The Lion and The Frog (Matthew 4:1-11)

 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”  5 Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” 8 Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” 11 Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.  (Matthew 4:1-11)

Temptation is a topic that needs to be on the front of every believers minds. Too often we get bogged down with the stresses of life and Satan slowly fades into the background of our reality and in the pulpit. Satan is real and his hatred toward us and God is real. Satan is crafty and knows the desires of our flesh very well.  Anytime he gets our attention he is winning. As long as we are not focused on God he is successful. Some may be distracted with greed, lust, gluttony,  and pride. While others aren’t as obvious like family, social drama, church, friends, and jobs. But rest assured if you are a Christian you are being attacked.

Take the life of Peter for instance. In Matthew 14:22-33 Peter walked on water, but the moment he took his eyes off Christ he began to sink. Peter was also the disciple that was rebuked for not being able to stay awake during Jesus’ last hours in Matthew 26:40. It’s amazing how great the difference is in someone’s life when they are focused on Christ. Focused on Christ, Peter could walk on water. When he lost the focus he couldn’t even stay awake for Jesus. Peter continued to show where his focused was when he denied Christ three times in the latter part of Matthew 26. A life not aimed at Christ is not a life at all. Fortunately, After the crucifixion of Christ Peter became very solid in his walk with the Lord. He learned the God’s grace how to handle the temptation that would face him.

However when Jesus was tempted, Satan tried his best by tempting him in three ways. The first was tempting his flesh by focusing on his current weakness, hunger. It wasn’t until the text shows his weakness that you see Satan come into the picture. Take note that if you are in a vulnerable state that is when the predator attacks. Satan is compared to a lion in 1 Peter. When a lion attacks it’s prey they will intentionally hunt the weakest in the pack by attacking the one that’s at the back of the herd.

The second temptation was through manipulating the word of God. Satan knows the word and sometimes he can use the very word to tempt us by taking it out of context. Whenever the end result leads to sin Satan is the author of that. Like leaning on Paul’s emphasis on I do what I don’t want to do, I don’t do what I do want to do in Romans 7:15. Previously I would think of that scripture and Satan would use that and manipulate it to play on my weakness. I would think, “If Paul can’t do it, who am I to think that I can do what is right?” But I was right, I couldn’t do anything good. But with God, nothing is impossible.

The third and final way he was tempted was through wanting his praise. Satan would have gotten his praise had Jesus not kept His eyes on the father. But Jesus knew what was at stake. He knew His purpose, to turn his attention on another mission would have been a sin, and there would have been no perfect sacrifice for His chosen. Thank you Jesus for withstanding the temptation!

Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes, it does not discriminate on any level. From Adam to Jesus, from Jesus to you, Satan has been at work. Take note of Peters warning about Satan, because he was a man who knew the ramification of sin and the weakness of his flesh “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9. The devil wants you dead and is waiting for the opportune moment to strike, be on the alert. Take note that you are not alone in your temptation for everyman has faced it. How will you respond?

I was eating dinner with an elder at the church I attend and I began to tell him my current interest in temptation by telling him a story about how at various times in my life I have been tempted with seemingly good things, but all of them ended the same way, distracted and focused on something other than the Lord. He then began to tell me a story: “Temptation is like the bull frog. If you try to boil a bull frog by throwing it in boiling water he’ll jump out. But if you put the frog in cool water and slowly turn the heat up, the frog will become lethargic, fall asleep, and die in the boiling water.” Very interesting story to take into consideration when looking at temptation in our daily lives. Are we asleep and completely unaware of the dangerous environment we are in? Remember the Lion and the frog.

The Tree and The Chaff. (Psalm 1)

1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 NASB)

Verse 1 and 2:

1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Is the man blessed because he is not walking to the wicked for advice? Is he blessed because he is not standing in the path that sinners constantly travel to heed the evil desires of their dark bondage?(*Proverbs 26:11) Or is that man simply blessed because he is not sitting in the seat of those who are mock? I would say all the above, but the source for the answer is found in verse 2. He’s blessed and can resist these things because he is delighting himself in the law of the LORD! He’s blessed because he has been given the desires of his heart (*Psalm 37:4). He’s not inclined to give an ear for instruction to a non-Christian about parenting, marriage, or career moves. The ways of the Lord are not the ways of man (*Isaiah 55:8); this man knows this. Because this man feels no need to listen to the advice of the wicked, he certainly does not apply what they say, and is not found standing in the path of sinners. Obviously, he is not going to feel comfortable enough in sin to actually sit down and partake in it…BECAUSE HE DELIGHTS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD! Since he delights in the law of the Lord, he delights in the Divine source, the LORD! If he delights in the LORD, the LORD will give him the desires of his heart. Therefore, that man is blessed! Oh, and because he delights in it he meditates on it day and night! What an important scripture for showing our ever-increasing need for our LORD and HIS great Word!

*Proverbs 26:11,”Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly.”

*Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

*Isaiah 55:8, “”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”

Verse 3:

3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.  So now, here’s a man who has the desire’s of his heart and he’s compared to a piece of wood; this must be some tree. The tree being planted by the streams of water will always have rich soil to drain nutrients from. The best place for a tree. Spurgeon writes in Treasury of David, “not a wild tree, but “a tree planted,” chosen, considered as property, cultivated and secured from the last terrible uprooting, for “every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up:” Matthew 15:13. “By the rivers of water;” so that even if one river should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of communion with Christ, are never-failing sources of supply.”

The tree is firmly rooted, planned, has a great environment, and has a never-ending source. This tree is set up for success. In its season it will produce fruit. It has to, look at everything surrounding the tree. It is impossible not to bear fruit at this point. But what I want to focus on is the leaf. Immediately when reading the word “wither”, I thought of the reference in Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” So for this leaf not to wither it either disproves the Bible, or the leaf has the word of God in it.  When reading this I think that the man is so deeply rooted into the word of God, that from the root to the leaf, the strongest part to the weakest part, the word of God is etched into it. Everything about that tree shines the law of the LORD, and brings glory to the Divine Author, GOD. This is the prayer of my life, and I feel it should be the prayer for every Christian.

Another interesting note to make of the tree is the length of time it takes it to grow. I remember my dad told me , “Christians are like trees, we can’t always feel the growth when we know we’re in the word and doing good things for God’s glory but it’s there.” The next time you feel frustrated at life, not sure where the Lord is taking you look at a tree and think and quote Psalm 1:3.

Verse 4 and 5:

4The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

We’ve heard about the righteous man now let’s analyze the wicked. Obviously, none of the above apply to the wicked. The wicked is compared to Chaff. Chaff is worthless matter separated from the wheat during threshing. A winnowing fork is used to toss-up both the wheat and the chaff. The wheat, having substance, falls back down. But the chaff’s weight makes it very easy for the wind to blow it away. The chaff is then gathered and used to fuel the furnaces as was custom in the culture of Bible times. Luke 3:17 explains ,””His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”” As the chaff can not stand with wheat, neither can the sinner stand with the righteous.

6For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

The Lord knows the ways of the righteous, but the wicked will perish. What a gracious God we serve! If it were not for the grace of God all men would perish, but the Lord has accredited the one’s whom he has chosen with righteousness! PLEASE Right now if you are a Christian thank the LORD for His Grace, Mercy, and Love! Thank the Lord for Jesus Christ! Then thank Jesus Christ for living a life that you can call your own! Now that’s what I call Love!

Challenge: Memorize Psalm 1. Get in the word. Live for God’s glory not your own.

Consumed. (Matthew 26:7-16)

7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? 9 For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13Truly I say to you,wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. 16 From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus. (Matthew 26:7-16)

Judas turned on Jesus because He agreed with a woman, who in Judas’ mind wasted money to feed the poor. Due to this offense Judas sought out to betray him. Judas’ allegiance wasn’t on Christ, it was on himself. He was consumed with the wrong things. Actually if this story was nameless, most Americans could side with Judas. It makes sense right? Give to the poor. We will get recognition, and they get food. There is a  Christian band who sings a song that gives America a new slogan, “Save trees, kill babies!” I think it is pretty fitting. Our convictions are wrong because we are consumed by the wrong things. We are founded on ideology and not Scripture. We can not chase the American Dream and chase after Christ. It doesn’t matter what your motive or goal is. The two ideas clash.

Just the other week I was invited to a friend’s house to try out a new product. My wife and I arrived at the house and it didn’t take five seconds for the 10-12 people that were there to express to us how amazing the product was. Most were leaders at a local church, but all would claim the tag of a mature Christian. Shortly after the initial conversations were over we watched a video about the product and how to get involved to sale this product. But what unfolded over the next hour was truly amazing and eye-opening. The sole passion of every one there started coming to light. It was clear that the success that was being taught was a lot of money, early retirement, nice cars, great health, and a confident reassurance of knowing you were “living the good life.” If that wasn’t enough, the Christians were shouting in agreement. Two school teachers ached for the opportunity to never have to teach again. I was mocked by the presenter for liking my job. I view the workplace as a mission field. What is the mission field? Does it have to be lined with dirt huts in third world countries? It truly broke my heart. My friends were acting fanatical over a product that would give you “the good life”, and not once was Christ’s named mentioned. Then it dawned on me, following Christ does not make sense to the average American.

In a lot of churches you will hear of God wanting to give us the best life because we are his children. I totally agree with this statement. One pastor’s slogan is , “You’re a Kings kid! The Kings kids don’t do with out!” I agree with this statement. But where the Bible draws a distinction is the question, “Where is your allegiance? What do you consider living the good life?” A man who claims to be a pastor of a very large gathering who claims to be a church wrote a book, “Your best life now.”  My pastor would conclude if you are trying to live your best life now, you will be. Because in the next life you will be in Hell. It is far over due to confront comfortable Christianity. It’s an oxymoron.

Let’s look at the life of Christ, the only Son of God. He was born in a filthy environment where the scent of animal waste lingered in the air. He was probably called a bastard his entire life in the area where he lived, either to his face or behind his back. His entire family had to take slack for the “virgin birth”. He worked as a carpenter for most of His life, which was one of the most physically demanding jobs during His time. At age thirty he began his public ministry and in Matthew 8:20  he states, “The son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” He is loved by many for a short time, but then many turn on him. He is betrayed by one of his own disciples. He is beat 39 times, placed on a cross, and feels God’s entire hatred toward sin. If this is what God had in store for his only son, what will we experience being adopted. Is having a lot of money, driving a BMW, or retiring early a sin? No, of course not. Why do we want those things? Where does our allegiance fall? Let us all make an effort to live life consumed by Christ. Pick a close friend and keep each other accountable. Be content with Godliness, not riches.

Women Sit Down! (1 Timothy 2:9-14) Men Stand Up! (1 Corinthians 16:13)

TO WOMEN: 9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:9-14 NASB)

There is a problem in the Local Church today that is in absolute opposition to the Word of God! The problem is women leading in Churches with an authoritative role over men. First, I would warn everyone who reads this to examine their own Church. If this description fits your Church, present the above scripture to the leadership. If the sinful act is not fixed, find a new Church. Another word of caution would be to do everything in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40). The Local Church doesn’t need another Rambo. Take note if anything is opposed to the words of Scripture, it is sin! Following Scripture is a sacrificial act and service to God. It will not always be easy, but it will always be good!

Historical context is key when trying to interpret Scripture accurately. But use great caution around the man or woman who will use this tool to bend the meaning of the passage. It is sad when respected Christian Theologian (Not all Theologians are Christians…Important notation to make) write commentaries using the historical context to change the meaning of this passage.There are several issues that the Bible is uncomfortably clear on that are avoided due to seemingly innocent motives or goals. Everything about humanity is evil (Gen 6:5). So to trust our instincts or logic is unwise for the believer. That’s why trusting the Word is so important. Before dissecting the passage take a moment and think about your stance. What do you believe? Think about it…

Paul is writing Timothy whom he put in charge of the Church in Ephesus. Traveling wasn’t an easy accomplishment in 60 A.D. so it was urgent the letter’s that he wrote were applied for the Church structure, discipline, and health needed to meet the goal of the Local Church and Christian faith. Paul had lived in Ephesus for three years and new the culture well.

9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

America is great place to be a Christian, especially in the southeastern region of the United States. I laugh when I hear the Iphone App commercial phrase, “There’s an App for that!” In my light-hearted humor I think of, “There’s a Church for that!” There are so many churches around here. Unfortunately, it’s not always a good thing. Our basic human need for acceptance and approval has leaked over into our Churches and the way we preach the Gospel. Whether it’s Joel Osteen’s friendly Hell or Rob Bell’s non-existent one; sound Biblical teaching is becoming more and more rare.

Discipleship would be another crucial and rare attribute in the American church. Discipleship is important because it provides healthy growth for the believer. Somewhere Christians became so hungry for converts that no one was discipled. Hence the modesty issue in church. It’s a sad thing when a man can’t focus on the lyrics to a good hymnal or Christian Rock song because he’s distracted by the cleavage or tight jeans by the woman next to him, or singer on stage! This is the problem Paul was addressing. A simple glance is never a simple glance! “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin;and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

Paul is addressing modesty, materialism, and pride in verse nine.  Paul is saying dress modestly without wearing expensive jewelry or clothing, and not with braided hair. I would sum it up like this: Woman, everything you do, do to the glory of God! Why are you spending $80 plus for a hair cut? $300 for an outfit? Wearing low-cut shirts? Is it to glorify God or man? There is a reason that it’s in God’s Word. As stated in verse ten, this is only applicable if you claim godliness. The word of God isn’t always easy, but it’s always good!

11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

According to scripture a Pastor, Sunday School Teacher, Small Group Leader, or any place where a woman is exercising authority over a man in the Church is sin! This is the text that people use historical context to bend the meaning. You will read things like,”The woman during this time period in Ephesus were very dominating harlots. They wanted to lead the men in false teachings, that’s what Paul was writing about in chapter 1.” This is heresy and it is sinful! If it was a historical issue indigenous only to the women of Ephesus in A.D. 60-70, then why would Paul follow the verse and make a reference to the first woman created in Genesis? Some commentaries argue that the authority that a woman has over a man should not be abusive or sexual in any way in the Church. “That’s really what Paul meant”, they will say. If this were the case, why would he fail to leave out the men in that statement? I understand that men have tragically failed to lead. But it is NEVER an option to go against scripture for any issue. The word of God isn’t always easy, but it’s always good!

TO MEN: 13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

When I first read this scripture it immediately pierced my heart and I came to repentance instantly. I knew I had failed thus far in my life. I was a lazy, double-minded, weak coward. Or should I say the average portrayal of a man in your everyday sitcom on TV. The image of a man has evaporated into a wimp. What happened men?

This verse is short, but you could not pick a better verse to live your life by. Memorize it and live it! We are leaders instructed to love our wives like Christ love the Church. This is a battle men, let’s fight for our beliefs and our King! Let’s reclaim our seat of leadership! Let’s live a life that a woman and children can stand confident behind. Let’s live a life that Glorifies God! Men Stand Up!