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Alone in the wilderness

I saw a short documentary not long ago which showed children making choices. A young child was put in a room with just a table and a chair. A nice lady brought in a marshmallow and placed it on the table in front of them. She said that they could eat the marshmallow if they wanted but if they waited until she came back she would give them another marshmallow. She then left the room and the child was alone with the marshmallow. Each child had to deal with the choice of instant gratification or waiting for a bigger reward. It was hysterical! Some kids sat and stared at the marshmallow. Some wouldn’t look at it except to sneak a peek. Some picked it up and squished it. Some licked it. One little girl kissed it. Some just picked it up and stuffed it in their mouths. The temptation was just too great. It was a great study. Those who waited did get their reward. Those who didn’t wait did not.

It was very tempting for those kids to just grab that marshmallow and eat it. They knew that they were going to be rewarded if they followed the instructions but it was just too tempting. Have you ever faced temptation like that? You had to make a decision. The decision was yours.

Jesus faced exactly what we’ve had to face. He had to make a choice. He had to make a decision that would change the destiny of not just his life but the destiny of the entire world. Jesus, the Messiah, was tempted to take the easy way out. He was tempted to cut corners.

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”

Satan plays his trump card. "Look at all the nations of the world that I rule. If you’ll only bow down and worship me you can be the king of the world. You can be more powerful than Caesar! You will be all-powerful and everyone will know you. Just worship me!" How enticing that must have been. Jesus wouldn’t have to travel around for three years with a bunch of fishermen and tax collectors. He wouldn’t be hungry or thirsty. He wouldn't want for anything. He would be the king! He wouldn’t have to be arrested, tortured and murdered on a cross by the religious leaders and Romans. But Jesus knew what his mission was! He knew that he was sent to save us all from our sins. He knew that he was the Lamb of God who was sent to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world. His death would be the atoning sacrifice that God demanded to cancel humanities sins. Satan tried to distract Jesus away from his mission. Jesus turned to scripture and “Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.”

Jesus passed the temptations thrown at him from Satan and he also passed the test that was presented to him from God. Can you hear the voice of God, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased?” Parents, when your child passes a test how happy, are you? Do you think that God didn’t feel happiness when his son obeyed and stayed true to his mission? Do you think that he isn’t pleased when we pass tests and temptations?

Sometimes it feels like we’re alone in the wilderness when we’re going through some of the things that happen to us. There are days, weeks, months, and years that seem like a long wilderness journey but if we stay true to God we will grow and we will pass the test. Satan will tempt us but God will walk through the fire with us. He will strengthen us and in the end, we will be stronger and we will learn. We’ll be prepared for what’s coming next because in life there is always a next thing. We'll be prepared to bless others who are going through the same issues we've gone through. We are not alone in the wilderness. God is with us as we travel this road together. May this Lent be a time to feel God's presence in our lives. In Christ, Pastor Joe

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