Yesterday, I watched CNN’s analysis and coverage of the tsunami that hit American Samoa last month. It was troubling to see so many people displaced from their homes and living in emergency shelters. More disheartening, however, were the allegations that the Samoan officials didn’t have a tsunami warning system in place. This was especially troubling because Samoa is near Japan, where almost 200 tsunamis have occurred. It seemed like the emergency response coordinators let the good times fool them into thinking that a tsunami could not happen in Samoa.
Unpreparedness can be devastating, especially in our spiritual lives. In this text, however, Luke forewarns us not to let spiritual progress blind us to the reality of continual spiritual persecution. As Jesus delivered the knockout blow to Satan, who tempted Him in the wilderness, Matthew notes that angels came to help Him (see Matthew 4:11). After the angels strengthened Jesus, notice what Luke records: “he (Satan) left him (Jesus) until the next opportunity came” (Luke 4:13, New Living Translation). In other words, although defeated in one area, Satan will return, inevitably, to attack in another area. We’d be wise to prepare for his return.
Peter said, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, New Living Translation). I implore you to heed his advice. Use your strength to predict where the devil will attack next. Don’t let him catch you unprepared!
I sincerely believe that obtaining freedom from our problems is not terribly difficult. Actually, it’s as easy as calling on the name of the Lord (see Romans 10:13). The more tedious task, however, is staying free, or walking in the liberty you have received. Whenever you finally get relief from suffering, strangely, despair and doubt tend to elevate their volume in your mind. These “other voices” try to convince you that your freedom is temporary, or worse, never happened at all.
How do you turn off these voices? I learned that whenever I don’t like something on the radio or TV, I can turn the channel. Sometimes, the best channel you can find is your own voice of victory, reminding you that the change was real and permanent. Interestingly, after Jesus overcame the roughest part of His life on earth, He announced, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18, New Living Translation). Yes, this statement was given to empower the disciples to spread the Gospel, but it also serves as a great example for us. Jesus’ words also sent a convincing message to the enemy: I’m free and I know it!
This scripture is not coincidental: “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony” (Revelation 12:11, New Living Translation). Our words matter! Death and life are in the power of your tongue; choose to live by declaring the good works of the Lord!
Last night, I saw a Snyder’s pretzel commercial that caught my attention. The commercial ended by noting, “Snyder’s are not for you; they’re meant to be shared.” This commercial reminded me of a point stressed during a sermon I heard on Sunday. God doesn’t give us power exclusively for us; rather, He gives us power to bless others. In other words, God gives us power to enhance selflessness, so we’ll lay down our lives for our friends (see John 15:13).
In the text cited above, Jesus shows us the purpose of heavenly power. When He reached the pit of despair, an angel appeared to give Him strength. It’s tempting to conclude that this power was given to help Jesus through His problems. If you keep reading, however, you’ll notice that Jesus went to the cross almost immediately after He received power from God. In other words, God didn’t sent His angel to save Jesus, ” … but to save the world through him” (John 3:17, New Living Translation). This strength was to be shared with others.
Who has God given you the strength to help? Your survival was not so you can stick your chest out; rather, God brought you out to reach back and help others through. Someone is searching for the strength you’ve gained through suffering; don’t let them down!