Sermon by Dr. E. Dale Locke
Lenten Series, Week 1 – The Desert
- Lent is the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, not including the Sundays. It’s intended to be a time for introspection, a time to prepare our hearts and renew our commitment to Christ, a time to make sure that we aren’t just on “auto-pilot” in our walk with Christ. What do we mean by the expression being on “auto-pilot” as a Christian? What is that like?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:19, which we looked at last week: “…that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
This is the Gospel! Gospel means good news! Take a minute to think about what it means that God is not counting your sins against you and thank Him for that.
- Read Luke 4:1-13: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ “
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ “
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ “
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
What comments or questions come to your mind as you read this passage?
- Pastor Dale pointed out that Jesus experienced two things in the desert: hardship and temptation.
Hardship: Jesus was fully human and fully God – both at the same time. As a human, he subjected Himself to the hardships of life on earth – hunger, pain, sorrow, loneliness, tiredness, and even death. Philippians 2:6-8 describes the extent to which Jesus was willing to go, in order to make it possible for us to connect with God. Read that passage:
Philippians 2:6-8: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!
The phrase in verse 7 that is translated here, “he made himself nothing” could be translated, “He emptied himself.” Of what did Jesus empty himself in order to become fully human? Consider the implications of this.
- Researchers are discovering that in addition to trauma causing post-traumatic stress disorder, there is also “post-traumatic growth”. If you were able to see your child’s whole life path ahead of time, including the painful experiences, why would it be unwise to edit out all the painful experiences for your child – even if that were possible to do?
- Pastor Dale said, “God isn’t at work producing the circumstances you want, God is at work in your circumstances producing the you he wants.” What did he mean by that?
- Dale read a passage from a book called “Spiritual Emotions” by Robert C. Roberts about despair, resignation, and hope. How would you describe despair? What causes people to despair?
- How would you describe resignation? How is it different from despair?
- Temptation: In addition to hardship, Jesus also experienced temptation in the desert.
Read 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Many people misunderstand this verse to say, “God will never give me more than I can handle.” But that’s not what it says. It says, “I will never experience something that God can’t handle.” What’s the difference between those two ideas?
- Look at Luke 4 again and consider: How did Jesus fight temptation? What does that teach us about how we can fight temptation?
- Read Romans 5:2-5: …through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
What does this passage say about how to develop hope in your life?