Thursday, November 9th
Devotional written by Pastor Brian Field, Missions Pastor
INTO THE WILDERNESS
To read today:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
When Rocky IV came out, I was ten years old. I will never forget the 4-minute montage (accompanied by the soundtrack “Hearts on Fire”) of Rocky training for his fight against the big, bad Ivan Drago in the snowy wilderness of the USSR. Chopping wood, running through snow, jump roping in a dusty barn, stomach crunches while dangling from a rustic loft. All juxtaposed with Drago having access to the most sophisticated training technology known to man. How in the world would Rocky have any chance of defeating this Cold War Soviet giant? He went to the wilderness to train for the most important fight of his life.
So did Jesus.
Before launching into His full-time ministry, Jesus prepared Himself in the desert. He spent forty days and nights fasting and praying. He knew what lay before Him, so He went to the wilderness to build spiritual muscle and strength for the road ahead. Praying and fasting align us with the Father and create dependency on His strength, not our own. We live in a culture that promotes independence, entertainment, and more and more of everything. None of those things prepare us to live out the spiritual practice of prayer and fasting. God knows that and invites us into the practice so that we can recenter our lives, die to our flesh, and become entirely dependent on Him.
After 40 days and nights, Satan came to tempt Jesus and lure Him away from His mission and purpose. The three temptations were all well-known tricks of the Devil, appealing to the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, and the lust of the eyes. Have we not seen so many Christian leaders fall prey to these schemes throughout our lifetime?
How did Jesus rebuke the temptations of the Devil? He used the truth of Scripture. Scripture became His boxing gloves that beat back the lies of the Enemy. After 40 days and nights, He was fit and ready for the ministry that lay ahead and equipped with the Word of God. In fact, He was the Word.
Reflection: Commit to memorize one new Bible verse this week and see how God uses it in your life.