Monday, February 18, 2013

Preparing for Easter ~ Mark of Testing


[God...made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus. Hebrews 13:20 MSG
During this season of reflection and renewal, join me, and let's explore the visible evidence that identifies us as faithful followers of Jesus. Can others see Jesus in our lives? ~ Donna Oswalt]

At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him. Mark 1:12-13

Just after Jesus’ baptism and before His ministry begins, Jesus is led into the wilderness for forty days during which time He is tested by Satan. ‘Forty days’ is a recurring period of time in Scripture. Many Bible scholars point out that “40” is a familiar number and measures days or years. A few examples include “it rained for 40 days and nights” with Noah’s family inside the ark, twice Moses spent “40 days and 40 nights” on the mountain with God receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites spent “40 years in the wilderness” for their unfaithfulness before they could enter the Promised Land, and Jesus fasted for “40 days in the wilderness” after His baptism and before His ministry began. There are others, but scholars suggest these all represent times of need or struggle or testing; some convey the time is spent in preparation for something important. These examples certainly confirm this with a renewed earth after the flood, God’s covenant is renewed after Moses intervenes, the Israelites enter the Promised Land, and Jesus begins His public ministry. In all these times, God is working a transformation in the lives of the people.

Another phrase that recurs in my reading is the “wilderness experience”. Through this wilderness experience, the lessons of God’s Provision and Power are clear. Like Jesus in the desert, we too face extreme circumstances where our faith is tested. The world always tries to challenge us to a different set of values than God chooses. Jesus must reject Satan’s offerings of power and glory. We, too, must reject these temptations when tested. In my times in the wilderness, I want it to end sooner than it usually ends. Sometimes, I will find the world’s choices look very appealing. When testing comes, the experiences reveal our hearts. During Lent, we can examine our values and renew our covenant with God, learning from our failures and being strengthened by grace.

  •  How is my wilderness experience preparing my heart?
  • Am I transformed in the wilderness? Can anyone tell?
God of Mercy and Grace, I want to be found faithful when testing comes, knowing patience and truth. When the idols of life and selfish choices scream for attention, take me to the wilderness and teach me, heal me, prepare me. Lord, transform me to be more like You. ~ dho

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Copyright 2013 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author
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“May you be blessed by the Lord Who loves you best!”