Spiritual Success

Success, what is it, how is it measured? Everyone desires to be successful. Would you like to be a spiritual success? Being a Spiritual Success is simple if we learn to follow Jesus Christ. This week, we pick up after Christ Jesus is baptized. Matthew 4:1-2~Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward, He was hungry. (ESV) The remainder of Chapter 4 reveals two actions required for being a Spiritual Success and this week we are going to unpack those.

Let’s begin by learning how to fight temptation biblically (4:3-11) The devil’s temptations of our Lord are in the only three areas. These three areas house all of our human temptations. What are they, according to 1 John 2:16~For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. (NIV) All temptations fall into three categories: lust, pride, and greed, so the devil tempts Christ Jesus in all three areas after a 40 day fast. You thought 21 days of vegetables was bad.

Jesus’ Temptations — #1: Lust. The Judean wilderness contained many limestone rocks of all sizes and shapes. Satan tempts Christ Jesus by asking Him to prove He is the Son of God by turning stones into bread. Jesus is certainly very hungry, but He refuses to satisfy His appetite in a way contrary to God’s will. One of Satan’s most successful tactics is tempting us to sin by trying to satisfy a God-given appetite or desire in a way that is outside the will of God. Sexual behavior is one of the most common areas for lust to occur. Christ Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3~He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna…to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (NIV) 

What Matt records is that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider. Matthew 4:4~But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth (ῥῆμα rhēma) of God.’” (ESV) (ῥῆμα rhēma) that which is or has been uttered by the living voice. When God speaks, there is more than just thunder in the heavens. The stars take shape, the morning dawns new and fresh. Lamentations 3:22-23~The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (ESV) The fact Jesus Christ quotes from Deuteronomy shows His regard of Scripture the inerrant, infallible Word of God. The Bible says it, so that settles the issue—no need for discussion. 

Is there a place in your life that you are struggling with Lust? To fight lust, we must learn to yield our whole lives to God and live for Him, rather than ourselves. Yeah, you’re right, that is easier said than done. So, today, let’s take a step together. What is one area of your life that you can surrender to God and begin to work at ridding your life of the hold of lust? Keep in mind, prayer is to be a constant means of communication with the Lord, who is our strength.

Falling for God

Sometimes faith can seem like a trust fall. It requitesus to place our trust in the Lord as He leads and guides us. Have you submitted to Lord and followed Him in baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). When Jesus comes from Galilee He comes to the Jordan River, He wants to be baptized by John because there was much water there (3:13; John 3:23) John tries to discourage Jesus by saying he needs to be baptized by Him (3:14). And John only consents after Jesus says Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this (3:15) Jesus is saying we are to do what is right in God’s eyes. Jesus was baptized to give us an example to follow because He never asks us to do anything He hasn’t already done. 

When Jesus comes up out of the water, the heavens open and He sees the Spirit of God descending like a dove and rest on Him (3:16). Apparently, all the people see the dove because Luke tells us the dove has a bodily form in Luke 3:22~and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” (NIV) If you have ever asked why, it fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 11:2~The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD– (NIV). 

The Holy Spirit will empower Jesus for His ministry. This is the only time in the Bible we see all 3 persons of the Trinity pictured at once. God the Son is being baptized; God the Holy Spirit descending to empower Jesus; and God the Father speaking from heaven. They are three, yet one. This is one of the mysteries of the Bible that is beyond human comprehension. Augustine said, If you try to figure out the Trinity, you will lose your mind. If you deny the Trinity, you will lose your soul. We must simply believe. Believe that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity. That’s why Jesus commands us to go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Matthew 28:19. Is there an area of your life that you need to Admit, Commit, or Submit to God today? 

Our Takeaway for the week isfound in the question: Are you preparing the way? Do you herald Christ? Are you telling people about Jesus? Listen to words of the wisest man to live. Proverbs 11:30~The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives. (NIV) There it is, fruit and salvation. To prepare for God’s kingdom, we must Admit our need to repent, as we Commit to the fruit of repentance, allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through our whole lives and bear fruit, as we Submit to God’s process. Why not take another step today, and draw closer to God?

Fruit Bearing Season

As disciples of Christ we are to commit to bearing fruit (Matthew 3:7-12). Did you know that when we sow the seeds of repentance in our lives we bear fruit? Matthew 3:8~Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (ESV) This is why you hear me remind you to have a fruit stand that is full and ready for those God places along our path of life. John sees many Pharisees, which is to say that many conservative Jews. They attempt to live right ritually and be good by simply abstaining. Abstinence is a good thing but it will not make us righteous. 

John was sharing how repentance makes us right with God. He also saw a good many Sadducees, these were liberal Jews who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead or in angels. But John was such a spectacle that people would come to hear him speak. They wanted the freedom John had, the love for God John shared and the forgiveness that John taught. It doesn’t matter what generation we are apart of, we all want to be loved by God, to be used of God, and to have our sins forgiven by God. 

I have been mulling over a change in our welcome time after our first song. John has to be on to something. Listen to how John welcomes some of his congregates who have come for service. Matthew 3:7~ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? (ESV) Yeah after hearing that out loud maybe what we do is more congenial. When John says (γέννημα gennēma) or brood, it means offspring, generation, or children of the earth. That’s right he called them a generation of venomous snakes, cunning and crafty individuals who were dangerous to true believers. They were called children of earth, but God has called us to be His children. 1 John 3:1~The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God…(NCV). 

When we repent and turn to God in faith we are no longer children of this world, rather God has adopted us to be His children. No longer slithering around on our belly, lying in wait or poisoning people. We are to live like Christ, who offered the fruit of the spirit to those in need. I bet many of us have been snakebite, perhaps it was even at church or in a religious setting. This has turned many off and they don’t want any part of God. They were offered fruit from this world, by children of this world and it was rotten. God says to us be who I created you to be. Be is the beginning of believing, of beautiful, of being. God has a plan for each of us to do good things and produce good fruit. Ephesians 2:10~For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV) 

And all of this begins in our life with repentance, therefore, John warns us how dangerous these religious leaders are. Life in Christ is about relationship through the Redeemer Jesus Christ to a God with unfailing love towards us. So, John asks who warned you to flee from God’s wrath to come. In other words, Who said you’re going to escape God’s wrath (3:7). The religious leaders think God’s wrath is only for Gentiles, but it is for anyone who does not know the Lord and walks with Him daily. John is using a very familiar process to describe God separating those who truly repent from those who do not. 

If our desire is to prepare the way for God’s kingdom then we must admit our need to repent and do so regularly, to commit to the fruit of repentance, allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through our whole lives. Who might you share the fruit growing in your life with today.