“Then Jesus was led, guided, by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, tested and tried by the devil.” Matthew 4:1 Amplified
As we continue to study the example Jesus gives us in how He lived His life here on earth, we see He’s led by the Holy Spirit into great heights of majesty and splendor! Oh wait, that’s not what our verse says, it says he was led into the wilderness to be temped, tested and tried by the devil! Well that doesn’t seem quite right, especially after God in the previous verse (3:17) said, “This is my Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!” Logically we think if you love someone you’ll do what will make them happy, right? Tempting, testing, and trials don’t sound like Happyland to me!
Here again we see Jesus’ humility in enduring all of the wiles of the devil. Sure He could have turned the enemy into a puff of smoke with a snap of His fingers, but what would that have accomplished? Remember, Jesus is our example for living life here on earth where WE will be tempted, tested and tried.
For those of us who have been believers for a long time it’s time for us to start putting into practice what Jesus shows us to do to live a victorious, joyful and peaceful life here on earth. We are aliens and strangers on this planet, but we are also more than conquerors!
Stay tuned to find out how to do that.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him.” Matthew 3:13 Amplified
The first time we see Jesus as an adult is in our verse today, He has come to be baptized by John. So we see that Jesus starts His earthly ministry in humility. He is fully human and fully divine yet He submits Himself to one of His creation. His first lesson to us is to be humble.
Our pride and carnal nature have a hard time with humility, especially when the world around us tells us to take care of ourselves, don’t let anyone walk on us, we deserve all that we can get. It was the same in Jesus’ day. The Jews especially were known for being high-minded, after all they were God’s chosen people. Jesus had to set the example for us and by humbling Himself for baptism He was showing us what we needed to do.
We see that John protested baptizing Jesus, because he knew Who Jesus was, in fact he told Jesus that he needed to be baptized by Him. Jesus calmly told him to let it be so for now so that they could complete what was needed, and so John obliged. After Jesus came up out of the water a voice was heard from heaven saying, This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight! As believers we should all want to hear God say, well done thou good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).
So to be more like Jesus we need to seek humility, as well as being mindful of pride and self-defense when they pop up. Lord help me do, help all Christians do that.
“Therefore be imitators of God, copy Him and follow His example, as well beloved children imitate their father.” 1 Peter 5:1 Amplified
I am impressed today to begin a study of my Lord Jesus and how he behaved while here on earth. The verse today says that we are to be imitators of Him, so what would Jesus do in our world, our country today?
It is a very sad day for America, at least if you are a Christian. I’m sure God is heartbroken too over man’s defiance in the light of His commandments. Our country has slowly been eroding into immorality, but the pace in the last few decades seems to be picking up faster and faster. As believers we know what God’s word says about a nation that turns its back on Him (Isaiah 60:12 & Psalm 33:12).
Now, how do we as believers respond? I want to respond to what’s going on in my country in a way that’s pleasing to God, so I will study what Jesus did in His walk on earth and pray God helps me imitate Him. I hope you will join me.
“But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard many people tell about this man, especially how much evil and what great suffering he has brought on Your saints in Jerusalem;” Acts 9:13 Amplified
We last left Saul, who would become Paul, in Damascus blind and fasting. In the meantime we see in our verse today that the Lord has spoken to a man named Ananias. When Jesus tells this man to go help Saul the man is well aware of who the Lord is telling him to go help and he has concerns, to say the least. Imagine God telling you to go and talk to your biggest enemy or someone who could do you harm. I think we’d all be a little afraid. Ananias does not refuse to go, but explains to the Lord his feelings and Jesus reassures him that He has the situation under control.
Here is a great example of taking fears to the Lord. This was not some imagined, hypothetical issue Ananias was concerned about, this was a potential threat to his life. He went to God with his fear and the Lord took care of it. We must always remember no matter how real our fears may be when we take them to the Lord, He knows, He cares, and He will lead us through them.
“And he was unable to see for three days, and he neither ate nor drank anything.” Acts 9:9 Amplified
So now we see Saul, the great persecutor of the new church, knocked down and blinded. There’s always two choices in any given situation, we can deny or accept what is happening. Whether it’s something done to us or something we have done. This instance shows that Saul was truly doing what he thought God wanted him to do in persecuting the believers in Christ. His reaction to all that happened to him was humility.
When things happen in our life we tend to ask, why me? While we certainly aren’t likely to be persecuting anyone, we’re still going about our lives and our agenda. I feel the Lord is telling me that when situations come up that I have no control over I need to stop and ask God for His guidance. I believe that’s what Saul did after he arrived in Damascus, he just sat and waited on God for direction. As a Jewish leader he was likely used to fasting, but never before had a fast been so important.
We never know what the outcome of a situation is going to be until we get to the other side. Fasting is not something most modern Christians are used to doing, I know I need to do more of it.
Maybe if we did do more of it God would use us in a mighty way just as he did Saul, who will become Paul.
“Then Saul got up from the ground, but though his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” Acts 9:8 Amplified
When we last looked at the book of Acts Saul had just met Jesus. In today’s verse we find that he is getting up from the ground after that encounter and, though his eyes appear to be opened, he is unable to see.
I see a metaphor in this. God is showing Saul that though he had his eyes opened before this incident he was spiritually blind, he could not see Jesus as Messiah. When we were lost the same thing happened to us. Though we could physically see what we were doing and where we were going, we were spiritually blind to Jesus and God’s will. Further, if we don’t “see” Jesus as Lord, we are led around by those we associate with to do whatever they tell us is best for us.
Lord, let us have eyes wide opened to do what is pleasing to you and ultimately what is best for us.
“Now as he traveled on, he came near to Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And he fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me. And Saul said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.” Acts 9:3-4 Amplified
As we continue on with our study of Acts, we see that Saul is continuing with his persecution of the new church. He has gone to the high priest of the temple in Jerusalem and requested letters so that he can travel to other areas where the Christians have fled.
In our verse today he finally meets the Lord Jesus and what a dramatic conversion it is. Saul knows that the flash of light from heaven knocking him to the ground is God, yet he asks, Who are You? God had never appeared to men, the closest anyone has ever seen of God himself is when God allowed Moses to see his back (Exodus 33:23). We have to presume that Jesus appeared to Saul in his human form and thus Saul wanted to know Who He was. Jesus then told Saul, “It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to offer vain and perilous resistance.” Saul then asked Jesus what to do and he was told to go to Damascus and he would be instructed further.
Though none of us were likely every persecutors of the church we still all lived in opposition to God’s will. Simply being born with the sin nature in us makes us prone to do what’s best for us which may not necessarily be what is pleasing to God. Even though Paul was sincerely doing what he thought God wanted in persecuting this new belief, there may have also been a bit of arrogance and pride in him as well.
We should all be careful in working for the Lord that we don’t allow the work to become more important then the Master. It’s good to periodically pull back from any Christian work and evaluate our motives. If not we may end up knocked to the ground by the Lord.