April 28 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts

Praise God. 
Praise God for the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Thank God, the Holy Spirit, for his regenerating work in our hearts and his daily comforting of us. For the fact that he illuminates the Scriptures to us. For the ongoing work of sanctification that he is working in us through God's Word. Romans 8:2, John 14:26, John 16:13-16 and Romans 15:16.
 
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge and confess your sin of not praising God the Holy Spirit for the work he has done, and is continuing to do, in your life. Confess your sin of not seeking the help of the Holy Spirit daily, as you study God's Word, as often as you could.
 
Let's read Luke 4:1-13.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
In the first temptation, it was 'since you are the Son of God save yourself because God is letting you die here'. In the second temptation, it was 'take the easy path; you can get what you want without the pain'. It truly was a case of turning the saying 'no pain no gain' on its head. To the first temptation, Jesus had responded, 'as a man, I am going to wait on God, for he will provide, he has promised to do so’. To the second, Jesus' response was simple, 'you can't have what you want without God'. On both occasions, Jesus had taken Satan back to the book of Deuteronomy and drawn on the instruction of God to his people to makes his point. 
 
A further comment on the second temptation.
Something came to me last night as we were doing family worship, and it was the thought of how Satan frequently deploys that same temptation with us today. How often have you not heard the whispers in your ear – 'You can take the easy route. You can have what you want and without the suffering'. You can't. The Christian life and suffering are inextricably linked. Jesus said to those who profess to follow him, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23. Suffering is not a deluxe optional extra for the really committed person; it is sewn into the fibre of every Christian life. The problem is that our old sinful natures are so inclined to ease, that Satan finds this a fertile tempting ground. Ask God to make you acutely aware of these temptations; to be god in your own life, and to seek to do so without suffering. 
 
V9-11. The Third Temptation.
Today's temptation, the last in Luke's gospel, the second in Matthew's, confronts us again with the issue of whether or not there was a vision involved or a literal transportation of Jesus. Some say that it has to have been a literal event because otherwise, Jesus would have been at the hands of Satan's unethical power. But that wouldn't have been wrong if God had permitted it, and Jesus would remain unaffected in his mind or soul by it. John Calvin writes, "The matter is uncertain, and there is no harm in admitting ignorance. Hence I prefer to leave it with judgement suspended rather than give a loophole for contentious disputation." I'll happily stand with Calvin on this one.  
 
What city does Satan take Jesus to? And to what building in that city? Why do you think Satan chose this building, in this city? 
 
Satan now shifts his line of approach slightly. He says to Jesus, 'okay, I hear what you are saying; you are going to wait on God because that is what you need to do. So, here is the perfect opportunity for you to show me that you mean it, that you are a man of faith, and at the same time, let God show us both that he can be trusted. It's a 'win win' for you and for God. You can show me that you have faith, and God can show, by a miracle, that he loves you. When it's done, you can walk away knowing that your Father really does love you. What better way to begin your ministry than to be confirmed by the love of God? And what better place to do it than at the epicentre of the Jewish world, the holy temple in the holy city.' It sounds plausible enough; what possible harm could there be in it?
 
Satan's use of the Scriptures.
What does Satan use to 'support' his suggestion? Which Psalm does he quote from? Why do you think he uses the Scriptures?  
 
Before we consider Jesus' response, let's look at Satan's use of the Scripture. The first thing to note is that he uses it. Satan knows the Bible. He can come at us masquerading as an angel of light. What he says is from God's Word, but it is partial and, therefore, incorrectly applied. The point of those verses in Psalm 91 is to tell Jesus that, as long as he walks in the ways set before him, he is guaranteed the loving protection of his Father. Psalm 91:11. It was a conditional promise, not an open-ended test/challenge for him if he wanted that offer. When you are confronted with a suggestion, which is being backed up with a Biblical passage, it is important that you take the time to consider the Scripture for yourself. You need to work out whether or not it does support what is being suggested. You need to make sure that it is not a partial quotation being incorrectly used to support an unwarranted request. Many people have taken serious decisions, with long life implications in their lives, based on an incorrect or inappropriate use of God's Word. A misquote is not a quote.
 
V12. Jesus responds.
What then of Jesus' response? Well, once again, as has been his practice through this season of testing, he takes Satan to God's Word, specifically, the book of Deuteronomy 6:16, and via that to the event recorded in Exodus 17. There, the people of God grumbled against God because they didn't have water. Moses says they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?" Exodus 17:7. Astonishing isn't it, given what these people had experienced in their deliverance from Egypt through the Red Sea. Jesus' point is clear; I don't need to ask God to do something miraculous to prove that he loves me. I am not going to test the already proven love of God. The life of faith in God is simple; it is founded on trust. In the words of the writer to the Hebrews, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen," Hebrews 11:1. Faith does not become faith when it has tested God, and proven its worth. Jesus knew that his Father loved him. He had just come from his baptism, and the words "This is my beloved Son" were still ringing in his ears. He wasn't going to take those words and say, 'yes, Father, I hear what you have said, but now I need you to show me that you mean it'. 
 
We are to ask God for help in our lives. We are commanded to do so (Matthew 7:7), but that is different from testing God. That is different from saying to God, ‘show that your love for me is real’. We must take the words of John and own them in our lives, "in this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him". I John 4:9. When Satan comes to you, and says you need to give God the opportunity to show his love for you, you take him to Calvary and say to him 'Behold the Cross'.
 
V13. Be Gone Satan.
Luke doesn't tell us that Jesus commands Satan to leave, we get that from Matthew 4:10. Satan must do what the hunger-ravaged, exhausted, Jesus tells him through chapped lips and with a dry, parched tongue. He has no option. He is not in control. He can only do what he is permitted to do. Nothing more, no matter how much he wants to. And so, he leaves until “an opportune time”, that is, until he is given leave to once again take up this battle that he is doomed to lose.  
 
The Angels Came. 
Luke doesn't tell us, but Matthew does, that "behold the angels came and were ministering to him". Here is our Saviour, the Son of God no less, and he has faced everything that Satan has thrown at him in an attempt to get him to deny his Father, to test his Father, to take the painless route avoiding the cross. He has withstood it all and for whose benefit? Your’s and mine. And now having wielded nothing more than the Word of God, he is a wreck of a man, on the verge of every possible breakdown known to man; physical, mental, emotional, and the Father sends the angels. What must they have been thinking when they went to him, and took him up in their arms? As they lovingly cared for him. As they nursed his mind and body back to some measure of strength, so that he could go again into the battle for our eternal salvation. Does that not bring tears to your eyes? Oh Lord, forgive us for our sin of not loving you as we should. How can I be so careless, so ambivalent towards my sin! So unbelieving in my thinking as to whether or not you really love me, God?

 
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 25B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
 
Memory Verse. 
Keep up the memorizing; it will be good for your heart relationship with the Lord.
Psalm 121C:1-6, 
"Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid? 
The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made. 
Your foot from stumbling he will always keep; 
the One who guards your life will never sleep. 
He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps By night or day.
The Lord keeps you, a shade on your right hand The Lord will stay.
Throughout the day the sun will never smite, Nor will the moon afflict you in the night."

 
Truth for the Mind and Heart. Shorter Catechism.
Q. 22. How did Christ, the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man by taking to himself a body and a soul like ours, being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.
Scripture proofs pdf - https://opc.org/documents/SCLayout.pdf
 
 
Thank God.
Thank God for Jesus' withstanding the temptation of Satan.
Thank God that he has manifest his love for us at Calvary.
Thank God that we do not have to ever ask him to prove to us that he loves us.
 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley