Staying Focused on the Work of God
March has arrived and the spiritual season of Lent is nearing its halfway point. To guide our walk with the Lord during this season, we often look to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. The Scripture says that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry” (Luke 4:1-2). During this experience, the devil tempts Jesus in multiple ways to take the easy way out. “Tell this stone to become bread,” the devil says to Jesus, who is famished and would no doubt delight in a warm meal. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,” he says to Jesus, trying to convince Him to doubt the provision and care of God the Father. And then the devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world saying, “If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus knew the road ahead of Him would be difficult. It would require Him to give up His life. Here the devil was trying to give Jesus a way out by appealing to the desires of the flesh.
In our own walk with God, we will face temptations. The enemy works in our lives, too, just as he worked in Jesus’ life, trying to tempt us to take the easy way out. Ever have the Monday blues? Perhaps you can relate to the reluctance of getting out of bed and starting the work week. It’s a common experience. We say to ourselves, “If I had just one more day to relax, then I could handle the week ahead.” While it is Biblical to take time to rest and to press pause on our commitments, often what fuels our “Monday blues” isn’t a legitimate need to restore our body and soul but laziness and a fear of facing real life.
In our devotional and prayer life, we face the temptation to “call in sick.” Let’s face it, sitting down and watching TV often feels more enjoyable than sitting down to read our Bibles. Exercising or warming up that bowl of oatmeal for breakfast feels more rewarding than taking five or ten minutes to pray. We may even start to think, “It’s alright if I don’t pray today,” or even “Does it really matter if I pray?”
As these ideas start to creep into our head, Jesus provides us the truth and the example. Yes there is a time to celebrate, but first God has work for us to do. At one point in His ministry, Jesus looks in need of a meal and the disciples urge Him to have something to eat, but His response to them was this: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Jesus never lost sight of His calling and His purpose. It’s not that He didn’t take time to eat, but He made sure to not lose His hunger for God. Looking back again to His forty days and nights in the wilderness, by His fasting it’s as if Jesus makes the declaration, “Lord, I will not forget the work you have for me!” In His fasting He teaches us that sometimes we have to put our reward on hold for God. There are things that God wants us to do — people He is calling us to reach, needs He is calling us to pray for, time He is asking us to give to Him in service and in study. We have a purpose, and God calls us out there, even on Monday morning.
Not only does God desire our service, but He desires closeness with us. We may be tempted to think that we can do it alone, that we can do the work and then clock out and go back to our business. But again Jesus reminds us of the truth. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In these words He was saying to the devil that even if He made food out of stones, that food would not be enough; He would still need more. We still more. The great church reformer Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Prayer, reading God’s word, worship, all bring us close to our Heavenly Father who is our source of strength, who is the anchor of our soul in this dark world, who is the Great I Am who makes the impossible possible. God is our everything! As Christians, may we never lose sight of that. May we never give the devil lip service in telling us we don’t need God. We need the Lord; He is our lifeblood.
Just as the Spirit called Jesus into the wilderness, the Holy Spirit calls us to God this very day to remind us of our high calling and purpose, that we have work to do. And He draws us to Himself to remind us that He is our all in all, that in Him we find our everything. Today let us give God our praise, and let us give God our best. Amen!
Pastors Garritt & Sanette