Numbers 30:1-31:54 ~ Luke 4:1-30 ~ Psalm 63:1-11 ~ Proverbs 11:20-21
Today is the 20th day of March. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It’s wonderful, as it is every day, to have this time together around the global campfire that is the community that we are, moving our way step by step through the Bible this year. We’ll move into our work week, orienting ourselves to God through his word. We’re reading from the New Living Translation this week, Numbers chapter 30, verse 1 through 31, verse 54.
So Jesus is at the Jordan River and he has been baptized and then he goes into the wilderness and is tempted by the devil. Let’s think about temptation for a second. What is the greatest temptation in your life? What is that thing that you turn to in order to find life, pleasure, fulfillment, accomplishment, something that makes you feel alive or powerful or capable in your own strength? The thing that you can turn to at any time to try to find a little taste of life, what does that look like for you? For that matter, what does the wilderness look like for you? What are those seasons that have been harder? Hardships that you’ve suffered or pain that you’ve had to endure or obstacles that you’ve had to try to overcome? What I want us to consider today is a little bit of a reframe of those things and those times.
We do everything to avoid wilderness and temptation. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s contextualize it in Jesus’ life by me just simply reading two verses from the scriptures: Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil for 40 days. Jesus ate nothing at that time and became very hungry.
So Jesus didn’t just end up in the wilderness in the middle of temptation. The Spirit led him into the wilderness where he was tempted for 40 days before we ever get to these three temptations where there is dialogue between the two. We don’t know all that Jesus faced for those 40 days other than that he got really hungry, but we do know from the scriptures that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like we are. But what we don’t see is Jesus fleeing from either the wilderness or the temptation. What we see is Jesus embracing and facing down these things.
So perhaps the next time that thing that comes up in our minds that we turn to for life in our own strength, that thing that exalts us and cultivates this unhealthy pride in us, maybe we’re not supposed to just try to think about something else. Maybe we have to face these things once and for all, which is a remarkably good invitation into the season that we’re in right now that leads us to Easter – this season of Lent that we talked about when it began on Ash Wednesday a couple weeks ago.
Again, I give this disclaimer: Whether you observe Lent or not really doesn’t make any difference. It is totally up to you if you could find it meaningful. It is something that has been practiced on the Christian calendar for 1500 years, but it is not something that is commanded in the Bible, although rituals and customs and culture is embedded into the Bible, things that continually remind us of the story that we are in, things that continually remind us and orient us to who we are, that is in the Bible. Lent is 40 days long. Ironic that this is the amount of time Jesus spent in his own wilderness, in his own temptation where everything is coming against him to beat him down, where he is experiencing humanity completely. So this is a good season to enter into those things. What are those things that we keep falling down over? Even though we get right back up, we keep falling down over the things that turn us away from God. That is different for everyone. Everyone has their own story. But if we’ll enter into that wilderness, go there with the Holy Spirit’s power, confront these things head-on, we’ll find that they are all motivated by pride, fear, doubt, core things, deep things. And our behaviors, the things that we turn to, those are just behaviors, they are just an outward representation of the deeper things that are going on, the doubts, the fear, the dissatisfaction, the lack of faith, the things that we are in this life to work through by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we end up exactly like Jesus.
If we think that stuff isn’t there, that it is not a battle to be fought, well then let’s do a little exercise. Let’s go with Jesus into Nazareth. Let’s follow him into a synagogue. Let’s watch him unroll the scroll that contains the book of Isaiah and let’s see his eyes look up across to where we are sitting. He looks into our eyes and says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon you for he has anointed you to bring the good news to the poor. He sent you to proclaim the captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Could that be true of you? Because Jesus is inside you, inside of me, intertwined with who we are. Can we believe this? Because this puts all other things in our lives into a context that we must achieve; otherwise, it’s just a drudge through life in a very confusing manner where things just keep happening to us and we just keep reacting to those things rather than flipping the thing around like Jesus did in the wilderness in saying, “I know who I am. I know who my Father is. I know what I have come here to do.”
The thing that keeps us hungry, the things that keeps us starving inside is that fact that we keep turning to plastic for life, we keep following the blinking lights, we keep comparing ourselves to everyone else to find our value and worth. Our identities are wrapped up in what we can do. So as we contemplate these things today, and they are deep things to really give the Holy Spirit some access to as we meditate on them, may we pray along with the psalmist in what is really my favorite psalm today, Psalm 63: God, you are my God. I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you. My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself. How I praise you. I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night because you are my helper. I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you. Your strong right hand holds me securely.
We pray these things, Father, with an expectant heart because we open ourselves to you completely. Show us the things that you are inviting us and have been inviting us to face down squarely, to stop cowering in fear and running and hiding from everything that is uncomfortable but rather to face squarely and rise up into who we really are and shut these things down because they are keeping us from this posture of heart that we find in the psalms today, which is our true posture and our true desire and our true longing. So come, Holy Spirit, we pray. In the name of Jesus we ask, amen.
SONG played on today’s DAB “Embracing Accusation” Shane and Shane http://apple.co/2n22sK1