Midweek Morsel: Pleasing to God in the Desert

120398547_bb63b7affd_z“And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.” Mark 1:11-13a

Anyone going through a desert time spiritually? Desert times can look and feel different at different times to different people.

I’ve been experiencing some desert times myself the past couple of years. God sometimes feels distant to me, even though I know he’s not. And even though I’ve heard him speak clearly through his Word, I don’t always hear his voice as clearly in my spirit as in times past. Like my friend Nancy described it, God is being quiet.

When we’re going through desert times, it’s easy to feel like God may not be pleased with us, but I’ve been encouraged by the above scripture and the example of Jesus in his desert time. Notice how just before God sent Jesus into the desert, the Father declared his pleasure with his Son. In fact, God was well pleased with Jesus but still sent him into a desert time.

Friends, isn’t it good to know that even when we feel like we’re in a spiritual desert, we can have the assurance that we are God’s dearly loved children and that he is still pleased with us? So if we’re not in a desert of our own making because of our sin and poor decisions (and thus needing a restored relationship with God), let’s rest in the knowledge that God is not displeased with us. As always, he still loves us.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

*How do you stay close to God when you find yourself in a desert time spiritually?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. Sign up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by HORIZON, Creative Commons License

Not Immune


After all these years of knowing and walking with God, you’d think I’d be immune. Immune to moments of doubt. Immune to thoughts that slither their way into my mind and whisper it all seems too good to be true.

Slither is an apt word here, isn’t it? After all, the author of those kinds of doubting thoughts is the old serpent himself—our enemy Satan. He likes to cause God’s children to doubt. He’s been doing it from the beginning, ever since he ensnared Eve in the Garden of Eden. Remember how he said, “Did God really say . . .” (Genesis 3:1)

Essentially that’s what he says to me when he plants insidious seeds of doubt in my mind. Did God really say he knows every bird in the mountains, that not one sparrow falls to the earth apart from his will? How is that possible? Did he really say he’s numbered the hairs of your head? How can he know billions of people on earth that intimately? Is he really preparing a home for you in heaven? Doesn’t everything you believe seem a little too good to be true?* (see scripture references below)

In truth, when I look at everything from my own human understanding, these things are too good to be true. I can’t wrap my finite mind around the vastness and power of God. I’m sure this is one reason we’re told in Proverbs to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to lean not on our own understanding (3:5). I don’t know about you, but I can get into trouble when I lean on my own understanding, limited as it is.

And so, as the Word exhorts me to do, I “live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) “I remember the wonders he has done” (Psalm 105:5a) and how he has shown himself real in my life. I trust that “All Scripture is Godbreathed”(2 Timothy 3:16), and then I put on the armor of God and “take [my] stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11b). I am not immune to the traps of the enemy so I must do battle.

Are there are other areas—traps other than doubt—where I’m still susceptible as well? Most definitely. I suppose as long as there is breath in this human body of mine, I will not be immune to falling into sin.

It helps to be on guard, though. It helps to know my weaknesses and to be ready for the unsuspecting darts of temptation the evil one lobs at me. I’ve also got to remember that he’s not above trying to trip me up in ways I’d never think I’d fall.

What about you? Are their areas of your life where you’re not immune? Are you on guard against the devil’s schemes?

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12

*Psalm 50:11; Matthew 10:29-30; John 14:3

*What are some ways you guard yourself against the enemy?

*Flickr photo by frielp

Considering the Bait

An unexpected visitor came strolling by our garage a couple of weeks agoa turtle. He’s the first one who’s come calling at our house in a long time. And even though our kids are grown and gone now, he still caused quite a stir.

After Don spotted him, he called for me to come see who was traveling across our driveway and down our sidewalk to the back yard. When I saw that it was a turtle, I grabbed my camera and went out to see how close I could get before he retreated into the safety of his built-in house.

Of course, I pushed it too far, and he got shy. I had to back off and give him some time before he felt comfortable enough to poke his head out and survey his surroundings once again.

In the meantime, Don checked our strawberry patch that’s past season and found one lone strawberry to use as bait to entice our skittish visitor out into another photo op for me.

Before long—and after exercising extreme caution—Mr. Turtle’s head reappeared. He spotted the strawberry but didn’t move. Instead, he considered the bait for a few minutes and then for some unknown reason turned and went the other way.

Maybe he’s the one turtle in all the world who doesn’t care for strawberries or maybe he picked up a bad vibe and wanted to avoid the crazy lady with the camera. For whatever reason, he decided against taking the bait. He evidently wanted to get out while the gittin’ was good.

What about us? Has anyone been trying to get us to take some kind of bait? Trying to lure us with something that promises to be satisfying but turns into a trap?

Let’s follow Mr. Turtle’s example and not waste much time considering the bait. Let’s turn and go the other way. Let’s get out while the gittin’s good!

“So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12

*What do you do to resist temptation?

An Opportune Time

“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, was well-acquainted with temptation during His days here on earth. Scripture tells us that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit sent Him into the desert where He was tempted by Satan for forty days (Mark 1:9-13).

The gospels of Matthew and Luke show how the devil tried different tactics to cause the perfect Son of God to stumble and sin, but the enemy had no success. Jesus stood strong, using the Word of God as a shield and weapon against the devil’s schemes.

Satan knew he lost the battle in the desert. As the verse in Luke (above) points out, he left Jesus—at least for the moment. He had plans, though. Plans to attack again at an opportune time. And he did.

One of those times happened just after Jesus told his disciples He would suffer and be killed and then rise again on the third day (Mark 8:31-33). When Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for speaking of such an unthinkable thing, Jesus recognized this as another temptation—another of the enemy’s attempts to cause Him to stumble.

Satan must have thought Jesus would be more vulnerable as the time drew nearer for Him to face death. Definitely, an opportune time to attack again. Combine that with the appeal of one of Jesus’ close friends, and he had the perfect opportunity indeed. But Jesus stood strong once again. “‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said.’” (Mark 8:33) He was ready to resist. Ready for Satan’s attacks during opportune moments.

Are we ready to resist when the enemy comes at us during times when we’re vulnerable or caught unaware? What do our opportune times look like?

Our opportune moments could come when we’re exhausted or sick or worried. They might happen when we experience either failure or success or when we’re on the cusp of a new venture or ministry (like Jesus’ temptation in the desert). We’re especially vulnerable when we’ve neglected time in the Word or in prayer—when we’ve allowed ourselves to grow distant from Jesus or have become complacent in our spiritual lives.

Let’s be alert to Satan’s tactics. He will wait for an opportune time, and then he’ll be there, ready to tempt us. Will we be ready to resist?

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

*What can you do to be ready for Satan’s attacks?

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani