Blessed… Go Away!

Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.” After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone. Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.” Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.” Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him (Matthew 4:1-11, Common English Bible).

Sometimes I think all of us feel like the guy in the picture above. We’ve got the devil sitting on one shoulder whispering in our ear and absolutely nothing on the other side. We are left feeling completely alone. It’s not a place any of us want to be.

When temptation shows up, it can be something difficult for us to deal with. I personally think it is even harder to deal with temptation when we are all alone. After all, there is no one there but us. No one will know the difference. It becomes easy to justify. It becomes easy to rationalize.

Wouldn’t it be so easy if we could copy Jesus’ words and say, “Go away Satan…” and we would be relieved of our temptation? I don’t know about you, but it rarely happens that way for me. The temptation might be there in the beginning but it isn’t really strong. Yet the longer I sit with it on my mind, the more difficult it is not to fall victim. Oh, but if I could just say go away and the temptation would be gone from my heart and mind. It would make life so much easier.

I have a few suggestions that might help here. When I quit smoking more than 30 years ago, while watching television or some other thing that occupied my mind but not my hands, I found things to do with my hands other than smoke. Unfortunately one of them was to eat and I am still dealing with the consequences of that temptation. Still, in the evening I try to keep my hands busy in order to not eat. I do find it effective.

If what you are dealing with is more of a mental temptation or something that might not be a temptation with your hands, take your mind somewhere else. Watch a movie. Read a book. Play with the kids or the grandkids. Whatever it might be, get your mind off of what tempts you. It may not last forever but it might just get you through.

In the end, however, temptation is a spiritual problem. Keeping your hands busy or getting your mind on something else might be helpful but in the end, you will have to deal with the temptation on a spiritual level. In our lesson today, Jesus dealt with temptation through His knowledge of Scripture. For every temptation Satan threw at Jesus, Jesus had an answer with Scripture. Another way to overcome temptation could be that book you read in the example above, make it the Bible. But in addition, having Scripture readily at hand comes down to studying Scripture during times when we are not being tempted. In so doing, when temptation comes at us, we are prepared.

One other help I would mention is prayer. God may not take the temptation away, but God may well help you find a way to endure.

In closing out today’s post I would also like to remind you, temptation can come, perhaps even at its strongest, when we are on top of that spiritual mountain. Remember, in the chapter we just finished yesterday, Jesus was baptized. We turn the page and find him being tempted. We should never think that once we become Christians or once we find our way to the mountain-top, that we leave temptation behind. It would be nice if it worked that way. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t.

What tempts you most? How do you overcome your temptations.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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