Christian, Country and Western, devotion, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), Temptation, Temptations of Jesus, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotional for April 29, 2017

Devotional Reading: Luke 4:1-13

Text: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan (His baptism) and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness  … (vs. 1)

I have always found it fascinating that Jesus was led into the wilderness of temptation by the same Spirit that descended upon Him at His baptism. My wife once pointed out to me that we are never tempted by those things that we do not desire. The temptations of Jesus are somewhat universal; satisfaction, fame, power.

There is a fine line distinction between temptation and testing, though we often translate and use them interchangeably. As with everything in life, context is important.

Temptation’s intention is to make someone succumb. Testing’s intention is to clarify. A more accurate understanding of Jesus’ experience would be that of testing. His wilderness experience clarified His ministry and purpose. It reaffirmed Mary’s “Magnificat” found earlier in this gospel. Jesus’ Kingdom was not going to be like the world’s kingdoms. His was based on agape Love; a love that respects the other, cares for the other even at our own expense, and sees in the other the face of God.

An old country and western song says that if you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything. Jesus knew what He stood for. He challenged those who would take Him seriously to stand with Him.

Lord, give me clarity of purpose and the will to follow in the Way of Jesus. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Lenten Devotion, Temptation, Temptations of Jesus, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace: The First Sunday in Lent, 2017

Devotional Reading: Matthew 4: 1-11

I always thought that temptations were a bad thing. At various times in my life, whenever I faced a major decision and didn’t know which way to go, I would pray, “Lord, if you do NOT want me to do a certain thing, then please don’t tempt me because I am weak and I will fail.” I truly knew what the apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote, “I do not understand my own action. For I do not do what I want, but the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7: 15-20) Like Paul, I stumble a lot.

But then, in reading today’s text, I realized that Jesus was led into the wilderness of temptation by the Spirit–the Holy Spirit. Temptations, then, are not bad. They are clarifying. They help me discover the essence of my character. As an old Country song says, “If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.” Jesus’ temptations clarified for Him, the Early Church, and us today what gives our lives meaning. In life we “do not live by bread alone”. We must not “put God to the test”. And only one Being is worthy of our worship. (Matthew 4: 4,7&10, respectively).

These are basic principles by which we can live our lives. These are the principles we can use when we face temptation.

Lord, Jesus told us that when we pray we ought to pray not to be led into temptation. But when we are tempted, help us to stop and ponder Christ’s lessons–we do not live by bread alone, we must not put God to the test, and only one thing truly deserves our worship. Amen.