Today’s Scrip-Bit   21 February 2023 Matthew 4:7.

Matthew 4:7.       Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt (test) the Lord thy God.

And it’s a cloudy Tuesday morning after our Family Day holiday, with a winter storm on the horizon. But let’s hope that we used yesterday to rebuild the dying embers of the family unit that’s oh so important to the smooth, safe and steady running of our society, and not simply as a day to party hearty. But yuh better believe that a lot of hearty partying will going on in places like Brazil and T&T because today is the biggest, as well as the last day of the Carnival festival, and everybody will come out to play their biggest and best mas today. For come tomorrow that sacrificing, self-denying season of Lent begins. 

And it never ceases to amaze and amuse me how one day we have no qualms about anything, anything goes, then next day, we so pious and holy and trying to be like Jesus as He spent forty days in the wilderness fasting and praying. Now, the sad thing is that I’ve been hearing that many people no longer even celebrate or recognize the Lenten season; every day is just like any other. What’s next eh? 

At least with Lent in our spirits, we had some vestige of God still remaining, but when you remove that too, then there’s nothing at all. Oh, we do celebrate Easter and Christmas, but even those celebrations have become so commercialized and secular that many supposed believers don’t even pay much attention to the spiritual aspects, but like the unbelievers use them as simply another chance to get their jollies on. 

And why is Lent so important to believers eh? Because it’s a time of spiritual cleansing of removing ourselves from all the frivolity and idolatry of the world. A lot of Lenten activity is based on fasting, but I believe the most important aspect is actually seeking God during those times of fasting. Fasting by itself means nothing. As one commentator on the Got website puts it: ‘Fasting is a practice found throughout Scripture. A fast in the Bible is usually a voluntary, total abstinence from food for a set time for the purpose of devoting oneself to seeking God. Fasting denies our flesh what it wants so that we can focus more clearly on strengthening our spirits.’ 

And therein lies the rub: just denying the flesh doesn’t automatically bring God closer. It has to be a conscious decision to turn to God during those times of turning away from fleshly pursuits. And there is no better example of that than Jesus, who, as soon as He was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, and He heard the voice from heaven saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,’ (Matt. 3:17) was immediately led away, by none other than the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to fast and be tempted by the devil. 

The Bible tells us: ‘Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.’ (Matt. 4:1) Can you imagine that? One minute being feted as being a wonderful Son, then next sent to endure severe hunger and temptation. But there was good reason for Jesus’ fasting and temptations. It was preparing Him for his public ministry and all the tough times He would have to undergo while thus involved. 

And I like how the Got questions.Org commentator explains it. He says: ‘During those forty days, when Jesus’ flesh was at its weakest, He endured relentless temptation from Satan. Satan offered Him alternatives to God’s plan, compromises that would satisfy His natural desires, and attacks upon His very identity as the Son of God (Matt.4:3). Jesus used the Word of God, not His own strength, to defeat those temptations and remain victorious over sin. He demonstrated for us that fasting can strengthen us spiritually when we use it to draw closer to God.’ 

Now that’s the basic benefit of fasting; giving up some of the flesh to help us draw closer to God. When there’s not a whole lot of fleshly stuff bothering us, then we can indeed get closer to our heavenly Father. And believe me it’s ever so important to do that on a regular basis. I’m not talking about just regular praying, but times when we get downright spiritual, so hungry for the things of God, that we just drop everything else and sincerely go searching for Him. That’s when we lay out our whole heart and soul before Him; empty ourselves and ask Him to cleanse, to rejuvenate us, to heal our brokenness, and give us new strength and faith to keep on keeping on in His holy will. 

And there’s one very important thing to note about Jesus’s time of fasting and temptation. When the devil tempted Him, He quoted the scriptures in rebuttal. For example, when Satan commanded Him to make bread out of the stones, He simply replied: ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ (Matt. 4:4) Now that scripture can be found in Deut. 4:3. 

Then, when the devil took Him up to a pinnacle of the temple and told Him: ‘If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt (test) the Lord thy God.’ (Matt. 4:6-7) And that can be found in Deut. 6:16. 

Now that’s the way we ought to counter the devil’s temptations, with cutting words of scripture, then He leaves us alone for a spell, but only for a spell, because once we’re alive, he’ll keep coming back with more temptations. He doesn’t give up, and neither should we.

 Note what the Bible says after the devil took Jesus up on a high hill and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and promised them to him, if He would bow down and worship him. Jesus staunchly reprimanded him. ‘Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.’ (Matt. 4:10-11) And again that answer of Jesus can be found in either Deut. 6:13, or 10:20. 

But friends, we cannot get rid of the devil for a spell with scripture unless we know the scriptures. That’s why it’s ever so important to read, meditate and learn them. And I believe that this Lenten season is an excellent time for us to hunker down with the Good Library and devour its monumental wisdom. It will do us more good than we can ever ask or imagine! 

Now, for those of us who are sincerely on board with Jesus, let’s go home declaring (steups!!!) our Tuesday Mantra, letting all and sundry know to whom we belong, lock, stock and barrel. As one voice: ‘In God’s eyes, I’m not what I do. I’m not what I have. I’m not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God, that’s who I am. No one can take that from me. I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to hurry. I can trust my friend Jesus and share His LOVE with my immediate neighbours, as well as with the whole wide world! Glory be!’ 

And it’s now our bounden duty to go out and do just that; share the amazing LOVE and friendship of Jesus with others, so that they too can come to know and LOVE Him like we do! Much LOVE!

…the weak and willing flesh…must be countered by a strong and resolute spirit… 

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