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December 17, 2018, 1:00 PM

The Temptation of Jesus



Mark 1:12-13

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. 

It is vital that we pause and make observations of this brief passage.

  • “Immediately” was frequently used by Mark giving a fast paced look at Jesus’ life and ministry. 
  • “The Holy Spirit drove” could also be translated as “impelled” or “compelled.” The Holy Spirit sent Jesus into the wilderness where the Christ would be tempted by Satan. In order to identify with us in our weaknesses and temptations, Jesus had to be tempted in every way respect way tempted as we are. Yet, unlike us, Jesus did not yield to the devil’s pleas; instead he resisted using the authority of God’s Word to counter the serpent’s cunning arguments. See Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13 and Hebrews 4:15. 
  • “And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.” Jesus was sent to a desolate place, a forsaken region where he would endure the deceptive temptations of Satan. How different this place was from the garden where the devil lured Adam and Eve to rebel and disobey God’s expressed command! All of our first parents’ needs were abundantly supplied by God in a garden of paradise: companionship, delicious food, unspoiled creation, animals of all kinds and most importantly: the enjoyment of knowing God face to face. Even with all of this, Adam and Eve chose to pursue their own desires over the trustworthy, loving goodness of their Creator God. 

We’re told in Matthew and Luke’s accounts that Jesus was without food or water for forty days. And Jesus endured and withstood Satan’s appeals to give in to his wants. Jesus loved and trusted the Father to provide and ultimately vindicate him. 

How about you?

  • Believer, is your life controlled and led by the Holy Spirit? (NOTE: The Holy Spirit will not lead you to be tempted to sin against God. Instead, the Holy Spirit will instruct and enable you to actively fight and resist temptations so that you can live holy, set apart for God.) I Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 5:16-25; Titus 2:11-12.
  • Is God’s Word a weapon in your fight agains temptation and sin? Jesus relied on the Word of God. God’s Word will help you to be holy. Psalm 119:9-11.  How? By reading, study, listening, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God. Do you have a plan for Bible reading, study and Scripture memorization?
  • Here’s a promise to seize upon: I Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  The issue is not how strong you think you are or close to the line you can get. Instead, it is about acknowledging your own weaknesses and keeping yourself away from things that would cause you to stumble. The Holy Spirit, God’s Word, prayer and the fellowship/support of your church family can help you fight against temptation.



December 15, 2018, 1:25 PM

For the Third Sunday of Advent: December 16, 2018



The third candle of Advent symbolizes joy and is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” 

To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too!

Luke 2:15-17 says:  When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.

Prayer:

O God: In Jesus we find our joy. Jesus came to give us life and that we might know and enjoy You forever.  Amen!

Light the third candle!




December 12, 2018, 3:00 PM

Jesus' baptism


Mark 1:9-11 tells of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. 

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

From this passage, we learn some important details about Jesus.

  1. During the time of John the Baptist’s ministry at the Jordan river, Jesus came from Nazareth to be baptized. Matthew’s gospel tells us that John tried to prevent this by saying “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Matthew 3:14. But Jesus responded, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus sought to be baptized — not because he was guilty of any sin nor did he need to repent — but because he wanted to please his heavenly Father in every way. Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.
  2. We’re told in verse 16 that “when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water.” John baptized people in the water. And John’s baptism was full immersion. Jesus came up out of the water. Jesus was not sprinkled with water by John. Nor did Jesus merely get soaked up to his waist. This is why Baptists observe baptism by immersion in the water. In Romans 6:3-4, the Apostle Paul describes the believer’s baptism as identifying with Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection. Baptism is a picture of a believer following Jesus: dying to his old self and being raised to walk in newness of life in Jesus.
  3. Jesus’ baptism affirms the trinity of God. Three in one. God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. “And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
  • If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, have you obeyed Jesus by following him in baptism? Baptism is a public declaration that you are a follower of Jesus. Baptism says your former way of life is gone; you are a now being made new in Christ. Have you done this?
  • While the term ‘trinity’ is not used in the Scriptures, this passage is evidence that there are three persons in the Godhead. What other passages of Scripture demonstrate this?
  • Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?



December 7, 2018, 10:19 AM

For the Second Sunday of Advent: December 9, 2018



Sunday, December 9, 2018

The second candle of Advent represents faith and is called “Bethlehem’s Candle.” 

The prophet Micah had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which is also the birthplace of King David. 

Micah 5:2 says:  “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.'

Prayer: 

O God: In Jesus we place our faith. You, O God, are trustworthy and true. We know that all of Your promises find their Yes in Jesus. Amen!

Light the second candle!

 




December 3, 2018, 3:00 PM

Prepare the Way


Mark 1:2-8.

If you have ever traveled with a tour group, someone prepared the way for your trip. An individual or group booked your hotel stays, arranged the itinerary, secured transportation and places you would visit and tickets needed for venues. 

While John the Baptist was not operating a tour agency, God used John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. As God spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “Look, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way. This will be the voice in the wilderness calling out: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

John’s ministry was to prepare people for Jesus’ public ministry and message. John’s goal was not to draw people to himself, but to get people ready for Jesus. 

And what was John the Baptist’s ministry and message? 

John the Baptist baptized people in the Jordan river, calling people to turn from their sins and receive forgiveness. He declared that this was a baptism of repentance. And people came. From all over the country of Judea, even the city of Jerusalem. People came to be baptized as they confessed their sins. 

You’d expect people to be drawn to a guy whose ministry would appear attractive, winsome. Well, John’s wasn’t. Far from it. First of all, John wore garments of camel hair tied at the waist by a leather belt. And John did not dine on Baptist potluck dinners consisting of green bean casseroles, either. Chick-fil-a? Nope. John got his protein and carbs from dining on locusts and wild honey. Not something you would likely see posted on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. And John’s message was unvarnished: “REPENT!” Certainly not a winsome, crowd pleasing message.

John didn’t seem to care about what people thought of him. He wasn’t craving attention for himself. He had one concern: preparing folks for the appearance of the Messiah who is called Christ — the long awaited, promised Savior Redeemer.

When questioned by the religious investigators sent from Jerusalem, John readily said, “I am not the Christ.” “Well, who are you? We have to report something back to those who sent us!” John answered them: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ Just as Isaiah the prophet said.”

John the Baptist’s humility is noted in Mark 1:7. “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” John declared that he himself was not even worthy to untie Jesus’ shoelaces! Essentially, John said that he is nobody who is simply baptizing people with water. But Jesus will baptize folks with the power of the Holy Spirit resulting in conviction over sin, repentance, changed hearts and transformed lives! 

  • How is your heart before God? Is your heart proud and self-seeking? 
  • Does your life and speech bring attention to you - or to Jesus?
  • Talk to God. Look at yourself through the mirror of the Bible. Confess areas and ways that you have sought to please people more than God. Ask the Lord to transform your heart to reflect that of a humble servant who is simply pleased to obey and serve the Master.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10


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