North East Circuit of IM Churches

Devotional for Sunday 21st February 2021

This devotional for Sunday 21st February has been produced by the North East Circuit for use in their churches, and is made available for any churches/individuals who would like to use it this weekend.

Introduction

Today marks the first Sunday of Lent and as we head towards these last few weeks before Easter with our hopes held high of being able to meet together in person, it is good for us to remember what Jesus himself endured as He prepared Himself for what lay ahead.


Hymn: What a friend we have in Jesus


Bible Reading – Luke 4: 1 – 13

Jesus is tested in the wilderness

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.'”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

‘He will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”

12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.


Reflection

Luke records Jesus being tempted three times in different ways by Satan during those 40 days spent in the wilderness.  What is striking is that the three kinds of temptation are still present today.

  1. The first temptation is to do it yourself, when Satan tempted Jesus to turn the stones to bread.
  2. The second is to take the easy option when Satan tempted Jesus to worship him.
  3. The third temptation was to demand evidence rather than faith.

We may not be tempted to turn stones into bread, but nonetheless we may well be tempted to do many a thing in our own strength rather than look to God for guidance and empowerment.

Had Jesus succumbed to the second temptation then there would have been no cross.  Jesus did not give in to the easy option and obediently followed the path as determined for Him.

Many people today say, “I won’t believe until I see; show it to me on my terms” and I am sure we all have had this said to us.  This is not a life of faith that we are told to embrace.

What links all three temptations is that each one was an attempt to destroy the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. 

By following the example of Jesus and taking note of that hymn of old, “Have we trials and temptations?  . . .take it to the Lord in prayer.”  We too can overcome the temptations that we face and maintain that close relationship with God.

As we go through Lent and yearn for the day when we can gather once more, together and heartily sing the praises of our God, let us resist the temptations that come our way.


Prayer

O God our Heavenly Father, thank you for the progress being made with the vaccination programme.  Continue to speak to us and teach us during this period.

“When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within upward I look, and see Him there Who made an end to all my sin.”

Thank you for the gift of salvation, help us live out the exhortation from James, “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Benediction

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forever.  Amen.