What if Joy?

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13b ESV

Temptation is a bit like the telephone solicitor who begins the call by exclaiming, “Don’t hang up! I’m not trying to sell you anything!” It doesn’t seem to faze them how many times we say, “no thank you,” or “I’m really not interested.”  They are determined to sell us something that we don’t want, don’t need and can’t afford. Jesus warned us that in this world we would face all kinds of temptation solicitors.” So, the question is not whether temptation has our number, but rather, what we should do when it calls.

Today’s verse says, that when we are tempted, God will give us a way of escape. Escaping, conjures up in my mind a picture of flinging open the door and running away as fast as I can. But what God really wants from us is not a fearful footrace, but a cheerful acceptance. God has something far grander in mind than learning to grin and bear it. Jesus tells us to have joy because He has already overcome the problems we are in even before we face them.

“But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 b

So, I asked myself this morning. “What if – instead of complaining- what if joy was God’s plan of escape? What if, “For the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross?” What if I celebrated, when I was mistreated? What if I praised instead of complained? What might happen if I chose joy and found, God’s amazing and mysterious way of escape? What if joy is the stream in the desert and a waterfall of life that flows by the path of faith God chose for me today?

Desert Temptations

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

The great temptation that we face is to seek help and hope and honor from men instead of being satisfied with what God Alone provides.

A desert is an empty and dry place where little survives and what grows there is gnarled or covered with thorns. But the Spirit led Jesus there and He will certainly give to us seasons to be there also. It is not a place we would have chosen but it is necessary, because there we learn to depend on daily bread baked in our quiet time with Him, rather than the seemingly spectacular loaves that the world’s advertisers insist we must buy.

There on the rocky paths He sends His angels to guard us along a plain pathway. That protection covers us as we brave necessary dangers of obedience not the thrill of showing off our freedoms and rights for everyone to see.

He doesn’t require us to gain worldly fame instead He simply gives us fruitfulness as we obey His command to love those around us.

If we want to find God’s joy and peace and love then we need to look for them where Jesus did. Only there, out in the wilderness can God faithfully show us His way. In that place Jesus was satisfied that the Father was completely pleased when He trusted in His word. If Jesus had to live in humble surrender rather than by insisting on His rights then how much more should we?

Worship is a Choice

If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”   Luke 4:7-8

In the wilderness the devil came to Jesus and gave him a limited time offer, Bow down and worship and for a while I will give you all their authority and splendor.  This immediate ascension to a seat of power required no cross no obedience and no difficulties. It reminds me of some of those furniture commercials telling us that there is no money down and no payments for a year. Putting off the sacrifice of paying for stuff is pretty tempting. We have a  a choice to make: pay up now or pay lots more but way later. Jesus decided to wait for the right time and the right way and in choosing that path He chose real worship.

Temptations and the dark places of our lives are places where in practical ways we get to choose who we will worship. Worship is not when we are surrounded by friends in an air conditioned church lifting our hands to softy music. The best worship happens in the hard places and the deserts of our soul. We can give our highest praise when there is the highest price on our decision.

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Worship has nothing to do with our emotions or  rewards. Worship is based on what God has promised. Our choice to worship is about who we will trust and whose word we treasure. Will our worship be based on how it will profit us or, will it demonstrate our complete dependence on Jesus? When we choose Jesus and choose what He chose then our reward is sure though its value may not be seen till it is revealed by eternity’s light.