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Matthew 4

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, MARCH 30

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 4

When we finished chapter 3 yesterday, things were on a spiritual high.  Jesus had just been baptized to “fulfill all righteousness”.  The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and God the Father spoke.  Then we get to chapter 4.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Then, it seems, everything goes south in a hurry.  There is so much in this chapter that we should talk about.  There is so much in this chapter that I want to talk about.  But I only have one page to write on and that means I have to be very selective.

I’ve decided to just focus on the temptation that happens at the beginning of the chapter.  The Bible says after Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry.  (I want to say, “Ya think?” I have trouble going four hours without food. Sometimes 40 minutes is a stretch.) It was then the devil showed up to do his dirtiest work.

You probably noticed Satan tempted Jesus three times.  This is significant because it may very well be every temptation fits into one of three categories.  The Bible says, “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)  

So think about this.  Satan’s first temptation had to do with Jesus’ physical hunger (desire of the flesh).  The second one had to do with proving He was God’s Son (the pride of life).  The third one had to do with seeing “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (the desire of the eyes).  

Oddly enough the first temptation recorded in the Bible (Genesis 3) fits this same pattern.  It may be that Satan actually is limited in what he can do.  But he is just really good at doing it.  And, too often, we are easy marks.

Another interesting thing about this temptation in the wilderness is that the first two times Satan attacked Jesus it was about Jesus’ identity: “If you are the Son of God”.  This attack was at the very heart of who Jesus is which may be the deepest attack against any of us.  When we struggle with our identity or feel compelled to prove who we are, this attack may be in play.

 

Here’s something else to think about.  In the first temptation, Satan addressed Jesus as “The Son of God”.  But the Scripture Jesus answered with begins with “Man”.  In other words, Jesus is not facing these attacks from His divinity.  He is facing these attacks in His humanity.  This should give us so much hope.  Jesus defeated these temptations as a man, albeit the perfect man.  But, if we learn from this, we too, should be able to experience more victory over our temptations.  

That brings up the question of how was Jesus able to be victorious.  I am quite convinced His victory is based on two things: one, the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16); two, the power of God’s Word.  That, by the way, is the only basis that any of us have for victory: allow the Spirit to fill you (Ephesians 5:18) and stay in the Word of God.

Speaking of God’s Word, it is also important that we see that Satan knows and used God’s Word in his temptation of Jesus.  That’s kind of scary.  But again if we go back to the first temptation in the Garden of Eden, Satan said to Eve, “Has not God said…”  Now more often than not when Satan uses God’s Word, he omits parts of it which means he misuses God’s Word.  But that reinforces the fact that we desperately need to know what God’s Word actually says so we will be better prepared to recognize the truth from error, however slight.

Welp, my space is gone.  And I was just getting started on this amazing chapter. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 2

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, MARCH 27

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2

Yesterday, when we left off at the end of Matthew 1, the birth of Jesus had been reported.  As chapter 2 opens, we are introduced to Herod the king (not a nice guy at all) and some wise men from the east (nice guys who were really curious).  These wise men were looking for the One born the King of the Jews.

Typically, our manger scenes have the wise men at the manger.  And there is nothing actually wrong with that but Jesus was probably closer to two years old than he was a new born when the wise men came on the scene.  That probably means they didn’t find Him at the manger.  That doesn’t mean you should dismantle your manger scene.  It just means that our traditions are not necessarily Biblically accurate.

King Herod was all shook up over the birth of this King and set plans in motion to kill all the baby boys two years old and younger.  As a result of that Joseph took his little family and fled to Egypt to escape the persecution.  

I don’t know if you have ever thought about it or not but there is a lot of connections to some very current issues wrapped up in this part of the story.  To begin with, Jesus’ home was heaven.  In a very real way, He immigrated to earth when He was born in Bethlehem.  And then because of Herod’s persecution, Jesus literally became a refugee when his family fled to Egypt.

I don’t mean to stir up anything with this.  But I do think that in the midst of all of the current controversies over immigrants and refugees in our country, we would do well to take a look at what the Bible says about these folks.  We really do need a theology of immigrants and refugees to inform the modern American church of our role in this crisis.  

As Matthew 2 closes, Herod the king dies.  Joseph and his family come back and settle in the city of Nazareth in Galilee.  At the time of Jesus, Nazareth was one of the most despised cities in all of Israel.  In fact, later in Jesus’ life we read, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

There are many things to be learned from this chapter.  But one of the things that struck me is that when things seem so out of control, God is still in control.  Our plans may not be working out (Joseph probably hadn’t planned on moving to Egypt) but God’s plan will always work out just like He has always planned it.  I know it is hard to trust God when things are swirling around us and seem on the verge of falling apart.  In fact, when things seem to be falling apart, God’s plan is often coming together.  That very well the very best time to trust God and His good plan for your life.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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