Tuesday, March 7, 2017

what Kind of Child of God are we called to be?

 one can listen tot eh sermon Here!

What kind of Child of god are we called to be?

Today’s Gospel has Jesus filled with the holy spirit being led out into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days.

“To fast simply means to voluntarily abstain from eating and/or drinking for
an extended period of time.

Biblical fasting is a discipline of voluntarily denying one’s self of the basics
of eating to be available for prayer and communion with the Lord. Since it
is an ultimate act of self-denial, you are simply entering into an intense training in

You can fast for one day, one week, or just one meal. You can fast from one
type of food or from all foods. You can fast or abstain from solid foods or all foods
and liquids. It is during this time of abstinence from food that you are to spend
time seeking the Lord in Bible study, prayer and meditation.

The discipline of fasting is designed to separate you from your perceived
life support so you can focus exclusively on the Lord, your actual life support.
Fasting is the one discipline Jesus promised would bring about supernatural results.
Fasting just one time will be equivalent to having one good workout in the
gym. You may feel great for a while, but you will experience new lasting effects in
the long term”.[1]

Forty days and nights were a long time to go without food but I believe the fast Jesus was on might have looked more like something we dee during Ramadan.  Literally defined, fasting means to abstain "completely" from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till sunset. 

Unlike Ramadan that happens in the communities of faith, the Gospel says Jesus was out in the wilderness. So, unless Jesus brought a caravan of Food supplies I suspect his fast looked more like what John was doing when he lived in the wilderness.

I would also venture this may have been Jesus’ motivation.  He knew John. John was his cousin.  He was aware of the Baptizers preaching of redemption and the life he was living.  It is said that the holy spirit led z to the wilderness.  In this choice, it may also have become a time of discernment, speculation and revelation.

God sent the Godself to earth to be born of woman and become fully human and fully alive.  God became human to learn, grow, and to experience what his creation meant.  What it meant to be well human.

That leads to after 30 years of being a good son.  Learning to be a carpenter.  Learning what it meant to be a Jewish man raised in the town of Nazareth. The spirit started to move something in his heart.  He suddenly had to make a change.  What was the catalyst for this drastic move we don’t know?  But suddenly he decides to go off to the wilderness for forty days, where he fasts, and prays.

Of course, the main thing every one recalls and pays attention to is what is called the temptation of Christ. While hungry, dehydrated, exhausted and probably, literally prayed out Satan comes to challenge Christ.  To give him three opportunities to stray from his path.

I think the First temptation is the most tempting.  I don’t know about you but I love baked dread.  There is nothing like the smell of it as the aroma fills the house.  Letting it cool on the window sill or counter till it is finally cool enough to slice into.  So now I have got you all thinking about fresh baked bread, right!

So now imagine being hungry and tired and someone reminds you hey you can just go make yourself a loaf.  Not just make yourself a loaf of bread but just command these stones to do it and they will become bread for you.

This temptation, one could say, it hits at the heart of what is the root of humanity.  I mean food and water is what is needed to be alive.  Food is desperately needed and wanted when one is hungry.  So, after forty days of fasting you can bet this hits Christ right where it means to be human.

This temptation would so appease what Jesus wants and needs but in the refusal, we are called to be better.  In Jesus’ refusal to accept the offer, challenge, distraction from Satan he sets and example.  He does not seek personal satisfaction.  And answers this temptation with “it is written people won’t live only by bread but by every word spoken by God” (Matt4:4) “Jesus refused to make his personal needs the center of his life but continued focus on God’s plans and trust God.  Jesus teaches us to resist temptation for personal reasons.”[2]

As we are born into this world as Human so was Jesus. This temptation is very real and translatable to us as this is about “ME”! Right?  This is about our basic needs what we want here and now.  What we want when we want it.  How many times has what I needed or I wanted got in the way of what God was calling me to do or calling me to be? I wonder and no I am not going to start listing my personal failings for you all to enjoy that was rhetorical.

In the second temptation Satan takes Jesus to the highest point of the temple.  Now even looking at the temple mount today that sit high above sea level at 2430 ft.  Now that is the height of the base structure you add a temple on top of that and some turrets and pillars well on can imagine the height must had been dizzying.

Satan says to Jesus if you are the only begotten throw yourself down “and here the devil uses a verse of Scripture (Psalm 91:11–12), but the Lord replies again with Scripture to the contrary (Deuteronomy 6:16), stating that it is wrong for Him to abuse His own powers”[3] the psalm Satan uses is a psalm of Moses and God is saying how the people will be protected as they are the chosen people.  Talk about using scripture out of context. So, Jesus rebukes him using Deuteronomy out of context.  See the c setting is commanding the Jewish people to follow Yhwh and not to follow the examples of others around them who worship other Gods.  Yhwh reminds them that he has a short fuse and do not test me.

All in all, this is a mighty big production Satan has put before Jesus but again Jesus stands his ground, um pinnacle.  He is not about to allow his own being be used to sensationalize himself.  He was not about to attract attention to himself by attempting this grand act just for Satan’s enjoyment or anyone else’s.  Jesus refused to put himself in front of God.

As we are born into this world as Human so was Jesus. This temptation is very real and translatable to us as this is about look at what I can do.  So many times, we lose our spiritual center.  The prayerful ministry we are called to do as individuals can and has become less about ministry and more about look what I can do.  Ministry becomes self-promotion as opposed to self-sacrifice and gift.

.  How many times has what I done and what I felt needed to be done go in the way of what God wanted to be done?  How many times were people’s hearts, spirits broken because I made a ministry about me? Because I made some project about being perfect so I looked good instead of making it about God and the people so that good was done?

Then, as if the temple wasn’t scary enough Satan takes Jesus to a high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms and offered them to him. The site Got questions dot org say this about the final temptation;

 “and if any quick route to the Messiahship could be attained, bypassing the passion and crucifixion for which He had originally come, this was the way. The devil already had control over the kingdoms of the world (Ephesians 2:2) but was now ready to give everything to Christ in return for His allegiance. But the mere thought almost causes the Lord’s divine nature to shudder at such a concept and He replies sharply, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Deuteronomy 6:13).”[4]

“Jesus resist the temptation for power and control and again uses free will to resist temptation.”[5] He does not let the concept of power and control and/or riches of the kingdoms sway him.  He stays faithful to his path.

How many times have I allowed the concept of power, control or even financial stability sway we from where God has called me to be?  How many times did I say yes to the easy light path or maybe it was the expected path.  Not necessarily being tempted by power but perhaps giving into to power and influence as opposed to doing what God would want or has called me to be. I wonder.

Ministry Matters website reminds us:

Most of the time, without any real thought, we do what we want to do and make inferior choices. We trivialize sin when we think of it as an error in judgment. Sin is a flawed approach to decision making that leads us to the worst decision with which we can be comfortable. In a thousand ways, we get used to making lesser choices. We’re so used to choosing what’s easiest that deciding to become more than we are doesn’t occur to us.

Yet it’s always possible to be true to the higher calling. Jesus is baptized in the muddy water of the Jordan River. The voice from heaven proclaims, “You are my child, my beloved, in you I am well pleased.” Then Jesus goes to the middle of nowhere to decide what kind of child he’s going to be.”[6]

This time of Lent is an opportunity for each one of us to enter an intentional time of prayer, reflection and fasting if you feel called to do so.  This is a time when one can decide What kind of child of God am I called to be. Maybe this is a time of self-sacrifice for the better of the self and or the world around you.  It is for you to decide. The one thing I recommend is just don’t give in to temptation and make the easy choice.  pray about it and allow yourself to be challenged.  Amen 

[1] Miles McPherson, 40 days of prayer and fasting, 1997, accessed February 28, 2017, http://www.sdrock.com/uploads/docs/archive/prayerfasting.pdf.
[2] Scott Hoezee, ed., The Abingdon Preaching Annual (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2017), 33.
[3] questions.org, What was the meaning and purpose of Jesus' temptations., 2017, accessed March 1, 2017, https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-temptations.html.
[4] questions.org, What was the meaning and purpose of Jesus' temptations., 2017, accessed March 1, 2017, https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-temptations.html.
[5] Hoezee, The Abingdon Preaching Annual, 33.
[6] Bret Younger, Disabling intentions, February 1, 7217, accessed March 1, 2017, http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/4748/disabling-temptations. 

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