Listening to God



Temptations entice us when we are in obvious need of whatever they are offering.  Hungry?  There’s that donut (you really don’t want or need).  Feeling invisible?  Do something that will really make you stand out (even if it causes harm to you or others).  Want some power?  Do whatever it takes to succeed (pushing aside family, friends, and health).  Fulfilling legitimate needs—hunger, identity, and success—is fine, except when it’s not, when we are tempted to meet our needs in less than legitimate ways.  The other problem with temptations is there is always an element of twisted truth in them.  The devil’s question in the garden (Did God really say?) is woven into our temptations.  And to back up that question, how about some scripture quotes?

In our scripture passage this week, Jesus faces those same real temptations that we all do.  His needs are real, and the element of truth in the temptations is real as well.  Yet, he doesn’t cave to the temptations because he knows the deeper truth of who he is and who God is.  He has spent time listening to the God who loves him in scripture and in prayer.  He still trusts when God’s faithfulness is questioned because he knows the God of Faithfulness inside and out.


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.  The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written,


‘One does not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”


Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,


‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”


Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”


Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,


‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.  Matthew 4:1-11


  • Look back over the past week.  How are you unwrapping that gift from God (your intention) this Lent? God specializes in surprises and possibilities, so have a curious awareness as you grow deeper and wider in your love relationship with God and others.

  • How are your spiritual practices going? 

    Do you need to modify your prayer, giving or fasting to make them a better fit for your life?

  • This week we focus on listening to God so we are prepared when hard times come to remember God’s truth and love for us so can lean on and into our faith.  Reflect on this week’s scripture. 
  • Are there any words or ideas that especially resonate with you or challenge you?
  • Ponder these words.  Journal about them, talk to someone about them, really turn them inside out and upside down as you listen to God in them.

  • Then talk to God about them and listen some more.

  • What is the invitation in these words for you and your life right now?  For example, how might you spend more time hearing God in scripture and talking to God about what you read?


Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit,
For your voice—

In busyness and in boredom,

In certainty and in doubt,

In noise and in silence.

Teach me, Lord, to listen.  Amen.