Before Jesus started His public ministry and the journey through His redemptive mission on the cross, Matthew describes two experiences our Lord had in preparation for His ministry and His mission.

—Matthew 3:16-17 As Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

Affirmation: “you are my dearly loved child who brings me great joy.”

—Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Affirmations prepare us for times of testing through temptations and hardships.

•What or Who have been the sources of affirmation in your life? (People, words, relationships, events, etc.)

•Can you recall when “concentrated amounts of time in the presence of God have changed you”?

•Would you like to share a particular time of testing or temptation in your life that changed you?
The spiritual writer Henri Nouwen describes these three temptations as testings: RELEVANT—turn these stones into bread. SPECTACULAR—leap off the Temple. POWERFUL—take control of human wealth and government.

On the surface, nothing is wrong with being relevant or spectacular and powerful. Underneath the surface, something deeper is being established: the source of Jesus’ authority. His ministry and His mission are supported by the weight—the gravitas—of His character.

•Thinking about the difficulties in your life, in what ways has the testing built your character?
Romans 5:3-5 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

•If you have been lacking in affirmations in your life, what or who could provide you much needed affirmation?