Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baby's Breath and The Three Strikes.....

We have some dear friends who've just endured quite a scare.   Their 10-month-old son, Grant, contracted a bad case of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).   In the worst moments his respiratory rate was over 70 breaths per minute.   The couple took him to the hospital where he was unable to breath without the assistance of machines.   Both parents were up around the clock for several  nights monitoring his breathing and conferring with his doctors.   I found one story the mother told be particularly touching....

Most of his stay Grant was bothered by the breathing apparatus and couldn't sleep;  he continually swiped  at the device atop his nose and mouth.   It was clear that little Grant was in quite a predicament; as he refused to allow the very thing that was giving him breath to stay in place his oxygen levels dipped and his respiratory rate spiked.   So his exhausted mother stayed with him through the night holding the apparatus in place praying that Grant might stop resisting and get some much needed rest.  After a few days the doctors declared Grant well enough to go home and the very tired couple took him home and resumed their normal, albeit hectic, lives.

I think I was moved by Grant's dilemma because in some very spiritually unfortunate and, consequently, painful ways I act like Grant sometimes.  The Father is my very life-source but I tend to  treat  Him like a religious hobby believing I can pick Him up when He fits in my schedule and throw off His holiness when it becomes uncomfortable or He asks too much of me.  Disregarding His righteousness we all too often indulge our every whim giving way to temptation and resisting the power of His truth to set us free (John 8:31-32)
Thank God that this is not the way Jesus treated the Father....not ever.

And like Grant's mother who was faithful to insure that he not resist that which was giving him life, God is faithful to provide an answer to all of Satan's truth-twisting temptations with "the sword of the Spirit which is His word" (Eph. 6:17) - the truth for goodness' sake - the truth for our lives' sake.  Jesus, unlike me, always rested in God's truth......

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. - Matthew 4:1

Just after His baptism and just before His ministry truly began, Jesus went away to the wilderness to pray and fast for 40 days.   There He encountered satan who sought to tempt him to sin.

I remember hearing Rick Warren say once, "The devil's wicked but he's not creative - he only has three tricks".   In becoming human God was to be tempted in the only three ways the deceiver ever tempts: with passion (lust of the flesh), possession (lust of the eyes) and position (the pride of life) (1st John 2:16).

The first way that the enemy appealed to Jesus' humanity was through passion.  We all have natural needs and perceived desires (food, shelter, sex, clothing etc.) but what happens when a desire or need becomes all consuming?   Answer: The Spirit is quenched as the appetite is indulged.   God intended joy and blessing to come from the good things He created but by tempting man to worship that which he can taste, see and feel, satan desires to steal that joy.

The man who is submitted to the will of God, however, overcomes the temptation to make good things into ultimate things and desires to be fed, first and foremost, spiritually that God might be Lord over all his needs and desires.   In this instance Jesus was tempted to leave His humanity and exact God's power to turn stone to bread to fill His empty stomach.  Instead He endured  extreme hunger to participate fully with the human condition and yet, not sin.  He recognized that the source of His strength would always be God's truth, not food.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4

The deceiver would not relent.   He tempted Jesus a second time by appealing to Jesus' sense of position as The Son of God.   In a wicked foreshadowing of Jesus' darkest trial to come, satan then took Jesus to the highest point of The Temple in Jerusalem.  Twisting an Old Testament prophecy satan tempted Jesus to jump to His death that God might save Him as He'd promised.   Here the enemy urges Jesus to rely on His timing as opposed to God's - to sin by testing God as is the inclination of all humans.

Jesus was called to be a suffering servant beholden to God's leading not a prince of this of this world.   The sin of self-reliance leaves God's power to move in and through us dormant.   But Jesus submitted to the will of God knowing that His time would come only when by The Spirit's leading He would go to the cross.  Jesus 2, satan 0.

It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test" -  Matthew 4:7

In one final malicious, but ultimately impotent, stroke satan tempted Jesus with possession or the lust of the eyes.   Promising to give Him all the world that Jesus so loved, the thief only required that Jesus bow before him.  In the Kingdom to come Jesus will one day reign over all the world but in appealing to Jesus' humanity (vis a vis His desire for us) a third time satan asked Jesus to give up God's eternal plan for the redemption of mankind. 

How often do sinful human's desire possessions more than God's possession of them?  Jesus was not to be possessed by anything other than the total will of His Heavenly Father. His third scripture-based answer came forth and with that, God's word had struck satan out!

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written"Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only". - Matthew 4:10

The word worship stems from two words: "worth" and "shape".   We worship the thing or person whose worth shapes our lives.  Because Jesus Christ was tempted in every way and yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15), He is the only one worthy of our worship.   He was totally obedient - even unto death on a cross (Phil. 2:8) and because He was we can take refuge in His Holy Spirit when temptation  comes our way.  He's already overcome our every temptation.  The Word is our power.  He is our strength.

May He keep us all from resisting the truth of His Word and the transforming power of justification  (grace) that comes through faith in His Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, now and always.


P.S. #1 - For a retelling in song of the account of Christ's temptation in the desert check out Lifted off our first CD, Song by Song!

P.S. #2 - We watched a disturbing but Gospel-laden film last night wherein a mother does the unthinkable to escape a broken social system and provide a better life for her unborn child...(ironically, the child saves her life!)

Maria Full of Grace - 2004

This Week 

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   Chapters 20-22 of The Screwtape Letters
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm) 

* The Magills - Concert in the Ft. Worth Stockyards in Ft. Worth, TX Saturday Night
    For info and tickets: www.themagillsinconcert.com
    2 services at Glenview Baptist Church, Ft. Worth TX Sunday morning

To support B3 Ministries click www.b3ministries.net

No comments:

Post a Comment