Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– he remains faithful forever. (Psalm 146:6)
Isaac married Rebekah when he was forty years old, but Rebekah was unable to have children. Isaac pleaded with God on behalf of his wife. Isaac prayed and prayed to God till opening her womb. It was an arduous journey. Like his father, Abraham, Isaac prayed no matter what happened in his life throughout his prayer journey with many ups and downs. One day, he felt he was at the top of the mountain, and he could believe anything, including having his own children from his barren wife, Rebekah, although there was no sign that she would be able to have a baby. But another day, Isaac was at the bottom. He doubted everything, and he felt that it was impossible for his wife to have a baby, because she had been barren for many years. His struggle continued whether he liked it or not. Even so, again, like his father, Abraham, Isaac had never missed praying to God. This persistency in prayer in God is the faith of Isaac, which was the greatest inheritance from his father, Abraham. Isaac prayed without ceasing for his wife.
After 19 years of prayer, God answered. Rebekah became pregnant with twins. And the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So Rebekah went to ask God about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked.
And God told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”
And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So Isaac and Rebekah named him Esau. Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born. It took twenty years for Isaac to have his own children — twin babies in prayer.
As they grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter. He was an outdoorsman, but Jacob had a quiet temperament, preferring to stay at home. Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Jacob, the younger one, was always envious of Esau, his older brother, because Esau was the firstborn son. Jacob was not so happy about being the second because he wanted to be the first. His mother, Rebekah, knew Jacob’s heart also.
One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”)
“All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.” The birthright was the one that Jacob always wanted to have. Jacob proposed to trade Esau’s birthright with his stew when Esau was really hungry.
“Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” Esau did not value his birthright, and he lightly treated it.
Thus Jacob said, “First, you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.
Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. Esau continued his own business without caring for his own birthright. He did not know what he did was a really stupid thing because he showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn, while Jacob treasured the birthright.
God gave us the most glorious birthright of all, being his own children. In fact, none except us possesses the birthright of God. Why? God is our true and eternal Father. However, Satan, our enemy, always wants to steal our birthright of God by luring us. Satan’s tactic is to use the things of the world. Satan presents something truly appealing to our eyes, which is called temptation. Being tempted is common to all of us.
However, if our temptation is so easy for us to overcome, we will not call it temptation. For example, as grown-ups, we are not tempted by a toy for a five-year-old. However, the same toy becomes a huge temptation to a five-year-old. Therefore, temptations come in different shapes, and each one gets temptations difficult to overcome. If not, we would not call them temptations in the first place!
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthian 10:13)
Then how to win against temptations coming at us? We can only win by the power of the Holy Spirit sent by God. God, who has future knowledge about our weakness and temptations to come, has already prepared a way to overcome the temptations that we will get. Therefore, if we are with God, then we are safe, as a five-year-old is safe in his/her parents’ hands. God will guide us to the paths of righteousness specifically prepared for us
In other words, our God is always faithful, and He will guide and show us a way out when we will be tempted. God already prepared the paths of righteousness before us even before being tempted. God loves and cares for us. However, let’s not forget that all temptations, whether small or big, are equally difficult for us to overcome. We can’t overcome by our might and strength. However, many of us tend to treat them lightly. Sadly, many great believers fell before temptations because they treat temptations lightly.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. (1 Corinthian 10:12)
The Bible specifically tells that we are most vulnerable when we think we are strong in faith. Satan hardly misses this great opportunity. Then Satan, who knows our weakness, presents a temptation that directly and precisely focuses on our weakness. It is the reason why all temptations are equally deadly, although some seem so small and look benign to our spiritual life.
Let’s see Peter, who walked on the raging sea like Jesus. When Peter initially saw Jesus walking over the raging sea, he could not even imagine that he could walk like Jesus, but soon Peter found that he could. Peter asked Jesus, and Jesus answered by asking Peter to jump off the boat. Peter did. How can many of us jump off a boat into a raging sea because Jesus says so?
Peter bravely did. Then Peter walked on the raging sea like Jesus. He fixed his eyes on Jesus and walked. What a miracle! As he walked on the raging sea, he became used to walking on the sea. Soon walking on the sea turned into a routine task for Peter, not a miracle. Peter became confident of his walking on the sea, although he should not feel that way. Then he started looking around. His eyes were off from Jesus.
Suddenly, Peter saw a huge wave approaching him. Then he became fearful. It was not all: Peter realized that he was sinking like a rock falling into a deep sea. Peter shouted to Jesus for help. Jesus heard Peter. Then Jesus immediately reached out His hand and grabbed Peter falling deep into the sea like a rock. Jesus saved Peter, and Jesus brought Peter into the boat.
Peter walked by the power of the faith in Jesus, not by his own strength. Jesus made Peter walk on the sea. Peter should not have forgotten this fact, but he did. Then he fell. Surely, we should not forget this fact either. Not because of our own strong faith, but because of Jesus, we walk the walk given to us in this world. If we trust our own strength and strong faith, then we will surely fall like Peter.
The fearful wave that Peter saw was one of Satan’s repertory. Satan also uses something that we love to lure us. Remember that Satan presented the red lentil stew to Esau when Esau was extremely hungry. The red lentil stew was also his favorite. Esau could not resist the real temptation from his favorite red lentil stew especially when he was extremely hungry after hunting all day long. Everything was right to tempt Esau. Then Esau fell.
We should always watch out for Satan’s attack because Satan knows what we love in this world. When the condition is right, Satan’s slight nudge toward what we love in this world becomes the most formidable enemy against us, which becomes our number one priority over anything else, including Jesus. It is the reason why many of us kneel before Satan. In some sense, we are tempted by our own weakness, and Satan simply nudges us to initiate the sequence of our fall.
By the way, who are the victims of the Satan’s cunning nudge? Esau, Peter, many big-name Christians, and ordinary Christians like us. After all, Adam and Eve were the first victims, who took off eyes from God, focused on the forbidden fruit, and then ate and fell. Anyone who takes off eyes from Jesus will fall by being the prey of Satan.
Then what’s the way to get out from the temptation when tempted? Again, the answer is to take off our eyes from the temptations (or the fears) presented by Satan and put our eyes back on Jesus. However, here is a dilemma. This cannot be done by our own might and even with our faith. If we could, we would have had not fallen into temptation in the first place. It is a chicken and egg problem. We fall because our eyes are not on Jesus. In order to get out of our fall, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. Don’t we fall because we could not fix our eyes on Jesus anymore due to the world? Then how can we refocus our eyes on Jesus? At that moment, our eyes are firmly fixed on the world.
Let’s go back to Peter’s case. What did Peter do when he was sinking like a rock? He admitted his weakness and cried out to Jesus for His help. Yes, this is the answer. As soon as we realize falling like a rock into the sea like Peter, we should cry out to Jesus for His help. Indeed, it is the only thing that Satan cannot do anything about it, although Satan is truly cunning, powerful, and deceptive.
Let’s summarize Satan’s cunning scheme. Satan quietly waits till we become confident in our own strength and faith. Then Satan nudges us gently as the condition is right. Then, to us, it becomes a formidable force that makes us fall by being so delicious temptation that we cannot refuse, or a sudden worldly fear that completely freezes us. In reality, those delicious temptations and fearful waves are always with us, but we don’t see them because of Jesus. However, when we take off our eyes on Jesus, they suddenly come into reality in our lives and then make us fall. Therefore, we must remember that a sudden worldly temptation or fear is not a new event, but we see it because we take off our eyes on Jesus.
Satan’s goal is to separate us from Jesus, and Satan knows we are most vulnerable when we are confident in our own strength and strong faith. Once we rely on our strength and our strong faith, half of Satan’s job has been completed. A small nudge of Satan is quickly amplified to make us go down into a tailspin, from which it is impossible to recover because we induced the tailspin by ourselves. Therefore, in reality, there is no way to get out of the tailspin by ourselves, and it will only intensify whatever we do.
Only Jesus can get us out of this deadly tailspin. Jesus is love, and Jesus is greater than all things, including all our temptations, sufferings, failures, sins, and our enemy, Satan. Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Indeed, His love is greater than all our temptations, falls, and sins combined.
What is the most effective measure against Satan’s greatest and most cunning scheme that traps us in our temptation or fear and makes us fall deep into the bottomless pit? It is our cry out to Jesus for His help. Therefore, we must cry out to Jesus for His help when we fall like a rock due to our temptation or fear. Then experience Jesus’ mighty and loving hand. The tail-spinning world suddenly slows down its spin and soon to a complete stop. As we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ on the cross, we experience his calmness amid the temptations and the fears of the world.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever. (Psalm 23:1-6)