Promise Of A Lifetime
I have fallen to my knees
As I sing a lullaby of pain
I'm feeling broken in my melody
As I sing to help the tears go away
Then I remember the pledge you made to me
I know you're always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I'm clinging to the promise of a lifetime
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime
The promise of a lifetime
Will you help me fall apart
Pick me up, take me in your arms
Find my way back from the storm
And you show me how to grow
Through the change
Through the change
I still remember the pledge you made to me
I am holding on to the hope I have inside
With you I will stay through every day
With you I will stay through every day
Putting my understanding aside
And I am comforted
Our text today comes from Luke 4:1-13. It is here that we find Jesus fasting, and after Jesus’ spiritual retreat he has an altercation with Satan, where Jesus faces some pretty powerful temptations. Satan first tempts Jesus with his most obvious physical need, food. One commentator I read from says the type of fasting Jesus did probably only limited him to consuming nothing but liquids for 40 days. Hence the gospel writers remark; “he ate nothing during those 40 days and was hungry. The second temptation Jesus is faced with is abandoning God and joining forces with Satan. By doing so, Jesus will still be handed over all authority on the earth, which will be given to him at the end of his life anyways.
But if Jesus chooses to join Satan, he can gain all this authority and avoid all the pain and suffering of doing it God’s way. Did you ever see Mel Gibson’s The Passion? That movie just gives us a taste of the suffering Jesus went through. I don’t know about you, but to hear that I can achieve the same results without being beaten and killed the way Mel Gibson depicts; chances are I would have jumped ship right away.
Jesus’ 3rd temptation is perhaps the most difficult. I say this because Satan challenges Jesus to test God by getting him to jump off a cliff. Then Satan quotes scripture himself citing psalm 91:11-2
For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
These 2 verses show that God promises to protect his own. Satan’s premise is, if God protects his own and you are his son, then you can jump and not worry. You can run over the edge and not be crushed. Satan suggests this kind of protection will enhance Jesus’ dependency on God as he flings himself into his caring arms.
As we look at the temptations Jesus faced when confronted by Satan we can see that each one has become increasingly difficult. But the story doesn’t end there. I invite you to join me as together, we not only look at the temptations Jesus faced, but this story is filled with hope. As Jesus overcomes each one of these temptations, he shows us, his church, a body of believers gathered together one thing. Overcoming the desires and lures of temptation is difficult but possible.
The first time we see Satan tempting Jesus after the 40 days of fasting, Satan tempts him by saying: “you have all the powers and abilities that God has and you could take that rock over there and turn it into some bread, then you wont be so hungry. And do you know what? Satan was right!! Jesus does have all the powers that God has and yes Jesus could use those powers to turn a pile of rocks into some food. But Jesus understands that this is a challenge to do things his way, and to neglect what his heavenly father would have him do. Instead he takes a stand and refuses to ignore God. Jesus acknowledges the Heavenly Father’s plan for his life and successfully fights off the temptation as hungry as He is. Jesus’ successful bout with the devil reveals how dedicated he is to God’s will and plan for his life. Jesus will only take the road God asks of him to follow. Jesus will not take short cuts. He knows a successful walk with God only goes where the father leads.
When Satan challenges Jesus a second time, he purposes an allegiance. Satan concocts a deal between him and Jesus. “Pledge allegiance to me and no other. In return, I will give you all the kingdoms of the world and authority over them.” The temptation is not only to join Satan but to take the lazy man’s way out. The temptation is for Jesus to excuse himself from all that lies ahead in his ministry… including all the suffering and rejection involved in his crucifixion.
The bible tells us that Satan does have some authority on the earth. John’s Gospel refers to Satan as the prince of this world and 2 Cor 4:4 calls him god of this world. Even though Satan does have some authority on the earth, he doesn’t have the power to hand over the kingdoms of the world to Jesus. Jesus reply makes it clear he knows Satan is lying. Going Satan’s way is not the way to gain power. That’s exactly how to lose a position of power. The quick and easy way might work in achieving the goal, or completing the task. However this doesn’t always bring glory to God.
By Jesus’ third temptation, Satan got smart and tried to use scripture to manipulate Jesus into a sinful trap. Satan tries to get Jesus to jump off a cliff. While quoting psalm 91:11-12, Satan reminds Jesus that God sends angels to protect the ones he loves. Satan is correct in saying this. Unfortunately, Satan takes that verse way out of context. According to Michael J. Wilkins, the original context in which this scripture is used, it does not imply that God will send protective care for every harmful thing situation. Realizing this, Jesus counteracts with the following scripture:
Do not test the LORD your God.
After this Luke’s Gospel tells us that Satan left him for an opportune time; so what? What difference does that make? How does this apply to us, a group of believers gathered here, today in 2006 AD? I think its: when temptation comes our way, it is POSSIBLE to overcome temptation. notice what I didn’t say. I DIDN’T say it was going to be easy, I said it was possible. Overcoming temptation is never easy, but then again sometimes the quick and easy way out steals the glory from God.
So what can we do when temptation comes our way? One thing we could do is to pick up our bible and start reading and don’t stop until the desire to sin is gone. I have to admit I’m not the best example at doing this, but the times I do it, it does help. Another thing we can do is stay away from whatever avenue there is to feed those desires. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and you have a craving for something sweet, stay away from bakeries; or if you’re trying to quit smoking, throw your cigarettes into a rose bush. This way every time you crave a cigarette you’ll want to stay away from the cigarette because you eventually you won’t want to get pricked by the thorns every time you want to smoke. 1 cor 10: 13 says:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.
Another thing we could do to over come temptation is cling to this promise and ask God to show us the way out of the risky situation, whatever that may be. Pray asking God to help us stand under tempting moments they arrive.
I’d like to close by reading Psalm 91 from the New Living Translation.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”