Coming to the End of Yourself & Facing the Devil Running on Empty

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament book. When you come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew—not only will you find it coming directly off the heels of the prophetic proclamation of John the Baptist concerning the kingdom of heaven being at hand and the coming of the Messiah, but you will also find it coming off the heels of Jesus coming unto John the Baptist at the Jordan River to be baptized of him. In all reality it’s quite intriguing and interesting to read the words which are found in the final verses of the third chapter—particularly and especially when you consider them in light of the declaration and proclamation John the Baptist made concerning Jesus the Christ. In fact, if you begin reading with and from the eleventh verse you will find the John the Baptist speaking of his baptism which was of water, and how there was one who came after him who would come with a different baptism. If you take the time to read verses eleven and twelve of the third chapter of this New Testament book you will find that in addition to John the Baptist baptizing in water for the remission of sins, in addition to John the Baptist preaching the kingdom of heaven being at hand, and in addition to John the Baptist preaching repentance of sins unto all those who would come unto him, you will also find him proclaiming and declaring unto all those who would come unto him that there was coming One who was mightier than he. Despite the fact that many regarded and viewed John the Baptist as a prophet and/or as a great teacher and asked him if he were the Messiah, he soundly and profoundly proclaimed that he was not the Messiah. While emphatically declaring that he wasn’t the Messiah, John the Baptist would also go on to powerfully describe in certain degree and measure the Messiah who was to come—one who was indeed mightier than he himself was. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter beginning to read with and from the eleventh verse:

            “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: BUT HE THAT COMETH AFTER ME is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12).

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to the words which are found within these two verses, for at the beginning of the eleventh verse we find John the Baptist powerfully proclaiming that he did indeed and did in fact baptize with water, but would then transition to the place where he would declare and proclaim that there was one who was coming after him. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous impact and importance of those words, for while John the Baptist would indeed preach concerning the kingdom of heaven, and while he would indeed preach repentance of sins, he would also powerfully proclaim the coming of one who was mightier than he himself was. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this reality truly is, for it entirely and altogether sets the stage for the words which are found in the thirteenth verse of this chapter. I find it absolutely and entirely captivating and intriguing to read the words found in the eleventh verse of this chapter as compared to the words which are found in the thirteenth verse of the same chapter, for in the eleventh verse we find John the Baptist declaring concerning “he that cometh after me” while in the thirteenth verse we find the apostle Matthew writing and declaring the following words—“Then cometh Jesus.” Stop and consider just how absolutely incredible and intriguing those words truly are when they are set against the declaration the apostle Matthew made in the thirteenth verse. In the eleventh verse we find John the Baptist emphatically declaring that there was one mightier than he who was coming, and then only two verses later we find that very One whom he spoke about coming.

            THEN COMETH JESUS! THEN COMETH JESUS FROM GALILEE! AFTER THIRTY YEARS THEN COMETH JESUS! THEN COMETH FROM NAZARETH! Stop and consider the words which are found within this particular verse, for it actually sets the stage—not only for that which is found in the final verses of the third chapter, but also for what we read and find in the fourth chapter. It is in the thirteenth verse of this chapter we find the apostle Matthew—directly on the heels of recording John the Baptist as speaking of one who was coming after him who was mightier than he was—emphatically declaring that at that time Jesus came from Galilee. We know from the final words in the second chapter that after Joseph had brought Mary and the young child Jesus out of the land of Egypt according to a dream he received from the Lord God, he would take the child and His mother unto Nazareth where they would live, dwell and abide. It would be there in Nazareth of Galilee Jesus would spend His entire life up until the age of thirty living and dwelling among the Nazarites doing life with them as they did each and every day. From the time Joseph had brought the young Jesus and His mother Mary unto Nazareth of Galilee we find Jesus as the Word made flesh dwelling among us in obscurity as He would live and dwell among us without any open heavens, without the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him, and without the voice of the Father. It would be when Jesus was thirty years of age that He would come forth from and come forth out of Galilee, and would come unto John the Baptist at the Jordan River. What we must needs realize and recognize is that when Jesus came forth out of Galilee unto John the Baptist, He did more than come unto him to be baptized of him in the waters of the Jordan River. If and as you read the words which are found in the final verses of the third chapter you will find it written how not only did Jesus come unto John the Baptist to be baptized of him, but He also came unto him to “fulfill all righteousness.” Consider if you will the words which are found in the final verses of the third chapter beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse:

            “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the tremendous reality that is found within this passage of Scripture, for it entirely and altogether sets the stage for that which is found in the fourth chapter. In fact, I would dare say that you cannot truly understand the words found in the fourth chapter without and apart from understanding and recognizing the words found in the final section of the third chapter. It is in the final verses of the third chapter we find Jesus coming, we find Jesus coming from Galilee, we find Jesus coming from Galilee to the Jordan, coming from Galilee unto John, and coming from Galilee to be baptized of him. This is something we must needs pay close attention to, for it is absolutely and incredibly powerful to read of the declaration John the Baptist made concerning there coming One after him who was mightier than he who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous work of the kingdom that would be manifested within the ministry of John the Baptist first, and would later be manifested within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. John the Baptist realized and understood that he was not the Messiah and that he was only the messenger and forerunner of the Messiah, and he understood that there was a greater baptism that was going to be manifested among men after his baptism—a baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. Oh this isn’t to say that the baptism of John would be done away with and abolished, for within and throughout the New Testament book of Acts we find men and women being baptized in water, and being baptized with the baptism of John. You cannot read the words found in the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely astounding reality that although John the Baptist would ultimately be imprisoned and beheaded at the behest and decree of Herod, the baptism he brought unto the earth would continue long after his death as from the time of the apostles until this present day men and women would be baptized in water unto the remission of sins.

            The final verses of the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew present us with Jesus coming forth from Galilee unto the Jordan River to be baptized of John the Baptist, and He did so in order that He might fulfill all righteousness. What is so absolutely remarkable and significant about the words which are presented before us in this passage of Scripture is when you think about and consider the fact that after Jesus came forth up out of the waters of the Jordan River there were three distinct manifestations and events which took place. The apostle Matthew—together with the beloved physician Luke, as well as John Mark—wrote how the heavens were opened unto Jesus, and how the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove and lighting upon Him, and how a voice would speak from heaven declaring that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. AN OPEN HEAVENS! THE DESCENT OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD! THE VOICE OF THE Father! It is necessary for us to recognize and understand what is found and presented before us in this passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with Jesus the Christ—having come up out of the waters of baptism—experiencing the heavens being opened before and unto Him. Scripture lends absolutely no words concerning the following statement and declaration, however, if and as you read the four gospel narratives you will find that up until Jesus came forth from Galilee unto the Jordan to be baptized of John the Baptist there was no vision of the heavens being opened unto Him, the Spirit would not descend from heaven upon Him, and the voice of the Father would not speak unto Him and declare that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well-pleased. For thirty years Jesus would live and dwell in the town of Nazareth of Galilee as the Word which came down from heaven and was made flesh and dwelt among us. For thirty years Jesus the Christ live and dwell in the midst of Nazareth of Galilee without and apart from any of what we read in the final verses of the third chapter. It would be only after He came forth from Galilee, and only after He was baptized of John the Baptist in the Jordan River that the heavens would be opened unto Jesus, the Spirit of God would descend upon Him like a dove and lighting upon Him, and a voice coming from heaven declaring and proclaiming that He was not only His Son, but also that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.

            Oh please do not quickly dismiss and ignore the words which are found within these verses—particularly and especially the words which are spoken by the Father concerning Jesus being His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased—for in the final verses of the third chapter we find the voice of the Father declaring concerning Jesus that He was the beloved Son of the Father and that the Father was well pleased with Him. It is when you come to the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative that you find and discover how after the Holy Spirit of God descended like a dove and lighted upon Jesus—that same Spirit would lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Having just come unto the Jordan River to be baptized of John the Baptist, and having just experienced the heavens being opened unto Him and the Spirit of God descending upon him like a dove and lighting upon Him, Jesus would then be led by that same Spirit which descended from heaven into the wilderness. Oh we would like to think that having just been baptized by John the Baptist and having “fulfilled all righteousness” Jesus would be immediately able to return unto Galilee in the power and might of the Holy Spirit to begin the mission and assignment for which He had been sent, however, the truth of the matter is this isn’t at all what happened. Despite the fact the heavens were opened unto Him, and despite the fact the Holy Spirit of God descended upon Him, and despite the fact that He heard the voice of the Father speaking from heaven declaring and proclaiming Him to be His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, Jesus would immediately be led into the wilderness where He would be tempted of the devil.

            As you begin reading the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find that after the Spirit of God descended like a dove and lighting upon Jesus that same Spirit would then lead Jesus into the wilderness. What’s more, is that the Spirit of God wouldn’t merely lead Jesus into the wilderness, but would lead Jesus into the wilderness with and fore a very specific reason and purpose. Upon reading the words found within these verses you will find that the Spirit of God would lead Jesus into the wilderness where He would be tempted of the devil. In other words, there was a very specific purpose for Jesus to be led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness, for it would be in the wilderness where Jesus would be tempted of the devil. Having just fulfilled all righteousness, and having just experienced the heavens being opened unto and before Him, and having just heard the voice of the Father speaking from heaven and declaring that He was the beloved Son Jesus would now be led and thrust into the wilderness where He would be tempted of the devil. What we must needs realize and recognize and understand is that as necessary as it was for Jesus to come from Galilee unto the Jordan River to be baptized of John the Baptist, as necessary as it was for Jesus to fulfill all righteousness, it was also necessary for Him to be led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there were essentially two distinct sides and aspects to this tempting of Jesus in the midst of the wilderness. On the one hand we find Jesus being tempted in all ways as we are that He might identify with us in the midst of our temptations as was written and proclaimed by the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. We know from the epistle written unto the Hebrews that Jesus was in all points tempted as we are and yet was without sin that He might succour those who were tempted. We know from the writings of the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews that Jesus did indeed face the same temptations we ourselves face and experience within this life, and yet He was without sin. It is precisely because Jesus was tempted and overcame those temptations that He is able to strengthen, support, uphold and assist us when we face and experience the temptations we encounter in this life. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews, as well as the words which are found written in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle John:

            “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not not in Him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they are not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whowoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:15-24).

            “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

            Please pay attention to the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, for within this chapter we find the author emphatically declaring two distinct realities concerning Jesus the Christ as our High Priest—namely, that we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, and yet was without sin. Within this section of Scripture we find that Jesus—as our high priest which has passed into the heavens—can indeed and can in fact be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Although Jesus Himself can no longer experience temptation as He did within and upon the earth as He is seated at the right hand of the Father, He is able to be touched with and by the feeling of the infirmities we face within this life. I have long found it absolutely and utterly fascinating to think about the fact that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews emphatically writes that we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but rather that we have one who can indeed and can in fact be touched with the feeling of those infirmities since like as we are and have been He was in all points tempted and yet without sin. THE FEELING OF OUR INFIRMITIES! IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE! Oh please don’t miss that which is written and found within these verses, for within this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus as a man and in the form of human flesh was tempted in all points as we are, and yet was without sin. Jesus faced, endured and experienced the very same temptations we experienced—those temptations which the apostle John wrote in the first epistle he wrote unto the saints and body of Christ, which were the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It was in the wilderness which Jesus was led by the Spirit into He was tempted of the devil—and not only tempted of the devil, but tempted in all points as those which were before Him had experienced and endured, and those after Him would experience and endure. We dare not and must not miss the incredible significance and importance of this reality, for it brings us face to face with the fact that there was an underlying reason and purpose for Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus’ being led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil took place on two fronts—namely, His ability to sit at the right hand of the Father as a faithful and merciful high priest, and the need to be tempted before He could enter into and engage in that ministry for which He had been sent.

            VALIDATION ISN’T ENOUGH! THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD ISN’T ENOUGH! HEARING THE VOICE OF THE FATHER ISN’T ENOUGH! THERE MUST INDEED BE THIS PERIOD AND PROCESS OF TEMPTING! We would like to think that having witnessed and experienced the heavens being opened unto and before Him Jesus would be able to immediately enter into the ministry for which He had been sent by the Father to fulfill and complete, however, the truth of the matter is that before Jesus could enter into and engage in that ministry which had been ordained and appointed for Him, He first needed to be tempted of the devil in the wilderness. We would like to think that the heavens being opened before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ would be enough for Him to immediately enter into and engage Himself in the ministry which was ordained and appointed for Him, however, we must needs realize and recognize that there was a period of time which needed to be spent in the wilderness—and not only spent in the wilderness, but spent fasting, spent praying, spent in hunger, and spent being tempted of the devil. There was a period of forty days in which Jesus was in the wilderness as He would fast from all the comforts of this world before being tempted of the devil. If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand when reading the words which are found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel it’s that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Not only would the devil tempt Jesus in the wilderness, but the devil would come unto Jesus after He had fasted forty days and forty nights. What’s more, is that not only would Jesus have fasted forty days and forty nights, but after He had fasted He would be hungry and would undoubtedly be in need. Jesus didn’t merely enter into the wilderness according to the Holy Spirit of God, but would also fast forty days and forty nights. We know from the Old Testament book of Numbers that the children of Israel were to wander in the wilderness for forty years—one year for every day the twelve spies spent in the land of Canaan scouting out and spying on the land. For forty years the children of Israel would wander into the wilderness—not only until that entire first generation ages twenty and older had perished in the midst of it, but also that there might be a new generation which might emerge in the midst of the wilderness and enter into the land of Canaan. The children of Israel would spend forty years in the wilderness, and yet here we have and here we find Jesus the Christ spending forty days and forty nights in the wilderness where He would ultimately be tempted by the devil.

            As you begin reading the fourth chapter you will find that after Jesus had emerged from the waters of the Jordan River, and after Jesus had experienced the Spirit of God descending from heaven and lighting upon Him, and having heard the voice of the Father declaring that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, Jesus didn’t immediately begin preaching the kingdom of heaven. Jesus wouldn’t emerge from Galilee to be baptized of John the Baptist in the Jordan and immediately return unto Galilee preaching the kingdom of heaven, but would instead be led by the Spirit into the wilderness. The Spirit of God would indeed lead Jesus into the wilderness with and for a single and specific purpose, which was that He might be tempted of the devil. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that which is found within this passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture presents us with a truth which more often than not is largely ignored and missed. I am absolutely and completely convinced when reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture that there is something to be said about entering into the wilderness before engaging in ministry, and being tempted of the devil before even beginning to testify concerning the kingdom of heaven, and preaching the gospel. There are those who would like to think that they can immediately enter into some form and some type of ministry without and apart from walking through the wilderness, and without and apart from being tempted—perhaps even tested and tried—and yet the truth of the matter is that more often than not this is not the case. More often than not before the living and eternal God can indeed and can in fact release men and women to enter and step into that for which they have been ordained and appointed He first needs to thrust them into a season and period of testing where they are tried and tempted. There would be those among us who would like to think that this simply is not the case, and that there is in all reality no need to be tempted, tested and tried before entering into the ministry before and in the sight of the living God, and yet it is incredibly naïve to think and believe this way.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that just as it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized of John the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan River that all righteousness might be fulfilled, and it was absolutely necessary for Jesus to be led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. There is not a doubt in my mind that even though the heavens were opened before Jesus, and even though the Spirit of God descended in the form of a dove and lighted upon Him, and even though Jesus heard the voice of the Father declaring that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, there was still a great and tremendous need to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There was an absolutely and incredible need for Jesus to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness, for it would be in the wilderness He would fast forty days and forty nights and be brought to the point and place of sheer and utter dependence upon the living God. It is quite interesting and quite powerful to think about and consider the fact that Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights and was quite possibly brought to the end of Himself that He might rely and depend entirely on the strength, the grace, the power and the might of the Father. What’s more, is that if and as you read the words which describe the various temptations the devil brought against Jesus the Christ you will find that Jesus relied not on human, physical and natural strength to overcome those temptations, but rather He relied completely and totally upon the Word of God. Jesus did not rely on His own intellect, on His own wisdom, on His own understanding, and on that which He might have been able to produce within and of Himself as He endured and faced those temptations, but Jesus relied entirely and altogether upon the divine Word of God. Oh as you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that having fasted forty days and forty nights—not only did Jesus hunger, but I would dare say that Jesus was indeed and was in fact brought to the end of Himself and to a place where He must needs entirely and altogether rely and depend upon the strength of the Father, as well as the power and authority that is in the Word of God to overcome the temptations which He experienced there in the midst of the wilderness. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to Jesus’ encounter in the wilderness, for when He faced the devil—and not only when He faced the devil, but when He was tempted of the devil—He relied not on His own strength, but relied completely and utterly upon the Word of God.

            As I sit here and read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture—not only am I absolutely captivated with the fact that Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness, but so also was Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. What makes Jesus’ encounter and experience in the wilderness to absolutely and incredible unique and powerful is when you think about the fact that Jesus would fast forty days and forty nights. This is important for us to consider, for it was almost as if Jesus deliberately and intentionally placed Himself in a place where He would have to trust, rely and depend entirely upon the Spirit who had led Him into the wilderness—and not only upon the Spirit which led Him into the wilderness, but also upon the Word of God. Scripture speaks of how the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, however, there is no indication that the Spirit also instructed Jesus to fast those forty days and forty nights. We know that in the narrative of Elijah as he fled from the murderous threats of Jezebel he was awakened two times by an angel to eat and drink, for the journey before him was too great to do in his own strength. It would be after Elijah had eaten and drank the second time he would journey forty days and forty nights into the wilderness until he came unto Horeb the mountain of God in the wilderness. We don’t know if the journey into the wilderness took Jesus forty days and forty nights until He came to the place where the Spirit had led Him, or if Jesus entered into the wilderness and there in the wilderness fasted forty days and forty nights. What we do know from the words which are found within this passage of Scripture is that having been led by the Spirit into the wilderness Jesus would fast forty days and forty nights and would afterward be in hunger.

            IN HUNGER AND AT THE END OF ONESELF! IN HUNGER AND AT THE END OF YOURSELF! I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Jesus would fast forty days and forty nights, and it would be at the end of those forty days and forty nights Jesus would not only be hungry, but I would also dare say was indeed brought to the end of Himself. It would be after fasting forty days and forty nights Jesus would be in a place where He would have to rely on and depend entirely on the strength of the Spirit of God within and upon Him, as well as the Word of God. What so absolutely and utterly amazes me about the words which are found within this passage of Scripture is when you think about the fact that three different times Jesus was tempted of the devil, and on each of those three occasions Jesus trusted and relied upon the Word of God to overcome those temptations. Despite the fact that Jesus was in a weakened and vulnerable place within His physical person and flesh we know that He trusted entirely and altogether upon the strength and authority that was found in the Word of God to overcome the temptations the devil hurled and lobbied against Him. We cannot afford to miss and lose of how absolutely and incredibly important this truly is, for when you think about the fact that Jesus had fasted forty day sand forty nights He had been brought entirely and altogether unto the end of Himself and at the end of any earthly and natural strength He had. Oh the question surrounding these temptations of the devil within the life of Jesus is whether or not He would trust on the authority that is found in the Word of God. Ultimately this is a question we as the saints of God and disciples of Jesus the Christ must needs ask ourselves, for we are going to be faced with the question whether or not we can and whether or not we will depend entirely and altogether upon the Word of God as we face the various temptations, tests, and trials within our lives. Perhaps one of the most incredible and necessary questions we must needs ask ourselves—and not only ask ourselves, but also answer—is whether or not we are willing to trust entirely and altogether upon the Word of God as we face those trials, temptations, those tests, and those tribulations we encounter within this life. One of the greatest matters we must indeed settle within our hearts and our spirits is whether or not the Word of God is the final and ultimate authority within our hearts and lives, and whether or not the Word is enough for us to stand upon—even in the midst of the temptations, tests and trials we face within this life.

            I have to admit that I absolutely love how Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights before He was actually being tempted of the devil, for it almost suggests that Jesus allowed Himself to be completely and utterly depleted and emptied of Himself in the natural flesh, and anything He might have possessed within Himself. We know that Jesus was indeed one hundred percent God, but we also know that Jesus was also one hundred percent man, and it would be that one hundred percent of man Jesus would need to completely and utterly empty in order that He might not only trust entirely and altogether upon the Spirit of God, but might also trust entirely and altogether upon the divine Spirit of God. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of just how incredible important and powerful this truly is, for there in the wilderness Jesus would—through fasting and prayer—completely and utterly empty Himself of anything that He might have trusted and relied upon in the natural flesh. Oh that we would truly understand and recognize the importance of fasting, and how one of the main and underlying components of fasting is the denying and emptying of ourselves in this natural life and anything we might rely upon in our natural flesh. We must needs realize and understand concerning fasting that it is through fasting we not only deny ourselves of the pleasures and comforts of this life—even the necessities of this life such as food and drink—but also the emptying of ourselves that we might be left with nothing but the Spirit, and nothing but the Word of God.

            Oh as I write these words I can’t help but ask myself and those who might be reading these words the following question—If you are indeed truly emptied of yourself and anything you think you might possess within your heart and life, what are you left with? If you were to completely and utterly empty yourself of everything you thought you possessed within yourself, what would you indeed be left with? If you were emptied entirely and altogether of yourself right now, would you be left with the Spirit of God within your life, or would you be left with absolutely nothing? If you were to completely and utterly empty yourself of everything you thought you possessed within and of yourself, what would you indeed be left with in terms of strength? That which we find when reading the words presented before us in this passage of Scripture is Jesus the Christ fasting forty days and forty nights that He might completely and utterly empty Himself of any physical and natural strength He might have possessed in His physical body. Oh we have great need of paying close and careful attention to these words, for these words bring us face to face with the tremendous reality that fasting is not only a means of denying ourselves of that which we desire—perhaps even denying ourselves of that which we need—but also emptying ourselves of that which we think we possess in and of ourselves. There is a great need for us to truly recognize and understand just how critically important fasting truly is, for it is through fasting where we deny ourselves for the sole purposes of emptying ourselves before and in the sight of the living God that we might be left with nothing but the power and presence of the Spirit and the authority that is found within and upon the Word of God. WHEN ALL YOU’RE LEFT WITH IS THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE WORD OF GOD! Oh perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to give ourselves to such a place of emptying everything we think we possess and have within our physical and natural beings that we might be left with nothing but the power and presence of the Spirit and the authority of the Word of God. What’s more, is we must needs ask ourselves if this is truly enough within our hearts and lives, and whether or not we believe the power and presence of the Spirit, as well as the authority of the Word of God is enough for us—not only in and through temptation, but ultimately throughout anything and everything we face. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the fifty-eighth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

            “Cry aloud, spare not, Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every oke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou ocver him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; Thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fast thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:1-12).

            I am sitting here today writing these words and I can’t help but be brought face to face with just how absolutely critical and important fasting truly is within our hearts and lives, for it is through fasting we deny ourselves of those things we desire and those things we need that we might be completely and utterly emptied before and in the sight of the living God. It is through fasting we deny ourselves of everything we have trusted and relied upon in this natural life that we might be brought to the end of ourselves and might be emptied of ourselves that we might be left entirely and altogether with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit of God, and the authority of the Word of God. After Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights He was hungry, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that this statement is much more than simply a statement of Jesus desiring food. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words which the apostle Matthew wrote and spoke in this passage of Scripture both speak of Jesus desiring natural and physical food, but also being a weakened and vulnerable place where He was entirely and altogether at the end of Himself. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find within this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights, and how at the end of those forty days He was completely and utterly emptied of anything and everything He had in the physical and natural flesh. This is important for us to understand, for when Jesus would face the devil and his temptations Jesus would not face it in and with the strength of the physical flesh, and there would essentially be nothing that would be left in the tank for Him to rely upon. Jesus was in this weakened and vulnerable place within His physical and natural person and flesh, and the only thing that would and could sustain Him as He would face the temptation of the devil on top of this was His trusting and relying upon the authority that is found within and upon the Word of God. Jesus would be emptied of anything and everything He had within His physical and natural being, and it would be in that place of having nothing left in the physical and natural flesh Jesus would face the devil with all his temptations in the midst of the wilderness.

            FACING THE DEVIL AND HIS TEMPTATIONS WITH NOTHING LEFT IN THE TANK! FACING THE DEVIL AND HIS TEMPTATIONS ON EMPTY! FACING THE DEVIL AND HIS TEMPTATIONS WITHOUT ANYTHING LEFT INSIDE YOU! I am absolutely and entirely intrigued and captivated with and by the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the fact that when Jesus faced the devil and his temptations there in the wilderness He did not face it with any physical and natural strength. When Jesus faced the devil and his temptations there in the wilderness He did so having been completely emptied and depleted of any and all physical and natural strength He might have indeed relied upon. I firmly believe that fasting was a necessary part of Jesus’ being tempted of the devil in the midst of the wilderness, for it would be through and by that fasting He would be completely and utterly emptied of everything He had within Himself. Building upon this particular truth and reality I find it absolutely incredible to think about the fact that when Jesus took upon Himself the form of physical and natural flesh He emptied Himself of His divine nature, and laid aside the glory which He had with the Father since before the world and time began. When Jesus took upon Himself the form of human flesh He did so having emptied Himself of the divine nature He had as part of the triune Godhead, and He set aside and laid down the glory He had with the Father that He might truly be able to walk and live in the form of human flesh. What makes this even more captivating and intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that when He entered into the wilderness, He would—through fasting—empty Himself of any physical and natural strength He had in His physical flesh. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of just how incredibly important this truly is, for when we think about and consider this we are brought face to face with what is so absolutely and incredibly needed within our own hearts and lives.

            I am sitting here today thinking about this reality and concept of facing the devil and his temptations with nothing left in the tank and running on empty, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are times within our lives when this is either the reality we are brought into, or this is the reality that we have found ourselves facing. It wasn’t merely that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He would be tempted of the devil, but it was also about Jesus fasting forty days and forty nights and having emptied Himself of anything He had within Himself—and not only emptying Himself of that which He had within Himself, but also anything He might have had in reserve. What so amazes me about Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness is that when Jesus faced the devil in the wilderness together with his temptations Jesus faced Him with the only thing that was able to sustain Him—and not only the thing that was able to sustain Him, but also the only thing that was able to overcome those temptations. I would dare say and suggest that the first temptation was indeed the foundation of and for the other two temptations, for when the devil tempted Jesus to command the stones to be turned into bread Jesus would not only quote him the Word of God which was written in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, but Jesus would also emphatically declare and proclaim that that which man must needs live by is the Word of God. Jesus would emphatically and boldly quote unto the devil that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of and from the mouth of God. It is necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to this, for I would dare say that more often than not the Word of God has its greatest value and greatest power within our lives when we are brought to the end of ourselves and when we are completely and utterly emptied of ourselves. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the Word of God has its greatest impact and is at its strongest and mightiest within our hearts and lives when we are indeed and are in fact brought to the end of ourselves, when we are emptied of anything and everything we think we possess, and are left with nothing but the divine Word of God.

            MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD! Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that even when you feel as though you have nothing left in the tank, and even though you might feel as though you are running on empty and/or running on fumes—the Word of God is absolutely everything you need and is all sufficient for you? Would it surprise you to think about the awesome and incredible truth that when you feel as though you have absolutely nothing left within yourself in your physical and natural the Word of God is absolutely and everything you need? There would be those who would like to think that even when they feel as though they have absolutely nothing left in the physical and natural tank that they have absolutely nothing left to sustain and uphold them, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider for a single moment that when we have been brought to the end of ourselves and when we have nothing left within and of ourselves that we either have nothing to sustain and strengthen us, and/or even that we have nothing that can help us to stand against and withstand the temptations, the trials, the tests, and the tribulations we are facing within our hearts and lives. There would be those who would think and consider that when they are brought to the end of themselves, and when they feel as though they have nothing left to offer and to give that they are unable to stand against and stand in the midst of the trials, the tests, the tribulations, and the temptations we face within our lives. I am wonderfully and powerfully convinced when reading the narrative of the temptation of Jesus the Christ that this simply is not the case, and that even when we feel as though we have absolutely nothing left within ourselves, and even when we feel as though we are running on empty and are perhaps even facing the greatest test and trial of our lives the Word of God has always been and is still enough for us to stand upon.

            The more you read and the more you consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with just how absolutely incredible it is to think of how Jesus had just fasted forty days and forty nights, and after having fasted for this period of time was hungry, and it was there in that moment of hunger—that moment of being completely weakened and vulnerable, that place of being in great physical need, and that moment of having nothing left within himself—the devil would come unto him and seek to tempt Him. What I so love and appreciate about the words which are found within this passage of Scripture is that it is with the very first temptation and Jesus’ response to that temptation we learn and discover just how incredibly important the Word of God is. It is when we read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture that we not only learn how many must not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God, but we also learn just how incredibly important and necessary the Word of God truly is. It is within the first and opening temptation Jesus emphatically declares unto the devil that we must needs live by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God, and it is within all three temptations we learn and discover the awesome and incredible importance surrounding the Word of God, and just how necessary the Word of God is within our hearts and lives—particularly and especially when we are facing temptation, trials, tribulations, and testing(s). What’s more, is that when you read the narrative of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane you will find Him returning to find the disciples Peter, James and John sleeping in the place He had left them. It would be in response to His finding them sleeping that He would not only ask them if they could not pray with Him for one hour, but He would also instruct them to watch and pray that they enter not into temptation. Moreover, Jesus would go on to declare that the spirit truly is willing, while the flesh is in and of itself weak. Jesus recognized and understood the tremendous importance of prayer as one prepares to face temptation—and even as one enters into temptation. What’s more, is Jesus recognized and understood how incredibly important fasting was—and not only fasting, but also being left with nothing else but the divine Word of God which is found within our hearts. We must needs remember the words which the psalmist wrote when they emphatically declared how they had hid the word of God in their heart that they might not sin against the LORD.

            THY WORD HAVE I HIDDEN IN MY HEART THAT I MIGHT NOT SIN AGAINST THEE! As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary and critical to call and draw your attention to the awesome and tremendous truth that we have great need to hide the word of God within our hearts, and to do so that we might not sin against the living God. If we wish and desire to rise up and stand in the midst of the temptation(s), the trial(s), the testing(s), and the tribulation(s) we face, we must needs understand how necessary and critical it is to hide the word of God within our hearts that we might not sin against him. Notice when Jesus spoke the parable of the seed, the sower and the soils, that the seed which fell upon the stony ground represented that person who heard the word of God and received it with joy and gladness, however, because the seed had no root, nor depth—when persecution and affliction and opposition came as a direct result of the word of God they were offended and the word was of no effect within their hearts and souls. Oh it is necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to these words, for we must needs understand that not only is it necessary that we hide the word of God within our hearts that we might not sin against Him, but we also must needs allow the Word of God to take root within our hearts and our souls. We dare not and must not allow the Word of God to be of none effect within our hearts and lives, and we must needs realize and recognize that when we are brought to the end of ourselves, and when we have nothing left in the tank and are running on empty, the Word of God has always been enough, and is still enough to sustain us. We must needs recognize and understand that the Word of God is enough for us within our hearts and lives—particularly and especially when we are running on empty and when we feel as though we have nothing left in the tank. It is when we have been brought to the end of ourselves—particularly and especially as a direct result of fasting—that we must recognize and acknowledge that we have great need to rely and depend entirely and altogether upon the authority that  surrounds and is found within the divine Word of God.

            When and as Jesus had finished fasting forty days and forty nights and was hungry He was in an entirely and altogether weakened and vulnerable place, and it is in that weakened and vulnerable place when the devil came to Him to tempt Him. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that we will not always be tempted, nor will we always be tested and tried when we are at our strongest, and even when we feel as though we have everything going for us. We have great need to realize and recognize that there are times within our hearts and lives when we will be led to be completely and utterly emptied of ourselves, and emptied of any physical and natural strength we thought we possessed, and it is in that place and in that moment when the temptation, when the test, when the trial, and when the tribulation arises within our hearts and lives. Oh I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning the thorn in the flesh, and how the apostle Paul earnestly entreated and sought the Lord that He might remove the thorn from his flesh. Three times the apostle Paul asked the Lord to remove this thorn in the flesh which he had faced and experienced, and each time the Lord would respond to him declaring that His grace was sufficient for him, and that His strength was made perfect in His weakness. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we understand and acknowledge this awesome and powerful truth within our hearts and lives, for we must needs recognize and understand that the trials, the tests, the temptations, and the tribulations we face cannot and will not always come when we are at our strongest, and when we feel as though we have everything going for us. There can and there will be times when the temptation, the tribulation, the trial and the tests we face can and will enter into our lives when we are at our most vulnerable, and when we are at our weakest place.

The underlying question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we have hidden the word of God within our hearts that we might not sin against the Lord. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not the grace of Christ is sufficient for us, and that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not the Word of God is strong enough and sufficient enough to sustain us and support us as we walk through and face those trials, those tribulations, those tests, and those temptations. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are truly and indeed living by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. Oh even though we have been brought to the end of ourselves, and even though we have nothing left within ourselves we must needs ask ourselves if Christ is enough for us, and if the person, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is indeed enough for us. What’s more, is that we must needs understand and acknowledge that it is okay to live and be at the end of ourselves, for more often than not it is when we are at the end of ourselves we encounter and experience the strength of Christ, the authority of the Word of God, the person and presence of the Holy Spirit, and in all reality absolutely everything we have need of. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely necessary and critical this is when we take the time to think about it, for we must needs realize and understand that it is okay to be at the end of ourselves, to be running on empty, and to have absolutely nothing left, for it is in those moments when we are indeed and are in fact brought into the place where the Word of God can be that which sustains and upholds us, and when the strength of Christ is made perfect in our weakness.

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