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Words & Actions, Week 1 - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

Luke 4:5-8 "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.’”

There are No Shortcuts to God’s Promises

It has been said that you can’t bargain with God, but the devil is always ready to make a deal with you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. After all, it’s his self-assigned job, and he’s very good at it. Every human being — usually many times over —will fall into a trap that Satan has practiced and virtually perfected since the dawn of time. He started with Adam and Eve, then seized his opportunity to tempt Jesus Himself, and is still using his insidious but highly effective tactics with you and me today. He won’t ever give up on his quest to derail, ensnare, and shame every soul on earth. 

Fortunately, we have a Savior who won’t give up on us and knows exactly how to help us escape the devil’s schemes and traps every time, without exception (1 Corinthians 10:13). The problem is that we either don’t see the path of escape or we refuse to consider God’s way out of the situation. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness in Luke 4, verse two tells us that He was in an extremely vulnerable state, physically speaking, because He had not eaten anything for 40 days. Imagine the intensity of that situation. Most of us get “hangry” when we miss only one meal or two! Satan had been relentlessly pounding Jesus with temptations for more than a month because he knew from his extensive practice on human beings that the weaker we become mentally and physically, the greater the likelihood that we will give into sin. Whether it's taking a shortcut to get what we want or feel that we were deprived of, the more exhausted, angry, or hurt we are, the more our perspective on the situation can become tainted, clouded, or completely obscured. 

When you are going through a time of suffering, waiting, or frustration, you might as well have a big red bullseye on your soul. Many times you may not even realize that the edge of a great precipice is looming close to your spiritual feet. That’s why every temptation — whether large or small — is an incredible opportunity for us to pivot from a deep pit of temptation toward God… toward greater trust and a stronger faith. While God could supernaturally turn us toward Him — and there are times when that will happen in life — He created us with a free will so that we could choose to turn to Him… to willingly love Him… or not. Jesus said we will have trials of many kinds, but every single one of them —without fail — comes with a choice and a promise for those who pivot in the right direction. This is what He demonstrated to us when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Every temptation Satan lobbed at Jesus was a mirror-image counterfeit of a real promise of God. None of us would give in to temptations if we could suffer the consequences of our sin BEFORE we chose to give into it. The pain, loss, and damages that make us wish we’d never made certain choices only occur after we’ve tasted the forbidden fruit or taken the easy way out. Satan lures us into bad choices with a proven strategy that is brilliantly simple — he creates an alluring, quickly accessible forgery of something holy, good, or true. Sure, some of his counterfeits are more obvious than others, but we still manage to fall for them time after time. 

Trusting in the unseen rewards of God’s real promises is hard with human eyes, so Jesus modeled it for us in the wilderness when He was tempted. He showed us what it was like to see the temptations of Satan through the lens of God’s Word. Of course, the trouble with human perspectives is that we allow our flawed reasoning and temporary desires to filter our opportunities, rather than the words that God whispers to our hearts. While it may sound as though Jesus passed the test in the wilderness with flying colors, that doesn’t mean it was easy for the human side of Him to resist. The next time Satan saw his opportunity to trap Jesus was the night before He was crucified, and we know from that interaction that Jesus struggled mightily. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wrestled with the gruesome and horrific task that was before Him and agonized to the point of sweating drops of blood as He pleaded with His Father to change His mind about the cross. We have a loving Savior who experienced what it was like to be human in the most excruciating circumstances. The precipice that Jesus stood at the edge of was the greatest chasm in human history. He pivoted away from it… for us. He endured the temptations, gave His life on the cross, and triumphed over all evil and death, for "the joy that was set before Him." (Hebrews 12:2b). We are the joy of Jesus. You and I were the motivation for His sacrifice! In this we see perhaps the greatest lesson in battling our struggles here on earth — Jesus kept His focus on His ultimate goal of loving and being with us rather than being distracted by Satan’s empty promises and instant gratification. When we keep our focus on Jesus and follow His example when faced with temptation, the way of escape will always materialize. That’s how God's promises work… they become a reality in our hearts when we place our trust in what we cannot see and despite how we feel.

Daily Bible Readings

This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest that you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul. 

Monday - Read 1 Corinthians 10:13When we operate in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, He will give us eyes to see what we cannot. Through prayer, studying and memorizing God’s Word, and meditating on His truth (as opposed to Satan’s or our own reasoning), we become stronger and smarter with each choice we make. None of this means, however, that the pits won’t continue to pop up throughout our lives, but it does mean that we will gradually become more like Jesus was in His ability to overcome them. Make a list of any pits that you are most often tempted to fall into, bring each of them to the feet of Jesus, and ask Him to show you the way out. Pray for the courage to take the path that He shows you. 

Tuesday - Read Hebrews 12:1-3 and Ephesians 3:20. Opposition from others is one of the hardest situations to endure. Whether it’s peer pressure to acquire something you don’t need, listening to an endlessly nagging voice that tells you that you deserve more, or the allure of grumbling about something that seems unfair, the love of Jesus makes it possible for us to have joy in seasons of want, frustration and waiting. The power that enabled Jesus to choose the path of sacrifice lives inside of His followers, but we have to trust in His promise of it before we can receive its peace, strength, endurance, and contentment. Whatever longings are in your heart today, ask Jesus to fill them up with His supernatural presence so that you exude deep joy and patience with yourself, with your situation, and in your relationships. 

Wednesday - Read Psalm 40:2. King David pivoted into pits… many times… yet the Bible calls him “a man after God’s own heart.” Today’s Scripture reading offers a promise that you can count on. There’s no need to spend time blaming yourself when you revert back into a familiar pit. Instead, kick Satan’s guilt and incrimination to the curb, and give a freedom cry at the top of your lungs, “I have a choice to be free of (fill in the blank), and I choose to love and trust Jesus at this moment.” You may find yourself asking for forgiveness for not trusting God many times over. The Holy Spirit will certainly convict your heart to make you aware of that sin, but He will never, ever make you feel guilty for coming back to Him. Spend time letting God search your heart without fear knowing that if He convicts your heart of something, He will always shower you with forgiveness and a fresh start.  

Thursday - Read Psalm 27:14. Some of our greatest temptations arise in seasons of waiting. Learning to be patient while God works things out in His timing is one of the strongest proponents of spiritual growth because waiting is one of the hardest practices to perfect. Think back on a time when you had to wait for quite a while on something to happen or a long-desired change to occur. How did God use the time of waiting to spur you to rest in Him and trust Him more? Spend time praising Him for His perfect planning and love for you. 

Friday - Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Philippians 4:19Prayer is the best medicine for a lifetime of soul satisfaction. When you spend a lot of time living in the King's throne room, your desire to wander the streets looking for trinkets and temporary fixes vastly diminishes. When have you settled for second best in the past? Why? What is it that you are currently longing for Him to provide? Ask Him to show you any ways in which you are impatient in waiting for His best. Pray and ask Him to give you discernment in seeking only His best and not counterfeits or shortcuts. 

Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.

Want to Go Even Further? 
Check out our companion study guide to use with your community group, neighbors, or family members! Each week includes thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study based on this week's sermon topic. 


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