Adam’s Devotional – April 25-May 1, 2019

From Adam…

This is the last time.  Not for ever, but this is the last time for a long time.  This is the last weekly devotional about the temptations of Jesus Christ. Yes, Lent is over.  Yes, Easter has come. And yes, there is at least one more point to be made looking at the temptations.  Every temptation: turn rocks to bread, throw yourself off the temple so angels will catch you, bow down and worship the devil so you can be in charge of the whole world, and save yourself by getting off that cross . . . each one of those is about power.  The devil is tempting Jesus to misuse his power. How do you use your power? You have the power to accept or reject others. How do you use your power? You have the power to talk behind someone’s back or defend those who can’t defend themselves. How do you use your power?  You have the power to compare yourself to others or celebrate their success and grieve with them in their failure. How do you use your power? You have the power to practice gratitude or nurture entitlement? How do you use your power? You have more power than you think. God’s up to something . . . you have the power to be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – April 18-24, 2019

From Adam…

Do you know what worship services people are not lining up to go to? Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ last supper, Jesus washing his disciples feet, and Judas betraying him. On Good Friday we remember that Jesus was abandoned by all his disciples; he was tried and then crucified. While you may not see many people in church Thursday or Friday, the place will be packed on Easter morning. It will take four services to handle the resurrection rush of Easter. Could it be that we are less interested in talking about how we betray one another? Perhaps we don’t want to be as gross and vulnerable as dirty bare feet; instead we’d prefer to put on our Easter best. Maybe we’d like to avoid abandonment and death altogether. We’d like to skip death and take a shortcut to the resurrection.  This Lent we have reflected on the four temptations of Jesus Christ according to Matthew. The common theme in all the temptations is the devil inviting Jesus to take a shortcut in relationship with us. The good news is that Jesus takes no shortcuts when it comes to loving us. Are we taking shortcuts by avoiding authentic intimacy, embarrassing vulnerability, and real reconciliation with God, ourselves and others? What would it look like for you to take the long way this year? Maybe you could go to the Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services somewhere. God’s up to something . . . dying to love you. 

Adam’s Devotional – April 11-17, 2019

From Adam
If you’re really the son of God, save yourself.  After the devil tempts Jesus the third time in the dessert, the devil leaves him, angels attend him, and Jesus begins his three years of ministry. Eventually, Jesus winds up on a cross. As he’s enduring a slow and painful death, he hears the fourth and final temptation. If you’re really the son of God, save yourself. And Jesus does something incredible . . . something unbelievable . . . something that 2,000 years have made normal. He stays on the cross.  He resists the fourth and final temptation and dies. That’s many people’s problem with Jesus. He dies. He doesn’t save everyone the way we want or expect. He’s not being the son of God we imagined.  He dies. He loses. He is totally exposed; his ministry has come to an end, and it’s over. Where are the places in your life that feel like failure? Where are the places in your life where you are totally exposed? And how do you feel about a God who loses?  Have you wanted God to be different or do things differently? Has God ever not done what you expected, imagined, or even wanted? God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – April 4-10, 2019

From Adam…

The devil did it!  We don’t really talk much about the devil.  Which could be a good thing, it could also be a bad thing.  After all, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn’t exist. (Thank you Usual Suspects, ask your parents) Jesus definitely thought the devil existed. Jesus was tempted by him in the desert right before he began his ministry. The third dessert temptation is all about power.  The devil offers Jesus all power and authority on earth. All it will cost is Jesus is his soul. All Jesus has to do is bow down and worship the devil. Obviously Jesus doesn’t do it, but how often do we face the same temptation? If we compromise our integrity to get ahead.  If we tell a little white lie here and there to get more influence and power. How much do we live and work to gain power, influence, and status, but along the way forfeit our own souls. Who or what are you worshiping right now? Is it power, popularity, and social status or is it God. God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – March 28- April 3, 2019

From Adam…

Did you hear the one about Jesus and the devil walking in the dessert? The devil says to Jesus  “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘on their hands they will bear you up . . .’” Do you know what the devil is quoting?  You guessed it. The Bible. The devil knows the Bible and isn’t afraid to use it to tempt us. The Bible is the authoritative and unique word of God to us, but that doesn’t stop the devil from using it against Jesus. So what do we do?  If the the devil knows the Bible better than we do, how do we read it or interact with it in a way that we won’t take it and use it toward our own selfish agenda (which is what the devil tempts Jesus to do)? Short answer, we can’t.  We will always bring our own personal opinions and agendas to our reading of the Bible.  This is why God calls us to not simply read it alone.  We are called to read it with God. If we read the scriptures without the Holy Spirit, we read it by ourselves. But there’s more.  Jesus responds to the devil by quoting the Bible.  In this little interaction Jesus teaches us to use the Bible to interpret the Bible.  Jesus invested a lot of time and energy learning the great love story found in scripture.  For that reason, he was ready to respond to the devil’s Bible quotes with quotes of his own. How well do you know scripture? How much of the Bible have you read?  Lastly, the Bible is not a book for individuals, it is a book of and for the community of faith.  Who are you reading scripture with?  Are you a part of a Bible study?  Who could you ask to read the Bible with you?  God’s up to something.

Adam’s Devotional – March 21-27, 2019

From Adam…

If you could solve the problem of hunger in the world by turning stones into bread, would you do it?  Ever wonder what Jesus would do? The devil tempted him to turn stones into bread.  Why didn’t he do it? Instead of making bread, Jesus responded, we do “not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” If all Jesus wanted to do was feed us, then he would have taken the devil up on that offer.  That is why it’s ironic that we are fed by Jesus every time we receive communion.  This bread is my body broken for you.  But God does not feed us the body and the blood of Christ simply to satisfy our hunger. God did not put on on flesh and walk among us in Jesus Christ merely to put food in our mouths. God came in order to be with and for us, so that we could be with and for God and with and for each other. Do you ever wish God would just take care of our immediate needs instead of seeking relationship with us? How often do we want less than God gives?  When God says to us, “I give you all of Myself in Jesus Christ”, do we ever respond with, “That’s nice God, but I’d settle for a good GPA or a promotion?”  The thing is, God wants to offer us true and lasting satisfaction, not temporary “in the moment” satisfaction.  The only way that happens is through a dynamic and intimate relationship with God. Maybe that’s why many people fast during Lent– to remind themselves that God has more for us than just food. Maybe Lent invites us to feel uncomfortable and to wonder about what we truly hunger and thirst for instead of silencing our craving for life with something that doesn’t actually satisfy or sustain. God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – March 14-20, 2019

From Adam…

Do you think Jesus ever struggled with his identity? The devil was banking on it when he tempted him in the dessert. The devil starts each and every temptation with the same phrase, “If you are the son of God…?” The first move the devil makes to tempt Jesus is to sow seeds of doubt.  Not doubt about God and not doubt about faith, but doubt about who Jesus was . . . about his identity. The devil is a one trick pony. The devil is simply tempting Jesus to disconnect his identity from the wild love of God. The devil says, “Get your identity from what you can do. Get your identity from your power.  Get your identity from your influence.  Get your identity from something you can control.” Each temptation is an invitation to have Jesus’ identity firmly secured in performance, influence, or power.  These three things are far tamer and easier to understand than the over the top love of God. The devil’s first and only step with each temptation is to make Jesus insecure about who he already is. The devil’s temptations thrive off of insecurity. Am I really loved?  Do I really matter?  Do I really belong? Any time you hear yourself spending a lot of time on those questions, the devil may be up to something. Jesus was secure in the knowledge that he was loved by God. After all, that’s the last thing God said to him before he went out into the dessert.  “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” Judging from Jesus’ response to the devil’s temptations, Jesus didn’t forget the reality of God’s love. Where are you on the security insecurity spectrum?  When, where, and how do you look to secure your identity in something other than God’s over the top love for you? Have you forgotten you are God’s beloved?  God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam DeVries – March 7-13, 2019

From Adam…

Here’s the funny thing about the three temptations that the devil throws at Jesus in the desert: everything the devil tempts Jesus with, Jesus actually does or gets later in his ministry.  The first temptation: turn rocks into bread.  Jesus feed thousands on a number of occasions in his ministry. He makes bread where there was very little bread before. He also turns his body into bread and has been feeding the world with it ever since.  The second temptation: throw yourself down from the top of the temple so you can be sure that God will send angels to protect you.  Right after the devil finishes tempting Jesus in the dessert, that’s right, the VERY SECOND THE DEVIL LEAVES, angels attend Jesus and care for him.  And the third and final temptation: power and authority over all the kingdoms of the world. Well, guess what? God gives all power and authority on earth AND heaven to Jesus.  So if Jesus gets all of the things the devil tempts him with, what was the temptation? The temptation was taking a shortcut. The temptation was taking what he would eventually receive.  Jesus models patience and waiting.  How good are we at patience? When is the last time we wanted something and had to have it immediately?  Are you more likely to take what you want when you want it, or receive what you need when it comes? Our culture and our devices train us to get what we want when we want it.  Maybe God is inviting us into a more difficult and more fulfilling life marked by patient and hope-filled waiting. God’s up to something . . . wait for it.

Adam’s Devotional – February 28 – March 6, 2019

From Adam…

Right after Jesus is baptized, the Spirit leads him into the wilderness. For 40 days and 40 nights, he doesn’t eat anything. Then the devil shows up and tempts him with power, knowledge, and influence. But why does he fast for 40 days first? Why not jump right into the temptations? We could talk about the spiritual discipline of fasting, but maybe something else is going on here.  We live in a consumer culture. We consume food, news, social media, images, videos, etc. We consume because it’s fun, entertaining, and at its best can lead to creativity and connection. But at its worst, we consume to numb ourselves to our feelings. We buy or pursue products or entertainment that promises to fulfill us but ends up only distracting us from how hard it is to be human. In this on-demand world where convenience and instant gratification rule the day, maybe we need to practice a little boredom. Maybe we need to practice a little delayed gratification.  Maybe the first step to dealing with the devil . . . dealing with the real hard questions about life, identity, calling, and purpose begins with slowing down and making room to encounter those questions in the first place. God’s up to something . . . slow down.

Adam’s Devotional – February 21-27, 2019

From Adam…

After spending way too long on Google and coming up dry, I’m pretty sure that Karl Barth (famous reformed Swiss theologian) did not say the following statement, but I attribute the idea to him.  “A being is free insofar as it can limit itself.”  Freedom is not revealed in what we can do but in what we choose not to do.  If you look at the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil, it’s clear that Jesus was free.  Each of the devil’s temptations are well within Christ’s capacity, but he says, “no.” He limits himself, and in so doing reveals his freedom. How often do we define freedom with an opposite definition?  Do we think that freedom means we can do whatever we want for as long as we want whenever we want? If so, then Jesus invites us into of different kind of freedom. What are the things you are free to do but may need to say “no” to? We have freedom to shut down when someone spouts a belief or political opinion that we disagree with. What if we said “no” to that? We have freedom to talk about people’s stories and opinions when they are not around to defend themselves. What if we said “no” to that?  We have freedom to distract ourselves from real life through work, social media or Netflix. What if we said “no” to that? When Jesus says “no” to the devil in the dessert, he is saying “yes” to a true, free life. How can you say “yes” to that true free life today?  God is up to something.  Be a part of it!
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