Last week, in The Wilderness Experience, Part 2, we discovered that the devil will always hit us up with temptation when we are at our weakest. He generally badgers us with one temptation right after another, and one of his favourite, most powerful tools, is doubt. We must be ready, by continually refreshing ourselves in God’s presence, where we can allow Him to prepare us to withstand the temptations of the devil. We must learn to stand firm in our faith and to stand on Truth, so that we will not give a foothold to the devil.
The next three devotionals will be taking a closer look at each of Jesus’ famous temptations. First, however, it is interesting to note that the three temptations are recorded in different orders in the gospels.
I believe that in the face of what could be called discrepancy, it is important to remember that the Bible wasn’t written by those of our linear mentality; rather it is written in a much more circular mentality. A story is told, then retold with more detail, then retold again from a different perspective. As a result, the Bible isn’t written chronologically. The men who penned God’s Word under the influence of the Holy Spirit were more interesting in emphasizing different points of view than in presenting a chronological history. I found the following note in my Bible, which I feel explains the discrepancy in order of temptations very well: “Matthew’s order moves toward a more logical climax . . . Luke’s order, making the temple the last temptation, moves Jesus . . . Toward His destiny in Jerusalem . . .” 
For the purpose of these lessons, we will be looking at the temptations in Matthew’s order, and today, we will look at the Jesus’ first recorded temptation: “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread!” (Matt. 4:3)
Wait a minute. What would have been so wrong if Jesus had turned stones into bread so that He could have had something to eat? After all, after having just spent 40 days in the wilderness without food or drink, He was hungry!
Friends, sometimes it isn’t the act that is so wrong; rather it is our selfish motivation or our lack of faith. During Jesus’ time in the wilderness, He had already gone 40 days without food or water. He had relied on God to fulfill Him to such a degree that physical food was unnecessary. Turning stones into bread would have been an act of leaning on Himself rather than upon God.
Sure, Jesus IS God, but everyday of His stay on Earth was marked with 100% dependence on God the Father. Because we are admonished to do the same thing, if Jesus had taken things into His own hands, it would have left us with mixed messages. But He didn’t. He overcame the temptation. He continued to rely on God, and God send His angels to attended to Him (Matt. 4:11) In doing so, He left us the ultimate example in reliance upon God.
But why would this specific temptation even be recorded? It’s not like we would ever be tempted to go out and command stones to become bread!
Friends, this temptation represents every sin of intemperance that we face today.
Why is this important?
Because intemperance rampages through our current society! Obesity and eating disorders, along with the health concerns they bring with them, have never been more prevalent. Global warming, a result of overconsumption of fossil fuels, is throwing off global weather patterns. Casinos are popping up all over North America. Debt has become the norm as we continue to charge up our credit cards, buy things we don’t really need, and take out loans we can’t afford to pay back. Families are falling apart because we are so involved in our personal pursuits of happiness that we don’t have time for one another . . .
The list could go on, but the solution to all of these world problems lies in just one word: Temperance! And the fact that Jesus began His ministry by overcoming the temptation to be intemperate helps us to understand just how important this is! We need to learn temperance with food and drink, we need to be temperate with our time, with our money, with our friends, with our pastimes, with our work, our play, even with our sleep.
How can we overcome intemperance? Let’s take a moment to note Jesus’ response to this temptation: “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matt 4:4 NIV)
In other words, Jesus is saying that things will not satisfy us. Only God satisfies! Want to overcome the urge to overeat? Want to make sure your time is always used to its fullest potential? Want to say “no” to the temptation to drink or do drugs? Want to live a pure life prior to marriage? Want to balance your work and home so that the one doesn’t overtake the other? Want to save the planet? Then follow Jesus’ advice! Turn to God to fulfill your deepest desires and dreams! Allow Him to fill the hole you have in your heart. Stop looking to yourself and your own selfish needs. Look to God instead! It puts a whole new perspective on things, believe me!
Enough to ponder, but do ponder this: When tempted to be intemperate in any aspect of your lives, stop looking to yourselves and your own selfish needs, and instead, turn to God to fill your deepest desires and dreams!
Please join us next Saturday for a closer look at the next temptation: Throw Yourself Down!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
 p. 1290, The Life & Times Historical Reference Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1997.
(To access the entire “The Wilderness Experience” mini-series, please click here.)