Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

" Godís Will, Through Temptation "

Deuteronomy 26:1-11,Psalm 91,Romans 10:8-13,Luke 4:1-13

February 21, 2010

by James Greene

 

†††††††††† In this season of Lent we are called to reflect, remember and remind ourselves who is The King in our lives and in the universe.How God became flesh in Jesus Christ and faced the temptations, hunger, thirst, and agony of crucifixion.How Christ has come to show us that we have life and hope, through our hardship.He came to show us Godís heart and what it is, for us to live in, and to be in Godís Will, as part of the people of God.

In Deuteronomy this morning is the outline of early worship and faith of the Hebrews.It describes the central theme of all worship-- which is the praise of God.It is demonstrated in the Israelís confession of indebtedness to God in this formalized worship.This was during the time of the spring harvest when they would bring the first fruits of the land, in praise and in worship, of the God of their fathers.It is in faith, that they make a re-dedication to the Lord, with the offering of their first fruits, remembering their history and their hardships and how God has sustained them through all things.

 

In this worship, there is a long speech that each head of the family makes a declaration.They recite the history of their faith and the history of Godís people.It calls them to remember the hardship and trials in Egypt, and how God heard their voice in their hardship and saw their sorrows, and delivered them out of the land with a mighty hand.It is a call to remember how God has been faithful, and his Word can be trusted to deliver them to the Promised Land.The Promise made by God to Abraham, and to the fore fathers.

The temptation, not to remember God, was always with them:.But their remembering God, and Godís providence is and was part of Godís Will for them even through their temptation.In remembering Ďwhose they areí they become a part of Godís Will- knowing that God keeps His promises to his people.The Lord is faithful, and by being in His Will, we too must be faithful to the one who is our defender and shield.We must rejoice in all the good things that God has given us, even in the midst of our trials, and temptations.

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†††††††††† In Psalm 91 there is the key use of the word ďwillĒ through out the poem.It is a look into the faith of the believer.It is an affirmation that God is and will always be our redeemer.It is an illustration that in our faith, we shall touch the heart of God, and he will hear us.We see in the Psalmistís statement ďI will say of the Lord, he is my refuge, fortress, in whom I can trust.Knowing in that trust, God will watch over us.It shows us Godís heart and intent for his people.

 

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The use of the word heart in the Old Testament is critical in understanding this text.The heart is the individualís point of contact with the Lord.It is the seat of ones emotions.It is the center of oneís intellect, and decision making.The heart is the court, in which, moral choice occurs within the individual.It is the center of their will and of their being.We see this in the Psalmist, and we see a glimpse of the Heart of God, and His intention for our redemption.

†††††††††† The last verses are a testament to Godís Will for his people.He ďwill command his angels, and they will lift you up.†† So that, in your trials, you can overcome

evil and temptations.It reveals, that God, is an active participant in our defense and protection.They are a prophesy, and a command and of the believerís love and protection, and salvation of his creator.

This is an outline of The Gospel of the Christ for both his and our redemption.

 

In Paulís letter to the Romans, we see Godís will, - and the heart of the believer in dialogue in the text.Like the reading from Deuteronomy, we see the believer in worship and in a profession of their faith.It is the heart and core of our faith: the trusting of, and believing in God.In that trust and belief, the individual is justified and saved.This doctrine is all inclusive, and is intended not just for the Jews but for all people in Godís creation, that all might be saved.It demonstrates that Jesus is the Lord of the Gospel, and he is the Lord of all, and will bless all who call upon him.†† It is also the heart of Godís will and intent for all people.

 

In Luke, the story of the temptation of Christ is right after his baptism by John.He is filled with the Holy Spirit, and he is immediately confronted with trial, and temptation.He is vulnerable in the midst of his temptation.Have you ever been hungry and missed a meal, - or several meals, because of work, or travel, or problems.Then you can identify with and understand the difficulty that Jesus faced in this trial.It is hard to keep focused, when hungry.Food becomes your focus.You become irritable, nervous, and short tempered when you are hungry.Now add being challenged and tested when you are weak, and irritable.It takes all that you have to keep focused and to be civil with the people who are pushing on you, and pushing your hot buttons.It is being up for 36 hours, and someone verbally picks a fight with you, when you are not your sharpest, and your patience is thin.That is when we are most tempted to error.Jesus was tempted to compromise; to use his power for something that it wasnít intended.He was tempted to use that power for the wrong reasons, instead of his call.Yet he remained focused on his Fatherís Will for him.

When your only day off from work is used in being at the nursing home with your Mom for 6 hours.Then you go, to your parents house, with your Dad, to help him make dinner, and he is billigerant and angry, because, he is dealing with the anger in his loss.You know it is then, than that you have to have, that trust in God.You have to reach down in your inner core to find Godís Peace, and to be able to help Dad through this trial and pain.This is, something of what it is like, to be tempted to error.

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The dialogue between Jesus and the devil parallels several challenges that we face in our every day life.We find ourselves in distress, in our hunger, or in our burdens, and we must remember that the Lord is with us at all times.He is there Ďwith usí in our trials, and in our struggles. Christ has gone through hardships and pain, and death.Just as the Psalmist reminds us of whoís we are; Jesus reminds us that He is there with us in the midst of the temptations.

†††††††††† We must remember like the Israelites in Deuteronomy who is King in our lives.How God cares for us, even in our struggles, and how we should even in the midst of our trials, reach out and help those around us, because it is in our trust in Godís Will that is the foundation of our faith.

 

In Luke the devil challenges Jesus when he is hungry, to turn the stone into a loaf of bread, Jesus quotes from the middle of Deuteronomy 8:V-3 ďHe humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.ĒNow bread is symbolic and a metaphor for wisdom in the Old Testament.This is a play on words when he is asking Jesus to turn the stone into bread.The Lord is known as our rock and our redeemer, (the salvation) and as The Bread of life (the wisdom).

†††††††††† Jesus is next tempted with the splendor and power of temporary worldly kingdoms, and is asked to worship Satan.Being faithful, Jesus keeps his focus upon righteousness and the Lord, and quotes from the beginning of Deuteronomy 6:13 ďFear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.Ē

 

The Satan then uses scripture to counter scripture when he quotes from Psalm 91:11-12(read this morning) ďFor he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;They will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stoneAgain, there is a play on words with the use of stone.This reminds us of how Jesus later will be identified as the ďstoneĒ that the builders rejected, that becomes a ďstumbling blockĒto the Jews.

Sometimes we give in, when devilís arguments use scripture against our sorrow and sadness.When Jobís friends said that his suffering was the result of some sin he or his parents committed reveals how evil can use text against us and against our faith.

Again, Jesus counters Satan with scripture: Deuteronomy 6:16 ďDo not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.ĒNow Massah is a reference to Exodus 17:7 where the Israelites quarreled with Moses because there was no water in the desert.The Lord tells Moses, to take his rod and strike the rock and water came out for the people to drink, and theyÖĒcalled the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the fault finding of the children of Israel, and because they put the Lord to the proof by saying ĎIs the Lord among us or not?íĒ

Again, we see where a stone is the stumbling for those who put the lord to the test.Again, the play on words, when Moses struck the rock, and when the Satan is tripped up, by the Lord, who is The Rock. ††††††† ††††††††††

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Summary

 

†††††††††† Christ has come to show us that we have hope through and in our hardship.Our life in the Word shows us how God will be our shield and shelter through out all of our lives.He shows us how to endure through and overcome temptations in our faithfulness, and by staying close to The Word, and focused upon Godís faithfulness and heart for all his people.It is done by, being faithful ourselves, and remembering that God is with us in and through all of our trials and temptations.We like Jesus need to keep our focus on Godís Will in the midst of it all.

 

And when we are tested, all we can do is call upon the Lord to help us to remember His Will, through our trials and temptations even as we minister to those around us in the midst of their trials and sorrows, by remembering that we do it all Ö

 

†††††††††† In the Name of Ö††† the Father,†† the Son,†† and the Holy Spirit.Amen

 

 

 

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