Overcoming Sin And Temptation During Lent

CALL TO WORSHIP: Jesus said: ‘The right time has come, and the Kingdom of God is near!’ Lord, we turn away from our sins; we believe the Good News!

Lord, as we come to worship You, we lift up our hearts to You. We put our trust in You, For You are our helper, now and always.

Show us Your ways, and Your paths. We put our trust in You, for You are our teacher, now and always.

Remember Your mercy and strong love, We put our trust in You, for You are the God who saves us, Now and always. Amen

HYMN 236: FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS -StF.

PRAYER OF ADORATION:  As we come before God with our prayers of praise, let us think of Jesus coming to be Baptised. We can imagine the water, lapping about His feet and legs as He enters the river. He allows John to dip His head below the surface. Then He emerges from the water, the droplets sparkling in the sunlight.

Let us pray.

Gracious God, Your love has surrounded us since before the world began. Your Spirit hovered over the water, the dark waters of creation. You spoke, and everything came into being. You made a place for us to live, and plants and creatures to share our home. You send water to make everything grow, including us.

Lord, all life comes from You, We praise You for Your living water.

Gracious God, Your love has surrounded us since before we were born. It has cradled us as we rested inside our mothers, and was there when we emerged into the light. It was there as somebody washed and dried us for the very first time, even though we don’t remember it. Your love has lapped around us, holding and supporting us, even before we were able to know it, or to respond.

Lord, all life comes from You, We praise You for Your living water.

Gracious God, Your love has surrounded us throughout human history. There are times when we see this very clearly. We see it most of all when we look at Jesus. He became part of our world, was born in the same way as us, and was baptised in the Jordan. He didn’t need to do this because He had done wrong; He did it to share in our lives; so that when we dip down under the water, we know that He did this too.

Lord, all life comes from You, We praise You for Your living water.

Gracious God, Your love is with us now, and our hearts are full of joy. May our praise and worship sparkle like the droplets shaken off the hair of Jesus when He came out of the water.

Lord, all life comes from You, We praise You for Your living water. Amen

TALK FOR ALL: TEMPTATION (MARK 1: 9-15)

Can you think of a time that you had to share – or maybe take turns – at something that you really didn’t want to?

It’s hard, isn’t it? Especially when you’re right in the middle of something special – it’s tempting to be selfish and keep those things for ourselves.

Or did you ever see something you wanted so bad that you thought about taking it – even though it didn’t belong to you? That can be tempting too.

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus is tempted.

A temptation is something that we want – but that we know isn’t right or good for us.

It might be tempting to eat only ice cream and candy – but we know it wouldn’t be good for our bodies, right? It might be tempting to take something that isn’t ours – or to be selfish in the way we act toward others – but we know those things are wrong.

Being a Christian isn’t always easy, is it?

Sometimes it means making the choice to do what is right instead of giving in to our temptations. It can be hard to avoid temptation – but Jesus did it. And you can too.

So watch out this week and remember that what we want to do and what we ought to do are sometimes two different things. Avoiding temptation means making good choices. But you can do it!

Can we pray?

Dear God, The world is full of temptations. Give us the strength to make good choices during the week ahead. Amen

HYMN 6: FATHER WE LOVE YOU – HP

PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING: Loving Lord, today in our reading we hear how Jesus went into the desert and was tempted, but did not do anything wrong. We come now to tell you that we are sorry, because we often let temptation get the better of us.

Instead of using Your word to arm us against temptation, we put it on one side so that it won’t make us feel guilty. We close our eyes and ears to what You want us to do, and go our own way.

We use our skills and gifts in ways that don’t please You. Forgive us, Lord, for all the ways in which we give in to temptation.

Hear what the Bible says: Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.

Thank You Lord for this forgiveness offered to us in Jesus. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and help us to listen to Your voice within so that we may be strengthened for daily living. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen

READINGS: MARK 1: 28-39

HYMN 235- CHRIST OUR REDEEMER KNEW TEMPTATION’S HOUR- StF

SERMON:  OVERCOMING SIN AND TEMPTATION DURING LENT- PRAYER, FASTING AND ALMSGIVING

On Wednesday we began the season of Lent which is our preparation for the Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. It is a time in imitation of Jesus spending forty days in the desert. Jesus fasted in the desert, and overcame the devil’s temptations. Jesus never sinned but in the desert he was tempted, and during these forty days of Lent we remember Jesus in the desert as we try to overcome temptation in our lives and to overcome sinfulness.

There is practically no hiding place or shelter in the desert and the difficulties of the desert make whatever is inside a person come to the surface. The desert tests and shows up a person as he/she is. Lent is an invitation to us to take the courageous step of “going into the desert” and not hiding from what lies hidden deep within us. Lent is a time to put our souls before a mirror and see ourselves as we really are. Lent is an invitation to allow our sin and darkness and wounds come to the surface so that we can deal with them and allow them to be healed by the grace of Jesus.  During these forty days of Lent, we do not hide from our sinfulness or prevent God speaking to us or healing us during this Lent. It is only when we admit something that we can deal with it. The first stage in overcoming anything is to admit the problem. If we remain in denial we miss out on the grace of God to heal us and renew us and make us whole.

During Lent we say no to the devil’s temptations to continue committing sin, and instead we trust in our heavenly Father like Jesus in the desert. The words of Jesus can be our words this Lent,  “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4) Lent is not only about helping others, about doing something, it is also very much about the type of person we are.

Since the early centuries the Church has suggested three things that we undertake during Lent - prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is for this reason that the Gospel text for Ash Wednesday every year is Jesus’ advice on prayer, fasting and almsgiving (Matt 6:1-6, 16-18). During Lent we want to pray more, fast and help the poor.

Lent is a time for more prayer. We live busy lives and there is much emphasis on enjoying life but a life without prayer is a life without the joy of the presence of God. If we do not pray we are not Christians at full potential; we are only walking when we could be flying. Martha was busy serving when Jesus came but Mary spent time with him and Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) Lent is not only about helping others and doing something, it is also very much about the type of person that we are. We pray because all goodness comes from God and when we pray we touch God. There is a difference between a do-gooder and a Christian. A Christian is a do-gooder who also prays. God is our loving Father who greatly desires us to allow him close to us, so we pray more this Lent to experience more of the joy of know God our Father.

Fasting is a penance the Church encourages us to undertake during Lent. From the spiritual point of view, fasting symbolizes our dependence on God. It expresses the fact that we really are trying to put God first in our life. The Bible tells us that fasting from food must go together with fasting from violence and fasting from oppressing people (Isa 58:3-12). In other words, when we fast from food it is to be accompanied by a loving and forgiving attitude towards others. We could say that fasting from food in itself is not what is important, it is what the fasting symbolizes that really matters. So to fast in a way that is genuinely pleasing to God, can we make an effort to forgive those who have hurt us and not harbour resentment any longer? Why do we need to keep up grudges? Is it merely because we like to be in control? Perhaps to forgive, we also need to give up our need to dominate and control others. If we have a problem forgiving someone, we can share it with the Lord and ask his help and grace so that we may forgive. While we may not forget we certainly do not want to live being dominated by past wounds. We want to live in the present free of the past.

For almsgiving or helping the poor, the Church makes it easy for us by giving us the opportunity to contribute to Methodist aid agencies. Helping the poor during Lent brings the words of Jesus to mind, “Whatever you did to one of the least of these you did to me.” (Matt 25:45)

The word “Lent” is an old English word which means “springtime.” May this Lent really be a new springtime in the lives of each of us. Through prayer, through fasting from food accompanied by forgiving others and not bearing grudges, and through donating from our surplus to help the poor, may we like Jesus in the desert for forty days overcome temptation and thus be well prepared to celebrate Easter.

HYMN 240: WHEN WE ARE TESTED AND WRESTLE ALONE– StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION: God knows our needs before we ask; He knows what our lives are like before we tell Him about them. He knows whether we are going through Good times or bad, highs or lows.

The rainbow is a sign of sunshine after rain. It reminds us of God’s promise and his faithfulness. Offer to God your own situation, and anything else that concerns you.

Imagine a picture of a rainbow, to remind you that God is with us in the rain, and in the sunshine that comes afterwards.

Lord, You know the concerns that have been on our hearts. We offer them all to You now. May Your rainbow keep reminding us of Your ever-present and never-failing love. Amen

HYMN 238: LEAD US, HEAVENLY FATHER LEAD US  -StF

BLESSINGS: Lord, You were with Jesus at the high points of His life and at the low points as well. As we go, help us to be strong in the knowledge that You always go with us. And may the Blessings of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you and remain with you always. Amen