Temptation is such a underestimated topic. I’m not sure about you, but I rarely think about it. When I do think about it, the picture that enters my head is one of a child who wants a candy, or a man who lusts after the woman in the red dress. Maybe the picture that enters your head is the one of Adam and Eve tempted by the serpent with delectable fruit. Temptation is rarely thought about or is trivialized, however it is a deeply difficult issue.
Consider how sex, money, and power haunt our world daily. I feel very strong that each day we are tempted to seek these things first. Advertising’s driving for is sex: Sex sells. While capitalism has a plethora of positives, it also creates a discontented consumer mentality: More money, more problems. Power is flaunted back and forth. Our recent political climate has revealed the terrors of the human heart who pursues unbridled power.
Hebrews 4:15 says, “He (Jesus) was tempted in every way, yet did not sin.” We now continue this Jesus blog series with the second of Jesus’ temptations in Matthew 4:5 – 7.
After the devil tempts Jesus to turn rocks into a Panera Buffet, some sort of magical Star Trek transportation happens and the two are standing on the peak of the temple. The temptation laid out before Jesus here regards his status as Son of God. The devil knows the Jewish Scriptures and quotes them. The devil’s tactics here are incredible. He uses God’s word against Jesus, who as we saw in the last post is God’s LIVING WORD.
The devil knows that God would not allow Jesus to die before the appointed time. He tempts Jesus to reveal who He really was. Jesus knowing it wasn’t the appointed time would not allow the devil to unveil his role as Son of God.
I often catch myself talking like the devil in my prayers. Maybe you do too. Tell me if you’ve ever uttered these words to God.
God, if there is a God…
If you’re really out there God, would you…
I/He/She/They are really sick, and I need you to prove…
I’ll believe God if you could just…
These prayers that I’m ashamed to have prayed make God look like a piggy bank or pinata that I can smash and get to the goods, or a lottery ticket that if I’m lucky will grant me the jackpot. The devil wants us to pray these conditional statements because they require God to prove himself first in order for us to begin believing.
To be honest, if you don’t believe, would a note in the sky change your mind? Would a miracle really move the yard stick in God’s favor?
My feelings are that Jesus knows where we stand with him. He also knows what’s best for us. The devil wanted Jesus to prove his miraculous power by falling off of the temple and angel’s stopping the fall. I put Jesus in the same position the devil did when I demand He prove himself to me. I tempt Jesus to prove it with a miracle. And that’s not the stuff faith is made of.
Faith is believing Jesus can do it, without requiring He prove it first.
When God Healed
Part of my faith story has to do with Robyn. Robyn had given birth to Soren, and six weeks later she had internal cramps and bleeding that sometimes caused her to double over in pain. For six weeks we were perplexed as to what could be ailing her.
The day before her six week check up we sat down and prayed. We prayed for healing. Our words weren’t full of angst or conditional statements. We didn’t tell God to prove it, but we did ask God for a miracle.
“God we believe you know Robyn’s body and where and why the pain is happening,” I said, “so we’re asking in faith, that you heal her of the pain in a miraculous way. One that can only be explained by you.” Following my prayer Robyn asked our Father in Heaven a similar request. In the middle of her prayer, a voice, what I can only attribute to the Holy Spirit, spoke to me in words of silence that God had heard our prayer and had answered it.
I can’t explain this. I can only tell you that I had no doubt God had heard us, and would answer the prayer. I interrupted Robyn and told her what I heard. We thanked God, and waited for the miracle to happen.
The next day Robyn went into the doctor’s office. The same doctor that had delivered Soren and had seen inside her body said, “I cannot see any reason why you are experiencing the pain and bleeding. We will monitor the situation.” Robyn returned home with the same pressure inside her abdomen.
On the third day Robyn said the pressure was becoming unbearable again. She went to the restroom and passed a portion of placenta that had not come out during the birthing process. I realize this is graphic, but this is a moment of God responding in love to our faith he would answer the prayer (not a demand).
The miracle for me was that I had heard the voice of God through the Holy Spirit, that a doctor had inspected her body and found not medical reason for the pain, and that the healing came to pass as God promised us. Jesus is good!
Prayer of Faith or Proof?
I’m not a hokey pokey spiritual person. I think we need modern medicine. I believe modern medicine is a miracle from God. I also believe that God hears our prayers and cries to him for help and that he wants to answer them. What I think God does not want from us is a wishy-washy faith that requires him to be a pinata in the sky that we hit with a bat every time we need something. God isn’t a genie, He is a Good Father.
When I demand Jesus throw himself off a building to prove that He is who He says He is, I stand in the same shoes as the tempter.
Let your prayers be one of belief and not demanding. One of a beloved child who requests of his parent in time of need, not an entitled demand of a “prove-it” first generation.
If Jesus did it, we should do it. If Jesus said it, we should believe it. If Jesus commanded it, we should obey it.
Not blindly like a dumb sheep, but boldly like a dumb sheep with a Good Shepherd.
Have questions or comments please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
I’d love to share a conversation with you about anything. I’ve got lots of room in my heart for lots of friends.
*Please see a doctor if you are sick. I believe in prayer AND the service, knowledgeable and capable hands of today’s licensed physicians.*