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Struggling with Temptation…. Christ’s Example

What Child is This?

The One Led By the Spirit!

Matthew 4:1-11

 

IHS 

 

As you come to know and treasure the grace of God, that mercy and love that comes as we are untied to Christ’s death, may we stand firm in His peace and forgiveness

 

Can We Wear Our Dad’s Shoes?

Most have done it, some of us have pictures of our children or grandchildren doing it.

Somewhere between the ages of three and five, we walk into our parent’s bedroom, find their shoes, try them on our small feet, and then try to walk in them.

We/they did not get that far, did they?

As we journey through this season of Lent, I think we are going to find out often, that we try to put our Father’s shoes on still.  Not our biological parents, but our Father in Heaven’s shoes.

We still cannot walk in them any better than we did when we were four!  Nevertheless, the temptation is there, and we want to be grown up and independent.  We want the same authority, the same power, the same ability.  That is a temptation every day, to play God, or at least imagine what we could/would do, if we had the ability to take His place for a day,

As we read the gospel today, we see that Jesus faced those trials as well.  The only one who has walked through life, who would could make a claim to wear the Father’s shoes, to wield His authority.

Will we learn the lesson His actions teach us?  Or will we try to take on temptation by falling for Satan’s spin on the scriptures?

The Challenges
Basic Survival

Imagine 40 days without your favorite meal or snack, or your favorite beverage! Never mind, we are in Lent, and some of you are doing just that!  Jesus was going not 40 days without a specific food, or without coffee, but 40 days without normal dietary intake, without chocolate, or pizza, or bacon, or coffee!  We could have just eaten, and yet walking in the parking lot over at the Town Centre and smelling the fumes from Wood Ranch’s ovens can cause us to be hungry!

He wasn’t just hungry, our Lord was starving, His body would have been rebelling against Him, when Satan walks up and offers a solution to Jesus. Just turn these rocks into a nice roll from Panera, or one of those donuts, you know that will be sitting in the MPR about 30 minutes from now.

It’s simple – use what you have, to get something that will take care of your needs.

Which is where many of us fail, as we use what we’ve been blessed with, to get what we want, what we desire, what we feel we deserve.

Like Wednesday night’s sermon, the issue is being content, trusting God with what He’s provided, what He’s called us, where He has placed us in life.

Jesus’s answer is the answer of faith.  To trust every word, every promise that comes from the mouth of God. Those words strengthen us, enable us to keep our attention on God, and His work in our life.

It is not easy,  Luther put it this way,

I believe that God created me, along with all creatures. He gave to me: body and soul, eyes, ears and all the other parts of my body, my mind and all my senses and preserves them as well. He gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and land, wife and children, fields, animals and all I own. Every day He abundantly provides everything I need to nourish this body and life. He protects me against all danger, shields and defends me from all evil. He does all this because of His pure, fatherly and divine goodness and His mercy, not because I’ve earned it or deserved it. For all of this, I must thank Him, praise Him, serve Him and obey Him. Yes, this is true!

As we will see in each of the temptations, the key isn’t doing it by our strength, by trying to be strong enough to resist temptation, but to turn to God, to His promises, to remember we dwell in His presence, and to know His heart towards us.

 

Proper Trust
The second temptation that Jesus faces is another we are far too familiar with, the temptation of hearing what we want from people, and trying that trick with God.  Satan wants us to hear or read the Bible in such a way, that we believe we will never face hardship, never face trauma.  No matter what we do, or don’t do.

That sin?  Oh, don’t worry about it! Everything you want will be as you deserve!  Obedience?  Faithfulness?  Actually studying the scripture?  Prayer?  Suffering?  It’s not that big of a deal!  Gossip, sexual immorality, hatred, not reconciling with people? Nothing to worry about – no side affects!  Remember – God will forgive every sin!  Pastor said so! Satan would have us know exactly enough scripture that we can act self-righteous, while doing what we want.  All thiswhile putting our faith in promises God has never made the way Satan spins them.

Jesus’ answer to Satan again isn’t to fight Satan’s scripture twisting by his own authority, but He returns to scripture, to the commands of God, and rebukes Him from the word of God He knew so well.  Don’t put God to the test!  It reminds me of what is found in Jude’s little epistle, about the archangel Michael:

9  But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Jude 1:9 (NLT)

It is a tactic that is necessarily employed in spiritual warfare, in dealing with temptation.  To remember that we don’t wear the Father in Heaven’s shoes, that we aren’t God, but that He is with us, guiding us, that the scriptures reveal He is with us, and that He reigns….

Power/Authority

Which is what the last temptation is about, the one where Satan makes a bold promise.  Here is everything you desire, the power to save those you love, the power to do whatever you want in their lives.

Oh gosh how tempting this one is in life.  What if Satan offered to us unlimited funds for missions. Wouldn’t it be great to have rescued the 33 missionaries about to be killed in North Korea, or feed those starving? Or the ability to cure everyone who suffered from cancer, or diabetes, or heart disease.  What if we could bring every person back who has lost their faith, or those who’ve left and healed every painful memory?

Would that be worth bowing before him, for just a moment? Would it be worth it, to set aside the promises of God, for these false promises?  Would it be worth it to give up our relationship with God, and all He is for us, to for a moment, to know the illusion of everything being “right”

What could a few seconds of bowing mean? Right?

It’s not just a bow, it’s worship, it submission, it is confessing who has responsibility for your life, it’s about who you trust in, for life, to love you, to care for you in every instance.

Do you want the devil, who would devour you?  Or do you want the Triune God, who in Christ came to take on our failure to overcome temptation, who to on our failures, our brokenness, who would bring us back to our Father in Heaven?  Who took on our temptation, and defeated Satan, not just in this passage, but the cross

When it comes down to it, who do you want responsible for you?

The one who brings division and temptation, and the one called the Accuser of the family of God.
Or the one who heals.

Rely, trust, believe and  know the God who loves you – who died for you.. who lives with you.  Know His word and follow His example – don’t take the devil on your own, don’t hear just what you want to hear – but know the God who walks with you… who brings you into His glory, His peace.

AMEN!

Would you like a better life?

Scenes from the Passion of Christ: Christ on t...

Scenes from the Passion of Christ: Christ on the Cross (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullnessJohn 10:10 (TEV)

 11  Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14  Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. Philippians 4:11-14 (NLT)

Live in the presence of God and you will have supernatural life.  (1)

If historians centuries in the future judge our culture based on FB entries, I wonder how they will judge us?   Will they see us as a content and happy lot, or will they find us a bunch of unsatisfied whiners who complain about everything from our government to our church to our shopping experiences to of course our freeway speeds?

Would we take a different life, if we thought the option was better?

The odd thing is, our life could be better, more abundant, more incredible.

If we only took the time to realize what is given to us in our baptism, in the Lord’s supper,

If we could only realize that we actually live in the presence of God, it is His promise, and it changes everything.
.
That’s how Paul could be content in everything even in jail,  That’s how martyrs can find joy, as the 2nd martyr, Stephen did. (the first martyr, in my thinking was Christ – who testified to the Father’s love with His death)  That’s how St. Francis could find joy working with people with leprosy, or Bonhoeffer could write such incredible works while training men and doing time in jail.   Indeed that’s how Jesus could endure the shame of the cross – looking to the joy that walking with us would be.

I will admit – it is a challenge – to leave our burdens to God, to simply walk in His presence.

But oh!  When we do… when we realize He desires to carry our burdens, as we walk with Him through this life.

It is a different life, it is a better life… this walking with Jesus.

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 738-739). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Evangelical Catholicism Pt IV: Why have churches shrunk?

Discussion Thought of the Day:

“If a robust Evangelical Catholicism, formed by Word and Sacrament to take the Gospel of truth and love “into the deep” of the modern and postmodern world, is the deeply reformed Church to which the entire trajectory of Catholic development from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI points, and which the Second Vatican Council envisioned, then the great postconciliar failure of Catholicism— the collapse of the Church in Christianity’s historical heartland, Western Europe— comes into sharper focus. Western European Catholicism’s demise was not, it becomes clear, the result of an internal civil war between Catholic progressives and Catholic traditionalists. Nor are the prescriptions of either of these exhausted camps likely to lead to revival and reform in the future. The Church in Europe has been in free fall throughout the postconciliar years because too many of its people ceased to believe that the Gospel is true. The crisis of Catholicism in Europe did not come about because the institutional Church faltered and its people subsequently bailed out. The crisis came because the people of the Church (including the clergy) ceased to believe with passion and conviction, ceased to find joy in the presence of the Lord— and sought their happiness elsewhere. Because of that, the institution (which in some countries, such as Germany and Italy, remains extremely wealthy) faltered— and seems to be collapsing in the first quarter of the twenty-first century. The Catholic future in Europe lies not in managerial reforms (although those are needed), but in a renaissance of faith, which will likely come (as such things often do) from outside the formal structures of Catholic life (i.e., parishes and dioceses) and from within renewal movements and new forms of Catholic community. There, the vision of Evangelical Catholicism is alive. And if that vision attains critical mass, following the authentic promptings of the Holy Spirit, it may eventually reform— and transform— the institutional Church.” (1)

What I read above, though directed at the Roman Catholic Church by one of its own, I believe is equally true for all churches and all denominations and especially my Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

It’s not a matter a matter of who is right in the worship wars, or the supposed division of being faithful versus being missional.  It doesn’t have to do, as much as we think it might – with who is in power, for I think that where the gospel is preached and the sacraments are administer – that is where the church is.  The hierarchy exists to serve – to be a blessing to the people, as they serve the sacraments and are nothing but conduits through which God’s love and mercy flows.  And I have seen both churches that are contemporary, and that are high liturgical and that are 1950’s dream churches – that all are growing – and that all are failing to reach their community.  (Recently in Rome, I saw a church filled with people for a high Latin Mass – all of the with great joy as they looked to the sacrament.)  As Wiegel notes – we can reform all our admin, we can put allt he right systems in place and run programs and have staffing, but it will be in vain.  And our churches will continue to fail – and depend on what god has supplemented the God who came to us, and died.

I highlighted part of Wiegel’s words above in red for a reason, this is the only thing I see that makes a difference in a church, no matter the size, no matter the budget, no matter whether it is growing or not. It is, clearly this one principal – do they get that they are in the presence of God, do they celebrate His love and mercy and His presence.  Do we get that the Lord’s Supper, the focus of this day, isn’t about the rote movements – but as one of my oldest favorite songs describes – “God and Man at Table are sat Down”  DO we realize His presence, His love, cleansing not just our feet but our lives, healing us, transforming us, the Holy Spirit residing with us!

Do we get that God has invited us to be not just His servants, but as Jesus says, His friends?  To dwell in HIs glory, to be adopted children of the King?

You want such and such style of worship? Fine. You want such and such programs? They are out there!  You want a cozy intimate church where everyone knows you name?  You want a church that is involved in missional work?  Or in serving the poor?  Or in saving the unborn?  Or in educating everyone?  All good things… BUT

Above all, desire this – to be in a place that understands these words:

The Lord is with you!

And respond back… with fervor, with conviction, and with love…

And Also with you ( or and with your Spirit)

(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (pp. 51-52). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

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