The pattern of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism teaches a powerful truth: mastering God’s Word protects me when the devil distorts it to trick me.
Jesus’ temptation by the devil is anticipated and intentional. The Holy Spirit led Jesus toward the temptations He faced, likely for our benefit. The choice of a lonely place is also intentional. Jesus was isolated, much like we will be when the devil tempts us.
Temptation is the use of a trick to lure a person a way from following God. The devil tempts both Christians and non-Christians. Temptation is more useful for him than a direct approach. Most would see the futility of following the devil if he came right out and said, “Dump the Father and follow me, instead.” So, he cleverly tempts through our vulnerabilities. He targets vulnerable Christians who lack mastery of God’s word, but highly value Scripture. He manipulates this combination into tricky temptations.
Mastery describes immersing ourselves in Scripture until we know its contents and understand the heart of God. It means storing God’s word in our hearts so God may constantly use it to speak to and guide us. Finally, mastery includes adjusting our lives to our knowledge of God. Knowing His ways and following Him is the best protection we have against the devil’s schemes.
The story of Jesus’ baptism calls Christians to abandon gray areas of unclear, indistinct, half-hearted, casual Christianity and to pursue every step to righteousness.
In the story, Jesus gives some potent instruction both with His words and His actions. He teaches that every step matters in the pursuit of righteousness. The story reveals itself to be about more than baptism. It’s about Jesus pursuing a life purpose: fulfilling all righteousness. His words, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” reveal His intentions. Jesus traveled over 80 miles, likely on foot, to fulfill this one piece of righteousness. How far would we go?
Evidently, Jesus wants each of us to go all the way in our pursuit of righteousness, too, not half or most of the way. He helps us discover that righteousness requires certain things along the way. It isn’t just what we choose; there’s a plan.
Great Commission Christians live the story of Jesus baptism and its principles in their own life by following the common steps and the personal steps to righteousness described by Scripture. Then, they reproduce Jesus’ story in others by teaching them His principles and guiding them along the way toward righteousness, too.
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I made a commitment long ago to allow God veto power over my preaching, no matter how thoroughly I had prepared. On this particular Sunday, God used that power. As I prayed before the worship service, God began speaking to me about preaching something other than what I had prepared. Initially, I dismissed the Spirit's impression. But, it remained, and I heeded God's call. I had been praying through materials I have collected in a special prayer notebook that's all about me and my ministry. I had never shared much out of that notebook until this day. It contains prayers I've written, quotes I've collected, and Scripture God has used to give me direction along my path. In this message, I share a portion of that journey, recorded in that prayer notebook. I hope you'll be blessed. I don't know what agenda God was pursuing. I just know my part was to be faithful.
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After salvation and baptism, Jesus describes the church engaging a process with new believers that leaves them permanently possessing an understanding of what Jesus wants them to be and do. But, there's more. Jesus also describes enabling young believers to intentionally follow the life Jesus prepared for them. The church imparts and enables young believers by "teaching them to obey all I have commanded you." That means every believer must become a pupil of Jesus commands, an expert about Jesus' commands, a practitioner of Jesus' commands, and a promoter of Jesus' commands. When we practice this process in own life, we don't experience an event. Instead, we become part of a movement. Soon, we'll find ourselves making disciples that make disciples that make disciples.
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I love to preach and teach, and it's exciting to share God's Word with you here. I pray that you'll not only listen but do something different with life after encountering God.
I'd love to preach for your church family or speak at a special event, retreat, conference, or workshop. The buttons below explain what I can do and how to take the next steps. It's a privilege to encourage and challenge God's people.
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