Jim Temptation of Christ 5
Automatically Generated Transcript
Coming down to the church doesn't take very long on the Sundays, almost half the time as normally during the week when there's lots of traffic. But I was driving and found myself driving behind a learner. And I've learned from past lessons that something that's wise to do is to not follow a learner too closely. Sure enough, as we came up to the lights, it suddenly turned orange in front of the learner who jumped on the brakes. And luckily, I was far enough back to swing the wheel and shoot on through the orange. But otherwise, there would have been one of these. And there's a bit of a lesson to learn, don't follow a learner too closely.
And the same is true for other issues of life, not just our following learners in the cars. But in terms of the lessons of life, it's better to follow someone who's learned already well and is experienced than it is to pick on someone who's still fishing in the way. And the same is very true about handling temptation. And the reason why we've been going through the record in Matthew's gospel about the temptation and Mark and Luke, of course, as well, is that Jesus is the one to follow when it comes to handling temptation. And up until now in the different weeks, on the mornings, I've been explaining a bit of the connections about the temptation of Jesus with his role of coming as the savior of the world. But we haven't actually got around to handling the major temptations that he went through. And God willing, with his help, we'll do that this morning.
But we're following Jesus because if you really want to learn about the Christian life, then he's the one to follow. And the more closely you follow him, the better you're off. And so we're looking at the temptations of Jesus and the usual wisdom that people draw out of them is sometimes a bit mixed as to whether they've actually hit the nail on the head as to what it's all about. And I've often wondered when I've heard sermons on the temptation of Christ, particularly the first part where it says that the devil came and tempted him to turn the stones into bread. Now it occurs to me that it's a good thing to turn stones into bread. And as a matter of fact, in the stony deserts of Australia, my sister's husband, who's an agricultural scientist, his life's work has been how to allow wheat to grow with less water. It's a case of the stony desert being turned into bread, literally in his science. So what was so bad about Jesus being tempted to turn the stones into bread? And it's interesting the different things people draw out of that temptation of Jesus as wisdom for us, which you'll never really succeed in getting the right explanation if you don't go into the background as to how Jesus already had been led in his learning from the Old Testament. And that's why there's a number of Bible verses we've given to the people down the back and that was picked up for the Bible readings because they're just verses that are from the Old Testament which opens a window of understanding as to why Jesus was doing the things that he did and how he was facing temptation and giving us a model that we can follow.
It's interesting that when you listen into different Christian speakers and people who are those that you might follow, there can be different reasons why you're following them. And I remember back in 1979, being sent by Wheaton College out to Australia to learn about evangelism at the Crusades. They were gonna be had by the BGEA Billy Graham Group at that time and I was going around to the different reach outs of Leighton Ford and one of them he was having in Adelaide, which is where I went to high school. My brother still lives. And so it's like an old home to me, Adelaide. And arriving there, there was a businessman who I knew and a little bit, he was a very famous businessman because he'd been bankrupt several times and built his business up again and become a millionaire. And he'd actually written a book and he had a picture of himself sitting on his Rolls Royce on the front of the book. And it was all wisdom that was exhorting us to follow how you can make a success in life. Now, is he the sort of person that you should follow? Well, if you wanna be a businessman, especially in real estate as he was, I think he would be. But sometimes the lessons that such persons who are good in this area are not necessarily as equally good in the Christian life. And because of his expertise in how to get crowds, the team that was sponsoring Leighton Ford's meetings had his advice. And they're wanting to know how to fill the oval because they're having these big meetings and it'd be a great success if the oval was filled, but if only the little scattering of people would be a big failure. One of the lessons you learn in evangelism is don't choose a venue too big for the little crowd you might get. And anyway, he gave them advice and his advice was, he says, I know how to get a crowd. I'll advertise on TV that I'll give every person coming through the gate a £2 note. And they had £2 notes back then. And anyway, the committee, thankfully, did not take the advice. I would be very afraid of how the media would pick that up, trying to bribe people to be Christians with the £2 notes.
And it's interesting when you listen in to wisdom as to how to sway crowds. It's actually in the arena of how to sway the populace, how to get the common person to listen. That Jesus had important things for us to learn from him. And they are actually involved with this whole business of the temptations, if you know the background to why the devil was taking this angle. And that's what we're about this morning, to see what is the background to the temptation to turn the stones into bread.
I had another friend later on, a couple of decades, no, a little time later, who was very interested in getting Brisbane people to not be swayed by the wrong ideas coming through the media. And he was very much keen that we should be taught not to become too materialistic. And just at that time where he lived, which had been a place where you could get very cheap rents on the other side of the river from the main city, it went through a boom and became gentrified. And all the housing began to be more expensive. And the people who had houses and gave them out to rent, others all put their prices up. And he was really quite annoyed at the landlords who were kicking out a lot of the people that he had a ministry helping. They had nowhere to go because the rent got raised so they couldn't live in that spot anymore, those places. So he went on TV, being seen giving out £2 notes. Now for exactly the opposite reason than the other guy I told you about, his one was that when the media people says, why are you doing that, he was doing it in order that there might be a realization come upon the crowds that they're too materialistic. That was his purpose. And I think it matched what he was doing far better than the other one.
But why was Jesus being tempted? Can you hear all right, is that the problem? It's okay, good. Why was Jesus shying away from the idea of turning stones into bread? Well, when we look into the Old Testament and we see some of the verses, we'll go to the first one, please. No, go to the second one in my list. We're looking here now at Exodus 34, verse 28. And so he was there with the Lord 40 days. Now the he is Moses. And this is the beginning of the Old Covenant. And you may be aware that the New Covenant that Jesus set is a match, the latest version of God's directions of how to be related to him. A covenant is when you get right with someone that you've been out of steps with. And the Old Covenant is replaced by the New Covenant. It doesn't mean the Old Covenant was a mistake. God had a purpose for it. But it does mean that the new supersedes the old. And Moses was the one who led the Old Covenant and Jesus is the counterpart who leads the New Covenant.
So he was there, Moses, with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights. And he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the 10 commandments. So there's a precedent that's being set with the Old Covenant of the person who's leading it to have it begin with a 40-day fast and a 40-day time where the Lord required this of him. It wasn't something that he did thought up himself. This is something that he was led to do. And let's go to the next one. If we turn from there to Deuteronomy 8, verse three. And here's an explanation because what Moses' leadership was to do was to take them out of Egypt, which is self-explanatory. He got them out of bondage by the blood of the lamb on the little doorposts, et cetera. You know the story. But the purpose was then to take them out into the wilderness. And that might be a little bit of an inexplicable thing. Why save them from Egypt and then have them lost in the desert? Or starve in the desert? Or chased by enemies in the desert? But the explanation is given as to God's purpose for where Moses' leadership was to take them into the wilderness. And he humbled you, says God to Moses, meaning him and the people, and let you hunger. And he fed you with manna. Now we've glamorized the whole story about the manna that was provided supernaturally by the Lord, but it wasn't very tasty, which the Israelites soon realized. He fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds or comes from the mouth of the Lord. And so the purpose of the wilderness wanderings was that they would learn their dependence on the leadership of the Lord. It's not necessarily that starving is always good for you. It's not necessarily the case that you are made needy by God on purpose for no other reason than he was gonna give you heaps of problems. He has a purpose. And the purpose is to teach you to go on trusting him, not just getting your immediate needs met, not just getting your hopes fulfilled, not just you being, in human terms, provided for as you might think you need, but that you might be humbled instead of trusting in your own ideas, but trusting the Lord alone.
And Jesus, in his reading of the Old Testaments, in his growth through the years of being a carpenter's son, in his early years had gone through in the learning of the scriptures as a demonstrator when he could quote them in the synagogue. Jesus was taught about this incident and he would have been taught about the necessity of how he would walk before God and trust in God's leadership. And that's what was going on with Jesus. There's nothing wrong with turning stones into bread if that's what God wants you to do. But if he has a purpose of you being hungry and just waiting on him, they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall rise up like eagles do. I forgot the exact wording. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint. And the best way for you to be conserved and to have your needs finally met is not to shine the light on the practical things that you think you need only. There are times for those to be supplied. There are times when God intends for you to be a person that says it's not happening for me. How many of us have been through times when we were expecting God to turn up and do things and yet there was silence from heaven? Leighton Ford actually in those times I spent going around with him told me of he went through a time where heaven was silent to him. God didn't seem to answer any prayers. He went through a time of being tested. And often in our Christian lives, there's reasons that God has for what he puts us through which are reasons to do with our learning to keep on trusting him. That's more important than the actual things that we think we need. He has his reasons. That's why we need to learn to just trust him.
One of the things Jesus had to do was to learn not to go out independently from how the father was leading him. He came into the world, though he was the second person of the Trinity, he had power to do many things, but he came to take a life of humble service to the father above doing only the things the father led him to do. And God wants us to learn the same lesson and sometimes he has to design circumstances of constraint whereby we say, Lord, have you deserted me? And I learned from listening to Leighton Ford how he felt as if God had left him or he just wasn't answering. And it's sometimes like that that God makes us humbled and helps us to learn that you don't live just by bread alone or the things you think are the necessities, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
And there is something about the Christian life which is best seen and characterized in the people who have his word and simply base themselves in it and they digest it regularly in prayer. They attend to the going to church. They do the things where God helps them in the theology college. One of my courses was called "The Means of Grace." And "The Means of Grace," I used to teach about the Holy Spirit mostly in that course because it's the Holy Spirit who is the means of getting that help from God. And if you're a person who goes through a difficult time, what you need to do is to get alone with God and plead with him to bring you closer. There's a place for us, you know, to seek that which the Bible illustrates by how his spirit comes on people. I've noticed different churches sometimes make mistakes about what they teach concerning the Holy Spirit. They teach somehow or other that there's a second experience where everything will be given to you but the people who articulate that and teach it, when you go and talk to them personally, if you could get back in history and ask John Wesley about the second blessing, he always admitted, well, I haven't got it myself yet. But there is a truth that's very close to the ones that the people who teach that there's a second blessing you can have and it will be answer all your needs. No, there's not a second blessing. There's only one great blessing of Christ and coming to him and having his spirit in your life. And so the nearest to talking about the baptism of the spirit is to recognize it is the first blessing. That's actually what the Bible teaches. So that we do not do what the first disciples did just prior to the day of Pentecost and have what became known as a tarrying meeting. That's old English, tarrying. It means hanging around, waiting. And a tarrying meeting is what the disciples did because Jesus has said to them, he didn't want them racing out and evangelizing too quick. He says, wait here in Jerusalem until you receive the promise of the father. So the tarrying meeting got to be a name used in Christian circles about people who have prayer meetings waiting to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. The truth is that happened when you became a Christian. So you're not to wait for the baptism of the spirit, you're to wait on the very Holy Spirit you got when you're converted, that he will come and minister to you whatever is your needs. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that speaks through, that comes from the mouth of the Lord. And when you wait on God, he eventually will communicate with you and what he says and how his spirit moves, pray for him to fill you with the spirit. That's something we're always urged to do, to be people full of the spirit. And it's not something you only do once. Go on being filled, the Bible says about the spirit. And so we are to wait on God for his spirit to help us, not wait for a particular blessing which you are to take as having received if you've become a Christian.
Now I'm not going to elaborate more about the doctrine of the spirit just here, but to say that what is happening with Jesus is something for us to follow, is to recognize that if you're doing what he's told you to do, just keep doing it. If you're in the place that he put you, the Bible says this, whatever state in which you are that you come to know God, what state you are when you're called to God, stay there unless he tells you to go elsewhere. In the Bible, the book of Acts is full of things of Christians doing that, like the ones in Acts 13 who are worshiping God, and amongst them is Paul, and Barnabas and Silas, and the ones who later become travellers with him, but they're waiting on God, and then the Holy Spirit says, set apart for me Paul and Barnabas for the work for which I have called them, but they weren't shooting off on their own initiative. When the Spirit came and directed them, they moved, and Jesus knew the big lesson from the very role that he came to be in, to come to be the one on earth who would be led of the Father, that's what it means to be the Christ, the one who is the anointed one, as I've said many times, Messiah is Hebrew, Christos is Greek, and to be someone who is anointed of God is to be led of God, and to do what he leads you to do, as Jesus' example within the synagogue, when it says the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he's anointed me, and then he lists the things he's been anointed to do, and it is a fact that Jesus did no miracles prior, he was a miracle, he knew things as the Spirit led him, but his ministry that was Spirit anointed started after his citation of that verse, and his being full of the Spirit, and what was the very first thing that Holy Spirit did in leading Jesus after him quoting those verses? Can you say? It says immediately he was led of the Spirit out to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and he was learning, and the devil, if he could tempt Jesus somehow to act independently from the leadership of the father, he would have done a great, he would have succeeded in turning him away from the very heart of his mission.
I don't think turning stones into bread is the issue at all, it's whether you'll trust God to do what he's called you to do, whether you'll leave in his hands to do what only he can do, that's why last Sunday I was trying to talk on make room for God, for when you say this is something only God can do, and I'll wait on him, that's what the idea of wait upon the Lord is all about, waiting upon the Lord doesn't mean you're doing nothing, it means you keep doing what he's already told you to do. It's many, many a Christian whose life has ended up in one big puzzle, and mixture, and mess, because they took a few guesses. I've told you some of my stories of God leading me to go overseas to study, and when I've come home sometimes I've told the stories of how God provided at crucial moments when I had no money. Someone turns up at the front door, I needed the airfare home, and they gave me within £6 of what I needed, exactly, well, £6 less, and when I told the stories, and other people come and talk to me, and they tell stories of how they've heard such stories, they've read books, Ebernor has a book about Ken God, and God led him to leave a town in Ireland, he had a mother who was alone, he was supporting by his job, and the Lord told him to take his bicycle and ride out of town, and God would show him where to go, and he did, and he had a few buts to say to the Lord, because he said, what about my mother? And he felt the Lord promised him that he'd help him always have money to send home for her. He ended up going around the world several times and having revivals, and sometime he lost the bicycle somewhere on the way, and he's walking, but he needs to get somewhere, and an airplane landed in an empty field next to him, and offered him a ride. I've never had an airplane land next to me in an empty field. Someone jump out and say, hop in. But whatever he needed, God provides, and that's the whole point, man shall not live by bread alone but you'll live by the bread as God provides it. You can trust him, and it's the trust, the humility, the faith that God wanted to show those Israelites that he could eventually be able to take them into the promised land. Now, when they first got close to going in, they balked at it because the giants were too big and the problems were too dangerous. He had to take them around for a lot longer to go back to the same point, eventually to take them into the promised land. When they'd learned the lesson, and Jesus, reading from the Old Testament, learned about this and he knew it because this verse is quoted directly elsewhere about the whole issue of trusting in God.
I think I'm probably meant to go to my Psalm 91, 11 to 12. For he will command, oh, this is for the second, the next temptation, no, it is Deuteronomy 8.3, sorry. Deuteronomy 8.3, that's what we've just read. Okay, I've got another reading, it'll turn up along the way. Alright, so the point is that I'm making that trusting God is more the issue and not trying to step out independently. What was it that the devil would allow Jesus to be independent from and not be available to do? What was he heading to stop Jesus doing? Hey? Yeah, eventually going on the cross. Now, I don't know how much the devil understood the cross, I think he didn't understand that fully anyway, and he thought it was an opportunity for him, but it certainly was to stop Jesus doing his mission. And if you've got a temptation that's happening to you at the moment, let me tell you, look a bit more deeply into it as to why the devil might be doing that. He wants to get you so that you're no longer available to do the will of God. He wants to get you to be somehow ruled out from the purpose you're actually here on Earth to do. You know how the Bible talks about the fact that God has got works for each of us to do, that he has prepared beforehand before the foundation of the world? You are as safe as you'll ever be when you're doing the works of God because nothing can hurt you. You don't have to worry about there being no bread in the desert. God will look after you if you're there because he led you there. And that's what the temptation's all about. He was led of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He actually walked out, and 40 days and nights, he was hungry, he had no energy left to walk out again, he would die! But he just had to trust that God had that in hand. And God did. What did he do? He sent the angels. And they ministered to him. That's not a matter of them singing hymns. I used to think they'd be like Heidi. She's one of our angels, I think. Sorry. And singing songs is good. Sometimes they're a great blessing, right? I'm not trying to lessen the music and the worship that we have. I think it's wonderful. But I am saying that the angels knew what Jesus needed.
When it says the angels ministered to him, they didn't sit up and pass out the hymn books. They helped him energy-wise. And it is amazing when you're seeking to do the will of God and sometimes the circumstances crowd in on you and you feel like you can't make it and you haven't got time to do everything, and somehow God can give you the energy to do what you didn't think you had. That's what Jesus was in the business of doing, God's will. And he just had to trust the Father. If the Father led him by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days, the Father would see to it that he didn't die before he hadn't executed his ministry. That belief in God when you're faced with something that seems it's impossible to ever happen. It is marvellous what God can do. I better keep going or I won't get away from the one point. Let's go to the next temptation. And depending on what order you follow, I think following the order of it being up in the temple where the devil led Jesus to be there. Some commentators think that he put the thought in Jesus' mind as though he was there. But I think the devil has powers and he just took Jesus and Jesus physically went along and there he is situated in the pinnacle of the temple. Now what is this all about? You'll never really realize this until if you do a bit of study through the Gospels of what was something Jesus kept complaining about with the people. He often said just before he did a miracle, you will not believe unless you see miracles. And I couldn't, reading the scripture, say well why does he say that when he's about to do one? What the problem was is that they, especially after the wedding feast of Cana of Galilee, how many people planning events wouldn't love to have Jesus turn up and turn all the water into wine? How many people would like to have Jesus able to feed the crowds and everybody got enough to eat? Thousands were fed by Jesus. If you're in the business of wooing crowds and you had the ability like Jesus to turn, to do something with his hands and little fishes and loaves suddenly get enough to feed thousands of people, I think you'd know that your planning is gonna be set for life. You could really, with Jesus, you could really have and of course the reputation he got as a miracle worker was so much so that they got to love the miracles more than anything else. And Jesus kept commenting, you just want to see a miracle and he would try to somehow or other lessen the whole miracle emphasis even though he wanted to do one to help the person in one of the home groups I go to during the week. And we've been talking about the man in the pool of Bethesda. And Bethesda means mercy. And we've been on it several weeks where this man was there 38 years, a paraplegic of some sort of paralysed person. And there was a pool which once a year, apparently an angel came and touched. And if you were the first one into the water, you got healed. And the pool is called this pool of blessing or of mercy. And here is someone having the mercy of God. There's not any other purpose other than God having pity on some poor person. And this fellow has been there 38 years. No angel comes this day. But Jesus comes.
And in the Old Testament, often when the second person of the Trinity, that is the pre-incarnate Christ, comes and does something, the Scriptures will say the angel of the Lord. For Jesus is the first great apostle. The word apostle means sent out one. Angel means messenger. Jesus is the one who's sent of the Father, who represents the Father, who's the exact image of God. And Jesus is, in the Old Testament, he was the one who was the angel of mercy. But it's not an angel this time. It's Jesus. And what does he do but pick out one person of the crowd and heals them, and it's the man of the story.
Now it's interesting that what follows. It says, and we were looking at this in the home group, and this is something I never realized before. It says Jesus, I forget the exact wording, but he slipped away. Depends on what translation you read. It's the only spot in the whole Bible, in the Greek that is, where it uses this word. And the word actually is a word describing how you slip away quickly or quietly. And it can be taken to mean you turn your head and duck out like that. Jesus wasn't there to excite the crowd on the miracle. He was there simply because he had mercy. It's like how God is when there's someone who's desperate in the desert. Who else was desperate in the desert? There's Hagar, sent out by Sarah, never destined to become the father of promise, well, the mother of promise. Never destined to be the start of the Israeli race. He's gonna be the background of the Arab races. And she's watching her son last dying in the desert. And God comes and speaks to her. This is one of those appearances of God. Probably it's the second person of the Trinity. We call that a Christophany, an appearance of Christ before he's actually Christ. He's the son of God. And he speaks to her. Sends her back to where she's come from. Promises her protection. That's Jesus. He had been, I believe, I can't prove this exactly, he was the one that turns up as the angel of mercy. And he's doing it, but he slips away before anybody can scarcely notice who it was, who he was. Jesus, he loves to help. And when you know he's on your side and he's marked you out as a person who'll take special care, isn't that how Christ was? He knew from how he read of himself in the Scriptures, not only the fact of where he'd come from in heaven, but the fact that the Spirit led him as to who he was and what was his mission. He knew he was as safe as could be, just trusting God. He didn't need to turn stones into bread. He was there just to keep on trusting the Lord. And if you're in some fix, if you're in some place where you feel your needs are not met, don't worry about the bread. God knows you need bread. Just trust him. As long as you do what he's left you doing, you're in the right place. He will show you, if like Paul, who's worshiping in Antioch and God wants him to start a missionary journey, and God came and told him, actually told the fellowship, send these ones off. Don't let them stick around here.
Give them, I can say the boots, but it's really the right hand of fellowship and send them on the way with prayer. And they send out Paul. Is it Paul and Barnabas or Paul and Silas? He had various people who went with him because he's there worshiping. That's why worship is so important, that we worship God. And when he finds someone in worship, he's found the person he can send. Well, that's what happens with the reason why he's in the desert and he's needy. He doesn't have to turn the stones into bread. Now I'm trying to get to the second temptation, which was when the devil has him up at the top of the thing and what I was leaning around to show you is that it is because the people like the flashy miracle scene. They didn't go for the deepest sort of stuff. They wanted more miracles of Jesus. They're there to see a miracle. They should be there to see Jesus. Yes, he does want to do miracles where they're necessary. I'm not against an emphasis on Christianity, having mercy to give to someone. And it is amazing if you spend time in mission work, my dad and his thesis discovered that wherever the Christian church right across the years, he did his doctorate in the teaching of the Holy Spirit right across Christian time. And what he discovered is wherever the church rediscovered its gospel, things of the Holy Spirit kept turning up. If you concentrate on the good news, if you concentrate on the word of God, which the good news is the centre of, then miracles turn up. You don't have to make them turn up. I don't believe as a preacher that I should go around and try and have miracle meetings. But I want to tell you that where a church takes on a gospel time, miracles happen. I keep them hush hush. I don't want to get stamped as some charismatic person. It was a rather big nuisance to me in Dallas, Dallas Seminary, because they thought I was a charismatic because I had a prayer meeting and some of the students got blessed and they began to tell all the others. So the faculty thought Jim had started some charismatic group. And later on, when I went back there to start my doctorate, they'd actually changed their policies because they made sure I couldn't stay earlier. When I went back there, the meeting they had with me to let me in the door, they said, "We don't mind accepting charismatics now." I laughed to myself because in Australia, the charismatics for another group I was looked at as a conservative person. But you can't be a Christian without being a charismatic. But by charismatic, what I mean is the use of the word charisma is the word that means grace. The gift of God is by grace. The wages of sin is death, but the charisma of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. And if you ain't got the charisma, you haven't got eternal life. That which comes by grace when we put our trust in Jesus as Saviour is the link that a lot of people haven't yet seen, that when you come empty-handed, you come to Jesus and say, "You've got what I want," you get the charisma of eternal life. Jesus and his gift of eternal life. Well, that's what was missing in a lot of people. And so instead of miracles, they should have been concentrating on Jesus and his gift. Like he said to the woman at the well, "If you knew who it was who's speaking to you, then you would have asked of him and he would have given you rivers, living water, or he would have given you living water." Anyway, we move on to the third temptation, so I won't take much longer. And that was the story of the second one, that they were chasing something too flamboyant. They were chasing a miracle thing instead of Jesus and his message. And so when the devil, the second temptation, depending on which order you put him in, second temptation was that if he threw himself down and then stood up and said, "See, I'm the Son of God," they'd all say, "Wonderful miracle!" and all clap their hands and they'd follow Jesus, but he didn't want them following him out of delighted miracles. That's the wrong emphasis. He wanted them to follow him because he was the Christ, because he was to be the saviour. And certainly the trust in the miracles was not exactly gonna look like the right thing when it was time for him to go to the cross and die for our sins. The biggest miracle was going to be the resurrection after three days.
Well, let's go on to the third one. And I might've got it a bit mixed up. I might've got it a bit mixed up. The third one was with the devil and the devil wanted to give him all the kingdoms of the world. And the third one is, that verse on the screen is one where the Israelites had failed to trust God. And when they tried to talk Moses into, well, Moses struck the rock when he was only meant to have once spoken to it, and he was trying to strike it again, and he did the wrong thing. And the Israelites had provoked him because they said something, "God is not really amongst us of the truth." And Moses wanted to have a bit of a, I need to go and look at this again, but he wanted to have a bit of a good reaction like the first time he struck the rock. But he wasn't ready to do that. And so there was a problem that came.
Anyway, what I want to say is that in the third temptation where the devil had him at the top of a high mountain, and what he said was, "If you will just worship me once, I will give you all the kingdoms of the world." And it was for him to absolutely disqualify himself as the Christ, if he were to worship the devil. The devil would have snuffed out his ministry, he wouldn't be qualified to be the savior. If he worshiped the devil, and so he says, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." And keeping our consecration, in being committed to God first and only, is what the devil and his attempts at temptation are aiming to get you away from. Sometimes it's something obviously sinful, and sometimes it's something that looks like a good thing.
All right, have I ever had any temptations like this? I'll tell you one. Now I've got Michelle wondering what I'm going to say. But every now and then, there comes this temptation about gambling. And I hear about some ministers who take all the collection money and they take it down to the horse races, and very foolishly try to double it. So they come back and say, "Look how much money we've got." And the area of raising funds for the church, you can be tempted to find a way to do it that's not exactly straightforward. And there's been many a person in Christian work who on the issue of money has fallen into a trap. And you can disqualify yourself on money reasons. And sometimes the big success stories, I won't name any, of churches in Australia who have done something to their name because of money issues. The devil wants to stop the ministry. And if he can disqualify you with some temptation, in the long run, if he could stop Jesus doing what the God the Father had sent him to do, he would have defeated him. And so he wants to just give him a temptation. Worship me for a moment. Practical end is a bit like the end justifies the means.
I know it's wrong to worship the devil, but just one worship and you get the kingdoms. What would that mean for Jesus? I don't know whether the devil understood all of this or not. He doesn't know everything you know. But I think it would have meant if God Jesus had have worshipped the devil, that he'd be completely useless to go to the cross. It would have been to turn him away. In fact, it was a temptation of getting the kingdoms of the world by that wrongful worship of the devil. And Jesus wouldn't need to go to the cross to win it the hard way. And sometimes the devil's temptations that come to us are ones that offer you a way to achieve it. When I was a younger man in my 20s, I had friends who wanted to be doing what I was doing of being in Christian ministry. And they said, but it's always difficult when you get into the ministry, you have no money. You'd be surprised at how the money issue is a big thing that stops people going into the ministry. I remember a person who was doing mission work in Papua New Guinea. Won't tell you any more details, but this particular person looked at me and he says, "Oh, you know what you should do? You should have a few holes in your shoes. If you had shoes that looked more older ones, people give you more. You've got to look more poor." Now, sometimes the people who are involved in mission work get pretty canny, understanding about how to draw the resources out of the church and people. But what his suggestion was to somehow get yourself looking more poor and make sure you go along to church.
I know of one evangelist who turned up in Queensland and he was driving a very fancy car. And when he went away, some of the people said to me, "We're not gonna give money to him, look what he's driving." And I determined I was going to drive the car I wanted to drive, maybe not too flashy, but it wouldn't do to turn up with a Lamborghini. You at least have a good getaway speed. But there is a certain amount of wisdom in not flouting what money you do have, but you could get tempted in the money area and it would disqualify you. And there's people who are not in Christian work right now where God always intended them to be because it was like one of these friends of mine said, "I'm gonna make a lot of money first. Then when I've got lots of money, I'm gonna sponsor myself in Christian work." Well, I've met up with that same person across periods of time and he never got to the time when he's in the ministry. Sometimes you got to go with what you don't have and trust God and don't get tempted to something that might be actually a wrong thing that God doesn't ever intend for you to be rich. He actually, if you want to know a secret, God loves providing for you when you're needy. He loves the trust that you have in him when you're weak and you've got nothing. Sometimes it's what causes you to go and seek him in prayer and you come out of the prayer time with God having assured you that he's got the bag, or a better way to say it, he's got the money issue. You don't have to worry about it. And it is a fantastic thing of being in a needy place. I've been in this several times where God turned up and how blessed I felt. He's watching me. It wasn't because I'm a better person than anybody. It's only because I'm needy. And he turns up. Don't take away the way that he has to help you. He loves having children who go places depending on him. Just trust him and you don't have to fall for some quick way to bypass the cross. There is a cross in being a Christian. Jesus talked about it for us. Don't try and bypass the cost of being a Christian because in the cost, there's also the presence of God. So Jesus says, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."
You don't need two masters making money, one serving God or the other. Leave God to worry about the money. Just serve him and he will look after you.
Oh, Father, this is a very moving topic. I think it's moving because it's about tackling the issue of our walk with you and the closeness of that trust and the joy, the blessing of having knowledge that you have made us the apple of your eye and you have our best interest at heart and you are prepared to send your angels to help Jesus in the wilderness. You sent them again when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Father, we praise you for your protection of Jesus and that you've given us a person about temptation who sure is not a shallow learner or a first beginner and we thank you for the example of Jesus in handling temptation. May we follow his lead, we ask in his name, amen.