January 4

Matthew 4


In this chapter, Jesus was led into an isolated place by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of being tested by the devil. Jesus gave Himself to prayer and fasting. 


There are a few things to notice in these temptations. One, Satan started by questioning truth. He uses the word “if” in verse 3, 6, and 9. Two, Satan knows the Word of God, and He quotes it, attempting to use it against his opponent. Three, in each temptation, Jesus answers with Scripture, saying, “It is written.” What can we learn from this? One, Satan will attempt to cause you to question Scripture, God, and any truth you know. Be careful not to be deceived. Two, you are no match for Satan. He knows the Bible better than you do. He’s not afraid of you. Be humble and submitted to Christ. Three, the Word of God contains the power and the authority of God Himself. Know it, and use it. 


TEMPTATION #1: Command stones to become bread

Jesus had been fasting for forty days. Not only was He hungry, but physically, he was very weak. Satan, knowing this, tempts Jesus to make bread out of stone. It was possible. Jesus could have made bread from stone. His questioning was, “IF you are the Son of God, questioning His identity.” 


JESUS’ ANSWER: Jesus refuses to turn the stone into bread, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, stating his dependent relationship on God, submitted and obedient to God’s Word. The Greek word for “word” quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 is rhema, which refers to the spoken words of God. Food sustains life; we rely on it for our body to function. In a similar way, God’s Word is what sustains our spiritual life; we rely on God and His Word in a surrender position to His love and authority (see John 6). 


TEMPTATION #2: Throw yourself down

Satan took Jesus to a high pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and said, “IF you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down” quoting Psalm 91:11, 12. 


JESUS’ ANSWER: We depend on God, not the other way around. Our position is the dependent one. God doesn’t have to do anything we say if it is said outside of a dependent relationship. God doesn’t have to do anything we want Him to do if it is done outside of our dependent relationship. Jesus knows better than to put God to a test – such disrespect for God’s authority. What Satan suggested was out of manipulation, not faith. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” 


TEMPTATION #3: Worship me in exchange for the world’s kingdoms

Satan and Jesus both were aware that the world system and God’s kingdom are in opposition to one another. One is run by Christ’s authority and our submission. God’s system is one of faith, depending on God in a humble surrender as our only source of life. The world’s system is run by pride and self-sufficiency. It is about control, manipulation, and rebellion. I believe that Jesus knew He would one day defeat all nations and rule over all kingdoms as the promised Messiah, or King. Satan was offering to give that up early, tempting Jesus to take His reign sooner, without going to the cross, without a new covenant, without eternal salvation made available to all people. 


JESUS’ ANSWER: Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13, saying, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” I’m not sure what could have been a bigger temptation to the Christ than to offer Him a “get out of the cross” card, but Jesus refused to take any offer that was acquired by sin, or acquired by acting outside of dependency and worship to God’s authority. He remained our spotless Lamb. 


If you ever wonder why submission to an earthly authority is important, know that the entire Bible is based on our choice to humble ourselves and surrender to authority. If we can’t do this with a human being, then how can we say we would do this for God? I look at my own personal history, as well as watching decisions other people make, and I see pivotal moments, crossroads, where we are given a choice to submit and remain faithful or turn away and pursue our own path. The decision to humble myself at a crossroads has often granted me entrance into the next season of ministry. 


In verse 12, Jesus stayed dependent on the Father throughout the temptation. He humbled Himself and stayed in reliance, a reliance of faith to the point of taking obedient action. Now we see Him enter into His earthy ministry. He began to preach “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 


He begins to put His team together with men who had heard Him preach. He asked them to follow Him, and they did. 


Jesus went all over Galilee, teaching to Jews in their town synagogues, preaching the Gospel, and healing all kinds of disease. When the news went out, they began bringing the sick to Him. Huge crowds began to follow Him. However, before this great ministry began, Jesus put action to His faith in the wilderness. 


Do you want to do great things for God? Stay dependent upon Him, be humble, stay submitted, and act only on God’s word. 


Genesis 10-12


Chapter 10 is Noah’s genealogy. It’s important to trace Jesus’ bloodline, so these genealogies have purpose. There is also purpose in understanding the formations of nations. 


In chapter 11,  we read the account of the Tower of Babel. God wanted His people to fill the earth, but they were not. They were staying in one place. They spoke the same language. They didn’t want to be scattered over the earth; they wanted to stay in one spot. They decided to build a city where they could stay together, and they built a high tower, perhaps a marker or claim to stay in place. 


God came down to see their city and tower. God said, “Let US go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” This is another demonstration to the trinity, God using the plural word “us.” 


As a result of the different languages, the people scattered and ceased building the city. If God had not scattered them, nothing would have stopped them from staying in one place. 


We can learn several things from this story. One, there is tremendous power in unity when everyone shares the same goal and is speaking the same thing. Two, God will allow scattering when He wants expansion. For example, He allowed Jerusalem to be attacked in 70 AD, scattering the Jews to the nations, a fulfillment of Scripture. In the nations, the Jews have continued to multiply. Not only did this scattering allow for multiplication, but it also caused the Gospel to spread. 


The best way for expansion is when we listen to the Holy Spirit, and obey Him to go into new territories without hurting another’s ministry. In addition, the best way to go out from a group is with honor and love. If you love the people you were a part of, then you do not burn bridges, you do not take away from them, but you continue a relationship of respect. 


In chapter 12, God calls Abram to leave his home and start traveling south to go into a new territory. God wanted to give Abram his own land; He wanted expansion. Abraham heard God’s voice, and he obeyed God, unlike the citizens of Babel. At age 75, Abram took his wife, his nephew, his possessions, his servants, and began to move towards Canaan. It goes much better for us when we obey. 


There was a famine, so Abraham and his crew went into Egypt. Sarah was a beautiful woman, and the Egyptians would have killed her husband in order to take her for the Pharaoh. However, if Sarai was considered his sister, then Abraham was not a threat to the Egyptians. He asked Sarai to lie. She was taken to Pharaoh and took her as a wife. Whether or not Pharaoh and Sarai were actually married or that the marriage was consummated, we don’t really know; however, the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house immediately. Pharaoh put two and two together. He called Abram, knowing she was his wife. He gave her back to Abraham. 


God did not choose Abram and Sarai because they were perfect. Abram lied instead of trusting God. He acted out of fear instead of faith, but we know Abraham grew in faith (Romans 4:20). So can we!


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