So, so one summer, this kid named Alex was trying to save his money so he could buy a new baseball bat. And he was really struggling to save his money. He was having a hard time of it. So one night, his mom overheard him praying before bed. And he was praying passionately. And this is what Alex prayed. He said, “Oh, God. Please help me to save my money so I can buy a baseball bat. And Lord. Don’t let the ice cream man come down this street.” We’ve all faced temptations, haven’t we? Things that come in front of us that is just too hard to resist. And honestly, temptations can be anything as simple as ice cream but temptations can also be sinister as well.
You and I can face temptations that seem, in the grand scheme of things, pretty small. But we can also face temptations that, when we look at the big picture, when we realize if we make this decision it will change the trajectory of our lives forever, we face a lot of temptations in this life. You know my Dad says that he can resist anything except temptation.
Jesus was also tempted. Jesus at his weakest moment, after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, the devil came to Jesus and tempted him in three ways. And that’s the story that we’re going to be reading today. But Jesus overcame temptation. How did Jesus overcome temptation when he was at his weakest? How did he overcome it? And that’s the secret that I want to share with you today that I think will lead us back to the word of God and depends upon it. I believe if we could get this secret into our heads and into our hearts it will change the way we live.
So my contention today is that each and every one of us is being lured away from God’s best in our life. That different opportunities are presented before us that are lesser versions of what God wants for us. And if we, some of us recognize temptation right away. We recognize, “Oh, I’m being tempted right now, away from God’s best in my life.” But many of us just feel pulled and prodded and distracted away from God. Some of us have slowly drifted as we’ve given into one temptation after the next, and then we lift our heads up and we realize we’re really far from God.
And for some of us, we’ve run headlong away from what we know is God’s best for our lives. So we can deal with temptation in lots of different ways. And for those of you who are dealing with temptation, who are struggling with temptation, this message is for you. But listen, if you’re living the perfect life, this message is not for you. So you can just get up and leave now, if you want to. But for those of us who are struggling with temptation, who find ourselves not as close to God as we want to be, for those of us who are in a role in our lives and we’re not feeling like we’re measuring up to that role. For those of us who as fathers, you feel like, “I can’t do this,” or as a wife you’re struggling. If you’re an employee and you’re struggling. If you’re going through anything and you’re struggling and you feel like you’re not aligning with what is best for you, what’s God’s best for you in your life, this message is for you.
So would you open up with me to Matthew 4:1-11. So would you pass those Bibles down? Matthew 4:1-11, it’s page 829. And as we’re flipping there, I want to give you a little context for what we’re reading. We’re going to read the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert. But just before Jesus is tempted, he has this incredible experience. Jesus is baptized in Matthew 3. And when he’s baptized, he goes underwater and he comes back up and the heavens split open. And you hear this incredible voice coming from heaven who says, “This is my son whom I love, with whom I am well pleased.” And then a dove comes down. The holy spirit in the form of a dove lands on Jesus.
So we see God the father audibly speaking. We see the dove, the Holy Spirit, the dove, coming and landing on Jesus, and we see Jesus, the son of God. Right there, the whole trinity in this one scene. Now, how many of you would love if God would speak to you audibly? Open up the heavens and the Holy Spirit would alight on you. That would be amazing, right?
So Jesus has this spiritual high. And what follows in Matthew 4 is a spiritual low. And this seems to be a pattern in our lives. That when we experience a spiritual high, what often follows is a spiritual low. And you’ve had this happen before. Maybe you’ve had a great time at church, like Pastor Joe preached fire and you were convicted and you were challenged and you were encouraged. And then you got home and Murphy’s Law happened. Like anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Or maybe you had a great prayer time with Jesus, and then when you come out of that prayer time somebody gets you on the phone and they tell you something that devastates you. And you think, “What happened? I was at this spiritual high and now I’m at this spiritual low.” Or maybe you this great time reading the Bible, and you felt like, “Man, I’m going to follow God today.” And then you just flub it. Right?
And you’re like, “What happened? I was at this spiritual high, and then I hit a spiritual low.” And see, God didn’t take Jesus into the desert to test Jesus to see if he could do the ministry that God had laid out before him. God took Jesus in the desert so that Jesus could see that God would sustain him to do the ministry that he’d laid out before him. So, can I pause? Friends, when you are facing a trial, it’s not because God wants to see what you’re made of. It’s that he wants you to see what he’s made of. That he wants you to see that he can take care of you even through the most difficult trials and temptations. God is not testing you to see if you can live up to what he’s called you to. He is telling you that he will help you and encourage you and empower you. That he will sustain you to live into the call in your life.
So when you face temptations, face them knowing that God is building your faith muscles. That God is using it to strengthen you. That God wants you to see that he will help you.
So, Matthew 4:1-11. Then, Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry. That makes sense, doesn’t it? The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written. Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the son of God,” he said, “Throw yourself down. For it is written.” Now the devil is quoting scripture to Jesus. He says, “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.” Jesus answered him, “It is also written, do not put the Lord your God to the test.” So here’s the third temptation.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain. And showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their splendor. “All this I will give to you,” he said, “If you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan. For it is written, worship the lord your God and serve him only.” Then the devil left him. And angels came and attended him. Would you pray with me?
Jesus, we believe that you have something to say to us today. That your word is living and active. It’s powerful. That what you’ve spoken, you’re still speaking. So would you help us, God, to be listeners? Would you help us not just to understand it in our heads but also to understand it in our hearts? Speak to us today, Jesus, we pray in your name. And everyone said.
So in the story that we just read, Jesus is fasting as a preparation for the launch of his ministry. He’s baptized and then led into the desert and he’s fasting to prepare himself for the upcoming ministry. And at the end of this 40 day fast, when he’s weakest, that’s when Satan comes to him and tempts him in three ways. So first he tempts him to use his power for himself by turning rocks into bread. The second temptation is to make his mission about himself. So by jumping off the temple, then Jesus now becomes the focal point. Everyone’s like, “Wow, look at Jesus.” And it’s about God’s salvation to Jesus, rather than God’s salvation through Jesus for the world.
Then the final temptation is to get the world for himself. The devil lays out all the kingdoms and says, “Look, you can have these if you worship me.” And each temptation is an attempt by the devil to lure Jesus away from the incredible life giving story in which God wrote Jesus in as the hero. And as God is writing a story in your life, the right story, the best story in your life, Satan is trying to lure you away from God’s best into lesser and alternative versions of your story. Satan, whenever he tempts you, whenever the devil tempts you, he is trying to get you to live the wrong story.
He’s trying to get you to not live what God has written for your life, but what he is writing for your life. Has anyone seen Moana?
So, Moana is this princess who lives on land but she’s trying to get to the ocean, right? She wants to be in the sea. “No one knows, how far I’ll go, blah blah blah.” Right? Can you imagine if Moana showed up in the Disney movie Little Mermaid? Because in Little Mermaid, Ariel is trying to get from the ocean to the land. Now if Moana showed up in Little Mermaid, she would ruin the plot, wouldn’t she? It would, if Moana showed up in Little Mermaid she’d be singing all the wrong songs. It would be so confusing. And friends, whenever the devil tempts you, he’s trying to get you to live in the wrong story so that you sing the wrong songs. The devil is trying to get you to live the wrong story so you produce the wrong fruit so you do the wrong things so you say the wrong things so you see the wrong things. The devil’s trying to get you to live in the wrong story.
And when that happens, it’s so confusing for your life. That’s what temptation is, is the devil is trying to get you to live the wrong story. So how do we ground ourselves in God’s story that he’s writing for us? Just like Jesus, I believe it’s knowing our story through the Bible. Often we look at the Bible and we go, “What does it mean? I don’t understand this.” Can I tell you, the Bible is one big story, and there’s four parts to it. The first part is that God created the whole world. God created everything that we see, everything around us, God created it. And then, in Genesis 3, man, Adam and Eve, fell. That’s the fall. We fall because we sinned. And now we are no longer in right relationship with God. Humanity and all of creation is broken.
And the third part is redemption. Is that from that very moment that humanity fell, God had a plan to redeem us and all of creation with us, and it comes to culmination in the person and life of Jesus Christ. When Jesus came, he lived a perfect life. He died a death on the cross for your and I’s sins. And then three days later he resurrected to new life so that we also could be resurrected at the end of time. So that’s redemption.
And then the fourth act in this big story is the new creation. That one day Jesus is going to come back just the same way that he ascended to heaven, he’s going to come back to earth and he’s going to create a new heavens and a new earth. He’s going to join them together, and then God will live with us here, and together we’ll be resurrected with Christ to reign and rule in this new creation. That is the big story of the Bible. There it is. In those four parts. And friends, if we could find our story within that I believe it grounds us. So when we face temptation we can, just like Jesus, say, “No, no. That’s not my story, devil. That’s not where I’m going. That’s not the song that I’m going to sing. That’s not the fruit I’m going to produce. That’s not the thing that I want to see. Because I know my story, because God has told it to me and it’s right here.” Do we know the story that he’s given us?
2 Timothy 3:16 says all scripture is God breathed. That God is literally breathing it out, and it’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. So the [inaudible 00:13:45] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. That’s what scripture is. It’s God breathed. But friends, you can’t live out what you don’t put in. That’s the big idea. If you’re taking notes. The big idea is you can’t live out what you don’t put in. You can’t live out God’s story if you’re not putting in God’s story into your life. You can’t live out his love if you’re not putting in his love. You can’t live out his grace and mercy and peace if you’re not putting those things into your life. You can’t live out what you don’t put in. So how do we put in God’s story into our life? Let’s look through the temptations.
So the first temptation is this. The first temptation is to use it for yourself. Again, if you’re taking notes, it’s right there. Use it for yourself. So the devil comes to Jesus when he’s weak and he says, “Look. You’ve got power. You can tell these stones to turn into bread. Wouldn’t that be nice?” After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, how many of you would want some bread as well? Right? Like yes, please, I would love some warm miraculous bread right now. I think that’s what Jesus was thinking. So this is very tempting. The devil’s trying to get Jesus to use his power to serve himself. But Jesus responds, from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus quotes scripture. He says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Meaning, he doesn’t have to use his power for himself because he knows God is going to take care of him.
God made you and I with physical needs and spiritual needs. Your body lives on food, but your soul lives on God. And Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 where Moses is reminding the Israelites. He’s saying, “Look. When God brought you out of Egypt, he brought you into the desert. Who provided food for you? It was God.” God provided food from heaven and they called it manna. Manna in Hebrew means, “What is it?” Now, friends, if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. That’s typically a good rule. But God provided this food for them. So now Jesus, while he’s in the desert, is drawing back to that story and saying, look, when God’s people were in the desert, it was God who provided for them. And he’s saying, now that I’m in the desert and I’m in need of food, I’m not going to use my power for myself because I trust that God is going to provide for me.
He knew the story that was in the scripture and because of that he was able to combat the devil’s temptations. Yes, God sustains us with what he gives us. He sustains us with our physical needs and the things that he puts into our hands. But Jesus, God in a bod, didn’t use his power to sustain him because he trusted that God would sustain him. He trusted that his power was meant to help other people. And so I believe there’s this principle that we can understand and learn from this that not everything that I have is meant for me. See, Jesus’ power wasn’t meant to sustain him. That was God’s job, the father’s job. And in the same way, the things that God has put in your hands, not everything that God put in your hands is actually for you.
Maybe God put that in your hand for somebody else so that you could help somebody else. Not everything that’s in your hands is for your hands. And I think this is a great time to take the offering. Don’t you? No, I’m serious. Ushers, you can come today to receive today’s tides and offerings. Thank you so much for giving generously, because Jesus has given generously to you. And when you do, when you give generously, you become a part of God’s mission to help people find and follow him. To bring life and hope and vitality to a world that is bathed in darkness, that now because of your generosity will be bathed in the light of Jesus as we as a church work to make the gospel clearly presented in our city and in the world around us. So, thank you so much for partnering with Jesus.
So, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy. And he says, “Man shall not live on bread alone.” But I love food. Does anyone else love food? Oh my goodness. And especially during holidays, food can be a temptation for me. A really big temptation. So recently, I’ve learned that I’m more food dependent than God dependent. Recently as I’ve been facing this temptation I’ve realized that I’m more food directed than God directed. And I think that’s wrong. I think that I’m living out a wrong story when I’m food directed or food dependent rather than God dependent and God directed. And, do you want to know if you’re food dependent or food directed? Just try not eating for a day, and you’ll figure out real fast if you’re food directed or food dependent.
I think a lot of us struggle with this. We turn to food to make us happy. We turn to food when we’re lonely. We turn to food when we’re bored. And we try to use food to fill a hole inside of us. Now, food is good for what it’s good for. Food is good to sustain your body. But food cannot sustain your soul. And so often we misuse food. We are supposed to enjoy food for what it is, but we’re not supposed to employ food to fill the hole that is inside of us. And so often we misdiagnose our own spiritual symptoms. We see our loneliness, we see our confusion, we see our boredom, we see all of these things and we think that we can fix a physical problem. We think we can fix, excuse me, a spiritual problem with a physical remedy. But we cannot fill the hole in our soul with food that is only filled with the bread of life, which is Jesus. Jesus has the words of life, and he is the one that we need. We cannot fill it with other things. It’s only Jesus.
Maybe it’s not food for you. Maybe for you, you’re more sex directed than God directed. Maybe you’re more drink directed than God directed. I don’t know what it is. But whatever your physical need is that you’re trying to fill your spiritual. Whatever your physical addiction is that you’re trying to fill your spiritual need with, that’s the wrong story. See, man doesn’t live on Hulu alone. Man doesn’t live on sex alone or drink alone or Seahawks alone. Man shall not live on bread alone, but so often we move from one meal to the next, feeding our bodies without any thought of how to feed our souls. Without any thought of how God wants to fill us up spiritually. I believe God is writing a story in your life where you are more God directed than food directed or sex directed or sports directed.
Will you live into that story? Isn’t it interesting that when the devil comes to Jesus and tempts him with bread it’s the same temptation he used on Adam and Eve? When he came to Adam and Eve he said, “Hey, why don’t you eat this?” And when he comes to Jesus he says, “Why don’t you eat this?” And where the first Adam failed, the first Adam took it and eat it, he took his privilege and his responsibility and he used it for himself, the second Adam, Jesus, did not fail because he knew the story that was in God’s scripture. He knew that he wasn’t supposed to use it for himself. He was supposed to trust that God would provide everything that he needed, and so he didn’t eat.
And friends, if the devil used this temptation on Adam and on Jesus, you can bet he’s going to use it on you, right? You can bet he’s going to come and use this same temptation on us. Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus understood that his life was sustained by more than bread and using his power for his own comfort and pleasure or happiness. He knew that his life was sustained by the father’s word. I believe that we have a speaking God. Our god is not quiet. Listen to this. Hebrews 1, verses 1-2. In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways. He’s a speaking god. But in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom, also, he made the universe.
John 10:27-28. Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice.” If we are listening, if we, his sheep, his flock, are listening to his voice, it means that he’s speaking. Because we can listen to him. He says, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” God has a story for your life that is only discovered when you submit to his will found in his word. Jesus has the words of life and he’s still speaking them today through this. What he’s spoken he is still speaking.
See, the scripture was not a dead book to Jesus. It was the father telling Jesus his story. In scripture, Jesus found his true story, his source of life. So Jesus resisted temptation with the word of God. Jesus didn’t use his divine power to overcome temptation. So what that means is that Jesus used the same resources available to you and I to overcome temptation. So if you are facing temptation, if you are struggling, you can find hope in this story because Jesus didn’t use some almighty extra power that we don’t have. Jesus used the word of God to combat the devil when he came tempting. And so if you’re facing temptation, you can do the same thing. You can use the word of God and say, “No, no, no. That’s not my story. I’m living in the God story for my life.”
Do you guys remember that song that you learned in Sunday school? The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the word of God-
So good. Do you? Do you stand alone on the word of God? Is this the book for you? Or have you planted your life on a shaky foundation? Have you stepped away from this and tried to stand on other things? Or do you stand alone on the word of God?
The second temptation the devil comes to Jesus with is to make it about yourself. Make it about yourself. If you’re taking notes, write that down. Make it about yourself. That’s the second temptation. So the devil takes Jesus, after the first temptation, he takes him to the temple, and the highest point on the temple, which is the highest point in Jerusalem, because the temple is already on the mount of Jerusalem. So the temple’s the highest point overlooking all of Jerusalem. And the devil takes him there and then he says, “Hey. Why don’t you jump off?” And then he quotes scripture at him and says, “The angels will catch you and your foot won’t strike a stone.” Now, friends, the devil knows scripture. Shouldn’t we know it better than him? Because he’s going to use it against us. And he’s not going to use it in the right way, he’s going to misuse it like he did here. He misapplies the word of God here. And Jesus realizes that.
So why did the devil come to Jesus and say, “Why don’t you jump off this building?” Because friends, I’m not tempted to do that very often. Are you? That’s not like, “Oh, man. I really want to jump off this building right now. That sounds great.” Why did he come with this temptation? Here’s why. Rabbis in Jesus’ day had this Messianic expectation. The expectation that the Messiah would come, and when he did, he would stand at the top of the temple and would declare aloud, “Ye poor, I am here to declare good news and salvation to you today.” And so the devil presents this opportunity for Jesus to fulfill popular expectations of who the Messiah should be instead of God’s expectations of who the Messiah should be.
The devil is presenting Jesus with this opportunity to make it about himself. Because if Jesus jumped off and the angels caught him, then everyone would see God’s salvation to Jesus. That God had saved Jesus. And they would be so excited. “The Messiah is here.” And they would look at Jesus and go, “Wow, you’re amazing, you’re amazing!” And they’d be so excited that God saved Jesus. But the story wasn’t that God was going to save Jesus, the story was that God was going to sacrifice Jesus to save the world. That God wasn’t going to just bring salvation to Jesus, but that God was going to bring salvation through Jesus to the world through his death on the cross.
And so if Jesus had jumped, if he’d taken off, and then God had caught him, and then everyone would have been like, “Wow, that’s amazing,” it would have been the wrong story, and salvation would not have come to you and to me. And Jesus recognized the temptation to make it about himself. And see, if Jesus had jumped, he would have forced God to catch him. And that’s testing God. And so this is how Jesus responds. He says, “No, no, no, no. It is written, it is written that you do not put the lord your God to the test.” And he quotes Deuteronomy 6:16. So Jesus knew that his story was not to be the soaring king. His story was to be the suffering servant.
His story wasn’t to be the one that everyone went, “Wow, God saved you.” But, “Wow, God sacrificed you to save me.” He says, “Don’t put your lord God to the test.” Quotes Deuteronomy 6:16. And what is the story behind that? Well, Moses is again reminding the Israelites of what’s happened. Of their story. And so Moses points them back in Deuteronomy 6:16, he points them back to a story that happens in Exodus 17. When God brought them out of Egypt into the desert, they became thirsty because they had no water. And so instead of praying that God would help them, they started grumbling. When you face a problem, do you grumble or do you pray?
So instead of praying they grumbled and they complained, and at the end of Exodus 17, it says that they tested the lord God saying, “Is the lord among us or not?” And so they put a condition on God. They said, “If you don’t give us what we need, if you don’t give us this water, then we’re going to go back to Egypt. We’re not going to follow you anymore.” And see, this is what testing God is. Testing God. To test God is to impose conditions on him, and to make his response to our demands the condition of our continuing to follow him. So if God doesn’t meet my demands, then I won’t follow him. And I have a lot of friends who were once following Jesus but because God didn’t meet their expectations, they are no longer following him.
They were testing God. And Jesus says, “No, no. Do not put the lord your God to the test.” I think inadvertently, you and I often put God to the test. Because we make life about ourselves. We make it about us instead of about him. We make these conditions on God. And here’s what we do. I think we make our lives primarily about our dreams, our desires, our hopes, and we often pray, “Not my will but yours be done,” but then what we live out is my will be done. Right? When we actually get into the nitty gritty day to day of life, we live out my will be done. God, I want you to do what I want. I want you to do what I need. And instead of saying, “God, what do you want? What do you need? How can I partner with you?” We say, “God, would you help me?”
And there’s nothing wrong with praying, “God help me.” But it’s understanding, no, no, no, that I’m not the main character. That’s God. It’s not about me, it’s about God. And when we make it about ourselves, we start testing God. I think it’s because we bought into this cultural narrative that we have to make our own happiness. That it’s up to us to make our own happiness.
And so we constantly are grabbing more and more to make us happy. And what happens is we end up in this cycle. And every one of us have been there. We end up in this cycle where we start fulfilling our desires, and the more that we fulfill our desires, the more that our desires grow. Have you experienced this? And so you keep fulfilling your desires, your own desires, you keep making it about yourself. And the more you make it about yourself, the more yourself grows, and the more that you aren’t feeling fulfilled. The more that you feel like, “I’m really not as happy and healthy and wealthy as I want to be.” And we bring that same attitude to God and we say, “God, if you don’t make me as happy and healthy and wealthy as I want to be, then I’m out of here. I’m not going to follow you.” That’s testing God, and Jesus says don’t test God.
I believe that our anxiety and our fear and our stress are often the result of us making life about ourselves instead of making it about Jesus. Friends, you were never meant to bear the burden of the main character in this story. You were never meant to bear that burden. Because the main character has lines. They’ve got the responsibility to move the plot forward. That’s not you, that’s God. You don’t have that responsibility.
And so often when you put that responsibility on yourself, when you step into the spotlight and push God out of the way, you carry the burden of the main character. So you have stress, anxiety, and fear in your life. But if you step out of that spotlight and bring God back into that spotlight and say, “This story is about you, Jesus,” that’s when your stress, anxiety, and fear melt away. But too often we’re putting ourselves where we never should be. It’s not about us, it’s about God and his glory.
Can I give you an example of this from my own life? So as I’m in transition with my dad, with Pastor Joe, to become the lead pastor here at Life Center, there’s moments where I think it’s up to me. As the leader, as the guy who has to make decisions, it’s up to me. Like it’s up to me if this church grows. It’s up to me if we follow Jesus. Well, it’s up to me to preach well. Can I tell you something? That’s a load of crap. Because pastors don’t build churches. Jesus builds churches. It’s not up to me, it’s up to him. It’s not up to me to do this, it’s up to Jesus to do this. And friends, maybe you’re, as a parent, thinking, “It’s up to me to raise these kids.” As a single mom or a single dad. Maybe as a spouse you’re thinking, “It’s up to me to fix this marriage.” Can I tell you, that is a load of crap. It’s up to Jesus to fix it. If you would step out of the spotlight and let him step in and usher him into his rightful place in the throne on your heart, then God would melt away your anxiety and fear because you’d be able to trust that he has it taken care of. You weren’t meant to bear the burden of the main character. That’s for Jesus.
See, Jesus knew all of this because he knew the story in the scripture. He wasn’t going to take that spotlight. He wasn’t going to take the glory of bringing salvation to himself. He was going to give that to God. He was going to glorify the father. He knew the story because he knew the scripture. He knew that the story was not about him dictating what the father would do. He knew the story was him submitting to every will and wish of the father. That he could not accomplish his mission without submission to the father.
Once again, he overcame temptation by knowing scripture. He was living out what he’d put in. I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but he quotes Deuteronomy in all three of these temptations. And what it shows us is that Jesus was studying the book of Deuteronomy. That what he was putting in, he started living out. And friends, if you want to live out the story of God in your life, you’ve got to put the story of God into your life. You’ve got to start understanding what he is saying to you, what he’s speaking to you. Jesus told this parable about two builders. There’s a wise builder and a foolish builder. And the foolish builder built his house on the beach.
Now, how many of you know that sounds awesome? I would love a house on the beach. That sounds so amazing. So he built this house on the sand. But when the wind came and the rains came and the water rose, what happened to the house? Poof, it crashed. Because it was on a shaky foundation. And then there was a wise builder, and he built his house on the rock. And when the wind came and the rains came and the water rose, the house stood firm because it was built on a strong foundation. And Jesus says, “So will it be with anyone who obeys my words. So will it be with anyone who builds their life on the foundation of my words.” So what are you building your life on? Are you building your life at the beach? Which can look really nice and seem really awesome until the storms of life come. Or are you building your life on the rock? Are you building your life on God’s story told through this book, for you?
The third temptation. The third temptation is to get it for yourself. Get it for yourself. So the devil comes this third time to Jesus. And he takes him to a high mountain. And he shows him all the kingdoms of the world. And it says, “He showed them the kingdoms and their splendor.” These beautiful kingdoms, these amazing, it looked so good. And isn’t that true of temptation? Temptation can often look wonderful. The temptation can often be so appealing, can look so good. But the result of giving into that temptation is that we live out the wrong story, and that is not appealing. Temptation looks wonderful, and Jesus is presented the kingdoms in their splendor, but he again responds with scripture. He says, “It is written, worship the lord your God and serve him only.”
So he quotes Deuteronomy again, Deuteronomy 6:13. And the story behind Deuteronomy is that the Israelites are just about to enter the promised land. And so Moses is giving them the law again. He’s reminding them, this is what the law is. Here’s how you live in accordance with God’s commands. And he reminds them of the story of how God brought them there. And he’s reminding them, he says, “Look, when you enter the land, don’t worship the gods that they worship. Because those gods didn’t give you the promised land. This God gave you the promised land. So worship and serve this god. Worship me and serve me only.”
So Jesus brings the devil back to this story where God is giving his people the land. And when the devil is trying to say, “Look, I can give you the land,” Jesus says, “No, no, no you can’t. That’s not the story. That’s not how this works. Because you can’t give me the land, only God can give me the land because God gave his people the land. I’m not going to worship you because you can’t give it to me. I’m going to worship God, because he’s the only one that can give it to me.” And what I love is in Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus comes to his disciples at the end of the Gospel of Matthew and he says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” See, the devil was offering him the kingdoms of the earth, but God was going to give him heaven and earth.
And friends, the same is true in your life. That god, the devil is going to offer you something, but it’s only half or less of what Jesus can give you. So you may look at that thing and say, “Oh, that looks really nice.” But you remind yourself, “No, no, you can’t give me what I really want and need. Only God can give that to me, and he’s got so much more for me than you do, devil, so you can back off right now.”
Do you know your story? Do you know the story like Jesus knew the story? See, the devil was trying to get Jesus to bypass the cross and receive the fruit without any of the labor. “All you have to do is worship me,” he said. I think so often we’re bypassing the difficult things. We’re bypassing working out our faith in fear and trembling. Because we want to fulfill spiritual needs quickly. And so what we do is we look to material things. We look to get things for ourselves rather than to Jesus to give us what we need.
We start obsessing over things. We start obsessing over cars and whatever it is that you obsess over. We all obsess over something. And we want to acquire that thing, because we think that will actually fulfill us. We think that getting it for ourselves will help us to feel fulfilled and finally fill the hole that’s inside of us. Because we think that God is not enough.
Materialism is the practice of obtaining, by any means necessary, things for my own happiness. And this is the thing that the devil will present to us. You can just get this and it will fill you. You can just get this, bypass the hard work, and get it now. Get it for yourself. But we can say to the devil, “No, that’s not my story. I’m not going to walk out that story or live out that story because I know that God has far more for me than you could ever offer me.” Our story is that what the world has to offer is always less than what Jesus has to offer. So Jesus says, “Don’t store up treasures for yourself here on earth. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
You can acquire all you want here on this earth, but you can’t take it with you, right? You can’t take it with you. You don’t have to get it for yourself because God is giving you more in Jesus. The gospel story is this, is that you were an enemy of God because of your sin. You were spiritually dead and enslaved to the passions of this world. But Jesus came to live the perfect life, to die in your place for your sins, and to raise to new life so that you could be made a new creation now and resurrected to reign with Jesus when he comes back to establish the new heavens and the new earth.
So friends, what is a Maserati compared to a resurrection body? Right? What is the things of this earth compared to what Jesus has to offer you? What is temporary wealth compared to eternal inheritance? God wants to fill up your bank account in heaven if you’d let him. If you’ll just submit and say, “God, I’m going to live into your story, not the story that the devil has for me.” Jesus knew his story because he knew scripture. He overcame temptation because he knew God’s story for him through the scripture. Jesus was living out what he’d put in.
So how do you live into God’s story for your life? How do you overcome temptation in this life? How do you live into the life of God in 2020? I believe it’s listening to God here and obeying God from here. I believe if we want to live into God’s story we’ve got to listen to him here and we’ve got to obey him from here. James 1 says, “You cannot just be hearers of the word, you also have to be doers of the word.” If you want to live it out, you’ve got to put it in. And once you put it in, then God is going to empower you to live out his story in your life.
I’ve got this last thing on your outline. It’s not on there, but write out on the bottom of your outline, the invitation. The invitation. The devil offers three temptations, but Jesus is offering us an invitation. For those of us who are struggling, for those of us who are living the wrong story, who have diverted ourselves from God’s story, who’ve been lured away, who find ourselves drifted from God. We’re living this story that we don’t want to live, that’s not God’s best for our life. Jesus has an invitation.
Matthew 11:28. Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” How many of you love some rest?
Jesus isn’t just talking about sleep. Or sitting on the couch. He’s talking about spiritual rest. We live in a hurried world. We live in a world where you have to move from one thing to the next, and if you don’t you’re going to lose pace with the people around you. We live in a world where when you get done with something, you have something next to do. We live in a world where constantly you’re inundated with messages from media, you’re constantly asked for more and more from the people around you. How do you live up to this? How do you keep up with this pace? Jesus says to those of us who are weary and burdened, he says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
I believe we receive that rest when we make time to be with him. He says, “You’ve got to come to me. And I’ll give you that rest. You can’t run from me, you can’t jog and keep up your pace. You’ve got to come to me and stop and I will give you rest.” I believe we do that through daily prayer, Bible, and journal. We call it PBJ. Prayer, Bible, and journal. And if you would make a habit of this in your life, spending time with God through reading his Bible, listening to what he has spoken and what he’s still speaking to you today, I believe then you would start living that out because you’re putting it in.
We believe that the Bible is living and active. Hebrews 4:12 says that. We believe that 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. So that we could be equipped for every good work. We believe Psalm 119:105 says the word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. So if you’re walking in darkness, if you’re confused, the word of God is what you need.
We also believe, like in John 5:39, that the scripture doesn’t give us life. See, Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees because he says, “You search the scriptures because you believe that in them you have life.” This does not give us life. This points us to Jesus, who gives us life, amen? And so we come to the word of God not because we believe that it in itself can give us life, but because Jesus, what the word points to, Jesus, can give us life. That’s why we come to the word. So that’s where we come to this. The thing that we gave you. We hope that this would be a resource for you in 2020 to build the habit of spending time with Jesus, so that you could put in his story into your life, so you can start living out his story in your life.
So we designed this to be a resource for us to spend time with Jesus, and here’s what we designed it for. We designed it to help you build a habit of spending time with Jesus. So every day, starting January 1 through March, this is a quarterly journal. We’ll give another one at the end of March. This is a quarterly journal. So every day there’s a reading in there for you from the scripture, so that you can develop this habit of spending time with Jesus. So it helps you develop that habit. Because for a lot of us, it’s really difficult to develop that habit. We don’t know how to do it. This will be a resource for you.
What this also does is it helps you know where to read. If you open it up to this really colorful page here at the front, you’ll see that there’s two tracks for what you can read this year, starting January 1. So there’s the yellow track, which is the deep dive into the life of Jesus and the New Testament. So it’s going to, if you read this the whole year, you’re going to read the New Testament twice in 2020. Now, how many of you know that if you read the New Testament twice, Jesus is going to do something in your life? That he’s going to transform you.
So the yellow track is the New Testament. And then the blue track is New Testament and Old Testament. So this is our life journal reading plan that we’ve been doing for years and years. I’ve been on it for 12 years and I’m hooked. So this is what it is. So this is New Testament and Old Testament. So whatever you choose to do, if you jump into blue or yellow, it’s a way of you spending time with Jesus. And it helps you to know where to read.
The other thing that it’s going to do is it’s helping you understand the Bible. So if you turn the page to week one, you’ll see that there’s a love list, there’s who else needs your prayer, and then there’s those spot. It says, “Wednesday, January 1,” and then you can see the yellow track is Luke 1 and the blue track is Luke 1 and Genesis 1-2. But you’ll also notice there’s a little play button. Do you see that? That play button lets you know that there is a video resource attached to that day’s reading. So if you see up in the top here, there’s a QR code. And that QR code, if you pull out your phone and turn on your camera, will open a link so that it’ll link right to the videos that you can watch for the week that are connected with this scripture. So it’s a way for you to understand what scripture is talking about. Because so many of us when we come to scripture, we come to one specific story in the Bible and we’re like, “What does that mean?” And that’s why we’ve attached these video resources to help you understand the context of what’s going on in the story that you’re reading. It’s going to help you with the themes of the Bible, the characters of the Bible, to understand what you’re reading.
And then finally, this is going to help you apply God’s word to your life. Apply what he’s speaking to you. So you’ve got this space to journal. And journaling isn’t some fluffy practice where you write out your emotions, “I’m really feeling down today.” Which, if you do that, that’s great. I’m not, I’m so sorry for people who journal. That’s amazing. You keep it up, just start feeling better, okay? But what it is, is a way to write out what God’s speaking.
So, we have this simple way. Scripture, observation, application, prayer. The acronym is SOAP. Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. You write out a scripture, you write out the observation. What’s the author trying to say to me? What’s God trying to say to me? And then, how do I apply this to my life today? How do I live this story out in my life? And then you pray that God would help you do it, that he’d empower you through his holy spirit to do just that. So it helps you apply what God is reading to you.
And then if you turn to almost the very back, you’re going to see some spaces where there’s all these badges. What we wanted to do is we wanted to make this fun as well. And so we’ve included all these badges and so if you complete a book of the Bible, or if you complete one of these challenges, we’re going to give you a sticker!
And listen, we know that it’s cheesy. We know that it’s simple. But we wanted to do something to celebrate you as you are walking out your new, your relationship with Jesus. As you’re developing that, that we want to be able to say, “Wow. That is so cool.” So if you read the Book of Luke, you can come to us at the Welcome Center and say, “Hey, look, I read the Book of Luke,” and they’re going to give you a sticker and a high five and they’re going to say, “Way to spend time with Jesus!” If you serve on one of our teams, they’re going to ask you, in the team huddles, they’re going to say, “Hey, has anyone accomplished a goal?” And when you’re like, “Yeah, I’m on a seven day reading streak, baby!” They’re going to be like, “Whoo!” And give you a sticker. And you’re going to be stoked.
So we want to make it fun as well. And here’s the thing. If you want to let us know that you’re reading along with us, if you want to sign up and let us know, “Hey, I’m reading along,” then we’ve got a sticker for you out in the back at the table in the commons, and it’s an exclusive sticker that you only get if you register. Whoo! So just so you know, you can get that if you want to.
But friends, listen. You can’t live out what you don’t put in. So if you want to live out God’s story, you’ve got to put it in and that’s what this is about. This is a resource for you to put God’s story into your life. As you’re reading through Luke, you’re going to discover a humble Jesus. As you read through Axe, your faith is going to grow. As you read through Mark, you’re going to discover a Jesus on Red Bull, because he is constantly doing stuff day and night. As you read through Galatians, you’re going to be building the fruit of the spirit in your life. Love, joy, peace, patience. And as you read through First Corinthians, you might discover how God has gifted you in the spiritual realm.
Can I end with a story? So this is a story about someone who heard the audible voice of God. My friend Steve, who is a member here at Life Center, told me his story about four weeks ago when we sat down for coffee. He said he was about 18 or 19 years old, and he was terribly depressed. So this is probably 40 years ago. He was terribly depressed. And his life was spiraling downhill. And he decided that he was going to end his life. He decided it wasn’t worth living any more.
The way he was going to end his life is he got his Ford Tempo up to top speed, which was 85 miles per hour. But he got it up to top speed, and he was going to run it into a pylon on the highway. So he’s at top speed and he’s just about to swerve into the pylon on the freeway, and no one else is in the car, when he hears an audible voice. Steve was not a follower of Jesus. But he told me that when he heard this voice, he knew it was Jesus. Somehow, he knew it was Jesus. And the voice said, “Why don’t you try me?”
“Why don’t you try me?” And so Steve pulled his car over and he broke down, because immediately where despair was, hope was. Where he lacked joy, now he was flooded with joy because Jesus had intercepted him at his moment of need. And said, “Why don’t you try me?” And I believe that today, Jesus is making the same invitation to you and to me. He’s saying, “Why don’t you try me? You’ve tried all these other things. Why don’t you try me? No, no, don’t give up. Why don’t you try me?” And friends, that’s what this is about. It’s about trying Jesus and tasting and seeing that he is so, so good. That when we come to our God, he will fill us with what we need. We don’t have to get it for ourselves. That when we come to God, he will empower us to live out the story that he’s putting into us.
So I don’t know what you’ve tried. I don’t know where you are. But I do know this. To every single one of us, Jesus is saying, “Why don’t you try me?” And if we do, if we as a church would invest every day into our relationship with Jesus, I know that he will transform us from the inside out. That where despair was, hope will be. That where joy was lacking, joy will fill us. Because the holy spirit will fill us. I know that God wants to do something in us and through us. And if we would just allow Jesus to infiltrate our lives by putting his story into us through the word of God, I believe that Jesus would start coming out of our lives for people around us to see, and that instead of being bathed in darkness, this world would be bathed in light because we are the light of the world through Jesus in us.
So, I’ll leave you with a question. Why don’t you try me? Would you pray with me? Jesus, we thank you for your invitation. We thank you that you want us to come to you. God, I pray that you would help us to do just that. And God, in this moment, I believe that there is someone here who needs to say yes to your invitation to try them. They’ve been running from you, they’ve been doing so many different things. They’ve tried everything else, Jesus. But now is the moment where they’ve realized that you are speaking to them and saying, “Why don’t you try me?” So friends, if that’s you, if you have been running from God, if you’ve drifted from him, if you’ve been fighting temptation and you realize that Jesus is making an invitation to you and saying, “Why don’t you try me?” I want to give you an opportunity to say yes to Jesus, and give your life to him, just like Steve did so many years ago.
While everyone else’s heads are bowed and eyes are closed, if that’s you, if you want to say yes to Jesus, if you’re saying, “Man, I need to try Jesus out, I want to do this thing, I want to spend time with him every day in 2020, but I need to say yes to Jesus first, I need to make that decision to commit my life to him,” if that’s you, I want you to do the opposite of everyone else. While everyone else’s heads are bowed and eyes are closed, I want you to shoot up your hand, lift up your head, open your eyes, and just acknowledge to me that you’re making that decision to say yes to Jesus. So if that’s you, would you do that right now? Just shoot up your hand, lift up your eyes. I see you and you there. I see you there. That is awesome. I see you. Thank you so much for making that decision. Thank you so much. I see you back there. And you there. And you there, and you there. Thank you so much for saying yes to Jesus. Don’t let me miss you. I see you as well. Thank you so much for saying yes, to Jesus. I see you as well. Thank you so much. And you, back there, and you back there. Thank you so much for saying yes to Jesus. You won’t be disappointed.
Jesus, I thank you for the people who have just handed their lives over to you and I pray that you would fill them with everything that they need for life in Godliness. I would pray that you’d help us as a church to be a family to them. And now, God, I ask that you would help every single one of us just spend time with you each and every day, starting January 1. That 2020 would be a hallmark year for this church. That we’d be able to look back and say we stepped into what God was calling us into. We stepped into his story. We put in the story into our lives and we started living it out in new ways. And Jesus was made famous in Spokane and around the world. So Jesus, we pray that you’d help us to do that. In Jesus’ name everybody said.