Grace and peace be with you from God our father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today marks the first Sunday of Lent.
During the season of Lent we pray that we would return back to God, that God would forgive our sins, and that we would find new ways to renew our spiritual lives.
This season is a great gift for us.
A time set aside to grow closer to God.
We begin this season with three Scripture readings that speak to the importance of having faith when faced with temptations.
In our Gospel reading for today we hear the well-known story of Jesus being tempted by the devil.
For forty days he is tempted by the devil in the wilderness.
This Bible reading is told alongside the temptation story of Adam and Eve.
There is a great contrast here between Jesus and Adam and Eve.
Jesus resists temptation while Adam and Eve give into temptation.
And then in the middle there is a great promise.
In our reading from Romans the Apostle Paul speaks about God’s grace given to us through Jesus.
My prayer for us this Lent is that we might grow more deeply in our understanding of this wondrous grace.
God freely gives to us this grace in Christ.
Jesus was able to break through and find a way back to God in the face of temptation.
Three times he is tempted by the devil and each time he is able to turn from the devil and back to God.
At the end of his time in the wilderness he is free from the devil and angels come and minister to him.
He did it.
He fasted for forty days.
He spent time in the wilderness, alone and without the comforts of being with other people.
He was greatly tempted.
But he came through. He found a way.
One of the great gifts of our faith is knowing that when we face temptations and trials that we too can find a way.
As Jesus was victorious in the wilderness Jesus can and will lead us through the challenges and temptations that we face in life.
That is the meaning of faith.
God walking with and for us throughout our entire lives.
Jesus finding a way through temptation and then leading us away from temptation so that we might live in life-giving and God-honoring ways.
In life it is tempting to choose power and comfort. It is tempting to choose the things of this world to satisfy us and to make us happy.
Can we pray this prayer…
Lord, you know what I need. Lord, you know what I want. Lord, you know what makes me happy… but I trust in you to know what is best for me.
Jesus could have chosen bread because he was hungry.
He could have chosen comfort because he was in need.
He could have chosen power because he felt weak.
But instead he choose faith.
To believe in God and God’s power to provide and he chose not to believe in a power that was not God.
It is hard work.
To not fall into the temptations that come from living in this world.
Like Adam and Eve we are human.
We need God’s grace and forgiveness.
We need Jesus to protect us from temptation and sin.
We need Jesus to walk with us when we feel that we are in the wilderness.
In the Bible the wilderness is a place of testing.
The wilderness is a place of struggle.
Remarkably, Jesus chooses to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
From that place of struggle and testing Jesus’ identity is renewed.
His purpose affirmed.
After the time in the wilderness he begins his ministry and never looks back.
From then on he begins his work to love and to save God’s people.
Jesus remains steadfastly God’s Son who is called to set us free from that which steals life from us.
In Christ we receive life again and again.
In other words… he forever has our backs.
He will not let go.
On Ash Wednesday I spoke about what it means to be blessed and how we are to give blessings to each other.
On this day may you be blessed by the assurance of Jesus’ presence.
To have faith means that we believe in the One who loves us and who fights temptation for us.
Think about that we have someone in our corner who has faced the same kinds of struggles that we face, the same kinds of temptations and who works to help us to get over, through, and around these struggles.
Faith gives us clarity and having faith helps us to see the light when the light has been turned off.
This coming week know that the Lord knows better than us and he will show us the way.
The one who loves us and calls us his own walks with us and guides us in life.
What temptations, trials, or challenges are you facing now?
Can you find hope?
Is there any hope to be found at this time?
In Christ there is always hope.
Have a little faith.