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What, Me Tempted? A Sermon On Luke 4: 1-13
First United Methodist Church Thomasville, NC, 27360 Feb. 29-2004

What, me tempted?
    That use to be my favorite expression. As I gave into temptations, I would deny the fact.
    Mr. Webster, who puts out all those wonderful dictionaries, calls temptation, enticement.  
    But why are we tempted?  You can be tempted to do something very good, like holding out a hand to someone in need. That would be labeled good temptations. And you can be tempted to do something bad.  That opens up a whole new book to mull.   
    Why are we tempted to do good? The Lord directs us in the paths of righteousness for His namesake.  Good temptation.
     Why are we tempted to go in the opposite direction?  It is not the Lords doing.  It is our own willingness to do the thing that will cause us the most harm.
    Are there temptations? In the society we are living in, everything seems to be okay, so how can there be any temptations.  We live in a just-do-it society.
    We can criticize our faith, our parents, our Lord, throw the law books out the window, throw laws out the window and do anything we want to, as long as there is a court saying it is all right.  
    But is it right. No!
    So, in todays society, are there bad temptations?  If laws are overturned at the whim of a judge or a panel of judges, there are no bad temptations.  We live in a world that is fast losing its parameters.   There are laws against criminal actions, but, then again, when are those laws going to be struck down?
    So why worry about temptations?  If you are a Child of God, you will always worry about doing those things that alienate you from our Creator, or you should be worried.  Are we worried about alienating our God?  Are we worried about doing things that will disappoint our Lord? Do we have a conscious?
    A psychiatrist once said that we do not have a conscious as long as we have an excuse on the tip of our tongue.  I would say that we have lost the ability to turn to God when we are about to do something that we know is bad.  That happens a lot.
    Jesus Christ was tempted in the wilderness not because He could be tempted, but because He had to show all of us here today that we can and should overcome temptation.
    Now, many folks think the temptation story is out of date. It does not fit in todays modern world where convictions are few.  But it is relevant today as it was long ago.
    I would like to see a movie on the temptation dramatically portrayed as the Passion.
    In hunger, and susceptible to temptation, Christ was told to accept a stone being turned into bread.   A former minister in Denton once said it is easy to mistake the rocks in the desert of the Holy Land as loaves of bread.   He said if you were hungry enough you would have eaten that boulder. He was a very large gentleman, and was easily driven to hunger.  He said he could have eaten that a boulder he viewed in a parch land. But he had the support of a tourist group.  That was his story.
     A hungry Jesus Christ was there alone, but not alone. He knew He could have called on His Father at any moment, and He knew He had to stay true to His creator.   He did not compromise. He did not have an excuse. He was victorious over the tempter.  He fed on Gods love.
    Christ let the tempter use all of his force, and He was victorious.
    The tempter said attempt to murder yourself, and your Father will send you angels.   How often have we thrown ourselves in harms way, at a fiat, and God saw us through it all.
    And the tempter offered a whole kingdom to Christ. It was the Lords Kingdom to begin with. And He would die for it, in His time.  The Lord would die a horrible death for us all.
     Do we go into situations knowing the Lord will help us? Do we entice Him to help us?  Christ would not be tempted to call on His Father.  He did not give into the Devil.  How often do we give into Him?
    You might say what is wrong with being enticed to do good things.  Let God save us, assume command of the world and do good things, feed an empty stomach.   Give in and do what is good.
      What is wrong with giving into temptation?
     Matthew Henry, that out-of-favor commentator, said in his comments on this reading that giving into the little things will soon be followed by giving in to the bigger things. He said look to He who is being the tempter.  Look to the reason for the temptation, and be victorious as Christ was victorious, and the same thing can happen to us.
    Every time you feel like doing the wrong thing, are tempted to do the wrong thing, call on Him.
    Oh, you might say, this story is archaic. It is ancient history. How often are we tempted by the devil?  Every time you do the thing you know is bad, you are tempted by the devil.  And I am not going to stand here and list all of the things that could happen in a persons life.
    We are in the first Sunday of Lent. That time in our lives when we are to look within and change our lives.
    We can change our lives this very day. All you have to do is take the first step.  Throw off the shackles that hold you back, and accept Him and Him alone.
    Throw off the shackles that hold you back from working for He who died at Calvary, and accept Him and Him alone.
    In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  AMEN.

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