Friday, March 27, 2009

Final Response

Finally, we reach the end of Christ’s temptation. I am sure that He thought the same thing…finally. In this final scene, I believe that the gloves are off. Satan does not try to identify with Christ through scripture, he does not play games with Christ’s Sonship, but he goes to the place where everyone else would fail.

These are hard times. Our economy is in the toilet. I know so many people who are trying to hold on to their homes, and some that just can’t. Financial stress is such a heavy strain. Families are in chaos and marriages are under the gun. It takes everything that I have, sometimes, to remember Isaiah 8:11, 12, “For the Lord spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread.”

I was waiting in the airport, yesterday. I was flying Southwest, so I was in my proper sub-group. In front of me, in a far superior subgroup, were the ones that had gotten their boarding pass just minutes before me. One was a man in a shiny pin-striped suit, who must have been in investing, talking to a couple who must have shared his timeliness. They were retired and, probably, were in the prime demographic that had lost too much retirement and savings. The couple spoke in sound bites, like the ones I have forwarded to me. These sound bites tell of disaster and fear, and they prey on an already frightened people. This guy was a really slick talker and he was enticing people to listen to him as he explained the bail out situation.

The more interested that people were, the louder he talked. He had all of the answers, and I was just waiting to hear the, “but I have your answer” speech. Immediately, I didn’t trust him. It became my job to look disinterested and view my knees as much as possible. I am not going to spend my time on that train. I have made a very conscious choice to fear the Lord, not what this world is going to do whether I complain or not. This has to be conscious for me because I am a controller and there are things I cannot control, and they could get worse. I can read, though. I know that this is not how I am supposed to spend my days. We are the only people on the planet who think that we are guaranteed financial prosperity; and I can’t find it in the bible.

So, I got a little inwardly fussy, while watching this. I get a little inwardly fussy when I think of Satan tempting Jesus with the world. Matthew 4:8,10, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ”

This tells me that, the bigger the threat, the bigger the temptation. The devil took Jesus to show him all of the kingdoms of the world. Think of the Roman Empire. Those are some really big kingdoms and lots of riches. If this happened today, the devil would show Jesus the city of Dubai and say, “You can have all of Dubai; from every man-made island to every barrel of crude oil in the Middle East…it’s all yours”. If you don’t know what Dubai is, watch the Travel Channel…unreal, and worth seeing. More interesting is to watch it and then read the prophets. I will let you think on that.

So, let’s think about ourselves…that is easy, right? What if Satan came to you and gave you this deal? You would never worry about another car payment, house payment; in fact, go and buy the biggest home that you have ever seen and give yours away. Don’t worry about cleaning this monstrosity; you have a team of people to cater to you. Don’t cook, don’t clean, hire someone to raise your kids. You never have to get yelled at again by your children, in fact, if your kids get mouthy just send them to their wing with their nannies. You will spend your time shopping, but have them come to you. Don’t worry about leaving your palace, unless you want to. Oh, and don’t worry about what you eat, you can just hire people to suck it out, work it out, or speed you up. You can look like anyone you want…you are rich. Not just that, you can never age. You won’t look like yourself after a couple of operations, but you will look like a plastic doll, just right for preservation. Then you will be happy, right? Could you resist this offer? After being tempted for forty days in the wilderness, with nothing to eat, are you that strong? Could you do it this afternoon if Satan showed up after lunch? This is a big temptation.

The catch… “if you will fall down and worship me”. Satan wanted the Messiah to fall down on His face and worship the father of lies. Would you do it then? Satan will give you anything for your worship. Maybe you secretly covet these things anyway? Don’t we all think, “Man, my life could be so much better, if… (fill in the blank)”. It is just one moment away from us at all times, isn’t it? One more swipe of the credit card to buy into the lies of the one who rules this world, one glance to the side when we are offering our worship. I heard a phrase in a podcast the other day. He said, “I have found that the grass is greenest where you water it.” I know, powerful, right?

What does Jesus say? He says two things. They both come from scripture. Deuteronomy 10:20, “You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear.” And, Deuteronomy 6:13, “The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear.” One of the things that I have found interesting about Jesus’ response, is that he says, “your God”. Satan is still subject to God. Satan can offer anything in this world but he does not have the ultimate power. He comes in our weakness, and tries to derail our allegiance and endear himself to our vanity…but he can be defeated.

In our weakness, God is already there in ultimate power. Ah, but God is a gentleman. He will not peddle Himself, or prostitute Himself to our feeble desires…Satan has that covered. 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10, “but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” It is time for us to put our trust in the God of the universe. Send Satan away, Jesus just showed us how.

Thank you, Jesus, for enduring temptation and leaving your example for us to see. Make us strong when we hear the lies of the evil one. Let us find contentment in our place. You have made it perfect. Thank you, Jesus, for my weakness.

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