Posts Tagged With: temptation

The “What If” Game IS A Dangerous Game To Play

 

Saturday was a busy day. It was raining when we headed out to watch my oldest son compete in the conference Scholar Bowl tournament at a nearby school. In early afternoon, as his team finished and we left the school, it had begun to lightly snow. But we were on our way to another school so he could participate in a basketball tournament. As soon as this tournament was over, my husband left to take him to a third school where the high school varsity teams were playing (he keeps stats for the girls and boys team) while my younger son and I headed home.

By this time, it had been snowing for several hours. Snow was beginning to pile up. Road crews were out working but they just couldn’t keep up – it was coming too hard and too fast.

My son and I walked in our home and I fell on the couch, exhausted from the day but mainly from the drive home. It was stressful. My road had not been touched yet and I was slipping and sliding everywhere and my youngest son was in the backseat. What if I had slid off the road? He could have been hurt or even killed.

I’m so glad that my husband is such a good driver and is so careful that I don’t have to worry about him.

Then my phone rang.

It was my husband and he had slid off the road.

Another family that we knew stopped, picked our son up and took him onto the ball game.

But my husband was still stuck on the side of the road and needed help. I called a friend who lived nearby. He willingly and happily went to help my husband. Our friend was able to pull him out but within half a mile my husband slid off two more times. Finally, the friend just brought him home.

This evening we went to get our truck. It’s a small Ford Ranger without 4 wheel drive. Not much good in the snow. It took us nearly twenty minutes to get it out of the driveway he had left it in.

While driving back home, I couldn’t help but to notice the sides of the road. It was lined with steep drop-offs. Yet my husband and son slid onto level ground.

But what if they had slid off here instead?

What if the truck would have rolled?

What if it had crushed the cab with my husband and son inside?

What if… What if… What if…

Tonight as my son and husband went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection that He had given to them. I thank Him for always taking care of my family when I cannot. And I just wanted to watch them sleep and hold them close, having been reminded of what a treasure they truly are.

But when it is my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game.

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

You can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though the weather was bad and my husband and son slid off the road, God still looked after my family. As much as I love them, God loves them more. Even as precious as they are to me, they are more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He allowed our truck to slide off in a relatively safe place. He did not allow our truck to roll or the cab to be crushed. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

 

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Why Evangelize?

 

I met *Jason the first time when I switched school in fifth grade. He was smart, funny, and very silly. He was the class clown. He could make anyone laugh. He was everyone’s friend.

But as we grew and advanced through grades, he seemed to find trouble more and more. And it wasn’t just in the classroom. Or with teachers or school officials. The first time he had a run-in with the law, we were in eighth grade (I think). He fought. He stole. He cheated.

The fun boy that we all knew and loved was gone. This mean kid had taken his place. And this “new” Jason seemed to only be getting worse.

And then he moved.

I did not see or hear from him until we were in our late 20s. Imagine how surprised I was to see him at a church’s VBS! I spoke with him for quite a while. He hadn’t graduated from high school but chose to get his GED. He met a nice girl. Got married. Became a police officer (that was the one that really shocked me!). Had three children. His wife left him and he continued to raise his children. Alone.

At this point, you could have sneezed and I would have fallen over!

And most of all, he was a wonderful dad. He played with his kids. He enjoyed his kids. He loved his kids. He worked very hard to support them.

We talked more and more. I was still so shocked that this was the same Jason that I had gone to school with. I was elated to see the changes he had made in his life. Before we left, he gave me his phone number and asked if I would please let him know the next time we had a class reunion (I was surprised he had any interest in coming).

Just a couple months later we did have a reunion. I called him and he did come. We were all thrilled to see the man and father that he had become.

And then life went on and things went back to normal and I never saw him again.

About six months later I was cleaning and found the scrap of paper he had written his phone number on. I certainly did not want my husband to think that I had any ulterior motive for keeping Jason’s number so I threw it away. I had done my job anyhow.

The very next day I received a phone call that he had unexpectedly passed away during the night.

I was stunned. Shocked. He was what, 28 years old? People are not supposed to die when they are 28 years old! I felt sick at my stomach. I thought about his sweet children.

But most of all, I thought about him. I wondered about him. Where was he? There was no doubt that a huge change had occurred in his life. Was that because Christ had entered? Maybe. After all, I did see him at a VBS. But I didn’t know for sure. Why didn’t I ask?

Why did I never call him?

Why did I never share the gospel with him?

How many months did I have his number? It was available to me and I did not seize the opportunity. I could have invited him and his children over for supper. I could have asked his family to meet mine at the park to play. I really do think he would have liked that.

But I didn’t.

And the sad truth is that I didn’t even think about it. Didn’t even cross my mind. Why? I don’t even know. Laziness, maybe. Selfishness, maybe. Out of my comfort zone, maybe. Or maybe just believing there will be another day.

I do understand the sovereignty of God. I realize that Jason’s ultimate fate was not/is not dependent upon how obedient I am in sharing the gospel. So I’m not saying that I have a huge amount of guilt. I just realize that I missed an opportunity and a blessing.

And that grieves me.

So what is my point? None of us is guaranteed another day.

With every breath, brag on Jesus.

Keep him foremost in your mind. This is not in our human nature to do, so pray that the Lord increase your love for Him and His word.

Don’t pass up an opportunity to love another person. To really love them. After all, we are all created in His image (Genesis 1:27).

Pray that God gives you opportunities to share the gospel. And then look for them so you recognize them when you see them.

Put away selfish desires and selfish motives.

Take time to commit Scripture to memory. You might not always have your Bible with you. Be prepared.

And most of all, cling to the cross.

Maybe you will be outside your comfort zone. But so what? Do you think that the Apostle Paul was ever outside of his? Probably. Yet, he is known as the greatest evangelist of all times.

All we can do is be obedient when the opportunity arises. The rest is up to God. I am so thankful for this. It is not up to how well I present the Scriptures, how good of a speaker I am, or anything else. If a work is done in someone’s heart, it is the Lord who did it. I am merely a tool in His hand. And if He is able to use something as broken and shattered as me, I am humbled and honored that He chose to use me.

I pray that I arise when the opportunity comes. No more Jasons.

 

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God have the growth.” –1 Corinthians 3:6

“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” –James 4:14

 

*Name changed to protect privacy

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Struggles In The Light Of The Cross

 

Seven years ago I went through a series of unpleasant health difficulties. They are too numerous to list here and since they involve the digestive system, they are probably not appropriate either.

I saw my doctor and she was very concerned. She referred me on to a specialist who told me, “You’re a perfectly lovely young lady. These things usually work themselves out.”

But they didn’t.

Week after week I was in pain. I could hardly stand without blacking out. The passing of food became so unpleasant I did not want to eat. And when I did, I knew I would have severe abdominal cramping for the next twelve hours.  But that was only if I was able to keep it down. Either way, when food left my body it was so violent that it ended with blood.

After about seven months of this, I visited my doctor again. And again, she referred me on to the specialist. This time, however, he thought he should run a couple of tests.

Two weeks later I received the news:  I have celiac disease.

At that time, celiac disease was unheard of, at least to me. We went to the internet and found out that it’s an intolerance to gluten. What is gluten? Another search revealed that it is wheat, barley, rye, and sometime oats. Plus, there are many, many names that it hides under.

A huge change began to take place in my life.

Not only did this involve the food I ate, but also anything that I touched (it can be absorbed through skin). In the beginning I did not imagine that I would have to change my toothpaste, lipstick, dish soap, or the envelopes we used.

I also had not considered the birthday parties and graduation receptions where I was not able to have a piece of cake. I could not even have a piece at my own baby shower.

I am not telling you this to whine and complain. Really, I feel that I have nothing to complain about. There are people who are so much worse off than me. I have a friend who cannot even touch pages of a magazine without a huge reaction. The same friend cannot be around fragrances without a stay in a hospital. This has caused leaving the home to be difficult.

Another friend has such terrible reactions to citrus that if an orange or lemon is even peeled in the same room, she and her daughter may very well get a sinus headache or pain. That’s pretty sensitive!

No, I have nothing to complain about.

And why would I?

If I eat gluten, even mistakenly, I know what the consequences will be. If my first friend goes shopping and smells laundry detergent, she knows what the repercussions will be. And the latter friend tries with all her might to distance herself and her daughter from citrus foods for fear of severe pain.

Is it a sacrifice? No, I don’t believe so. While it is true that we give up things that we want or desire, it is also true that we want to feel good. So we will gladly give up gluten. Or magazines. Or lemonade.

I will admit that I am still tempted from time to time. When I smell cinnamon rolls, I desperately want one. Pizza makes my mouth water. And a blueberry pie…  Oh, that is what dreams are made of!

A dear friend once told me, “Just think…  One day there will be a banquet. And you will be able to have ANYTHING that you want.”

That one statement has given me much encouragement over the years.

It has caused me to look forward. To think of and to remember a time is coming when these bodies will be glorified. The aches, pains, sensitivities, hurts, frustrations, sicknesses, discouragements, and even death, will all pass away.

Oh Christian, the time is coming!

And it will be so much better than either you or I could possibly imagine. I think of how excellent that blueberry pie is going to taste and know that it will be even better. My friend longs for a time when an orange will not be her enemy, but the juice may freely flow over her tongue.

Does this not sound good to you? Is this not exciting?

I, personally, am somewhat thankful that I have these momentary inflictions. While they are not pleasant, they do help to pry my hands off the grip of this world and lift them up in praise. They cause me to crave Christ more. To desire Him. To long for Him. To want Him with all that I am. To keep my eyes focused on the prize.

Pilgrim, I do not know what you are going through right now. But I know life can be rough. I know it can be discouraging at times. I know it can be lonely. I know there are disappointments, and things can be very unfair. But carry on.

Remember, Christ is your reward!

Don’t allow these momentary trials to take you eyes off the cross.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

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Is Fasting Really Necessary?

When I was in college I lived at the Christian Campus House. One of my favorite times was the Wednesday night Bible studies that were held in the basement of the girls house. We had a time of singing praises, heard the Word spoken, and fellowship. Oh, this was a great time! This was also a time when some truths from Scripture were presented that I was seriously lacking in.  One of them being the discipline of fasting. I knew the Scriptures spoke of fasting but I hadn’t researched it much. Nor did I know anyone who fasted, ever. So I really thought it was one of those “out there” things that those “out there” people did.

But as I spent more and more time in the Scriptures studying this, the more and more I realized that I had been extremely undisciplined and had been completely ignorant on this subject. I have never found a place in Scripture that requires fasting but I do believe that Jesus makes it quite clear that it is expected of His followers. He says in Matthew 6:16 “And when you fast…”  He is not saying, “If you want to fast…” Oh no, He is assuming that you are either fasting or going to be fasting in the near future.

At different points, the Scriptures discuss feasting (usually a time of celebration) and fasting.  Both are appropriate at different times. In Scripture, fasting is usually closely connected with prayer. There are several examples of this in Scripture. When Nehemiah heard of the destruction of Jerusalem, he “sat down and wept and mourned for days, and continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh 1:4). Daniel pleaded for mercy from the Lord by, “seeking Him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes” (Dan 9:3).

You may be wondering why anyone would want to fast. After all, who would want to deprive themselves of a piece of chocolate cake? I understand the dilemma, but more than I love food, I love God. And fasting has several benefits that directly affect our relationship to God.

  1. Nothing reminds me of my humanly weakness like fasting. My hunger and physical weakness is shown to me during this time. All of that reminds me of my dependence of the Lord.
  2. Since I am not spending so much time eating, I have more time to spend in prayer with the Lord.
  3. It also reminds me that while sacrificing a few meals is not comfortable, our whole life should be a sacrifice to God.
  4. Fasting is a good discipline. As I deny myself of something which I normally desire, it also heightens my ability to not give in to sin. If I train myself to accept small sufferings, like willingly fasting, then I am much more able to accept other sufferings for His righteousness.
  5. Fasting also makes me much more aware of God’s presence as I focus less on the material things of this world, like food.
  6. Fasting also shows a seriousness, urgency, and necessity to our prayers.

So when should we fast? That’s a good question. I’m glad you asked! In general, I’ve found four times when fasting is definitely appropriate.

  1. In times of intensive intercession – We see an example of this from the girl who became a queen. When Esther heard of Haman’s plan to kill the Jews she told Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do” (Est 4:16).
  2. In times of repentance – “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12).
  3. In times of worship – Anna, the prophetess,  was very old and living at the temple “worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37).
  4. In times of seeking guidance – “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).

Is someone that you know of in danger or very ill? Then prayer and fasting may be in order. Do you feel that you need to repent of sins you have not yet brought to Heaven’s gates? Then by all means, pray and fast. A couple months ago my church voted a new elder into office. Should we have sought out guidance by prayer and fasting? Of course!

While fasting is not always easy, I do believe it is necessary discipline that needs to be practiced. I’m not sure why more churches do not discuss it regularly. But I am convinced that if more Christians were willing to fast, even for just one or two meals a week, they would be very surprised to see how much their relationship would grow with the Lord. We might also be surprised how much more spiritual power and influence would consume not only in our lives but in our churches as well.

 

For information on how to get started fasting visit:  http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/

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The “What If…” Game

In 2010 my family had the privilege of attending the Olympic Winter Games that were held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although I was seven months pregnant with our youngest son, it was still a wonderful time. I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime event. Many, many memories were made there that none of us will ever forget. I want to share one of them with you now.

My son, who was eight years old at the time, and I got to attend the Closing Ceremonies. My husband did not want to go and chose to stay behind at our bed and breakfast. The Closing Ceremonies were awesome and was the favorite event for both of us. But what happened afterwards was so awful, we can hardly think of the Closing Ceremonies without thinking of this…

BC Place, the arena where the event was being held, has a capacity of nearly sixty thousand people. All those people needed to leave the arena and all began to leave at once. It took more than an hour just to get from our seats to the doors. We needed to ride the Skytrain back to our bed and breakfast. But I knew everyone else would need to ride it too and it would be chaotic. So I decided my son and I might as well have supper and enjoy the atmosphere for a while before even trying to board the Skytrain.

We goofed around for an hour and a half before making our way to the Skytrain. Still, it was a mess trying to get on. However, because I was pregnant they considered me handicapped and we got to go to the front of the line. We were waiting on the platform, next to one another, with thousands people around us (and no, I’m not exaggerating). All were trying to push to get their chance to get to the front. I have never seen a mob like this before.

Finally, the train arrived. I could feel the pressure from the other people all around me. Fearing my son and I would be separated, I grabbed ahold of his hand as tightly as I possibly could. The doors opened and immediately the whole platform began pushing, everyone trying to crowd in. But in this, our hands got torn apart. I screamed his name. Nothing. I screamed his name again. Nothing. It was so loud he probably could not have heard me. The train began to pull away from the station. I was on the train, but where was he?

I looked out the window for him. But there were thousands of faces. There were too many for me to have time to pick him out. Where was he? My heart was beating like it had never beaten before. I began to hyperventilate. Again, I screamed his name as loud as I could. This time, I saw his arm sticking out of a crowd of people waving up and down to me. He could not see me either but heard my scream and wanted me to know he was okay. I grabbed ahold of his hand and pulled as hard as I could. And I pulled him out!

I have never been so frightened in my life, before or since. We held one another as tightly as we could all the way back. Both of us were crying. We were both terrified.  He hadn’t known where I was either. I did not let him out of my arms until we got back to our bed and breakfast. And even then, it was only to use the restroom. That night I slept beside him, holding him the whole time. I cried most of the night.

That night as he went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection He gave my son. I thanked Him for always taking care of my son when I could not. And I just wanted to watch him sleep and hold him close, having been reminded of what a treasure he truly is.

But when it was my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game. What if he had not made it on to the train? He did not have a cell phone. What would he have done? How would I have ever found him in that mob? What if someone would have taken him? What if I never saw him again? What might they do to him? If given a line-up, would I recognize someone who had been there that night? What if the authorities were slow to act losing precious time? What if authorities would not help me because I was a foreigner? What if… What if… What if…

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

If you are parent, you can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though we got separated, God still looked after my son. As much as I love my son, God loves him more. Even as precious as he is to me, he is more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He did not allow us to be separated more than a few moments. Nor did He allow my son to be kidnapped. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

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Satan is Defeated, Christ Lives!

With Easter on our heels, I have been thinking a lot about all the different roles that many different people had to play for the brutal murder and sacrifice of Jesus to take place. And right now, the one I’m looking at the most is Satan, himself. Certainly he played a part. But what exactly was it?

I am convinced that there is good reason to believe that Satan knew that with the death and resurrection of Jesus, it would result in Satan’s final defeat.

Certainly there were many miraculous events surrounding the birth of Jesus. All were a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies. And Satan was very aware of each of them. All of these events would have solidified to Satan that Jesus was, in fact, the coming Messiah.

After Jesus was baptized, He was lead into the wilderness by the Spirit for forty days to fast. He hadn’t eaten for forty days! Imagine how exhausted and weak He must have been and who shows up? Satan, of course. He waited until Jesus was tired and at His weakest, then he’d tempt Him and get Him to sin.

And Satan did his best!

Satan shows Him some rocks and says, “Hey, You’re a Big Deal. You’re powerful. And I know You’re hungry. So turn these stones into bread and eat. Show the world how powerful You are. I can help you do it.” (And yes, I’m paraphrasing here. Not the exact words of Satan. But you can read about this in Matthew 4:4-11).

What does Jesus do? He resists temptation by quoting Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:3), “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” You know that as hungry as Jesus was, that bread had to make His mouth water. Yet, He would not do it. Jesus had set His eyes on the cross.

Satan had failed.

What does Satan do next? He tries again. He takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and tells Him, “Hey, You’re the Son of God. Throw Yourself off of here and let the angels catch you. Show us that You’re in control of all these angels. Go ahead and flex Your muscles.” He even quotes Scripture (Psalms 91:11-12) to Him. (Just goes to show that Satan, too, has a great knowledge of the Scriptures).

Again, Jesus uses the best defense possible against temptation and quotes Scripture (Deut 6:16) back to Satan. (By the way, I do believe that Jesus is showing that although Satan has a great knowledge of the Scriptures, He is also showing us that Satan has twisted them to fit his agenda. This shows us that Satan has no love, respect, or regard for the truth they proclaim).

Satan has failed again.

Still, Satan is very persistent. He takes Jesus up on a very tall mountain to show Him all the kingdoms of the world. Satan says, “Look at all this. Isn’t it beautiful! I can give it to you. All you have to do is just sin one little time. It won’t be a big deal. Just once. All You have to do is fall down and worship me. That’s it. Then all these people can be shown just how powerful You are.”

We can debate about whether the kingdoms of the earth were really Satan’s or not to give. But Jesus again quotes Scripture (Deut 6:13) back to him saying, “Be gone Satan. For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’”

And hey, guess what? The very next verse, Matthew 4:11, tells us that immediately Satan left Him and angels came and ministered to Him. Jesus told him to leave and Satan obeyed. Not only that, but God the Father also sent angels to take care of Him and see that all His needs were met.

Through all this, what I hear Satan saying is, “Don’t take the path of pain, sacrifice, and death. Use Your mighty power to escape all this nasty stuff. Take a life of ease. Show that You have a right to reign. Throw Your weight around. I can help you do it. You can reign on earth right now. Just whatever You do, DON’T go to the cross!”

Still, there’s another time that Satan tries to stop Him.

Jesus was talking with his disciples and foretelling them of His death. Peter took Him aside and said, “No way, Lord. I will never allow You to be killed like that.”

And does Jesus thank Peter for wanting to protect Him? Not at all! In fact, Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (You can read all about this little exchange in Matt 16:22-23) Here, Jesus is not rebuking Peter, He is rebuking Satan.

But in Luke 22:3, we read that Satan enters Judas Iscariot in what would be the beginning of a horrible series of events that would ultimately result in Jesus being sacrificed on the cross. So, if I understand correctly, Satan is now leading Jesus to the cross. What happened? Why was Satan trying so hard to keep Jesus from the cross and now, he is leading Him to the cross?

Unfortunately the Scriptures do not tell us. This is my theory, and ONLY my theory…

I believe that Satan saw his efforts had failed. Jesus knew his destination was the cross and would not sway. “His face was set like flint to die” (Luke 9:51,53). There was no stopping Him. So if Jesus was going to be that stubborn, Satan was going to make it as ugly as possible. He would drag as many people into it as he could. It would be bloody and nasty. It would be a death by torture, betrayal, abandonment, denial, and rejection. He would go on trial and be unjustly convicted. A prisoner would be freed and it would be the murderer Barabbas instead of Jesus. Satan would make it the most horrific murder ever.

And he succeeded. It was terrible, horrific, and completely heartbreaking. You can read all about His death in Matthew 26-27. But if you do, please finish the story. Read on through chapter 28. You can also read Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21 for a more complete story.

You see, if you read about His death but miss the resurrection, you have missed the whole story. Despite Satan’s best efforts, Jesus lived a perfect life. Even though He was tempted, He did not once sin. This is important because you and I sin multiple times every day. We cannot live a perfect life. We just aren’t capable of it. And the great news is that we don’t have to. Jesus did it for us. And while He was hanging on that cross, God poured out the wrath that we deserve on His Son. Jesus willingly and knowingly took on our sin and the punishment that you and I deserve.

And you want to know how powerful He is? Finish the story. Read on into those chapters. I encourage you! He didn’t stay in the grave. He conquered death, arose, stuck around here on earth for forty days before ascending into paradise to be with His Father once again. That is the gospel. That is the good news. That is what it is all about!

Do not take this lightly. It is no small thing. It is completely liberating. I do not have to worry about being ‘good enough’ because Jesus did it for me. No, this isn’t a license to sin. But by realizing what He did for me on the cross, it makes me love Him even more. That makes me want to sin less to please Him.

So what do we have to celebrate this Sunday? Much! Hope. Sacrifice.The gospel. Forgiveness. Love. The cross. Perfection for our imperfection. Satan is defeated and Christ lives! Amen and Amen!

 

Here is a link to my favorite resurrection hymn. I think you may enjoy it as well:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Qlc0UIRkBk

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