Lenten Reflections 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 27

Day 27, Friday, March 23, 2012

 Jesus lived not only in the wilderness but also throughout His life time with just one motto—doing the will of God. There are many of us today who are facing uncertainties in life with regard to their marriage, jobs, future, children, and in so many other areas. In one sense, it seems that gone are the days of certainty and security of job and a peaceful life after retirement. It is not only for younger generation, but very much so for the older generation, too. The older people worked hard and saved a lot for their peaceful retirement. However, most of that investment has been wiped away in the economic recession and the meltdown of the Wall Street. Thus, most people today live in an uncertain world of anxiety. Dear friends, we think Jesus didn’t know what it means to live in today’s environment of fretfulness and qualms, but we are wrong in thinking that way. If we read the Gospels at a slow pace, we’ll find that Jesus’s life and circumstances were not much different from ours. He had no idea where His next meal would come from. When folks asked for his address, Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58 NIV; Matthew 8:20). The Jewish and Roman authorities were always after His life from the time he was born until they succeeded in hanging Him on the Tree. They always sought to arrest Him to put Him in prison or to kill Him because He was claiming to be God or challenging their hypocritical lives (see, e.g., John 7:1; 8:58-59; 10: 30-32; 11:53-54; Luke 4:28-30; Luke 20:19-26).

 Therefore, be encouraged that Jesus fully understands and sympathizes with what you’re going through today. And His counsel to us is that, like Him, we should desire God’s perfect will. Of course, we do not know for sure what that fully means. Don’t worry, keep seeking it, and God will show it to you. It may not be what you wish. But are you ready to accept that His perfect will may require loss for greater gain? It may require you stepping outside of what is comfortable to do the extraordinary? May be it will require you make a move to a new place, a new experience, or even a new calling to serve Him? Whatever it may be, we are not sure, but this much is certain that God’s will for you is good, perfect, and if accepted, it will make you happy for life. Are you passionate about seeking His best and perfect will for your life as Jesus was (see yesterday’s devotion)? Do you trust the Lord today to lead you in the center of His will, and to grant you the strength to walk in it? God bless!

Lenten Reflections 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 26

Day 26, Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Word of God stained glass window at St. Ma...

The Word of God stained glass window at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC. Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spending forty days without food is not easy. The question is often raised—where did Jesus find His strength to survive those difficult days of hunger and nights of solitude in the wilderness? Both accounts of His experience in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 show us that Jesus’ capability came from the Word of God. He constantly fed on the Word and the presence of God during His hard times. The Word of God became not only the indispensable part but also the source of His daily life. This is what also gave Jesus the power to fight His own inner urges as well as the outside temptations of the devil. As we have already seen in the past few days, He always fought back Satan’s various seductions with the Word of God and was ultimately able to come victoriously out of the wilderness to accomplish the mission He had come for on this earth.

There is a second source of Jesus’ ability to fight the tempter and his diverse deceptions and that is—doing God’s will always. The devil tempted Jesus to go against God’s plan and will for Jesus and to fulfill His own desires of eating bread, show off to the world that He truly was the Messiah, and to become the King of all the kingdoms of the world, as Satan had offered Him. However, in all of these, Jesus remained committed to only fulfilling the will of God for His life. That is why, later on, when evangelizing and teaching His disciples, “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34 RSV). In fact, Jesus repeated this several times. For example, He said, “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30 RSV). And again He said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38 RSV). Thus, Jesus made His work—the mission of proclaiming the kingdom of God—His meat and his drink. He was always so consumed with doing His Father’s will that He didn’t worry much about the basic necessities of life such as food, drink, or clothing and shelter. Nevertheless, the Father did supply these for His Son. Today, if you’re in the wilderness, what is the place of God’s Word in your daily life? Is it a prominent place or just another task in the long to-do-list of your hectic life? Moreover, what place the will of God—the mission of God—has in your life? In what practical ways are you fulfilling it? God bless!

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