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Tag: worship

Facing Temptation

Last Sunday we spent some time looking at the baptism of Jesus. And of course, one of the big questions that comes out of that story is “Why did Jesus need to be baptized anyway?” 

John the Baptist had been baptizing people as they confessed and repented of their sin. But as the sinless Son of God, Jesus had no sin to confess or repent of. He had lived his life in perfect obedience to God and so baptism would seem really unnecessary. John the baptist even said to Jesus….

“I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”

15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”

Matthew 3:14b-15a

And that’s the key right there… Jesus had to carry out all that God required. 

Namely, that Jesus identify with sinful man – taking our sin upon himself as if it were his own. This was a key part of God’s plan to redeem mankind. This would be one of the first steps in Jesus’ journey to the cross where he would ultimately give his life as the payment for our sin.

And of course, as Jesus obediently submitted to the will of His Heavenly Father in baptism, both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit expressed their approval of what had just happened – in a very dramatic way. The Holy Spirit descended like a dove and settled on Jesus and God spoke from heaven saying “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

This was very clear affirmation for all those who witnessed this – that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and that He was doing exactly what his Heavenly Father wanted Him to do. This was almost like a commissioning of Jesus as be began to carry out His life’s mission.

However, there was one further step of preparation before Jesus could begin his public ministry. In the very next verse, right after God said “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” – we read this:

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” Matthew 4:1

This may seem like an odd thing for God to do – right after He declares his approval and the joy He has in His Son, why would the Holy Spirit then lead Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil?

What’s that all about? Is this like a test – some kind of final exam for Jesus before He begins his ministry? Is this another necessary part of God’s plan to redeem mankind? Is there something else going on here? How does this all fit together?

Well, that’s exactly what we want to look at this morning.

Today we’re going to be looking at Matthew chapter 4 – verses 1 through 11. We already read verse 1, but let me read that again together with verse 2 now because these two verses kinda set the stage for the rest of the passage.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.

Matthew 4:1-2

First of all, you’ll notice that Jesus was led “by the Spirit” into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. God intentionally brought Jesus into a place where he would be tested & tried by Satan Himself.

Now to be clear, God was not doing the tempting, but He did intentionally bring Jesus to a places where he would be subjected to temptation. The question is why? Well, the short answer is that we’re not specifically told. The Bible doesn’t explain God’s motives and reasonings in this instance.

However, I think we can deduce a few possibilities.

One reason could be that this was a necessary part of Jesus’ growth and development in his relationship with his Heavenly Father. You’ll remember that as a human, Jesus had to grow and learn – which is hard for us to wrap our heads around, I know. But Hebrews 5:8 reminds us:

8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8

Now of course, that’s not to say that Jesus had been disobedient previously, but it seems that the depth of His trust and dependance on God grew as Jesus went through difficult things – which is just how our faith grows too! 

I think that most of us would recognize that the most difficult times in life are usually the times that cause us to draw close to God and to trust in Him. When things are going good, we tend just to rely on our own strength. But when life gets hard, we realize how much we need to trust in God. And so these difficult times in our live are really a blessing because they teach us to stop relying on ourselves and instead to put our trust in God.

And so for Jesus, these forty days and forty nights fasting in the wilderness – spending time alone with God in prayer – would no doubt serve as a unique classroom for Jesus to learn even greater dependance on God. And I think we’ll see some of the results of that as keep going through this passage.

Another purpose for the Holy Spirit to lead Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil could be that this was yet another way in which Jesus would identify in every way with mankind. Two weeks ago we read Hebrews 4:15 which says….

15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15

In his humanity, Jesus experienced all the same testings as we do. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan did his best to draw Jesus into sin, just like he does with us. And so Jesus knows what it’s like for us to face the schemes and lies of the devil – because he faced them himself! And what’s more, He had victory over them. This verse in Hebrews tells us – and our passage today affirms – that Jesus did not sin.

And I think that one of the key applications of this passage for our lives is to see how Jesus did that. Jesus models for us how we can stand against and have victory over the temptations that Satan sends our way.

And so with that in mind, let’s take a look at the first of these temptations and see how Jesus deals with it.

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The Worship of the Wisemen

Through the month of December, our Sunday morning messages revolved around the characters of the Christmas story. We looked first at Jesus himself, then his earthly father Joseph, then his very young mother Mary, and then finally last week we looked at the shepherds who were outside of Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth. Typically we tend to look at the events of Christmas more so than the characters, so I’ve appreciated the new perspective that we’ve gained as we’ve looked more in-depth at these different people.

Now my plan for today was to start leading us through a new series of messages that will take us right on through until Easter. Basically, I want us to walk through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ from birth to resurrection. However, I feel like we’ve kinda missed an important set of characters in the Christmas story. You’ve may have realized too, that we haven’t looked at the wisemen or King Herod.

And so today, I want to use the wisemen as a bridge between these two series of messages. They will be the final characters in the Christmas series, but also the first story in this new series as we begin to look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

After all, the wisemen really do serve as a transitional story between the baby Jesus and the young child Jesus. Despite what most nativity scenes depict, the wisemen most certainly did not gather around the manger to meet baby Jesus on the night he was born, but rather, they met Jesus at least days, weeks, or even months after his birth! But we’ll look at all that stuff as we go through our passage today.

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From the Pasture to the King’s Court

Today we return to our study of the book of 1 Samuel. Before our easter break, we had just introduced a new character to the story – a young shepherd boy named David. Of course, this is the same David who would one day kill the giant Goliath and eventually become perhaps the greatest king of Israel. But for now, still being very young and with seven older brothers, David was almost the forgotten one of his family.

In fact, he had been left behind to tend the sheep as his father and brothers went to join the prophet Samuel in offering a sacrifice to the Lord in nearby Bethlehem. His father Jesse likely considered David to be too young to bring along for this event, and so left him behind to care for the sheep.

But as you recall, this was no ordinary sacrifice. God and Samuel had some ulterior motives in inviting Jesse and his sons to this sacrifice. God was going to reveal his choice for the next king of Israel.

The current king, King Saul, had been a bitter disappointment. Although he was strong in battle, he was weak in character. He had repeatedly disobeyed the command of the Lord, and so God determined to end Saul’s dynasty and replace him with another. This new king would be one of the sons of Jesse.

But as Jesse presented his seven oldest sons to Samuel at the sacrifice, God revealed that he had not chosen any of these men to be king. Even though Jesse’s sons were tall and handsome – much like the current king Saul – God was not impressed by their outward appearance.  You’ll remember 1 Samuel chapter 16 verse 7 which says…

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

King Saul and the seven older sons of Jesse all had an impressive appearance, but they didn’t have the kind of heart that God was looking for. God was looking for a man after his own heart – someone who would do all the things that God wanted him to do.

And that someone was the young man David – the forgotten one left behind to tend the sheep. Well to make a long story short, when Samuel learned that Jesse still had one other son back home, he called for David to join them, and when he arrived, the Lord confirmed that David was the one he had chosen to be king. So there, in front of his father and older brothers, David was anointed by Samuel as the next King of Israel.

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Worship in Ekklesia

Well, last Sunday I kinda left you hanging…  For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the purpose of the church – or the purpose of God’s Ekklesia – the gathering of God’s family. And by last Sunday, we had already talked about the main over-arching purpose of the church – which is to bring glory to God. In everything we say or do, we aim to display and declare God’s goodness to the world around us.

But then we narrowed our focus just a little bit and began to discuss the specific tasks of the local church. Bringing glory to God is the ultimate aim for the church as a whole – but what is God’s purpose in establishing local congregations? How are we to bring glory to God together as a community in ways that we simply couldn’t on our own?

And so last week, we divided these tasks of the church into three main categories. They were: 

  • To bring glory to God through worshipping Him together.
  • To bring glory to God by edifying His people.
  • To bring glory to God by evangelizing the world.

And so we started last week by digging into what it means to worship God – and that’s where I kinda left you hanging! We talked primarily about what the word ‘worship’ means – but we didn’t really dig into what that looks like as one of the primary tasks of the local church. But that’s where I want to go today.

So to do that, let me first refresh your memory as to what worship is all about – because today’s message really does build on what we talked about last week.

You’ll remember that last Sunday we looked at the old english word “weorthscipe” – which basically means to ‘declare the worth of’ something. And it’s from this old word ‘weorthscipe’ that we get our modern word ‘worship’.

When we worship something, we are declaring it’s worth or its worthiness. But worship isn’t simply about the words we say or the songs we sing in church. Worship is much more about the daily decisions we make and the priorities we have in life. It’s about showing how we esteem and value God (or anything else for that matter) by the choices we make every day.

Because whatever it is that is our highest priority, whatever it is that we value above all else, whatever it is that is our greatest consideration in every decision – that is what we worship.

It’s like what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21… 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NIV

Whatever it is that we hold most dearly, whatever it is that we choose above all else – that’s what we treasure – that’s what we worship in our hearts.

We don’t have to sing any particular songs. We don’t have to physically bow down. We don’t have to bring any offerings or sacrifices. We can do those things, but they only have meaning if they are outward reflections of what’s already going on inside in our hearts. We need to worship God in spirit and in truth, like Jesus said in John 4:23. He says…

23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

That’s why the object of our worship isn’t necessarily revealed by what songs we sing on Sunday morning. The object of our worship is revealed by our daily decisions and choices. It’s those choices that truly reveal what we value in our hearts – what we worship.

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True Worth-Ship

About three years ago, I taught you all a new word. I’m not sure how many of you remember it – but it was an old english word that isn’t really in use anymore. Most people have never seen it written anywhere or heard it used in any conversation – in fact, I still don’t know how to pronounce it properly, but here’s the word: “Weorthscipe”

My best guess for it’s pronunciation is “We-earth-skype”or “Way-orth-skippy”.

But this word basically means to declare the worth of something. If you break it into two parts, you can start to see our modern english words hidden within the old….

The first part “Weorth” – means value or simply worth. You can see that pretty easily – just drop the ‘e’ and there is the modern word “worth”. So that’s pretty straight forward….

The second part is “scipe” which means “the condition of” or “the quality of”. We see the modern version of this quite often today, although now we spell it now SHIP.  You see it on the end of many words like “friendship” – the condition of being friends – or “leadership” – the condition of being a leader.

So with these two parts – ‘weorth’ meaning value or worth and with ‘scipe’ meaning “the condition of” –  together, we get the idea that “Weorthscipe” is the condition of having worth. Does that make sense to everybody? Are you tracking with me?

This word is important to us today because even though we don’t use the word “woerthscipe” anymore, we certainly use its modern equivalent very often especially in the church – and that modern word of course is  “worship” or “worth-ship”. 

Worship is when we declare or affirm the worth or the worthy-ness of something or Someone.

And I’m guessing that by now you know where I’m going with this, but if not, let me back up just a bit and explain why we’re talking about worship this morning.

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