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Daily Distinctive, April 24, 2015 (The WORD in the Wilderness)

April 24, 2015

Daily Reading:

[Luk 4:1 NKJV]
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

[Luk 4:2 NKJV]
being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

[Luk 4:3 NKJV]
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

[Luk 4:4 NKJV]
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ “

[Luk 4:5 NKJV]
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

[Luk 4:6 NKJV]
And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for [this] has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.

[Luk 4:7 NKJV]
“Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

[Luk 4:8 NKJV]
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ “

[Luk 4:9 NKJV]
Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.

[Luk 4:10 NKJV]
“For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’

[Luk 4:11 NKJV]
“and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ “

[Luk 4:12 NKJV]
And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ “

[Luk 4:13 NKJV]
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

[Luk 4:14 NKJV]
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.

[Luk 4:15 NKJV]
And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Daily Distinctive:

Jesus is our perfect example, and so when we look at the Scripture, we should examine our own lives in light of what His example provides for us. One of the greatest things that we can glean from Christ’s example is the way in which Christ overcame temptation. His WORD tells us that no temptation has overtaken us except for that which is common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13). We also read in the Scriptures that Jesus was tempted at all points, as we are, but was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). And so what I thought I would do for my daily devotional is look at the example that Jesus set for us when He, Himself, was tempted.

[Luk 4:1 NKJV]
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

A couple things that I notice here from the beginning is that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and He was led by the Spirit. As Christians today we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, but the question I have to ask myself is am I being led by the Holy Spirit or am I doing things my own way according to my own will. If I am to overcome the temptations that so easily ensnare me then I must live and walk according to the will of the Spirit and not my own. Sometimes I just have to expect that the Holy Spirit will lead me into the wilderness just as He did the LORD.

[Luk 4:2 NKJV]
being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted for forty days by the devil. Now, when I look at this I can’t imagine being tempted for forty solid days by the devil himself. My temptations are usually caused by the lusts of my own flesh, perhaps even by the devils minions to some degree, but I cannot say that I have ever been tempted by the devil himself. The devil has bigger fish to go after than me I am sure. Yet here we see Jesus being tempted by the devil directly. Notice too that He ate nothing. Jesus was fasting during these times of temptation. It was at the end of this period of fasting that the devil sought to lay upon Him the worst of temptations. Now, I have personally fasted, but never for forty days! But ¬†I will tell you that even for my short fast, it seemed that I was tempted by every temptation imaginable. But here we have Jesus who was about to begin His earthly ministry. He was baptized, and filled with the Holy Sprit before being tempted and beginning His ministry.

And so let’s examine some of the ways that devil tried to tempt the LORD. I personally hope to learn what I must look out for as the LORD calls me to my own ministry. And so in light of this question, what does the LORD want to say to me personally through His own temptations and by His own example? Let’s examine the first temptation…

[Luk 4:3 NKJV]
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

First thing that I notice here is that it would appear that the devil tries to cast doubt on the deity of Christ. Now, I don’t think that it was so much to disclaim Christ’s deity as much as it was to get Jesus to prove Himself. I can’t tell you how many times I have been tempted to disregard he calling placed upon my own life, or prove that the calling exists. If the enemy were to have his way, he would convince me that I should just glide and abide, and not press on towards the calling that Jesus has placed on my life. If he can sideline me then I will be ineffective. Still, I trust that God would raise up someone in my stead.

Notice too that the devil tries to appeal to Jesus’ physical needs, but much more than that, he is trying to get Jesus to prove His ability to perform the miraculous. And you know, I have stumbled in this myself. I know what the LORD is calling me to do and still, sometimes I feel like I am being tempted to somehow prove myself. There is nothing I have to prove. Jesus will send me when He is ready and I will go.

[Luk 4:4 NKJV]
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ “

Jesus led the example by stating the truth. It is not our daily bread that will sustain us, but the WORD of God. God is faithful to supply all of our physical needs, but our spiritual needs are far more important. Of course our daily sustenance is important, otherwise Jesus would not have said, “Man shall not live by bread alone…”We require sustenance but bread alone will not sustain us. Jesus knew the importance of the WORD of God in our lives.

As it pertains to my personal life, I need to recognize my need for the WORD of God above all else. I will trust in the LORD for my daily bread, both physically and spiritually and trust that the LORD will help me to overcome the temptation to try to do anything in my own flesh. I must rely solely on the LORD if I am to have an effective ministry. In fact, we could all stand to learn from this as each of us is called to ministry to some degree or another.

[Luk 4:5 NKJV]
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

Here the devil takes Jesus up on a high mountain. I do want to pause on this for one second because when I think of this, I think of those spiritual mountain-top experiences. When it seems that everything is going right and the ministry is at its best, I think it is easy for us to lose the proper perspective. The devil will try to show you other perspectives that take you off the ground. He will try to puff you up in your mind and elevate you, when God simply wants you to walk the path that is before you in humility. But notice here that he shows Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. Now I am not 100% sure about this but it would seem to me that this verse gives us some insight into the power that the devil has. In order for him to show Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time would seem to suggest that while the devil may not have the power of God, he still has, to some extent, some incredible supernatural abilities. This is something that I will look into further as I progress in my personal studies, but it is something to consider. But we do know that he shows the LORD all of the kingdoms of the world.

[Luk 4:6 NKJV]
And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for [this] has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.

And so to the degree that the devil has authority on the earth I am not completely versed well enough to discourse, but assuming that the father of lies is not lying about this authority that he has, it would seem to me that it is a very compelling temptation. What I do know about the devils dominion on the earth is that it was transferrable. In other words, when Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden, they, in essence, handed over the keys over to the devil. And so the devil here is tempting to give Jesus the world back if He will but forsake the cross.  But Jesus knows that all things belong to God and there is nothing that He wanted from the devil. In fact Jesus only wanted what the Father wanted for Him. And Jesus knew that He would have to go to the cross. There would be no shortcuts to secure the salvation of mankind.

Another thing that I can learn from this passage is that in ministry if success comes it comes only by God and I don’t have to be a “rock star” to be successful in ministry, I only have to be obedient. Success in ministry is measured by God’s approval and nothing else. If the LORD is satisfied with what you do, then that is the only approval you ever need. Still, we seek mans approval, we want to be admired and respected as men. There is something prideful in every one of us. This is why the devil uses this form of temptation. If he can appeal to your pride then he can draw you away from Christ. But the key to beating this temptation is recognizing that it is all God’s and if we are subject to the LORD we won’t want anything that God does not want for us. If God wanted to hand us the keys to the every kingdom in the world, I do believe that He would put that desire in our hearts. That is if we are walking with Him. That is the difference between zealous obedience and selfish ambition. The problem with zealous obedience is that man’s heart is desperately wicked and so often times it comes off as selfish ambition when it is actually the farthest thing from it. If you have been in ministry for any length of time I am sure that you can relate. Moving on though, notice what the devil is really after….

[Luk 4:7 NKJV]
“Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

This is one of those deals with the devil kind of things. Never make a deal with the devil, it only leads to death. He will promise the world and deliver death. He will promise peace and bring death. He will promise happiness and deliver death. Nothing that he says can be trusted because he is not trustworthy. He is a murderer and the father of lies. He deals in deceit and treachery.

There are so many examples of how this temptation can be played out in my own life. The devil is a master of disguise. He can appear as an angel of light, but even if he is not physically present, we can see how other things vie for our worship of the LORD that are devils in and of themselves. Anything that competes for time and attention with the LORD can be considered a devil. Even some of the noblest of things when given precedence over the LORD can be sinful and a form of idolatry. I think about my wife and my kids. I could actually make them idols by giving them preference over the LORD. Now this does not justify neglect or any such thing, but as a married man and a father I must consider the balance that needs to be in order where the LORD is the preeminent One in my life and then my family a very distant second.

[Luk 4:8 NKJV]
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ “

This answer is so true. We cannot have divided interests. Either we love the LORD and worship Him alone or we become idolators. Period. God is jealous for our worship and He will not tolerate sharing with other gods. He demands our all. But the important thing that I want to point out here as it pertains to my own life is that I need to counter temptation with the WORD of God. This is exactly what Jesus is doing here and it serves as the greatest example.

[Luk 4:9 NKJV]
Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.

The irony of this verse is almost too much. Here we have the Highest of High Priests on the highest part of the Holiest Place and the devil says…if you are the Son of God…really now? Again, I don’t think the devil is questioning the LORD’s deity as much as he istrying to get the LORD to engage with his little game. If he can get the LORD to do anything then he would have had successfully tempted Christ causing Him to be disqualified as a Savior.

And this is huge for me. I desire to be pastor, and so the temptation to put me at the top of the “temple” or the “religious system” and to be in the “Holy City.” or its equivalent in my own ministry life, whatever that may be. To me the temptation to jump into the calling without the LORD saying jump would be spiritual suicide.

[Luk 4:10 NKJV]
“For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’

Notice here that the devil tries to malign Scripture to trick Jesus. But it is kind of hard to twist he WORD, especially when it is the WORD incarnate you are trying to twist!

This speaks volumes to me personally. My desire to teach the WORD of God puts me in a place where I have to take care not to malign the WORD of God, either by ignorance or misinterpretation. I would not certainly do anything like this on purpose so we can move that part of the intent off the table altogether. Still, this is a word of caution for me personally as I know that I will be held to a stricter judgement.

[Luk 4:11 NKJV]
“and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ “

The WORD of God does say those things but as I learned a long time ago, anything that is taken out of context becomes pretense and is useful for nothing. It is important as a student of the Bible and especially as a teacher of the Bible that we come to understand the principles proper exegesis and biblical hermeneutics. When we pull something out of context we run the risk of maligning Scripture and teaching what is actually heretical.

[Luk 4:12 NKJV]
And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ “

I think the best way get things back on track is to correct misinterpretations of the WORD of God with the WORD of God. My pastor says frequently, “The best commentary for the Bible is the Bible.” And that is so true. This is what we see Jesus doing here. He answers the devils folly with another passage of Scripture that debunks the first by exposing the contextual error.

As for what this passage means to me personally is that I must know the Scripture myself in a very real and intimate way if I am to counter misinterpretations of Scripture. As believers we all must be ready to defend the Gospel. The way that we do this is by knowing the WORD of God intimately ourselves.

[Luk 4:13 NKJV]
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

The Bible tells us that if we resist the devil he will flee (James 4:7), but in order to resist we must first submit ourselves to God.  And so Jesus resisted the devil and submitted Himself to the Father and this causes the devil to depart for a time. And of course we see the devils malevolent handiwork all though out the ministry of Jesus Christ. Still the LORD will use this to take His victory.

Now as a believer, this holds an important lesson for me. Just because the temptation goes away, it does not mean it will never come back. Look at the verse again. It says that, “…he departed from Him until and opportune time.” This implies that the devil is not finished but will be back. And so we cannot thing that on this side of glory that we will ever have eternal rest. There will be some times of solace and peace in our walks, but tribulation is just around the corner for anyone who calls upon the name of the LORD, and especially for those who are involved in ministry.

[Luk 4:14 NKJV]
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.

Now when you look at the ensuing results of overcoming temptation and trial we can see that it was every bit worth it. We see here in this verse that Jesus returns in the power of the Spirit and news of Him spread.

Not that we should be striving to make a name for ourselves either. Listen, when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit the LORD will promote Himself through the works we perform in His name. We always have to keep in mind, we are simply the vessels that the LORD uses to bring glory and honor to Himself. We are the ones who are blessed to be partakers of His divine will. All that is required of us is that we are faithful and obedient. Our aim as believers is not to make a name for ourselves but to make His name known throughout the world.

[Luk 4:15 NKJV]
And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Finally we see here that Jesus taught in their synagogues. You have to wonder why the WORD¬†calls them “their synagogues.” I believe that it is because Jesus wasn’t coming to proclaim Judaism, but rather fullness of the WORD of God; something that the Jews were looking for, but denied in Jesus. For had they recognized that Jesus was the longed for Messiah, they would not have crucified Him. But notice here too that it says that He was glorified by all. This is telling of the fact that He had yet to encounter any overt hostilities at this point in His earthly ministry. So far so good, right? But we know the rest of the story. While many accepted Christ, the violent majority denied Him and then crucified it.

Now, as one who proclaims the WORD of God, this has application as well. For starters, the LORD has called me to share His WORD. The fact is that He has called us all to go and make disciples of the nations. But for me personally, I must teach the WORD of God in places that the Gospel may or may not be well received, even in places where it ought to be well received.  The aim of my teaching of the WORD of God should be to bring glory to Christ Jesus the LORD.

Daily Muse:

There are many ways that temptations arise and they come in many forms. When I think about temptation I think about what is a temptation to one person may not be a temptation to another person. I think of how God allows temptations to come in order that He might perfect us through our desire to take the way of escape. When I look at temptations then I often think of the parable of the “Rich Young Ruler.” I often wonder what Jesus would say to me if I approached Him under the same circumstances. For the Rich Young Ruler, Jesus told him to sell all of his possessions and follow after Him. I believe that if I were to stand before the LORD under the same circumstances, Jesus would look into my heart and ask me to forsake whatever it was in my life that was a temptation. I am certain of this; Jesus does not want to compete for our affections. Whatever is in our lives that might vie for our attention over our relationship with the LORD could be considered, and rightly so, a temptation. It begs the question, in my mind at least; are all temptations a form of idolatry to some degree? Something to think about.

Daily Prayer:

LORD, I am so thankful that You have redeemed me! Not even my time is my own now because it all belongs to You. So long as I make You the focus I am less apt to stray. Oh but I do stray LORD. Not because I don’t love You, but because I am a sinful man. Forgive me for the times that I walk not according to Your will but according to my flesh. You have not only redeemed me, but the time. It is all Yours, and so restore to me that which I have squandered in my sinfulness. I can be so foolish at times and I always need Your guidance. It is when I get confident in myself that I fail to honor You, so I pray LORD that my confidence would be in You alone and not anything I do. Help me to always recognize that I can do nothing apart from You. I love you Jesus and I want to honor and please You and You alone. ¬† -Amen

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