Page 15 was a Sunday and after deciding not to go in to work yesterday, today had an early start as I needed to do some cleaning and building prep before the morning church gathering. As I cleaned bathrooms and took out trash, I prayed for the teaching and worship that would take place in the building throughout the morning and prayed that the teaching and worship would also leave the building and take place throughout the community during the coming week. With no snow or ice to deal with, I was able to be back in the Bible School class where we finished up the book of Philippians today and will head into Colossians next.
Our morning worship gathering maintained its central focus on Jesus while taking time to honor the ministry and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr as well as remember the value that all life has — from the unborn to the elderly to those who are different from us in a myriad of ways. Life doesn’t “just happen”, it is a gift from God and we need to treat all life as having an inherent value that comes from God Himself. When a society can kill millions and millions of its unborn citizens without batting an eye, we should not be surprised at the lack of value that many people seem to place on human life.
The morning message during our gathering was brought by David as he continued his series in the book of Luke. Today’s text covered the temptations of Jesus by the devil during and following the forty days of fasting Jesus did in the wilderness. As with all good sermons, it wasn’t meant to simply inform us about the information surrounding the temptations of Jesus, but the purpose was to equip us to handle temptation in our life in a way that would honor Jesus. Temptation does not have to lead us into sin. God has equipped us through His Word and His Spirit with every tool we need to overcome temptation so that it does not lead to sin. This morning we looked at three different aspects of our enemy’s approach so that we could recognize temptation when it comes our way.
- First, the enemy strikes when and where he thinks we are vulnerable. Satan doesn’t know us like God knows us but he does pay attention to our weaknesses and often strikes when he feels most likely to succeed. Knowing that he is looking for points of vulnerability ought to motivate us to be aware of our own weaknesses so that we can build walls of spiritual protection around us.
- Second, the enemy does a very good job at hiding his intentions. Never will a temptation come that has an obvious disclaimer that its design is to destroy. Most often, temptations are presented in a way that tries to make us think that following the path of that temptation would be for our own good. From the first recorded temptation of Adam and Eve that eating the fruit would make them like God and down through all generations including today, our enemy wants us to believe that giving in is ultimately better for us than not.
- Thirdly, the enemy is relentless. The story of the temptations of Jesus states that at the end of the recorded temptations, the devil left Him for a “more opportune time.” The Bible teaches, and experience confirms, that the devil doesn’t give up simply because we successfully resist one temptation. We must constantly be on guard against the attacks of the evil one as he prowls around seeking whom he may devour. That is why God has equipped us with a full set of armor that when used, protects us against the schemes of the devil. Our prayer life is the communication lifeline we have with God that empowers our ability to resist and overcome temptation.
After the church service, I had a missions committee meeting to be a part of and then headed home to eat some lunch and rest a while before heading out for an evening family walk. Today’s photo was from that walk as the sun was preparing to set over the St Joseph River.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- As Paul wraps up his letter to the Philippians, he highlights a life lived “in the Lord.”
- In a world that is full of trouble and disappointment, God has given us the ability to “stand firm in the Lord.”
- Even in the midst of conflict, we ought to be able to “agree in the Lord.”
- Life can be full of discouraging moments, yet God calls us to “rejoice in the Lord always.”
- When worry attempts to flood our hearts and mind, God desires to give us a peace that will guard our hearts and minds “in Christ Jesus.”
- When contentment seems to be out of our grasp, God promises we can do everything “through Him.”
- When we give sacrificially to the work of the kingdom, we learn to trust God to supply all of our needs according to His riches “in Christ Jesus.”
- Temptation is not sin. Giving in to temptation is, but even giving in doesn’t have to define who we are in Christ.
- God is looking for trustworthy servants who will be faithful with whatever He gives them.