Reading Generates Power
(Bro. Greg Misko Sr.- North Industry)
In the gospels of Matt., Mark, and Luke, they all
speak of Jesus being tempted.
Jesus left Galilee to go to John to be baptized. John
was at that time baptizing all those that had come to
him. Now Jesus had come to him, but John at first
resisted baptizing the Lord because he felt that Jesus
should be baptizing him instead.
Jesus said “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it
becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”
It was just after the baptism of Jesus, when he was
coming up out of the water that he saw the heavens
open, “and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
and at that moment, a voice from heaven was heard
saying, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well
All the people that stood on the bank of the river saw
the Spirit like a dove descending upon him, and they
heard the voice from their Father. They could not
escape that fact that they were eye witnesses, that
God acknowledged that Jesus was His well-beloved Son.
Jesus would now be driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Matthew says, “ When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” There is a principle to be considered here, that Jesus himself proclaimed, that to whom much is given, of them is much required. The Lord had been given an endless measure of power, and favor by his Father and would now be put to the test equal to the new greatness given him.
During Jesus’s private life at Nazareth, he had been subjected to the same temptations as you and me. But now he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, so it was necessary that there should be a matching test of faithfulness before Jesus began his ministry with power to bear his Father’s name before Israel.
There is a lesson here that applies to each of us, that is our trials and our temptations will be equal with our opportunities, the powers we possess, and privileges we have been given. We know that the opportunities, the powers, and the> privileges of the apostles were greater than ours; and so were their trials and sufferings. In our ecclesia, it would be fair to say that some of us have privileges greater than others. At the same time. their temptations and afflictions which will eventually determine their stewardship may perhaps be different. The first thing that jumps out at us is that Jesus used the Scriptures to reject the suggestions of the tempter. He reasoned using Bible quotes, in each case, against doing what he was asked to do. The knowledge he gained came from his reading the Word of God and in essence gave him the power to succeed. We to can be successful if we apply our hearts and minds to reading the Word of God, that we might have some measure of success in our lives in over coming our temptations.
Let us ask ourselves what can we learn from our Lord’s
The example shows that Jesus was acquainted with the
Scriptures, and he applied them as needed to conquer
the tempter in his hour of need.
We need to be careful not to think because Jesus had the Holy Spirit that he was given an endless flow of knowledge of the scriptures. This is not the case.
When Jesus’s disciples asked him in Mark Ch. 13 to tell them of the things that concerned the temple and the nation and beyond which included his eventual return. He says to them in verse 32; “ But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven neither the Son, but the Father.” God measured out the Spirit as He saw necessary. The brethren in the first century were spiritually endowed with special gifts, even though the gifts from brethren to brethren were different, they were from the same Spirit. Paul tells us in the Book of Hebrews that Jesus “learned obedience, and in Luke Ch.2:52, “he increased in wisdom,” which implies the Lord’s development in harmony with and by the use that God has appointed for those ends.
Remember what we read this morning in Luke verse 16, it was “ his custom” to frequent the synagogue, and to “read”. This is how Jesus came to know the Scriptures. Here is another strong lesson for us brethren and sisters and that is to meet the first day of the week to read together God’s Word and remember our Lord, his life, his sacrifice, his resurrection.
“ In the days of his flesh” Jesus has given us an example of how important it is to become familiar with the Scriptures, and how important it is to read daily. None of us can afford to treat the reading of God’s Word in a casual way, nor can we allow the things of this world to distract us from what is really important for our well being. The opportunities are there for us to imitate the Sadducess, who Jesus said, “ knew not the Scriptures;” He told them to “search the Scriptures;” Jesus even scolded his disciples for their slowness of heart concerning their lack of knowledge of God’s word. In Luke 24:25-27, the disciples refused to believe that he had risen from the dead, Jesus talks to them;
“O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Only in this way, can we come to understand the mind of Jesus in the time of his temptation. How crucial it is for us to know and meditate on God’s word, knowing that the scriptures will help us in the time of need. But if we neglect the Scriptures, we shall find it easier to give in to this or that temptation.
What we really want to do is to follow the Psalmist words when it comes to the reading of the Scriptures, he writes, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (PS.119: 11 ) Since God is the author of the scriptures, that should be a good enough reason for us to read and observe it as we remember that is what separates us from the rest of the world, and makes us sons of God. We must believe all that our Heavenly Father has promised, reject what the churches teach along with those things that have been handed down as so called traditions. The Pharisees put their traditions above all else and Christ condemned them for it.
We regard the Scriptures as the only source of information and authority in every matter that pertains to God. Christ has shown us that the scriptures were his foundation that he stood on. Shouldn’t we have the same confidence as he did in the scriptures? Shouldn’t we rejoice in the scriptures as he did? We have built our house not on sand but on a sure rock, Jesus the Christ.
What a great advantage it is for us, the Psalmist wrote, “my heart standeth in awe of thy word.”(119:161) What could be sadder, one moment sharing the “Hope of Israel “ with a brother or sister and the next moment they disappear into the world. Why does this happen we have asked ourselves hundreds of times. The answer is that they neglected to read God’s Word.
Peter’s words come into play; “ For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again: and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” The temptation of Jesus is recorded briefly into three particulars only; yet they comprise, in principle, all the temptations to which you and I are exposed. First, there was the suggestion that Jesus should illegitimately minister in his need for food. If Jesus had just eaten, there would have been no temptation at all. But the temptation finds its power in the fact that the Son of God was hungry. During his forty days in the wilderness Christ was sustained by the Spirit, providing him with the energy that he needed. But once that support left him, he became very hungry. There is a proverb that says, “ Hunger will break through stone walls.” When a person steals because he is hungry, usually he> is not looked upon as other thieves who steal to satisfy their wanton desires.
“ Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his soul when he is hungry.” PROV.6: v. 30 As hungry as Jesus was, the temptation was made stronger by the way the tempter framed his words. “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” If you are really who you say you are, prove it. Prove that you really are the Messiah. If Jesus refused then the tempter would have grounds for doubt as to Christ’s claim of being the promised Messiah, or that there really was a voice from heaven proclaiming Jesus as God’s Son. But it was the Lord’s desire to give evidence to the truth. He could only do that from what he had read in the scriptures. It was the knowledge that he gained, “growing in wisdom” that supported him in his time of temptation. Christ did have the power to make bread at will, as we have read in the scriptures. On two occasions Jesus fed multitudes of people with bread and some fishes, was to glorify his Father’s name to Israel, and not to satisfy his own physical wants. Consequently, even though He had the power, Jesus did not have the freedom to prove it at this time. Christ would have sinned if he would had given into the suggestion that the tempter proposed. It would be reasonable to think that Jesus’ mind drifted to the Book of Deuteronomy. Remembering when God led the children of Israel forty years in the wilderness, to humble them, and to prove them, to know what was in their heart, whether they would keep His commandments, or not. And God humbled them, and suffered them to hunger, and fed them with manna, which they were unfamiliar with. So that Israel might learn “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” This sharp reply by Jesus may not at first sight be completely understood; because, so far as appearance went, the intent was not to abandon the Word of God. But just to provide the bread, which the answer recognized as an element, is not the only thing we should consider here.
That is, we come to understand that “bread alone” will not provide immortality to man. But bread, with the Word of God, will if it is believed and obeyed, will guide us on the straight and narrow road to the glorious life that our Lord shares with his Father, life eternal. We do need bread to live and develop as all natural men do. For the scriptures tell us, that which is natural is first, then that which is spiritual. Even if we have bread with the Word of God and disobey, we only have bread alone, so far as life giving power is concerned; for the Word of God awards no eternal life on those who choose to disobey. Jesus knew, and from reading the written word, we now should also know the terms that have been set out before us this morning. Like Christ, we do not take our stand on “bread alone”. This was the tempter’s proposal, with the Word of God. Jesus was able to put his tempter to silence. Paul writes in Romans; “ For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”(15:4) We should use this scripture as our Lord did in times of our temptations, that we might find grace in our Heavenly Father’s eyes.
“Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.” Jesus’ tempter is now ready to come at the Lord from a different direction. In the first temptation, Christ was invited for two powerful reasons, which Jesus understood. The tempter was enticing him to use his power in a forbidden way, that had been entrusted to Him for only good toward others. In this second attack, his tempter goes to the extreme, and now invites Jesus to throw himself down and rely on what God has promised. This temptation may have been a little tougher to overcome because it is as if the tempter said, You are the Messiah, are you not? Yes, would be the Lord’s answer. “ It is written,” and tell me if I am wrong, “ that He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee, and they shall bear Thee up?” These words the tempter read in Psalms 91:11,12
Christ was challenged to follow what the scripture says. It was for his benefit so why did he turn away from an act that apparently was approved of in the Word of God. When the whole of Psalm 91 is read, we can appreciate and understand why Jesus rejected his tempter. The help that God had promised was for a servant in time of need. Jesus knew that there could be no presumption towards his Father. In the Law we have read, that a man that will do presumptuously before the LORD will die. (Deut. 17:12) What do we learn from this temptation? First of all, when we are tempted, we must make wise decisions and make full use of all that our Lord has put in our power. Divine help is only for what remains after there has been a humble, a wise, and a loving utilization of the means already in our hands. Jesus sets forth the principle is in his reply, “ Thou shalt not tempt the Lord they God.” If he had thrown himself down as he was invited to do, then Christ would have failed to do his Father’s will which meant to walk in all His ways and thus would have forfeited his claim to the protection promised from evil.
Let us look at the lesson for us. It is clear. We are not to tempt the Lord our God by doing evil on the strength of promises that we find in the scriptures. These promises are for us if we use the wisdom that the Bible has offered to you and me. That is to fear the Lord God and continue to perform the part of wise stewards through what God has already committed to us. We must learn to rightly divide the word of truth, so as not to imitate the tempter. Lastly, we must be careful not to praise one part of God’s word and at the same time damage another part. We have read “ Seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink: seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.’ This verse does not mean we are to neglect our jobs. The scriptures also say, “ If any man will not work, neither shall he eat.” “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” We are not to make the temporal things of this world the object of our lives. Our first priority is “ seeking the Kingdom of God.” Nevertheless, we are to be diligent in our jobs while we serve the Lord. We are not to take thought for tomorrow. It is important to continue to maintain a high level of faith in God because he cares for us, and He knows the things that we need. We are not to sit around and do nothing. Instead we are to put forth effort and labor with our hands, “providing the thing that is good.” Will we continue to put our lives in God’s hands as Jesus did in times of temptation? There is this fine line of harmony the Bible speaks of between serving God and living in this world. May we be wise enough to know the difference.
“Again the devil taketh Him up to an exceeding high mountain, and showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” This temptation takes a different direction. Having failed to persuade Jesus to gratify his hunger unlawfully or to transgress presumptuously towards God. The tempter’s new approach is to offer Jesus all that he can be given him. What does this present world offer to those who wish to make a name for themselves? Honor, wealth and praise fit the bill nicely, who doesn’t like to have their ego’s stroke by one’s fellowman. Who wouldn’t mind being lavished with these things? All these things would be Christ’s if he would simply pay homage to his offerer.
This practice took place over and over again in the Roman Empire in the days of our Lord and certainly is not lost on the politics of our own day in a sense. The kings and governors of the Roman Empire were in the habit of going to Caesar for their position and respect. Jesus turned his back at such a suggestion relying instead on his strength from reading the Word of God. He now could refuse any request.
This could have not been possible if our Lord would have fallen down to worship his tempter. Jesus’s reply hit its mark for the moment when he said. “ Thou shalt worship the Lord they God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Later on Jesus said, “ To him that over cometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne.” There is a practical lesson for us in the victory Christ had over his temptation. Our Lord has asked us to imitate him, so how can we imitate him in his rejection of such a temptation that you and I will probably never experience? Has any one come up to you lately and offered you power or wealth as Jesus was offered?
It hasn’t happened to me either. Each of us has experienced temptations on a smaller scale. How many times has someone we know tried to entice us to do things with them instead of being here at Memorial Service or Wed. night Bible class or a Study Weekend? Could the worship of another religion entice us to join them because they had a lot to offer and we would be better off? It could be political in nature, voting for some thing that might benefit us personally. It could be social, to become like the world and enjoy its pleasures. We can remember those who went with Lot to Sodom and Gomorrah. Their immoral lifestyle brought on their eventual destruction. What is the answer for us? Can we serve God and Mammon? God doesn’t think so, and we should not try to deceive ourselves into thinking we can. Being a friend of the world will not cut it with God. “ Thou shalt serve the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” These words come from Jesus’s own lips. These are words that we must live by if we truly want to serve Yahweh. This victory over temptation leads the way for all of us to imitate on our walk to the kingdom. We look forward with great anticipation when “ The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; we will reign with him at the appointed time. But until that time arrives, let us do our very best to resist the temptations that beset us in our daily lives. Jesus has given us principles to remember in the quotations that he used to repel his tempter, principles that will help us when we face similar trials. Like Moses, Jesus chose to suffer affliction with his people rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Let us look to the future, “ that in the age to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus.”
The scriptures have reminded us this morning that reading generates great power and there has never been a better example than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. This power would sustain him through the most agonizing part of his life. He was determined to fulfill every word that was written about him and he accepted the fact that one day he would willingly offer himself as a perfect sacrifice to his Father. The temptation that he so masterfully overcame prepared him for the cross. Knowing full well the road he must travel, he was to be as a lamb to the slaughter, wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Let each of us eat this bread and drink this cup remembering the Lord’s death till he comes.
Greg Misko Sr. - North Industry
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