God’s People, part 151: Temptation

Read Matthew 4:1-11

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:10, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

image 1-24-19 at 8.09 pmPart 151: Temptation. As I begin to write this devotion on the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, I must confess that I sit on the edge of the wilderness facing the unknown of what lies ahead when I cross over that border. On April 12, 2018, I published a podcast in which I discussed my personal struggle with my weight and healthy living. I have been very transparent about that, and at the time I had just started another juice fast because of my giving into the temptation of convenience foods. I have plenty of good excuses to do so, “I’m too busy”, “I’m too tired to cook”, “If I cook at this time I will be eating at 10 p.m.”, etc. Regardless, I know that I should eat whole foods and not succumb to those temptations, yet I do.

Well, by July of 2018 I had gotten back to a healthy weight. I was down to 203 lbs. Then I went on vacation and gave into the temptation to just “live a little”. Following vacation and the end of Summer things got hectic and stressful, nothing negative, but just a lot of things needing my attention all at the same time. As I gave into those same temptations again, my weight began to increase and my health, naturally, declined.

The truth be told, since July I have gained about 80 lbs. and, yes, it does bother me. I know people notice and probably talk about it when I am not present. Some people have even commented on it directly to me. I also know that a lot of that has to do with concern, but my self-consciousness kicks in all the more as a result. So here I am, writing once again about my struggles, as I sit here the night before I start another juice fast to kick-start me back into healthy living.

Like any fast, it is a wilderness period where I will come face-to-face with my demons and will be tempted over and over again to just give up. When Jesus went into the wilderness he fasted too. During that time, Satan came to him and tempted him to eat and, overall, to just give up what he was doing. In a roundabout way, the devil was telling Jesus to just give up and make life easier on himself. Yet, Jesus rebuked Satan and continued through the wilderness.

That time of intense struggle prepared Jesus for doing ministry in the world. As tough as the wilderness experience was, it was nothing compared to what he was going to face out in the world. Jesus knew that would be the case and kept his focus on God and God’s promises as found in Scripture.

So often we try to avoid the wilderness, to skip over it entirely; however, what we fail to realize is that it is in the wilderness where we not only come face-to-face with our demons, but we also come face-to-face with our GOD. It is in the wilderness where we are humbled and profoundly learn about our weaknesses; however, it is also in that time that we learn how God’s strength shines brightly through them.

Today I am challenging you, even as I challenge myself, to enter into the wilderness. For each of us that place is different, but it is a place that exists for us all. Enter into it and face the things you need to face so that Christ can attend to you with angels and strengthen you for carrying out his mission in the world. Sure, it will be a painful experience, but as the old adage goes, “No pain, no gain.”

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” – Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)

PRAYER
Lord, lead me into the wilderness and help me to face my weaknesses so that, in them, I may be strengthened through your sanctifying grace. Amen.

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