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The Power Of The Word



"And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this dominion and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’"
Good Morning my beloved,

We warmly welcome you as we come together to worship in the name of God the Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is truly an honor to have all of you here with us today. We are grateful for those who have been actively sharing our ministry's website with their friends, acquaintances, co-workers and loved ones. Your dedication in helping to spread the message of God has produced extraordinary results with remarkable outcomes, there are many souls being touched by His Word, particularly in regions that have not been reached previously. We humbly ask for your continued prayers, so that we may boldly proclaim the truth despite the difficulties  and challenges we face as we continue to work with a number of countries, in Europe, the Middle-East, North Africa and Asia, these people are so hungry to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is amazing what God is doing in the lives of so many people.
It is such a joy to return to our study of God's Word, as you know we've been working our way through the gospel of Luke, as I was studying our passage for today, I began thinking about our time in the Gospel of Matthew, which if you will recall took us several years and I've now come to the conclusion that we're probably going to be in Luke for quite a while because there's just so much here, every word, every paragraph, every chapter is so magnificently written in the way it presents the truth of Christ, the insights are inexhaustible. I suppose it's like John says in chapter 21, if everything "were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." 
Everything about our Lord Jesus Christ is so fascinating, so wondrous, it would certainly be beyond my human capacity   to ever come up with the words necessary to fully articulate the essence of this extraordinary, indescribable, incomprehensible Person Who is both human and divine, Who without even writing so much as a single line Himself, has set more pens in motion than any other in the history of the world. Therefore, it is important that we understand as much about Him as we can, and the perfect life that He lived, so that we may know Who He really is. It is through His flawless existence, His extraordinary works, and His profound teachings, that we gain a clearer understanding of Who He is, and that's why we meticulously study the Scriptures as they have been presented to us by God, one verse at a time, so that we’ll be able to grasp the true essence of Who Jesus Christ is without leaving any room for uncertainty. 
Doubt is something that generally occurs among immature or new believers, it's really a matter of completing their faith. However, from time to time we're introduced to the reality that even the greatest of men can experience periods of doubt and uncertainty are closely linked to rational, the sorting process to distinguish between what is true and what is false, which is a gift from God to prevent us from being drawn into something that's not quite right. If you will remember, Abraham and Moses were both filled with doubt and let's not forget Zachariah and Thomas. When I was young, I was never one to believe everything and anything that someone said. I learned very early on in life to be skeptical about what most people said, which used to drive my grandfather insane. It's sad that so many today will believe literally anything except the Truth. So healthy doubt is a good starting point, it's just a horrible place to finish. There are churches all around the world filled with people who believed in some ridiculous false teacher who promised something that the Bible doesn't teach, shattering what little faith they may have had.

I have people all the ask, "If there's really a God and He cares so much, why is this world so messed up? If He's all powerful, then why doesn't He just stop it?" Doubts arise because people have wrong expectations. I keep hearing people talk about revival, but Scripture actually teaches the exact opposite, that as we move closer to the return of Christ, evil is literally going to fill the earth, false teachers and false religion are going to run rampant. (c.f. Matthew 24:22-24) You know, the prophet Habakkuk cried out to God, asking "How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You,  "Violence!"
Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises." Habakkuk asked the Lord for revival and He answered his prayer by bringing destruction. (c.f. Habakkuk 1:1-3) God has a plan, and even if everything around me collapses, I will trust Him. 
No matter how evil, how wicked the world becomes, as the people of God, we're not helpless victims, we're participants and while it may not seem that way when we are facing a relentless onslaught of attacks from the enemy, it's still true. We've quietly sat back and allowed society and the government from the highest office in our nation to tell us that proclaiming the Word of God in public is considered to be an unlawful activity, yet a man who is pretending to be a woman reading books to our children or allowing them to watch scantily clad men parade around in woman's lingerie making inappropriate sexual gestures is acceptable. Gender issues aside, it's not acceptable, it's inherently evil, God says so! And it's unfathomable that we've allowed such ungodly behavior to occur in the church of God! I believe it's because we have tolerated far too many pastors to preach Satan's lies as if it were the Truth of God, and we've mistakenly called it church, while embracing and supporting every ungodly behavior. We live in two worlds with opposing sets of values, we can’t afford to be deceived, to imagine that we do not have a decision to make about who we are going to serve; the world or our Lord Jesus Christ. Understand, we’re free to do either one but I assure you, there will be consequences no matter which path you choose. But only one of those choices will gain you entry into God’s Kingdom. 
Proverbs 27:19 says "As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man."

We've all faced temptation in the past and if we're honest with ourselves and one another, we have fallen more times than we'd like to admit. It is safe to assume that because of the deceptiveness of our own hearts, that we will face temptation in the future, Nevertheless, I believe that is imperative that we strive to overcome sin with all our hearts now and in the days to come. If we are going to experience victory, if we're going to be triumphant against Satan and his kingdom, we need to understand what temptation is and the means by which temptation comes. Satan wants to dominate you, he wants to take control of you, and he does it through temptation. I believe that we all understand what temptation is, temptation is an inward solicitation resulting from an outward test. Its when Satan strategically sets a trap that leads us into sin. Sometimes we are confronted with temptations which frankly are so subtle we don’t even see them coming and even know it came from, that's because Satan knows our habits, he carefully studies our behavior, he knows our susceptibilities, our vulnerabilities to certain temptations over other ones, then devises a custom made plan tailored based upon our weaknesses and puts them right in our face, just waiting for us to take the bait, that's when the struggle begins. We mull it over in our minds, dwell on it, toying with the idea until it consumes our thoughts and imagination. Intellectually, we know it’s wrong, our hearts recognize that God has not chosen us for the purpose of impurity but Satan’s tantalizing invitation looks so enticing to our flesh. What do we do? We can either take the bait, swallowing hook, line and sinker and experience the emptiness and the pain that follows or we can resist and experience that glorious feeling of victory that decision brings. The good news is Satan is not all powerful, he can tempt us but he cannot make us take the bait! It is possible for us to be triumphant over temptation, no matter how overwhelming it may seem. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul writes some very encouraging words, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." 
We learned in our last message that Jesus experienced temptation, in His enduring temptation He suffered the temptations that are common to man, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. That's why we can go to Him and know that He understands what it is to be tempted on a human level. We need to understand the Lord never allows us to go through any temptation that is beyond our ability to deal with and He will always provide a path by which to escape, in other words there’s a limit to the temptation we face and there's always a way out so that we may be able to endure it. That’s a very encouraging truth. The way out of the temptation is to endure it as a trial and never internalize it so that it become a solicitation to sin. We cannot survive without divine help, we need God to protect us from temptation. We cannot afford to listen to our own lusts, so when temptation comes, we must turn to the Word of God and cry out to Him, asking Him to keep this temptation from becoming sin.
Let's pray

Heavenly Father,

Father, how thankful we are to You for Your Word. As we look closely at our own lives and our failure to obey Your Word, allowing temptation to become a sin because we cannot restrain our evil desires of our hearts, we are grateful that if we will confess our sin, acknowledge that it is utterly impossible for us to reach Your standard of perfection and ask for Your forgiveness, You are faithful and righteous to forgive us and make us clean and keep on cleansing us because You are not a reluctant forgiver, You are a gracious God. Lord, even today, we individually confess our sin and collectively ask You to forgive us our sins, knowing that You wouldn't have told us to confess our sin and ask if You weren't prepared to forgive us. We're so grateful Father for the precious gift of forgiveness, because we all routinely fall into sin, to be forgiven is the single greatest need that we have. Lord, we delight in Your grace and Your mercy day after day after day as we constantly need to come before You to confess our sin and be cleansed. Father, forgive my sin and wash me, doing whatever You need to do to keep me clean as I stumble through the filth of this fallen world. In Christ's name

Today's Message: The Power Of The Word

I don’t know about you, but whenever I come to the Word of God and I look at what the Lord has done in and through my life, there is an overwhelming, uncontainable joy that fills my soul, but at the same time there’s also a certain amount of disappointment in that every time I confess my sin I'm reminded that it's basically the same ole stuff as before. I long for the day when I can stand before God with a sense of triumph and declare, "Lord, great news! I have no confessions to make, I've conquered every sin in my life." Yet, in reality it seems that for every sin I conquer, two more reemerge, it's like an endless battle of pulling weeds. There are times when the allure of temptation appears to be consistent and overwhelmingly powerful. How can we possibly be encouraged to be triumphant when even the deeds we imagine to be righteous are, in reality, fraught with sin? The temptations that come to you also come to me, and every other believer in the body of Christ even though we all have our peculiar sins, our own set of vulnerabilities and weaknesses to certain temptations over and above other ones. The good news is that as strong as temptation may be, it is not so powerful, so individually unique that we have no ability to resist them. Isn't it ironic that those who often appear to be the most religious, those who claim to represent God, are most often the very same ones who are being carried away and enticed by his own lust and we’ve certainly been witnessing a continuous stream of religious leaders falling from the grace that sustains us as believers in their daily lives. While temptation may seem stronger for those who are in the position of spiritual leadership, but I believe that we need to understand that it's still is in measure to his spiritual capability to resist it. The surest way out of a temptation is through it and to endure it as a trial. James reminds us in chapter 1:1-4, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." When temptation arises, turn to the Word of God and pray, asking Him to strengthen you to endure this trial, trusting that He has a divine purpose, no matter how seems, whatever you do, don’t listen to the solicitations of Satan to engage in sin.

Open you Bibles with me, if you would and turn them to Luke chapter 4. I trust that you will follow along with me read these four verses to you, to set it in our minds as we open our hearts and listen for the voice of our Lord. Luke 4:5-8.
"And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this dominion and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’"
Let's look at verse 5, "And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time."  One thing we can be sure of, Satan doesn't give up easily, when he hits us with temptation and we resist he increases the intensity, his first attempt to distrust God's love didn't succeed, so he returns with another subtle approach to distrust God's plan. In Matthew chapter 4, he tells us Satan took Him to a very high mountain obviously with a vantage point that would allow Him to see Egypt, Greece and perhaps Rome at one time, however, there may also be a point where this vision has a supernatural element to it because it says he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. I do not believe we need to look very far to see that application for us today, Satan’s strategy is often to present us with things of this world then, make us believe that if we want them we'll need to go outside the confines of God’s plans to satisfy our desires. After all you only live once so you may as well be happy, and if you just take the easy way out and avoid wait, you won't need to work for it. Our world teaches us that if we want something, we have to take it, no matter who we have to trample on.
Verse 6, "And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this dominion and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish." The implication here is that he will hand everything over to Jesus on a silver platter without enduring the suffering, agony and torment of the cross. Today, there are a lot of people who are very sentimental about the cross and rightly so, but more important than any emotion that we feel, I believe we need to have a true understanding of the cross, because there are many people who have mistakenly believed that the primary focus of the cross revolves all around us, that we are the most important aspect of the cross. The most important aspect of the cross is not about you and me, we are secondary, the primarily reason Christ died on the cross was for God. Let me explain, in John 12:27-28, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." In the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, there are only two times in which God is directly addressed as Father and fifteen times Father is used to describe God indirectly, and it is never once a claim made by an individual, it's always in reference to Father of the nation of Israel.
Then, in John 21:18-19 Jesus said to Peter, "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God." Let's stop there, Jesus just told Peter that his death would glorify God and we know that his death was not redemptive, it was not transferable. Jesus came into the world to do the will of His Father and to seek His glory through His death on the cross as the perfect Lamb without blemish, as a sacrificial offering to God for the sins of many, to satisfy God’s requirement
in order to redeem humanity through His own blood, how much more does the death of our Lord Jesus Christ glorify a Holy and Righteous God, Who was dishonored, disobeyed and rebelled against? Christ died on the cross because He was commanded to do so by the Father, and He willingly submitted to that command in perfect obedience, that doesn’t mean His obedience was without a struggle. Matthew 26 tells us Jesus was distressed and fell on His face and prayed "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." Every single thought, every spoken word, and every action carried out by Christ was done with the sole purpose of bringing glory to God, even His ultimate sacrifice of His death on the cross. Hebrews 2:8 says, "For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him."
Verse 7, "Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." Satan wants to be worshiped by everyone, including Christ, that's why he fell. Though we can't be tempted with the same struggles Jesus faced, we are categorically being tempted to bow down to Satan and skip all of the pain and anxiety of the Holy Spirit's perfecting work when things aren't going as we think they ought to be and the troubles of life are more than we can bear, distrusting God's plan for our lives. Satan knows exactly what he’s doing.
Verse 8, "And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." I love that Jesus immediately responds by quoting the Scripture. Don't be deceived, Satan has a very accurate understanding of the Word of God and he know exactly how to use it, to destroy what God is often using for building us up, that's why knowing and understanding God's Word is so important. Jesus refuses to take a shortcut to the kingdom. So often, Satan tempts us to shortcut God's commands to bypass the will of God to get what we want. He’ll continues to tempts us until we yield, ultimately giving in to sin, taking matters into our hands, rather than obeying God's will. Instead of trusting in God's provision, leading us to disregard and disobey God. Submitting to our will rather than God's. Not only disobey God, but to act independently of God's purposes and plans. Jesus defeated the devil again, but he will be back with one final assault. And we'll look at that next time.
In the meantime, start every day with God's Word, and as soon as you notice Satan enticing you with those thoughts to give into temptation, you'll be able to recall Scripture and hit him with the Word. And pray, knowing that Christ is able to help us when we are being tempted, and allow God to use it for our good, rather than allowing Satan to use it for evil.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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