Pastor Miles opened today's message by relating a story he once saw on ESPN in which a boy with certain disabilities was part of a high school football team. He went to practices, suited up each game, but he did not usually play because of his disability. During one game when his team was far ahead, his coach asked the opposing team to allow him in the game for one play without hitting or hurting him. The defense's coach went beyond the request by instructing his team to allow the boy to get the ball and score a touchdown for his team. The coaches created a conspiracy to help the boy score and be a part of the win.
God conspires this way on your behalf. You may realize some plans God has for you, but it's important to know that He has already made preparations for you to be successful. You are not left alone. He has already told the defense to leave you unharmed and allow you to score.
In Matthew 4, Jesus has just been baptized and now faces the devil. Jesus must overcome the devil's temptation in preparation for His own ministry on earth. God put certain things in place (such as this experience) in order to prepare Jesus for His ministry and He does the same for you and me.
1. God prepared us with the Holy Spirit. Matthew 4:1-11
Being tempted by Satan after fasting for forty days in the desert was not an easy experience for Jesus. This begs a question: if we are doing God's will, aren't things supposed to be easy?
Sometimes we will accomplish things with little or no effort. But at other times, we will experience an intense battle. In these times of trial and difficulty, we are much better off with the Holy Spirit than without Him.
God has promised us joy and peace as we live with Him, but He has not promised us comfort. Pastor Miles compared life with the Holy Spirit to a roller coaster ride. It can be intense and sometimes scary, but it is a thrill like none other.
2. God prepared the Bible for Jesus and us to use. Matthew 4:1-11
Every time the devil tempted Jesus, He answered with scripture, saying, "It is written " This is an example to us. Jesus is letting us know that no matter the temptation or situation, the Bible has the answers.
God not only gives us the Holy Spirit, but also written instruction. The word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). If you memorize verses, they will come to your mind in the midst of struggle, pain, challenge, or for encouraging others.
God may ask us to do things that are over our heads, but the answers are all in the Bible. He has given us all the information we need to succeed.
3. God prepared us with prayer as a means of communicating with Him. Luke 5:16
Prayer is a direct line in between us and God. Jesus prayed all the time. He was in constant communication with the Father. With this tight relationship, Jesus had amazing power and His purposes were clear.
But real Christianity is about a relationship with God and allowing God to guide us, heal us, and transform us.
If Jesus, the Son of God, prayed this much, how much more do we need to pray? Many people claim to be Christian, but they want Christ to be as they see Him. They don't want to be directed or asked to change in any way. But real Christianity is about a relationship with God and allowing God to guide us, heal us, and transform us.
4. God created faith as a means of relationship with Him. Romans 12:3, Hebrews 11:6
You can't have a relationship with God without faith. Faith is necessary in order for us to pray, understand the Bible, and receive salvation.
Faith is the belief of things unseen, and we all exercise faith in some form every day. We can't see oxygen, yet we trust it is there for us to breathe. We can't see gravity, but we don't leap off of buildings because we know the effect gravity will have. We can't see wind, but we see what it does and we feel it. We are sure it exists.
The greatest act of faith we exercise daily is love. When we love another person and believe we are loved in return, that is faith. Love is giving a heart to another and trusting that it won't be broken. That faith we give to people is the same faith we can use to love and trust in Jesus, who does not disappoint or hurt us. He died on cross and rose from the dead for us.
With faith in Him and His eternal Word, there is always something unknown, but there is also unlimited potential; we can receive healing, gain guidance, and move mountains. But we have to exercise it!
5. God prepared the circumstances and opportunities for us to Do Something. Galatians 4:4
You are on earth at this place and at this time in history for specific purposes, just as Jesus was born at a specific time for a specific reason. You have special experiences that are not by accident. God can use all of these circumstances and experiences to fulfill His purposes.
If you claim to be a Christian, live it. Don't be a hearer of the word but a doer. When the Spirit stirs in your heart, go! Don't just be a church-goer along for the ride. Let God do something in your life.