Several years ago, we were in the hospital as my mom was dying. The doctor brought the whole family into a room and explained the seriousness of her problem. He told us there was nothing more they could do, and then he talked about hospice care. After he left, my dad kept us in the room. He said, “I still believe in miracles, but we need to be prepared if God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to. You need to each determine in your hearts now that you will not be bitter against God if she passes away.” I thought it was an odd thing for him to tell us until she passed away and bitterness tried to creep in.
Determining what you’re going to do ahead of time is critical. When temptation comes, it’s too late to decide what you’re going to do. Unless you’ve determined in your heart how you’re going to handle it, we usually end up succumbing to it. You can’t just think, “Oh, I’ll never fall for that.” You need to determine in your heart what you will do and say in times of temptation. Jesus had determined to use the Word of God. We on,y have three of Hos temptations recorded in Scripture, but we have His responses too. Each time He was able to fight temptation with knowing what God’s Word says. The Psalmist said that if we will hide His Word in our hearts, it will Nelly us not to sin.
Psalm 119:112 says, “I have determined in my heart to obey whatever you say, fully and forever!” (TPT) That’s a great thing to determine, but it only works if you’ve spent time in God’s Word to know what He says and if you’ve determined ahead of time. Each of us will face various temptations for the rest of our lives to hurt our relationship with God. When you made a commitment to Christ, you committed to following Him for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t you also commit to obeying everything He says? God’s love language is obedience. If you haven’t done so, determine today that you will obey Him for the rest of your life and that you won’t give into to temptation.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
One of the game shows I grew up watching was “Let’s Make A Deal”. It’s a fun environment where the audience dresses up in ridiculous outfits hoping to be chosen by the host to come on stage. They can choose to trade what they have for what’s behind Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3. Sometimes, they would win a fabulous prize, but often they would get a Zonk (a worthless prize). There are a lot of times in life when we make bad trades. We sometimes trade moments of pleasure for a lifetime of regret. We sometimes trade happiness for a better paying job. Life is full of trades.
When Jesus was fasting in the wilderness, just before He began His ministry, Satan met Him and offered three trades. The first trade was to trade spiritual strength for a full belly. We know He was hungry and it must have been tempting to turn those stones into bread, but Jesus knew it wasn’t a good trade. Too often we are tempted to give up our spiritual significance for an insignificant morsel. In Luke 4:4, Jesus said, “It takes more than bread to really live” (MSG).
In the second temptation, Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would bow to him. The trade here was to displace God from the throne of His life and put Himself there. Satan still tries that with each of us. Our flesh wants to play “King of the Hill” with God for who’s in control. Like Jesus, we need to understand it’s a bad trade. Jesus reminded him and us that the way to a successful life is to worship the Lord with absolute single-heartedness. We can’t give in to the temptation to trade places with God on the throne of our life.
The third temptation of Jesus was to jump off the Temple and let the angels catch Him. Satan was asking Him to doubt God’s protection by testing it. Jesus knew God would send the angels if he fell, but to jump would appear to be an act of faith, but would really be an act of disbelief. That’s why Jesus quoted the commandment, “Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.” Our enemy often masks what you’re really trading to make us think we are doing something spiritual when really, we’re doing the opposite.
The best way to make sure you don’t trade for a Zonk, is to know God’s Word. It’s what Jesus used to look at each trade that was offered. Every one of us are tempted daily to make trades. We need to take a closer look at what we are being offered and what we are being asked to give up. Leading a Spirit led life, immersed in the Bible, will help you to make fewer bad trades. Whatever you’re being tempted with today, I hope that you will take a moment to look at it in the light of God’s Word and ask God to help you make the best choice.
I’m on a trip to Israel. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of my insights from going to the places throughout this country that was written about so much in the Bible. One of the first things you notice here in Israel is how tough the terrain is. It’s a very mountainous country, but these aren’t friendly mountains. They are covered in rocks and they protrude from the ground in an unforgiving manner.
As we drive through southern Israel, you can’t help but think how difficult it must have been to travel by foot. Not only is the terrain rough, but this time of year, it’s very hot. As we traveled from Masada to Jericho to Jerusalem, we stopped to look at the Mount of Temptation. It is where it is believed that Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting and was tempted by the enemy. If in fact it was the place, it would have made a difficult fast nearly unbearable.
Matthew 4:1 says, “THEN JESUS was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil”. It’s important to note here that He was led by the Holy Spirit to go into this place. The wilderness is a tough, unforgiving place, but when it is the Holy Spirit leading us, we can trust God will protect us and give us everything we need.
It’s not always comfortable where the Spirit leads us. Sure we like it when God leads us to the mountain top, but that mountain isn’t always a beautiful mountain. The road can be hard, and the mountain can be rough. The Spirit will often take us to seek and to save the lost. In many cases, they are in the wilderness of life themselves living a rough life. To find them, we have to leave the green pastures and endure rough terrain.
With the leading of the Holy Spirit we cannot fail. Of course, His definition of success and failure may be different than our own. We only see in part, so we can only know in part what God’s plan is. He sees the bigger picture and knows what needs to happen in order to accomplish His will. Our responsibility is to follow the Spirit’s leading wherever that may be, even if it’s the wilderness. If we are willing to trust Him, and to follow His leading, we can rest assured He will not let us fail in the wilderness.