READ: Matthew 4:1-11,Colossians 2:9-15, 20
Jesus gives us the ultimate model of resistance. When Satan takes him into the wilderness to tempt him, he resists him.
We meet a lot of people in scripture who are tempted and fail: Adam and Eve, the Israelites who fail their test and end up wandering in the desert, and many others. But Jesus models resistance. He models standing strong. Satan appeals to his physical needs, to his ego, and to materialism. However, Christ resists all three. (Do you see how Christ resists? He quotes scripture back to Satan! When Satan attempts to twist the meaning of passages, Jesus corrects him. Scripture provides us with a script when we need to stand strong.)
Colossians teaches us that Christ has “disarmed the powers and authorities.” He shows us that all of the things of this world that could tempt us, all of the replacement gods where we seek comfort, all of these are nothing compared to him. He is the fullness that provides us everything we need.
We are constantly tempted by the power and materialism that the world provides. We can so easily put our trust in the powers and authorities around us. But, through Christ, we have died to all of these temptations, and we can follow his model of standing strong when faced with temptation.
Reflect: Think about the powers and authorities of this world. What are they? Are you ever tempted to place your trust there? Satan attempted to use physical hunger, egoism, and materialism against Jesus. Are you ever tempted by these things?
Pray: Jesus, you show us how to stand strong. Help me to follow your example when I am tempted. Help me to remember that I belong to you, and I submit to your rules, not the rules of the world. Amen.
READ: John 16:31-33, 17:13-19,20:19-23
Resistance is tiring, isn’t it? It is so easy to give into the patterns of this world, and so difficult to resist them. Jesus knew this. He knew that we would have trouble. But he also reminds us that we can be comforted by remembering that he has already won a victory over everything we face. He has overcome the world.
In John 17, Jesus prays for his followers to come. (He prays for us!) And he asks the Father to protect us as we are sent into the world. We might not always act like it, but we are different from the world. We have different rules and values. We have a different way of life. And it is all because we serve a different God. But God sends us here. We are sent from him, and we follow his example of being in the world without letting it change us, rule us, shape us.
By keeping God’s purposes in our mind, by reminding ourselves that we are sent by him, we can remember that we are here to represent him. And that sense of purpose, that mission, that directive from God, helps to keep us focused on the work before us. When we are tired, when we want to stop resisting, when we want to give into the patterns of life around us, we continue to stand strong. Take heart, friends. He has overcome the world.
Reflect: Can you think of a time when you were tired of resisting? How did that feel?
Pray: God, sometimes I get tired. Help me to continue to follow you. Help me to remember that you pray for me as I am sent into the world. Help me to resist. Comfort me with the knowledge that you have overcome the world. Amen.
READ: Isaiah 40:27-31, Ephesians 6:10-17
Yesterday, we spent some time thinking about how we can get tired of resisting. But God never gets tired. The passage from Isaiah says just that. Humans are fallible, but God renews us when we put our hope in him. This strength is an enduring strength, a strength the world cannot understand, a strength from God that sustains us for the long journey we face.
God wants to save us. He wants to give us strength. In the Ephesians passage, Paul reminds us that we are facing a spiritual battle, not a physical one. And since we face a spiritual battle, we need to prepare ourselves with spiritual tools. And when we prepare ourselves with those tools, we can resist.
Our strength fails, we lose our resolve, we want to give up. But we put our hope and trust in our God, who never fails, who never gets tired, who never stops giving us the power and resolve to stand firm. So, we prepare ourselves with spiritual strength and spiritual power and spiritual tools as we face the powers of the world around us.
Reflect: Do you rely on your own strength to stand strong? Can you think of a time when God gave you spiritual strength? How did that feel? What made it different from trusting in your own strength?
Pray: God, I get tired. I’m human. Sometimes being strong and standing firm can feel overwhelming. Help me to trust in you, God. Help me to be dependent on your strength. Amen.
READ: Romans 12:1-2, 9, 17, 21; 14:16-18; 15:13; 16:20, 25-27
Yesterday, we thought about how we can depend on God’s strength to get us through. Today, you read verses that speak to surrendering to God. We cannot rely on his strength without surrendering to him.
We are called to do hard things. We have to resist evil. We have to love our neighbor. We have to give up our rights. We have to put others first. Our motivation is love. We cannot accomplish our high calling without surrender.
So, in humility, we surrender to God. We read a lot of verses today that spoke about making our life a living sacrifice to God. The readers of the book of Romans would have been familiar with sacrifice. A sacrifice was something that was killed as an offering to God. Thankfully, we do not have to die to serve God. Few of us are called to that level of sacrifice, but we do have to die to ourselves. We do have to die to our own agendas. We do have to surrender to our high calling.
Reflect: What sacrifices do I need to make in my life?
Pray: God, help me to die to myself. Help me to rely on your strength and power to resist the world. Amen.
READ: Philippians 3:12-14 MES
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
Tenacious really isn’t a word that we use that much anymore, but it is a really fantastic word. Jill Briscoe writes, “The word ‘tenacious’ can be defined as ‘holding fast,’ ‘being tough,’ ‘being persistent or stubborn,’ ‘clinging or adhering to something.’ In a word, stickability. Sticking with someone or something to the end—like sticking with Christ and his call to us to follow him.”
To resist the world, we need to be tenacious. We need to stick with Christ.
In the verses we read today, Paul wrote that he struggled or strained for what was ahead, and we should too. Because what is ahead? Jesus. We’re not perfect. I’m not. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not either! We are still on our journey in Christ. The Holy Spirit is still doing the work of perfecting you and me. We strive on with Jesus as our goal.
The work of resistance is a long, hard work. It is daily striving. But Paul says, keep going, friends! Keep looking ahead! Keep looking to Jesus! If you didn’t run a great race today, that’s okay. Run a great race tomorrow. Keep looking ahead, keep striving for your goal. You’re off and running, and you are not looking back.
Reflect: Would you describe yourself as tenacious? How tenacious are you in your faith?
Pray: God, give me tenacity as I work to resist the world. Help me to stick with you, Jesus, as I continue my journey. Help me to keep my eye on you as the goal. Amen.
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