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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - Jesus' Perfection = My Perfection

Mike Novotny - Jesus' Perfection = My Perfection

Mike Novotny - Jesus' Perfection = My Perfection
TOPICS: Don't Miss Moments

I'm not sure if anyone's every told you this, but there are two things the Bible says about God that you can't miss. The Bible says that God is like a treasure that's at the end of a tight rope. You ever heard that before? I mean, God is a treasure. God, like, if you have small thoughts of God, you don't know the Bible's version of God. In the Bible, God is the best. Just one day of being in his presence is way, way better than a thousand days anywhere else on Earth. Like, anything good that you can imagine, anything amazing that you've tasted or seen, or experienced. You think having a new grandkid is great? Uh uh, God. You students think Spring break is great? Hmm mmm, God.

You think your favorite worship song is great or your teammate getting to the finals is great, or the March Madness brackets, where you totally dominate your family and friends. Like, all of that is good, but then there's God. He's the only one who is constantly good, who never leaves us, who never forsakes us, who's sovereign, who's in control. He loves us, he has compassion on us, he forgives us, he saves us. There is nothing in this world that is even close to just being with God. God is a treasure... at the end of a tightrope. The Bible says, to get to a God who is that good, he's not just like some, you know, technical higher power, He's everything, he's glorious. To get to that kind of God, you don't just wander or meander or try your best, to get to that God, you have to walk a perfect path to get to that treasure.

I think in our culture, most people don't tell us either of those things. They make God kind of nice and a little bit better, but not that good. And they make the path to God, you know, kind of, do your best, be a good person, learn from your mistakes. But that is not at all what the Bible says. The Bible says that God is so good, to get to him, you have to be good. Jesus said things like, "Because your father is so perfect, be perfect". Because God is so holy he is so much better, you too should be holy. Because God is so loving, not just some of the time, to some of the people, he is loving all of the time to all of the people, so you too should be loving all of the time to all the people. Don't just kind of wander through life. If you want to get to God, it's like a tightrope step after step. And if you can walk it to him, you get the greatest treasure in the universe.

So, what do you think about that? Kind of terrifying actually, right? Because walking a tightrope is not like shooting free throws. And if I'm shooting free throws, if I hit nine out of ten, I'm pretty good. If I'm walking a tightrope and I hit nine out of ten, I'm pretty dead. I think a lot of us when we think about religion or spirituality we kind of think of free throw theology. You know, "I missed a couple, I'm only human, I'm not a perfect person. But I'm going to practice, I'm going to work on it, I'm going to do better next time. I'm going to be like Giannis for the Bucks, you know, just terrible at free throws. But he's getting a little bit better as the games go on". But, that's not what Jesus said. It makes it kind of terrifying to think about, I mean, if you were suspended way up in the air, having to walk this tightrope to God, I mean, thinking of every word that you would speak, every choice that you would make.

Like, he's so good, he's right there, but can you get to him? But there's a third thing the Bible says that you should know. And it's this, that Jesus Christ is offering us a ride across the rope. That Jesus shows up in our lives, he smiles at us, he knows all the wandering and the missteps, and so, he says, "Want a ride"? And imagine for a second if you were in that situation. You crawl up, you know, you jump, piggy back on the back of Jesus. You wrap your arms tightly around his shoulders, imagine if you are holding on to Jesus and he took his first step onto the tightrope. Would you care about his choices? I mean, I would be praying more than I had ever prayed.

I would be holding my breath like, "Come on Jesus. Because if you mess up, I messed up. If you fall, I'm gone. But if you Jesus can make it, then I get God". Sometimes in church we think about the good news of the death of Jesus. How he died on a cross to take away all of our sins. That's very true and that is beautiful. But what a lot of people miss is the life of Jesus. That if Jesus didn't take every step in the right direction, if he wasn't perfectly good and holy and loving and glorious, if he mess, if he gave in to temptation just one time, guess what would happen to you and to me? I was trying to think this week about how to make you care about the temptation of Jesus. When he goes out to the wilderness, the devil messes with him, tempts him, tries to trick him. Like, how can I make you hold your breath and say, "I don't want to miss this". And this is the best I got.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus stepped out into the wilderness on this tight rope. You and I were hanging on his shoulders. And if the devil could mess with him just once, if he could wobble the rope and make Jesus slip just a single time, we would lose our salvation. But if Jesus would be steady and constant and strong, you and I, despite all of our weaknesses and all of our struggles, all of our sins and all of our failures, we could live every day and for the rest of eternity knowing that we have the greatest treasure in the universe. So, as we open our Bibles today to another don't miss moment from Jesus's life, let's hold our breath as our savior walks the tightrope so we can have the treasure.

Here's what we find in Luke 4:1, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan," That's the Jordan River where he was baptized. "And was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry". There's actually a famous painting of Jesus in the wilderness, I'll show it to you. Here's Jesus, for forty days and forty nights, there's nothing to look at, there's no one to talk to, there's nothing to eat, there's no entertainment, there's no Netflix, can you imagine? He doesn't have a phone, a tablet, a device, it's just him. The devil waited until Jesus was bored and lonely and tired until he showed up to wobble the wire. Before I share the first temptation, how do you do morally when you're tired?

Alright, when you haven't eaten in forty day... how about four hours? When you haven't eaten in a long time, like, loving, compassionate, patient, does this describe the version of you? It's amazing what happens to our brains and our bodies when we're physically not right, isn't it? I was actually out at a Mexican restaurant with my family on Friday, I speak fairly good Spanish. I'm working on my Spanish with waiter who I know, and he comes back, and he says, "Algo mas? Anything else"? And I had a bunch of like, Fajita meat left, but didn't have any of the stuff that you put the Fajitas in. And so I'm like, "Oh," I said in Spanish, "Can you bring me one of those". And he looks at me and says, "Tortillas"? I'm like, "Oh, yeah, that's the word". I was like, "Oh, no". When the brain is tired or when you're not feeling a hundred percent, it's amazing the things you don't remember. And that's kind of what the devil did to Jesus. He waited and he waited and he waited. And he tempted and he tempted. But he saved his best temptations for after six weeks of Jesus being depleted and weary. His legs must have been shaking. And here's what the devil said, verse 3, "The devil said to Jesus, 'If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.'"

Hmm, not quite what you'd expect. Actually took this stone about ten years ago from the wilderness of Judea when I was there. And it doesn't seem like such an evil temptation, does it? "Do a miracle. You're God's son right? Doing miracles isn't bad". It's kind of an odd way for the prince of evil to start tempting the good son of God. But think for a second, what was the devil actually asking Jesus to do? He was saying, "Jesus, instead of waiting on God's plan, why don't you use your power to avoid this pain". Alright, he says, "If you're the son of God, alright, if you're really God's son then you're almighty, you can do miracles, you can do anything, why don't you use your power to prove it and avoid this painful situation that you're in".

And that might not seem like such a big deal when Jesus in the wilderness, but can you think of a time when if Jesus would have used his power to avoid his pain, it would have been very, very bad for us. Actually, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, just a few years later, his enemies would repeat the devil's temptation. Do you remember their mocking voices? "If you're the Son of God, come on down. Use your power, avoid this pain. Prove it to us". It's an interesting temptation. I don't know about you, but I like to avoid pain as much as I can. I know the difference between right and wrong, but when I'm uncomfortable, when I'm hungry, when I'm tired, you know, sometimes we cut these little corners just to get to a place that makes us feel better. But not Jesus.

I love Jesus's response, verse 4, "Jesus answered, 'It is written,'" so, Bible quote "Man shall not live on bread alone". When Jesus's brain and body were tired, depleted, and exhausted, he quoted the Bible. He didn't stare at the stone and think, "White or wheat"? No, somehow, his weary body remembers the perfect quote from the Bible. Do any of you know where Jesus is quoting from? It's this little snippet from Deuteronomy 8, but I want to read you the context. Because Jesus could not have picked a singular better passage in the whole Old Testament to fight back against temptation. But I'll put the verse on the screen.

Deuteronomy 8 says this, "Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then fed you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you", here it is, "That man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD". He's hungry, and yet where they freaked out and grumbled and shook their fists at Moses, Jesus trusted. He was tested, and he took every step perfectly to get you and to get me to God. The devil must have gnashed his pointed teeth. But he wasn't done with Jesus.

"The devil then led Jesus up to a high place and showed him in an instant," some kind of miracle it seems. "All the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Jesus, 'I will give you all their authority and splendor; it's been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.'" What would you do? I'm not sure how temptation works in your life but rarely when I'm tempted do I think about the long-term consequences. Like if I instinctually like want to say something, or want to do something or have something on my mind, it's pretty rare that I say, "Alright, just pause everyone. I'm going to do a quick Bible study here to see what the scriptures say about topic. I'm going to pray about it and get some wise counsel and wisdom from my friends".

No, the temptation is more instinctual isn't it? We say it and then we think about it. We're frustrated or exhausted so we, bah. And then we process it spiritually, we react and only then do we reach for our Bibles. And if Jesus would have done the same, you and I would have had a long, long fall. But thanks be to God he did not. Jesus, looking at all that the world had to offer, the kingdoms and their splendor, he responded in this way verse 8, "Jesus answered, 'It is written," another Bible quote, "worship the Lord your God and serve him only". "Not today, Satan. Nope, I love God and I trust God. I'm doing what he wants, I'm not worshipping you for a single second. You can offer me the whole world but my father is my truest treasure. You could offer me all the comfort, all the companionship, all the pleasure but I have a million times more than that in the presence of my God. I worship and serve him only".

And with that amazing answer Jesus took another step in the father's direction. Check what happens in verse 9, "The devil led Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 'If you're the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down from here. For it is written,'" here's a Bible quote for you, Jesus. "God will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against the stone". Cool, devil's pretty smart huh? "Well, you're a Bible guy Jesus. Do you remember that passage, is it Psalm 91, Jesus, verses 10 and 11 where God who commands the angel, said that he's going to commend them to guard you? Not just guard you but guard you carefully? And they'll lift you up, not they might lift you up, or you know, maybe they'll lift you... no they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against the stone. So, if you love the Bible Jesus, if you care about what is written, then jump. God's got to catch you right? You trust him, don't you"?

Such a brilliant and evil temptation. Taking a snippet of the Bible out of context and making it say things it doesn't exactly say. You know, the devil has been doing the same thing ever since. Have you or someone you know ever taken a snippet of scripture, quoted it and made it say something that the Bible doesn't exactly say? Like, how about this one, "God made you". That true? Yeah. "And God doesn't make any mistakes". Isn't that true? "So, therefore whatever you feel, whatever you desire, however you're oriented, that can't be a mistake because that comes from God". Isn't that true? How about this one, "God is love". Isn't that true? "And God loves us unconditionally, isn't that true? It's not based on our behavior, our choices. Like, he loves us just because he loves us. He's that kind of God. He can't love you any more than he does right now. He can't love you any less than he does right now. So, therefore whatever you do today, if there are no strings attached, God will love you in the end and he'll never judge you, right"?

How about this one, "God already knows what you're thinking". Isn't that true? "He knows what you want, he knows everything, he's God. Isn't that true? So therefore, you don't technically have to pray because God already knows what you were thinking. So, don't take time in your schedule to actually do it, he already knows it, right"? Or how about this one, "God forgives sins". Isn't that true? "He doesn't forgive some of the sins or just the kind of not so bad sins, he forgives all the sins by the blood of Jesus. So, no matter what you do or how you behave, he'll forgive you tomorrow, right? So, if you're being tempted, you don't really have to fight it or put it to death, because he's a forgiving God, and his mercy is new every morning. Isn't that true? So when you wake up, whether you give into this temptation or not, you'll be forgiven, right"?

It's a hard temptation, to not just, you know, take a half truth and make it seem like the whole truth, but to take the right truth at the right time for the right person. The devil in his cunning and craftiness, he tried to pull this on Jesus. He snatches this little bit out of context out of Psalm 91, but thanks be to God that Jesus did not join one of the fastest growing denominations in America out of context Christianity. Instead, he responded brilliantly. Look what he said in verse 12. "Jesus answered, it is said: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Satan, you must not have read the rest of the Psalm. It's not about doing dumb stuff and having angels make up for your mistakes, it's about trusting God first and knowing that he will send angels to bless you in the path to come. It's also the same Psalm about how God's people will trample on the head of the great lion and the serpent. But you didn't mention that part, did you? No, Jesus said, "I am not falling for it. I'm not jumping off a bridge. I'm not jumping off the temple. That's not what the passage says, and you know it". And Jesus, in his perfect obedience, took us one step closer to God. And even the devil knew that Jesus was too good. He shook the rope with all of his demonic might and yet Jesus was perfectly obedient.

This is why verse 13 says this, "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Jesus until an opportune time". He stopped shaking the rope, it won't be the last temptation that Jesus would face but it gives us this don't miss moment. That when everything was on the line, when your salvation, when our treasure was in the grip, Jesus was strong, he was constant, he was good, he was obedient, and he did it for you. If you're taking notes in your program today or taking some at home, I'd love for you to write this down. "When the tempter tempted, your savior resisted".

When the devil brought everything he had, his fiercest temptations, his most well concocted schemes, Jesus was strong and obedient, he was good. And it was all for you. You know, to be honest, I was kind of worried about this sermon. I know enough about people, I know enough about myself that I love, I think lots of us love things that are practical. That's why I love often, "Hey, write this down, here's our next step. Here's what you're going to do". But today, I just want to be up front and say, I'm not going to give you anything practical. I'm not going to say, "Jesus quoted the Bible, now, you go do it".

I'm not going to put you back on the tightrope to walk by yourself and... instead there are no steps, there's no homework, there's nothing to pick up on the lobby, there's no link to click on the website. No, all I want you to do today is not to worry about your obedience, I just want you to wrap your arms around Jesus, watch his perfect steps and say:

Thank you God. I misstep and mess up and sin so often but today I'm holding on to Jesus. I'm not looking in the mirror at my righteousness, that I'm spotless, that I'm blameless, that I'm perfect, I know that I am not. That is why I am holding on to Jesus. If God is the treasure at the end the end of a tightrope, it cannot be about me; it has to be all about him every single day, as he steps me into the presence of the greatest person in the entire universe.

That's what Charles Spurgeon did. I'm going to invite my friend Jonathan up here on stage. Because I want to tell you the story of one of the most famous preachers of the 1800's, Charles Spurgeon. He was powerful, he was practical. Through his preaching God impacted millions of souls and countless lives. But in January of 1892, Charles Spurgeon was dying. And his friends and his closest loved ones were gathered around him, and he knew the moment was coming quickly. So, what would he say? The man who preached a million messages. What would he share with the people he cared about the most in this world now that his preaching voice was about to be silenced forever? Would he talk about how to have a strong family? How to be an obedient Christian? Would he talk about the sermons he had preached? The churches that he had grown?

No, no, no, no, no. All Charles Spurgeon could talk about in those final moments was Jesus. Not about how Jesus had taught him to be a better person, but how Jesus had made him a perfect person. Spurgeon said this, "I have at this moment no ray of hope except that which comes from my Lord Jesus Christ and what he has done for guilty men". And on his death bed from memory, he quoted the words of a famous hymn, that we sang to begin this church service. Spurgeon said, "Behold, him there, the risen lamb. My perfect spotless righteousness. The great unchangeable I Am, the king of glory and of grace. One with himself. I cannot die. My soul is purchased by his blood. My life is hid with Christ on high. With Christ my savior and my God". Behold Jesus. Perfect, spotless, righteous. Carrying you into the presence today and every day of the greatest treasure ever. Let's praise him as we pray:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being so strong when we are weak. Our voices fail, our health fails and sadly our morality too often fails, but not you. No, you came into this world as true man, you were tempted and tried and hungry and yet there you were being perfect for us. And so, we thank and praise you today, God, for your amazing righteousness and for your incredible power and love. We ask you in the days to come not just to help our steps but to help us appreciate yours. Especially in this season as we journey to the cross. God help us to think about our own behavior but help us to think a thousand times more about yours. Perfect in our place. That when you hung on the cross, you would be the innocent lamb of God who could actually take away the sins of the world, our sins too. God, if our life is hidden with yours then every step that Jesus takes is our step. And his perfect obedience is our obedience. And through baptism we are clothed in the very righteousness of Christ. That's what we need. That's what we have in you. We thank you today Jesus for being strong, for being our perfect savior and we pray all these things in your name. And God's people said, amen.

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