March 2018  
Bible Search

First Sunday in Lent  Mark 1-9-15           

Every one of us here today has ethics of some kind and to some degree; we encourage goodness and decency otherwise I don’t think we’d even be here.  And for Christians, our morals and beliefs are based on the teachings of Jesus.                                     

Yet, every single day, every single one of us, wrestle and struggle with living in a right relationship with the LORD our God.                  

In our Gospel, Jesus was tempted, but we must remember he wrestled with temptation every single day of His ministry. And of course we know, He was able to say "No" to temptation and "Yes" to God.                                                                                       

On any given day our curiosity-- our desires-- can suddenly become inflated. Unlike Jesus, we listen to the voice of temptation—only to find ourselves trapped behind the guilt of our sin.       

In the second lesson from James: (James 1:12-14)  
“Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a person has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the LORD has promised to those who love him. No one, when tempted, should say, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted by his/her own desires...”                                                            

There in the wilderness, after fasting for 40 days, Jesus was hungry; it was a very real, physical need.  Then the temptation to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple and let the Angels rescue Him, again would use His power for His own selfish purpose. The greatest desire of Jesus was to bring the whole world back into a right relationship with God. That's His message, that's His purpose, that's His calling. If Jesus had bowed down to satan, every person in the whole world would have been lost.                  

The crafty evil one went so far as to offer Jesus a shortcut to avoid the cross. He does the same to us-- “appealing shortcuts” –which only lead to pain, suffering, and death.                                     

All temptation—envying others, feeling cheated, lustful desires, is to entice us away from God.         

We know that satan's goal is to "steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10). He is "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). Jesus wrestled with satan for us. The only trophy Jesus received was a crown of thorns.                                                                    

After the final round of the wrestling match, it looked like Jesus bruised, bloodied, and battered, would never get up again.  All life had drained from His body, And He was thrown into a borrowed tomb. The opposition cheered.                                                       

3 days later, while sin and death were celebrating, Jesus rose victorious from the dead.   And he did it all for us, to vanquish sin and death –so you and I never, have to face temptations alone.             

In Hebrews 2:18 we read: "Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested."         

The LORD God knows the temptations we deal with, because Jesus experienced the same anguish and struggle.                               

Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Presence of Jesus, God is with us and gives us the power to resist the devil.          

Temptation doesn't stand a chance when you call on Jesus, because he has defeated sin and death.                                                 

We cannot avoid temptation without Jesus.  We might make some half-hearted attempts but we don't deal with the real root of the problem.   It’s like a kangaroo that kept getting out of his pen at the zoo.  The zoo officials knew he could jump pretty high, so they put up a 10 foot fence. However, the next morning the kangaroo was out again. So, they raised the height of the fence to 20 feet.  Again, the next morning the kangaroo was roaming around the zoo. So they thought, we’ll fix him and extended the fence to 60 feet high.                                                                                 

The camel in the adjoining pen asked the kangaroo, "How high do you think they'll go?"                 

The kangaroo replied, "Probably a 100 feet, unless somebody starts locking the gate at night!"                  

That’s the way temptation works. It places things in our path or places ideas in our heads, meant to blind our eyes to the kind of life God wants us to live.                                                                       

A Sunday School teacher was questioning the class about faith.                                            

"What if the devil comes to your door and tries to lead you astray?" One little girl replied, "I'll ask Jesus to answer the door for me."  The need to pray for our children is never more relevant than it is right now.   1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul commands the people of Thessaloniki to "pray without ceasing."  We must pray for God to "guard our children against the evil one", pray that they know and make the Lord their "refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).                                                                             

God promises each one of us that, no matter what, He will be there for us. We have a God who loves us unconditionally. We have a God who never gives up on us.  If we ask for His strength, He will give it.                                                                                         

We need to respond to temptation the same way Jesus did. We need to confront the tempter head-on with the word of God.    God has promised he will be there for us.                                

With God’s grace, we can walk away from the other gods in our lives. With God’s grace, we can keep our focus on Him.   With God’s grace, we can be the people he wants us to be.