Matthew 4: Then (after Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan) he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Here we have the first of three temptations the devil offers to Jesus during his time of fasting and prayer in the wilderness. If you’ve ever spent time fasting as a spiritual discipline you’ll know that fasting really does bring us closer to God. There is an intimacy that is produced as we refuse ourselves food for a period of time, choosing instead to fill ourselves with the Lord. It’s a practice that effectively cranks up our awareness of God to a higher level. This is what Jesus is doing. He’s humbling himself, refusing himself, to draw closer to the Father.
And at the very end of the fast, when Jesus is at his weakest, the devil shows up to ruin the party by tempting Jesus. This sort of thing happens all the time.
God gives us the blessing of a financial windfall, then the devil tempts us into being greedy. God gives us grace to be more consistent in our worship life, then the devil tempts us into judging others for their lack of consistency. I could go on. It’s a common strategy of the devil to take something that should be a good thing and manipulate it into a weapon against God’s people. Has me asking myself some questions:
Where am I being blessed right now?
How might the enemy be trying to turn this good thing into a bad thing?
Heavenly Father, this morning we thank you for all the ways you bless us. And we repeat here the words of the Lord’s Prayer – lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Amen.