Dining in Vegas

So earlier this week I was in Vegas visiting my sister, her husband and my parents.

I have never been to Las Vegas before, which stikes most people as a little odd since I have done a good amount of travelling.

It was a great time.. and the last evening there we went out to dinner at a 50’s style diner on the strip –which like everything there– was either joined-to or inside-of a casino. And as I surveyed the crowd my eyes fell upon a lady sitting by herself at a table there. She looked different than everyone else. Not just because she was alone. and not just because she looked sad in a distant far off kind of way. But she was in a pose that looked like she was praying. praying.. and maybe holding something.

Was she down to her last dollars, wanting to have them blessed? Praying a version of an oft prayed deal-prayer.. “Lord if you just bail me out this once..”. I think that was it. She wanted some blessing.. some sign.. with this one last quarter..that God was still with her.

And I thought, “don’t you know?– you are not to put the Lord your God to the test.” And I flicked through the scriptures in my head thinking.. when was *that* said? What passage? What parable? And some of you with more Biblical knowledge may be further ahead of the story than I was at that moment. But I quickly landed on it.

My response was that of Jesus when he was tempted in the desert.

Yes tempted in the Desert. That was it and it was the PERFECT passage for staying in Vegas.

I could not have thought of a more appropriate devotional for a stay in Vegas if I had spent a week planning a lesson. But here it was placed in front of me.

So I settled in on that. I mediated on it. How does the Bible speak to me with this.. right here.. right now?

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Yes, I think that in the land of buffets and free drinks, it is easy to confuse what it is your truly need. And even as I sat there an my burger and onion rings arrived, I thought back to this weekend. I had not fasted for 40days.. but Had not the youth group just fasted for 30 hours and raised over 300 dollars per person for famine relief on Friday and Saturday? Had we not just been to Church Under the Bridge in Waco, Serving food to the homeless and received a message from Shane Claiborne? My head was swimming at this point. Can a hamburger convict you? The burger was left half eaten, this is not what I need.

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6″If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
” ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'[b]”

7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Yes, this also stikes at the heart for much of Vegas. This city is built on luck. Bad luck. As my dad said when we arrived “look at all this great stuff built with losers money”. It is true. There are at this point generations of people who tempted fate, tested God’s faithfulness and paid a price. Some a very very steep price. And I did not help build any new additions to this temple of loss.

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9″All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’

While there are not many high mountains in Vegas, we came as close as you can get. The hotel we were in was sold out, and as a result we were “comp”ed into a Suite on the second floor from the top. From there we could look out in all directions. This passage seems to describe the view. Everything gold. Moving bilboards. Dancing fountains. Expensive cars. Greek temples. It must have been something like this, I thought. But I did not desire it. In fact I found it to be hollow. “World, if this is the best that you have to offer… your best wont do!”

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

I am blessed by my family. I am blessed by my church. and I am blessed by lessons that present themselves when I am least expecting it. I did not endure 40 days in the desert, more like 40 hours.

But I am blessed by Jesus who came before me and showed me the proper way to resist being tempted in the desert.