Tuesday April 4, 2023
HE LEFT HIM UNTIL AN OPPORTUNE TIME
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
What is an opportune time for the devil to tempt us, push us, demean us, question our name or our purpose or our calling before God?
It is certainly not when we are strong. The enemy will look for a time when we are the most under pressure, the most vulnerable, the most tired, to attack. And that attack will be subtle, often marked less by direct frontal assaults and more by inner questions like: “If you are loved by God, then why is this happening to you?”
Has the enemy of your soul walked away from you recently, knowing he has been beaten? Has evil recently taken its leave of you, knowing you will not succumb and that you are firmly established in your trust of God?
If so, hallelujah! Well done! Way to go! The Lord reigns! “He who began a good work in you” will be faithful to complete it to the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6)!
But know this: the adversary will come at you again, and this side of heaven, you will not be off the battlefield until the war for your heart, and the hearts of humankind, is won. There is a rest ahead for you and for the people of God: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest” (Heb. 4:9–11).
Immediately following this promise of rest, we are called to hold onto our weapon; the battle is still raging, so we don’t want to get lost in the dream of the future while the swords of the evil one are headed our way: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Your vocation, your calling, your name and mission as a child of God is under an onslaught of the enemy’s creation; while you live and breathe, though there may be reprieves along the way, the enemy of your soul is waiting for “an opportune time.”
When you are tired, run down, feeling anxious, or wondering if you can resist the temptations that may lie ahead, that is the time to worship, to reinforce weekly community relationships, to stay alert, to keep your spiritual wits about you, and to frequently and multiple times daily engage spiritual practices that keep you in the baptismal love that Jesus experienced.
Rehearse your belovedness, know your calling as a child of God; the devil is waiting around a corner for the next vulnerable moment to attack.
Can you name the times when your guard is most down related to the enemy seeking to trip you up? What are the circumstances in which you feel the most vulnerable to succumbing to the enemy’s schemes to derail you, and what can you do to reinforce your line at those times?
Lord of the Wild, once again we take confidence that You are with us on this battlefield of the heart on which we find ourselves. There is no place we would rather be than at your side as the difficulties come our way. Teach us to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, that is sharper than any double-edged sword, as we resist the promises of sin. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Songs for the Wilderness
First 15 through the season of Lent is adapted from Jesus in the Wild: Lessons of Calling for Life in the World available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Lenten study, you can find more information here or send an email to email@example.com.
The First 15
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