Live it! Blog

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 00:00

yet without sin

Yet Without Sin

Matthew 4:8-11; Luke 4:13; Hebrews 4:14-16  

Wednesday, 29 December, 2021

Jesus modeled hope for us in the wilderness as He was tempted by the devil himself - yet without sin. The high priest went into the holy of holies once a year to intercede for the sins of the people. Jesus intercedes for us in real time as He sits on the right hand of the Father. He is a real priest and representative for us in that He was tempted just as we are…yet without sin.

Matthew 4 shares the temptations of Christ in the areas of physical needs, possessions and power and pride. That about covers the areas in which we are tried and tempted, does it not? The passage of our focus centers on Jesus’ temptation to be prideful. How are we to be tempted in the area of pride without sin? The model of Christ resisting temptation, was by using the Scriptures. It is critical to know the Scriptures, and Jesus modeled that, but also, it is critical to obey the Scriptures.

Ephesians 6:17 says Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The context of this verse is speaking of spiritual warfare. Temptation to sin is war. Spiritual war. Pride is certainly an area of temptation for each of us. And it’s one of the seven sins God hates. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Satan came to Jesus tempting Him to bow down and worship him (Satan). And Jesus resisted and did not succumb to this temptation. What Scripture did Jesus use to refute Satan? Deuteronomy 6:13. Fear the Lord your God, serve him only…  Jesus knew what the Word of God said about this and He obeyed. He didn’t just know. James 4:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

The blessing of this sinless position before God comes in Hebrews 4:16. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Life Application Questions

What is the purpose of Jesus, the High Priest, for us today?

As our mediator, how can we be assured that the perfect Jesus represents us fairly to God the Father?

While we are not sinless, how can God look on us, and hear our prayers? What has God put in place to allow us to come boldly to His throne to ask for mercy or to pray for others?

~jlh

Tuesday, 28 December 2021 00:00

the recipe

The Recipe

Matthew 4:5-7, Deuteronomy 6:13-19

December 28, 2020

Grandma Pearl had a recipe for her delicious pumpkin pie. The problem was, she measured all her ingredients based on a certain sized bowl that had been handed down from her mom, and then, the bowl broke. Pumpkin pies were never the same. No matter what substitutions or ingredients were used, it never tasted exactly like the pie fillings made in THAT bowl. What recipes have you worked with that needed specific, exact ingredients? Have you experienced any epic fails when substitutions were made?  We can never taste the delicious savor of a faith walk with victory over sin without the exact recipe. Accept no substitutes.  We are going to see that God’s Words to us are the most important ingredient in the recipe for a victorious faith walk.

In Matthew 4, we find Jesus facing temptations and we get a front row seat to how he responded. Jesus was very aware of Satan’s nature. Jesus was very aware of where to draw His strength from. In Matthew 4:5, Satan questions Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…”  Satan questions Jesus’s identity. He was questioning who Jesus belonged to. How does Satan use this same question in our lives? What scripture would you use to respond to Satan’s questioning? Scripture is the most important ingredient in victory over sin.

In Matthew 4:5-7, Satan attempts to use scripture against Jesus and tempt Him. What is the temptation that Satan lays at Jesus’s feet? Read Matthew 4:6 and compare it to Psalm 91:11-12. How does Satan twist scripture? People have also twisted scripture. They have taken it out context and made it a pretext. They have used scripture to bully people and to shame and confuse them. Does it matter if scripture is used accurately? To have a savory faith walk requires the exact ingredients of God’s Words to be applied to the recipe of life.

When Satan threw down his challenge to Jesus, Jesus responded using the text from Deuteronomy 6:16. Read Deuteronomy 6:16; why does Jesus use this passage? How do people today put the Lord their God to the test? What are some temptations that are common to man?  What are some scripture responses to those temptations? There are no shortcuts to the recipe for victory over sin. Like Grandma Pearl’s pumpkin pie that was never the same after the bowl broke, our attempts to find substitutes for the key ingredient of God’s Word, will always fall short. “What “ingredients” do people use as their substitute for God’s Word when they face temptations? To have a fail-safe recipe for defeating temptation involves the mixing of the ingredients of ALL SCRIPTURE, reading ALL SCRIPTURE, studying ALL GOD HAS TO SAY, for ALL is profitable for our daily lives. “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy 3:16-17). How will you become thoroughly immersed in the truth of Scripture? What substitutes do you need to remove from your recipe for victory over sin?

lkb

 

Monday, 27 December 2021 00:00

lead us not into temptation

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION

Matthew 4:1-4; Deuteronomy 8:1-6

December 27, 2021

Do you sometimes find yourself wondering if you're the only one who is ever tempted? You're not! The Apostle Paul wrote: “You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

How are we to handle the temptations that come our way?

Jesus provided the best example, and he gave instructions for such times. His own temptation is startling when he ". . . was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1). “Wait a minute!” you might say. Why would the Spirit do that?” What made it even more difficult for Jesus is that he had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He was weak and vulnerable, and Satan certainly took advantage of that.

Can you remember times of specific temptation in your life? What were the circumstances then?

In the experience and teaching of Jesus we can discover at least three steps to take when facing temptation—steps that will help us overcome, finding, as Paul wrote, “God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out. Then you will be able to deal with it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Note how Jesus handled the first test Satan threw at him.

"The tempter came and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.'" And Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say..." That makes sense, doesn't it? Satan uses the same technique today. When we are physically or spiritually weak, we are open to his voice tempting us to take a short cut or suggesting, "If you are really a Christian. . .." When this happens, we should do what Jesus did. Quote Scripture. if you can't recall any, open your phone and do a search for verses that will help you resist the devil, so the next time he comes, you can do what Jesus did.

What do you do when Satan tempts you to misuse the truth of Scripture?

Not much later in Matthew six, while Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he said. "When you pray..." Notice it's when, not if you pray. Included in his "how to pray" example is this request, "And don't let us yield to temptation" (v.13). Perhaps even before you begin a search for verses, you should ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you to resist Satan’s attack. Not only did God give us his word to help us when we're tempted, we have the very Holy Spirit of God living within us, just waiting for us to ask for his help.

How do you pray when you're facing temptation...or do you?

Jesus gave us another very important instruction about how to handle temptation, when he said, “Watch (be alert) and pray. Then you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted” (Matthew 26:41). It's easy to be blindsided by temptation, so it's very important to be alert so that we recognize a situation that could draw us in and result in a fall into sin. Often, it's when we think we're ready for anything Satan could throw at us, that we fall.

There you have it: the formula for facing temptation: apply Scripture, pray, be alert.

Can you think of a time when your weakness resulted in sin? What were the consequences? How might the three instructions have helped? jbd & gmd

Friday, 24 December 2021 00:00

my skin fr your skin

My Skin For Your Skin

Luke 2:40, 51-52

Friday, December 24, 2021

          Jesus is truly God and truly man. How often have we heard this truth and taken it for granted? Yet, it is a reality so beyond imagination that it defies our attempts to describe it simply; thus, scripture’s descriptions of the interaction between Jesus’s divinity and humanity can at times be perplexing. For example, Luke 2:40 and 2:52 describe Jesus as increasing in wisdom and favor with God. How could the all-knowing one become more wise, or gain more favor in the sight of his Father?

          When Luke describes Jesus’s wisdom as “increasing” in 2:40, he uses a Greek word which conveys the idea of a ship’s sails being filled with wind or a person being completely taken over by that which is in their heart. In short, the thing experiencing increase is a thing being acted upon. In 2:52, however, he chooses a different word. Although it too is translated as “increasing,” this one evokes an army’s vanguard clearing the path of obstacles even when faced with peril or distraction. Whereas in 2:40, increase is accomplished by something external, here it is accomplished by means of personal action and exercise of will.

          We humans are inclined only towards evil and must strive against our sinfulness to do anything good. Therefore, a child’s imperfect command of their own will and limited capacity for understanding God’s moral law dooms them to sinful actions. How, then, could the child Jesus retain His perfection? Might the Holy Spirit have guided His every inclination towards what was right and guarded His every action against impurity just as a ship’s heading is dictated by the direction of the wind in its sails? Then, as He grew, might He have begun taking an increasingly active role in choosing to obey the written law He was learning as compliment to the law already in His heart, culminating in His resistance to the devil’s distractions in the wilderness and His obedience to the Father as Jesus faced the peril of the cross?

          If this accounts for Jesus’s increasing wisdom, how might He have increased in the grace and favor shown to Him by the Father? Certainly, He could not have done anything to be more meritorious, and it cannot refer to the saving grace of redemption for sinners. No, this must be the enabling grace which provided strength to live in accord with the heart of God. Therefore, as Jesus increased in wisdom so too did He increase in awareness of and purposeful reliance on the grace by which He could fulfil the purpose for which He was sent.

          A full understanding of how Jesus could be fully God and fully man will forever remain a divine mystery and elude human understanding, but we can be assured of the truth that He was, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the Father, able to be the perfect sacrifice upon which our redemption depends, His sinless life serving as substitution for our sinful ones. This joyful truth was beautifully described in the language of a stone age tribe as "Nabalan Kabalan." My skin for your skin.

          · Consider the implications of Jesus living a perfect life

          · How does understanding God’s enabling grace help Christians live according to His will?

          · Identify perils or distractions which keep you from this pursuit?

For more on Jesus’s sinless life substituting for our imperfect ones: https://gentlereformation.com/2021/11/19/the-life-we-cannot-live/

~clw & nww

Thursday, 23 December 2021 00:00

spiritual senses

Matthew 3:13-17

Spiritual Senses

When you look or listen for God, “What are your hopes?”

Physically, good vision keeps me from running into furniture and people. Passing a vision test allows me to purchase a license and drive a car. As with the ability to hear without distortion, seeing clearly is a blessing.

When John saw and heard Jesus, the Presence was precise. No mirage or distorted sound clouded John’s understanding. John exclaims, “…Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!

Our brother Matthew records John encountering Jesus and provides this account:Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:13-14).

John’s passionate understanding is without reservation. He accurately recognizes the teacher from Galilee, the man from Nazareth-town. Indeed, people say, “John attaches all his hopes and dreams to this Nazarene.”

While today’s disciples do not hear the voice, or see Jesus alongside Jordan, we are enabled to hear and see the Presence (Psalm 19). The words of Maltbie D. Babcock testify as a disciple who heard and saw in creation the surety of God’s gift and our hope. He wrote:

“This is my Father’s world, and to my list’ning ears,
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.”  

Life Applications

Do you find your hope strengthened or challenged during holiday seasons?

What parts of life give you hope?

What circumstances in life diminish your ability to live hopefully?

One of Maltbie D. Babcock’s friends, Franklin Shepherd (1852-1930) adapted an English folk song inserting portions of Babcock’s text into three, eight-line stanzas. The original poem was composed in 16 four-line stanzas, each beginning with “This is my Father’s world.” The hymn in this form first appeared in the composer’s hymnal Alleluia… a Presbyterian Sunday school book published in 1915. Resource: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/

~ajs

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