Read: Matthew Chapter 4:1-2 and your notes from Sunday morning’s sermon.
Intro: This week we see Jesus go out into the wilderness right after beginning his ministry. The scripture said he was lead there by the spirit – and that he was to be tempted by the devil. We might be inclined to jump to conclusions here and believe that God initiated the tempting, the holy spirit did lead him there after all. But, God does not do the tempting. He simply allows Jesus to be tempted and He knows that it will be used for good. The key thing to note here is that when filled with the spirit, not only can we defeat temptation, but God can use satan’s own motives to set His plans into action and accomplish his purposes.
Jesus chooses to go into the wilderness to focus on God. He is about to begin his public ministry and this is the time to be alone, to be free from distraction, to focus on his purpose, and seek God’s will. Jesus does this several times throughout his ministry, and each one is an example to us of how we should spend time in solitude with only the Father, and why it is important to make that time – even in chaos or distress.
1. Read Luke 6:12-13 – This is a time where Jesus went to be in solitude. What was he doing the next day that made it an important time to do this?
a. Have you ever spent time in solitude with God before making an important decision?
2. Read Matthew 14:12-13 – In this passage, Jesus finds out that his cousin and friend, John the Baptist has died. Again, he retreats to a solitary place. What feeling do you think Jesus was experiencing at this moment?
a. When you’ve experienced grief in the past, have you kept yourself busy with distractions or have you went to be alone?
b. If you’ve chosen to stay busy, why do you think that is?
c. Why do you think going to a solitary place, as Jesus did, would actually be beneficial?
3. In Mark 6:30-32, Jesus tells his disciples to go with him to be away from the crowds in a quiet place to rest. Do you think that quietness is important here? Why or why not?
Feel free to discuss or ask additional questions as they arise
Spiritual Practice: We are continuing our spiritual practice of Meditation. Last week we talked about what meditation might look like and we began practicing it. This week, use some of the scripture examples above and meditate over them. (You may also use any scripture you are already studying.) Again, practice placing yourself into the story and imagine how Jesus (or others) might have felt in each of these situations. Read the scriptures slowly, and contemplatively. Think about God’s character and who He is based on how he reveals himself to us in scripture. Spend time listening and be open to what God has to say. Let your mind wonder and ask questions.
Your goal this week is to do this faithfully. Like Jesus, be on the lookout for scenarios like decision making, times of greif or distress, when you need rest, or when you are about to start something new, and try meditating during those times. Over the next few weeks we will dive into how incorporating this practice regularly can transform different parts of our lives.
Closing verse: Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.