Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives 2019

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

© May 5, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 5, 2019

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on September 28, 2014, and February 5, 2017

BLCF: bulletin-february-5-2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                        

Opening Hymn #55: For the Beauty of the Earth; Chorus

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – Psalm 104); Prayer                                               

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                         ‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

Let us pray…

Today’s lesson at BLCF, we will have a look at surviving in the wilderness of life’s trials and tests with comfort and mercy from the Lord.

Recently, there has been on television, a number of popular “Reality Series” which document peoples’ ability to overcome the challenges of surviving in a hostile environment. While a working knowledge of survival skills is useful, the key to successfully meeting the challenges and tests in the wilderness rests in one’s attitude or their frame of mind.

But this morning, I would like to discuss what is meant by the “wilderness,” that is described in the Scriptures?

We find one definition of the wilderness, specifically in the region of Judaea, from the web site bibleplaces.com:

Judean Wilderness

Also known as Desert of Judah, Jeshimon, Midbar Yehuda, Wilderness of Judaea, Wilderness of Judah Place of Refuge.

Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness has been (mostly) uninhabited throughout history. Consequently it was an ideal place for those seeking refuge from enemies or retreat from the world. When on the run from King Saul, David hid in various places in the Judean wilderness (the Wilderness(es) of Ziph, Maon, and En Gedi are part of the Judean Wilderness).

John the Baptist preached here, and it seems likely that this was the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. Herod the Great built two fortresses (Herodium and Masada) in this area for protection should his people ever revolt against him.

http://www.bibleplaces.com/judeanwilderness.htm

So when Moses sojourned in the wilderness, he found more than a refuge from Pharaoh, as we find in Exodus 3:1 (ESV):

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

In Exodus 3, we have the account of God revealing Himself to Moses by way of a burning bush upon a mountain. God revealed to Moses His intention to free the Hebrew people from enslavement in Egypt. Moses was the key to the Lord’s plan, which included leading them through the same wilderness.

But why would God want His people, who suffered greatly at the hands of their Egyptian taskmasters, venture through the wilderness before reaching their “Promised Land”? To help us understand why let us look at another take on the usage of the term “wilderness” in the Scriptures, is that posted by Jeff A. Benner at ancient-hebrew.org:

Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings:
Wilderness ~ midvar
By Jeff A. Benner

For forty years God had Israel wander in the ‘wilderness’. Insights into why God had chosen the wilderness for their wanderings can be found in the roots of this word. The root word is ‘davar’ and is most frequently translated as a thing or a word. The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. Speech is an ordered arrangement of words. In the ancient Hebrew mind words are ‘things’ and are just as ‘real’ as food or other ‘thing’. When a word is spoken to another it is ‘placed in the ears’ no different than when food is given to another it is ‘placed in the mouth’.

The Hebrew name Devorah (Deborah) means ‘bee’ and is the feminine form of the word davar. Bees are a community of insects which live in a perfectly ordered arrangement. The word ‘midvar’ meaning wilderness is actually a place that exists as a perfectly arranged order as its ecosystem is in harmony and balance. By placing Israel in this environment he is teaching them balance, order and harmony.

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_wilderness.html

To recap, the trek of the Hebrew people was intended to help them become reacquainted with their God, with the wilderness as their school. But the balance, order, and harmony to be restored in the Lord’s people come with His promise of a pardon for all sins. As we see in Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV), entitled:

                Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[
a] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 40:2 Or hardship b. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one crying

The Scriptures description of a voice crying out in the wilderness is echoed again by John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:19-23 (ESV):

The Testimony of John the Baptist

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Footnotes: a. John 1:23 Or crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight

The wilderness, where John the Baptist refers to himself as “voice in the wilderness” was prophesized by the prophet Isaiah, describing the restoration of balance, order, and harmony, as well as the promise of a pardon from sins, through Christ, Jesus. Jesus also had a wilderness experience immediately after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit, where the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11(ESV):

The Temptation of Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

We see that the devil tested Jesus by tempting him to satisfy his hunger; having God rescue him as he leaped from a high precipice; and then offering Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship Satan instead of the Father in Heaven! It is interesting that all the temptations Satan offered Christ were refuted and refused with Jesus responding with Scripture that spoke of actions of obedience and faith.

All of us encounter at some time in our lives, the challenges of a “wilderness trek”, where Satan challenges our faith by tempting us in a time of adversity. And just as Moses and the Hebrew people, as well as Jesus, we can allow the experience to draw comfort, through God’s Holy Spirit, knowing that as believers in the Resurrected Christ, God has blessed us with His goodness and mercy, by our faith in the Lord.

Let us pray…

Communion (Institution of the Lord’s Supper) – Matthew 26:26-29:

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Closing Hymn # 440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21):

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives

BLCF: judean-desert-wide

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

© February 5, 2017, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on September 28, 2014

BLCF: bulletin-february-5-2017

BLCF: thank_God_trust_God

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Opening Hymn #55: For the Beauty of the Earth; Choruses                                 

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – Psalm 104); Prayer        

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                

‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

BLCF: Gods Mercy is greater - animated

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson at BLCF, we will have a look at surviving in the wilderness of life’s trials and tests with comfort and mercy from the Lord.

Recently, there has been on television, a number of popular “Reality Series” which document peoples’ ability to overcome the challenges of surviving in a hostile environment. While a working knowledge of survival skills is useful, the key to successfully meeting the challenges and tests in the wilderness rests in one’s attitude or their frame of mind.

But this morning, I would like to discuss what is meant by the “wilderness,” that is described in the Scriptures?

We find one definition of the wilderness, specifically in the region of Judaea, from the web site bibleplaces.com:

Judean Wilderness

BLCF: voice in the wilderness

Also known as Desert of Judah, Jeshimon, Midbar Yehuda, Wilderness of Judaea, Wilderness of Judah Place of Refuge

Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness has been (mostly) uninhabited throughout history. Consequently it was an ideal place for those seeking refuge from enemies or retreat from the world. When on the run from King Saul, David hid in various places in the Judean wilderness (the Wilderness(es) of Ziph, Maon, and En Gedi are part of the Judean Wilderness).

John the Baptist preached here, and it seems likely that this was the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. Herod the Great built two fortresses (Herodium and Masada) in this area for protection should his people ever revolt against him.

http://www.bibleplaces.com/judeanwilderness.htm

So when Moses sojourned in the wilderness, he found more than a refuge from Pharaoh, as we find in Exodus 3:1 (ESV):

BLCF: Moses-near-Mt-Horeb

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

In Exodus 3, we have the account of God revealing Himself to Moses by way of a burning bush upon a mountain. God revealed to Moses His intention to free the Hebrew people from enslavement in Egypt. Moses was the key to the Lord’s plan, which included leading them through the same wilderness.

But why would God want His people, who suffered greatly at the hands of their Egyptian taskmaster, venture through the wilderness before reach their “Promised Land”?

To understand, let us look at another take on the usage of the term “wilderness” in the Scriptures, is that posted by Jeff A. Benner at ancient-hebrew.org:

Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings
Wilderness ~ midvar
By Jeff A. Benner

Judean Wilderness

                                 Judean Wilderness

For forty years God had Israel wander in the ‘wilderness’. Insights into why God had chosen the wilderness for their wanderings can be found in the roots of this word. The root word is ‘davar’ and is most frequently translated as a thing or a word. The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. Speech is an ordered arrangement of words. In the ancient Hebrew mind words are ‘things’ and are just as ‘real’ as food or other ‘thing’. When a word is spoken to another it is ‘placed in the ears’ no different than when food is given to another it is ‘placed in the mouth’.

The Hebrew name Devorah (Deborah) means ‘bee’ and is the feminine form of the word davar. Bees are a community of insects which live in a perfectly ordered arrangement. The word ‘midvar’ meaning wilderness is actually a place that exists as a perfectly arranged order as its ecosystem is in harmony and balance. By placing Israel in this environment he is teaching them balance, order and harmony.

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_wilderness.html

So the trek of the Hebrew people was intended to help them become reacquainted with their God, with the wilderness as their school. But the balance, order, and harmony to be restored in the Lord’s people come with His promise of a pardon for all sins. As we see in Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV), entitled:

                Comfort for God’s People

BLCF: Will-of-God

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[
a] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 40:2 Or hardship b. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one crying

But the Scriptures description of a voice crying out in the wilderness is echoed again by John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:19-23 (ESV):

The Testimony of John the Baptist

BLCF: John-the-Baptist

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Footnotes: a. John 1:23 Or crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight

BLCF: judean_desert

The wilderness where John the Baptist refers to himself as “voice in the wilderness” described by the prophet Isaiah, describing the restoration of balance, order, and harmony, as well as the promise of a pardon from sins, through Jesus. The Lord, also, had a wilderness experience immediately after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit, where the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11(ESV) :

The Temptation of Jesus

BLCF: Satan Tempts Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

BLCF: map-judean-desert-temptation_jesus

We see that the devil tested Jesus by tempting him to satisfy his hunger; having God rescue him as he leaped from a high precipice; and then offering Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship Satan instead of the Father in Heaven! It is interesting that all the temptations Satan offered Christ were refuted and refused with Jesus responding with Scripture that spoke of actions of obedience and faith.

All of us encounter at some time in our lives, the challenges of a “wilderness trek”, where Satan challenges our faith by tempting us in a time of adversity. And just as Moses and the Hebrew people, as well as Jesus, we can allow the experience to draw comfort, through God’s Holy Spirit, knowing that as believers in the Resurrected Christ, God has blessed us with His goodness and mercy, by our faith in the Lord.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Piasecki-LastSupper

Communion (Institution of the Lord’s Supper) – Matthew 26:26-29:

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Closing Hymn # 440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21):

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 god-brings-you-to-it-and-through-it

David Over Goliath: A Victory of Faith

BLCF: david-vs-goliath

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘David Over Goliath: A Victory of Faith’

 © September 25,2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: September-25-2016

BLCF: God_Lord

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #602 (Divine Deliverance – Psalm 33) of Prayer; Prayer

Opening Hymn #255: Would You Be Free from the Burden

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Today’s Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:1-54, (Additional Scriptures: Psalm 33:13-19, Matthew 4:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service here at BLCF Church.

For our lesson this morning, we will discuss the contest between David of the People of Israel and Goliath the champion of the Philistines, described in today’s featured Scripture, 1 Samuel 17:1-54 (ESV). Because of the length of the passage, we cannot include the Scripture in today’s Bulletin and ask that you follow along in the pew Bibles.

David and Goliath

BLCF: david-and-goliath

 17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim.And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six[a] cubits[b] and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels[c] of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.[d]13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah[e] of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”

19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock,35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath[f] and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

Footnotes: a. 1 Samuel 17:4 Hebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four b. 1 Samuel 17:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters c. 1 Samuel 17:5 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams d. 1 Samuel 17:12 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew advanced among men e. 1 Samuel 17:17 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters f. 1 Samuel 17:52 Septuagint; Hebrew Gai

BLCF: david-and-goliath-bible-story

 

I would like to make some observations with respect to the account of David versus Goliath. It is clear that Goliath was a very tall individual, over 6 cubits tall. A cubit being approximately 18 inches, which makes the Philistine warrior over 9 feet or 270 cm feet. To understand the size of Goliath’s frame, we read that the weight of his chainmail coat was some 125 lbs. or about 56.7 Kilos!

Goliath, acting as a champion for the Philistine army, challenged the army of Israel to provide a champion so that the two champions would fight to the death. The people of the victor would find the people of his opponent surrendering to enslavement to the victor.

While members of the army of Israel, fled in fear from the Philistine giant, young David,  a juvenile who was deemed to be too young and small to join the ranks of the army of Israel, was outraged by the offensive remarks made by Goliath against God. He sought to answer Goliath’s challenge to Israel by volunteering to his people’s champion in the contest.

BLCF: the-battle-belongs-to-the-Lord

 

The key part of this passage is  1 Samuel 17:31-37 (ESV), where David acknowledges that God delivered him from the lion and the bear, and God will deliver him from the hand of Goliath:

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock,35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

When King Saul heard of David’s remarks about the challenge, he had young David brought before him. But when the King saw the conviction of faith in young David, he granted the request,saying “Go, and the Lord be with you.” Saul’s comment about God going to battle with David reveals both Saul and David shared a strong faith in the power of God to protect the champion for God’s chosen people, Israel.

We see that David refused the armor and weapons offered by Saul as he had not tested or trained with them, choosing instead, to face his opponent armed solely with a sling, five smooth stones from a nearby brook, and confidence that the Lord will deliver him.

And after David arrived at the place of combat between the two armies, we see the two combatants exchange words, 1 Samuel 17:41-47:

41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

David’s victory over an enemy of God’s chosen people, the People of Israel, was a victory of faith and trust that God. For it is only the supernatural power of God, given as faith’s reward, not any earthly weapon or tool, which enables us to defeat the devil, sin and death, as we see in Psalm 33:13-19 (ESV):

BLCF: keep_calm_power_in_name_of_jesus

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

The eye of the Lord was upon David, who came upon the field of combat, not as a king or might warrior, but a humble shepherd. David was chosen because of his great faith, not because of his physical strength, stature, or soldering experience. King Saul could have searched, and possibly found a giant warrior in his ranks to battle Goliath. But a victory by a similar sized warrior of similar stature to Goliath would likely have been credited to human skill or weapons.

Not only was David, a young shepherd, with no experience as a warrior, but with an abundance of faith in God, who deftly demonstrated how the Lord empowers the meek to defeat those who oppose Him.

Another example of God electing to demonstrate His power through a humble personage is our Lord, Jesus,  the Son of God, who was born in a modest stable, arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, washed the feet of his disciples as an example of his ministry, and  surrendered his life in payment for the judgment of the sins of humanity.

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we know Jesus was tested by the devil immediately after his baptism where he received the Holy Spirit, Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV):

The Temptation of Jesus

BLCF: even_Jesus_was_tempted

 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus fought the devil’s  temptation of both body and spirit, using the Word of God to defeat the devil.

Just as David used a faith in God, along with sling and a pebble, to defeat a mighty opponent, Goliath, which in turn led to the defeat of the Philistine army, Jesus used the Scriptures to defeat a greater foe, the devil. David used a sling to fire pebbles that were smoothed in a natural stream by the hand of God, not in the forge of man. The victory came from God’s supernatural power given in reward to David’s stalwart faith.

The Word of God has power, when spoken by a believer, but is perceived as foolishness to those lacking faith, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ESV):

 Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

BLCF: Power-of-God

 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[a] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[b] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[c] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[d] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 1:21 Or the folly of preaching b. 1 Corinthians 1:26 Greek according to the flesh c. 1 Corinthians 1:29 Greek no flesh d. 1 Corinthians 1:30 Greek And from him

Only God can enable a young shepherd armed with a sling and pebble and heart of faith defeat a giant opponent and ultimately an army.

In the same manner, God empowers his son, Jesus, to overcome the judgment of death for all believers, defeating the devil’s plan to bring death and destruction upon humanity. The key word in this statement is believers, who have unconditional faith in the unconditional love of God.

Faith in Christ gives us a victory over the devil, over the judgment for sin. Faith in the Lord rewards believers with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit and a victory over death by the promise of eternal life, our own resurrection, and life eternal on the day Jesus returns.

Let us pray…

BLCF: holy-spirit-as-power

Closing Hymn #225: Standing on the Promises

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21):                                                                            

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: david-goliath

Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives

BLCF: judean-desert-wide

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Finding God’s Comfort and Mercy in the Wilderness of Our Lives’

© September 28, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin September 21, 2014

BLCF: how_God_grows_our_faith

Announcements and Call to Worship:Responsive Reading #607 (Creator and Sustainer – Psalm 104); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #55: For the Beauty of the Earth; Choruses                                              

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Scripture Verses: Exodus 3:1, Isaiah 40:1-5, John 1:19-23, Matthew 4:1-11

BLCF: 1john4_4

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson at BLCF, we will have a look at surviving in the wilderness of life’s trials and tests with comfort and mercy from the Lord.

Recently, there has been a number of popular “Reality Series” which document peoples’ ability to overcome the challenges of surviving in a hostile environment. While a working knowledge of survival skills is useful, the key to successfully meeting the challenges and tests in the wilderness rests in one’s attitude or frame of mind.

But this morning, I would like to discuss what is meant by the “wilderness”, that is described in the Scriptures.

We find one definition of the wilderness, specifically in region of Judaea, from the web site bibleplaces.com:

 

 Judean Wilderness

BLCF: judean_desert

Also known as Desert of Judah, Jeshimon, Midbar Yehuda, Wilderness of Judaea, Wilderness of Judah Place of Refuge

Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness has been (mostly) uninhabited throughout history. Consequently it was an ideal place for those seeking refuge from enemies or retreat from the world. When on the run from King Saul, David hid in various places in the Judean wilderness (the Wilderness(es) of Ziph, Maon, and En Gedi are part of the Judean Wilderness).

John the Baptist preached here, and it seems likely that this was the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. Herod the Great built two fortresses (Herodium and Masada) in this area for protection should his people ever revolt against him.

http://www.bibleplaces.com/judeanwilderness.htm

Judean Wilderness

 

So when Moses sojourned in the wilderness, he found more than refuge from Pharaoh, as we find in Exodus 3:1 (ESV):

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

In Exodus 3, we have the account of God revealing Himself to Moses by way of a burning bush upon a mountain. God revealed to Moses His intention to free the Hebrew people from enslavement in Egypt. Moses was the key to the Lord’s plan, which included leading them through the same wilderness.

But why would God want His people, who suffered greatly at the hands of their Egyptian taskmaster, venture through the wilderness before reach their “Promised Land”?

BLCF: map-bible-archeology-exodus-route

To understand, let us look at another take on the usage of the term “wilderness” in the Scriptures, is that posted by Jeff A. Benner at ancient-hebrew.org:

Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings: Wilderness ~ midvar

By Jeff A. Benner

For forty years God had Israel wander in the ‘wilderness’. Insights into why God had chosen the wilderness for their wanderings can be found in the roots of this word. The root word is ‘davar’ and is most frequently translated as a thing or a word. The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. Speech is an ordered arrangement of words. In the ancient Hebrew mind words are ‘things’ and are just as ‘real’ as food or other ‘thing’. When a word is spoken to another it is ‘placed in the ears’ no different than when food is given to another it is ‘placed in the mouth’.

The Hebrew name Devorah (Deborah) means ‘bee’ and is the feminine form of the word davar. Bees are a community of insects which live in a perfectly ordered arrangement. The word ‘midvar’ meaning wilderness is actually a place that exists as a perfectly arranged order as its ecosystem is in harmony and balance. By placing Israel in this environment he is teaching them balance, order and harmony.

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_wilderness.html

BLCF: Gods_promises

So the trek of the Hebrew people was intended to help them become reacquainted with their God, with the wilderness as their school. But the balance, order and harmony to be restored in the Lord’s people comes with His promise of a pardon for all sins. As we see in Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV), entitled:

Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,     and cry to her that her warfare[a] is ended,     that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand     double for all her sins.

A voice cries:[b] “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;     make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up,     and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level,     and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,     and all flesh shall see it together,     for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 40:2 Or hardship b. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one crying

BLCF: PrepareTheWay

But the Scriptures description of a voice crying out in the wilderness is echoed again by John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:19-23 (ESV):

The Testimony of John the Baptist

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Footnotes: a. John 1:23 Or crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight

BLCF: voice in the wilderness

The wilderness where John the Baptist refers to himself as “voice in the wilderness” described by the prophet Isaiah, describing the restoration of balance, order and harmony, as well as the promise of pardon from sins, through Jesus. The Lord, also, had a wilderness experience immediately after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit, where the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11(ESV) :

The Temptation of Jesus

BLCF: even_Jesus_was_tempted

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,     

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,     

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God     

and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

BLCF: Satan Tempts Jesus

We see that the devil tested Jesus by tempting him to satisfy his hunger; having God rescue him as he leapt from a high precipice; and then offering Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship Satan instead of the Father in Heaven! It is interesting that all the temptations Satan offered Christ were refuted and refused with Jesus responding with Scripture that spoke of actions of obedience and faith.

BLCF: map-judean-desert-temptation_jesus

All of us encounter at some time in our lives, the challenges of a “wilderness trek”, where Satan challenges our faith by tempting us in a time of adversity. And just as Moses and the Hebrew people, as well as Jesus, we can allow the experience to draw comfort, through God’s Holy Spirit, knowing that as believers in the Resurrected Christ, God has blessed us with His goodness and mercy, by our faith in the Lord.

Let us pray…

prayer

Closing Hymn # 440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21):

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Surely-goodness

Overcoming Temptation

 BLCF: James_4-7

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Overcoming Temptation’ 

© June 29, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin June 29, 2014 

Originally Published Sunday August 15, 2010

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – James 1 and 1 Peter 1); Prayer

Opening Hymn #63: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name; Choruses  

Tithing & Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings 

Today’s Scriptures: Genesis 3:12-13 and Matthew 4:1-11

BLCF: temptation 

 

 

Let us pray…

The Scriptures indicate that as believers in the resurrected Christ, we may anticipate three kinds of trouble or challenges in our walk as Christians.

The first type of challenges to Christians includes: discipline, judgment or rebuke from the Lord. Though it is true that having confessed our sins, accepted salvation through Jesus Christ we are exempt from the judgment of death for our sins that does not mean that we are exempt from conviction by the Holy Spirit for unGodly thoughts, words or deeds we do as believers, however we must confess our sins.

In 1 John 1:8-10 (ESV), we read:

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

The second type of challenges to Christians includes: tests, trials, persecutions and sufferings. These challenges may cause the believers to experience anything from minor teasing for our faith to extreme suffering, sometimes death, typically at the hands of non-believers, who feel they must attack believers to justify their lack of faith.

It is interesting in researching this message how many web pages and sites were dedicated to attack or persecute the Christian believer, saying: “if you claim to be a follower of Christ, then prove it by demonstrating the power of your God-given gifts by performing a miracle!” This is a very dangerous proposition, for it implies that the gifts of the Spirit may be used like a circus side-show or magician’s trick for the amusement and entertainment of others. A perfect example of this second challenge was the temptation Satan threw at Jesus which is found in today’s bulletin. Here we read Jesus’ reply in Matthew 4:7 (ESV):

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

While such tests do not come from God, they may be used by the Holy Spirit to grow our faith or the faith of others. The testimony of how we should react to these tests and suffering is illustrated in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV):

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

In today’s lesson, I will be speaking on the third type of challenge or trouble that Christians face: that of temptations or attacks from the enemy, Satan. Such temptations from Satan are real and are evident next door, at the Paradise Strip Club. It is perfect example of what Martin Luther meant when he said:

 “For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.

luther

Martin Luther

Club Paradise exists to promote lust of the flesh and the exploitation of women and the Devil conducts services there every single day of the week.

First let me point out that, as believers in Christ, there is no sin if you experience temptation from Satan. Satan is the enemy, and knows our weaknesses. He knows which of our buttons to push, where we are vulnerable, and edeaveavours to tempt us away from God’s authority in our lives. The potential of sin from a temptation occurs in our response to the temptation: Do we give in to the temptation, and sin?

BLCF: avoid_temptation

 

Christian Author Oswald Chambers describes temptation in this way:

“A man’s disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of that nature. Every man has the setting of this own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition.”

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin 

 

Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan with the promise of possessing the knowledge of God, in discerning good from evil, demonstration a lust or desire to become like God, an account is given in Genesis 3, starting with verse 1 (ESV):

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

BLCF: Genesis 3

 

 8And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

That was the beginning of the Fall of Mankind from God’s Grace. Like children sometimes do when they have done something wrong, Adam and Eve felt guilty and hid themselves. But they could not hide from God. Seeing themselves naked, Adam and Eve became ashamed and covered themselves which we see starting in Genesis 3:12.

12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Not only did Adam and Eve feel shame and guilt, they attempted to behave crafty like Satan and place the blame on someone else for their own actions. Adam blamed Eve and even God by saying (in Genesis 3:12):

The woman whom you gave to be with m, she gave me the fruit and I ate”.

Eve behaving no better, put the blame on Satan (verse 13):

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

This is why, in order to receiver God’s Blessing of Salvation, we must confess our sins, and don’t blame our spouse and don’t blame the Devil. For the sin is not the temptation, it is how we react to it. Do we resist the temptation? And if we give in to the temptation, do we accept responsibility for doing so? It is not uncommon to be tempted, as we read in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV):

13No 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.

BLCF: Joseph_resists_temptation 

We see this in the story of lust of the flesh. Joseph, who was tempted by the wife of Potiphar’s wife we find in the Bible, Genesis 39, staring with verse 1:

 1Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. 6So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

 7And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

11But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.  

Joseph’s resisted his master’s wife by physically removing himself from temptation. Sometimes the best way to handle problems is to walk away from them. Walk away from lust, from a conflict, from a situation that creates strong emotion which may cause us to act on impulse and break God’s commandments.

My son, Johnathan, played hockey for a number of years, as a defenseman. Many times in the game, he would be challenged by a player on the opposing team to respond to an illegal check or hit, where the intention was to get him to retaliate and get a penalty. Johnathan’s response was to skate away from a situation which would hurt him and his team. It gets tougher for some players, when both friends and family encourage a player to take the low road the penalties for a lack of control, when tested.

Which brings us to Job, who was tested and tormented by Satan, where Job’s friends and his wife, both tried to get him to deny God, or at least to blame God, for the circumstances of the death of his children; the loss of his wealth and livestock; and the boils on his body. But Job remained steadfast in his faith, as we see in Job 1:22 (ESV): 

22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Unlike some “fair-weather Christians”, Job not only resisted temptation to sin against God, he acknowledged God in bad circumstances as well as  the good, Job 2:10 (ESV): 

10 Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

BLCF:Job1-21

 

In all  of his trials and tests Job did not sin with his lips. Job refused to renounce God and he refused to blame God for what has happened to him. He kept his faith in the Lord. This should be the path we take when we experience trying times. We are reminded to keep the faith, for God does not tempt us, as we read, again, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV):

3No 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.

But some non-believers argue: what kind of God allows the faithful to suffer as Job had? The Bible has an answer to this challenger inHebrews 2:18 (ESV):

18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Often, our suffering tempers us for future challenges and enables us to help others to cope with similar circumstances.

BLCF: ilya-repin-get-behind-me-satan-1895

 

The proof that temptation is common not only to men and women, you may recall that immediately after Jesus, who was sinless, had been baptized by John and had the Holy Spirit come upon him, that Christ was immediately tempted by Satan in the wilderness, as was described in Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV):

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written, “’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “’He will command his angels concerning you,’    And “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,”‘You shall worship the Lord your God   and him only shall you serve.'” 11Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

When Satan tempted Jesus, he appealed to three things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. First he challenged Jesus, after a 40-day fast, to use his powers to make food and satisfy his fleshly needs. Next, he challenged Jesus to look at the world from a high place and offered him dominion over all he saw. Finally, he tempted Jesus to throw Himself down from a tower, saying that surely, as God’s son, he would be saved – which was an appeal to pride.

Three aspects of the temptation are worth noting. First, that Satan had attempted to beguile or fool Jesus through the use of scripture, which Jesus not only discerned as a trick by putting God to the test. Second, that Jesus responded to Satan’s twisting of the scripture with the correct use of the Word of God. And third, Jesus acknowledged God’s authority over all, including Satan and rebuked the Devil by telling him to leave. Satan did leave, which tells us who really the master of both Heaven and earth is: our Lord Jesus!

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Just as Jesus responded, when tempted in the wilderness, we must be prepared to resist temptation by being prepared by studying and knowing the Bible, so as to discern when Satan is attempting to fool us. On the topic of Biblical Discernment, in his book, “The Best of the Christian Research Journal, Whose Ethics? Whose Morals?,author Hank Hanegraaff writes(Page90):

“Often it is difficult to determine what is true and what is false in a world that offers a puzzling array of solutions across abroad spectrum of belief systems, most of which contradict each other and, as such, underscore the critical need for Christians to develop godly discernment. Discernment is a word that appears fairly often in the Bible (1Sam:32-33, 1Kings 3:10-11 and 4:29; Psalm 119:66; Proverbs 2:3; Daniel 2:14; Philippians 1:9).

Colossians 2:8, similarly, reads:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principals of the world, rather than according to Christ”

Because so many facts, claims and opinions are being tossed about, Christians need to develop discernment to avoid being taken captive by false ideas. These distortions of the truth, often appear in the form of fallacies. A fallacy, by definition, is a mistaken idea, an error, or a flaw in reasoning. Examples are:

  • The fallacy of “Equivocation”: the use of vague terms, as used by cults. Cults will twist a truth to make it suit their purposes.
  • The fallacy of “Card Stacking”, that is the selective use of evidence. There may be more facts to an argument than are stated.
  • The fallacy of the “Red Herring”, use of a tangent to distract an opponent from the issue in question.

 

Satan is well-versed in the use of faulty reasoning to attempt to trick us into rationalizing actions which are contrary to God’s laws. And rationalizing such behavior gives Satan control of our lives.

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Christian Author C.S. Lewis once said:“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means–the only complete realist.”

 

As you can see C.S. Lewis draws an interesting conclusion, that only believers are tempted, as non-believers readily surrender readily to temptation. In a sense, temptation is not being dealt with by non-believers. It just does not exist in their reality. Non-believers do not have a faith in God, from which they may be tempted.

 

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So no test, trial or temptation comes from God which we read in James 1:13-15 (ESV):

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Again, we are reminded that God does help us through difficult times in our lives, as we are again reminded by 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV):

 3No 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.

 

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In conclusion, how we overcome temptation from Satan goes hand-in-hand with the strength of our faith and trust in the Lord. It is our trust in the Lord or our belief that he will eventually deliver us from the challenges or stumbling blocks that Satan places in our path. The graphic on the back out today’s bulletin reminds us that:

Satan knows your name, but calls you by your sin; while God knows your sin, but calls you by your name.

 

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The fact that we, as believers, will suffer temptations is a given. If we prepare ourselves by reading on scripture, avoiding conflicts and snares that Satan uses to draw us away from God’s path, we may resist the Devil. Our faith and trust in God allows us to have confidence that we will not suffer more than we can endure. Our reliance on the power of both prayer and the Holy Spirit, carries us through life’s challenges. This helps us to grow our confidence and faith in God. As the Apostle Paul put in Romans 8:36-39 (ESV):

36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

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 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

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Benediction (Luke 11:2-4):

2Our Father which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

3Give us day by day our daily bread.

 4And forgive us our sins;

For we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation;  

 But deliver us from evil .                                                                                                        

– Amen  

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