Old Testament Reading: Genesis 5 & 6
Psalm Reading: Psalm 5
New Testament Reading: Matthew 4
In some circles, to say you don’t like the beach is blasphemy. What?!?! You don’t like the sea? the sun? the sound? the sand? I do. I like them all individually, but something about the collection of all those things alongside the umbrella, towels, bathing suits, etc. just isn’t my thing. Sorry if I have offended you. Don’t worry, more offense to come. This is why I have never understood why people want to live along the coast, especially in the Southeast United States. Year after year, hurricanes pound the Gulf and Atlantic coastline one after another. The scenes of destruction are played over and over again, with very few structures standing after the wind blows, the rains come down, and the surge amasses. However, in the age of technology, there is most certainly time to prepare for the storm. Days and sometimes weeks out, the predictions come and the readying begins. The evacuation notices go out, priorities are readjusted, the search is on for the supplies needed, windows and doors are boarded shut, and then you must wait. None of these actions stop the storm from coming, but they will assure you will see the other side of it.
Unfortunately, not every challenging life circumstance comes with an evacuation warning, but there are sometimes when we can anticipate the storm. It may be a move to college, rearing your children through their teens, a long battle with an illness, or even some pleasant “storms” like marriage and the welcoming of an infant into the world. When we know the season is coming, whether it is forty days or a hundred years away, the examples of Jesus Christ and Noah tell us we should prepare for the moment we are called to. There may be testing, trials, temptation, frustration, and outright rejection, but we can ready ourselves with the tool God has called, the word of God, an ark, or a cross for whatever is in the forecast.
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4
“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” – Genesis 6:22
In Matthew 4, Jesus takes a getaway to catch some sun and put his feet in the sand, but it is far from a vacation. He is led to the desert by the Holy Spirit to prepare for His ministry. He denies himself food and water, to be focused solely on God. The spiritual discipline of fasting can take many forms, but it is traditionally done with the things we cannot live without: food and drink. Imagine for a moment if you committed to fasting for a single day. If you found a place physically removed from your demands, how much time could you spend focused on preparing yourself for God’s calling? Depending on how much you scan your pantry, the amount of food prep involved, and how well you chew, it is possible to gain a couple of hours. Where else could you gain a similar amount of time? Could you lock away your phone, remote, or computer for a day and read scripture during your unwinding time? Could you deny yourself an hour or two of sleep once a week to get up and pray? While literally impossible to make every day a fasting day, it is the practice of someone who is preparing to weather whatever spiritual or physical battle is coming their way. There is no doubt that the rain is coming for you. The flood is rising to meet you. Are you putting in your hours on the boat? Are you making time to fill your mind with the Word of God? If not, adjust your priority, and get rid of even physical necessity. Reinforce all the openings with His Word. Make sure to make God the first thought or the only thought through fasting sooner rather than later and frequent rather than seldom. And the house on the Rock will stand firm against any squall long after the storm subsides.
“The rain fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because its foundation was on the rock.” Matthew 7:25
- Who did the tempter recognize Jesus as? What three things did he tempt Jesus with? How did Jesus respond each time? How do you respond to your temptations?
- How did Jesus prepare for the storm? (Matt 4:2,4) How have you previously prepared for storms (if at all)? How can you try the Jesus method?
- What are some similarities, and differences, between Jesus and Noah: their characteristics, their focus, the world around them, the task before them, etc…
- What do we learn about the God of Jesus and Noah? Is He interested in more than making you happy and comfortable (removing storms)? How does He provide and empower you to weather the storms?