Good afternoon, everybody. I’d like to welcome those who are joining us in person and also online. Welcome. It’s always a joy for me to see everybody after a week. I’m beginning to understand why Jesus said He is the Lord of the Sabbath, but He gave Sabbath for man. If it were just up to us, we’d probably be trying to squeeze in Jesus in our hectic schedules and not really make quality time for Him. But at least once a week, we put everything aside and we come into His presence.
This is an act of worship. It is us saying that He owns all of our lives, not just the few hours on a Sunday. So praise the Lord for allowing us to gather. It’s really a privilege. It’s a highlight of my week. Does anyone have a praise or a testimony of Thanksgiving that you’d like to share? And thank you for the worship, Pauline.
If not, let me read from Luke 4, verse 1. “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for 40 days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they were ended, He was hungry. The devil said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.’ And the devil took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time and said to Him, ‘To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you then will worship me, it will all be yours.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ And he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, He will command His angels concerning you to guard you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against the stone.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” 9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11 and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:1-13, ESV)
Let’s pray. Father, we just pray that you would give us the Spirit of wisdom and understanding to know how to be victors in the midst of a constant barrage of spiritual attack, not only the sins and the desires that are within us, but also the external attacks from the enemy. Father, we pray that you would help us in this time as we look to Jesus, the one who is perfect in every temptation, who is victorious absolutely in every temptation. So we look to you, Lord Jesus. We hide behind you. You are the shield of faith. You are our strong tower. And so we come and ask you to teach us directly. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen
Two weeks ago, I spoke about asking the question, “Does God speak?” And there was maybe some debate in the Body of Christ whether God speaks. I hope God convinced you, gave you ample evidence in Scripture through the Word of God that He does in fact speak. I ended that sermon with a prayer. And the Lord reminded me during that prayer that Romans 12, verse 2, that the mind is the organ that receives the thoughts of God.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)
So that already should confirm God does speak, but maybe it’s not audible. Maybe it’s not external, but God speaks. And it’s almost like a whisper. It enters your mind as a thought, and we need to be able to distinguish our thoughts from God’s thoughts because that’s the primary vehicle through which He speaks.
And so if God speaks to our thoughts, who else do you think speaks to our thoughts? And so the question today is, “Does Satan speak?” Does Satan speak? And how does he speak? He tempts. That is a primary way that he speaks. It is through a soft voice, like God’s soft voice. Like in the cartoons, you have these little devil and angel on the two shoulders. It’s almost like that, I think, in the spiritual realm that most of the time it’s our own voice. On occasion, it is God who speaks. Of course, He’s always speaking. He speaks through His Word. But that is just a part of our day. But throughout the day, maybe He’s not speaking that loud and clear. But God is speaking. It’s our own thoughts. And then probably the same proportion of the time, especially opportune times of weakness, Satan also speaks.
So it says in Luke 4, verse 1, “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness (Luke 4:1, ESV)
I’m not sure what kind of season you’re in. Is it a promised land, victorious, milk and honey, just prosperous, it’s just great? Is that the season that you’re in? Or does it feel like a wilderness? If you are the script writer for your life, would you write in this current season that you’re in? And I just want to point out that it’s the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness. Many times we’re in a wilderness, we’re in a difficulty, and we don’t know why. And one thing is clear that, of course, it can be our mistakes that lead us into a wilderness. It can be a series of wrong choices that lead us into a wilderness. Was it God’s plan from the beginning that the people would be rebellious? And that God would judge them through the Babylonians? And they would go through a season of exile under subjugation, under tyrants? I don’t think that was God’s desire. That’s not what He planned. But because of the rebellion, because of the sins of the people, God allowed that season of difficulty.
So, if we were to write our own script, the season that you’re in, would you have foreseen this? Would you have asked for this? Would you have written this season in? Likely, if you’re in a difficult season, like a wilderness, you would not have chosen it for yourself. But it’s the Holy Spirit that led Jesus to the wilderness. And He was tempted by Satan for 40 days. And even after the 40 days, we see clearly how Satan was tempting Jesus.
The word for tempt is the same word as for testing. Trials are what God uses to test His people. And it all depends on the context. So here, from God’s point of view, the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness. It was a test. And we see clearly through Scripture that Jesus passed this test with flying colors. At the same time, this testing, this trial, was also a season of temptation by Satan.
Two forces are at war. God is proving that His Son is absolutely obedient to the leading of the Spirit. And He’s absolutely victorious through every attack. At the same time, it is a time of testing by the Lord, or temptation by Satan. So the season that you’re in, that God is deliberately testing you, are you passing it? Do you hear the tempter’s voice? And are you falling victim to that voice?
God is doing His best work in a wilderness. Satan also derails and defeats many of God’s children in that same wilderness. It says in verse 2, He was tempted for 40 days. And as soon as you read that verse, 40 days, what comes to mind? Noah and the ark? Okay, okay. Anybody else? Not quite what I thought. But the exact reference for 40 days. 40 years in the desert, yes, yes, that comes to mind. Yes, that’s good. Anybody else? How about 40 days specifically in a wilderness? Anybody?
Jesus did it and two other men in Scripture. It says 40 days. There’s 40 days that Moses spent on top of Mount Sinai where he received the law. That’s in Exodus 34:28. So he was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 34:28, ESV)
And also 1 Kings 19:8. So he arose and ate and drank, this is Elijah, and he went in the strength of that food 40 days and 40 nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:8, ESV)
So Moses went up Mount Sinai. And what’s significant about this is that Mount Horeb is the same mountain. It is 40 days, Jesus in a wilderness. It is 40 days for Moses on top of a mount called Sinai. And Elijah, sometime later, he’s up Mount Horeb, which is the same mountain for 40 days.
And it’s interesting, Elijah, he had just in the previous chapter experienced such a victory. I mean, he defeated 450 prophets of Baal. And you would think, okay, this is a man with strong faith. And then the very next chapter, a woman threatens to kill him. And just that one threat sends this Elijah, the prophet who is so bold and courageous, it sends him into a panic and he flees.
Is it simply Jezebel, the woman, or is it Satan who is behind it? I think it’s Satan. Satan is the one who is coming for Elijah. And he hears that tempter’s voice. And it’s not logical. We look at Elijah and say, why are you like this? We saw how you were in chapter 18. You should be standing up to this woman because it’s not just Jezebel, the woman. It is Satan, the tempter’s voice. It came into his thoughts and it got lodged there, became a stronghold. He fell spiritually and he is fleeing.
So if Moses went up Mount Sinai, Elijah went and fled to Mount Horeb, Matthew 17:3, where they reappear at the Mount of Transfiguration. If you were to hazard a guess, which mountain do you think this is? It’s Sinai, Horeb. It’s not named, and so I’m going on a limb here. But if God is so precise in His word, I believe it’s the same mountain that Moses received the law. The same mountain that Elijah fled. Now Jesus gathers Moses and Elijah to the Mount of Transfiguration. I bet it’s the same mountain. And Jesus is there. He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, as it says in Matthew 5:17.
It says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For surely I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18, ESV)
So when we read Scripture, do we elevate man ever? Do we think that Moses is the man and so he’s the one that I’m going to lift up? If you do that, then there’s Scripture where he fell miserably and he got disqualified from entering the promised land. And later, it says in 1 Corinthians 10 that he struck the rock, Jesus, when he was supposed to speak to the rock. He sinned. He did not please the Lord in that act. And so, maybe at some point, we’ll cover that. So, even the great Moses fell. We don’t put our faith in Moses. Elijah, this great man of faith, he also fell. We don’t put our faith in Moses. We put our full faith in Jesus who is victorious. He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. So, these three temptations. The first one, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And then the second one, Satan shows Him all the kingdoms of the world. And he says, “If you worship me, all will be yours.” And then the third one, again he says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. Let the angels catch you.” Two of them have the same phrase that precedes the temptation, “If you are the Son of God.”
And so, if we were to personalize these verses and Satan attacking us, it’s the same thing I think often times. Satan comes and he says, “Is Jesus really the Son of God? Is He really your Lord? Is He really trustworthy?” He just casts a little bit of doubt. And that first temptation, if we were to personalize it, “Jesus, is He really going to take care of the bread? Is He really going to care for your food and clothing? Can you really trust Him with your finances?” This is how we personalize the Word of God. And if that thought gets lodged in you, faith goes out the window. Panic comes. And you say, “I have to figure this out. I don’t want my kids to be starving. I need to handle this.” It’s such a human way to think. And yet this is exactly how Satan tempts us.
It happened in Deuteronomy 8, which refers to the whole wilderness, 40 years. And God said, “I led you there. I led you there. It wasn’t by accident that you were in a wilderness. I led you.” So it’s the same language here. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. God led the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea into the wilderness. And it was a time when God says, “I tested my people. I humbled you. I humbled you. I wanted you to see what was in your heart. I wanted to see what was in your heart.” And He allowed them to be hungry and to be thirsty, to see how they would respond. So, are you in a season where things are getting a little difficult, maybe financially? There are only two ways to go. Are you going to trust Jesus and say, when Satan says, “Is He really going to take care of this? Is He really the Son of God? Do this thing.” All Jesus had to do was wait a little bit, and then you’d have plenty of bread. Satan is saying, “No, you do this now. Do this now. Don’t put your faith in Jesus. Your kids are hungry today. Do this now. Figure out your job situation now.” That’s how Satan comes. It’s the attack on our insecurity with the basic needs of life.
And when I look around this room, no one here is starving. Nobody here is begging for food. And yet, doesn’t Satan trip us up all the time when it comes to basic needs? “Is Jesus really going to come through for you? Does your Heavenly Father really know the number of hair on your head? Is He really going to come through? Don’t you have to figure things out for yourself? Aren’t you being lazy, irresponsible?” All of these accusations. It’s Satan. It’s Satan. He did it to Jesus. Of course, Satan speaks in the same way to us. It’s the basic needs.
So, do we believe what it says in Matthew 6? Let’s read that text together. Matthew 6, verse 30. “But God so clothed the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. Will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:30-34, ESV)
We all read these verses and we say Amen. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty decisions of our life, Satan trips us up all the time right here. And it’s an issue of faith. Remember, Satan says, “Are you the Son of God? Then do this.” We say, “Jesus, you are the Son of God. Do this. Can you do this? Are you willing to do this? When are you going to do this?” Satan trips us up, just the basic needs. And we should just take a step back and say, “These verses are true. I’ve never really gone hungry in my life, ever. Never really. I always had a choice to eat. I always had a roof over my head. I always had clothing. So these verses are true. Satan, you’re a liar. Jesus, you are the Son of God. God’s Word is true. My Father is looking after me.” This is how we defeat Satan. And that’s how Jesus did it.
The second temptation is just pure idolatry. And we see this in Deuteronomy 6, verse 13.
“It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve, and by His name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the people who are around you. For the Lord your God in the midst is a jealous God. Lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from off the face of the earth.
13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 you shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God— lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 6:13-15, ESV)
Here are the two temptations that I see plagued the people of God in the Old Testament, and they fell into this trap over and over. It’s a tempter’s trap. The first one is that my basic needs are not met. And so let’s rail against God. Let’s rail against Moses. I’m hungry and I’m thirsty. God, you brought me out into this desert to die. And so God says, why do you test me? Instead of passing the test, they’re tearing the tables. They’ve become the judge, and now they’re testing the Lord. And the Lord is angry, and that’s why they’re judged. That’s the first way.
The second way is just they fell into idolatry. And so if there’s worldliness in us, the tempter’s voice will be successful, and we will fall. If we love the praise of man, if we love money, if we love things in this world, then Satan has so many ways to defeat us. So many ways. Every day when you just walk around, if you’re worldly, you see things. Oh, they have this? Oh, I want that. Oh, this person is famous? Oh, I want to be like that person. If you’re worldly, then you’re going to be tripped at every corner.
So first is just basic needs. If you’re complaining, like, God, you led me here, but I’m not happy with this lot in life. And I’m hungry, and I’m thirsty, and this boss drives me crazy. And just so many complaints. And the other way is just the things of this world are glittering. I like it. I want it.
The two ways that Satan will trip us up and the last one Satan says, if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, let the angels catch you. And that’s from Psalm 91, that’s a promise of supernatural protection. And so we can claim that in times when there’s a plague, when there’s an attack, when the enemy’s on our door, we can claim that verse. But Satan is twisting it and saying, if you’re the Son of God, why don’t you just do this thing now and let’s see if God will catch you. Through his angels. And this is what it means to test the Lord. You didn’t hear God say jump, and yet you heard it from Satan. It sounds right. It sounds like if this works, yes, I’m gonna be famous. I’m gonna get something out of doing this. There’s something for me. It’s not from the Lord. It’s either from myself, my flesh, or from Satan. Let me just do it. God says, that’s exactly what I mean when I say don’t test me.
We cannot do things just because we wanna do it. We have to check with the Lord. We can’t do it because Satan dangles a carrot and says if this works because it’s in scripture, it says you’re gonna be caught. That’s why we can’t just be biblical principle people. We have to be people who hear from the Lord. And the Lord wants to speak to His people. And if He didn’t say jump, we don’t jump.
The three ways that Satan tempts his people. How do we, how are we victorious? It says in James 4:7, ‘Therefore submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, ESV)
This is exactly what Jesus did. It is a formula for our absolute victory. He submitted to God. Victory was right around the corner. Jesus had gone through the 40 days of tempting. And then we’re just hearing the tail end of it. The tempter is coming out in full force right around the corner. There’s victory. But Satan is saying do it right now. Not the Lord’s timing, do it right now. And if you’re an impatient person, you will also fall. Because you want things done right now. You cannot go through the wilderness and allow the testing to complete and pass the test. It’s right around the corner perhaps.
So we submit to God, we surrender. Remember, it’s not our idea to go to the wilderness. Who chooses this for themselves? Who chooses a long period of difficulty when there’s no food and drink? Who chooses Jezebel attacking you and then God has to come encourage you and now you go through a 40 days, 40 years? Who chooses this for themselves? This is God’s plan for each of His people and we need to submit to it. God’s plan is tailor made for you.
And so these are not just principles to follow. This is God’s specific word for you. If you’re in a wilderness, you must pass the test and you must endure the test. And it is tailor made for you. We see that in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man. But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with a temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”
12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, ESV)
So whatever temptation you’re under, whatever situation you’re in, whatever wilderness season you’re in, it’s tailor made for you andGod is faithful. It fits you. It’s guaranteed that if you do it God’s way, you will come out on the other side as a victor. It’s not too much. Like if we were put in Elijah’s shoes, yeah, most of us would crumble. If we were put in Moses’ situation, who could do something like this? Yes, our faith is not like Moses. We would crumble, but whatever season you’re in, it fits you, it fits me, and God is faithful.
We will, if we do it God’s way, we will come out on the other side as a victor because He tailor made it, He fit it, He’s faithful. He didn’t give something too much for us. The assignment, the season, the wilderness fits you and me perfectly. And if you do it His way, there’s an escape and you can bear under it.
What is the way? Jesus is the way. If we put our absolute faith in Jesus and we see how Jesus was a victor, we hide ourselves in Jesus. That is the way to endure. We’re not doing it by ourselves. We’re doing it with Jesus and Jesus will promise us that if you stay with Him, there is an escape. You will pass the test. And on the other side, there is a promotion, there is a victory, there is a leveling up, there is something that perhaps is just around the corner.
Satan’s saying, I see it also, there is victory. I want you to do this now. Be impatient and he just feeds into our impatience. So we need to submit to God’s plan, which is to surrender. We need to surrender. We need to put our faith in Jesus. We need to do this without complaining, which is so hard because the wilderness is tough. Wilderness is tough.
As rebels, there is a rebellion that wells up within us. Korah is not alone. We see the difficulty. Like year after year, the same old thing, like what? When is the season gonna end? It’s frustrating, I know. And the temptation to complain is right there on the tip of our tongue always. But if you give in to that complaint, then that’s the generation that didn’t make it, the complainers, the people who lacked faith. You see what faithlessness sounds like. It’s grumbling.
So if we’re grumbling through a wilderness, then we’re losing, unfortunately. But if we can be thankful, saying, Lord, you’re testing me, you’re humbling me, okay, I get it. I need to submit to your plan to change me. I can’t change any other way. I have to go through it the way Moses went through it and Joshua and Caleb went through it and all the men and women of faith. They went through wilderness seasons, Abraham and Sarah in scripture, all of them. They went through difficulty and it lasted a long, long time.
God is showing us what’s in our heart during the wilderness. If we put our absolute faith in Jesus, that is what it means to stand. We’re standing with our faith in Jesus. We’re standing firm in that faith. We’re not gonna be moved. That’s how we resist the devil. Then the tempter will flee. He will come again, of course, when we’re weak, when we’re under stress, he will come again. When we’re having a bad day, he’s gonna come again.
But what do we do? We submit to God’s plan. We do it with thanksgiving, hopefully. We put our absolute faith in Jesus because He is victorious in Him. We are victorious. We stand there unmoved and we come out on the other side. There is victory. We’ve passed the test. That is what God wants to do. It is a trial that tests us. It is a temptation Satan wants to derail us. It is our choice. Okay, let’s pray.