March 2023 Newsletter

Temptation Apps

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. Luke 4:1-2 Note: This article on the lessons we can learn from how Jesus dealt with the temptationshe faced in the wilderness, is part of this year’s Lenten theme of “Jesus in the Wild,” based on Dan Wilt’s book. Jesus certainly understood human temptations and the connection between personal habits and quality of life, which is why he watched his behavior closely during his 40 days in the wilderness. He made a set of choices that can become good habits for us and change our lives for the better. Although Jesus didn’t write a program for our smartphones, he did give guidelines and social support for resisting temptation that we can think of as apps to remember and to use in our times of temptation. First, there’s the Trust God, not Self app. Luke tells us that Jesus was tempted for 40 days by the devil, and during that period Jesus ate nothing. When those days were over, “he was famished” (Luke 4:2). The devil says to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread” (Luke 4:3). Notice that the devil is making a reasonable request here: Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God. He certainly has the power to turn stones into bread. He is famished, and a loaf of bread would give him energy to keep on serving God. Also, the idea of bread in the wilderness has a nice ring to it, since that’s what God provided to the people of Israel through the gift of manna. But Jesus says no, because he’s in the habit of trusting God, not himself. If he performs this miracle, he will be serving his own needs instead of allowing God to provide for him. So, he responds to the devil by quoting a line from the book of Deuteronomy, the same verse that reminds the Israelites that God provided them with bread in the wilderness: “One does not live by bread alone” (Deut. 8:3). Instead, we are to live by trusting what God says and does. Second, there’s the Serve Only God app. In the second temptation, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. The tempter says, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you … will worship me, it will all be yours” (Luke 4:5-7). This, too, is a reasonable offer. Think of all the good Jesus could do if he had authority over the kingdoms of the world. With a single command, he could eliminate poverty, disease, hunger, injustice, violence, and abuse. But there’s a catch: Jesus must worship the devil. For Jesus, such a price is too high, even if great good can be accomplished in the world. Jesus quotes the book of Deuteronomy once again, saying, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him” (Deut. 6:13, 10:20). This app is a tough one for us, because we’re asked to make compromises every day. Do we work overtime to make extra money, or go home at a normal hour to spend time with our family? Do we save money by buying products manufactured in countries where workers are exploited, or do we pay a little more for American-made goods? Do we push for better environmental standards, even when protecting the environment will hinder certain industries? These are tough choices, as none of them breaks down into good versus evil, God versus the devil. But what Jesus is asking us to do is to serve God ahead of ourselves – focusing on God’s interests instead of our own successes. Jesus could have had great earthly success if he had worshiped the devil, but instead he chose to focus on serving God in all things. If we apply ourselves to serving only God, we will find a faithful path through these challenges. Pastor Paul We can do the same by turning to God in prayer when we are confronted by a choice between overtime and family time. We can commit ourselves to loving our neighbors as ourselves, and being more concerned for their wellbeing before we purchase a particular item. We can take seriously our role as stewards of God’s creation when we take stands on the economy and the environment, knowing that God wants us both to use and to preserve the resources of the earth. If we apply ourselves to serving only God, we will find a faithful path through these challenges. Finally, there’s the Do Not Put God to the Test app. In his last temptation, the devil takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and invites him to throw himself down, trusting the promise of Psalm 91:11-12, “His angels … will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” After hearing Jesus use Scripture in his previous responses, the devil is clever enough to use God’s Word as part of his own temptation. But once again Jesus resists, going back to Deuteronomy to find the words, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deut. 6:16). Jesus trusts the power of God to save him, but he is not going to tell God when and how to do it. Even at the end of his life, he does not ask God to rush in and rescue him from the cross. Even so, the promise of Scripture comes true for Jesus, as God raises him from death to life everlasting. If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit we have all put God to the test. Often, we bargain with God, making promises in

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Wonder Full World Women’s Retreat Planned for End of March

Sugar Creek Women’s RetreatWonder Full World Retreat Saturday, March 258:30 AM—6:30 PMAt the Midwest Mission Distribution Center The Wonder Full World retreat will feature worship, Bible study, travel-themed activities, time for relaxing or games, and time to bond with other ladies on our adventure. There will be lunch, snacks, and dinner to be shared with an international flair. Join us as we travel to the seven continents and explore God’s Wonder Full World and the wonders of a woman’s heart such as “I wonder if I matter to God” or “I wonder where God is when life is hard.” More information to come soon!

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The Jesus Film Comes to Sugar Creek

This is a wonderful and poignant film based on the life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke. It is solid in its content and contains a straightforward telling of the life of Jesus, beginning with the creation of Adam from the Earth to the story of Abraham and the prophecy of the coming Messiah to the time of Jesus’ birth to Jesus’ appearance to be baptized by John and onward to the crucifixion and resurrection. FREE movie • FREE popcorn • FREE child care

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Following Jesus in the Wild

What is the meaning within the remarkable scene in Luke 4:1–14 of Jesus being challenged by the devil in the “wild”—the untamed and unruly wilderness? And what are the surprising implications of this event for followers of Jesus today? In Jesus in the Wild you’ll take a forty-day journey into the heart of one of the most unusual, and often most misunderstood, stories in the Gospel accounts. In this encounter, following his baptism in the Jordan and before the inauguration of his ministry, Jesus is alone with the adversary—the one whose works he had come to destroy (1 John 3:8). He faces three tests, or “temptations”—all aimed at unseating him from his identity, his belovedness, and his purpose as the Son of God. Understanding how Jesus faced down the accuser in the wild, you and I will be equipped to address every demonic challenge that comes our way in the wild places in our own lives. The Wednesday hybrid 9:00am small group meets in-person and via Zoom, or you may attend the in-person small group during Dessert First Wednesdays.

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Albright Leading a Spiritual Journey Through Lent

This small group will meet in-person at 6:30 PM in the north wing conference room of Adventure Highway. Make sure to come early at 6:00 PM for the Dessert First Wednesday fellowship. Explore the main texts in all four Gospels and in Paul’s writings that deal specifically with the last week of Jesus’ life and with the resurrection. Every one of the four Gospel writers has a reason for writing. Each wants his audience to come to see who Jesus Christ is and what God is doing in and through him. For this study, Paul is also crucial. He is the first of the New Testament writers to mention the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. All of his work predates any of the four Gospels. Paul is the only writer that we know for certain was a witness of the resurrected Christ so he has a special place in the discussion of Holy Week and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We invite you to listen and respond to five stories of the One Story, over five sessions. Join us on this spiritual journey through Holy Week.

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28-Day Prayer Adventure Coming in May

Break through the walls of your prayer life and discover miraculous new possibilities. Dynamite Prayer is a 28-day prayer adventure that will show you how to begin a practice of “breakthrough prayer,” a way of praying where we ask God to open new doors and reveal new possibilities, fueled by the Spirit’s power. This 28-day adventure will take you from feeling stuck, overwhelmed, and uninspired to curious and expectant as you surrender your own preferences and ideas and courageously follow the miracles God brings into your life.

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