Sunday, February 26, 2006

No Shortcuts

As we enter this season of Lent, many of our Pastors will be preaching on the temptations of Christ found in Matthew 4:1-11.

Jesus began His ministry in a wilderness and He ended it in a garden, and both places were places of intense struggle.

In the wilderness, the struggle came from external forces playing on His internal needs - His hunger.

In the garden, the struggle came from an internal turmoil - the dread of separation from the Father, and was compounded by external forces - the impending crucifixion.

In the wilderness Jesus faced what has often been called “the three types of sins in the world.” 1 John 2:16 calls them “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” All of temptation and all of sin falls into one of these three categories.

But take note of how Jesus dealt with it - He quoted Scripture:
“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” and finally,
“You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”

Not only did He quote scripture, but each of these scriptures comes from the book of Deuteronomy - the book of the Law.

Psalms 1 says “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

What this simply tells us is that there are no shortcuts. If Jesus had taken any of these offers, the rest of the book would never have been written, for there would have been no salvation.

There are no shortcuts for doing the right thing, in the right way.

“He took
no shortcuts.
He said
no ‘yeah, buts’
He was
all God and all man all the time
all the time…”

And sometimes we’re tempted to take shortcuts - we’re tempted to take the path of least resistance. But we can’t do that. We must face the pleasantries and the difficulties alike by looking to the Word of God and seeking His wisdom.

Father as we enter this time of Lent, we remember one of our creeds which states that Jesus is “very God of very God” and with that thought we recognize that we are “very man of very man” - and fallen at that. We confess that we do not always have pure thoughts, pure motives, or pure actions. Forgive us and direct us in this time of preparation and introspection. May our thoughts, our motives and our actions be pure. May our directives be for one purpose and one purpose only - that is for Your honor and Glory.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(I posted a version of this meditation in July last year, but felt that it spoke to the Lenten season and wanted to share an updated version of it here...)


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