Bailey Brawner, a friend of mine and a United Methodist Church Pastor, put this tweet out yesterday that created pause to reflect and it continued as I sat from my own church listening to the sermon over Jesus being tempted.
“If we can remember to love God and love our neighbor, we are set.”
Her sermon from today is a GEM – read it here.
And, here it is the story of Jesus in the wilderness
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. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “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, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only God.’”
Then the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘God will command God’s angels concerning you, to protect you,’and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
– Luke 4:1-13
Prior to the sermon this morning in our church we read Paul from Romans 10:8-13. And, what I heard was our faith is a matter of the heart.
Paul shares “it is within your heart that you believe and are justified” (NIV) This text makes me reflect on the faithfulness of Jesus’ heart as he stood depleted and ready, I would imagine, to leave the wilderness he had been navigating with a massive annoyance of temptation. He boldly declared you’re not using this scripture against me because the righteousness of God exists within my heart. And, God alone is where my faithfulness lies.
10 Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation (CEB)
Jesus trusted the heart of God and confessed that God was the root of salvation – there is no need for Jesus to dive into miracles and money moves – the simplicity of our faith is where it exists … within us.
The good news of the Gospel is that the heart of our spirit holds within it a directional compass. And because Jesus spoke truth to power in his temptation – a good word to carry forward is that our faith can be redemptive, ever-changing, evolving and the source of our nourishment in our wilderness.
If to serve God is to abide by the heart in our faith of loving God, our neighbors and our communities – the news is good and very accessible.
In Proverbs 4:23 we’re told “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Our faith flows from our heart. Our prompts to move, listen, ask questions and engage flow from the heart of the spirit which lies within each one of us.
Maybe in our current state of affairs we protect our hearts from mixed messages, foretold ways to believe and practice, so that we can allow our hearts to be the gateway to seeing ourselves anew, our world differently and engaging with God on a deeper level for the collective.
I’m pulling on the threads of my heart so I can assess what is of God and what is of the people around me.
My leaving thought for today is to dive into the matters of the heart.