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I was reading Matthew this week and God showed me a few things about temptation I never noticed before.
Here’s the text I was reading…
“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.” Matthew 4:2-3 NIV
What happens when you’re tired or hungry? Isn’t that when we’re tempted to be rash? Tempted to eat things we shouldn’t? Say things we shouldn’t? Give in?
Now imagine 40 days and nights only drinking water. Zero food.
And the tempter comes and says…”We both know who you really are. We both know you have Holy Spirit’s enabling power. You can turn those rocks into fresh baked bread just by speaking to them. Hot bread with some yummy melted butter.”
Would you take a minute to consider it? Would you picture fresh bread? Melty butter? Mmm.
If you just pictured this bread or took a minute to consider the option, you just missed your way out (I Corinthians 10:13) and your opportunity to resist (James 4:7).
Jesus didn’t even hesitate. He didn’t ponder. He didn’t give a millimeter to the enemy, let alone a whole inch.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
Right after, Jesus resists by speaking the word, the tempter comes right back.
“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.'” Matthew 4:5-6 NIV
Again Jesus doesn’t even mull it over or debate the accuracy of the statement the devil made. He doesn’t puff up His chest, and try to prove who He is. He calls out the twisting of the scripture just by speaking the truth of the word.
“Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7 NIV
A 3rd time the tempter comes back at Jesus-
“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.”” Matthew 4:8-9 NIV
Technically Satan had authority over all the kingdoms of the world at that time. It was his to give, because Adam and Eve abdicated their authority, handing it over to Satan.
Now don’t forget…Jesus is tired. He has not eaten in over a month. Not even kale or cauliflower rice. Nada. Nothing. Zip.
Jesus knows that He’s here to get back the authority the previous Adam gave up. He knows He’s here to sacrifice Himself for us. He was being offered the authority He came to reclaim (what He came here for) all He had to do was bow His knee.
I shudder to think what would have happened if Jesus would have mulled that over…or worse caved and bowed His knee. 😲 But He didn’t.
Jesus did not even entertain the thought for a second…
“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.” Matthew 4:10-11 NIV
How many times do we find ourselves mulling over the temptation? Allowing ourselves to be swayed.
Remember Jesus was fully man on earth who was empowered by Holy Spirit, the same as us. If He can resist temptation, so can we. If we follow His lead.
1. Don’t mull it over or consider the temptation. Resist the temptation immediately. Walk away.
2. Speak the Word. Don’t allow the enemy twist scripture, and use it against you. Call out the lie and speak the truth from the word.
3. Yes, you can resist!
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV
Encouragement to ponder while you wander….
1. Jesus understands. He isn’t judging you…He wants to help you resist! “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
2. Remember you’re not the only one and you’re not alone. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 NIV
3. You can overcome! You are loved! “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NIV
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Grace- Christ’s power that enables us to do what we cannot in our own strength.
Sufficient=To be in posession of unfailing strength.
Power=Strength, miraculous power.
Perfect=to complete, to accomplish, to consummate, to finish, to fulfill.
Weakness=in want of strength.
When Jesus left earth, He sent us Holy Spirit to empower us to do even more than He did. Right?
So let’s look at this verse as a declaration!
I am empowered with the unfailing strength and miraculous power of Jesus. His strength and miraculous power partners with me in the areas I am in want so that I am able to thrive and do what I couldn’t do on my own. I refuse to be embarrassed by my weak areas, because in those weaknesses Christ’s power is fulfilling its purpose.
Point to ponder while you wander…
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT
We were created to be in partnership with Jesus, so when we try to be Lone Rangers we get drained, stressed, weary, and depressed. But…
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT
I’ve been really struggling the past few months. I have been asking Jesus about it recently but because I feel so overwhelmingly sad I haven’t been able to hear Him clearly. I know He’s speaking but I can’t hear what He is speaking. This morning I went on Bible Gateway to look something up and Isaiah 40:31 was the verse of the day.
I heard very clearly that I’ve become weary because I’m trying to get through this without Him. And I can’t. Not if I ever want to heal completely.
I’ve been trying to survive on the fumes of my own strength, when He’s got a new fresh supply of strength for me that will allow me to thrive even in grief.
I don’t know how people can get through loss and hard times without Jesus. I am eternally grateful for the new strength He provides when my own runs out.
Point to ponder while you wander…“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
I like to hide. I like to hang back and watch, until I am sure about an activity or a group of people. I sometimes doubt if i should give the Word I am hearing or post what I’ve written.
But I also have this reassuring Voice of Truth inside me that says, “Do not fear.” & “Just do it, Jillian.”
This voice enabled me to Study Abroad in England at 21, alone. Road Trip for 3 weeks all by myself in my 30’s. Parasail on Lake Michigan. Share my heart and my struggles with strangers to encourage those who are struggling. Let go of jobs, my house, and people when it was time to move on. And most recently to be there with my grandparents as they left this world for Heaven.
Bravery isn’t just for running into burning buildings to save someone. It is required for seemingly simple, ordinary things. Speaking to a group of people. Taking a new job. Asking someone out. Ending a bad relationship. Telling someone about Jesus. Being honest with ourselves. Asking for help.
Fear is a bully and a liar. It prevents people from being honest and real with themselves and others. Fear says, “They’ll judge you. Fear says, “You can’t do it.” It says, “Don’t bother. You’ll just fail.”
Fear is a liar. The truth is…
You are a child of God.
“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.” I John 3:1 MSG
It’s okay to have weaknesses.
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT
It is okay to fail.
Jesus knew that Peter would fail. Jesus knew Peter would deny Him. Yet, Jesus chose him anyway. Jesus believed in him and prayed for him. Then, after Peter failed spectacularly, he regrouped with his people and Holy Spirit. THEN He preached in Jerusalem AND…”Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” Acts 2:41 NLT
You Can, with Jesus’ Help
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 NLT
Bravery and boldness comes to us when we need it, when we know Who is with us, and what He did for us. You are never alone. You are never forgotten. You are never forsaken.
Something to ponder while you wander… “You make me Brave”
You may be the meekest and weakest, but God still believes in you. Let Him make you brave. Don’t believe me? Read Gideon’s story beginning in Judges 6. God found him hiding, and still called him a mighty warrior.
“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” 3 John 1:2 NLT
Declaring that you are both healthy and strong today!
Don’t stop believing!!
“As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 NIV
Running low on strength to persevere?
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He trains me for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me.” Psalm 18:32 & 34-35 NIV
To be still and know that He is God requires you to believe Him not just believe in Him.
Do you believe He will do what He says He will do? Do you believe He is a God of His word? Do you believe He is faithful.
If you’re struggling with believing Him, I recommend two things. 1. Worship. Nothing reminds me of who God is and His faithfulness more than worship music. 2. Study the lives of those mentioned in Hebrews 11, their perseverance, their relationship with God, and God’s faithfulness to them.
Something to ponder while you wander…true perseverance means no matter what you see or feel, you don’t stop believing God.
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and assigns each a name. Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; we’ll never comprehend what He knows and does.” Psalm 147:3-5 MSG
Yahweh is gentle, and yet the epitome of strength.
He is fully occupied, and yet so faithful that He never misses a single appointed time.
Yahweh is so deep and complex, yet simple enough to be described as simply as good.
There’s so much about Him we won’t fully understand on this side of eternity, and yet He invites us into a relationship with Him so He may reveal His secrets and mysteries to us.
Something to ponder while you wander…I use awesome and fully awesome all the time, but in truth the only one worthy to be called fully awesome is Yahweh. He is the true definition of awesome!
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT
Joshua was not an untested leader. He had been the military leader since the Children of Israel left Egypt. He was one of the twelve who spied out the promised land. He didn’t lack courage, strength or conviction. Yet in Deuteronomy 31:6, 7 and 23 and Joshua 1:6, 7, 9 and 18, God repeats the same message to Joshua. I am with you. I have chosen you for this task. Be strong. Be courageous. Why did He keep repeating the same message to Joshua?
In my opinion I think it’s the same reason He has to repeat the same things to us over and over again, because we can forget who we are in the trenches of day to day life.
God wasn’t telling Joshua to pray for strength or courage, He said be strong and courageous. Joshua already had the strength and courage residing on the inside of himself. He just needed to remember who he was and be who God made him to be.
The same is true for you. You are strong. You are courageous. You can do what the Lord has asked/is asking you to do. He made you specifically to be able to handle the life you would lead. He gave you talents, gifts and abilities. He created you with strength and courage. You were created with the ability to thrive in the environment that you would be in. But like everything, it’s a choice. You can choose to be strong and courageous and thrive. Or you can choose not to.
Joshua told his troops the same thing in Joshua 10:25, “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua told his men. “Be strong and courageous…”
Paul tells the Corinthian church something very similar in I Corinthians 16:13-14 “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”
I am passing on this message to you. Remember who you are. You are a child of the Most High God. He is for you and not against you. Be who God made you to be. Be strong. Be courageous. There is strength and courage inside you already. Be you! You are strong and courageous!
Bonus Random Quote: “God’s plan for us is usually where our passions, our purpose and our capabilities intersect.” Bob Goff
God does not want us to live sad little lives, bearly squeaking by. He doesn’t want us to be beaten down by circumstances and our enemies. He wants us to enjoy our lives even when they are difficult. He wants us to have peace that passes all understanding and joy unspeakable. He knows that when we remain in peace and maintain our joy, we are stronger.
In Nehemiah 8, the leaders were reading the Book of the Law to the people. The people realized they had been living against God’s law and they were grieved. The realization that you need to change the way you are living is good, but God does not want you to stay there and beat yourself up. Staying there makes you weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. He wants you to be in a position of strength.
Ezra and Nehemiah wanted the people to understand that the Word of God should inspire celebration and hope. Not dread and fear. They told the people that the joy of the Lord was their strength.
“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” Nehemiah 8:9-12 NLT
The Bible is a love story. It is full of stories about hope and joy. The Old Testament shows that God never gave up on the Children of Israel. He kept pursuing them even when they ran amok. When the Children of Israel pursued God, He poured blessing on them. But even when they turned their backs on Him, He never abandoned them. Not one single day. Were there repercussions for their poor choices? Yes. But when they came back to Him, He always received them. He didn’t reject or abandon them. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the love God has for people. We were the joy set before Jesus, that made Him willing to go to the cross. And He is our hope.
Knowing that God will never leave or forsake me, fills me with joy! Knowing that despite my past choices and mistakes, I am loved, fills me with joy! Even though my present circumstances are difficult, I’m not going through it alone. I will not be swallowed up. This makes me smile in the face of unemployment and not enough money to pay my bills. I am rejoicing that God will turn everything around for my good. This joy in the face of hardship, is the joy of the Lord.
Find a reason to rejoice today. That joy will make you stronger.
So many people say, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
I want to ask them, please show me where it says that in the Bible?
I think they base it on I Corinthians 10:13, where Paul is talking about everyone being subjected to temptation. God will always provide away of escape from temptation, people don’t always take it, but He provides the way. If you read the verse and its context, it’s clearly talking about temptation. “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.” I Corinthians 10:12-14 NKJV Clearly talking about temptation.
Before I continue, I want to make it clear that God does not cause bad or give bad. He is a good God and He only has good to give. BUT He will allow things to come against us. Though we are subject to the same temptations as everyone else, we have a promise that God is faithful to show us a way out. On top of that we will have trials. This is all found in James 1:2-18.
Now back to my point. Life will give you more than you can handle. That’s life. It’s the world we live in. It’s stressful. It’s hard. You will be tested and have trials. But the difference between you and the rest of the world is that you have GOD! The Word says that you will not have to handle all the junk alone. God’s got you. He will help you to thrive in the midst of every trial and tribulation. He can bring you through anything, and leave you even better than you were before!
Isaiah 43:1-4 NLT, “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia[a] and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.”
The Word also says that God is your strength and that He strengthens you.
“Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.” Psalm 108:13 NLT
The Hebrew word translated valiantly means to show oneself strong. It can be translated strength, might, efficiency, wealth or army. It shows that God comes along side of us to assist us when the situation is beyond us. No matter whether our enemy is sickness or disease, poverty or lack, emotional trauma, a family situation, persecution or anything else, God is with us. He gave Jesus for our freedom, redemption and healing. The New Testament corresponding verse is found in Philippians 4:13, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
You will have things that are too much for you to handle, but that is when partnership with God comes into play. He will strengthen you. You can ask Him for His wisdom, and He will give it to you. When you come to the end of what you can do, God steps in to do what you cannot. He makes a way where there is no way. He turns everything around for our good.
Asking God for help is strength, not weakness. Allowing God to do what you cannot, is trusting Him. David had more than he could handle when Saul was trying to kill him, but God protected David. Job had more than he could handle when the enemy came against him, but God guarded his life and returned to him 10 fold for what he lost. The Children of Israel had more than they could handle in taking the Promised Land, but God went before them and they were victorious. And these are Old Testament stories. Before Jesus came to take our sin, sickness, and brokenness. Before Holy Spirit came to give us power. Imagine what you can overcome now, this very day, with God!!!
One caveat…God likes to do things His way. And He is infinitely more creative and wiser than we are…so be prepared to have your mind blown! 🙂
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20