The Faithful Son 2

January 25, 2009 ()

Bible Text: Luke 3.21-22


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The gist of the temptations is "Independence from God." Jesus is being tempted to act independently of the Father. To pursue some comfort, pleasure, control, glory, success apart from Him; follow a trajectory void of loyalty and trust in the Father.  Turn stones to bread: seek pleasure and comfort w/o regard for what's in the Father's heart for you. Bow down: seek glory and success at the expense of suffering loyal to the Father. Throw Yourself: demand something from God instead of submitting to God trusting his love and care for  you.

Self-awareness of our core identity. Luke 3.21-22 ESV "Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22) and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."" This is what moved Jesus. Deep awareness of who he was and towering desire to please the Father and do all his will. In Jesus, we have become Sons and Daughters and he is pleased to call us that. Rom 8.15-16 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16) The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...

"the most difficult part of mature faith is to allow ourselves to be the object of God's delight" - Alan Jones

Of all the ways we could see ourselves, we are invited to see ourselves in light of Divine Love - Paul saying, "God demonstrated his love for us in this...Paul saying, "I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." CS Lewis - We need to be reminded more than instructed. Two weeks ago: propping up our sagging sense of self with our accomplishments, relationships, and possessions. Illus: Coins drop.

"the one whom Jesus loved." This is when the coins drop.

Identity Inspires. The Scriptures inspire us with our identity as sons and daughters, loved by God, reconciled through the Death of His Son who loved us and gave himself for us. He fully knows me, fully loves me and because of Jesus, fully accepts me and the towering desire of my life is to walk before him in loyal love and total trust. It is that simple. When you try to live beyond that, you complicate "spirituality."

Cultivation of our Inner Life. Jesus faces temptation like you and I never have and never will. He endured it to the end, whereas we give in under its crushing weight. We will never the full extent of temptation because we have all given in to it. We have all played chicken with holiness and dodged at the last minute but Jesus never did; he never gave in to temptation, never swerved from faithful trust and loyal love and complete devotion to his mission, even when it meant torture and death. Here we see the reason - His inner life.  Jesus cultivated deep intimacy with the Father and walked in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, his heart perfectly tuned to the Fathers and steps perfectly guided by the Spirit. He has been in the wilderness, alone, for 40 days in the Scriptures, praying, experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit resting upon him. Jesus was satisfied in intimacy with His Father and the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that all enticements away from the Father were powerless. This becomes the rhythm of Jesus' life. Mark 1.35 ESV "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed."

Jesus needed this special kind of intimate contact with the Father. His suffering loyalty to the Father and His mission was sustained by these times. If he needed it, how much more do we need it? How often do you depart to desolate places to be alone with God? How often to you listen to him and pray? What have you cut out of your life to make more room for this? When was the last time you turned down a social event because you desired to be alone with God? The only way to keep your feet from wide paths that take you away from what is in God's heart for you, is to live your life increasingly close to Him. This is what he wants for us. Some of you live in the constant quest of discovering what God has for you. Here it is, that your heart would be white hot with desire to know Him and you would live your life increasingly close to him. That is it.

"That is his call to us - simply to be people who are content to live close to him and to renew the kind of life in which the closeness is felt and experienced." Thomas Merton

That is what he wants for us, individually and as a community. That we would live close to him. We talk a lot about our mission to this city. We want to continue to talk about our mission to the City. Just as the Father sent the Son, the Son sends us into this broken world to bring wholeness to it with the Gospel. But, if we miss this; if we miss that what he ultimately wants for this community is to be a people of his presence; a people who run hard after him; a people who want to know our God more than we want anything else; a people for whom God is everything and for whom He is enough - if we fail to be that kind of people, we will fail to live out this mission. Being on mission God is the fruit our intimacy with God. Mission does not compel your devotion; devotion compels your mission.

"Jesus' intimacy with God...filled him with an all consuming thirst for the things of God. His interior life of trust and loving surrender is not simply a matter of personal prayer, private religious experience, and delight in God's intimate presence. Such a limited relationship with God would ignore the real world and its struggle for redemption, justice, and peace. No, the inner life of Jesus takes expression in a special, vital quality of presence in the world in the most active situations." Brennan Manning

That is a significant quote. Jesus' intimacy with the Father filled whim with thirst for the Father's concerns. And it took expression in a special and vital quality of presence in the world. What our city needs is people who know God, want what he wants, and have been with him in such a way that they consistently emerge from the experience with a depth and weight and vitality of presence that can address the brokenness, confusion, need and chaos of the world around them. The enemy fails in his attempt to distract Jesus from his mission because Jesus has been with the Father and is thirsty for the things of the Father.

Imaginations shaped by Revelation. When Satan tempts Jesus, he tempts him to start out his ministry by leveraging power to secure possessions that would bring him pleasure, and to seek success apart from the Father and his will. Satan's temptation was an attempt to capture Jesus' imagination and orient him toward power, possessions, pleasures and success. This is exactly our temptation today. Our minds are constantly being oriented toward this dream. Our lives are constantly marinating in the mindset of this God-indifferent culture and capturing our imaginations with the American dream. Jesus has been meditating on the book of Deuteronomy during his time in the Wilderness. Notice how Jesus responds: it is written and stands written. His mind and imagination was shaped by God's revelation.

The culture is selling us a story and hoping to seize our imaginations and define for us what is important and what we should pursue. Illus: Average household - 6hours and 47 minutes/day with the TV on. Hours/annually by America - 250 billion. 5-12,000 images every day that come across our eyes (internet, advertising, TV). All these things are trying to capture our minds and tell us what we should own, wear, drive, eat; how we should think, live, act, spend, look...The culture elevates its preference to principles and defines what is normal. It sets the expectations for how you should live and move and have your being. But, our personal and communal orientation is not to be set by the curriculum of the culture. God has given us a different take on reality. As we get his story in our hearts and minds, our imaginations are free from the God-indifferent dreams of the culture, and our lives are transformed.

Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

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Sermon Speaker:

JR Vassar

Former Lead Pastor, Apostles NYC