The temptation to avoid and the invitation to grasp

The temptation to avoid:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (Luke 4:5-8, NIV) Continue reading “The temptation to avoid and the invitation to grasp”

Holy Spirit Proving Grounds

The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil.  (Matt. 4:1-11)

There are places where the Spirit will lead us to test our character. Even if the event seems intense, it’s a “controlled environment.”

We miss those proving ground tests all too often in our own lives. We have weak theologies that don’t believe in a devil, or don’t believe in a hard life, or don’t believe in not finding the closest parking spot to the store door…

We hit those testing grounds, we whine, we cry, and we want Jesus to “take us home.”

Many moments are lost in our lives because we don’t give pause to what is going on in reality and we just quit.

The wilderness is not just a place of abandonment. It may be exactly where the Spirit has brought you.

Next time… ask.

The Way of the Father

5 Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. 7 Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.”

8 Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” (Luke 4:5-8)

The temptation here is to shortcut the way of the Father. It’s to grab power and authority. The people were expecting a political/military leader. The offer is to use that route to gain popularity and gain the admiration of the people.

But Jesus’ mission wasn’t about grabbing the admiration of the people. It was about turning their expectations back to Kingdom reality. It was about turning their hearts… their allegiance.

We can be tempted to take the shortcut to “power” or “influence.” In that decision, we may be switching allegiances and not even realizing it.

Worship is about allegiance, not how we sing songs on Sunday.

When the enemy hits hard

The Spirit has ground my Bible reading to a halt. Not really a halt, but from a fast walk to a crawl. Well, more like a “sit.”

AND he won’t even let me access the one book I know will help me “read” this passage more “clearly.” He actually wants me to stop and listen to him. 

Just. Not. Nice.

I have things to do. Books to read. Lists to check off!

And I’m sitting, of all places, in the temptation of Christ.

Thought for this day: the enemy hits the hardest at the very beginning of a spiritual journey, or at the very point of a powerful breakthrough. If he can slap us back into the corner and keep us neutralized, it makes his whole strategy more bearable.

If we break through to victory, we’re assured of a lifelong battle with the enemy. And you’re thinking, “And that’s good news?”

It is, because you know the place of victory and the enemy is now battling you long term when he really wants you sitting in a corner not doing much.

Jesus’ 40 day battle was intense. When the enemy knew he had not cut down Jesus in those 40 days, the road through Jesus’ ministry was not going to be pleasant. And the 2000 plus years since hasn’t been a walk in the park for him, either!

When the battle is the most intense, understand the enemy actually knows the stakes of victory, and he might quite possibly know them better than you.

Do NOT quit.

 

Oh, the places you’ll go

Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. 2 There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. (Luke 4:1-2)

FULL of the Spirit, Jesus is led BY the Spirit… into the wilderness.

There are places the Spirit will take us to train us. There are places the Spirit will put us where we need to be trained in hearing God and following God no matter the surrounding circumstances.

When we are fully submitted to that process we also realize we can return in the power of the Spirit as well. 

The Leading of the Spirit

12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him. (Mark 1:12-13, CEB)

The Spirit did not lead very softly. The same Greek word for “force” is the same word used to talk about Jesus casting out demons.

We may not always understand that “force.” I have met many who do, and the stories they tell are amazing. When there is a compelling of the Spirit they know it.

One missionary I knew was under the direction of the Spirit to go to a village hostile to the gospel for several days. Every day he went they would physically harass him in some way. He would often come home bloody. The next day the Spirit would compel him to return to that village and stay at the task.

In so many ways we are just too soft in our culture. It is so hard to rise up and sense a compelling Spirit leading us into hard areas to go through something so necessary. Jesus was “forced” into a wilderness experience that empowered him for ministry.

Where are those areas in our own lives where the Spirit is truly compelling us… driving us… to move into a whole new realm of spiritual depth and insight?