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Tempted... to Put God Second - 2013-02-17

Tempted... to Put God Second - 2013-02-17

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Published by John Partridge

We have calendars to keep track of important dates and activities and to help us track our priorities. God doesn't just want to be 'a' priority, he wants to be 'the' priority. God wants to be first in your life and your enemy will stop at nothing to keep that from happening...

We have calendars to keep track of important dates and activities and to help us track our priorities. God doesn't just want to be 'a' priority, he wants to be 'the' priority. God wants to be first in your life and your enemy will stop at nothing to keep that from happening...

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: John Partridge on Feb 17, 2013
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“Tempted… to Put God Second”
February 17, 2013
Deuteronomy 26:1-11Luke 4:1-13
How many of you keep a calendar so you know where you are supposed to be each day? Our familykeeps a calendar in the kitchen so we can keep track of everyone’s school activities and sports and doctor appointments. I get in trouble when I forget to put
my
stuff on the family calendar so that Patti doesn’t plan something when I am already busy doing something else. Many of us keep personal calendars or even day planners so we know when we’re supposed to be at important meetings, when projects are dueand other things. Being organized is important but this is also a way for us to begin to prioritize, torecognize which things are most important and which are not. My family is important when I make myschedule. I have told many church leaders that I will try to be at church meetings as often as I can, but if that meeting conflicts with a band concert or a sporting event that our kids are in, then you can plan that Iwon’t be there. Our kids come first as often as possible and I know that many of you made those samekinds of choices when your children were in school. We make our children, and our families, a priorityin our lives. We make a conscious choice to put our family ahead of work and other things. But take alook at your calendar. Do you have
God
anywhere on the schedule? I don’t mean just on Sundaymorning, but what about time to meet together, to talk, to study, perhaps even to sit quietly and listen? Itisn’t something I am always good at doing even though I have done so in the past and even though Iknow how important it is and how meaningful it can be.One of the recurring themes of scripture is that God does not want to be second place… to anything inyour life. He doesn’t just want to be “a” priority; God wants to be “the” priority in your life. Over andover in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua and many others, God describes himself as a jealous God. Hewill not take second place in your life.In
Luke 4:1-13
Jesus goes out into the wilderness to fast and to pray and to spend time, forty days, withGod. Satan meets him there, not on day one when he is fresh and strong, but at the end of those dayswhen Jesus was hungry and when his strength was at its lowest…
4:1
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2
where for  forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he washungry.
3
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4
 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
5
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8
 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
1
 
9
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Sonof God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.
10
 For it is written:“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
11
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
12
 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
First, Satan tries to play on Jesus’ weakness and hunger. After forty days in the desert without food, hetells Jesus that he should just make some food out of the stones at his feet. But Jesus knows that that thechoice is not between food and hunger but between what is temporary and what is lasting. If Jesus eatstoday he will be hungry again tomorrow, but if he eats today he will have failed in spending the time withGod that he had intended. Satan offers Jesus nothing but a temporary moment of fullness whileattempting to take away a lasting closeness between Jesus and his Father in heaven.Jesus chooses to keep God first. Next, Satan tempts Jesus to bow down to him and claim power over a handful of earthly kingdoms. Jesusknows that the choice is not between power over human kingdoms and poverty, but between beingcontent with what God chooses to give and trying to take what does not yet belong to him. Jesus knowsthat God is the king of the universe for all eternity and that he will give all authority over the Earth, thesun, moon and stars over to whomever he wishes while Satan has power only over the affairs of humanity, only for a limited time, and only because he has God’s permission.Jesus chooses to keep God first.Finally, Satan takes Jesus to the highest part of the Temple and challenges him to prove that he is theMessiah by forcing God to care for him and protect him as God had promised in scripture. Jesus knewwho he was. Jesus knew who had called him and Jesus knew that he had nothing to gain by provinganything to anybody, on earth or in the heavenly realms. Jesus knew that God was working out theevents of his life in order to accomplish what was best for all of humanity and Jesus trusted that Godknew what he was doing.Jesus chooses to keep God first.In
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
, the people of God are told that when they have entered into the PromisedLand, they are to give thanks to God, but the way that they are to give thanks is challenging...
26:1
When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it,
2
take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of theland the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name
3
and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.”
4
The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God.
5
Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into
2
 
 Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.
 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor.
Then we cried out to the Lord,the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression.
8
So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders.
9
 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey;
10
and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him.
11
Then you and the Levites and the foreignersresiding among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
As the people of Israel enter into the Promised Land they are about to experience a gigantic shift in their financial status. For forty years they have wandered the desert with only the belongings that their parentscould carry with them when they fled Egypt and their lives of servitude. Suddenly they will be living inhouses they did not build, tending farms on land they didn’t clear, drinking water from wells they didn’tdig, and harvesting crops they didn’t even plant. They shift from poverty stricken nomads who own littlemore than the clothes on their backs and become landowners, farmers, and shop-keepers. As they makethis shift, God reminds them to remember where they came from, that their father, Abraham, was just awandering Aramean, a nomad who had left his homeland with nothing more than a promise that Godwould bless him, and his family, for generations to come. God reminds them that they had spenthundreds of years in captivity in Egypt and were rescued by the hand of God. As they arrive in this new,rich land, God asks that they trust him with the future as they remember the past. God ask the people to bring him the firstfruits of the soil.Giving the firstfruits is a leap of faith. Giving the firstfruits is a leap of trust. Giving the firstfruits deniesthe possibility of putting God in second place. All this because giving the firstfruits is more than givingthanks to God. Giving the firstfruits is more than just giving a tithe or a gift, or an offering. Giving thefirstfruits means giving to God the very first of what the land has produced… even before there is evenan estimate of what the harvest will be like. Giving the firstfruits means harvesting grain and giving Godthe first pass through the field. It means giving God the first of the new wine, before all of the grapeshave even finished ripening. Giving the firstfruits means giving thanks,
before
the blessing has beengiven.This is the opposite of the way we pay our taxes. At the end of the year we add up all the money we haveearned, or have been given, or have received in interest and only then do we calculate a percentage thatwe return to the government (taxes are clearly not a gift of thanksgiving to our government). Instead, ingiving firstfruits, the people bring gifts to God
in anticipation
of the blessings and gifts that God willgive in the days ahead. Since most of us are not farmers, the closest that we can come is to write a check at the beginning of the year as a gift to God in anticipation that the year will be good. Most of us cannotafford to do such a thing, but what many people do is this: When you sit down to pay your bills at the endof each month, the first check that you write should be your thanksgiving to God (how you choose togive that is up to you) and then, after your gift to God, then pay the rest of your bills, trusting God, thathe will provide. Now, obviously, there is a certain amount of wisdom needed to do this. One simplycannot write a check for everything we own and presume that God will magically multiply our bank account so that we can pay our bills, but on the other hand, God promises to bless us when we trust him.When Patti and I were first married we owed some significant debts and had some significant bills to pay but we decided from the beginning, that we would put God first. In doing this each month, there were3

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