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
Today I began a 7-day reading plan through Youversion.com (very cool site, if you haven’t checked it out yet you totally should!). It is called “Leading with Confidence” I thought it might be a good way to gain some insight into how to be an effective leader for the upcoming Bible study; a great way to see what the Bible says about leading others in Christian worship and fellowship.
As I was reading today’s verse (Matthew 4:4 above) and the accompanying devotional I was reminded once again how important it is that I envelop myself in the word of God. I kept thinking that I need to really know my scripture and was lamenting the fact that I can’t quote Bible scripture for any and every problem that comes up like some people can. I was thinking about how much time these people must spend really reading and studying their Bible to be able to know just the right verse at just the right time. It was kind of bothering me and making me doubt that I could do this effectively.
I understood that the message of the devotional and the focus verse was that when leading in worship or fellowship that nothing beats using the Bible and words straight from God, but it didn’t help me feel any better about the fact that I was not going to be a Bible study leader who could just tell you what God has to say about an issue or a problem. I was going to be one of those people who had to look up stuff in the Bible and get back to you. So I decided that I would read the entire section of Matthew 4 instead of just that one verse to see if I could gain any more insight. I did what I have been doing lately when faced with uncertainty; I pulled out my handy dandy Life Application Bible (have I mentioned how much I LOVE this Bible??).
As I was reading this section I realized that this was the story of the time right after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and then called to the desert for 40 days of fasting. The focus verse was Jesus’ response to the temptation of Satan to turn a stone to bread to satisfy Jesus’ hunger. As I read the entire passage (and the life application section) of Matthew 4:1-11 and read how the devil tempted Jesus 3 different times I started to realize that the devil himself used the word of God when tempting Jesus;
“For if you are the son of God” he said “throw yourself down, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, and they lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Matt. 4:6).
Satan himself KNOWS the word of God and can quote scripture right off the top of his head. This made me think about other people who quote the Bible. I started thinking about how often times you see religious or Christian pictures and/or stories posted on Facebook sites and there are those few atheists who find a need to comment on those pictures or stories. I have seen many of these types of posts over the years and I started thinking today about how often times, when engaged in debates with believers, the atheists would quote Bible verses as well– most of the time the verses were taken way out of context and were quoted just to tear them apart or use them against Christian beliefs, but still the atheists were quoting scripture to the believers just like Satan did to Jesus in the desert.
This made me wonder, if Satan himself and atheist nonbelievers can quote scripture so freely then what is the point of me being able to do it? What’s the difference? Anyone can quote God’s word.
So, what does that mean? Well, when Jesus was in the desert and Satan was tempting him using God’s own words what did Jesus do? He countered right back at Satan with more of God’s word, but the difference was Jesus was actually living and obeying God’s word. That’s where the differences lay, the difference between knowing God’s word and living and obeying God’s word. I don’t have to be able to quote scripture off the top of my head to be successful in leading (and learning with) others, I have to learn God’s word and obey God’s word. Quoting the word of God isn’t the important part, knowing and obeying the word of God is, that’s what makes the difference.
Father in Heaven thank you for Your word and for Your son Jesus who saved us all and restored our relationship with You. Please lead me in learning to obey your words and not just quote them. Father please, lead me to live and obey Your words like Jesus did to defeat Satan when he tries to use Your words to tempt me. In Jesus’ holy name,