Summary: Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting before He actually began HIs earthly ministry. How important is fasting in the church today?

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January 15, 2012

Morning Worship

Text: Matthew 4:1-11

Subject: The Temptation of Jesus

Title: Let’s Get Started – The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry

Last week I shared with you about John the Baptist and how he came to prepare us for the coming ministry of Jesus. My focus was not just the salvation that Jesus has offered to all by His work on Calvary, but also every word He uttered and every miracle He worked that is evidence of the fact that the Kingdom of God is at hand. As a matter of fact, everything that we read in the gospels after hearing what John’s message was, has to be understood in the light of his message. 1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. And we know that John wasn’t just talking about turning away from sin, but changing the way you think. And if the kingdom of heaven, which is spiritual, has now come to earth, then it somehow has to manifest itself in the natural realm. That was the intent of Jesus’ statement in John 14:11-12 when he said, 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Everything that we read in the bible subsequent to John’s message has real meaning for every believer.

Today I want to look at Jesus’ temptation in the desert and understand the implications that this part of Jesus’ life has for believers today.

Here are the things that we know about Jesus that got Him to this point.

1. He was born of a woman just as we were…

2. He was baptized in water in order to identify with our sin…

3. He was filled with Holy Ghost power in the same way God wants us to be…

4. And now He is going to the desert to fast and prayer and confirm through revelation from God what His purpose is to be.

Let’s read God’s word and ask Him to bless us today…

Matthew 4:1-11.

Lord, I believe this is Your word…

I believe it is for me…

I accept it as mine…

And I appropriate it to my life today…

I. THE PURPOSE OF FASTING… 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. I wondered about fasting and the importance of fasting for us, and as I looked in the bible I found three instances where someone fasted for forty days – Jesus, Moses and Elijah. As I studied I asked myself this question, “What was the purpose of the fast?” In Exodus 34:28, Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. 1 Kings 19:7-11, 7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” You know the rest of the story… There was a great wind and the Lord wasn’t in the wind… there was an earthquake but the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake, but when Elijah heard the voice he knew it was God. In each case of these prolonged fasts, God gave the participants revelation of Himself. So it is only logical – not just in a natural sense but also in a spiritual sense – that Jesus went out to the desert to fast so He could receive revelation from God. Now this fasting was not something that Jesus just decided to do on His own. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert… I told you last week that it was commonly thought in those times that the desert was a place where evil spirits lived. And yet Jesus, being led by the Spirit, is going there to fast and pray and to be tempted by the devil. Why in the world would the spirit of God lead His Son out to be tempted by satan? Was it to see if Jesus would give in to sin? No, it was to show the world that He wouldn’t and thus would later become that perfect sacrifice that would take away the sin of all humanity. So as Jesus was fasting and seeking revelation from God, the devil was tempting Him. Now we only see that Jesus was tempted at the end of His forty days, but the truth is that the most difficult time in fasting is in the first three days. During that time the one who is fasting will often experience fatigue, dizziness, headaches and nausea, until the body becomes adjusted to the changes. It is during that time when the devil will attack in an effort to get you to stop. He doesn’t want you to receive revelation from God. He surely did the same then. Listen to me on this – never put yourself in a position to be tempted unless you are led by the Spirit. If you have had a drinking problem then you better be sure it is God leading you to go and witness to people in a tavern. And it would be a good idea to fast before you go.

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