Lent and temptation

Depending on your religious background you may or may not be familiar with the Lenten season. The Lenten season can be an excellent way to introduce fasting, meditation, or sacrifice to your church, small group, or student ministry. When I've taught during the Lenten season I've focused on Jesus and his ministry.

Some things to touch on concerning Jesus: his baptism, his time in the wilderness, the temptations he faced, and the beginning of his ministry. What's great is that all of this naturally leads to Easter and the culmination of Lent.

A good passage to discuss is Matthew 4:1-11. You can use the Message to get a different feel for the passage. Sometimes that helps others hear it in a different way. This passage concerns the temptations of Jesus. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger; to jump from the top of the temple to amaze people; and to bow down to Satan to gain territory in which he could rule over. It's important to take a closer look at what these temptations really mean. On one hand, they’re very personal and selfish. On the other, they all provided an opportunity to be a grand king. This is why Jesus had to resist. His mission was going to be very different. He wasn't going to be the king that Satan thought he was or even some of his followers thought he would be.

And here's the truth:

We are all going to face temptation. Yep, sorry. How we respond is what makes the difference. If you grew up or even vacationed on the Gulf of Mexico then you've probably heard of something called a rip current. It was a serious threat to swimmers and it claimed many lives. They tried to educate people about what to do if you’re caught in the current by reporting it on the news or handing out pamphlets. The goal was to teach people how to respond before it happened. This way, your chances of survival increased tremendously.

If we know how we’re going to respond to temptation, then we’re more likely to overcome it. We have the resources to prepare ourselves, whether it’s through scripture (like Jesus), or people, or prayer.

Encourage the people you're sharing with to think about how they're going to respond. An idea to practice this is to ask them to write down the temptation(s) on a card and then to write their response(s) to it. Then they can tape these to a wall in the room and the group can pray over them. I've provided examples of cards done by students in a youth group.

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