Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."

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Jesus And His Temptations

The definition of the word temptation is: “to entice.” Entice is defined: “to attract artfully or adroitly by arousing hope or desire. To lure; an inducement to pleasure or gain.” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)

To lure, to arouse, or entice are all good definitions to describe accurately the wily ways of Satan. Wily or no, Satan had no measurable ill effect on Jesus Christ! Jesus had a perfect knowledge of the Scriptures and through that knowledge He escaped the artful ploys of His opponent. Comforted by the words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” Jesus “then was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 3:11; 4:1). Jesus fasted for forty days.

A period of forty days and nights of fasting is a long time! It amounts to exactly 960 hours! Going without food for a day often causes hunger; multiply that by forty. “He was afterward an hungered” (Matthew 4:2). Total starvation would seem the better term!

Can one perceive being that hungry and resisting the tempter who would say, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3)? Human that I am, my first reaction would be to have loaves of bread in all shapes, sizes and flavors of my choice! I would have a picnic! My spirit would be weak. Not so, Jesus. He was the Son of God in human form. There is no doubt He could have in a single thought made all the stones into bread. To gratify His human need was secondary. Quoting the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 8:3 to be exact, Jesus said: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:3). Imagine being very hungry and saying “no” to a possible feast to end a forty day fast. Jesus spoke of another source of food, Spiritual food, the bread of life!

The power of Satan paled as his invitation to end the fast in pleasure was so confidently rebuffed by Christ. God must have been well pleased! During times of temptation do we weigh the provocative invitations of Satan against the reliable Word of God? “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 7:63). Jesus is that bread of life come down from heaven to do the will of the Father. He was the perfect example. Do we do as Jesus or do we please self?

Unable to defeat Jesus in his first attempt, the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in the holy city. Again, we read, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down…” A second snare was set. The answer: “It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). How presumptuous of Satan to assume Jesus would tempt His own Father; His God! Jesus had a complete faith in God. He knew God as a Father. That Father would care for Him. Jesus would not ask God to prove himself! Jesus may have recalled these words: “This is my beloved Son.” If we are in Christ, “behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). How strong is our faith in Him? Need we prove or even so much as question the love God has for us?

Taking Jesus with him on to an exceeding high mountain, Satan looked over all the kingdoms in their glory. From this spacious point of view he made his final offer to Jesus. “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9).

What wealth, honour and pleasure! The world and all of the glory of possession within reach! Now how unwise could the devil be? The earth was already the creation come from the Father, and He, Jesus had been there. Jesus and the Father are one (Gensis 1:26). The Son of God did not mince words! “Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, “Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve.” Once more, Jesus knew how to defeat the sordid ways of Satan. To bow to him would only end in disaster! To watch the total kingdom of God fade into nothingness because of a preposterous proposal was not in the mind of Christ. By kingdom, I mean a heavenly kingdom. The earth and all of its pleasures were meaningless if God was not included. This kingdom was His home and God was His Father. He took pleasure in knowing one day He would return to His home. This is called hope. This same hope continually invites us to worship and serve God and Him only. This is the plan Jesus presented to us, despite the devil and his temptations!

“Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” Now was the time to eat! The angels came to serve Jesus!

Temptations will come to all. Jesus set forth the example to follow. Do not bow down to the attractiveness of toady’s tastefully packaged pleasures. It is just another way Satan is trying to entice us. Boldly take a stand. Use the Word as Jesus did. The tempter will flee, the Bible says so! We are to “set aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Learn from Jesus and His temptations.

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Should Christians Fast?

We read in the Bible about fasting. Should we practice fasting in the church? What can one profit from fasting?

As we consider these questions, we must first understand what fasting is. In the dictionary we find that fasting is defined as “eating sparingly” or “abstaining from some or all foods.”

In the Bible we have many examples in the Old and New Testaments where individuals fasted. In these examples we see that the individuals were putting away personal desires to focus specifically on the spiritual. In the Old Testament, fasting also included the idea of “afflicting the soul.” These were times when a person would allow himself to become totally consumed in religious things, therefore putting away the desires of the flesh, such as food. These periods of time were usually specified by the individual or groups and a certain amount of time was set aside for the fast. Often individuals would also fast because of sorrow over sin or the mourning of a loss.

In Matthew, chapters 5 & 6, Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon we see that Jesus gave references to givingprayer, and fasting. Because of this, many assume that fasting was given the same importance as giving and prayer. However, let’s remember that giving and prayer are also confirmed as specific acts of worship to be engaged in by the church of our Lord (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Fasting is not! We should also acknowledge that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, was dealing more with the problem of hypocrisy in relationship to giving, praying, and fasting. In Matthew 6:16, Jesus said, “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Many in that day, like the Pharisees, were obviously not sincere in their spiritual offerings to God because they were basically performing these acts to be seen of men.

When we consider the true uses of fasting in the Bible, it was basically engaged in at times when someone needed to draw closer to God, thus putting aside the things of this world (Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; 1 Corinthians 7:6; Acts 13:2; 2 Corinthians 6:5). So, the Bible does not specifically command that a Christian fast in order to be pleasing to God. However, the Bible does give many examples when people did fast in order to focus entirely on God.

Although we are not specifically commanded to fast, fasting can be a great source of strength. If an individual or group is willing to put aside fleshly desires in order to focus specifically on the spiritual, what greater devotion could one give to God? Fasting is a time to reverence and honor our God, to be encouraged in His Word, and in our devotion to Him. At the same time, keep in mind that it should not be done in order to be seen of others or to prove we are good Christians. If we fast, it should be done out of a sincere heart and a clear conscience. Fasting is setting aside time to give ourselves totally to God; time specifically allotted by us to grow closer to our Creator.

Today, I believe we should engage in some forms of fasting, especially Christians who are actively involved in local evangelistic works or foreign mission works. Often we can become involved in these works for the Lord such as campaigns, evangelism, gospel meetings, and Bible studies. These events can sometimes consume an entire day before we give in to our physical needs such as food and rest. Even though we did not specify a time to fast, we have put aside the fleshly desires and needs and have given ourselves totally to the work of the Lord.

The greatest lesson we can learn from fasting is that we all need to give more specified time to the Lord. The more we study and dwell on His Word, the stronger Christians we will become and the more we will accomplish for His Kingdom!