Jesus Visits His Home Town

SCRIPTURE: Luke 4:14-30, NLT

14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

22 Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

23 Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ 24 But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.

25 “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”

28 When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. 29 Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, 30 but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.

INTRODUCTION

On His way North, Jesus stops at His hometown. It was His habit and custom to attend synagogue on the Sabbath and so Jesus goes to church with the folks He grew up with and they invite him to preach. At first they are amazed and enamored with His wisdom and His gracious words but before He is through speaking, their admiration had turned to indignation. They are so angry that they turn into a mob and they attempt to kill Jesus. Of course, it was not His time to die and their efforts were in vain.

As I studied this very interesting story, the Holy Spirit reveals some things to me that I had not understood before.

FIRST: JESUS RESPONDS TO HUMILITY AND FAITH.

As I was reading in the Psalms yesterday morning, I came across affirmation in Psalm 149…For the Lord delights in his people; He crowns the humble with victory.  Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Wow! The LORD delights in the humble and He honors the faithful. Check the record: Jesus responded to ‘Humility’ and ‘Faith,’ not pride and unbelief. The people of Nazareth believed that Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary but they did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. I John 4:15 reads, All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them and they live in God. I John 5:10 reads, All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about His Son. The first step of faith is to believe that Jesus is who He said He was, the Son of God. Remember, I said this was the first step, not the only step: the devils believed that Jesus was the Son of God and declared it openly but they never repented. Two things devils can’t do: [1] Submit to Jesus as LORD [2] Worship Him.

SECONDLY: JESUS DOES NOT WORK ON DEMAND

Satan tempted Him to do miracles. The Pharisees demanded He do miracles to prove His identity. Herod taunted Him to do miracles for his entertainment and Jesus responded to none of the above. Jesus Christ is LORD. He is not at your command or mine. We can ask in faith but we can never command our LORD. It was Jesus divine nature that energized the miracles: He could do them because He was God. Human faith is not the power of the miracle, faith empowers the prayer, the request but it is Jesus who does the miracle. Jesus does delight in our faith. He responds to faith and the folks of Nazareth had no faith. They were full of unbelief and so Jesus did not do miracles: not because He could not but because He would not. Jesus had the power; the Nazarenes did not have the right attitude.

THIRD: JESUS ANGERS THE NAZARENES WITH HIS WORLD VIEW

Jesus said….“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News [gospel] to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Then Jesus said, “This passage is being revealed before your very eyes.” In other words, I AM the Messiah. I am He who will release the captives and set the oppressed free. The Nazarenes, like most Jews were thinking about their debts and their servitude to Rome. They were thinking here and now. Jesus was thinking about greater oppressors like sin and death. Jesus knew that had an enemy that was more detrimental to their future than Rome.

But the spark that set them off was the mention of God favoring gentiles. Elijah went to a widow in Sidon. Jews despised Sidonians almost as much as they did Samaritans. Then to ice the cake, Jesus mentions Elisha healing Naamam a Syrian. The Syrians were Israel’s hated enemies.

FOURTH AND FINALLY: NO ONE CAN THWART GOD’S PURPOSE

Jesus had authority over His life. It was not His day to die. He knew exactly when He would die and where and it was not this day and not in Nazareth. They had every intention of killing Jesus but He had no intention of letting them. He let them have their moment of glory and then he walked right through the mob and no one tried to stop Him. How did he do it? He was God. He had authority in His voice and in His eyes. Remember John’s account of Jesus arrest when Jesus spoke and the entire arresting mob fell to the ground.

Jesus prayed, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.” Christ’s kingdom is coming and there is nothing that this unbelieving Christ hating world can do about it. He is allowing them their moment of glory and they think that have Him at the brink of disaster but they are wrong: He is in absolute control, He always has been and always will be.

My father was living here on earth when Bill “Slick Willy” Clinton was elected president. I took a Nazareth vow before the election and made a commitment not to shave as long as this heathen was in office. I never dreamed that in a few years we would elect someone worse. Clinton may be the most overtly immoral president we had but he is not the worse. Obama and Jimmy Carter are at the bottom. Daddy was in the hospital and I went to see him on a Thursday night. He had a roommate who was black and his pastor was there visiting him. I walk in with my full beard and Daddy feels this need to explain to them why I had the beard. He said, “This is my son, he is a preacher also and he will not shave as long as Clinton is in office. I am giving Daddy the ‘Hush’ sign but he keeps talking. I know that black people are block voters and I was sure that these nice black people had voted for Clinton but Daddy would not hush. The black pastor rises to his feet and I think, this is it; I’m going to die before Daddy and because of his big mouth. So help me, this black pastor is 6’8’’ if he is an inch. He stood a full head over my shoulders and he walked straight at me. My heart began to race and my knees began to knock. He reached out with a massive arm and put me in a headlock. Then he looked me in the eye, “He said, brother, you are not to worry about Bill Clinton, he aint in charge. Jesus my LORD is running things. Bill Clinton is nothing to worry about.” I said, “You are right. This is a truth I knew but somehow I needed it reaffirmed and I am sure that God sent me here tonight so you could remind me of something I already knew but have not been practicing.”

SO I CONCLUDE WITH THESE TRUTHS

  1. Jesus is LORD over all and He is in control.
  2. God loves the world: He loves Jews and Gentile, male and female, young and old, big or small, short or tall. God loves you unconditionally. You can never deserve His love. He loves you because He choose to love you and there is nothing you can do about it. You can no more stop Him from loving you than you can stop the sun from rising.
  3. Jesus responds to humility and faith. Would you acknowledge your need for HIM today and would you put your trust in HIM.

 

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Temptation [Part 2]

Text: James 1:12-15, NLT

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,[c] and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

INTRODUCTION

Before we get into tonight’s message; let us do a brief review:

  1. So far James has taught us that Temptation never comes from God. God never tempts us to do evil and He cannot be tempted to do evil.
  2. God does try our faith but it is not to trip us up, it is to build us up.
  3. Both temptations and trials are good teachers.
  4. Divine Wisdom is available at request if we ask humbly and in faith.

In our last sermon [not posted at this time] we talked about the general aspects of temptation but tonight we are going to get into specifics. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe says there are four stages to sin and they are all found in this text: there is DESIRE, DECEPTION, DISOBEDIENCE AND DEATH. It is a good outline and we will use it.

      • FIRST OF ALL: THERE IS DESIRE

      • The Greek word translated ‘desire’ in NLT [v.14] is epithymia which means desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust. The AV and NASB translate the word lust. Lust is a longing, craving, a deep desire but we never think of lust as a good thing and the word here is talking about our natural desires.
      • There is nothing wrong with our natural desires, God created them in us. We desire food and we would starve without it. We desire water, shelter, clothing and of course sex. The desire in and of itself is not wrong, not evil.
      • All desires have to be controlled or they become destructive. I have this watch because of a weight problem. I have a huge fat tumor under my right lung. I have already lost my diaphragm in the right lung which is a sack of air. I will be on a diet the rest of my life or I will lost one lung and possible more. Over eating can cause severe health issues. We have to learn to control our food intake. It is not easy. Gluttony is a sin and it is destructive.
      • In the same manner, we have to control our desire for sex. If we yield to all our sexual desires we will become like the animals. We will stoop to the level of self-gratification and self-preservation and it will be impossible for us to maintain any enduring relationships. That was a great bible study lesson last Sunday: any time we behave selfishly toward another human being, we damage the relationship.

 

THE SECOND STAGE IS DECEPTION

    • Our key word is in verse 14 ‘deleazō’ which literally means to bait, to allure, to deceive.
    • The fisherman actually catches the fish by deceiving it: he uses a lure that has a hidden hook. The fish thinks it something to eat and he strikes with vengeance but when he closes its mouth, it feels the pain of the hook. Then the more it resist the deeper the hook is set.
    • The fish is hungry and he sees something that appears to be a delicious meal and he goes for the bait.
    • A good fisherman studies the fish: he knows their habits and his mission is to find the fish’s weakness and get it to take the bait. The devil works the same way: he does not use the same bait for everyone. For some he uses drugs, Alcohol, others he uses greed [money] and for many, he uses sex. Again: Temptation is relative to desire, ability and opportunity. Some have the desire but not the ability. Some have the desire and never get the opportunity.
    • The devil is clever. He is a con-artist, a prolific liar. He can sell a fork when it’s raining soup. He can make the bait so attractive, so enticing, so alluring that the only thing that can keep you from striking is the fear of God and the ability to flee. The sad thing is: I can see people being deceived and I tell them what the devil is up to and they take the bait and run with it even though I have told them what lies ahead.

THIRD THERE IS THE DISOBEDIENCE

 

  • Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
  • Not every temptation leads to a sinful action. Jesus told us that lust with intent is equal to adultery but there is no social fallout with lust alone. However, when lust takes the bait and becomes convinced of the devil’s lie, the result is a sinful action.
  • Generally speaking, one sinful action leads to another sinful action and another. As bad as I hate to say it, a one night stand if repented of would be better than a prolonged affair. Sin has a way of blinding us and like David. He knew it wrong to sleep with another man’s wife but he was driven by pride and lust and eventually murdered the husband to get him out of the picture and any real student of the bible will tell you that his life was never the same. His sinful action ripped his family a part.

 

  • FINALLY, SINFUL ACTION [DISOBEDIENCE] LEADS TO DEATH
  • The wages of sin is death: all sin leads to death. Every time we sin something dies. It could be a relationship, an opportunity, a hundred thousand brain cells, a little deeper searing of your conscience: it could be your witness, your joy, or your purpose in life.
  • Again, David is a prime example: he took a roll in the hay when he was supposed to be in the field fighting the enemy and everything around him began to die. Uriah the Hittite. The son conceived in adultery. Amnon his first born. Absalom his favorite and then Adonijah. First of all, only God knows how many wives and sons he had. I find 19 sons in the bible but these were to wives and he had concubines. No one really knows how many sons he had or how many funerals he attended.
  • David was the man who wrote Psalms 119:11… I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I think he wrote this before his mid-life crisis but I am almost sure the older and wiser David would admit that sin leads to death and death is never pleasant.
  • I tell people, “You have to read the small print.” I hate doing business with corporate America, it is dog eat dog. We did business with Linier for years and then they were bought out by some big corp and one of our members was their sales rep: we bought or leased a printer from them and I did not read the fine print. I trusted the sales rep who had not read the fine print himself. These contracts automatically renew themselves if you do not ask for a release within 30 of the end of the contract. You have a 30 day window are they bring you a new printer and you have five more years of payments. That is not all, they sat the default on color and we ran up a $1500 bill and did not even know we were being charged for color. I would tell you how we finally got out of the contract but it would take hours.
  • People jump into the affairs like teenagers head over heels in love. They talk and act silly and I am telling them, you are not going to like where this is going and they pay me no attention. I may as well be talking to the wall. In all these years, I have had one couple who listened.

The Salt And The Light

Text: Matthew 5:13-14

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”

INTRODUCTION

Over 40 million evangelicals and no telling how many Reforms forget that we have a dual citizenship. Because they stayed at home in the last two elections, we have Obama and a mess. These people forget that we have dual citizenship. Yes, we belong to the Kingdom of God and our future is in heaven but at present, we live in this sin cursed fallen world. When Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He was not talking about our responsibilities in heaven but here on earth. This dual citizenship involves dual obligations and loyalties.

A Christian’s greatest responsibility is to be the light, to be obsessed with the promotion of God’s Kingdom but we are also to be salt. I suppose the proper balance is hard to come by: I may be a little too salty but I am not backing down on my views which are founded on the word of God.  But we have a moral responsibility to be the salt of the earth. We want need salt in heaven. Salt was a valuable commodity in Jesus day. We still value salt but in Jesus day there was no refrigeration and the only way to keep meat from spoiling was to apply salt and plenty of it.

Obviously, Jesus understood that society will rot and self-destruct with a stabilizing moral influence. These idiots who say ridiculous things like, “Christians need to stay out of politics,” need to get acquainted with real American history. I’m not talking about the fictional government version. Would the Israelites been freed from Egyptian bondage without the leadership of Moses? Would the Jews have rebuilt the temple without the leadership of Zerubbabel? Would they have rebuilt the walls without Nehemiah? Would America have gained her independence without the LEADERSHIP of George Washington? You know the answer to all, NO!

WASHINGTON’S EARNEST PRAYER

I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection; that He would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for brethren who have served in the field; and finally that He would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

JOHN ADAMS

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

I want you to understand what this man is saying: our founding fathers gave us such broad, wide and extensive civil liberties that we cannot sustain these liberties without being moral. In brief, immorality will destroy our great republic. Because of our gross immorality, we are losing rights every day and we are going to lose more if we don’t wake up.

  1. The right to own private property lies at the heart and soul of the Republic. John Hancock would never have joined the patriot cause had not all his property and holding been seized by king George. The IRS hold this right today and it is unconstitutional. The IRS is a government excuse for intruding into our civil liberties.
  2. The right to bear arms is under attack: thank God for the National Rifle Association and the hunters. The democrats would take your guns today if they thought they could pull it off.
  3. The right to assemble and to worship according to the dictates of our own heart is under attack.
  4. The right of free speech is under attack. They are going to lock up preachers like myself for hate crimes. They will constitute any negative criticism, any judgment of the homosexual community as a hate crime. Five years ago, I did not think I would live to see it but now I don’t know.
  5. The War against Biblical Marriage which is stated clearly in Genesis…2:24 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Where did you come from–a mother and father. You did not come from two men or two women but from one man and one woman. There are many reasons for sex but number one is to procreate, to multiply and fill the earth. Homosexuality is not only destructive behavior for those engaged but it will destroy a society.

Too many Christians are naive, they think all homosexuals are like the ones they know—gentle, peaceable people who would not hurt a flea but this is not true the homosexual that is demanding that they church bow to their god. These people are militant and they have every intention of destroying my right and your right to disagree with them. The core of this group in antichrist and antichristian. Two years ago, Franklin Graham warned that they were coming to the bible belt and starting with Alabama. Mississippi will be next.

Too many have the idea that they will never affect them—“I just mind my own business and try to get along with everyone.” We are a lot like the Germans. Martin  Niemöller said….

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Barring a Revival, History is going to repeat itself. I heard a group of people complaining last week about their preacher. They said, “We always know what he is going to preach: it is either abortion being murder, homosexuality being sin or America going down the tube.” I said, “You need to be thanking instead of complaining.”  None of them will be at the Marriage rally in Montgomery; you can count on it. They are just peace loving folks who are sleeping in carnal security and do not want to be awakened.  There were some folks in Sodom who loved peace: Lot for one. When the fire and brimstone of destruction start falling, you will not have some protective shield; you, your children and grandchildren will reap the bitter consequences of your cowardly non-invovlement.

TEMPTATION

Text: James 1:12-15… 12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

INTRODUCTION

First of all, there are various translations of the Greek word ‘peirasmos‘. You will note that the NLT [above] uses two words ‘testing’ and ‘temptation’.  The NASB reads, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial.” The AV reads, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.” So who is right and who is wrong? Both are accurate which is why the NLT is better. The Greek word means: [1] an experiment, attempt, trial, proving (Gal. 4:14), the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy. In brief: adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness. [2] it can also mean an enticement to sin, temptation by the devil, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances. It can even be a tempting of God to put for proof of His word, power or existence. Tasker {Tyndale Commentary} believes the NASB is more accurate because of the word ‘endure’: we resist temptation, we endure trials. It is a very good point but there is no doubt that this passage deals with both TRIALS and TEMPTATION.

Dr. Wiersbe says that God test us to bring out the best in us whereas the devil tempts us to bring out the worse. The key is to understand that God may test us as He did Abraham but He will never tempt us to do evil. He cannot be tempted to do evil and He will not tempt us to do evil.

WHAT CAN I SAY ABOUT TEMPTATION THAT HAS NOT ALREADY BEEN SAID? PROBABLY NOTHING BUT IT IS WISE TO REVIEW THE SUBJECT TIME AND AGAIN. PERHAPS WE SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHAT THE TWO HAVE IN COMMON?

I. BOTH TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS HAPPEN TO EVERY BELIEVER.

Since God tried Abraham’s faith, you can be sure, He will try yours. Adrian Rogers once said, “A faith that has not been tested in not worth trusting.” Last Sunday in our LIFE CHANGING BIBLE STUDY class, two dear women shared some things going on in their family. Both felt overwhelmed. One lady has two daughters: the first has severe emotional problems and had to be committed to institutional care and the second has a very rare disease that has baffled all the local doctors. Even Birmingham, had no suggestions for treatment or surgery. They have seen physicians from Vanderbilt and are going to Mayo Clinic next month. Unfortunately, this was not the only thing going on as if she needed more. I cannot share the second trail for fear that it will make things worse for her but all of this is happening at once, it is like an avalanche of problems coming in on her and her family at once.

How can God destroy our idols? How can God make us hate our sin? How can God get us to the point where all we want is His will? There is only one way: our faith must be tried. I have to admit that I have never had a Job experience where everything came unraveled at the same time but as I look back over my life, I can see clearly that I learned from my sorrows, my heartaches, and my failures. My mothers family was torn apart by divorce and then it happened to us. I have three grandchildren who have suffered their entire childhood from the horror of estranged parents who cannot work together on anything because one refusing to cooperate. More and more families are being torn apart by the battle on the inheritance. It happens a lot more than you realize. I know of two families in our small congregation that are hurting right now because someone took unfair advantage and cheating siblings out of things their parents intended for them to have.

II. BOTH TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS TEACHERS

As the old Smoky and Bandit song goes, “I have a long way to go and a short time to get there.” To be 65 years old, I’m not all that mature as a Christian. Sometimes I feel like I am in kindergarten spiritually. As I look back over my brief life [seems so to me], I realize what teachers temptation and trails have been. I am a Pharisee by nature. I grew up under the strict teaching of a devout Christian woman who didn’t even allow us to say darn. I’ve never smoked in my life, I drank very little and that was as a boy mostly because I was put to the dare by those older than myself. In my entire life I have not missed much more than a dozen Sundays if that and when I missed it was due to surgery or sickness. I have traveled on Sunday twice and I hate it. When I graduated Seminary, my halo was pretty tight. I never looked twice at another woman; I was totally devoted to my wife and began to think that marriage was a piece of cake. I had very little sympathy for those who thought otherwise. I said many proud things from the pulpit about my model marriage and my model family. I may not have used those exact words but that was my feeling and I am sure it communicated. Others see our pride sooner than we ourselves. I was setting myself up for a fall and it came suddenly and very unexpected. There was a boot in my tire all along and I didn’t know it but being a foster parent applied the pressure that almost blew a tire.

Temptation is frightening, it is humiliating, it is laden with guilt and it will leave you  feeling miserable. By the grace of God and a good wife, I survived but it left me a different man. It burned out the dross worldliness. I once craved being a land owner and home owner and now I have neither and don’t care. I have no desire to go back—heaven is my hope and home. Someone over heard me counseling with a victim of divorce once and when I walked out she said, “You sure are sympathetic and understanding.” I said, “I haven’t had the same experience but I’ve been close enough to feel the pain and it something I will not forget.” Trials and Temptations are TEACHERS.

So do I have it all together? Is my family a model family? Have I lived a perfect life? No to all, but these flops and failures have humbled me more than once and they have been great instructors. My son, at age 39, is a better preacher than myself. He is better than I was at 39 [20 years in the ministry] and he is better than I am at 65. How did he get to this point? Hard knocks! He tried a dozen things and failed at all of them. He even tried selling vacuum cleaners at one time: he failed miserably because he was too honest. He tried coaching, he tried politics, he tried working in a plant but he ended up feeling miserable even though he was making $75,000 per year and was out of debt. When he told me God was calling him to preach: I said the most carnal thing I’ve ever said: “Son, you are mistaken, God is not calling you to preach. You are making $75,000 dollars a year and you are 31 years old. I’m 57 and I make half of that amount.” I will never forget the look of disappointment on his face. He never cries but he came close: he said, “Daddy, I am happy and I will never be happy until I do God’s will.” God convicted me as he spoke and I apologized. I said, “Son, if God has called you to preach, I am going to do everything I can to help you.”  My son has since been humiliated [which was why I did not want him to be a preacher], hated for no cause other than jealousy and he has been criticized. Yet, I have never heard him get in the flesh in the pulpit and his father has done so more than once. He has loved and served every member no matter how they treated him. My senior deacon told me this past Sunday evening, “The boy has more wisdom than others his age.” How did it get it? Bumps and bruises, hard knocks; enduring trial after trial.

III. BOTH BRING US TO OUR KNEES

James said back in verse 5, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Both trials and temptations will have you crying out to God like a baby. I would love to tell you that I am a good man and that I have never been tempted to sin but I am going to tell you up front I am no Job or John the Baptist. Job said and I believe he was as honest as the day is long, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” I cannot be honest without offending people: Job did not say, “with lust at an old woman.” The reason being men, especially old men lust for young women. An old naked woman is a turn off just as an old naked man would be sickening to a young woman or old. Old men don’t chase women because we can’t move that fast but we lust for the young ones. Any young man that reads this will feel immediately superior to me. You just wait! I am a threat to no one but that doesn’t mean I have a clean mind and never think about sex. Someone did a study and said the average male thinks about sex every seven minutes. This one issue alone keeps me on the carpet. So long story short: I am not a good man and I am tired of pretending. I am a death and hell deserving sinner saved only by the grace of a loving Savior and a merciful God. You cannot find one thing in me that is commendable unless it is something that Christ put there by grace.

One of my young deacons tried to console me, he said, “Preacher, the young women are not helping you, they are revealing far too much and they makes it hard on all of us, not just you old guys.” I know he is right but I am more attracted to the modest than I am the revealing. I am actually embarrassed by women who are not properly covered. Beauty is the problem: it is to be admired but the temptation is to imagine or fantasize. I begged my granddaughters not to be cheer leaders for this reason. I do not see how a young woman can be turned on by knowing that a stadium full of dirty-minded old man are fantasizing with them.

I can I think highly of myself knowing the thought that run through my mind when I see a beautiful woman. The battle with lust is like the battle with pride, it seems there is no end. I don’t know how an alcoholic feels but I wouldn’t think they feel any worse than those of who lust for the flesh. I can I feel proud and pure when I battle lust on a daily basis. It is humiliating; it drives me to my knees where I cry out to my SAVIOR and HIGH PRIEST for His grace and mercy.

Dealing With Temptation

May 17, 2015

Dealing With Temptation

Luke 4:1-13

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. 11 And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.

Introduction

Joe David will get the opportunity to speak to you tonight, so I want to speak to you this morning. This message is directed toward our seniors and young people but it is a message for all ages. I want to talk to you this morning about something that is very real and I will preface my thought by pointing out several related realities.

  1. The “World” is real and when I say world, I mean the world system which is in rebellion against Christ, God’s anointed. Our world is hostile toward Jesus. They despise our Savior. If you want to fit in to this world system, you must not talk about Jesus unless you are uttering curses.
  2. The power and presence of “Evil” is real. In 2013 there were 1.2 million abortions [certainly a violent crime], 13,160 homicides, over 75,000 rapes and 316,000 robberies. The same liberals who say that evil does not exist have three locks on their doors: latch, chain and deadbolt. Every child in our house had a 12:00 pm curfew because my mother said, “Nothing good happens after mid-night.”
  3. The “Flesh” is real. By flesh, I mean the selfish and sinful nature that indwells each of us. This nature says… “I want what I want when I want it and I will act ugly if necessary to get it.” We see this nature come out in little children. It is in all of us. Isaiah said…All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him [Jesus].
  4. The “Devil” [adversary] is real: he goes by many names—Lucifer [Light bearer, shinning one], Satan [accuser]. He is not a cartoon character dressed in blue and red with long tail and pitch fork in hand. He is a fallen angel; angel gone bad. He is a spiritual being and you and I have never seen him with our eyes but he is real, just as real as the air you breath which you cannot see either.
  5. Last but not least, there is “Temptation” which is what I want to talk about today. Temptation is real, very real, among other things. Let’s talk for a minute about the other things.

Facts About Temptation

  1. Temptation comes from the devil. James says in chapter one of his epistle…12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,  and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. [Four stages to sin: Desire, Deception, Disobedience and Death] God will test us to bring out the best in us but Satan tempts us to bring out the worse. {W.W. Wiersbe}
  2. Temptations follow a basic pattern: Genesis 3:6… When the woman saw that the tree was good for food [Physical appetite], and that it was a delight to the eyes [pleasure principle], and that the tree was desirable to make one wise [Power/control], she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Think about it: Jesus was tempted to turn rock into bread [physical appetite]. He was tempted to do something sensational [Pleasure Principle] and He was tempted to set up an earthy kingdom [Power/Control]. John said, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh [Appetite] and the lust of the eyes [Pleasure] and the boastful pride of life [Power/Control], is not from the Father, but is from the world. Jesus was tempted with the same things as Eve but there is one difference: Jesus was tempted to rely on His divine nature, you and I are tempted to rely on our human nature. We’ve never been tempted to turn rocks into bread because we lack to power to do so.
  3. Temptation is common to all men and all believers. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. My pastor challenged me to memorize this verse which I did and I do not know how many times this verse came into play, it was more than once. Every time I claimed this verse and prayed, God gave me a way of escape.
  4. Temptation is a powerful force or pull. We cannot take it lightly. [1] First of all, we cannot deny the pleasure of sin. Listen to what the scriptures say about MosesIt was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. Did you note: there is pleasure in sin, if there was not, temptation would have no power but alas the pleasure of sin is fleeting. Jesus offers us suffering first but it is consummated in glory. The devil offers us glory first but it ends in agonizing suffering. [2] Satan always using attractive bait. He allures us. Just as a fisherman lures the fish. Satan’s lures look good to the eye but they all have a hook. Your goal is to not get hooked. [3] No one is above temptation. Jesus the Son of God was tempted and you and I will be tempted also. Don’t get proud; pride makes us setting ducks. Paul warned in Galatians 6…Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

Remember

  1. Satan always attacked our weakness
  2. He always using alluring bait: something that will draw you out.
  3. He always uses deceit: he is a liar and the father of all lies…you cannot trust him, ever.
  4. He always cast doubt on the goodness, the benevolence of God.
  5. He always cast doubt on the motive of God…God doesn’t love you, why would He love you…do you deserve being  loved by the Creator?
  6. He always cast doubt of God’s word.

CONCLUSION

  1. Today, I challenge you to believe with all your heart that God loves you more than you love youself. Jesus loves you this I know, He gave up heaven’s glory to take on the garb of our human flesh. He lived a perfect life in our behalf because we could never meet the laws perfect demands. He died on a cross to pay for our sins which we could never pay for. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. Jesus loves you, don’t doubt it. If you are a doubter, watch the PASSION OF CHRIST.
  2. The Bible is God’s word, believe it:  If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. If you will put your faith in the righteousness of Jesus, God will give you credit for His perfect life.
  3. It all boiled down to who you trust: the world, the flesh {self}, the devil or Jesus.

SOCIAL STATUS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST

TEXT: James 1:9-11, NLT

9Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

INTRODUCTION

I have always had some difficulty with this passage because I have some wealthy friends who are very good to me and I think it is wrong to be unjustly harsh toward them simply because they are rich. My father was a member of a local union and for some reason, the unions teach, or brainwash their members into seeing the rich as the enemy and the cause of all ills. Abraham was rich, Job was rich, Zacchaeus was rich and Joseph of Arimathea was rich just to name a few. Money or wealth is amoral: it is neither good or bad. It all depends on our attitude toward wealth.

Christ brings to every man what every man needs. The despised poor need self-respect and the rich need humility. Christ is the great leveler of men: He raises the despised and He lowers the elites.

I. CHRIST CAN RESTORE SELF-RESPECT TO THE POOR

Like it or not, our world judges people by their income and net worth. All wealthy people are considered successful. It does not matter how wicked a person is: if they have lots of money, the world admires them. There is something superficial and shallow about the world’s analysis but that is the way it is. This tendency of judging people by the social economic status has always been a problem in the church. James will have a lot to say about how we relate to the poor and he has a stern warning if we show partiality by giving preferential treatment to the rich.

People tend to kiss up to money, just the way it is and people who don’t have money tend to think less of themselves for being poor. The major attitudinal problem with the despised poor is their self-respect or sense of self-worth. Christ came to restore our sense of self-worth. No one is useless, no one is invaluable in the kingdom of Christ.

William Barclay says that in the early church, some of the pastors were slaves. They were serving communion to their masters. The church is to obliterate social distinctions which divide us. In other words, we they walked into the sanctuary to worship, there was no slave and master. Every man became a slave and Jesus was the Master.

Creating a culture that disregards social distinction is not an easy thing. Countless number of churches have had wars over things like bus ministries and Weekday Education [some call it Day Care but it is really Child Care]. I have heard opponents say, “It does not make sense to bring in all these poor kids. They do not give, they only take.” Some people want to run the church like a business but the church is a ministry and there is a big difference. All ministry is costly and never profitable if it really done in the name of Jesus and for his glory. If you are making a profit in ministry, you best find a prayer closet and get your motives purified. All Christ exalting ministries lose money which is why we give our tithes and offerings.

I have a pastor friend in L.A. who has a bus ministry. They have been running buses as long as the Falwells and they will keep running them because they have a climate and culture conducive to bringing in poor  [sometimes] children. They embrace these kids. I doubt if you can find a bad attitude in the entire church concerning these children. We have one van and we use it on Sunday and Wednesday night. Practically all the children that ride the van [two loads on Wednesday] are from welfare families where the parents don’t work. These children do not practice good hygiene and they do not dress as well as others but I have been super blessed, along with drivers and the teachers. Our Wednesday night supper crew knows every child by name and they treat them like royalty. I am telling you, it is a sight for sore eyes. One of the little girls named Sissy has become an icon.

In the body of Christ, the church–social distinctions are to be obliterated. I can promise you, there will not be any in heaven.

II. CHRIST CAN GIVE THE RICH A SPIRIT OF HUMILITY

You have to admit, most rich folks are not humble. Wealth has a tendency to make us arrogant and self-reliant. Because we have more than others, we feel superior to others. We may even feel intellectually superior. We may even think that all poor people are stupid or dumb. We may feel more deserving. I have heard rich people say, “I worked for what I have. No one gave me anything.” What an arrogant pile of rot. Their mama gave them birth and God gave them breath and health to work. It is God, according to Moses, who gives us the ability to make wealth.

In America, at least in the past, we have three classes whereas in Jesus day there was only two. We have the rich, the middle class, and the poor. Most of us are middle class. We do tend to congregate with our kind. Very few rich people belong to a small rural church: they go to a First Baptist or some prestigious church in town. I’ve had it happen. A middle class man became wealthy during the Reagan years and he moved his membership to a First Baptist Church. It was not a great loss, he only tithes his advice. He sent his tithe to whomever he decided. He never trusted the church with HIS money.

Here is the dilemma. I am not rich but I am not poor either, not in our culture. I don’t mind telling you that I get intimidated by the rich. I have always felt inferior to the rich but at the same time, I have often felt superior to the poor. Christ wants to level our thinking. So I am in the middle, I am neither rich or poor so I have trouble relating to both.

I’m going to be honest. We have beggars stop here on a regular basis and I do profile. As a matter of fact, I can give you a profile of a modern day, North Alabama beggar. They smoke, they have a cell phone, they like beer, cable and pets. They all have a sob story and they shun work and responsibility like it was the black plague. Yet I know what the old testament teaches about our relation to the poor and we do help. Our church gave thousands of dollars this past Christmas, making sure these kids from the welfare families had a Christmas. At our BLOCK PARTY in August, we will give away thousands in food, clothes, school supplies and prizes. In the 15 years that we have been doing Block Parties, I would guess that we have given close to a quarter of a million dollars to the poor in our area.

In either direction: extreme wealth or poverty, or in the middle– the problem we battle is ATTITUDE.

III. RICHES ARE MORE DANGEROUS THAN POVERTY

William Barclay said, “Riches tend to make us feel proud and self-sufficient. Wealth gives us a false sense of security. Money makes us feel safe…we become convinced that we can buy whatever we need and that includes buying our way out of a bad situation.”

We have seen this right here in Morgan County: the poor kid goes to prison and the rich kid gets off scott free.

The problem of trusting your riches is that wealth is transient and not really dependable. It can be here today and gone tomorrow. For an illustration, James uses the Sirocco or as some call it the Simoon. This is the scorching Southeast wind that blows up from the dessert. It is a picture that we are totally unfamiliar with in the West. In Palestine, a field can be green one day and brown the next. When the Sirocco comes in, it is like the opening of an oven door, the scorching heat fries the vegetation is hours, less than a day.

The point is: we cannot put our trust in riches. It is not wise because they are here today and gone tomorrow. Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.”

CONCLUSION

Jesus urges us to admit our human helplessness. We need humility. We need to put our faith and trust in HIM, not earthy treasures. We need to totally depend on HIM and it takes humility to do this. God give us humility.