These mornings I continue to journey through the Gospels along with others for Margaret Feinberg’s #LentChallenge and I am thankful for words on pages that come alive with Spirit and Truth. These words I read are forever new as they are read, if read with a heart that is willing, available…hungry for truth. This morning as I sat and tried to quell the voices and distractions assaulting my mind, a song came to me, and drew me into His presence and out of myself…because out of my SELF is where I need to be to hear Jesus. The song? It’s called Fill My Cup, Lord, and I was introduced to it by a lovely woman of the Word named Connie, many years ago. She gave it to me on a CD she had made with her voice and spirit singing, and it remains a part of my brain’s hard drive to this day. When I hear it in my mind, it’s always her voice ministering grace and truth to me.
“Fill my cup, Lord-I lift it up, Lord
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul,
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole. “
Today I want to share a few thoughts I had as I read Matthew Chapter 4 ( currently we are in Chapter 23 about to head into the Olivet discourse beginning Monday as we take Sunday off our scheduled reading). Have you ever read the Bible and had things popping out at you from the Word of God like the whack a mole game? It’s like Whoah, Wow, and Bam! I’ve read Chapter four repeatedly, throughout the years but God just popped a few things out of the pages and into my mind this round. Like popcorn. OK, enough with the silly similes. Onto the good stuff.
Oh, and I just want to say, I am sharing what God spoke to me and all, but rest assured He has good stuff He wants to share with you when you read His word, OK? So please, read your Bible for yourself and meet with Him yourself. There is no substitute for Bible reading and time sitting in His presence for yourself. None. It’s like your diet…you live on food not supplements. Anything I say is supplemental. Don’t make any blog, book, author or teacher your main spiritual diet. Only Jesus Himself satisfies. Only He is able to sustain for He himself is our sustenance. There are no substitutes for Him. Just supplements. A supplement is something added to the Main Thing…but the Main Thing needs to remain the main thing! OK, enough of the similes and sermons…onward Christian Soldiers.
Let’s pick up on The Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 4. Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. I have heard this chapter preached on often, yet still new insights jumped out at me to my pleasant surprise. God meets us where we need to be met; He is also not random. When He gives light to something, it is always for a purpose.
The devil is specific with his words as he approaches Jesus, the Living Word. Every fiery dart he points at our Savior starts with the word “If”, sharpened with a question, shaped to pierce the heart, soul and mind of the Son of God. He is both systematic and logical in his attack. The devil plays for keeps and this here confrontation, well you know, it is of biblical proportions. But as C. S. Lewis pointed out in his classic, The Screwtape Letters, just as the devil assumes human predictability, we humans can also get a glimpse of the devil’s predictability in this confrontation of Jesus. He knows our weaknesses but we know his tactics. More importantly we know the One who is victorious and ever on our side.
The enemy of those who belong to the Cross will attack two main areas. The first is Identity and the second is Allegiance. He is ever seeking to assault the identity of Jesus, and the position of the Christian (ie One’s identity in Christ) as well as their allegiance. This is where the Christian soldier stands or falls.
The devil uses the questions to instigate doubt and decrease confidence in these, waging a war within by bringing attention without. Outward circumstances do not dictate inner confidence. Or at least they do not have to. This is what Jesus wants us to see. The areas of attack I see in my reading fall under three headings:
1. God’s Provision
2. God’s Timing
3. God’s Sovereignty
Each of these lines of attack ultimately is an attack on the Sovereignty of God, but the devil does not start there. Oh, no. He begins with the basics as defined by Maslow: Will God provide for my human needs? (Matthew 4:5) Next he goes after God’s timing (Matthew 4: 6), the when and wherewithal. Will I trust God’s timing or take things into my own hands? Each of these temptations is designed to chip away at the Christians armor by targeting areas of weakness and each allows a choice- will we trust God or self.
We are always presented with the opportunity of bowing to self or yielding to God.
Every temptation begs the question, ” Will I be my own god, clinging to my fears, doubts and lack or will I let go-releasing all into God’s capable hands, confident in Him?
In the devil’s final assault, we see him revealing his true desire, the place of ultimate authority. (Matthew 4: 8-9)
When we give into ourselves (our fleshly fears and desires), ultimately we are giving pieces of ourselves over to the devil bit by bit …our armor is chipped away, we are stripped. Unless we follow the example that Jesus has set forth in scripture, by his example of submitting His will to the will of His Father, we are destined to stumble along the Christian path feeling defeated.
But Jesus has our back, making us more than conquerors by empowering us with His Holy Spirit. He is our Victory! And our way back from defeat.
Let’s ask ourselves, who will we pledge our allegiance to, our flesh or spirit? Our self or the God we profess?
Who or what will our identity be rooted in? In Christ alone or what we see, do and accomplish (1 John 2:18)?
Serious questions but God does not leave us alone seeking answers. He provides all we need for living this life. (2 Peter 1:3)
Lord, You are the One True Living God, and I bow down to You alone. Let me bow only to your way and your truth. Keep me from falling into the deceitfulness and deception that is prevalent in the world today. May none take your place of ultimate authority in my life and may your victory be evident in me, today and always. Amen.
May you be blessed as you continue to seek the Lord, while it is yet day- growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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#onwardchristiansoldier #justreadyourbible #iamredeemed (my word for 2015 is Redeemed) and along with Margaret’s #LentChallenge
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