After an awkward pause, he opened up. I sensed a melancholy spirit. He said his wife of 34 years died in his arms four years ago. She was the love of his life with a “beautiful spirit inside and out.”
This man turned to alcohol and his life spiraled out of control. He remarried, but temporarily lost touch with his second wife. I prayed out loud. Tears seeped out of his eyes. This man once had been a deacon in an evangelical church, but now seemed to have lost all hope.
How do we lose purpose and hope? How do we regain it?
We find a clue in Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, mentioned three times (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-12). He was led by the Spirit and tempted by the devil. The first was self-gratification (lust of the flesh). If you’re the Son of God, meet the physical need by turning stones into bread. Jesus, like us, need God’s word to withstand the temptation (Matthew 4:1-4).
The second temptation was self-promotion (lust of the eyes). The devil had Jesus stand on the highest point of the temple and throw Himself down. The devil twisted Scripture. Jesus said not to put God to the test (Matthew 4:5-7).
The third temptation was self-exaltation (boastful pride of life). The devil showed all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor so Jesus would worship him. Jesus said to worship and serve God only (Matthew 4:8-11).
Before the temptations, Jesus had a mountain top experience--heaven was opened, saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and heard an affirming voice of unconditional love from heaven (Matthew 3:16-17). When things go well and you feel blessed, beware the devil will blast you with chaos, confusion, and criticism.
After the temptations, Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus told Peter. Andrew, James, and John to follow Him to become fishers of men. (Matthew 4:17-22). The devil doesn’t want you to share the gospel or disciple others.
On the encouraging side, angels, ministering spirits to serve believers, helped Jesus and will attend to you (Mark 1:12-13; Hebrews 1:14).
If we resist temptation, share our faith and begin discipling others, evil forces will come against us. We must walk in Christ’s authority and drive out evil spirits (Mark 1:21-28).
Because we’re in a spiritual battle, we must fight with the spiritual weapons of prayer and God’s word.
- It’s important we follow the example of Jesus and pray, preferably early in the morning (Mark 1:35).
Don’t love the world, which include the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life. Those who do God’s will live forever (1 John 2:15-17).
The greatest purpose and hope we have in life are to follow Jesus in catching men for Him.
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