First United Methodist Church of Oak Park
First Sunday of Lent
Sermon Series: Transformed to be Transforming**
“Setting Goals by Faith”
March 6, 2022
Rev. Adonna D. Reid
Luke 4: 1-13
The Temptation of Jesus
4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 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. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”
5 Then the devil[a] led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil[b] 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. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil[c] took him 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, 10 for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’
‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
We are in Lent, a time of spiritual preparation, reflection, introspection as we prepare to receive the great gift of God’s mercy demonstrated in the suffering, death, and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus commemorated on Easter.
During the next 40 days we are going to follow up on the theme that was lifted last Sunday on the day we commemorated Jesus’ transfiguration and that is “change.” We typically think of the Lenten season as a time to give up something, or adopt something that is going to make us remember Jesus suffering, his temptation as we read about in today’s passage.
I am going to challenge us to use this time to adopt practices that will transform your life for good, for good.
A quick search on the internet reveals that it takes on average, 66 days for a new habit to form and become second nature. After 40 days we are well on our way. A key scripture we will come back to as a guiding principal on this journey to transformation will be Romans 12: 2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We can choose to either be conformed or transformed. We will be talking about several key areas of life to be transformed with God’s help and power with the goal of getting healthier spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally, relationally, vocationally, and we’ll also think about how we can transform our relationship with our finances too.
This series, that has been inspired by work done by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, is about our potential and possibilities in God with an eye to making the best of the rest of our lives.
Let’s start by talking about goal setting.
There are 6 reasons for being intentional about setting goals, that is-- having a target, a purpose set in your mind that you will aim and strive for.
It is a spiritual responsibility: As we note in today’s focus scripture, Jesus was able to resist the temptations put forth by the devil because he had a goal which was to love God with all his heart, soul, and might. He did not succumb to the suggestion that he would exploit his position and identity, for his own benefit, or that he would compromise with the devil and thus gain power, or that he would put God to the test with sensationalistic tactics. Another example, Paul – Philippians 3: 12-15
Goals are statements of faith and stretch our faith: We say I believe God wants me to do this in this period of time. This is born out of prayer and introspection. We should resist the temptation to declare something and just ask God to ordain it. Be humble enough to seek God’s direction in goal setting. If you have no goal, you don’t need any faith to reach it. Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” You can choose to go through life with intentionality or by drifting and simply reacting to things. With no goals, you are allowing others to determine your course or you are coasting and the only momentum to be gained there is when you are going downhill! If you don’t have goals, determining what is the most important thing like Jesus did, you will inadvertently allow others to set priorities for you, which is what the devil tried to do with Jesus. Set big goals, not based on what you think you can do, but on what you believe God can do. (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me -Philippians 4:13; Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine…Ephesians 3:20.) Get in the habit of setting big goals such that the only way you will accomplish them is with God’s power and strength. Go out on a limb – that’s where the fruit is. You won’t see God work by playing it safe, staying near the trunk of the tree. A ship will never sail staying safely docked at the shore.
Goals focus your energy: They keep you from wasting time and resources. We can’t do everything, so identify something and focus on that. None of us has time or the skill set to do everything so goals help us determine what’s most important so we have permission to let the other things go and invest our time and energy in the things that will outlast us when it is time for us to go—from a job, a relationship, from life. 1 Corinthians 9:26.
Goals keep you going. They foster hope to endure and persist; something to look forward to. Jesus looked beyond the problems and the pain to the payoff and the gain. Long-term goals help you move beyond discouragement when short term set-backs inevitably occur. We learn from our mistakes and move on. Job 6:11
Goals build character: God is more interested in our character development than our accomplishments. Besides what we actually attain, what have we learned in the process, how have we grown closer to God? How have we deepened our faith and our dependency on God? Philippians 3:12- Paul keeps pressing on towards his goal. You will not become who God wants you to be unless you first intend to be that and goals, informed by prayer, prepare that path.
Good Goals will be rewarded: on earth and in heaven. 1 Cor 9: 25-26
We can know what good goals are by asking ourselves these questions:
Will this goal honor God? Will it cause me to trust and love God more? Is it unselfish? 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 5:9
Is the goal motivated by love and not greed, jealousy, pride, ego, materialism, etc.? 1 Cor. 16:14 and 14:1
Will this goal require depending on God? Proverbs 16:9
What three things needed to meet our goals and transform our life:
We need God’s Spirit to empower us. Zechariah 4:6 (Pray for the Spirit to lead and guide.)
We need God’s Word to guide us. Joshua 1:8 (Spend time in with God through Bible study alone or with others.)
I need God’s people to support me. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (Connect with other like-minded people to help with accountability and for encouragement and support.)
Homework: start praying about and formulating goals to accomplish in the season of Lent and beyond, that we might see transformation for the good of all the settings God has placed us. With God, all things are possible. Amen
** This series has been inspired by and adapted from work done by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and is about our potential and possibilities in God with an eye to making the best of the rest of our lives. www.pastorrick.com