For those of you who have been attending J and L Ministries for the past few years, whether it be here at our home or online, you probably are tired of hearing me say that it is most important to be in God’s Word daily. I have heard many people say they just can't seem to relate to the Bible, or “It’s all Greek to me.” Actually, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Here is another thing I hear. “How can you find meaning for today in such an ancient book?” Am I speaking to anyone? There are some who might look at the small print and say, “This will take years to read.” I hope and pray that you do read God’s Word for years.
I think we have to start by changing our view of the Bible. Instead of thinking of it as a big ancient book filled with God's commands, I think we need to think of it as God's personal correspondence with us. It's His love letters to us in all 66 books. Seeing less people actually send letters or cards through snail mail, it's a rather long email, if you will. I mentioned this to Lindsey a couple of days ago. Many have said that they want to join Cross Roads Fellowship, but in one of the questions I have set to be filled out when joining is how many books are in the Bible? So many have no clue. That amazes me.
We are going to look at some key things that hopefully will make it easier for everyone to get more meaning from the Bible. Some might say, "Brother Jim, you went through a Bible course. It is easy for you to relate to what the Bible says." The Bible wasn't just written for just those who might have taken a Bible course or gone to theology school. It was written for you and me, just people, the way we are. And what we will be looking at today are common sense tips that will make a big difference for anyone who wants to understand what God says to them through His Word. Amen? Anyone excited?
Let’s look at verses that show God’s desire that we read His Word. Please turn to Deuteronomy 6, starting in verse 6. We are not simply to learn God's Word with our mind, but also with our heart. We will also see we are to embrace it emotionally as well as intellectually. When are we to talk of God's Word? Outside, inside, standing, sitting, lying... all the time, anywhere. It should be ever-present as a tattoo, and posted around our house. Church, do we get this?
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: (7) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (8) And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. (9) And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Joshua 1:7-8 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. (8) This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
When are we to study and meditate on it? Day and night. Why? So that we are careful to do what it tells us to do. And the results? Prosperity and success, but most importantly we learn to obey His laws. Few of us, when we are having trouble in life, realize that it could be so much better if we would just spend daily time with God in His Word and in prayer. We just finished a three part series on faith. Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Praise Jesus! I have also mentioned many times that we should be praying daily, Amen? We need to be praying for God’s will. We are not going to know God’s will unless we spend time in His Word. How do we find God's will? From spending time in His Word. Amen?
Psalms 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
We find here that we are to enjoy the Word, to delight in it, and again, we see the challenge to meditate on it day and night. Brother Harold and I talked about this last night. I find that when I spend time every day in God’s Word, things go so much smoother. I find I handle situations better. I don’t know about each of you, but I need smoother. In the past couple months I have felt so overwhelmed and it has been easy to get frustrated. I am a work in progress and I need to be in God’s Word to help me get that mind of Christ. Am I speaking to someone?
I love these verses. Psalms 12:6-7 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (7) Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
Did everyone catch what it said in verse 6? God’s word is pure. Halleluiah!! The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. Even Satan has tried to twist God’s Word. We find that he did this with Adam and Eve in the Garden when he said in Genesis 3:4-5. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
We find him (Satan) trying to twist scripture around with Jesus in the desert. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we find three temptations that Satan used to try to tempt Jesus with not during His 40 days of fasting, but after He had fasted for 40 days and nights.
Let’s go to Matthew 4:3-4 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (4) But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
How do we know how to find out the things of God, what God has said about this situation or that? From reading His Word. Also, notice another title that Satan inherited. The tempter. Let’s keep reading.
Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, (6) 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. (7) Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
There is a lot to look at in these verses, but for time’s sake, I will try to keep it simple, but short.
What Satan was saying to Jesus is this “So, you have entrusted your life to God, have you? That’s good. I can see that you really are a man of faith. I know that you have purposed to live by faith. I can also see that you have a deep respect for God’s Word. You trust in God and in His Word. That, too, is good. So let me call your attention to a scripture of particular relevance: Psalm 91:11-12 For he will order his angels to protect you in all you do. Hmm. 12 They will lift you up in their hands, so you will not slip and fall on a stone."
Satan tempting Jesus with these verses proves to me that he knows scripture. We have to remember that Satan was one of the highest of all angels before he fell. A beautiful angel and with all those gems he wore, the reflection must have been marvelous. But, it was because of the beautiful light that shone from God that created that beauty. Praise the King of kings.
Satan says to Jesus, (my words) “This Scripture says exactly what you believe, that God will protect your life. I know you believe this passage and that you would stake your life on it, just as you have entrusted your life to God with regard to your hunger and thirst. You have every assurance that God will employ His angels to protect your life, so why not put your faith to the test? Why not show just how much you trust God and His Word by jumping off the pinnacle of the temple?”
Friends, also take note where Jesus was tempted. Can anyone quickly tell us where and what importance it might have been? This is what caught my eye. They were at Jerusalem and at the top of the temple. Oh friends I can’t help myself, we are going to go deep here. Friends, let’s go on a journey.
Satan takes Jesus to the one place where God could not (in Satan’s mind) be nearer to Him. If Satan could not prompt Jesus to act independently of God’s Word by thinking God had abandoned Him (in the wilderness), then Satan would try to prompt Jesus to act in an over confident way, convinced that His Father was ever so near. Remember, Jesus had just spent 40 days and nights fasting, yes? How much food would you expect to find in the desert? Jesus had to be starving. Yes? He was God and yes, we know that He had been filled with the Holy Spirit, but He was still a man. I would imagine that He had to have felt very alone.
Now Jesus is at a place where He knows His Father is close. I mean we have scripture to prove this. Friends, I am excited for you to catch this. "
"What scripture are you talking about, brother Jim?" Please turn to Psalm 132:13. Satan probably argued that our Lord would die unless He acted on His own to save Himself by making stone bread. Now, in this second temptation, Satan is not arguing that God is far off and that Jesus must therefore act on His own. Satan takes Jesus to the place where God has chosen to dwell. Over and over in the Old Testament law, God spoke of the place where God would choose to dwell. Stay with me, friends. In time, we saw that this place was Jerusalem, and more specifically, the temple. And here Jesus is being tempted to jump.
Psalms 132:13-14 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. (14) This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
How could God let Jesus fall to His death right there at the temple, in Jerusalem? Jerusalem and the temple were Satan’s props, which he believed would give credence to his assurance of divine deliverance.
Okay, here I am going to use not words from the Bible, but I want to throw out a theory. A very common explanation of this temptation goes something like this: The Jews expected the Messiah to appear in some very dramatic way. By leaping from the pinnacle of the temple and then being rescued in a spectacular manner, Jesus would fulfill Jewish expectations and that may convince those who witnessed this dramatic display of power that He was the Messiah. Listen up. In other words, Satan was tempting Jesus to act in such a way as to gain a following by forcing God to save Him. Maybe? We see this? Possibly? Although there may be some truth in this, it isn’t biblical, just an idea about what that slimy devil might have had up his sleeve.
In the first temptation, Jesus refused to save Himself because He trusted in God, and in His every word. Jesus knew from the law that life was far more than mere physical wants. Life came from God, from trusting and obeying His Word.
Jesus did not fear physical death as the most dreaded possibility. Satan now tempts Jesus to live dangerously. Jesus trusted in God’s every word. Satan calls Jesus’ attention to Psalm 91:11-12, which speaks of divine protection. Jesus proclaimed His faith in God. Satan challenges Jesus to put His faith to the test. From what Satan had learned of what Jesus had already spoken, he felt that this temptation would be truly tempting. Jesus should prove His faith in God, and in God’s Word, by leaping from the pinnacle of the temple. If He was God’s Son, surely God would save Him, and especially right there where God chose to abide, in His temple. Makes sense, yes?
Another theory, Satan might have thought that if Jesus jumped, he could have used his angels to delay help from God’s angels from helping Jesus.
You know what? God is in control always. He has a plan, and I believe that His plan will always win. Amen?
What was Jesus’ comment back to Satan? Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
See how Satan used God’s word to temp Jesus. Where are these words of God found that Jesus came back to Satan with? I have to use this line from old. Inquiring minds need to know. I want to know.
Please turn to Deuteronomy 6:16 KJV Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
Any inquiring minds wonder why God said this to the Israelites? It made me wonder. Let’s turn to Exodus 17:1-7 KJV And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. (2) Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? (3) And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? (4) And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. (5) And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. (6) Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (7) And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
Satan urged Jesus to put His faith and God’s Word to the test by leaping from the pinnacle of the temple. Satan’s use of Psalm 91 was a clear case of scripture twisting, and Satan is good at that and even has pastors in some churches twisting scriptures . The psalm assures the one who trusts in God for divine protection. But from what? It assures the faithful believer of God’s protection from the attacks of those who are determined to destroy him.
Let’s look at the promise found in Psalm 91, and then we will finish up on part 1. Oh, how Important Is It that we be in our Bible daily?
Psalms 91:1-16 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (2) I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (3) Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. (4) He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (5) Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; (6) Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. (7) A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. (8) Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. (9) Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; (10) There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. (11) For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. (12) They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. (13) Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. (14) Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. (15) He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. (16) With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Wow!! When you really study this chapter it is powerful. This chapter promises protection from the destruction that others would bring on us. From what I get out of this, it assures the true believer that he or she will not undergo the outpouring of God’s wrath upon sinners (verses 3-7). The believer is protected, while others suffer (verse 7). In fact, the believer will look on as God’s wrath falls upon the wicked (verse 8). The righteous are protected because they have taken refuge in God (verses 9-10). God asks His angels to watch over His own. They will intervene, even to the point of preventing one from stumbling and falling upon a stone. He will enable the saint to subdue dangerous foes. (Isn’t it interesting that God promises victory over the lion and the serpent, both of which are symbols of Satan?)
Let’s quickly look at 2 more scriptures. 1 Peter 5:8 KJV Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Revelation 20:2-3 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Jesus' victory over Satan’s schemes meant that He and He alone was qualified to die for our sins. Jesus would not put the Father to the test by leaping from the temple, but He would obey the Father by going to the cross. He knew that the Father would not keep Him from death, but that He would deliver Him through death, by raising Him from the dead.
What do these two temptations and the response Jesus made have to teach us? There are a number of lessons for us to learn. I am going to mention a few more verses, and I would urge you to look them up on your own.
First, we should learn that Satan will use a wide range of tactics in his efforts to tempt us to sin. We should recall that there were many more temptations than just the three that Matthew and Luke have recorded (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2). We should also note that the temptations did not end here.
Luke 4:13 So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time .
If Satan does not succeed with one approach, we can expect that he will simply move on to another. With the first temptation, Satan seeks to attack our Lord at the point of his weakness. His hunger and probably weak physical strength. When this fails, Satan moves on to attack Jesus at the point of His strength. His trust in God the Father and His commitment to obey God’s Word. Satan tests us in every point, as He did with Jesus, our Savior.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.
Satan’s temptations almost always promises us some benefit, without really describing the cost. In the first temptation (really first, that of Adam and Eve), Satan promised Eve that they would be like God, knowing good and evil. He also promised her that they would surely not die. They did die, and the knowledge of good and evil that they obtained was no blessing.
It's obvious that we'll be continuing this again next week. I hope that through this we all can see it's very important for us to be in our Bibles to learn how to avoid tricks that the enemy might temp us with and how to use God’s word to combat against those attacks.