Daily Devotional 4-4-19

Tempting God

Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you, and, In their hands, they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Luke 4:9-12
It is very easy to draw a crowd when you use a natural or spiritual gift to be sensational. People gravitate and listen to people who have exceptional abilities, tickling them with their spectaculars. Jesus faced a similar temptation to be spectacular and sensational. However, Jesus knew too well that you cannot draw people into God’s kingdom by spectacles and sensationalism. The faith of people cannot predicate on signs and wonders alone. A gospel founded on sensation-mongering is doomed to fail. Faith that is dependent on signs and wonders alone is no faith at all.
The desire to be spectacular and sensational to draw attention to oneself can be so great that one may end up using faith in unhealthy ways. As a pastor, I have experienced the temptation to wow the crowd by using my gifts. However, I have always checked my motives, asking the question, “What is my goal in doing this?” This has kept me from using my God-given gifts to sell myself out.
When I was studying at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, I heard of some churches who practiced snake handling. In fact, I have watched some of their videos on YouTube where a pastor handling venomous snakes was bitten, nearly losing his life. They took the pastor to the emergency room and he recovered after a good battle. You may ask the reason for these churches to handle snakes. These churches base their practice on Mark 16:18. Their practice is a very good example of tempting God.
To tempt God means to deliberately put yourself in a risky situation, expecting God to come through for you because of some biblical backing. Tempting God is overriding wisdom to put yourself in a situation, trusting that God will save the day. It also means, to ask God to sponsor or fund your personal agenda, which does not serve his interest. For such people, God leaves them to their folly because they have forsaken wisdom, which is the principle thing (Proverbs 4:7). God does not expect any person to take careless risks in order to sell out their prestige.
PRAYER:  Lord, grant me the capacity to use your gifts for your glory and to advance your kingdom. When I am tempted to be spectacular in a way that only serves my interest and not yours, help me.