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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

First Sunday In Lent
Series C

Option #1: "Defeating the Oldest Enemy"
Luke 4:1-13
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

Introduction: We live in a different world from that of just 15 years ago. Today’s military must adapt to a new enemy--one who employs rubber boats and motor vehicles for suicide attacks. Christians recognize that the most difficult attacks to repulse are the indirect ones, the kind Satan used against the Lord Jesus in the Wilderness. Jesus is our Combat Instructor in DEFEATING THE OLDEST ENEMY:

I. By recognizing his tactics

A. Deception, aka "disinformation" today

1. He is a liar and the father of lies, as Jesus told us in John 8:44

2. He is a murderer--his lies are designed to kill--John 8:44. Martin Luther writes: "If we must live on earth, then we must realize that we are guests in a hotel with a scoundrel as a host who has a sign over his door that reads 'The House of Murder and the House of Lies.' Christ himself has said that Satan is a murderer for killing the body, a liar for misleading the soul. That is the devil's trade and work; that is the way that he keeps house."

B. He will even use us the truth for his own purpose, as long as he can distort it, e.g. "You trust God, so trust Him to the max!"

Transition: Jesus shows by His example that God's children must know the Scripture so that they may use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17). Jesus guides us in Defeating The Oldest Enemy:

II. By swinging the sword of the Spirit

A. He could have used His power as God, but He didn't. In His humiliation "He did not always and fully use the divine attributes communicated to His human nature."

B. He learned God's Word as a child--Lk 2:46-47

C. His combat tactic in the Desert Temptation: the Word of God--readily available also to you and me today, as in Eph 6:17, Heb 4:12, Rev 1:16, Rev 2:12, Rev 2:16

Notes: Adam Clarke writes about this "Sword of the Spirit" which Christians must use today: The sword of which St. Paul speaks is, as he explains it, the Word of God; that is, the revelation which God has given of himself, or what we call the Holy Scriptures. This is called the sword of the Spirit because it comes from the Holy Spirit and receives its fulfillment in the soul through the operation of the Holy Spirit. An ability to quote this on proper occasions and especially in times of temptation and trial has a wonderful tendency to cut in pieces the snares of the adversary.

In God's Word a genuine Christian may have unlimited confidence, and to every purpose to which it is applicable it may be brought with the greatest effect. The shield, faith, and the sword--the word of God, or faith in God's unchangeable word--are the principal armor of the soul. He in whom the word of God dwells richly and who has that faith by which he knows that he has redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, need not fear the power of any adversary. He stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free. And Martin Luther has written: "I have read that a man who could have no peace because of the devil made the sign of the cross on his chest and said 'The Word was made flesh,' which was to say 'I am a Christian.' Then the devil was defeated and chased away, and the man had peace. And I believe that it is true if the man spoke these words from a believing heart. One does not gain much ground against the devil with a lengthy disputation but with brief words, such as 'I am a Christian, of the same flesh and blood as is my Lord Christ, the Son of God. Settle your account with Him.' Then the devil does not stay long" (From a Sermon on John 1:14).

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Children's Message 

Visual aid:  a Bible

It wasn’t long ago that we were thinking of Jesus as a little child, lying in the manger on the night of His birth. Then the Magi came when He was a little older. After that, we don’t know anything about Jesus the child until he is 12 years old. In between those two times, we know that He must have been very good at learning God’s Word. When having a conversation with the leaders of the Temple, He amazed them by how much He had learned at such a young age.

In today’s Gospel, we find out how very important that was for Jesus. Right at the beginning of His work for us as our Savior, He spends 40 days in the desert where the Devil tempted him. Do you know what it means to be tempted? It means that someone is telling you to do something wrong instead of obeying God. Ever been tempted to steal something? Or to hurt someone? Or to damage someone’s property? Then you know what it means to be tempted.

Jesus is God and a real human being in the same Man. I want you to listen carefully in today’s message about what the Devil tempted Jesus to do. What I want you to understand now is how Jesus won over temptation. He could have used His power as God, but He didn’t. He used a power that is available to you and me. He used the Word of God.

The Bible says that God’s Word is like a sword. They didn’t have guns in Jesus’ time, so the sword was their best weapon. The Word of God doesn't look like a sword, but it is. It is a weapon so powerful that the Devil can’t stand up against it. That’s why in the future you will be memorizing some Bible verses and, when you get to Confirmation class, you will be memorizing parts of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. We want you to be ready to swing the Spirit’s sword when you are tempted.  It is for your own safety that you will be memorizing God's Word. 

Learn as much of God’s Word as you can now, because you never known when you will be tempted by the Devil. "DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!"

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Option #2: "Giving Up And Back For Lent"
Deuteronomy 26:5-10
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: in thanksgiving for God's gifts to us, we offer back to Him the firstfruits of His creation
The Problem: considering God's gifts to us as a right, as our own, abusing and mis-using them
The Promise: God's ultimate gifts to us, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, provide forgiveness and inspire and empower a heavenly return policy (c; 
Pride is a useful tool, but it has two edges. It can make the weak strong, but it can make the proud arrogant. Pride needs humility as a counter-balance; humility tempers pride with reality.

This passage from Deuteronomy is part of the harvest liturgy. The Law instructed an Israelite to take various produce at the beginning of the harvest (the "first fruits") and present the produce to the Lord at his dwelling (i.e., the Temple). After the priest received the produce and placed it on the altar [4], the farmer who offered it would recite the creedal formula of 26:5-10. Then the priest and the farmer's family would sit down to feast on the produce.

The creedal formula emphasized the nation's humble origin and the graciousness of its God. God took an alien tribe, made them fertile [5], freed them [6-8], and gave them a land "flowing with milk and honey" [9]. At the end of this formula, the farmer reciprocated God's goodness with his offering [9] and a bow of worship [10]. On the lips of the farmer, the history of the nation and the power of its God were remembered.

Why was this ceremony important? The farmers of Israel were notorious for the "Sunday with God, Monday with my buddies" syndrome. On the Sabbath they would worship the God of Israel at the Temple; during the week, they would offer personal sacrifice to the fertility idols of their pagan neighbors. Split loyalties meant shallow faith, or no faith at all. The ceremony of the first fruits denied the fertility idols of such an honor, it focused farmer's attention on God's power, and it reminded the farmer of his humble roots. Israeli patriotism was exercised as loyalty to and humility before God. (Larry Broding)

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:34 PM