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Lent, day 19 – Let’s get serious about growing in God

Today’s thought for the day comes from Rachel Pascu our Family and Children’s Worker.

Matthew 4: 1-11
The Message (MSG)
1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
4 Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
5-6 For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
7 Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
8-9 For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
10 Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
11 The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.
Judging by the empty shelves in pretty much every shop around me (5 within a one mile radius), the residents of Lisburn are settling down to breakfasts, lunches and dinners of pasta, rice and tinned vegetables every day.  Items I normally never have a problem buying (seems not many people like butterbeans!) are gone.  The Eastern European seasoning we use, no where to be found.  It seems we are all broadening our culinary horizons and challenging our taste buds!  
Jesus was hungry beyond belief. He hadn’t eaten for forty days and nights.  Being fully human, Jesus would have been weak, hungry and desparate for food.  The devil knew Jesus’ weak point and yet, Jesus stood firm.  Even when his body was crying out for food, when his stomach was empty, Jesus stood strong.  We all face temptation.  It’s not wrong to be tempted – Hebrews tells us Jesus was tempted just like us but he was without sin – but it’s what we do with the temptation.  
I’ve been tempted to put that one bag of pasta on the shelf in my cupboard rather than the foodbank. It’s tempting to shut the door and not worry about my neighbour.   However, the Bible tells us not to give into temptation.  The key to this is to know God and to know God, we need to spend time with Him, to spend time reading the bible and praying.  
I wonder if we, as God’s Church, as His people, have been investing as much time into ‘stockpiling’ for our spiritual nourishment as we have for our physical?  No matter how full our cupboards, Jesus is very clear – ‘man cannot live by bread alone’. When we are not spiritually fed, we become more fearful, more self focused.  We worry more, we get cross and angry.  If our eyes aren’t on Jesus, they are on the world, and that’s not a great place to be right now!  
Let us make sure we all meet together tomorrow morning, albeit in a different way.  I think it’s rather exciting to be able to ‘do’ church in my pyjamas!  We need to worship, we need to dig deep into God’s Word to be able to survive.  Let us make ‘God time’ a priority in all of this.  We’re not on sabbatical from God just because we’re not at church.  Just as Beth’s school care about her education by sending lots of work home, so we too care about you.  The filming of the services may be wobbly, the JAM videos may be amateurish, but let’s get serious about growing in God.  May we all use this time to join Rooted or TAG, even in it’s virtual form.  As we fill out our schedules for our school free children, make sure we put bible and prayer time in there.  If you’re self-isolating, seize this opportunity to read that bible book you’ve always wanted to read, or to try a new way to pray.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all came back to church, whenever that may be, more alive and more serious about God and His Word than ever before?  Just imagine what God could do through us, a church family on fire for Him!

Rachel Pascu.

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