must grow up in our faith and begin to act like the Apostles did. If we are hungry to see a harvest of souls come into the Kingdom then we must begin to demonstrate the Kingdom of God in power and yes, in public.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:20,
"For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power."
and again in 2 Corinthians 2:4
"My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power"
I am thankful today that we were spared and praying for those that have been hurt. Will you join me in a time of worship with the song below in praise, thanksgiving and hope?
To God be the glory forever and ever,
Picture by Rachel Sherman ~ https://soulshinecreativeblog.com/
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