Tuesday, March 08, 2011


I was wrong! I can’t believe it, but I was wrong. I’ve read the account hundreds of times, thought I had it right, but I was wrong.

Lying in bed, just before going to sleep a couple weeks ago, I grabbed the Bible by my bed and read Matthew 4. It is the account of Jesus going into the desert for 40 days with no food, going toe to toe with the devil with no human companions. At the end of the 40 days, the Bible says Jesus was hungry. I used to consider that one of the great understatements. But I’ve learned that when a person fasts for an extended period of time the feelings of hunger disappear, reappearing only when the body has no more reserves and needs to eat to prevent damage.

It was at this point the devil ramped up the temptations, coming after Jesus with the big three: turn rocks into bread, jump off the temple, bow to the devil and sidestep the pain.

Here’s where I was wrong. I’ve always believed and taught that the devil came after Jesus when He was at His weakest – 40 days alone in the desert and hungry. As I was reading the scripture in bed that evening, I sensed the Holy Spirit hit me with this truth: Jesus was not at His weakest but at His STRONGEST! And in that moment, I knew it was true.

Yes, Jesus was worn from the 40 days, but through the extended time with the Father and the counter-intuitive discipline of fasting and prayer, Jesus was the STRONGEST He had ever been. Scripture confirms it…

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. Luke 4:13-14 (NIV)

Soooooo… Is it possible God might be calling us to pray and fast during this Lenten season to become the STRONGEST we’ve ever been?

It is counter-intuitive after all we’ve heard about eating right, etc, etc, but in the spiritual realm, it is THE right formula for experiencing life as God designed.

WHAT WILL YOU DO? Take the hard road of discipline that Jesus traveled to emerge in the power of God’s Spirit, to see God work supernaturally, to hear God speak clearly, to watch God work in those we love, to experience life as God has designed – OR – take the road of saying yes to your desires and no to God’s and experience WAY, WAY less than God designed or desires?

Your choice. But I invite you to join me to the “Focus 40” this Easter season. I hope you will.

Boldly, Herb

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Dale said...

I completely agree with you Pastor that Christ was at his strongest, and likewise, the devotion we give to God with focused prayer and fasting brings us closer to God. We see the ignorance of Satan by his thinking that so much time without food would make Christ weak. Whereas Christ may have been physically weak, His faith and trust in the Father's provision was at an all time high! "Not by bread alone but by every Word!" Satan knew not want he was getting himself into! We see this same thing echoed in the world. The world thinks you will become weak! Praise God, we know that this time only serves to enhance and strengthen our relationship with God and thereby equip us all the more for life in the world. Is it any wonder why the beginning of the fast is most difficult? I surmise that many people think it too difficult and therefore give up. I find it not too difficult to even surmise that God's provision removes those hunger pains in time to reveal to us the lies of this world regarding fasting!

Rick Blumenberg said...

Hey Herb,

Good article. We're doing the Focus 40 too. I hope there is a good response across the church.

And you're point about Jesus being strongest after the forty day fast is very interesting. I, too, have always taught that Satan came at Jesus' weakest time, but I think you're right about this. As I said, Good article!