Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1 - Matthew 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is Matthew 4. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • When we read Matthew 3 we learned that Jesus had just been baptized in water, and God spoke from heaven expressing how proud he was of his son. 
  • Today we learn that, after this, God led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan. Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights before meeting Satan himself. (Fasting is simply going without food, and sometimes water, for a set amount of time in order to focus on God.)
  • Jesus is tempted in very specific ways:
    • First, he is tempted to satisfy his personal desires. This is why the devil encourages him to turn stones into bread. The devil is saying, "Why continue starving? Just give in. You know you want it." But Jesus knows that we don't have to be controlled by desire if we instead look to the Word of God. 
    • Jesus is tempted to prove he is the Messiah. If Jesus had an ego or pride, he could have easily given in to Satan's request. But instead, he quotes the Bible, stating that it is not okay to test God.
    • Finally, he is tempted with power. Jesus knows that the whole world is ultimately in God's hands and, again, did not cave to Satan's request. 
  • It is after passing this test of temptation that Jesus begins his ministry on earth. We see him teaching, preaching, and healing the sick. He  lives in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee, which is a lake about 70 miles north of Jerusalem. He begins by calling his very first disciples: Simon (a.k.a. Peter), Andrew, James, and John. These men were all commercial fishermen who immediately left their trade to follow Jesus.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The way Jesus resists these temptations is by responding with truth from the Bible. However, Satan himself used the Bible as a weapon. This shows us how important it is to not only know the Bible, but to also understand its context and meaning.
  • We are tempted every day in very similar ways to Jesus: We want to satisfy our personal desires. We struggle with pride and ego, showing that we're the best. And we all struggle with power -- we want more. Jesus responded to each temptation by quoting a truth from the Bible. This is effective because temptations are lies. We should also know the Bible well enough that we can use it against our temptations.
  • It is interesting and inspiring that Jesus chose fishermen for His first disciples, and not religious leaders. Instead of picking theologically trained leaders who had already proven their devotion to God, he chose ordinary people who were willing to leave everything to follow him and "fish for people" (help people find their way to God).

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you pass the test when you're tempted? Are you able to remember the truths of the Bible when you're seeking to resist temptation? What are some Bible verses you should memorize that speak to some of your most persistent temptations? If you don't know, simply google "Bible verses about..." and a word that represents your temptation ("lust," or "greed," or "gossip," or "lying"). You'll get a list of Bible verses to choose from.  Memorize one or two that you think would be helpful.
  • Like the fishermen in this chapter, you may think you are too ordinary to be used by God. But we learn from the fishermen that God would certainly choose you. The only question is: Are you willing to drop everything to follow Jesus and help others find Him?