A Walk Through the Desert

There are a few sections of the Bible that grabbed my attention as a child and still keep it to this day. One of these areas can be found in Matthew 4: 1-11 where Jesus is led into the desert after fasting for forty days and is tempted by the devil. It reads as follows:

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

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Photo Credit: .H0oT. via Compfight cc

Yesterday, the message at church was about facing our insecurities and how we fill in the blanks in our lives (I am so _____).  What voices do we hear and how do we respond? Do we know our values and our value? When we look in the mirror, do we see our image reflected or our reflection the way God sees us?

In the desert, Jesus is offered physical provision to answer his hunger and material wealth and power.  He is told to jump from a cliff because he would surely be saved. Jesus replies that the word and worship of God is essential to all.

That leaves us with the test.

When we move towards God, we will be tested.  Things will not be easy.  We’ll reach the end of the day exhausted and drained, looking in the mirror and dreading the sunrise.

As you go forward, searching for the strength to stand, know that you are not alone. Fortify your thoughts because your head and feelings of your heart will direct your steps. Quiet the noise. Find peace in the desert because the test will pass and, before you know it, the angels will arrive.

~Matt

Joy vs. Temptation

For Christmas, Val got me an album from one of my favorite bands, Tenth Avenue North (yes I still listen to CD’s in my car, scary, I know). The title track is called Cathedrals. The message of the lyrics hits home to me on many levels.  Check out the lyric video.

One of the lines from the chorus tells us:

Let Joy Take Temptation’s Place

On Sunday, our church started a series on quieting the noise in our lives.  I don’t know about you, but temptation creeps up on me in the midst of the noise.  It is just too easy to be on the phone and ignoring Val and the kids. Thoughts scatter all different directions.  Stress presses down with a weight that can make us shut down and lose our temper.

What if we prayed to replace it with Joy? What if, in your darkest moments, you found happiness? What if the voice of temptation could quiet and be replaced with worship? With realization of your divine dream and calling?

As we look at a new year, let’s pray for more joy in our lives. I know I could use it. Our marriages and families could use it.  Let’s take 2015 and invest in the joy the comes from knowing our Creator.

Open up our souls
To feel your glory
Lord, we are a desperate people
Your cathedrals
Come fill this space
Let joy take temptation’s place
We will taste and see you as you are

~Matt