As I was reading in Luke 4 I was reminded of a sermon I heard a long time ago, by Pastor Stovall Weems of Celebration Church in Jacksonville, that radically changed how I made decisions. Today I want to share what I learned from that teaching with you. Pastor Stovall used Luke 4:1-13 as an biblical guideline to this particular teaching.
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ ” 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ ” 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ”12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13 NIV
To be sure that a choice we are about to make is going to take us on the route that God would want us to travel, we must ask ourselves 3 questions when facing a decision or making a choice.
1. Does it line up with scripture?
In verses 3-4 Jesus' first response to the enemy, tempting Him to make a poor choice, was a direct scripture quote from Deuteronomy.
First and foremost we must filter our decisions through God's infallible Word. We must shine The Light on our options so any darkness that may be lurking in certain choices can be exposed. BUT, as we see later in verses 10-11, Satan knows scripture as well and being the father of lies, is exceptionally crafty at twisting God's Word to trick us into thinking we are doing Gods work, when we are really furthering satans agenda.
So that is why we must also follow up with these two additional questions.
2. Does it serve my purpose?
In verses 5-8 satan attempts to derail Jesus' purpose by offering Him rule over the natural world. Thanks be to God that Jesus knew His TRUE purpose, which was to save mankind through a horrible death and beautiful resurrection and sit as King over spiritual Israel and beyond. If Jesus was just listening to to what others THOUGHT His purpose was, to become King and ruler over the natural Israel, He might have really been swayed by this smoke and mirrors tactic that the enemy uses often.
We must know what our purpose is in each area of our lives. Here are some examples from 3 areas of life.
Family: We should want our families to know that they come first in our lives. Our decisions should reinforce, with out a shred of doubt, that they are safe in our company and that we will always do our best to love them like Jesus does, without judgment. We should pray that they feel the love of Jesus flowing through us.
Work: While we might not always love what we do for a living, we can put on love everyday before we enter our work spaces. God has us where we are for a reason. We must press in to The Holy Spirits guidance and live out our callings no matter where we are, even we would rather be somewhere else.
Church: The Church's main purpose is to ALWAYS spread the Good News of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, but your local church serves many other needs as well. When we are committed to our local church body we receive an extended family that we must treat as our own flesh and blood. When we sow seeds of love, encouragement, financial help, discipleship, joy and peace into our local church body we will reap the same.
I strongly encourage you to create a mission statement for each area of life. You might have additional purposes and specific missions God has spoken over your life. Write them down and put them where you can see them every day. Some of us tend to have poor spiritual memories and need reminding of God's promises every now and again and again and again....
Even if we determine that our decision is Biblically sound and that it serves our purpose, we still must run our choices though this final filter as well because what WE want, might not be beneficial for everyone our choice affects.
3. Does it fulfill the Law of Love?
In verses 9-12 satan tempts Jesus to test God by twisting scripture as an attempt to trick Jesus. But Jesus knew scripture so well that He knew we should not test God. Jesus also knew that performing this act of wonder would not benefit anyone but Himself.
To determine if decisions are fulfilling the Law of Love please ask yourself these questions:
Is this choice self fulfilling or God glorifying?
Does this decision help others? Or just myself?
Will God be glorified with the result of this choice?
How will others be affected by my decision? Loved ones, strangers?
We might not realize it, but EVERY SINGLE DECISION we make effects not only us but others as well. We must carefully weigh the possible ways that our choices can effect everyone around us. While some choices do not hold as much weight as others, they all cause ripples in others lives. Let's make our choices create title waves of hope and joy, not tsunamis of destruction.
Something else I need to point out is WHEN satan approached Jesus with temptation.
The enemy attempted to take Jesus down after 40 days of: no food, no proper place to sleep and no interaction with family or friends. In other words, satan thought that Jesus would be easier to sway when He was hungry, tired and isolated. But satan forgot that fasting was not the only thing that Jesus was doing in the wilderness for 40 days. Jesus was also PRAYING.
He was being filled with God's Grace, which is always enough.
He was being refreshed with God presence which always invigorating.
And He was in communion with God, so He was never alone.
So while I don't recommend 40 days without food, proper sleep or fellowship, because most of us are, unfortunately, not as skilled at connecting with God as Jesus was, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE if we stay in constant connection with our Father.
I pray that this teaching will be as life changing for you as it was for me well over a decade ago. I am sure Pastor Stovall delivered a much more impressive sermon, but all I remember from his teaching are the 3 questions and how I applied them to my life. I pray you can hear The Spirit speaking to you through these words and that you can use this guidance to develop your own strategy for defending yourself from the enemies schemes.