Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking.
Matthew is the first of the four Gospels in the New Testament, and is one of the more detailed accounts of the life of Jesus. And even though the temptations he faced in the wilderness are recorded in both Mark 1 and Luke 4, Matthew gives us perhaps the most information.
One of the most striking things about Matthew’s account of this event is the fact that he states that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Many people don’t read this carefully enough, and get caught up in the fact that God doesn’t tempt, so why would he cause Jesus to be tempted in this scenario?
First of all, the statement that God does not tempt us is true, and is found throughout the pages of Scripture, with James 1:12-13 being one of the most clear statements:
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
But Jesus wasn’t led out to be tempted by God. He was led out into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy, so that he could display the glory of God, and confirm that his calling and strength come from God, even in the face of the strongest of opposition. The temptations came from the Adversary, and from him alone, but God permitted them in order to show us that Jesus came to be the sacrifice for us all.
The crazy thing about this is that even though God will not tempt us, he can still use the temptations we face and turn them into a blessing for us, tempering it to our strength, and making us stronger through the victory over it.
I’m getting antsy. I’m ready for a break from the routine, ready to get away for a few days.
Each year, I take a week around the first of October and head out for a spiritual retreat. For the past several years, I have utilized a program called Wilderness, run by Christ In Youth. And it has always been an incredible time of spiritual growth and reflection for me.
I try to take a short break every few weeks, a day away where I seek solitude and spend the day in prayer and reading God’s Word. But once a year, I take a bigger chunk of time to really revitalize my soul, and Wilderness has been a key factor in making that a priority for my life.
Solitude is a spiritual discipline that most of us are probably not comfortable with. In our busy society, and a very noisy society, getting away by ourselves and being quiet is very intimidating. But it is very necessary.
At Wilderness, one of the elements I love so much is the opportunity to find a place where I can be alone to listen to God for several hours a day, each day, throughout the week. Wilderness is held at Bear Trap Ranch, outside of Colorado Springs, and each morning, I find a spot in the mountains where I can see peaks all around me, and the golden aspens moving in the breeze. It is incredible peaceful, and I relish this time by myself each day.
Solitude is something I have come to appreciate. It’s something that Jesus modeled for us, because he spent a lot of time off on his own, seeking the Father through prayer. Sometimes it was in the early mornings (Mark 1:35), other times it was in the evening (Luke 6:12). Many times it was before a major event in his life and ministry, like the transfiguration, his arrest, or the choosing of his disciples. But regardless of when or where, it is essential to note that he did this regularly and frequently. So should we.
Holiness in what we call small matters, is the surest test of real holiness.
Having the Heart of a Champion can be difficult sometimes. But as Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians, there are some key things that we can incorporate into our lives in order to succeed in this.
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”— giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
What Paul is saying here is that people are watching us. They are looking to see how we respond to the circumstances, often difficult, that we experience in life. And their response towards God is influenced by our actions. And so it is critical that we remain steadfast as a faithful example.
I don’t know who said it, but I have a quote in my files that states, “The most valuable gift you can give another is a good example.”
A French Press is an easy way to step up your coffee game and not break your wallet. Plus, it makes a great cup of coffee. While I prefer pourovers more, I keep a press in both my home and office, and another in my vehicle. You can grab one at Amazon.
The man who prays with fasting is giving heaven notice that he is truly in earnest.