Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
(Matthew 4:1-11 ESV)
Conversion. Confession. Conviction. Consecration. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit changes our "want to." God is concerned with heart-change. Religion restrains. God's presence changes our hearts. "Jesus Christ is in every way sufficient to the vast desires of the soul." (John Flavel)
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[a] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[b] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[c] of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."
Matthew 5:21-30 (ESV)
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.'" - Matthew 5:13-20 (ESV)
Postmodernism and Truth and the Bible.
Behold, the Lamb of God
Joh 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Joh 1:30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.'
Joh 1:31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel."
Joh 1:32 And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.
Joh 1:33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'
Joh 1:34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
Joh 1:35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples,
Joh 1:36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
Joh 1:37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
Joh 1:38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, "What are you seeking?" And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
Joh 1:39 He said to them, "Come and you will see." So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
Joh 1:40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
Joh 1:41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ).
Joh 1:42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
Joh 1:43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."
Joh 1:44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Joh 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Joh 1:46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Joh 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"
Joh 1:48 Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
Joh 1:49 Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
Joh 1:50 Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."
Joh 1:51 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
The Pilgrims? Manifest Destiny? Congregational and American Christian heritage, meaning, identity? In spite of the ambiguity of our personal or collective heritage, will we press forward as the remnant faithful of God in the world? Carry the Word of God to new and old places. Stand in the gap to set captives free. (Heritage Sunday 2019 at Mt. Hope Congregational Church)
This passage is about repentance, which is a change of mind that leads to a real change in lifestyle in the direction of God and His will. Repentance is the paintbrush in the hand of him or her who would view life as art…
We too are living in confusing and in many ways perilous times. We need to hear Dr. Niebuhr’s words I think as they relate to the words of Jesus in this passage. We cannot recall in piety and purity. We must take responsibility and engage tangibly in the world from a place of humility and repentance.
Repentance is for today. It is the greatest practical-applicable gift of God.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38 NIV84) We’re all called to be the workers in that field. The first step is moral maturity – that’s the preparation – the next step is to orient our thinking in that direction, “I’ve got a place in God’s Army!” We do!
A real angel, a messenger of God, appeared to actual shepherds on the evening God the Son was born. In those days no one would have thought an angel would appear the shepherds in a field. I suspect our images of those shepherds have been largely shaped by Christmas pageants, plays, and shining nativity sets.
Our life is not our own. We are used by God… not using God. Genuine gratitude is the path to real joy, lasting joy! In the midst of trial and pain, suffering and hardship, disappointment and sorrow in this life, hope grows out of shifting from thinking “What do I want out of my life,” to “What does God expect of me and what is He doing in and through my life circumstances, the hills and valleys, all that I’m going through…?”
The foundation of joy and the fountain of purpose is gratitude for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. My life isn’t about my life. He saved me for Him.
The Congregational Way is a lived way. It is life together. It is covenant community gathered around an open Bible with hearts filled with the Holy Spirit with hands ready to be the hands of Jesus and sandal strapped feet prepared to follow Him wherever He leads.
Don’t doubt that God’s love is greater than your doubts. Faith isn’t a commodity. Faith is a willingness to trust the light of Christ even when the dark clouds of doubt linger. Increasing faith has a direct relationship with decreasing doubts BUT it is far more about a decreasing inclination to stand still. In other words, I’m arguing that faith is a verb defined as willingness to continue to follow Christ in the presence or lack of doubt.
When I am weak, then I am strong. You just saw me telling the children about the Holy Spirit changes our inability to ability. God’s love pours out to us; His presence floods us and fills us. His love is greater than our weakness.
The eternal purpose of God in Christ has always been to redeem His people and to glorify Himself in the process. The Cross wasn’t a make-up surprise plan B. It has always been God’s purpose in Christ to redeem. God’s love is greater than our sin! God’s unmerited favor is available in Christ!
Pastor Chris Surber leading the ordination ceremony for Rev. Res Spears at Liberty Spring Christian Church, Sunday August 19, 2018. Pastor Gene Prim and Deacons of LSCC and congregation affirming the call of God upon his families life.
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:19-25 NIV84)