I dug this blog out of my archives for I thought it might be helpful for some folks. I wrote and posted this on Thanksgiving Day 2007. Having just re-read it, I was struck by how profound the simplicity of truth really is. I was also struck by the realization that in the 18 months after writing this blog, I had to confront not only stone, but actual mountains in my own life. Little did I know when I wrote this blog what was to come up in my own life and the in this Country in the months ahead.
I sit here on this very cold and blustery Thanksgiving morning trying to make sense of many physical "issues" in my personal life. I am old and wise enough to know that life runs in cycles just as everything in God's universe does. There are wonderful "up" times and there are also times that try one's soul. God certainly does not hide the fact that He will at times provide trials for us. There is no question that it is the stones in the brook that make it sing.
Trials and tribulations provide avenues of growth in our lives. That is why God allows them. The first thing God insisted upon when it was time for His son Jesus' ministry to begin was for him to go on a 40 day fast in the wilderness. Not only did Jesus have to endure 40 days without food in a hostile environment; when the 40 days were ended, he was tempted by the devil himself. Did God tempt his own son? Of course not, but He did allow the temptations so His son could partially fulfill Hebrews 2:17, 18:
"Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted."
The record of Jesus being tempted by the devil is fascinating as well as extremely important for us to understand. Matthew 4:1 states that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for the sole purpose of being tempted by the devil. Before Jesus ministry even was allowed to start, he had to prove himself to God that he would stay faithful no matter what circumstances arose.
Jesus fasted for 40 days before there is any record of a temptation. If he was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, then why did he first have to fast for 40 days and nights? One of the main reasons for fasting is to break down the self-sufficiency fortress and become humble enough to allow God to be your sufficiency. Fasting also cleanses the physical body and makes the spiritual senses come alive. Fasting enhances spirituality as nothing else on earth. Fasting draws the heart into closer and closer communion with the Father. For 40 days, Jesus became more and more one with his Heavenly Father.
By the end of the 40 day fast, Jesus was hungry and physically weak; but he was spiritually as strong as a man could be. The devil, as his manner was, looked for a weak point to gain entrance into Jesus' logic and thought patterns. But when the devil came to Jesus he did not say, "If you are hungry, command these stones be made bread." No, he said, "if you be the Son of God, command..." The temptation was not to turn stones into bread, the temptation was to quit allowing God to be his sufficiency and do it himself. "If you be the Son of God" was a fiery dart aimed directly at Jesus heart. The devil was provoking Jesus to prove he was the Son of God to him. Jesus was in the wilderness to prove himself to GOD not the devil.
Jesus' response to the devil was the same throughout the temptations; he simply stated "it is written". By saying this, Jesus drew the sword of the spirit out of its sheath and slashed the devil where it hurt. The way to beat the devil's temptations is not through "reasoning with him" or thoughtfully considering a cute answer to impress him. Eve succumbed to temptation in the garden because she started considering what the serpent said instead of reiterating what God said. The way to beat the devil is to confront him with the light of the Word of God.
James 4 says to "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." I Peter 5 says to resist the devil while being steadfast in the faith." The devil can be forced to leave if you resist him. It is not enough to "just say no" to him, there must be active resistance.
After the final temptation in Matthew 4, Jesus not only confronted the devil with "It is Written", he told Satan to "Get thee hence." You can use any terminology you feel comfortable with to let Satan know he must leave. Just make sure that with faith and boldness you communicate in no uncertain terms: Enough, Flee, Leave, Get Out, Depart, Go or whatever works for you. Resist the devil with the light of God's Word, and with all the authority and boldness of Christ within, insist that he leave.
In Matthew 4:11 it says that the devil left Jesus and angels came and ministered to him. Jesus was tempted, but he did not sin. He refused to budge from what he knew to be the truth of God's Word. After a short duel, Jesus' sword of the spirit proved to be far superior to the toothpick used by the devil. His eyes blinded by light, his pride wounded by the truth and his will broken by defeat; the devil left Jesus as a dog with his tail between his legs. He was allowed to "give Jesus his best shot", and he had failed miserably in his attempt to circumvent God's redemptive plan.
When the ordeal was over, God so loved His son, he sent angels to minister to him. I love the image this portrays. Angels sent from the very throne of God arrived with bread from heaven, pure water and healing ointments and balms. The angels took care of Jesus as nurses would attend to a private patient. They gently and with all the love of God himself, tenderly "ministered" to Jesus. From the time the angels departed until he gave his life on the cross, Jesus proceeded to devote every ounce of his life to helping others gain entrance into the Kingdom of God.
There are NO assurances we won't face difficult times as a Christian. In fact, the book of Timothy promises that those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. The book of 1 Peter devotes many verses to suffering. Looking at the life of the apostle Paul, one sees in 2 Corinthians 11 how absolutely inglorious his life was. He was constantly harassed, persecuted, jailed, beaten, whipped and once even stoned. Every one of the 12 apostles, with the possible exception of John, died as a martyr. These great men of faith never complained about their lot; to the contrary, they counted it all joy.
I am truly thankful for many things today, but amazingly, I am very thankful for the boulders in the creek; for they make it sing glorious songs of praise to God. When we endure the hard times we learn to rejoice, not in our own abilities or strengths, but in Christ who strengthens us and infuses us with inner strength. The great thing about when things are really rough is that they can ONLY get better.
My Thanksgiving prayer for all of us is recorded in 2 Corinthians 4:6-10:
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body."
God richly bless you this wonderful Thanksgiving Day and every day as you grow in grace and walk in the light of His glory. My prayers are with you and all the love of Christ in my heart to you.
blessings... you are truly a blessing for me! Your blogs are so helpful. I have been having a hard time fighting against temptations in my life lately and this blog has given me encouragement to keep pressing on. To keep resisting that devil and keeping God as my center. Wonderful Blog and may God bless you :)
I have tears in my eyes as I read this my friend. I missed this the first time you wrote it and very nearly missed it the second time as well. I'm glad I was browsing through recently posted blogs and stumbled across it just before I left.
The date jumped out at me... Thanksgiving 2007. You see, in November 2007, I started having some strange dizzy spells. Not serious, just feeling like I was suddenly losing power and a sensation that I was sliding to the ground. I didn't of course, just had that sensation. So, I made a doctor's appointment and that's when they scheduled a routine mammogram I was past due for. I set it for the day before Thanksgiving, November 21 because I had no school that day. That was the mammogram which would eventually reveal a large boulder in my "creek", cancer.
[quote]When we endure the hard times we learn to rejoice, not in our own abilities or strengths, but in Christ who strengthens us and infuses us with inner strength. The great thing about when things are really rough is that they can ONLY get better. [/quote]As I stand here looking back up the creek, I too find myself thankful for the boulders as they do make the creek sing.
I will remember this and always remember the very best is yet to be!
what an amazing and profoundly beautiful analogy! of course the lesson about Jesus, his 40 day fast and temptation was wonderful too. it always helps to have another person "re-translate" Bible passages that appear to be simple on the surface, but have a truly deeper meaning.
i thank you for reposting this blog. would you mind if i make a copy of it for my son, who is dealing with a "boulder" of his own?