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(August 6) When the Mountaintop Gives Way to the Wilderness

We love the mountaintop. Spiritually speaking, this is the place where we are keenly aware of the Lord's presence as we are temporarily unplugged from the charms of the world. In moments of worship, we find ourselves immensely satisfied and longing never to leave.

For me, Sundays are mountaintop days. As we gather for worship, I love to sing songs of the faith with God's people. I am always so encouraged as I interact with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The time spent in corporate worship strengthens me. I often find myself thinking about how great it would be to stay at church all week with all of us gathered there. I love the mountaintop.

Of course, that's not the way it works. Jobs await. Bills must be paid. Deadlines approach. Responsibilities beckon us. We leave the sanctuary, get into our cars, and descend the mountaintop.

Monday morning means up early, and for most weeks of the year, getting children ready for school. It means getting back to work and returning to our household chores. Monday morning greets us with a less than pleasant reminder that the mountaintop of Sunday worship is in the rearview mirror. Now, we must do spiritual battle in the wilderness.

This is how it was for Christ Himself. After His baptism, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). What a moment!

Then, immediately after that, Matthew tells us "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1). Talk about coming down from the mountaintop and into the battle!

It is here, in the wilderness, that Jesus will be tested. With the fire and fury of hell raging, Christ will be asked to turn His back on His Father by the enemy. The devil will attempt to lure Jesus into thinking He deserves something better than He is receiving from His Father.

A crucial lesson is presented to us in the opening words of the account of the temptation of Jesus. On earth, mountaintop experiences do not last forever, and they are often followed up by spiritual battles. Just as Jesus goes from His baptism and Father's approval down to His wilderness testing, so we go from our Sunday morning to Monday.

Be on guard. Temptation often seeks us immediately after times of great blessing. Be especially careful right after summer camp. Pay close attention when you return from your mission trip. Stay alert when you have had the joy of using your spiritual gifts for God's glory. Temptation is never far behind.

Are you ready for Monday? Are you trusting in the Father's will and the Spirit's provision? Do you have the Word of God in your heart and mind? Do not be surprised when the joy of Sunday morning gives way to the trials and testing of Monday. Be on the alert and trust in the mercies of your Father.

We will be in trouble if we do not take seriously the truth that the devil is roaming like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). However, we will be unnecessarily shaken if we forget that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)

Be prepared -- be strong -- be encouraged -- be faithful. The mountaintop experience does not last forever, but praise God, neither will the wilderness. Keep your eyes on Jesus!


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