Monday, March 11            Luke 4:1-13       Rev. Rachel Heyduck

Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.”Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you 11 and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”12 Jesus answered, “It’s been said, ‘Don’t test the Lord your God.’” 13 After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.

It is hard to think that we worship anything other than God. But I have had times in my life that I have wondered if I have kept my focus on God and God alone.

When I was 5, I got my first ever panda bear. My mom was dating a man who had given her a stuffed panda as a gift; I think now it might have come with a proposal too. However, my mom said no, and she was about to get rid of this panda. I stepped in to save it and was in love with pandas from then on. I collected pandas in every way. I have stuffed animals, teapots, cookie jars, socks, shirts, coffee mugs, bags, figurines. The list goes on and on. Steve teases that there is at least one panda in every room of our house, and he is right- there is.

At high school graduation, my uncle and aunt gave me a panda necklace charm. I loved it. I proudly wore it next to my James Avery butterfly cross for several years. Then it hit me. I am wearing it next to my cross. Maybe I love pandas as much, if not more than, I love God? I am not sure that this was indeed true, but I was convicted by the thought. Pandas are so very special to me but was I letting them run my life? Was I worshiping pandas?

I know it sounds silly. You might even be thinking, “My goodness Rachel, collecting cute pandas is not worship.” And maybe you’re right, but I needed a physical reminder in my life that God was first. I removed the panda charm from my necklace, and I proudly wore that butterfly cross symbolic of my own rebirth, as well as that of Christ, until I lost it last fall. I wanted to make sure that I was putting nothing in front of God.

Have you taken time lately to look at what might be leading your life? Are you worshiping those things, maybe even unintentionally? Do you find yourself shopping a lot, watching “how to” videos instead of actually doing them, spending too much time on Facebook or other social media? The list of things it could be in your life is endless; for me it was pandas.  Take time today to see if you are putting something in front of your faith or relationships with others. God calls us to a full, abundant life. Let us worship God and fulfill this call.

Prayer: God, we pray for everyone who feels tempted. We know that temptation comes in many different forms. Help us to see you and focus on you above all else.