Day 16 of 40 Days to Celebrate the King: Obedience
Read today: Psalm 138 and Matthew 4:1-6, 28:18-20
No funny stories, or personal illustrations today. Just the powerful Word of God about our King. The Gospel reading starts with the first half of the temptations of Jesus. It’s a familiar story that we all know so well that we sometimes overlook some things. (That is why I like to read different versions and translations of the Bible.) Jesus is baptized in Matthew 3. The Voice of God says, “That’s my boy!” And on the heels of that, chapter 4.
Point # 1: It begins by saying, “Then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. Obedience is not a guarantee that we will be insulated from facing hard times. Listen, a lot of my problems, okay, MOST of my problems have been self-inflicted. I got myself into most of my messes. But there have been those times when I was loving God, paying my tithe, reading my Bible, doing everything right, and the old devil just started blasting me. God was with the Israelites in the wilderness. He was with the 3 Jewish boys in the fiery furnace. He was with Paul and Silas in jail. But He did not KEEP any of those people from going through hard times. Don’t lose hope. Don’t quit. Don’t throw in the towel because you are facing some difficulty. Sometimes when we are in the middle of it, we are right where God wants us to be. And He is with us.
Point # 2: Verse 6 says the devil quoted the Bible to Jesus. First off, that’s pretty funny that satan would have the audacity to quote the word to the Word. I imagine Jesus looked at him and said, “Really? You are going to go there?” But he did. The devil quoted Psalm 91 to Jesus, “He will order His angels to protect thee.” Here’s the lesson. The word of God without the Word of God is powerless. It is not some good luck charm or magical incantation. We don’t just quote some verse of Scripture like a mantra and expect a genie in the bottle to come to our rescue. God’s holy word is powerful and life-changing, but only when it is accompanied by a vibrant, personal relationship with the Author of the Book. That’s why Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is LIVING and breathing, sharper than a two-edged sword.” It is so important that we know the word but even more important that we know the Word.
Point # 3: Whatever the devil is promising you, God has already given you. The reading jumps from the 2nd temptation, “throw yourself off the Temple,” to the last words of Jesus in Matthew 28. “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” Do you see that? Satan says, “Jump off the steeple to prove that you are the boss.” Jesus says, “I AM the boss.” That is the oldest trick of the devil, to promise you something you already have. He said to Eve in Genesis 3:5, “Eat the apple and you will be like God.” But God had already said in Genesis 1:26, “Let’s make those guys like us.” Remember those messes I mentioned in point 1, the ones I got myself into? They were usually caused by the devil getting me to go after something that was already there for me if I just got closer to God. I wanted to be rich. Well, my father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I wanted to be loved. Really, God loved me so much He gave His only Son. In the middle of this craziness, I just wanted to find something that will bring me some peace. What about, the peace that is beyond understanding that Jesus uses to protect my heart when I stay close to Him?
You name it, money, sex, power; the devil will promise it to you. And God already has it for you.
So, read the old story with a new understanding. Better yet, read the old story curled up in the arms of the One who wrote it.
See you tomorrow.