Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hutterite Baptism. Week 6 - Temptation

Yes, dear children, you say you have a heartfelt longing to be baptized and make a covenant with God and his body of believers. But a promise of that magnitude is a lot to consider and carries consequences. The wise man Sirach said "My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation." Sirach 2:1

 After our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, Scripture tells us of his temptations in Matthew 4.
The first temptation: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Jesus answered: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God
The making of stone to bread is the temptation of false teachings and one that you will encounter often. The bread represents the word of God. I am the bread of life. John 6:35 The stone represents false teachings. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24 It is very tempting to broaden out the road with false teachings disguised as the bread of life. Jesus warns us; Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

The second temptation: Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. The temple was the tallest building in Jerusalem and the dwelling place of the most High. Satan wanted Jesus to willfully cast Himself down from the temple and therfore tempt God to send angels to halt the fall. So what would be the opposite of tempting God?  Loving him with all our heart and might. This is the first and great commandment. Without this great and all encompassing love no one can be a member of Christ's body. Children, don't look around at how others love but be your own person and love unconditionally.

The third temptation: Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. This is the temptation of yearning for and falling for the pleasures of the world, meanwhile forsaking the one pearl of great price which is our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24  We can get caught up in the chasing of lusts and accumulation of things with the hope they will bring us lasting happiness and satisfaction, but that is never the case. For a short time our newest acquisition or thrill may bring us brief happiness, then it loses its appeal and we go on looking for the next. Our heart yearns, but we can't identify what it's yearning for. That yearning can only be quenched by filling our heart with it was meant to be filled with. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:19 John states Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

These are great temptations that will befall you, dear children. If Satan wasn't ashamed to tempt the Son of God he certainly won't be ashamed to tempt us. But don't despair, God is on our side. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13  God will not let us be without comfort. We can see how Jesus strengthened and consoled Peter after the Last Supper. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. The Lord could have easily denied Satan's request but He seems to wants refined and tested followers  ...and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them. Zechariah 13:9 

We are not promised easy times, but narrow and difficult roads, filled with trials and tribulations. But these are precisely the roads that help us become a new man in Christ! And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Look how many fell into temptations; Adam, Cain, Esau, the First World, Sodom and Gomorrah, also Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. The flight from Egypt can be likened unto what happens when we want to become a newborn member of Christ. The exodus out of Egypt signifies the going out of the world and the leaving of our own will. Baptism and complete submission to God and the Church is represented by the Red Sea.The 40 years in the wilderness accurately signify our life. The war with Amalek (The Amalekites were descendants of Esau whose fleshly hunger was worth more to him than his spiritual birthright) signifies our struggle against our flesh and blood. Daily gathering of manna points toward the daily need of the Word of God. Fleeing from the poisonous snakes indicates fleeing the poisonous darts of Satan in the time of temptation. Jesus said in scripture And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life John 3:14-15
Passing over the River Jordan into the Promised Land signifies our death, the passing over into Eternity.  

Dear children, the Bible is full of examples of how to and how not to live. Read it often and gain wisdom from it, for the stakes are too high and the consequences too great. Hold fast in faith, pray often and remember; Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12

What a heartwarming and precious promise from our Lord Jesus Christ for all who endureth!

Till next week God bless

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