Seed of Faith – Temptations and Trials  By Pastor Dave  

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers:

Greetings! Today’s assignment? Read Matthew 4:1-11. Put yourself in the story and then put the story in you!


The enemy of our soul loves to get us when we are alone or lonely. I think that is why worry or being anxious was listed as the number one temptation. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, led into the desert, and tempted. And right before all of this, Jesus was baptized…the dove descended and THE VOICE of God was heard saying God was well pleased with Jesus! Immediately Jesus is out in the desert having not eaten for 40 days. (Are you there in the story? Ever taken a tour of the desert?)

There’s one thing I’ve noticed: Temptation doesn’t come when we are the strongest; temptations come when we are the weakest. Or, maybe when we are strong—we can resist easier. It is when we are tired, worn out, poured out—that we often fall to temptation.  One of my spiritual directors taught me HALT. He told me that most temptations and failures come when these four things happen:
As a pastor, I am constantly trying to scan my horizon so that I am not hungry, angry, lonely, and tired all at the same time. I know what happens when I am all four of those dangers. I am at my weakest.
True confession here, I do not sit and read my Bible and do my daily devotionals because I am some sort of religious freak. I read my Bible because for me not to HALT…I need to fill my mind and heart and spirit and soul with God’s living word

Jesus being in the wilderness for forty days parallels the stories of Moses on Mt. Horeb for forty days (Exodus 34:2,28; Deut. 9:9) and Elijah on the way to the same mountain in I Kings 19. Paul also went into the wilderness after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Paul’s wanderings in the wilderness of Arabia are recorded in Galatians 1:17. More importantly Jesus’ wilderness experience reflects the wandering of the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The temptation of Jesus also parallels the temptation of Adam. In fact, you could say that the first Adam had everything that he wanted. He was in the Garden of Eden with everything at his disposal and the serpent came slinking into the Garden in the form of a snake and said, “Did God really say?”

The first temptation here in our story is a simple test to destroy the confidence that Jesus had in His Heavenly Father. Do you see how subtle the devil is? He comes along and twists a word of two and says — ““If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” The devil speaks lies and accusations and tempts Jesus to distrust the powerful words that were spoken earlier at Jesus’ baptism — “This is my beloved son, whom I am well pleased.” What a contrast — “If you are God’s son” and “This is my beloved son.” Whom will you believe? God says you are precious in His sight, beloved…Satan wants us to question IF we are God’s child.

Temptation is serious business. Remember that God will not tempt you, but God will test you to see what you are made of.
Temptation is common to all people—pastor or not. Temptation is a time of trial and testing. It is a process of experience. I think Jesus was trying to show his disciples that our lives will be filled with temptations. He went first to show us the way to overcome. Are you in this story, yet?

Jesus had a choice to either believe the devil’s words or to believe the words that His heavenly Father spoke to Him. The devil first tries to get Jesus to distrust God. The devil plants doubt in Jesus mind that he will not be provided for His personal needs. Jesus responds with the clue to overcoming, “It is written!”

The devil speaks and then Jesus speaks — “It is written.” Jesus knew how to defeat the devil’s wily schemes! Jesus knew the Words of God. Jesus believed what His heavenly Father spoke about Him. This is why it is so important for you and me to spend time in God’s word. Read a verse…read a chapter…read a psalm…so that you can reply to the tempter, “IT IS WRITTEN… GET OUTTA HERE!”

First Temptation — Serving Self
Why are our physical needs so hard to trust God with? Was God capable of feeding Jesus?
Remembering the mocking cry at the cross — Matthew 27:40, 42-43 “If you are the Son of God…”?
How often do we put our physical needs above our spiritual needs? Seems to me that during one week, there are 3 meals a day—or 21 meals a week that are available for us to feed our physical body. How many of us are opening our LIVING WORD 21 times a week? How about just 7? How about once a day? Buckle up. Open up.
“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” Luke 4:4 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 that says: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Second Temptation — Testing God
The devil quotes Scripture — Psalm 91:11-12 with a subtle twist — Satan left out the important phrase “in all Your ways.
Jesus replies, “It is written, ‘Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.’” Deuteronomy 6:16
This story is when the Israelites started quarreling with Moses in the desert and they tested God! Moses named the place MASSAH—which means TEST—and MERIBAH—which means ARGUING. The people were griping and saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?” Evidently, the people weren’t getting their way. They were being tested and they didn’t like it. (Sound familiar?)

Third Temptation — Worshipping Satan
First, Satan suggests what Jesus should do for himself. Second, Satan suggests what God should do for Jesus. Third, Satan suggests what Satan can do for Jesus — that is how Satan comes to us. Telling us that what we desire belongs to us and he will give it to us. Do you think self-will is Satan’s will or is it the opposite of God’s will?
What does Matthew 6:24 remind us to do — “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
One of my favorite passages in the Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
When Jesus is tempted to worship something or someone us his reply is simple but not easy. It is written — “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” Deuteronomy 6:13

Many of us can recognize a huge, Niagara-like temptation when we see it. Many of us decide to go a different route. But so often it is a million little decisions that lead us into a lifestyle of sin and failure.
We begin the story of Jesus in the wilderness by saying, “Me, too! Yes, me too—on being tempted and tested!” Remember that Jesus went into the desert full of the Holy Spirit. He had just been baptized. He had just heard the Father’s voice. A huge weapon in our arsenal against the wilderness and temptation is to fill our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits with God’s word.
I referee high school wrestling. This weekend was a big tournament and I reffed 12 hours each day. When I got home last night, I said I wanted to go to In N Out. Listen, at 8:30 pm that place was full. There were cars everywhere. There was nowhere to sit and the drive up was backed out past the intersection. We parked and walked inside. We were number 47. As we scanned the packed dining room with no place to sit, I heard them call number 3. I looked at my wife and said, “You got to be kidding me.” After 15 minutes, I spotted a family leaving so I walked over to claim the seats. Funny thing, so did another guy! We got there first. Those seats were ours! But there was a problem. We only need two seats, he needed all four. My wife said, “We can eat in our car…” We talked back and forth with the guy who didn’t want to take our seats from us. “NO! We insist” cried my lovely wife and she grabbed my arm and walked me away. Ten minutes later, we got two seats at the back counter. There we sat and continued waiting for number 47! Remember the guy who stole my table? He walked up to us and said, “Please, here’s $20—I want to buy your dinner for giving up your seats to my family. I feel guilty for taking them.” We talked back and forth and ended up shaking hands but telling him to go for yogurt after dinner! Tempted. Hungry. But not LONELY. Seriously, this could have ended differently for me.

This week I want you to do a daily, personal inventory. Every day ask yourself: Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Listen, you don’t have to be all four before you HALT and go find quiet time to read God’s word, or listen to Christian music. An amazing thing happens when we read or hear God’s word…it becomes the living word inside of us and the living word is what will help us to overcome our hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness—our trials, tests, and temptations.

Is this story in you, yet? The story of how Jesus overcame temptation three times in the wilderness after 40 days of fasting. This story…offers us some key wisdom for the tests, trials, and turbulence in our lives.

IT IS WRITTEN…say it with me…IT IS WRITTEN…and the quote your favorite bible verses out loud. We are more than conquerors, friends, we are overcomers because CHRIST overcame hell, death, and the grave. On the third day, He rose.

See You Sunday!
God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

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