The Psalmist speaks about troubles that surround him, they are “too many to count.” Does that sound like you? We all have these troubles that surround us and they are too many to count. Sometimes you may feel like the ceilings are caving in upon you. You may feel overwhelmed. You might not think that you can handle it anymore.
Troubles surround all of us. We have the temptations that surround us. We have the evil that surrounds us, even things that we cannot see. There is a battle happening right now and we cannot even see it happening. Around you, right now, there are angels battling it out with demons. The angels are fighting for you, trying to keep you from harm. We have no idea all the trouble that surrounds us (See Ephesians 6:11-17).
Today, thank God that He promises that nothing can snatch you from His hand. Your soul is safe in His hand (John 10:28). Ask for the power of the Spirit to help you to stay strong in your faith, to not succumb to any temptations. Ask God to help you to rest on His firm foundation. Find refuge in Him. Be aware of what is around you. Be aware of the presence of God.
“For troubles surround me–too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.” – Psalm 40:12 [NLT]
Once as I was reading Matthew 16 aloud, my daughter advised me that verse 23 was her new favorite verse. In this verse, we read, “Get behind me, Satan,” which she thought would be a great thing to say to Satan to tell him to back off. There was a brief pause after she spoke, and then I advised her that Jesus was not even talking to Satan; he was talking to Peter. She was amazed. Why was Peter called Satan?
Yes, Jesus spoke like this to Satan as well. When we look at Matthew 4, we read of Jesus’ time in the Wilderness. After the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit led Him into the Wilderness. Satan tempted Him in three different ways, each way resulting in a response with God’s Word. Satan tempted Him with power, prestige, possessions, and pleasure – the same temptations we face. When He was tempted to bow down and worship Satan, He responded, “Be gone, Satan,” which sounds a lot like, “Get behind me, Satan.”
The reason Peter heard these harsh words, “get behind me, Satan,” was because he was speaking about going against God’s Divine plan. Jesus had just spoken about what was to come—His death—and Peter was against this plan. When Peter heard what Jesus said, his response was “far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (v. 22 ESV). He couldn’t understand what needed to be done, and when he rejected God’s plan, he became a stumbling block.
When I read today’s verse, I consider Jesus speaking this to you and I as we reject the plans of God. Are there moments when we become a stumbling block? Are there moments when Jesus is saying to us, “Get behind me, Satan,” because we are not walking the course set before us? Let us continue to dig deeper into His Word, to walk closely with Jesus, constant in prayer, so that we can keep our steps aligned on the path of God’s plan, and by doing so, may we never be a stumbling block to God’s plan.
“But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” – Matthew 16:23 [ESV]
“Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”” – Matthew 4:10 [ESV]
When it was time to leave, Marci wasn’t finished with her bone. I knew the drill. If the bone was out in the open, Max would take it. The temptation is too much for him just as temptations can be too much for us to handle if we are not armored up. I thought I was clever and I put Marci’s bone under the love seat, her special hiding area, so it would be safe. When I came home I realized the temptation was still there for Max; he moved the love seat across the room and got the bone. He’s very food driven so the temptation was huge!
God’s Word shows us clearly that we can use passages of Scripture when faced with temptation. Each time Jesus was tempted in the wilderness what did He do? He quoted a verse. We can do the same thing. Nonetheless, there are temptations that are more dangerous for us than others. For each person this varies, but when there are these types of temptations that are ones we struggle with the most, it is a good idea to avoid them if you can so as to not put yourself in that position. God gave us the way to combat temptation, but He doesn’t necessarily want us to put ourselves in these situations just because He has given us the power to overcome them. When we open ourselves up to tempting situations, we give Satan a gateway.
If you have a problem with alcohol, why go somewhere if you know everyone will be drinking? If you have a problem with lust, why put yourself in a situation that could cause you to sin? Don’t hide the bone under the love seat. At the same time, never forget the power of God and His Word. God’s Word is powerful. God’s Word can be used whenever you feel tempted and you can overcome through Christ Jesus.
“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 Corinthians 10:13 [NLT]
The Bible says that we are not to put God to the test. When Jesus is tempted three times, He even responds with the Deuteronomy 6 verse when He is told to throw himself down. In today’s passage, Ahaz responds that he “will not put the LORD to the test.” There is a difference though.
Ahaz was asked by the Lord to ask for a sign or confirmation. God was saying, “Go ahead Ahaz, seek me. Ask me.” Ahaz did not want to know the truth. Ahaz did not want to seek the advice of God. He responds by attempting to make himself look as if he is following the Law. He proclaims that he didn’t want a sign because he didn’t want to test God. But he was simply pretending to have reverence for God, though it was more of a refusal to accept what God had for him.
Jesus and Ahaz had the same response but their hearts were different—their true motives were different. Reverence for God is something we all should have, but there is true reverence, what Jesus displayed, and a false reverence, which is the display put on by Ahaz. Today consider the reverence you show for God. Do you have a deep respect for the Lord?
“Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: ‘Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want–as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.’” – Isaiah 7:10-12 [NLT]
When I recently asked my daughter to give the dog his food, there was a bit of a mishap. She had some difficulty getting the food out of the can because she had never done it before. When she finished getting out what she could, she tossed the can (still with food) into the recycling bin. The dog quickly noted that there was food still in that can and he retrieved it from the bin. From the next room, I heard the sound of a can moving along the kitchen floor. I quickly retrieved the can and verbally scolded the dog. Then I noted that the can had a good deal of food still in it and realized why he was behaving that way. He saw the good stuff was still inside and could not see the danger—the danger of getting his tongue cut on the can.
We have this same problem in life. There is danger (temptations) all around us. We sometimes cannot hear or see the danger warnings because we keep looking at the good stuff. We see a little good stuff and fall to the temptations. We do not always catch ourselves before it is too late. The devil does not put up flashing neon lights saying, “Danger, I’m going to try to get you to sin with this here.” You won’t hear a “temptation alert” sound when temptations are lurking around the corner. Usually the path to sin is a slow and winding road. C.S. Lewis wrote that the path to hell was gradual. It is when we see the little bit of good stuff and slowly slip away that gets us the easiest.
I cannot warn you of what is around the corner. I do not know what temptations you will face today. But I can point you to Christ who faced every temptation and did not sin. He is our only answer.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 [NIV]