Posted in Devotion

Weak

A few days ago I was helping move a staff member into her house. There was quite a bit of heavy furniture. While we had several adult and teenage males to help, I wanted to pull my weight because I hate feeling weak. Pride began to swell as I watched them carry the heavy stuff, and I was told I couldn’t carry that. I’d just get started carrying something when one of the boys would say, “Ms. Hughes let me get that.” At one point, I and one of the dorm boys were carrying the headboard. It wasn’t so much heavy as it was top-heavy. I knew a co-worker was right behind me, but by-golly I was going to carry this one thing all the way into the house. I was struggling with the height and weight combined, and eventually I had to admit I couldn’t carry it and hand it over to him. I had to admit I was weak.

Similarly, I often try to be strong with emotional and spiritual matters. Pride kicks in and I don’t want to let others see me cry or struggle. Sometimes I forget to even let God know I’m struggling. I put on my smile and persevere. It’ll go away eventually right?

If there’s one thing that stresses me out and makes me feel weak more than anything else, it’s car troubles. This is a problem that I can’t just smile through because it will only exacerbate if I don’t address the issue. For example, I came out one Sunday to an almost flat tire. Tears flowed, and the stress hit immediately because I live a mile from the maintenance building on campus and it was Sunday when no one would just be down there to help air my tire. Plus, I knew that there was probably something more wrong because tires shouldn’t just go flat. I felt weak. Thankfully I was thinking about God that morning, and he reminded me that I had a bike pump. It gave me quite a workout, and it caused me to be late for church, but I got it pumped up to a decent level and made it to church before the sermon. God provided because I didn’t pretend I was stronger than I was. (No worries, I got it plugged at the auto shop in town.)

The day after the moving incident, the song leader in chapel decided to read verses about love in between singing Jesus Loves Me. He was focused on the love of God, but my heart panged at the phrase, “when I am weak, you are strong”. How true is that? God is strong for me when I feel the most weak. Whether it’s physical weakness, emotional weakness, knowledge or situational weakness, or spiritual weakness, God is there to prop me up. He’s there to be strong for me.

 

Posted in Devotion

READING, READING

I go through phases where I want to read every book published and be the most well read (stop booing “nerd” at me). It becomes a bit of an obsession of mine, and sometimes supercedes my time with God. Usually I eventually feel guilty, repent, and change my schedule, but the cycle comes back around again. 

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:38

This verse hit me like BAM today. It’s not just about the times I let this neglect of my relationship happen. It’s the attitude that creates that moment where novels (and occasionally other books) become more important than God-time. 

I don’t need to read every book written when I have the most important one from God. It’s not wrong to spend time reading, especially those books that make me ponder God, but never should that point of pride about being well-read matter more than my relationship with God. In fact that pride shouldn’t exist at all.

Posted in Bible Study

Temptations

Sometimes when temptations come our way, we tend to think something is terribly wrong with us or with our relationship with God. Based on the time when Jesus was tempted, this is not necessarily true. Luke 4:1 says that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” when he was “led by the Spirit in the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil for forty days.” Matthew’s telling says that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Now let’s clarify one thing before going any farther. God or the Holy Spirit are not doing the tempting here. The scripture only says that the Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness. In fact, James reminds us that God does not tempt us because “temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:14).

The first thing to notice here about the temptation of Jesus is that it comes immediately after Jesus is completely obedient to God’s will through baptism. Jesus knew he needed to be baptized, and even though John protested, Jesus insisted. God said that he was well pleased with his Son. I was young when I accepted Christ, so I don’t remember all of my feelings, but I do remember occasionally thinking that I should be automatically able to overcome any fear. Of course that didn’t happen. Likewise I also wasn’t able to overcome every temptation, nor did the temptations stop coming. Temptations don’t even always come when we’re spiritually empty, though that’s not to say that they won’t come then; temptations can also come when we’re spiritually full. The difference is that when we’re spiritually empty, the temptations seem grander because they’re harder to fight. Jesus was spiritually full, yet he was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights. God used this time of temptation to bring glory to himself. Luke tells us that immediately following this time of temptation, Jesus returned to Galilee, where people were curious and praising of him (Luke 4:14-15).

Now let’s turn to the three ways that Jesus was tempted. All of these are temptations of the flesh. 1 John 2:15-17 reminds us that we should not love the world and what it has to offer.

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” (vs 16).

  1. The first thing Satan says to Jesus is, “Tell these stones to become loaves of bread” This is a temptation for physical pleasures. Jesus had been fasting so food probably sounded really good. His response was that people don’t live by bread alone. He knew that God’s will is greater than our natural needs. When we’re tempted to want the next big gadget or a bigger house or car or whatever earthly possession tempts us, we should stop to consider how we can use that thing as a tool to bring glory to God or to share God’s love. That should always be our primary goal when acquiring more “stuff.”
  2. Secondly, Satan told Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, jump,” This is the temptation to take pride in our achievements and possessions. Satan tempted Jesus to do something miraculous and call on the angels. It was true that angels would protect him if he called on them, but Jesus knew that Satan wasn’t doing this to bring glory to God. By doing this feat, Jesus would only be showing off and thus falling prey to the temptation of pride. It’s okay to acknowledge that we have done something or are able to do something, but we need to be sure that we firstly acknowledge that God gave us that ability. God has to receive the glory first or it’s prideful.
  3. Finally Satan shows all the kingdoms to Jesus and says, “I will give it all to you if you will kneel and worship me.” This is the craving for everything we see. This is a Lion King moment when everything is shown to the Son, except this time it’s not the Father showing it to the Son. Jesus knew that he already had all of the kingdoms and did not need to worship Satan in order to gain glory. Likewise, we have so much through our relationship with God and don’t need to give in to the world’s offer of riches and wealth.

In all of these, Satan always began by questioning Jesus’ identity by saying “if you are the Son of God.” Satan does this to us as well when he puts lies in our heads about our relationship with God. He makes us wonder if God is even real or if God cares about us. Satan knows that if he can get us to question our security and identity, we will be Play-doh in his hands. This is why we must be grounded in the truths that God says about us.

Also in each of these temptations, Satan uses God’s Word to tempt Jesus. He twists the scriptures very subtly so say what he wants them to say. Jesus knew enough about God’s Words to refute Satan. Our strongest tool to resists Satan’s temptations is scripture. We must make sure we know the Words of God well enough so that when scripture is used to try to convince us to sin, we can point out the flaws in that thinking.

Temptations are meant to humble us and test us. They remind us that we are fragile and easily persuaded without the strength of God. They also prove our commitment to God by proving our obedience to his commands even in tough situations. James 4:7 reminds us to “humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” On the contrary, the next verse says to “come close to God, and God will come close to you.” We choose who we’ll follow, so next time temptations come your way, resist the devil and come close to God.