Trust God's Word. Don’t trust your emotions. Don't trust your opinions. Don't even trust your friends. In the wilderness heed only the voice of God.

Again, Jesus is our model. Remember how Satan teased him? "If you are the Son of God ... " (Luke 4:3, 9 ). Why would Satan say this? Because he knew what Christ had heard at the baptism. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Matt. 3:17 NASB).

"Are you really God's Son?" Satan is asking. Then comes the dare – "Prove it!" Prove it by doing something:

"Tell this stone to become bread" (Luke 4:3 NASB).
"If You worship before me, it shall all be Yours" (v. 7 NASB).
"Throw Yourself down from here" (v. 9 NASB)

What subtle seduction! Satan doesn't denounce God; he simply raises doubts about God. Is his work enough? Earthly works – like bread changing or temple jumping – are given equal billing with heavenly works. He attempts to shift, ever so gradually, our source of confidence away from God's promise and toward our performance.

Jesus doesn't bite the bait. No heavenly sign is requested. He doesn't solicit a lightning bolt; he simply quotes the Bible. Three temptations. Three declarations.

"It is written ... " (v. 4 NASB).
"It is written ... " (v. 8 NASB).
"It is said ... " (v. 12 NASB).

Jesus' survival weapon of choice is Scripture. If the Bible was enough for his wilderness, shouldn't it be enough for ours? Don't miss the point here. Everything you and I need for desert survival is in the Book. We simply need to heed it.

Copyright 2013 Max Lucado. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

"There is Hope"

Written by Max Lucado

 

God understands. He’s been here. If he was willing to be born in a barnyard, then expect him to be at work anywhere. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no limit to his love.

Out of chaos, Christ came. In spite of, and out of, the pandemonium, Christ came.

On a cold night in Bethlehem, Joseph built a fire and heated water. Mary cleared a spot on the straw and set about the task of bringing God into the world. With cows as her witnesses and Joseph as her midwife, she did just that. It wasn’t long before the hand of the star hanger clutched Mary’s finger. The feet of the sky walker lay in Joseph’s palm.

In that moment Mary knew it was all worth it. The ache in her back, the ache in her heart—they faded away. The questions of how, and the wonderings of when—they didn’t linger. The surprise pregnancy, the sudden census, the long road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Unpleasant and difficult, yet they resulted in the world’s greatest miracle. Was the first Christmas different from what Mary had planned? Yes, but it turned out greater than she could have dreamed. God used the struggles to accomplish his will.

Don’t you need that reminder? Despite the chaos of the first Christmas, everything happened according to God’s plan. In your world of short nights, hard work, and high stress, remember that God holds everything together for his glory and for the good of those who love him.

When Christ was born, so was our hope.

Because Christ came, God is always near us. He is always for us and always in us. Jesus entered our world not like a human but as a human, and he endured everything that we do and more—God became human down to his very toes.

Jesus understands what you feel and has faced what you face. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.

Because of Bethlehem’s miracle, you can answer these fundamental questions: Does God care if I’m sad? Look at the tear-streaked face of Jesus as he stands near Lazarus’s tomb (John 11:28–44). Does God know if I’m ignored or rejected? Find the answer in the compassionate eyes of Christ as he stands to defend the adulterous woman (John 8:1–11).

Jesus knows the burden of a broken heart. He could have come to us as a shining light or a voice in the clouds, but he came as a person. If you ever wonder whether God truly understands you, remember that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to bear your burdens and save you from your sins.

The Christmas promise is this: We have a Savior and his name is Jesus.

From Max's book,

From Because of Bethlehem

© Max Lucado.

Used with permission.

"His Power within Us!"

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. — Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

Key Thought

While the focus of this passage is on God, on "him who is able", I want to draw our attention to one other key phrase in this passage — "his power that is at work within us." Paul has earlier prayed that God would "strengthen you [the Ephesians and us]  with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (Ephesians 3:16). While the Holy Spirit is far more than just God's power, the Spirit clearly does live in us to bring us God's power! As we journey through this year, each day we will remind ourselves of God's personal presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit within us is a powerful blessing that empowers us and transforms us. Let's never forget that we are not only saved by grace but that we are also empowered by this gracious gift of the Holy Spirit within us to live for Jesus!

Today's Prayer

Oh Almighty God, I am humbled that you love me and have chosen to place your powerful presence within me. Please strengthen me with might by your Spirit within me. Mold me and transform me so that the presence of the Holy Spirit shows up in ways that remind people of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

 
Used with Premission  - Today's Verse are written by Phil Ware.

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager