January 4 / Proverbs 4 / Matthew 4

guard your heart

Proverbs 4:1-9

Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.

If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you.

Embrace wisdom, and wisdom will embrace you. Pursue a life of goodness, and the goodness of life will be yours to enjoy.

Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

This is our center [spoken of profoundly in Rise of the Guardians] from which our life flows. Therefore it is what God really looks at. This is what Scripture tells us. This is what Jesus Himself tells us. Guard this center, feed this center with YHWH, and you will live from the inside out. You will spend little to no energy on externals for they will be automatically determined by your center flow. You’ll cease striving to look good to people because you will just look however your center dictates, and you will be at peace with that, no matter what others may think, say or even do about it.

Matthew 4:1-11

“The Bible says,” replied Jesus, “that it takes more than bread to keep you alive. You actually live on every word that comes out of God’s mouth.” [KNT]

The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

You have testing and you have temptation.

There is a difference.

God tests, intending to strengthen the believer’s moral character, and the devil tempts, intending to destroy that selfsame character. God prunes us to to make us more fit, but the devil is out to steal, kill, and destroy. (Paradoxically, the same set of circumstances can be taken as either a test or temptation, depending on your response. Jesus responds rightly–relying on Scripture.)

Jesus faced the very real temptations to misuse His God-given power in various selfish and self-protective ways. It is the same for all of us. We have all been gifted in some unique manner for God’s kingdom, to do our purposeful part in “making” it a larger and larger reality here on earth now. But often times we misuse or even neglect our gifts. We use them for ourselves only, for some sort of personal, selfish gain. Or we sleepwalk through life not recognizing our potential to change the world for the better, for God.

What has God given you for the world? It could be anything. Maybe you’re great at puzzles, and you could do puzzles with dying people to bring the joy of Christ to them in their final hours. I don’t know. But you have something. This I do know.

But if Jesus had turned stones into bread, thrown himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, or worshipped the devil, in order to feed himself, prove himself to the crowds, or gain his kingdom with dying for it, he would no longer have been the obedient Son of God worthy of emulation. Jesus is portrayed here as not taking shortcuts to glory, but rather following the hard and long path of obedience, living by God’s word, and resisting temptation by relying on that word. Notice that the devil can cite Scripture, but only Jesus fleshes it out and obeys it. Wisdom amounts not just to knowing the truth, but obeying it.

-from The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible

If you’re relying on anything but God’s live and active word to fight temptation, then you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight. No, you’re bringing a paperclip to a nuclear bomb fight. Let me know how that goes for you.

If you’re wondering about the use of any Scripture, by anyone, go to Jesus about it. Only He has interpreted Scripture as God intended. The Holy Spirit of Jesus will teach you everything you need to know.

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