The Good News of Starvation (thoughts on Easter – pt. 1)

challenges_aheadPeople are drawn to an epic battle. Whether it is the super bowl, Zero Dark Thirty or a Presidential election, big opposition draws big attention. It’s always been this way. History books are filled with war stories. The outcomes of war have shaped the world as we know it.

Sometimes the battles are on a smaller scale. I remember a major battle that occurred my sophomore year of high school. The Cougars of Sullivan Central were facing the Morristown West Trojans on the football field. It seemed that the whole year had led up to this moment. During the summer, many hours were spent in the weight room and running goat trails. Once the school year had started, every day included 3 hours of practice, scouting, videos and wind-sprints before the evening could be enjoyed. Friday nights were the stepping stone victories along the way. And now it was here. The BIG GAME. A four point victory made every drop of blood and sweat along the way worth it. One of the things I learned was that preparation is key to victory.

Purposeful training and preparation open the door to your success.

All of us have come up against struggles in life that we weren’t ready for. This was a fairly regular event for me in high school. I just wasn’t willing to take the time to do homework and study; after-all, my friends would let me copy their homework and I basically understood most of the concepts and was able to skate by – until A.P. Chemistry. All-of-the-sudden, I was in a class apart from my partners in crime. When it came time for the first test, I bombed it out completely. My approach to academic life began to crumble and a lot was at stake – my freedom at home, my ability to take part in athletics and my opportunities for college. Thankfully, I was able to get my act together and put in the required effort to set things straight.

Now, A.P. Chemistry is a pretty light example, but I’m sure you can all relate. We’ve all had tests, events, competitions, relational struggles and many other things where we have fallen short. But the truth is that in most cases, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is something we can do about this. And that is true no matter the size of the stage. Whether it be a worldwide setting of war or the classroom during a math test. How we prepare for battle has a lot to do with the outcome.

Let’s take a look at someone we’ve all heard of who modeled a successful approach to life’s challenges, Jesus. Jesus knew what was coming. Eternity was at stake. The epic battle of all was at hand. Jesus knew he would be betrayed, suffer excruciating torture and be crucified on a Roman cross as the world mocked him. Having just been affirmed as the Son of God at baptism, Jesus did not lose focus. Luke gives us an account of how Jesus handled his impending battles. Let’s start in verse 1 of Luke chapter 4:

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.

You see, Jesus was not distracted from the goal. His victories along the way did not go to his head. Jesus never once held a press conference to announce just how happy he was for the world to have the opportunity to enjoy his presence. Instead, Jesus spent 40 days preparing his body and mind for what was to come. The many temptations that sought to drag him off-course fell by the wayside. Jesus knew that purposeful training and preparation open the door to success.

Jesus modeled the way. Even though Jesus knew that “all power in heaven and earth” was his, he was willing to prepare at every step of the way. The Bible gives us many instances of Jesus praying, fasting and spending time in preparation for life’s battles. The Good News of Starvation is two-fold:

  • First of all, the 40 day fast that Jesus submitted himself to did indeed prepare him for what was to come. When it came time to face betrayal and pain to the point of an undeserved death, Jesus was ready. Because of this, we will eternally reap the benefits of his victory.
  • And secondly, the 40 day fast that Jesus submitted himself to modeled the way for us. Whether it be a math test, relational temptation, band competition, tennis match or any betrayal and pain to come, be prepared.

Purposeful training and preparation open the door to your success.

You don’t have to look far to see people boasting of past successes ultimately falling flat. It’s also easy to find people complaining about the difficulty of something that they have spent no time learning and practicing. Imagine how different the world would be if people everywhere were willing to prepare and work for the outcomes they desire in life. I imagine that’s how things were in the Garden of Eden. I imagine that’s what heaven will be like.

Why not go ahead and bring that part of heaven to your world today? Every challenge is an opportunity for victory. Be ready. Purposeful training and preparation open the door to your success.

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