New believers AND those who begin a new ministry work are generally excited, almost giddy to begin. Obedience to God brings joy unspeakable and is full of His glory abiding in you and all around you. “Obedience is better than sacrifice”, (1 Samuel 15:22), God tells the ancients. That’s why ideas of how the work can be accomplished flood your mind from God. God’s creativity rises to the top of your thinking with ways to help other people on their daily journey with God. You hear God’s voice above all others and it is glorious to be right in the center of His will.
God’s enemy hates what you are thinking. When led by God’s Holy Spirit to say yes to His invitation to join Him in His work, the war with God’s enemy begins. Satan, the fallen angel, leader of demons, Prince of Darkness, Chief Liar, will do everything in his limited power to tempt you to quit before you even get started. He will put down who you are and lift up himself. He will tell you what you really deserve getting you to think about yourself, not God. He will say you are not good enough OR tell you to do things your way because you are in control. Other tricks include cheating, cutting corners to get what you want quickly, putting others down to lift yourself up, manipulating others to get what you want and other behaviors that are directly opposite what Jesus taught us. Satan is a Liar. We will see evidence of that below in our passage for today!
The devil, our real enemy, not those around us, will plant thoughts in our heads that bring us to our knees. Guess what? That is exactly the place and posture to battle the enemy—is on our knees, crying out in the Name of Jesus Christ, who will help us because He, himself was tempted before his ministry began! Jesus wins. Always. The place to begin, like Jesus did, is on our knees asking God for all we need.
Note how many times Jesus quotes God’s Scripture in the temptation battle. Matthew is showing us continuously how the words of the prophets, written centuries before, given to them by God, brings all that God said in the past to fulfillment. Jesus is the bridge from death to life, from not knowing God to knowing and believing God, from the darkness of sin to the Light of living forever in relationship with God. Forever.
Matthew—The Law Fulfilled
Matthew 4, NLT
The Temptation of Jesus
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”
11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
The Ministry of Jesus Begins
12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The First Disciples
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
Crowds Follow Jesus
23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. 25 Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.
IF SOMEONE TOLD YOU TO JUMP OF A CLIFF, WOULD YOU?
Smiling because I still hear my mom saying this me as a result of pleading my case to do what I thought my friends were getting away with in life. Can you hear Jesus saying that to us as we battle The Liar?
Know God. Know the Enemy. Know Jesus, our Victor. Know Ourselves and our own weaknesses so that we may realize that is exactly where the enemy will strike first. Satan tempted hungry Jesus—”turn these stones to bread”!
Listen to God’s Holy Spirit as your ministry begins. Go to Him daily for your next steps to take, our “marching orders”, so to speak. Jesus got away to quiet places to ask the Father exactly what to do, when to do it, what to say, when to say it, how to behave, who to choose for his team in ministry with every step he took on this earth. But first he was tempted to quit before he got started.
Is this you this morning? Are you tempted to quit? The temptation to quit happens to me and it will to you at the beginning, in the middle and towards the end of the work God has invited us to be and do. Remember, our best decisions are made on our knees. God will tell you and me when it’s time to move in victory, not in defeat.
POINTS TO PONDER
Know the Truth and use the Truth in battle. Know that what Satan hates most are believers on their knees, calling out for help in the Name of Jesus Christ. THIS is where our battles with temptations and all other circumstances are fought and won.
Of course, Jesus did NOT quit in His wilderness experience. He is our standard, our living hope, our perfect example of how to combat our war with evil, the real enemy. Our war is not really with each other, it is ultimately with the one who wants to destroy us before we leave the starting gate of God’s will and purpose for us.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 4 ESV
Thank you, Lord!
Abba, Father in Heaven,
Great are you, Lord! You are my breath of life! You are the Victor over all this world has to offer. You are the Prince of Peace in the midst of temptation turmoil. You are Life eternal. You are provider and protector. You know everything about me and still you pour out your love, mercy and grace upon me. I don’t deserve it but you gave up your life for my freedom! Help me to remember I’m redeemed and I am yours forever!
May your will be done in me. May your glory be seen in me and all around all of us who believe. Help us to pray and then obey before trying to do anything of significance. And in the heat of battle, take over and take down our enemy in Your Name for your glory! Yes, it’s all about you living in us. Give us power and Your Word remembered against our real enemy. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
In Jesus Name, Amen