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"Past the Test"

Sunday, March 10, 2019

WELCOME & VISION OF SERMON SERIES

Love is Actually

Welcome to the Empowered Living Church (The ELC). We are celebrating our first year as a church. Thank you for being a part of God's victory. Our objective is to save souls, make disciples, and build God's kingdom.

BIG IDEA

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

KEY SCRIPTURE - LUKE 4:1-13 (NIV)

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.



CONTEXT

Whenever a teacher in school gave you a test, they never had much to say during the test.  Things were silent during the test. The teacher had nothing to say because the test was designed to show what you knew based on what the teacher had already taught you.  


Once you get a test, you might not hear much from God.  It may be silent. Know this, it would be wise for you to have a lot of conversations with Him before He administers the test!  


Some people have problems passing their tests.  In fact, they keep failing. They quit school. We have a lot of dropouts in Christianity today because people either get discouraged due to not passing the test or they decide they don’t want to study.


If you you are a dropout or a failing student, it is still better to graduate at twenty, having failed a few times, than to be over 60 working on your G.E.D.  It’s better to keep plugging away, doing your best, even though you may have lost some time.


The first time I went to college I thought I was going to be a basketball player.  Since I initially didn’t get the athletic scholarship I wanted I went to my local community college and started my entertainment company.  I bounced around from college to college because I either decided to stop attending classes or chased after what I thought was a better athletic or academic opportunity at another school.  I lost several years of study by transferring from one college to the next until finally I settled on a small private Christian HBCU in Atlanta. I was one of the oldest students on campus. They didn’t take many of my transfer credits, but at the same time they took enough for me to graduate with two bachelor degrees and a distinguished Woodrow Wilson Fellowship which paid for graduate school at the American University.  It’s better to keep plugging away, doing your best, even though you may have lost time.



TEACHING POINTS / THOUGHTS TO BUILD ON

Lesson One: Fasting Until Weak Makes You Strong


LUKE 4:1-2 (NIV) ~ 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.


The Greek word for tempted is also test.


Paul the Apostle was given a messenger of Satan as a thorn in his flesh, a thorn in his body to torment him.  He said in . . .


2 Corinthians 12:8-9a ~ 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”


When we decrease and allow God to be God we are empowered to win, to find victory, and to seek and obtain success in all that we set out to do . . . for the Glory of God.  I say for the Glory of God because of what Paul concludes.


Paul goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9b-10


Jesus is attacked, tempted, and tested by our enemy.  In his weakened state, Jesus shows his fortitude by reciting the commandments written in scriptures.  He goes back to the 5th book of Moses titled Deuteronomy to find words of power to defeat Satan.


We all are familiar with the Ten Commandments found in fifth chapter of Deuteronomy.


  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.


Following the Ten Commandments given to Moses for the Hebrews, God shares several additional commandments in Book of Deuteronomy.  Jesus leans on these words from God in His battle with Satan.


Deuteronomy 5:32-3 (NIV) ~ 32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.


Fasting Until Weak Makes You Strong


Lesson Two: We will Not Live by Bread Alone


Luke 4:3-4 (NIV) ~ 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”


Deuteronomy 8:2-3  (NIV) ~ 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.


We need to become dependent upon what the Bible says.  Some of us look to what people have to say about life, love, and liberty instead of seeking the word of God from the most sacred of text.  Some of us are making decisions without first hearing from God. When the enemy attacks we need to have the discipline to seek God first, depend on God at all times, and to continually ask for more wisdom in our daily search for understanding.  We can’t live our daily lives by forgetting about God.


4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.


Lesson Three: Worship the Lord your God and Serve Him Only


Luke 4:5-8 (NIV) ~ 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”


Deuteronomy 6:12-15 (NIV) ~ 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.


Lesson Four: Do not put the Lord your God to the Test


Luke 4:9-12 (NIV) ~ 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”


Deuteronomy 6:16-19 (NIV)  ~ 16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. 17 Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, 19 thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.


In our heart of hearts we know that the beginning place for God’s blessing is the tithe. Some people say, “I don’t think I can live on only 90 percent of my income.” Is that so? Someone has said, “I would rather live on 90 percent blessed by God than to live on 100 percent cursed by God.” God says,


Malachi 3:10 NIV ~ Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.


This is the only verse in the Bible when God says, “Test Me.” Every other place in the Bible says do not test God, do not put the Lord your God to the test. This is the only exception. God not only tells us that it is okay to test Him, but He encourages us to do so. He says, in essence, “Do what I ask you to about giving and see if I do not bless you beyond anything imaginable.” Now, is God saying that tithing is a guarantee that you will be financially prosperous? If that were true, then tithing wouldn’t be an act of giving; it would be a good investment. That’s not what God is saying. Is God saying that if you tithe, it is like an insurance policy that insures you will never have a job loss or downturn in the stock market? No, it is not an insurance policy either. Here is what God is saying: Over the long term, a person who tithes and gives to God’s work will be more blessed financially and every other way than the person who disobeys God in this area. That’s what He is saying. If you want to be blessed by God, then you obey God. If you want to be cursed by God, then you disobey Him.


Do not put the Lord your God to the Test




CLOSING THOUGHT / CHALLENGE

Celebration: Resist the Devil and he will Flee


Luke 4:9-13 (NIV) ~ 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting (testing), he left him until an opportune time.


James 4:7-10 (NIV) ~ 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.


Past the Test


A perfect SAT score is 1600. The minimum score is 400. And the average for the class of 2018 was 1068.  The estimated average SAT composite for admitted freshman to Harvard College is 1545 out of 1600.  The students I interviewed this year all had SAT scores of 1570 and higher and one with a perfect 1600.  How did they obtain these test scores? Dedication. Passion. Determination. Sacrifice. Hope for a Brighter Future.  Discipline.


In life, will we score well on the test of life?  This Lent season is about reconnecting to the source of power through our:

Dedication.  

Passion.  

Determination.  

Sacrifice.  

Hope for a Brighter Future.  

Discipline.


Romans 10:8-13 (NIV) ~ 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”