Pray to Avoid Temptation

Today’s reading is Luke 22.

The night of His betrayal had come. Jesus knew it would happen. He knew who would betray Him. He knew how the rest of His disciples would react. His instruction to His disciples in order to prepare was simple: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” The statement has a dual meaning. First, pray. And when you pray, make sure you are asking God to help you avoid, overcome, and defeat temptation. You can’t do it without His help and strength. As Jesus had instructed in His model prayer, though it is the most confusing bit, we pray, “Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” However, there is a second direction this prayer leads us. Pray. And by praying, by praying intensely, by praying repeatedly, by praying continually, you can overcome temptation. Prayer combats temptation not merely because we ask for help in the time of temptation but because prayer itself, whether the words of the prayer address the temptation or not, is a discipline that fights against temptation. The greatest part of Jesus’s teaching here is not that He said “Pray that you may not enter into temptation,” but that He exemplified it. Jesus was facing the darkest moments of His life. Satan would be taking up his weapons to get Jesus to cave. At any moment, Jesus could abandon the plan and avoid the agony, both physical and spiritual, of the cross. How did He combat the temptation? He prayed. If Jesus prayed to avoid temptation, how much more should we? Pray that you may not enter into temptation.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 22.

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Someone Has Plans for You

Today’s reading is Luke 8.

The parable of the sower explains that someone has plans for you. First, there is Satan with his plans for you demonstrated by the first three soils. Satan’s Plan A is to get you to stay out. Like birds picking seed off of pathway soil, he will do all he can to keep the Word from sinking into your heart and mind. But if it does, he isn’t finished. His Plan B is to get you to drop out. He will introduce difficulty to you in hopes to get you to quit. But if you don’t, he isn’t finished. His Plan C is to get you to fizzle out. He will distract you with the cares of the world like eating and clothes and other daily worries and concerns. This is perhaps the hardest of all to detect, because those who are fizzled are still planted in the Lord’s field, but simply aren’t bearing fruit. However, God also has plans for you as demonstrated by the final soil. God’s plans for you are to come in, stay in, and grow up. The real difference between the two is how you will respond to His Word. I’m glad you are here reading with us, that shows promise. Keep it up. Let it sink it. Let it grow up within. Let it bear fruit. Those are God’s plans for you.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 8.

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A More Opportune Time

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

When I was younger, I pictured that Jesus had it easy. Satan tempted Him three times and then left. However, as Luke records it Jesus was being tempted throughout the 40 days. Then, when this particular round of attacks does come to a conclusion, Satan retreats, looking for a more opportune time. In other words, Satan wasn’t done. This is an important lesson when it comes to temptation. The time I am most likely to fall is right after I’ve had a huge victory. I let my guard down. I think I’m unbeatable. I feel like I’ve made it and nothing can stop me. That is when Satan comes from out of nowhere and kicks my legs out from under me…every single time. Certainly, we can rejoice in our victories. However, we must not be so blinded by them that we get caught up in the aftershock of temptation and then swept away by the undertow. Thank God for victory, but keep holding on to His hand because Satan will be back.

Next week’s reading is Luke 5.

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Twisted Scripture

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

“But it’s in the Bible,” Satan says as he offers the third temptation. What a subtle and cunning enemy the devil is. He will use anything to get us to turn from God and turn on God. He will even use the Bible. He will pull verses out of context, strip them of their meaning, and then say, “But the Bible says.” There is only one way to combat this kind of temptation. Know God’s Word. If we pluck a sentence here or a verse there, we can make the Bible support just about anything. Jesus explained He would trust in the Father’s care and protection. He didn’t have to test it. He wouldn’t test it. He knew it would be there when it was truly needed; the Father’s Word said so. Yes, that very Word by which Jesus claimed He received life had promised God’s protection. How could He rely on it for life, if He wouldn’t trust it’s promises. The same is true for us. God is our Father. He will take care of us when that is needed, we don’t need to purposefully test it. We just need to purposefully rely on it no matter what Satan says to us.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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King of the World

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

Satan tempts Jesus to worship Him, but Jesus is not tempted by worshiping Satan. There is nothing about worshiping Satan that by itself is tempting. No, Satan tempts Jesus with the kingdoms of the world. However, the temptation was not actually being king of the world. God has already promised that to Jesus (see Psalm 2). The temptation is becoming king of the world, but avoiding God’s pathway. I don’t think Satan understood the plan of God. I don’t think he had foreseen the crucifixion. But he saw Jesus had left the throne of God and come into the world. He could see God’s way to the throne was awful for Jesus. Satan was supposedly offering Jesus a ticket back to the throne room of God. Whatever God’s plans for Jesus might be, Satan was saying he would give up without a fight and Jesus could bypass anymore hardship. He would just hand over the nations of Jesus would worship him. He could quit this whole incarnation and any other terrible thing God had planned for Jesus if He would just bow down. What a temptation! And isn’t that just how Satan does it. He offers us the easy way. He promises life, joy, peace if we will just take the shortcut. But Jesus knew better. The shortcut wasn’t worth it if it meant worshiping someone other than God. The same is true for us. The shortcut isn’t worth it if it means surrendering to someone other than God. Sure, Satan was probably lying. He always does. Sure, he promises the moon, but only gives dirt. That, however, is really beside the point in this story. Jesus chose the hard path because it was God’s path. God is the only one to be feared, reverenced, obeyed, and worshiped. Oh, how sad it makes me to think of the times I have failed at this even after learning better. But Jesus shows us the way to victory. No matter the past, follow His way today. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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Not By Bread Alone

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

As Luke tells the story, Satan first asks Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus’s response explains what this temptation is all about. “Man shall not live by bread alone,” quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. As God had sustained Israel for 40 years in the wilderness, He has sustained Jesus for 40 days. He gave Israel manna to assuage their hunger. He sustained Jesus’s life, but let Him be hungry. Doesn’t this hit at life’s situation Satan often uses to tempt us. God was sustaining Jesus, but that sustenance didn’t make Jesus feel physically satisfied the whole 40 days. Here we are today, alive, but perhaps not as comfortable as we want. He is providing for us, but not at the standard of living to which we would like to be accustomed. There is discomfort, pain, annoyance, frustration, even a sense that we haven’t been completely provided for. After all, we’re alive, but hungry. Then Satan says, “Quit relying on God. Take matters into your own hand. You’re a child of God after all. If you were really His child, surely He would provide everything you want to the degree you want it.” But Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” That is, “I choose to rely on God. My life comes from God. I depend on Him. His grace is sufficient for Me.” That is, God is enough for me. Whatever God provides is enough for me. Satan wants us to believe if we do not pursue whatever he is offering, we’re going to die. However, the only true source of life is God. Not bread. Not water. Not even oxygen. God. Don’t let go of life. Don’t let go of God no matter what Satan offers.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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It is Written

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

Satan will attack any way he can. Jesus has just heard from the Father at His baptism: “You are my beloved Son.” Satan comes at him with, “If you are the Son of God…” It’s as if to say, “I get it. God says He’s your father, but will He prove it? Let’s see.” But Jesus stands the test. The anchor which gets Him through is, “It is written.” Jesus is saying, “He doesn’t have to prove it to your satisfaction, Satan. He doesn’t even have to prove it to Me. He said it, and that is enough for Me.” This is exactly the temptation Satan puts before us over and over and over again. “If you were really God’s child, wouldn’t your life be easier? If God really loved you, wouldn’t you have gotten that promotion? If God were really paying attention to you, would your loved one have gotten so sick?” And in those moments of temptation, these words sound so reasonable. They are not. God does love you. He said it in His Word. More than that, He proved it by sending the Word who lived and died at our hands to wash our sins away. The only way to combat these foolish lies of Satan is to drink in God’s Word. Remember what it says; use its truth to cast down his misleading error. God does love you. You are His child. It is written. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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