Every blog post in my “Notes from the Margins” series is an ongoing attempt to process the truth I’m finding in the Bible as I go. You’re welcome to join me by dialoguing, asking questions, or doing your own “Notes from the Margins” post on your blog. There are a few rules that you can read here.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,’” (Luke 4:1-8).
One of the things that I love about Jesus being a man is that He was tempted in every way just like we were. That means that there isn’t any temptation you face that Jesus didn’t have to face in some way. Not all of those ways are recorded, but I guarantee he faced everything you faced and more. He was tempted to the extreme. That’s why reading the account of where he was actually tempted can be so helpful as we look to Jesus as our example of how to overcome temptations.
Today as part of my reading for our 2&3, I came across the account of Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4 again. Here’s what struck me as I read it this morning: Satan was offering something to Jesus that was already promised to Him (Psalm 2:7-8). He wasn’t just offering to make Jesus the idol of all humanity. Satan was actually offering Jesus the destiny God had promised Jesus without having to go through the cross. It was destiny minus the pain.
But that got me thinking about how often we fall for the same temptations. We want to be like King David but we don’t want to be chased through the wilderness by the leader God has removed his hand from. We want the ministry of Paul minus the misunderstandings by people we love, even fellow believers. We want to walk by faith without attempting and failing like Peter did when he stepped out of the boat. We want the promise without the pain. And very frequently we forget that the pain and the suffering are the very things that God uses to prepare us for His promise in the first place.
Satan was looking for worship. Whenever we take short cuts to step into God’s promises with following God’s ways, I think we enter into a measure of worshiping Satan. But to choose the hard path that God is leading us through, all the while believing that God will still deliver on His promise? That’s true worship of the Father. It’s something we’re supposed to give only to Him. Maybe you aren’t being offered a chance to become God of all the nations today, but are you taking a short cut to something God promised in way He hasn’t provided? Today, I’m going to choose the way of God that honors Him, no matter what it costs me.
That’s today’s “Note from the Margin.” Feel free to comment, discuss, and dialogue in the comments section.
“Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows,” (1 Timothy 5:3-15).
Paul in this passage is addressing a situation in the church at Ephesus. Timothy was left to set the church there in order and part of that process in Paul’s mind was straightening out the church’s support of widows. Now I’ve read these verses twenty times or so in the last few months and I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom Paul gives Timothy to lead those at Ephesus. But here’s what struck me the other day: the Church of the New Testament took caring for widows as a serious responsibility.
That sound’s like a “duh” statement, but think about it for a minute. Paul gives these instructions “so that [the church] may care for those who are truly widows.” At the heart of Paul’s instructions is this burning desire to make sure the church can care for those who are really widows. Paul didn’t write these words to show us who wasn’t worthy of care and he didn’t write this in response to an isolated first-century situation (cf. Acts 6:1, James 1:27).
But we have missed the forest for the trees. We talk about who should be on the list but we don’t support any widows. We don’t take care of women who cannot take care of themselves. We affirm the truth of what Paul writes but regularly ignore what Paul was actually doing. All of this is to say that the church needs to be about the things that are on the heart of the Lord. For Paul, this wasn’t just a mercy ministry, it was essential to the Gospel. He wrote these instructions so that we could care for widows well and teach those in our midst how to care for their family. This is part of the church being “a pillar and support of the the truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15). This is something we need to return to.
So…how are you caring for widows? Have you seen a church do this well in the past? In an age of social security and looking to the government to care for us, is this even possible? How would the way churches spend money have to change if this became a reality? Also, please remember Guideline #5.
From time to time, I like to start new features here in the blog. You can check out my last new feature that I started, called “Blogs I Wish I Wrote” here. Now, to be honest, I’ve only posted a “Blog I Wish I Wrote” one time….but I haven’t seen any blogs I’ve been jealous over lately…so I’m kind of limited here, okay?
Let me give you a little background on this new feature. See, awhile ago I bought this great new ESV bible with giant, lined margins for note-takers like myself. I’ve always wanted a bible that took the space most Bibles give to commentary and leaves it empty for you to write your own commentary. The cynical side of me believes the market for a Bible like this has to be incredibly small. Regardless, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Bible and am quickly filling up the pages.
Anyways, it’s time for another new feature called “Notes From the Margins.” My hope is to post here somewhat regularly something that I’ve discovered in my Bible reading and scrawled across the note-taking sides of my new Bible. Now, like any good feature there are a few rules and guidelines. I will list them here and refer back to them when I post:
- I will quote the passage of the scripture I am commenting on first before I give any thoughts on the passage in question. I do not do this for my benefit, but for yours. Please take the time to read the passage before you read my thoughts. I will not respond to anyone who has obviously not read the quote and just wants to argue based on opinions.
- These are the notes in my Bible, nothing more, nothing less. Please test them against the Scripture quoted in the post. See Rule #1.
- These are the notes in my Bible, not yours. You should feel free to contradict what I say in my post in the comment section if you want, but at the end of the day, I may not erase my notes from my Bible or from this blog if I still disagree with you.
- Notes are notes. What I mean by that is these are things that I scribble down as I am in the moment. They are ideas that are not static or the mature fruit of study. Often they will be ideas in seed form that the Lord will develop as we go. Please allow me (and others) to change our minds on these verses as the Lord gives more light. See Note # 2.
- Participation is great. I could keep these thoughts in the margins of my Bible, but no one would benefit from them. Please comment on my thoughts, leave your own, and even feel free to post your own “Notes from the Margins” in the comment section or on your own blog. If you decide to post your own notes on your own blog, let me know so I can link you in.
Okay, so those are the rules, kids. Have fun. Look for a “Notes from the Margins” post in your neighborhood soon!