Spiritual Preparation: Freedom & Power
Luke 4:1-13 Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13 February 17, 2013
This past week was traumatic for 4000 people who were stranded on a powerless cruise ship. They finally made it to the port to disembark on Thursday. After spending five days on the ship, the passengers and crew were excited to off of the ship. When asked about the experience, one woman responded: “I will know that when I go anywhere, I need to pack extra underwear.”
As we prepare some tweens & teens to be baptized and to become disciples of Jesus Christ, we are also in need of making sure that we are prepared. Yes, we want our children and grandchildren to be baptized. But we also want to live out our baptism. When we realize that it is indeed possible to overcome evil, then we will know the freedom and power God gives us to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.
We have to understand several items about baptism. It is not a “once done, I don’t have to think about” thing. Actually, very few items in life are “once done, I don’t have to think about” things! Baptism and being a disciple of Jesus Christ involve God, you as an individual, and the congregation.
To begin the process of spiritual preparation, we must know the liturgy we use, what it helps us to do, and what we say about Jesus Christ. Each of our lectionary readings, the four passages from the Bible for today, the 1st Sunday of Lent, help us to see some of the process of our spiritual preparation.
- There is a story about how God works (Genesis 26:1-11)
- God called Abram out of Ur
- God’s people settled in Egypt during a famine
- God brought the Israelites out of Egypt- slavery
- Because of this work of God, I bring an offering to him
- You, the priests, the aliens among you celebrate what God has given you and your house
- God is at work in our lives. He is doing something in your life to separate you from what is enslaving you. (Husbands & wives – you are not enslaved to each other!) God has been working in your life. His grace has gotten you through much. Now is a time to join the rest of us whom acknowledge what God has been and is doing in our lives. When you realize that God is working your life, we all get to celebrate those facts. One thing that you notice is that there have been troubles along the way. That is, there are events, things, and tasks that are keeping you from becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are ways to overcome temptations. Jesus shows us how to overcome temptations.
- We will have temptations to face (Luke 4:1-13)
- Jesus was baptized & went in the power of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, where he was tempted
- The Adversary tempted Jesus in 3 ways
- Use your power for your own benefit (4:3-4)
- Worship the Adversary, and get all the power & glory (4:5-8)
- Test God to see if he will deliver you (4:9-12) – Satan, the devil used Scripture!!(Psalm 91:10, 11)
- Jesus overcame the temptations with the Word of God
- You live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3)
- You serve only the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 6:13, 10:20)
- Do not test, but obey (Deuteronomy 6:16-17)
- Can you reject the same things as Jesus?
- Know the Scriptures – read your Bible
- Resist the adversary
- Companion questions in our service of Holy Baptism
- Renounce wickedness, reject the evil powers, and repent of your sin?
- Accept the freedom & power to resist evil, injustice, and oppression?
- This is what starts us in our life as disciples of Jesus Christ. This is what we do continually throughout our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. We admit we have done evil, we turn from those practices, and then we use what God has given us. We live in God’s shelter (Psalm 91:1-2). We rely on God when are in trouble (Psalm 91: 15). For how much of our lives do we rely on God, or put another way, how often do we call upon the Lord?
- We continually call on the Name of the Lord (Romans 10:8b-13)
- Join other disciples in believing that Jesus is Lord
- Call upon him – today and every day from now on!
- Saved from what? Those evil powers you have rejected!
- God has gotten your attention. He has been calling for you to follow him. John Wesley said this about God’s grace. Before you knew what God was doing, he was working to get your attention, to keep you for himself. We call this prevenient grace. John Wesley called this the front porch of God’s house of grace. God encourages you to come up on the front porch to chat a while as you enjoy his company, maybe even sipping some sweet tea or lemonade. Then as you get to know how God has worked in your life, you are ready to accept Jesus as your Lord. That is when God’s grace justifies you. You accept Jesus in your heart. Then you begin the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ, who continually calls upon the Name of the Lord – Jesus! Once you realize that God has justified you, it is more than a passing feeling; you begin the process of living as one who desires to live under the Lordship of Jesus. John Wesley would call this entering the doorway of the house of God, that is to be justified. Once in the house, we realize that God’s grace is making us more than we were before, that is we are living God’s way with God’s freedom and power. We live this way until Christ returns, and then we continue to live with God.
We want all to become disciples of Jesus Christ. We want them to be baptized. So, we continue to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sins. We also continue to resist evil. We do this by continuing to confess Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. If you haven’t confessed who Jesus is, then today may be the day you start!