aint nobody got time for that... drama. unhealthy competition. back biting. lies.
i hate how easy it is to fall in to those things in everyday life and conversations. sometimes one thing leads to another and we find ourselves in situations we didn't expect or intend to be in. while, yes, there are times when we are able to intentionally avoid these kinds of situations. there are other times when we say.."wait, what just happened? how did i get here?".
Jesus was tempted too. tempted to give in to all these same things that we are tempted to give in to. Satan took some shots, threw some sucker punches, by stretching and distorting truth and God's Word and making some underhanded suggestions. "hey Jesus, you could be awesome, hey Jesus you could be the best, hey Jesus you could be everyones favorite". but obviously, our God is much too smart and holy and perfect to have given in to such nonsense. not that it wasn't excruciatingly difficult. Jesus was fully man at that time. fully humanly physical and capable of starvation. capable of exhaustion. capable of human reactions and responses because he was, in fact, human. and hungry. he'd been fasting for 40 days. yet the Bible says he was without sin. he stood up to the enemy and fought back with truth. actual, whole, absolute truth. because that truth was hidden in his heart, he was able to recall it and use it to combat the enemy.
when Satan tempts us, he does the same exact thing. he tells bits of truth but infuses it with darkness, stretching it, distorting it, bloating it. sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's obvious. but no matter what we have the power over sin because of Jesus. because of JESUS. freedom because of Jesus, life because of Jesus. Heaven because of Jesus.
it's so clear that the enemy knew that Jesus was up to good. immediately after the 40 days/nights of temptation in the wilderness, the Bible says 'Jesus began his ministry'(Matthew 4:12). i believe that Satan was staging a last ditch effort to thwart God's plan. i imagine all of Heavens armies were gathering, mobilizing in anticipation of the warfare sure to come once Jesus starting changing lives and healing hearts.
and i also believe that as you and i attempt great things on behalf of our God that the enemy will be hot on our heels as well. that means he's going to be throwing everything he's got at us. little things that might seem harmless on the surface but that do great damage. big things that we think we can't possible survive. everyday things that we've grown accustomed to and fail to realize what they really are.... and on and on.
so in addition to my verse for this month's STANDard, here are 3 things that i hope help us in putting Jesus' lesson of temptation to work in our own lives.
first: we have to pinpoint the specific areas where we are being tempted. in other words, identify the stuff Satan is using against you. where are you weak? where do you consistently fail? what trips you up most often? what are you believing that's NOT true? or not believing that IS true? identify what truth(s) are being distorted.
secondly: just like Jesus 'fought back' with scripture, we can too! in Ephesians the Word of God is referred to as the Sword of the Spirit... take it and use it to parry in defense! i've mentioned multiple times elsewhere how much i love action movies/stories. i just love the adventure and battle scenes, hence my use of the word parry. it's a fencing term meaning to ward off or evade. it's when you throw up your sword to deflect an incoming thrust. it's thinking on your feet and using what you've got to fight back and protect yourself. for us, it's cutting through the crap the enemy thrusts at us, not shrinking back and giving in, but instead fending off and keeping at bay. so, you've identified and pinpointed the chinks in your armor, now dig through the Word and find the truth. Gods Word is living, breathing, accurate and absolute. be careful not to take it out of context and simply find verses that support your theories, as it were. but read it daily... let it saturate your life, so that when the time comes (like every single day all the time) you'll be able to recall it, like Jesus did. now... obviously i'm not suggesting that we memorize the Bible in it's entirety, but rather become familiar with it. very, very familiar with it. so you KNOW when it's being taken out of context. so you KNOW when the enemy is using it against you. so you KNOW how to use it in your defense.
finally, proceed. get up. go forward. the enemy has made his play, you've parried the best you can. now stand on the promises of God and proceed in what he's given you to do. be about your Fathers business. wait... i want to emphasize that:
BE ABOUT YOUR FATHERS BUSINESS
i truly believe that what the enemy wants is you and me distracted by disappointments and discouragements, effectively keeping us occupied with ourselves. because then we aren't focused on what ACTUALLY MATTERS.... JESUS
at the end of the 40 days of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus said:
"away from me Satan, for it is written: worship The Lord your God and serve him only"
in the Message it says it this way:
" 'beat it Satan!' he backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: 'worship The Lord your God, and only him. serve him with absolute single-heartedness.' "
2 verses later Jesus begins His earthly ministry.
i wonder what God is stirring in your heart. what the enemy senses and therefore is attempting to prevent. i know there are a lot of doubts in my mind regarding the future. lot's of 'yeah, but's' and 'can't be's'. so i can only assume you've got some too. i encourage you to take these three simple things to heart...
pinpoint; parry; proceed
be honest with yourself and God and let him do the difficult work of pruning if need be.
then surrender and get to work... be about your heavenly Father's business
i'm going to be memorizing and meditating on Matthew 4:10 this month:
"Get out of here Satan... for the scriptures say: 'you must Worship The Lord your God and serve only him' "
i would love to know what verse you are memorizing!