Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Blessed Life


Last Sunday we read the account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness as recorded in the book of Luke, chapter 4. The first temptation Jesus faced was to: 1. Provide for Himself by turning stone into bread instead of waiting on God’s provision. The second temptation Jesus faced in that wilderness was to: 2. Promote Himself by taking a short cut to becoming King of all of the Kingdoms of the world. All Jesus had to do was to submit and pay tribute to the devil. The third temptation Jesus faced was to: 3. Prove Himself and show that He really was somebody important and that God wouldn’t let Him down.

We observed how Jesus used the Word of God to defeat each temptation and we learned that:
·        The Word of God supplies our daily bread.
·        Worship and Service to God secures our destiny.
·        Relationship with God assures our eternity.

In other words, we found that we can trust God with our today, with our tomorrow and with our eternity. And we realized that these are the very things that the devil tempts us with the most. Can we trust God with our today, our tomorrow and our eternity?

How can anyone trust God with their eternity if they cannot even trust Him to for what they need today?

About 2 years after Jesus encountered these specific temptations He was ministering in the far north of Israel not too far from the snow capped Mountain of Hermon. The area today is called Banias and the Hermon stream comes to a waterfall that is commonly known as the source of the Jordan River.

 The scriptures in Mark 8 say that Jesus was at the town of Caesarea Philippi, named after the son of Herod the Great in the year 2BC.

During the two years Jesus had been ministering since His encounter with the devil in the wilderness, Jesus had faced several obstacles presented to Him by the devil in attempts to detour, derail or otherwise destroy His ministry. In fact one such attempt had just occurred in verses 32 and 33 of Mark 8 when Peter thought He was doing Jesus a favor and giving Him support by trying to discount the need for Jesus to face any hardships. Jesus promptly rebuked Peter and kept His focus on His trust in God to see Him through whatever might come.

With these temptations in mind Jesus calls the people who are with Him together for a little refresher course on what it takes to defeat the devil’s temptations.

Mark 8  NKJV
34  When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
35  "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36  "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
37  "Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
38  "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

This morning I want to encourage you with these same words Jesus spoke to those with Him on that day. Allow me to paraphrase: If we are going to be a Disciple of Jesus … then we must:

1.   Be Willing to Pursue Him
a.   Recognize the desire resident within you to come to Jesus …
b.   This desire comes from God and when we answer the call it is strengthened and grows.
2.   Separated Unto God
a.   Separated from self and selfish pursuits
b.   Denying worldly lusts and earthly rewards
c.   No provision for the flesh – the first temptation
3.   Yoked with Christ
a.   Joined together under the burden of the call without respect to the costs
b.   Not talking about the death of the cross but rather the weight of the cross. – the burden and responsibility of being like Christ
c.   “No crown without a cross …” – the second temptation
4.   Committed to the End
a.   Not just a passing fad but a continuing perseverance
b.   This decision to follow Jesus is a relationship for all eternity
c.   Not going to stop short of heaven – the third temptation

Today I ask:
·        Are you willing?
o   Will you separate yourself from this world unto Christ?
o   Will you shoulder the burden of the call of God on your life?
o   Will you commit the rest of your life to following Jesus?