HPC – Encounter 04 28/10/18
Reading Luke 4:1 – 13
The story is told of a man who had started to put on a lot of weight. Engaging the fight with the flab, he decided to change his route to work so that he would not pass by his favorite doughnut shop. He was so committed to this fight to lose weight that he told his coworkers of his stand against, the lure of the doughnut.
But, not long after sharing this in the office, he arrived at work one morning with a big box of doughnuts. When his surprised coworkers asked what was going on, he said – “These, are no ordinary doughnuts. These are from the Lord. Today on my way into the office I was lost in my thoughts and accidentally drove passed my favorite doughnut shop and saw all those glazed and sprinkled doughnuts calling my name from the window. I knew I had to pray for deliverance and strength, so I said – ‘Lord, if you want me to have one of these delicious doughnuts, You are going to have to give me a parking space right in front of the doughnut shop. If this happens then I’ll know that you want me to have some doughnuts.’ And sure enough, after eight trips around the block, there was a parking place right in front of the doughnut shop!”
Temptation, testing, God’s provision? Or twisting temptation to look like God’s provision? Temptation is very real.
We are continuing our series titled – Encounter. What happens when we encounter Jesus, personally and intimately?
Well, nothing is ever the same ever again!
We often hear people talking about “Jesus touching your life”. It sounds right – and yet it just is not. Do you want Jesus to touch you – not just the life you live, but you?
John 10:10 The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.
Jesus said – in me you are a new creation. Never will I leave you never will I forsake you. You are my friends. I love you and have made the Way for you to have eternal life.
And it really is all very Good News indeed.
But, it would be wrong to just leave the teaching there. Because Jesus also taught;
Luke 21:17 Everyone will hate you because of me.
We have seen that when we truly encounter Jesus, we need to repent and be baptized, and that we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit – who is our comforter and companion. We want to understand this as – my life will then always be blessed and nothing will ever go wrong. When the Truth is, that in this world of decay and sin and trouble and difficulty and hardship and evil – it is in this reality that I have a comforter and friend to help me through all the trouble and strife – and that really is a blessing.
When we give our lives to Jesus – when we enter into relationship with Him, the God of all Creation – and we learn that He loves us with all His Heart, it is just the most beautiful thing of all.
But, when we give our lives to Jesus – there is something else we are going to encounter as well. There is one who hates all who belong to God.
We love to read that if we are filled by the Holy Spirit, He leads us “besides quiet water”. There are times when He does, but not always. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into a desert. Have you ever felt that spiritually you are in a desolate place?
In my early years as a Christian I found myself in just such a place – and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get out. But I said to God – I don’t care how long it takes, I will walk out the other side – and because of the desert place, I spent much time studying God’s Word, praying, seeking Him. It took a long time. But as I looked back, I saw just how much God had taught me and molded me and strengthened my faith and prepared me for much tougher times ahead. In the desert I started to acknowledge my weaknesses so He could be my strength. At the time, it was a desert – as I looked back, it was an oasis of God’s love and provision.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert for a long and difficult time of testing. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Jesus taught us to pray;
Matt 6:13 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Jesus knows what it is like to have the evil one hounding you. God does not tempt us. But sometimes He allows us to be tested – because it reveals the real self. And as I recognize the true self, I grow in humility and dependence on God. And when in our dependence on God, we overcome, we grow in our faith and in our relationship with God. We need to keep our eyes fixed firmly on God, and our plea, our prayer is – Lord help us to overcome when we are tempted. Lord if we stay firmly fixed on you, then please spare us the temptation. But we look to you for deliverance.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Wrong desires and temptations happen to everyone. Others have learned to resist, then so can we. God will help you to resist. If you focus on Him, He will deliver you. When you are tempted – do not focus on the evil one and what he is doing and saying – look to God and ask Him to show you the way out that He has already provide. Do not look at the doughnuts asking God for a parking space – keep your eyes on God for the next exit out of the area!
Temptation will often come after a high point in our lives as well as the low times. Jesus, had just been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. His time had come, His Ministry to the Cross had begun – and the first thing He faces is Satan and temptation.
Satan attacks at any time. We need to be on our guard all the time – in times of victory and in those low times.
The devil who tempted Adam and Eve in the garden, also tempted Jesus in the desert. Satan is a very real being. Created by God, an angel – but who rebelled and was cast out of Heaven down to the earth. He constantly fights against God and all those who follow Him and want to obey Him. Jesus was a prime target for the devil’s temptation. He had succeeded with Adam and Eve, and he hoped to succeed with Jesus, and he definitely hopes to succeed with you and me.
But why was it necessary for Jesus to be tempted? First, temptation is part of the human experience. For Jesus, who is fully God, to also be fully human, for Him to understand being human completely, He had to face everything we face – and He overcame for us. And, Jesus had to undo Adam’s work. Adam though created perfect, gave in to temptation and passed sin on to the whole of the human race and creation. Jesus, by contrast, resisted Satan. His victory offers salvation to all of Adam’s descendants.
Satan said – if you really are the Son of God. I think Satan’s greatest efforts are to get us to doubt Christ. To doubt His Word. He knows that once we begin to question whether or not Jesus really is God, and to doubt what He says – as soon as he can bring any doubt into our lives – it’s far easier to then get us to do what he wants. And if we do succumb, if we do give in to temptation, he immediately accuses us of failing, and goes to work destroying through guilt and shame and his lies that we are not worthy. He is the tempter and the accuser!
When we are living with doubt and fear we are especially vulnerable to temptation – and in full danger of Satan to steal and kill and destroy. And I believe one the most dangerous things in all the world is, a question – did God really say… (Gen 3:1).
Jesus never doubted, He never questioned. He held unswervingly to the unshakable Truths of God’s Word.
Sometimes what we are tempted to do is not wrong in itself. Turning stones into bread wasn’t necessarily bad. The sin was not in the act but in the reason behind it. The devil was trying to get Jesus to take a shortcut, to solve His immediate problem Himself – at the expense of the long term goal – to seek comfort at the sacrifice of the discipline God had called Him to. Just because something is not wrong in itself – does not mean that that is what God wants for you.
Often we are tempted not through our weaknesses by through our strengths. The devil tempted Jesus where He was strong. Jesus had power over stones, the kingdoms of the world and the angels – and Satan wanted Jesus to focus on His power and not the Mission for which He had His power. Our strengths are God’s gifts to us to be used by Him for His purposes in His time. They are not for us to boast about or use for selfish purposes at any time.
Satan wanted to divert Jesus from His true Mission. Satan tried to tempt Jesus to focus on and desire things of this world, over the things of God’s Kingdom. To want the temporary over the eternal.
Satan will do everything he can to divert you and me from what God has called us to do!
Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.
Christ’s defeat of the devil in the desert was decisive but not final. Throughout His Ministry Jesus was confronted by Satan in a thousand different ways again and again – most noticeably through the religious leaders – through those who claimed to love God. And we must not allow Satan room to attack us as Jesus’ Church, arguing among ourselves about how things should be done, rather than working together to do what should be done.
Temptation will never stop this side of Heaven. We need to be constantly on our guard, we need to expect it, and learn how to overcome in God’s power.
Where are you most susceptible to temptation? I know it’s most often for me at the end of a long week, after preaching on a Sunday – when I am spiritually, mentally and physically tired. It is during the time leading up to some Ministry work where we offer the Truth that some might be saved. It is every time I start to lose focus of God and His purpose for my life. And Satan knows how to tempt me where it hurts the most, where he can do the most damage.
Knowing and obeying God’s Word is the most effective weapon against temptation, against the enemy’s attacks. The Word of God is our only offensive weapon God gives us – well, the Word and love. Jesus used scripture to counter Satan’s attacks to show us what to do. But you have to believe the scriptures and use them to help you turn to God and seek Him. You have to know the scriptures for yourself.
Satan knows the scriptures, and He is very good at finding some way of twisting every Word to suit his purposes. Do you know the scriptures well enough to recognize the Truth from the lie?
When we encounter Jesus – we encounter the only True all Powerful God. And we will encounter His enemies.
Jesus has a calling on your life? He is calling you by name.
We can know about Him. We can read what He says, and try to obey. We can be religiously devout and very sincere. But none of that is enough in itself. When we encounter Him for ourselves, when we give our lives to Him, when He is at work in us – nothing is ever the same again! It is what true full life is all about. It is better – but it is also most certainly harder – until we are fully surrendered to Him. And He will complete the work He has started.