Most of us will have experienced times in our Christian lives when we’ve felt as if we were in a wilderness. Some of you reading this today may be in that situation now. During such times, it’s easy to think that it must be our fault, that we must have done something wrong, made a wrong decision or be out of God’s will. However, in Luke 4:1 we read of Jesus actually being led by the Spirit into the desert. It was the Father’s will for Him to be there.
While in the desert Jesus faced the temptations recorded in Luke 4. Reading the account, it would be easy to imagine the devil turning up for just a short time with each of the temptations, but in Luke 4:2 we’re told that he tempted Jesus for forty days! Jesus must have been extremely hungry and physically weak, and yet He didn’t waver in His resistance of the devil. He used scriptures to refute each temptation, declaring each time: ‘It is written’ … leaving us a perfect example of how to wield the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
After this period, when the devil had left Him, we read in Luke 4:14 that ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit’. Before the temptations we’re told that He was ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 4:1), but after time in the desert, being tested, He began His ministry ‘in the power of the Spirit’.
As I was pondering on this recently, I felt that there was significance in this for us. Following Pentecost, each of us can be full of the Holy Spirit. This is the gift promised by Jesus in Acts 1:4-5 when He said: ‘Wait for the gift my Father promised … For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’. Having been baptised in the Spirit, we’re encouraged to go on being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). However, I wonder if there’s a difference between being full of the Spirit and operating ‘in the power of the Spirit’, as Jesus did following His time in the wilderness. Is it testing that accomplishes this?
For this to happen, Jesus submitted to God’s will and allowed Himself to be led into the uncomfortable dry place of the desert. Do we sometimes resist the Spirit’s leading, preferring our place of comfort, believing that the desert can’t be God’s plan for us?
James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials, because these develop perseverance and maturity in us. Peter also speaks of the refining that comes from trials (1 Peter 1:6-7). So if you’re experiencing a time of testing right now and feel as if you’re in a desert, be encouraged! It may be that God has led you there to test you and refine you, so that afterwards you won’t only be full of the Holy Spirit, but will also be moving in the power of the Spirit.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to submit to Your leading in my life, even when it means leaving my place of comfort. Help me to resist the devil, using Your word as a sword, and please continue to use testing times to refine me. Amen.
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