Photo via Flickr user Adam Hinett
Scripture Readings: Genesis 2.7-9; 3.1-7; Romans 5.12-19; Matthew 4.1-11
“Away with you, Satan. Scripture says, ‘You shall worship the Holy One your God; only God shall you adore.'” – Matthew 4.10
Each year the temptation story from one of the synoptic gospels is the gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent. The devil in the story calls out Jesus for a show of divine power, something to prove he is God. But Jesus shuns divine stunts and recommits to the first commandment — to worship God alone. The story invites us to examine the God in whom we believe. Is our God one who inspires success and personal gain more than service and mercy? Perhaps we find God useless, a God who lets bad things happen to good people. Or perhaps God seems too old-fashioned, pre-scientific, and irrelevant to claim much attention. Jesus makes worshiping God alone the key to his life. The temptation gospel calls us to refresh our image of God, which we can do by taking observant walks outside in creation and by taking time for solitude and reflection on God’s word.
What is currently putting you to the test in your life?
Start a small bible study. Be a leader.
Good Ground Press has a unique retreat opportunity for you this Lent — a free poster and a reflection for each of the Sundays. The first one is ready. Just click here or on the image. You can print this retreat out or view it on your computer. Each Monday we will put up a new poster and reflection for the following Sunday.
Sunday Readings: Malachi 3.19-20; 2 Thessalonians 3.7-12; Luke 21.5-19
“By patient endurance you will save your lives.” – Luke 21.19
In the face of war (Syria, Afghanistan), earthquakes (Oklahoma after fracking), and plagues (Zika virus)–all the regular stuff of breaking news, Jesus recommends patient endurance. Persevere. Jesus has taught us how to live every day. Indeed every tragedy catches individuals in the midst of doing good, saving someone beside themselves, rescuing neighbors, helping the disabled, helping clear away storm damage. Christianity is about the verbs of everyday living: love, share, forgives, include, speak the trust, listen, learn, build, rejoice, show compassion, go an extra mile, lend a hand. As Hillary Clinton directed her supporters in her concession speech, quoting Galatians 6.9, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest if we do not give up.”
Faith is not certainty in the face of terrifying events. But it is trust that no other than Jesus, who passed through death to life, offers words of eternal life. Faith in Jesus is our deepest anchor and surest model for enduring the shifts and swells of social and personal upheaval.
What would you like to be caught doing in the midst of a crisis? How might you make today a non-judgment day?
Start a small bible study. Be a leader.
Jesus said, “Scripture says, ‘Not by bread alone do people live but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus lives by God’s word not by bread alone. He refuses to put God to the test. He worships God alone, the first commandment. His testimony calls us to welcome and chew on God’s word this Lent and resist popular images of success.
What images of success have you tested and found false in your life?
For many a desert is a dry, lifeless place – perhaps a metaphor for a painful, unrewarding time in life. But for people who live in arid ecosystems, a desert is a place where trees grow deep roots and plants succulent stems. A desert holds hidden springs and sheltering valleys.
In the desert the people of Israel drank from springs in the rock, ate migrating quail, and found daily sustenance on the bushes. The desert deepened Israel’s experience of God’s sustaining love. In the desert Jesus deepened his response to the Spirit.
Read the rest of this issue, then order the entire Lenten series
The devil had been tempting Jesus in the desert.
Jesus said, “Scripture says, ‘You shall not put the Holy One your God to the test.’”
In their theological duel Jesus and his antagonist express two very different interpretations of the role and mission of the messiah. The devil tempts Jesus to display his power―to turn stone to bread, to take over world rule to prove he is God’s Son. Jesus answers each temptation with a scripture verse from Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of Israel’s law or Torah. Jesus is God’s Spirit-filled prophet who trusts God’s word.
What temptations do you as a Christian face in our society today?