A metal railroad bridge in Western Pennsylvania that stood for over a century suddenly failed when a tornado swept through. Engineers who worked to discover the reason for the collapse found that when the bridge was re-built decades ago, using steel in place of the iron, the original iron anchor bolts were left in place, considered too expensive to remove and replace. Steel accepts much higher loads than iron, allowing for flex before failure, where iron suddenly snaps. When 100 MPH winds created side stress, rather than weight pressing down, those older rusted iron anchors cracked and the bridge turned to ruin in a few moments time. (Bridge Fails)
One thing I know for certain – tests come to us all! They arrive in many ways. Illness, disappointment, death, economic issues, depression, temptation … are just some of the ways we are tested.
How will we respond to those storms? Will the old anchor points of life snap and cause a collapse? Will we turn into a fearful, angry person? Will we abandon faith, turning on God? OR, will we stand, in courage, renewing our commitment to faith, leaning on the Word, even when to do so seems like folly?
In Matthew’s Gospel, we read of a miracle moment at the Jordan at the end of chapter 3. Jesus goes to John, the Baptist, and asks to be baptized, even though He is perfect, not needing the washing of repentance. The Holy Spirit descends and the voice of the Father thunders from above, announcing His delight in His Son. There is glory all around. If I had written the plan, Jesus would have gone straight that from that moment of blessing to Jerusalem to announce the Kingdom! We tend to think that way, believing that one season of blessing should always be followed by another.
Here is how God allowed the plan to unfold. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ”‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)
He was ‘led by the Spirit’ to be tested. What a revelation. Jesus did not stumble into a bad time. He did not create His own problems with poor decision-making. The Father allowed Him to be tested! We could guess at a hundred reasons why, but the inspired author offers no explanation. He just tells us what happened. Jesus, left weak by an extended fast, is invited to misuse the power of God to satisfy His own appetite. He hears Satan telling Him that He should expect God to send angels to rescue Him if He put Himself into danger. He is offered a short-cut to ‘success’ in His mission, in only He will abandon His singular love of God.
In each situation, Jesus does not rely on His own strength, nor does He engage in lengthy debate with the Devil. He goes to the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy, inspired Word, that He, the Living Word, knew was the revealed will of God. He speaks God’s Word in the moment of testing and that anchor holds Him in the storm.
Tests in our lives bring temptation in many guises. Why do they come? We sometimes make wrong choices that lead us into hard places. We sometimes choose to live in Self-will rather than God’s will and find ourselves in a mess! But, sometimes God, for purposes beyond our grasp, allows us to walk in deep valleys where the Light of His Presence is hidden. What then? Will our anchor bolts snap leading to a collapse, or will we lean hard on faith, even when it appears irrational? Faith does not discard reason, but sometimes it goes beyond it, trusting God for that which can only been seen with vision informed by the Spirit.
Know God’s Word and commit that truth to memory. Grow beyond ‘folk religion’ that rests on slogans, mottos, and assumptions. Become a disciple, a true follower of Christ, who ‘works out’ the implications of His salvation in all aspects of life. And, when the tests come, you will stand!
Mediate today on this word from the Word. Make this the guiding Truth for life – for the glory days and the testing times.
“Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn their backs on God and seal their fate. We have faith that assures our salvation.” – (Hebrews 10:34)
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up.” (Hebrews 12:2-3, NLT)
(Will you build your life on Jesus?)
Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You We live for You
Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me
I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken
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