THE 1ST SUNDAY IN LENT AD 2022
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
"When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it,  you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there.  And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, 'I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.'  Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.
 "And you shall make response before the Lord your God, 'A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.  And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor.  Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.  And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.  And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.' And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God.  And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.
"The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness  for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.  The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."  And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.' "  And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,  and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."  And Jesus answered him, "It is written,
" 'You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.' "
 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,  for it is written,
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,'
" 'On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.' "
 And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.' "  And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Lead us not into temptation. While it goes without saying, that since the Lord Jesus gives it to us to pray, every Christian needs to be praying this petition every day. We need to pray it, because as sinners we are easily tempted. We need to pray it, because this world is full of temptation for sinners like us. We need to pray it, because there is a Tempter who is ever egging us on to give in to that temptation.
We need to pray it when times are good, because there are so many ways that we can misuse the good gifts that God gives us. The things of the world in themselves are not sinful. No, the creation is all very good as God made it. But there are many ways and chances for us to misuse that good creation, by using it in ways that God has called us not to use it. As God gives us far more than we need, how easy it is for us to take and squander it.
We need to pray, lead us not into temptation, when times are good, because it is so much easier at those times to forget about God. When everything is going well, it’s a lot easier to live as though you are your own god. When you have all that you need, when you have no problems, no worries or cares, it’s easy to think that you can get by without God. What do you need Him for? You’re getting by just fine on your own. You have all that you need, all that you want and more.
We need to pray, lead us not into temptation, when times are good, when we seem to be dotting all our “i’s” and crossing all our “t’s”, when we seem to be keeping our act together by not doing anything terribly wrong. We need to pray it, when we’re not committing any really bad sins or at least not sinning as badly as other people, because then it’s a lot easier to think that we can somehow get by without a Saviour. Yes, we need to pray it when we get it right, because it’s so much easier then, to be blinded to just how wrong we really are.
We need to pray it when times are good, because like in the Garden of Eden when everything was perfect for Adam and Eve, the Devil knows that we are ripe for the plucking. Yes, when everything is perfect, the devil doesn’t have to try too hard to convince us that we’re perfectly fine without God. It’s also a lot harder to recognize him and his lies when times are good, because none of his evil handiwork gives him away. He easily slithers up unseen beside us in the good times and quickly fills our ears and our hearts with his poisonous, “Did God really say?”
Lead us not into temptation, yes, beloved, we need to be praying this petition when times are good and even more so when they are not. Like in the days that we are going through now, where we have suffered for two years through a global pandemic only to wake up to this terrible war in Ukraine that could bring us to the brink of WWIII. Yes, we need to be praying this petition, in these days as we are hopefully bidding a fond farewell to the pandemic that has terrorized us for the last two years, only to welcome the madman Putin in Russia who is threatening the world with a Nuclear War that could bring it to an end.
Lead us not into temptation, yes, beloved, we need to be praying this petition more than ever these days, because as much as it is easy to misuse God’s good creation when times are good, how much easier it is to doubt that our good God will open up His hand and give us our food at the proper time, when we could be paying up to two dollars a litre at the gas pumps. As easy as it is to take more than we need when there’s plenty, how much easier is it to hoard more than we need when we think that we could run out. For anyone who lived through the pandemic, two words prove that point beyond all question - Toilet Paper.
Lead us not into temptation, yes, we need to be praying that in the good times, when it’s easy to think that we can get by without God, yet how much more so do we need to be praying it in times like these, when we are tempted to live and believe that we have to get by without God. Yes, we need to pray it when everything is out of control because it is so easy to be deceived into thinking that God doesn’t have it all under control. When the world seems to be falling apart it’s easy to doubt that it’s all in God’s hands.
And as much as we need to pray lead us not into temptation, when we we’ve got it all together, when we’re not falling down on our faces with our sins, or at least not falling as often, or as badly as others, how much more so do we need to pray it when we have made and just keep on making a mess of everything - when our sin is ruling us in awful terrible ways. Because as easy as it is to be tempted to think that we don’t need a Saviour when we’re doing well - how much harder it can it be to truly believe that we have One when we are just such an awful wretched mess.
Lead us not into temptation, yes, beloved, we need to pray this petition when life is like the Garden of Eden, because when life is good, we’re ripe for the plucking by the tempter who hides in the shadows caused by the beautiful sunlight. But how much more so do we need to pray it in the wilderness, where the tempter lurks all around us in darkness of trouble’s night. In Eden it’s easy to be tempted that we can be our own gods, but in the wilderness it’s even easier to be tempted to believe that we need to be our own gods.
Lead us not into temptation, yes, beloved, as we begin these Lenten days in AD 2022 with all that ’s going on in our world, in our lives and in our hearts, we need to be praying this petition, because God and God alone can keep us from falling into it, in these difficult days. Any doubt about that is put to rest by seeing the Son of God wrestling with the devil in the wilderness today. If the Son of God struggles with it all and has to wrestle down the tempter with God’s Word alone what hope do you and I have of doing it on our own in our poor sinful flesh?
None. Beloved. None at all. No, we cannot do it, which is why Christ did it for us. And that, beloved, is the good news of this day. Jesus has faced every temptation for you, including all those that you have faced, are facing and will face in these troubled times. He has faced them and overcome them all in your place for you. He spent those forty days out in the wilderness in your poor weak flesh to be tempted over and over again in all the ways that you are tempted and fall, so that He could overcome them all for you, and then go to the cross and earn forgiveness for all the times you give in and fall.
Lead us not into temptation, yes, beloved we need to be praying that in these troubled times, and God answers it today by leading you out of temptation when He leads you to the altar to Jesus. As He stands before you today in His body and blood showing you the wounds in His hands and feet and side, He says, “See here that you have a God who loves you, a God who is with you, a God who will provide for you, a God who forgives you, a God who saves you and I AM HE. There is none besides me and you need no other because I am here for you.” Amen.