It’s now the 21st century and still we continue to fall for the same old schemes of the tempter. Let’s read from Matthew 4:3-10:
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
This scripture represents an important piece of strategic intelligence for the army of God. It demonstrates the process that the tempter goes through in his attacks on our character. His first pitch is to attack our carnal desires. Food: “tell these stones to become bread“, comfort, sex. This is entry level Army-of-God 101. Sadly many never get beyond this point. Their flesh rules them, and so the tempter rules them. However, overcome 101 and prepare for 201:
Putting God to the test: “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.” God is not a dog-and-pony show, or as the current Pope recently said He’s not: “A magician, with a magic wand.” Yet the tempter’s next strategy for those that overcome the flesh is to try to convince us that God needs to be tested. The tempter is cunning, and he’ll even use the words of other believers to try to convince you that God wants you to test him. “Jump off a cliff”, “walk on water”, …
“An evangelist who tried replicating Jesus’ miracle of walking on water has reportedly drowned off the western coast of Africa. Pastor Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation he could repeat the biblical miracle, and he attempted it from a beach in Gabon’s capital of Libreville. ‘He told churchgoers he’d had a revelation that if he had enough faith, he could walk on water like Jesus,’ an eyewitness told the Glasgow Daily Record.
…or perhaps more subtly, he may say: “go start your own church, this one isn’t good enough.” If he does he may be preparing to initiate Army-of-God 301:
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
That liar and thief, destroyer and murderer couldn’t convince you to follow him into a life ruled by your stomach. He ultimately lost you when he tried to get you to tell God to roll over, sit, and stay. So now for the big one. He will entice you with authority. Perhaps it’s fame, or wealth, control, a revival (or movement or emergence or whatever our trends mandate we call this today)… and perhaps he’ll even offer you your own church! “Psst… hey Christian… didn’t God say He has big plans for you? How about these plans… they sound big enough for someone as ‘special’ as you…”
The title of today’s message is “Revival or Bust” because some are so determined to realize a “great revival” or awakening or incarnation (I really can’t keep up with all of the buzzwords) that they’re willing to destroy good things on the off chance that their ambitions could come true. That perhaps “All this” will be given to them. They are so determined to be more & better than those around them that they will even speak with contempt about things that are bearing fruit, even going so far as to ridicule those things as trivial. In Jesus’ last-will-be-first model we get “better” by helping those around us to be “better”. As John the Baptist said: “He must become greater; I must become less.”
For instance, the reason for this site is that we suspect that some things need to change, but we’re not willing to destroy what exists. We realize that while we’re convinced that mainstream Christianity still clings to earth-is-the-center-of-the-universe type superstitions, the timing may not be now for everyone to immediately see this. It may not even be within our lifetimes. So we are faithful to not hide our convictions but we are also careful not to damage what exists in an all-or-nothing bid to realize our vision because we accept that we may not have the whole picture. If the body unscrupulously reroutes blood flow from the hand to the foot in hopes of strengthening the foot not only may it lose its hand, but it may damage the foot too!
The caution raised in this message is the danger of discontentment. Paul talked a lot about being content and faithful, even if the days drag on and we don’t think the Holy Spirit is moving fast enough for us. When Jesus was tempted for the third time – in the satanic endgame – the tempter was looking for discontentment. He was trying to find a place in Jesus’ desires to sink his hook. Maybe Jesus didn’t want to do what God called Him to. Maybe it wasn’t glamorous enough, or maybe He just wanted something a bit more “cushy”. Whatever the vulnerability that satan thought he saw, Jesus had no such vulnerability.
Do I? Do you? Is it enough to just do well with what God gave you? Not to say we shouldn’t stretch and try to get a return for our Master. Returns are great! Just not at the cost of what was entrusted to us. “OR BUST” is a terrible mindset. Jesus was content with 12 disciples. Are you content to mentor 1 or 2? Can you pursue a 3rd or 4th without wrecking what has already been accomplished? Ambition for the Glory of God is a beautiful thing, but ambition for ones own glory is a pathetic and destructive thing.
Which is it? Revival or bust? What if God’s plan is not a revival? Does that make His plan “bust”? I think not. God help me to be content to be whatever my You made me to be. Common or special… no matter what other people say about me.
Romans 9:21: “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”
Final thought, you may consider Matthew 25:14-30 and the parable of the talents. Unfortunately while the master was clearly livid about what happens when we are lazy and don’t make the most of what God gave us, we can only guess what he would have said if the servant had nothing left for being reckless and losing His money. The above is not a suggestion that we all be lazy. It’s a suggestion that we check our ambitions with humility. So long as our motives are just I believe we’ll see good return for our labor. When they aren’t, we become complicit with the one who destroys. In that case we fail somewhere between testing God and seeking personal glory. We sin.