Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday - a time of testing

Prayer:   Great Compassionate God,  sometimes we seem to be in the desert and the way to You seems dark and pitted with despair.   Remind us to read Your Holy Scriptures so that we can keep our eyes focussed upon You.  Remind us to read Your Holy Scriptures and to put the words into our hearts.     This we ask in Your Son’s  name.  Amen.

Read St. Luke  4: 1 – 4

Jesus,  full of the Holy Spirit,  returns from the Jordan River and is led by the Spirit into the desert.  This time in the desert is a time  of testing.   Forty days is a long time and hearkens back to the 40 years that  Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert.  Forty years was often said to be one generation.     A very long time.   So,  Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days.  A very long time.  
Jesus ate nothing while in the desert.    In early Christianity,  fasting was a major part of being a Christian.  Just like reading  the Scriptures and daily prayer,  fasting was an import part of being a Christian.    Today,  our denomination does not suggest fasting as a way of Christian discipline…. but we should look again at fasting and why it was important for the early Church.    In the early Church,  fasting was a major part of discerning God’s will.    Fasting meant that the person was making a serious commitment to God and would take time away,  not eat anything (water, juice, and broth was drunk), and solely focus upon the Word of God and would concentrate on the Prayers to God and would keep silent waiting for God’s  message.     Something for us to think about in this day and age!
Back in the wilderness,  the devil  comes to Jesus and says, “If you are the Son of God,  tell this stone to become bread.”    Jesus responds,  “It is written – Man does not live on bread alone”.    Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 8: 3.  In Deuteronomy,  God is speaking to the people of Israel.   It is important to know the whole portion of scripture that Jesus quotes.  
Deuteronomy 8: 1 – 3:   Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers.  Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 
Humble,  test,  heart,  keeping commands,  scripture.    
And so the devil continues to test Jesus.

Prayer:    Almighty God,  teach us how to seek You at all times.   Give us Your Spirit who helps us in our weaknesses.  When we do not have the words to reach out to You in prayer,  let Your Spirit intercede with sighs too deep for words.    Give us hearts on fire and eyes that see we may share Your love with others.  Give us courage,  we pray,  to step out on Your Word.   Amen  (Barbara E. Reid,  “A Retreat with Luke”  St. Anthony Messenger Press,  2000.

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