Friday, February 08, 2008

The Dusty Desert of Temptation

Jesus chalked up many a mile on the dusty roads of Israel with his disciples in tow. I imagine them as a group that laughed and joked along the way, sharing meals around a fire and soaking up each other’s fellowship. I bet there were special moments as they saw Jesus in action – the “a-ha” moments when they saw God at work and learned new truths.

During Lent, a season of the church associated with dust and ashes as signs of repentance, we’re going to turn our attention to those lessons learned around Jesus while on the dusty road. The series is called The Dusty Road Sessions and we begin this Sunday with Matthew 4.1-11. That’s the scene where Jesus is tempted by the devil.

Long before the cross and the resurrection there was the dusty desert of temptation. Jesus, alone and fasting in the desert, was tempted by the evil one to power, to wealth, and to self-sufficiency. Who knows how Matthew learned of this story; perhaps Jesus shared it one night around a campfire, or one day walking along the road. What matters is that this lesson on life from the dusty road is a useful reminder to for us today – temptation is everywhere and if we are to resist it we must rely on God.

We’ll talk about ways of doing that in this Sunday’s sermon, The Dusty Desert of Temptation¸ and we’ll even be building a “temptometer” this week to help you measure your level of temptation! Hope to see you Sunday at 9:30 for Bible study and 10:45 for worship. We’ll also have a fried chicken lunch after worship. The cost is $5 and proceeds go to support youth summer camp and mission trips. There will be a town-hall discussion about our recent changes to worship as well.

Tempted to do good,
Pastor Gary

Not a Sermon – Just a Thought is a weekly column by me, Gary Long. I write this as a part of my duties as the pastor of a great community church called Willow Meadows Baptist Church. You can subscribe or unsubscribe to this email by contacting me directly at You can read more at my blog entitled To the Lees. It’s a collection of stories, photos, and musings drawn from my life as a father, husband, and pastor.

Matthew 4.1-11 – New International Version

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.']"
7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

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