Thursday, July 27, 2017

July 27 - 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?)
  • In Matthew 3 we saw Jesus get baptized and God express from heaven how proud he was. Here we see that immediately after Jesus is led 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 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 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 we should not test God.
    • Finally, he is tempted with power. But Jesus knows that the whole world is ultimately in God's hands and, again, did not cave to Satan's request. 
  • After passing the test of these temptations Jesus begins his ministry on earth. We see him begin 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?)
  • We are tempted every day in very similar ways to Jesus: We want to satisfy our personal desires. We struggle with pride and ego. We want more power. Jesus responded to each temptation by quoting a truth from the Bible. This is effective because temptations are lies. We need to know the Bible well enough to use it overcome our temptations.
  • It is interesting and inspiring that Jesus chose not religious leaders, but fishermen for His first disciples. 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? Maybe you've been relying on your own will power, instead of relying on God. 
    • 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 you think would be helpful.
  • You may think you are too ordinary to be used by God in a big way. But we learn from the fishermen that God would choose you. He made those ordinary, untrained, uneducated fishermen into world changers, and he can do the same for you. The only question is: Are you willing to drop everything to follow Jesus and help others find Him?