1 Then Jesus 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.

Matt 4:1-11 (NIV)

Is it not amazing how we can go from a mountain top experience into the desert in a matter of minutes? One day heaven is opening up with an “Atta Boy” or an “Atta Girl” and the next day we discover ourselves in the middle of the desert being tempted by the devil! Sadly, I often fall into Peter’s longing on the Mount of Transfiguration to simply remain on the mountaintop with Jesus – not desirous of being “led” where God can teach me the most. Simply willing to sit, soak and sour – not interested in pouring out to others what He pours in to me. We find Peter’s words on the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark:

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) 7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" Mark 9:2-7 (NIV)

It is a disappointing fact that I often find myself being the two year old – kicking and screaming against God’s best for my life. Unfortunately, I never seem to appreciate the deserts like I should – seeking for the streams that are certainly discovered within them – until, of course, after the fact when the blinders of pain and disappointment have been removed from my eyes and I have obtained a clearer vision. Some of the most beautiful and priceless lessons are learned just there.

“Tarry not for a convenient time. The movings of the Spirit are never convenient to the interests of the flesh, and I shall engineer your circumstances to conform to My plan and My will. You will glorify Me; for My plan for you excels all other ways, and in the center of My will is a perpetual fountain of glory.” Frances J. Roberts

Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:6 (NIV)

“If we will look back upon the past, many of us will find that the very time our heavenly Father has chosen to do the kindest things for us, and given us the richest blessing, has been the time we were strained and shut in on every side. God’s jewels are often sent us in rough packages and by dark liveried servants, but within we find the very treasures of the King’s palace and the Bridegroom’s love.” A. B. Simpson

The God Man – the Savior – the One Who de-cloaked His glory to walk in flesh – was led – willingly – by the Spirit into the desert specifically to be tempted by the tempter. He fasted and prayed and prepared – forty days and forty nights and He was hungry but He was also ready. What an Example! Perhaps that is my problem. I never seem to be ready for the deserts especially coming from the mountaintop where I can become spiritually fat and sassy and lazy. I get taken off guard – not prepared as I should be to withstand the wiles of the evil one. I can get sucked into his schemes. Satan looks for such times as these in our lives as we are most vulnerable then. I suppose that is why deserts often follow mountaintops – I do not remain prepared. Christians often do not realize that we are on a battlefield and we are to be ready at all times clad in the full armor of God.

Satan offered to Jesus what he basically did to Eve – appealing to physical appetite, personal gain and power or glory - yet Jesus did not bite (of course He didn’t). Our adversary is extremely proficient at mixing the Truth of God’s Word with his lies - easily stupefying the unlearned and non-astute. This is a red flag for each of us to have a firm grasp of God’s Word. If we remain ignorant of the Truth – which is so readily available - we are easily duped and easy prey.

What I Glean

  • I can go from a mountaintop experience to a desert in a matter of minutes – I am to be ready for such a challenge.
  • I ready myself through prayer and knowledge and application of God’s Word. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 (NIV)
  • Some of the most beautiful and priceless lessons are only learned in the deserts.