Sermon: Facing Temptation Like Jesus

 

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Matthew 4:1–11)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

New Year’s resolutions don’t work for most people. An article I read said as much:

 

1. 95% of those who lose weight on a diet plan regain it and some gain more than they originally lost.

 

2. 25% of people abandon their New Year’s resolution after one week and 60% after six months.

 

3. The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution 10 times in a row without success. (http://drtimwhite.com/new-years-resolutions-dont-work-sorry/)

 

Why is change so difficult for us? Is it because we don’t know the seriousness of what could happen if we don’t change? No, the same article said that 600,000 people have heart bypass surgery each year. Do they change their lifestyle and eat healthier foods, quit smoking, reduce stress, and exercise? Only one in seven make any enduring changes after their surgery, even though they know what will happen if they don’t make those changes.

 

I am not going to pretend to give you the magic five steps to keep your resolutions or to make lasting changes in your life. But I do want to look at a key component in change—resisting temptation.

 

Why do we keep sinning, even when we know the sin is wrong? Part of the answer is obvious: because we give into temptation. 

 

Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and he’s also our Teacher and Model. So what does he have to teach us about temptation?


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Sermon: Things To Remember In The Midst Of Our Difficulties

 

1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. 2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. 4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. 5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD. 9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage (Exodus 6:1-9)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Exodus chapter four ended with the Israelites believing Moses, Aaron, and above all, the Lord, when they were told that the Lord would soon free them from Egyptian bondage.

 

But chapter five brought hardship and misery when Pharaoh, instead of letting the people go, clamped down hard on them. Their labor was made harder and they were given more beatings.

 

Naturally, they complained, to Pharaoh and then to Moses. Moses went on his knees before the Lord and poured his heart out:

 

22 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all. (Exodus 5:22–23)

 

We said that Moses’ complaint was honest, not hard-hearted like his fellow Hebrews, and because it was, the Lord reassured him that he was doing the work of the Lord.


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Sermon: O Little Town Of Bethlehem

INTRODUCTION

 

Roughly six miles south of Jerusalem is Bethlehem, today a city of nearly 200,000, that is run by the Palestinian Authority. It’s about 40% Christian and 60% Muslim.

 

If you were to enter from the North, coming from Jerusalem, you would pass by Rachel’s Tomb and come to Manger Street, which snakes through Bethlehem. Eventually you would come to Manger’s Square. There you would find both the Mosque of Omar and the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site of the birthplace of Jesus.

 

Bethlehem is a tourist town. This year they are expecting about 300,000 visitors during Christmas. If you were to visit, you would find yourself in the middle of bedlam. You would have to deal with military checkpoints, other tourists, and the gaudy commercialism (the entrance to the area where the shepherds are said to have seen the angels has a big orange sign that says, “Gloria In Excelsis Deo”).

 

What a difference between Bethlehem now and the Bethlehem of long ago! Today’s Bethlehem is a vivid reminder of the chaos and confusion of our world. The Bethlehem of long ago was a Bethlehem of hope.

 

Let’s take a few moments and examine the little town of Bethlehem was it was found in the Bible. We start with the first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible, Genesis 35—


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Sermon: The New Man’s Clothes: Forgiving Kindness Instead Of Bitter Anger


31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31–32)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Charles Dickens wrote the classic, A Christmas Carol, the story of a man named Scrooge who hated Christmas…I believe his words were, “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge’s problem was that he loved money, hoarding as much as it as possible. Christmas is about giving, so it was the very opposite of what Scrooge cared about.

 

The root of Scrooge’s problem was, of course, a love of money. But it’s a rare sin that stands alone. Scrooge was bitter and angry and given to clamor and evil speaking. Listen to what he tells his nephew, Fred, when Fred wishes him a Merry Christmas:

 

“…If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol [Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1997])

 

On another occasion, when two portly men hit Scrooge up to make donations to the poor and destitute, Scrooge suggested that the poor could just go to prison or to a workhouse, and there be cared for—he supported those establishments with his taxes and that was enough. 

 

The men responded:

 

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”  

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”  (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol [Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1997])

 

Scrooge was no Christian, but his clothes of bitter anger are sometimes seen on Christians. So, as another practical example of how a Christian, as a new man in Christ, ought to behave, the Bible tells us to…


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Sermon: The New Man’s Clothes: Graceful Speaking Instead Of Corrupt Words

 

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:29–30)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A. The New Man’s Clothes

 

We’ve been learning that clothing is like behavior. A judge who puts on his or her robes behaves in an authoritative manner. A policeman in uniform behaves differently then when he is at home playing with his children. A soldier in fatigues understands that he is representing his country and behaves differently as a result.

 

A Christian is someone saved by Christ and made by him into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), or as Ephesians 4:24 put it, a new man. So a Christian is to wear different clothes—a different behavior—then he or she did before they were saved.

 

So far in the last part of Ephesian 4, we have learned that the Christian is to take off the old clothes of the old, sinful life that they once lived and put on the new clothing of the new man.

 

Beginning in verse 25, we’ve seen specific examples of what that will look like. We saw that the new man (which is what every Christian is) wears:

 

1. Truth instead of Lying.

2. Anger that is Settled Quickly.

3. Hard Work instead of Stealing.

 

In verses 29 and 30 we are going to see another piece of clothing that the new man wears: Graceful Speaking Instead Of Corrupt Words.

 

B. The Power Of Speech

 

Speaking is a wonderful thing, something that reminds us of our special creation in God’s image. Nothing else in creation speaks, at least not as humans do. Every toddler knows that cows go “moo,” dogs go “bow-wow,” and cats go “meow.” The human toddler, however, also knows that they can say far more.

 

Aside from our minds, our tongues are the greatest gift and the worst curse that we have as human beings. James points this out when he writes:

 

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:6–10)

 

The tongue is a fire! With that sort of power in speech, it’s no wonder that we are told in Ephesians 4:29 that a Christian should…


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Sermon: Giving Thanks To God In Adversity

 

9 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. 10 For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the clouds. 11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: Let thy glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:9–11)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

This Thanksgiving I wonder if some said, “I have nothing to be thankful for; the times are hard.” The interesting thing about that is that Thanksgiving Day is a day that originated in hard times.

 

Most people remember from grade school that the Mayflower Pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass. celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621. They were thankful for a bountiful harvest.

 

But did you know that the previous winter, a few months earlier, half the colony died of exposure and disease? Consider how you would feel if half of us died this winter, of diseases that wasted people away or of being frostbitten and cold?

 

Or consider that, when Thanksgiving was made an official holiday by Abraham Lincoln, it was 1863. The United States was in the midst of the bloodiest war on American soil, the Civil War, a war that set brother against brother.

 

How could Lincoln and the Pilgrims be so thankful in times that were marked by trial and adversity? It was not because they had a confidence in the human spirit, but that they had a confidence in God.

 

How do I know that they had confidence in God? I know this because of what they wrote, for example, Abraham Lincoln in his Thanksgiving proclamation of 1863 wrote:

 

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things [the United States continued to operate and even grow in the midst of war]. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  (William J. Federer, Great Quotations… [St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001].)

 

The Pilgrims and Abraham Lincoln saw the love, faithfulness, and sovereignty of God in all times, and were thankful. So was another man, this one a king and writer of songs, David. One of those songs is Psalm 57. 

 

In this psalm, David first teaches us to…


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Sermon: The New Man’s Clothes


25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Ephesians 4:25–28)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In verses 20-24, we saw the call to take off the dirty clothing of the old, sinful nature and to put on the clothes on the new man. Verse 24 went like this:

 

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

 

Now, that sounds great, but what does it look like in real life?

 

In the remainder of chapter four, the apostle Paul shows us in practical, real-life ways what the clothing of the new man will look like in our lives.

 

He lists five sins that we are to take off (we’ll cover three here—lying, anger, and stealing), and the right behavior to wear instead of the sin.


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