His Will and His Word

This morning, I’m hovering over two back-to-back healings recorded by Matthew. Stories of faith. One of which causes even Jesus to be impressed. But while Jesus may take note of those who express faith, I’m in wonder this morning of the One who responds to faith. And that, by His will and His word.

And behold, a leper came to [Jesus] and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched Him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. . . . When He had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to Him, appealing to Him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And He said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

(Matthew 8:2-3, 5-8 ESV)

If You will . . . only say the word. If You purpose, You have the power. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.

While Jesus marvels at the faith of the centurion (8:10), I’m in wonder this morning of the One the centurion had faith in. The One who wills and speaks His will into being. The God who conceives of things and things are created. The God who designs and declares that design a reality. The God who determines to shower grace because He wants to and thus, we’re swimming in an ocean of grace because we get to.

In awe this morning at the connect between His will and His word.

We only come to God in prayer because we believe His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We only cling to the promises of God because we believe in the power of God to deliver on those promises.

For sure, without faith it’s impossible to please God, but the dynamic isn’t about how great our faith is. The dynamic is more tied to the reality that God exists and rewards those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6). A mustard see of faith can move a mountain (Mt. 17:20) only if Jesus wills to move a mountain and only because Jesus, with but the sound of His voice, is a mountain mover.

Lord, if You will . . . And if not, nevertheless not my will but Thine be done.

But if You will . . . only say the word. For You are the Word. The Word who was with God, the Word who was God. The Word who from the beginning made all things, and without You nothing was made that has been made. The Word in whom is life (Jn. 1:1-4). So, if You say, “Uncleanness be gone!”, it will be gone. If You tell the paralytic He can walk again, he will walk. What You will to be whole will be made whole. For You are Creator and re-Creator.

“Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” (Matthew 8:13 ESV)

According to His will. Actuated by His Word.

Only by His grace. Always for His glory.

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Materials and Tools

Every believer is a builder. Every convert, recruited into construction. Every saint, a sub-contractor.

“Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” ~ Jesus

(Matthew 7:24-25 EV)

Every believer is a builder. The only question is whether they are a wise believer or a not so wise believer. The determining factor? The materials and the tools.

The materials are “these words of Mine.” The house is built with the Scriptures of truth. Know the Scriptures and you’ll be a wise builder because you’ve got good material to build with. No substitute for personal knowledge of the revealed will of God. No cheap knock-offs that will do what hearing the voice of God will do. Only it will provide a sure foundation. Only God’s word is trustworthy bedrock. And bedrock is only found by digging, and digging deep.

But materials without tools are useless. And the tools Jesus gives us here are the tools of obedience. Obedience to the word heard. Works evident as the fruit of words believed. Only then will a wise man, and a wise woman, have a house built on the rock.

We deceive ourselves if we think that our house is built on a sure foundation by default simply because we believed in the Rock. Or that our house is ready to withstand the storms of life because of a profession of faith. Oh, blueprints have been provided, help has been promised, but that our house is steady, solid, and steadfast just because we’ve said the sinner’s prayer? I don’t think so.

In fact, if we do not build with the right materials and the right tools, the Scriptures say that such a person’s house will be “burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1Cor. 3:12-15). We might be saved on that day (“like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames” – NLT), but if we don’t build with the right materials we are on shaky ground when trying to make it through today.

There is no escaping how vital it is that believers build their lives on the Word of God. No getting around that knowing the word and, by God’s enabling power through the Spirit, seeking to live out the word is what makes for a rock-solid foundation. One that withstands the rains, holds fast in the flood, and is unmoved by the winds that beat against it.

Word of God speak!

But it only speaks if I open it. It only penetrates if I study it. It only protects if I believe in it. It only transforms if I practice it.

When all is said and done, whether or not a house is built on solid rock–whether or not a soul stands firm and fast in the storm–comes down to materials and tools.

Materials and tools supplied and utilized only by His grace. A house built intentionally and diligently only for His glory.

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James’ Favorite Psalm?

Read it on it’s own and it comes across as works salvation. Chew on it apart from the rest of the feast offered up by the whole counsel of God in His word, and you’d conclude that God extends divine favor based on human merit. But believe Jesus when He says that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3), and you know Psalm 15 can only be sung to the tune of “I will show you my faith by my works” or, “faith apart from works is dead” (Ja. 2:18, 26). That’s why I’m wondering this morning if Psalm 15 may have been James’ favorite psalm.

O LORD, who shall sojourn in Your tent? Who shall dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart . . . He who does these things shall never be moved.

(Psalm 15:1-2, 5b ESV)

Sometimes I read and am so thankful I can rest in grace, knowing that if my place in the Book of Life were dependent on maintaining a constant standard of righteous deeds, I’d be done. But other times, like this morning, I savor the reminder that the fruit of the gospel is righteousness. Not just righteousness imputed by Christ — which it is, it so is, praise God — but also righteousness imparted by me, as the righteousness in me through Christ pours out as the righteousness (not the perfection) of Christ flows from me. Saved by grace alone through faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9), yet “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in” (Eph. 2:10).

So what do some of those good works look like? Who gets “invited to dinner” (MSG) at God’s place? Who are those who enter His presence on His holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart . . .

What does it look like to do what is right?

Well, David’s sampler list (by no means a complete catalog) includes taming the tongue and abstaining from slander. It entails purposing to love one’s neighbor and do him no evil and resolves not to get involved in backbiting one’s friend. He who walks blamelessly not only does what is right, he also stands for what is right. He holds in contempt those who persistently and habitually engage in evil, and he gives great weight and honor to those who faithfully follow the LORD.

What’s more, those with truth in their heart will keep their promises even when it costs them dearly. They will gladly lend money without interest to brothers and sisters who are in need. They refuse to be comprised by a bribe when it comes to standing for the innocent. In a sentence, the righteous man, the righteous woman, will be marked by doing the righteous thing.

And the promised reward for such behavior is unambiguous:

He who does these things shall never be moved.

They stand firm in their faith because the fruit of their faith testifies to the reality of their faith.

Yeah, sometimes I just like to rest in grace. But other times, I’m inspired to live out grace.

Even, perhaps, with a song on my lips. A favorite song, I’m thinking, of James.

Only by God’s grace. Only for God’s glory.

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From Beginning to End, Forgive

Hovering over the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 this morning.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

(Matthew 6:9-15 ESV)

What strikes me, in particular, is the connection between forgiving others and prayer. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’ve also been in Mark 11 this week and there observed the same thing.

“Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

(Mark 11:24-25 ESV)

The Lord emphasized forgiving others as part of prayer when He preached the Sermon on the Mount, something He did towards the beginning of His ministry. The Lord also connected forgiving with asking just days before He goes to the cross in Mark 11, the end of His ministry. So, from beginning to end, Jesus emphasized the need to forgive.

Been wrestling with forgiveness. Not my own ability to forgive so much (though again this morning I’m prompted by the Spirit that there are somethings I really need to totally let go of), but I’ve walked with people over the past couple of years that have been transgressed against big time. No minimizing the offence against them as really offensive. And yet, Jesus says that if we really want to know our own debts forgiven, we need to forgive our debtors.

Maybe it’s because, as we come to grips with other’s sins, it becomes a mirror into our own ability to sin, our own depravity apart from divine intervention. To forgive others is to know the depths to which our heavenly Father has truly forgiven us.

Or, maybe it’s because the only way we are going to be able to forgive others the worst of what they can do, is when we are drawing on the supernatural forgiving power of Christ in us through His Spirit. That we will need an encounter of the divine kind if we’re going to be able to forgive others their trespasses.

Or maybe it’s because we’re tempted to limit the love of God and the power of the cross. God can love the sinner but only if the sin is within “tolerable limits” — limits of our own making. Or the blood is sufficient to cleanse from all sin only if it’s not too heinous a sin. After all, we don’t want to let anyone off the hook too easily. Spoiler alert: for those truly repentant and forgiven, the hook was never too easy — it nailed the Son of God to a wooden cross.

Not going to do the topic of forgiveness justice in a short post. Actually, the more I encounter sin up close and personal, and the collateral damage and havoc it wreaks, the more complicated forgiveness is for me. But equally true, the more amazing grace is from Him.

No simple answers. No quick solutions. No three, easy steps to forgiving what we might regard as unforgivable. Yet, no denying that, from beginning to end, Jesus taught we need to forgive.

Yes, Lord.

Only by Your grace. Always for Your glory.

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From Blues to Bounty

The psalm is only six short verses in length. But the distance the song travels, from the first line to the last, is huge.

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? . . . I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

(Psalm 13:1a, 6 ESV)

How long? How long? How long? And for a fourth time, heavy sigh, how long? That’s how the song starts. Seems like a song fit for a pandemic.

A lament. A question repeated again and again. Lyrics sung in a minor key. Feelings of despair put to parchment amidst an unchanging forecast — rain yesterday, rain today, and, for the foreseeable future, more rain.

And yet by the time the songwriter pens these 109 words, scribes these mere 436 characters, he’s singing not the blues but of God’s bounty. What starts as “rue another day” ends with “my heart shall rejoice” (13:5b).

So, what’s happened? What’s changed? What did God do so that how long, O LORD becomes how great is our God?

Well, nothing in one sense. Yet, everything in another.

But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

(Psalm 13:5-6 ESV)

But I have trusted in Your steadfast love. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.

The how longs of the season have not changed, but the how high of the Savior has come again to remembrance. The enemy persists, but the Deliverer is preeminent. The sorrow is still experienced, but God’s steadfast love is greater than the sorrow. The helplessness of what is yet to pass not worth comparing to the hope of what is yet to come (Rom. 8:18). All because of God’s steadfast love.

Steadfast love. Unfailing love (NIV). Faithful love (CSB). God’s unlimited, unchanging, unbounded love never ceasing (Lam. 3:22). And in that love, asserts the songwriter amidst his how longs, he will trust.

Songs of rejoicing come not always because of an immediate change of circumstance, but sometimes simply through a declared confidence in the person and purposes of the Creator and the assurance of eventual rescue. Lament gives way, if only temporarily, when the LORD’s steadfast love is remembered and rested upon. Bringing a confidence that though weeping may last for the night, joy’s gonna come in the morning (Ps. 30:5).

I have trusted in Your steadfast love . . .

That’s what can transport us from singing the blues to singing songs of His bounty.

Only by His grace. Only for His glory.

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God Determines the Destiny

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who, with pen wrote:

“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

This morning it seems Isaac, from the flesh, pens a different legacy:

“Sow disobedience and you reap mistrust. Mistrust will lead to deception, and deception to anger. Anger sown reaps hatred, and hatred murder.”

Hovering over Genesis 27 this morning. Trying to make sense of the dynamics of this seemingly hyper-dysfunctional family.

Not bright enough to dogmatically assert cause and effect here, but it seems it all starts with Isaac, an old blind man, driven by his appetite, deciding to do one thing when God had clearly told him through his wife to do another. He’s hungry, he’s weary and anticipates the day of his death, and so he strikes a deal with Esau, the older son, to bless him in exchange for a favorite meal. Problem is God had revealed to Rebekah, before their twin boys were born, that “the older shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23). But you know there’s trouble coming as, in Genesis 25:28, the Holy Spirit, with a certain foreboding, makes sure we know that “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (because he was the child of promise).

Fast forward to the twilight years and Isaac decides to bless Esau as the one to be served (Gen. 27:29). Disobedience. And it’s a train-wreck from there on.

Rebekah’s eavesdropping and plotting. Jacob’s scheming and deceiving. Esau’s choked and murderous. Just one big happy family.

And while there’s a lesson here about sin taking you farther than you want to go, a warning to heed about how sowing thoughts out-of-sync with God will reap actions, habits, and character out-of-sync with God, ultimately God determines the destiny.

Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him . . . “God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May He give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!”

(Genesis 28:1a, 3-4 ESV)

God’s purposes prevail. His promises are fulfilled. His grace always greater than all our sin.

God does some of His best work through dysfunctional families.

Not because of who we are, but because of what He’s done. Not because of what we’ve done, but because of who He is. (Thank you, again, Casting Crowns).

By His grace. For His glory.

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Acts 6 this morning. And I’ve got Stephen on the mind. What grabs me is that he was full.

“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. . . . And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.

(Acts 6:3-5, 8 ESV)

Full of the Spirit. Full of wisdom. Full of faith. Full of grace. Full of power. Stephen was full. As I chew on that, I find myself aspiring to be full too.

But is that something I can will? Something that I can work? Something that’s in my power and control to do? Can I make myself full?

I’m indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Sealed by the Spirit. Able to be led by the Spirit. But can I really say I’m thoroughly permeated by the Spirit?

I think I have some wisdom, some faith, and know what it’s like walk to be grace dependent, but I get the sense here that Stephen was intrinsically wired for wisdom, overflowing in faith, and saturated by grace. This guy comes across as a granite pillar of faith, and the more I noodle on this the more I feel like I’m but a mud-made jar of clay.

So, what’s the secret sauce to being full?

First, I don’t think I can make myself full. Doesn’t the word itself speak of something that was once empty (or at least less than full) being supplied with something outside itself? I am not the source of wisdom, faith, grace, or power. Certainly not in command of the Spirit. I can’t fill myself. Yet, I think I have a part. While I might not be able to make myself full, I’m thinking that I can open the lid for Jesus to fill this hollow vessel, to flood this jar of clay.

As I mediated further on Stephen, my eye fell on tomorrow’s reading in Acts. If there’s anything we’ll discover about Stephen from Acts 7, it’s that he knew the word. Stephen was also full of the Scriptures. Connection there? Some divine cause and effect? I’m thinkin’.

. . . be transformed by the renewal of your mind . . . (Romans 12:2b ESV)

I can’t do the filling, but I can furnish the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect gift from above” (Ja. 1:17) with something to work with. I can take in what’s been graciously provided for me to take in and trust Him that He will use it to make me, if not full like Stephen, at least fuller than I am. And that, “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3).

I can cooperate with God’s predestined purpose to conform me “to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29) by regularly, intentionally putting myself under His living and active word (Heb. 4:12). The word that gives wisdom, fuels faith, and purges the dross to maximize the power. The word that, when I open it, invites the Holy Spirit to engage in some divine one-on-One time.

I want to be full. Don’t think I can do that on my own. But I can be faithful. I can be purposeful. And I can be trustful, that the work He has begun in me, He will bring to fullness (Php. 1:6).

By His grace. For His glory.

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This Life

Chewing on something this morning that I know I’ve read many times before but somehow feel like I’m only noticing for the first time.

When Jesus came, according to Mark, He came preaching “the gospel of God” (Mk. 1:14). Matthew says that He proclaimed “the gospel of the kingdom” (Mt. 4:23). Which is it? Is it the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom? Yes. It’s both. That the gospel is multifaceted good news is evident.

It is the gospel of Christ who has come, as well as the gospel of the Christ who will come again in glory. It is the gospel of peace, the gospel of our salvation, and, as such, good news of great joy. Yup, all that is pretty familiar.

But this morning I’m chewing on the reminder that it is also the gospel of this Life.

But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.

(Acts 5:17-21a ESV)

The apostles are on a tear. Preaching up a storm, doing signs and wonders at will, so that even if their shadow fell on the sick, they were all healed (Acts 5:12-16). The result? “More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (5:14). And it choked the ruling religious party. So, they threw them in jail.

But, as Paul would declare at the end of his ministry, “the word of God is not bound” (2Tim. 2:9). An angel conducts a jailbreak and tells the boys to get back out there and keep sharing the good news. But notice how the Holy Spirit records that injunction. Here, while we understand the apostles are to continue preaching the gospel, it’s identified as all the words of this Life.

So, what life is this Life we’re talking about? The life of Jesus? New life in Christ? Everlasting life? Yup, that’s what I’m thinking.

Jesus is the Author of Life (Acts 3:15). He came to seek and save the lost so that they might “have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Those who believe and obey have been buried with Him in baptism so that they “too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). What’s more, He has given us freely His Spirit so that “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). And so, we’re exhorted to “fight the good fight of faith” and take hold of “that which is truly life” (1Tim. 6:12, 19).

How much does the good news of this Life emphasize that the gospel isn’t just a “Get Out of Hell Free” card we get to stuff in our back pockets and then present at the pearly gates? How much does it remind us that we’re not talking a dictated religion for Sunday but a divinely oriented and empowered regime for everyday of the week? This Life should be the life we live as believers.

The gospel, among so many other things, is the good news of this Life. Isn’t it? I’m thinkin’ . . .

This Life of God’s giving. This Life so worth living.

By His grace. For His glory.

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Faith and Fear

Struck by a verse in Genesis 22 this morning.

Genesis 22 is a pretty well-known story. God tests Abraham asking him to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. A story foreshadowing a greater redemptive story of a Heavenly Father who was willing to offer up His one and only Son as a sacrifice for others. Nevertheless, a story which records the actions of an earthly father, a flesh and blood child, and, if you pause to think about it, an obedience that transcends natural understanding. A story which, while being prophetic, I think is also meant to be instructive.

So, what’s the lesson to be learned? That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.

Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

(Genesis 22:10-12 ESV)

For now I know that you fear God. That’s the phrase I’m noodling on.

Gonna be honest, I am far more comfortable with thinking of “fearing God” as reverent fear or awe-induced trembling than I am with “to fear God is to be willing to sacrifice even your own child.” More okay with thinking that the fear of God is evidenced by bowing before an altar facedown than putting wood on an altar for a fire on which my son will be burned up. Yet, says God, I know that you fear God because you’ve withheld nothing from me, not even the miracle boy born when you 100 years old and your wife was 90 — the son I promised.

So, is that the measure? Is that the bar we need to jump in order to demonstrate we really fear God. Is that the lesson to be learned? That I need to step up my “fear factor”? Thinking not. Seems to me the fear factor comes with a faith factor.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

(Hebrews 11:17-19 ESV)

There’s a relationship, it seems to me, between our faith and our fear. Said it before, what we believe is going to impact how we behave. Though he couldn’t humanly reconcile sacrificing his son on the altar today with handing over to his son the deed to the family promises tomorrow, yet Abraham believed God was able to make it happen.

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”

(Genesis 22:5 ESV)

The boy and I are going to worship over there (code for I’ll do the burnt offering, he’ll be the burnt offering), says Abraham to his servants, and then we’ll come again to you. Both of us. Me and the boy. We’ll return. Don’t know how. But I do know Who. God has promised. God is faithful. God is able.

Thinking the lesson here this morning is less about stepping up my fear factor and resting more in the faith factor. That while without faith it’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), I’m thinking that without faith it’s pretty hard, really, to fear God. Just as we were saved through faith, “and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8), we sacrifice through faith, “and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Just as we walk by faith (2Cor. 5:7), we worship by faith — even when, by the mercies of God, that worship involves presenting our bodies as living sacrifices by faith (Rom. 12:1).

Believe, by the grace of God, and behavior, by the power of God, will follow. My faith factor will fuel my fear factor.

True? Something to chew on.

By His grace. For His glory.

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A Big Deal

Started up in my 2022 reading plan last week, but today we return to routine. And this morning I’m hovering over Matthew’s account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

(Matthew 4:1-4 ESV)

Wear my “Jesus is God” hat, and the temptation of Jesus can seem . . . well, less tempting. No big deal. We’ll just play this out so people know who’s God and who’s not and move on. Diablos, the accuser, does his thing and tries to mess with God. And God, manifest in flesh, does His thing and says, “No way!” Easy. Next.

But chew on the reality that Jesus was a man, fully man, flesh and blood man, and His temptation takes on a different flavor — a flavor of wonder . . . then awe . . . and appreciation . . . and adoration. ‘Cause it was a big deal.

Wonder, first of all, as to why the One who created all things would subject Himself to such an experience. It’s one thing to divest yourself of all your heavenly glory to take on flesh, it’s another thing — especially when you are the Creator and Provider of all things — to starve that flesh.

Forty days and forty nights, that’s how long Jesus fasted. And Matthew writes only that “He was hungry.” Ya’ think? How hungry we talking here? Pretty hungry. Literally “suffering want” hungry. Jesus was “needy” hungry. He needed food. Badly.

So, just how tempting was the tempter when he said, “Hey, why don’t you do a God-thing — if you are God — and turn a few of these stones into bread?” Come on, don’t you think Jesus was legitimately tempted to bite at the suggestion? (Pun intended). If He was fully man starving who possessed fully God power, I’m guessing He was fully tempted — just as we would be.

And isn’t that the point? The Creator entered into His creation in order to fully experience what He required of those He had created.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Trust God for every need, His word can be your sustaining portion. Don’t put God to the test (Mt. 4:7). Worship God alone (Mt. 4:10). The ABC’s of flesh walking by faith. And Jesus subjected Himself fully to the spiritual dynamics the Father had ordained for all His children. And did so under the most extreme of conditions. His temptation by the Enemy was the real thing to the nth degree.

So how come?

For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

(Hebrews 2:18 ESV)

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

(Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)

Tempted as we are, yet without sin. Suffered as we do, yet faithful to God’s word. Led by the Spirit, as we can be each day, drawing on divine power to subject the cravings of the flesh to the will of the Father.

Able to help those tempted. Able to sympathize with those who are weak. Able to provide mercy and grace to help in time of need. For He is the Source of mercy and grace, and He knows intrinsically what it takes for us to stand fast in time of need.

Yeah, thinking this morning that the temptation of Jesus was a big deal.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

O’ what a grace. To Him be all the glory.

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