How to Overcome.

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

Thank you for joining as we together journey through Lent, walking humbly before God and working out our salvation.

As I mentioned Ash Wednesday, we spent the weeks of Pre-Lent identifying the hot stoves of sin in our lives, those dangers we love to run toward, and planned our strategies for getting rid of them.

Those old, hot, rusty, greasy, ugly things in our lives must go, but unfortunately, for many Christians, we spend Lent praying more, sacrificing small things, perhaps giving more, fasting, abstaining, engaging in increased prayer and scripture reading as mere curtains. We close the inner curtain on that hot stove, never really getting rid of it, never allowing Jesus and His team to take it away, so that on Easter Monday we can tear open the curtain and get right back to that hot stove of sin.

Fine Pastor, you’re right. I gave up M&Ms and one hour of TV, but that hot stove of sin remains, and even though I would prefer not to, I’ll probably go right back at it after Lent. You see Pastor, I do not know how to really get rid of that sin. Can the Church help me, give me some strategies to get rid of that sin?

Yes, and as with all the answers it begins with Jesus, looking to Him and what He faced.

We might see the temptations as something that happened at the end of Jesus’ fasting and prayer in the desert, but it was far more than that.

Jesus, as is often said, was tempted in every way we are. As soon as He began to get hungry, thirsty, tired, motivated to give it all up and go home, the Tempter came. The Tempter accused Him of being weak, unable to finish His mission, a disappointment to His Heavenly Father. We can hear that can’t we – because we face that Tempter all the time. He accuses and blames us – all directed at our giving up hope, giving up God.

The Tempter wanted Jesus to denounce His own Father. At the end of the forty days the Tempter hit Jesus with all he had.

It was not just bread for hunger, but the temptation to satisfy every craving of the body – food, drink, pleasure, quitting and being slothful. It was not just to throw oneself down from the parapet of the Temple, but to destroy oneself – quit and kill Your own body Jesus. It was not just rule over all the kingdoms of the world, but to surrender oneself and one’s true power to the ruler of the world – the Tempter.

Jesus, having faced all we face, and far more, would be tempted throughout His ministry and on the cross, yet He was loyal to His Father’s will and did not sin.

These are the tools He used: prayer, studying scripture, speaking about the kingdom, fasting, communing in relationship centered on the Father. Guess what – we can do all those things and have the same success. 

Our success in getting rid of sin is that we will actually feel good, wonderful, fulfilled – and if we find we hate that feeling, know the stove is being removed.

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent


Choices, choices…
Decisions, decisions…

“If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
“I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here”

Lent is a time for choices. What will we do to discipline our lives, to follow Jesus more closely, to reach for perfection in the Christian way of life? More than those choices, we face the choice of how hard we will work at what we choose. How will our choices affect our decisions?

Jesus was drawn into the desert to undergo the discipline of fasting and prayer and in doing so to draw closer to His Father. He chose to follow His Father’s will and decided to do all the things His Father required.

The desert or wilderness was the place in which the Prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and John the Baptist, as well as Jesus, the Son of God, lived for at least a time, if not most of their lives. The rugged, arid conditions of the wilderness became their molding ground. Alone, they wandered through deserts, forests and mountains, awaiting God’s command. In the rugged desolate country they were set apart for God’s special work. In the wilderness God fashioned their character, making them obedient vessels, who then went forth to carry out God’s will.

For most of us the wilderness (dense forests, deserts and mountains) are only for the adventurous in spirit. It can be vicious to all forms of life – human, animal and plant. Only the most hardy can survive. No soft disguises of civilization can survive here. Wilderness life hones the nature of those who venture there. In the wilderness our true substance is exposed, and we are purified to do God’s will. It is not a place for the foolhardy, or the faint-hearted.

At the end of Jesus’ desert time He was tempted, put to the test in a very severe way. He is offered everything the world might think would fill a person after forty days of fasting and loneliness – food, power, and security. Having been purified and made one with His Father through the desert experience He was able to make the right decisions in the face of these very strong temptations.

Our Lent is a time in the wilderness, to withdraw a bit and draw closer to God. Our Lenten choices and practices, and our choice of how hard we work at them, prepare us to make right decisions when faced with temptation. They mold us, set us apart, and make us obedient servants who decide for God’s way.