January 28, 2013

What if Jesus yielded to the temptations?

As I read the temptations of Christ, I had a flash. What if Jesus had yielded to any of the temptations, would I have a savior today?

Let’s read the interaction of Jesus and the Devil in Matthew 4: 1-11 (The Message)

1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: "Since you are God's Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread."
4Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: "It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God's mouth."
5-6For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, "Since you are God's Son, jump." The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: "He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won't so much as stub your toe on a stone."
7Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: "Don't you dare test the Lord your God."
8-9For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth's kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, "They're yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they're yours."
10Jesus' refusal was curt: "Beat it, Satan!" He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: "Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness."
11The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus' needs.

I fast and pray, yet I yield to temptations! Though I must confess I have never been on a 40 day fast. But I had undertaken 21 day fast years ago. Do I have to do a 40 day fast before I stop yielding to temptation? I personally don’t think so. However, fasting subdues the flesh and propels the spirit to the forefront of battle (a day, 2, 3, or 21 or 40 days).  But then the Devil started tempting in a faculty Jesus was weak. Jesus was hungry. The devil will always capitalize on our weaknesses.

In such a situation, I think I would have yielded if I was the one because I would have been so exhausted from fasting that all I would be thinking about is food. An opportunity to have food to eat will be welcomed. However, JESUS DID NOT YIELD to the Devil’s suggestion that he turned stone to bread. Rather his response, "It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God's mouth."

The second test was about showing off and proving a point! I can do all things! Yes we can do all things but we should also be wise. Jesus was certain of who he is and what he can do but he did not need to prove his capabilities to anyone!

The third test had to do with ‘wanting, wanting and wanting more’! It is good to be ambitious and have possessions but I now know that my ambitions should be within the confines of God’s will. When my will aligns with God’s will, his interests become mine. Furthermore, all I have should come from God and not from the devil.

But hang on! The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. I bet Jesus knew that the devil was offering what was not his!

What if Jesus had yielded to these temptations, would you and I have a savior today?

Do I know the implications of temptations I have yielded to? How will my disobedience and yield to temptations affect others? What have I deprived others from attaining by yielding to temptations?

This year, I should be wise not to yield to temptations. I have a savior today because Christ did not yield to temptations. He did not disregard his God given assignment for what the devil was offering. His assignment consisted of suffering, yet he chose the assignment rather than the ‘glories’ offered by the devil.

I don’t expect an overnight 100% not yielding to temptation. But I shall walk with what I know now and press on. For the truth that people may be affected if I sin, I shall work at not opening my door to the frequent and negatively influential visitor – sin.

Yes I would love to hear from you. Please share with me (by leaving a comment) your strategies on combating sin and ensuring it no longer takes a prominent place in your life.

January 6, 2013

Finding balance in 2013

As 2013 crept in, I was afraid to appraise 2012 because I felt I may come up with more failures and mistakes than successes. I watched months in 2012 pass. It was as if I was in a ride I had lost control of. I could not stop the vehicle and at the same time I could not determine which directions to take. I was just in motion.

My life was filled with distractions and my goals for the year were thrown out of the window. I existed through 2012. I only managed to do the necessary things such as be at work, and get the basic jobs done. My work consists of teaching, research and administration. I managed to teach and administrate. These fall under the category of urgent and important. I was also buried under the urgent but not important things of life. The important but not urgent were left not done.

The important but not urgent are usually what make us who we are. I am a writer but did not do much of writing in 2012. Even this blog was forgotten. I was struggling to find a balance amidst them all. I kept struggling until December when I understood what balance was all about.

Balance can only be achieved by doing the will of the Father. If I am on a journey pursuing my own interests, there is the tendency the ride can get out of control. My priorities will be misplaced. I will get distracted. Back in 2012, I would jump up and go about daily business. But you know what? The day could be better managed, if I first start by inviting God; seeking his will concerning the day. Then I can rest knowing he will help me manage the day effectively. When I don’t invite him, when I focus on the day rather than on him, I struggle through the day. I would be overwhelmed. At the end, I would wallow into self-pity. I would be on the edge, easily offended and having all sorts of stresses day in day out. The days would appear busy and lacking pleasures. I would be mentally, physically and emotionally drained.

I can’t strike a balance in my life when the vital element is missing. I can’t find balance if I am disobedient to God. I can’t find rest if I dishonor God. I won’t be able to get to where I am going, sit down and find rest if I remove God from the equation. God ought to be the beginning and the end. He ought to be the subject of the equation and the solution/answer to the equation. If I seek balance, then I should make doing God’s will my focus. I ought to desire at all times to please God in all I do; honor him in my words and thoughts as well.

Hence, as I seek to do my Father’s will, I will find balance. There will be serenity in all aspects of my life. I rest in God. Resting in God means ability to sleep in the storm. Resting in God also means I trust him to handle all that comes my way. I have faith in him - faith as solid as a rock.

There may be unpleasant things happening around me but I will be unshaken because he who sacrificed his son on the cross for me will not withhold anything good from me. He is the best I can have. So rest I will. In him I shall find balance.

Have you found balance in your life? So please share what it means for you to find balance.