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Following Jesus?

Peace Lutheran Church, where I serve as Pastor, has as part of its mission statement, “Developing fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ... ” One mark of a devoted follower of Christ is someone who… follows Christ’s example. Sorry for the simplicity, but sometimes, the most simple things escape me.

In Matthew’s Gospel he recounts the 40-day desert experience of Christ as Satan tempted him.

1 Then ,was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “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.'” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)

In the midst of this battle in the desert, Jesus answers the temptations of Satan with 3 little words, “It is Written!” In these simple words, he uses the most powerful weapon known to exist on the planet, The Living Active Word of God! This battle of temptation is a constant. It began in the Garden in Genesis 3 and continues in our lives to this very moment.

As a follower of Jesus, we too can answer Satan with those same three little words, “It is Written.” The question is: What qualifies us to answer Satan confidently with these same words? The answer to this question is found in Jesus' example.

Jesus could answer, “It is written!” because….

  • Jesus KNEW the Word of God.

  • Jesus BELIEVED the Word of God

  • Jesus APPLIED the Word of God

We can answer “It is written!” if we…

  • KNOW the Word of God

  • BELIEVE the Word of God

  • APPLY the Word of God

Jesus did not respond, “It is written! now give me a moment with my study Bible, and I will tell you where.” His knowledge was complete. Granted he has that whole “author of the book” thing going for him. But we also know from the example of Jesus' ministry that he was a student of the Word. We must work to know the word of God completely. In the midst of temptation, we must be ready with an immediate response. When the fire alarm is going off in your home, is the wrong time to figure out “what is the best way out of the house?”

This knowing of the Word comes from a daily time in the Word. We need to get the Word of God so embedded in our life that it becomes a natural reaction, an automatic response to life. We need to know the Word of God so well that it might be said of us that the Word oozes from our life.

Jesus also believed in the Word. It is one thing to know the word of God; it is something else to trust the Word. My life experiences with the Word and the testimony of the Word have given me the confidence to believe it. This belief and trust are all over the US bracelets that read “W.W.J.D.” = What would Jesus do? The premise of the bracelet is that in all situations of life, we find ourselves in, we would pause and ask, “What Would Jesus Do?”. There are times in my life when I have asked the question, formulated my answer based on my knowledge of God, and responded with a quiet internal “Good for you, Jesus, that’s not what I would do.”

To follow after Christ, we must be rooted so deeply in the Word so we can know it. Walk closely with the Spirit of God so we can believe it, and live the word of God so that our life might draw other to Him.

I pray that you will become a more fully devoted follower of Christ by following His example daily.

<>< Craig

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/ˈpändər/ verb

  1. think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.

    "I pondered the question of what clothes to wear for the occasion"

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Pondering God

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