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Luke 2:52-And Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Matthew 3:16-17-As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 4:1-Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

Silent Prayer

This morning’s message is on the power of preparation.  God wants us to prepare well for every facet of our lives.  Look at these quotes on preparation:

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”-Paul “Bear” Bryant

“If I miss a day of practice, I know it. If I miss two days, my manager knows it. If I miss three days, my audience knows it.  -Andre’ Previn

“You can never guarantee you’ll be the smartest person in the room, but there is no excuse for not being the most prepared.” -Brendan Paddick

Preparation is powerful.  It opens doors.  It gets us ready.  It leads us in the direction we want to go.  It develops us.  It defines us.  It proves us. People who just show up on game day won’t play like people who go to practice.  They won’t be as conditioned.  They won’t be as confident.  They will be easier to throw off their game.  They won’t be able to support the team like they could have if they had prepared.  Maybe something we don’t often consider is that our lack of readiness, our lack of preparedness can negatively impact other people.

I want to highlight this morning that Jesus lived a powerful life.  I believe He lived a powerful life in part because He lived a prepared life.  In what ways can we learn from His example?

Let’s revisit the first verse for today from Luke 2:52-And Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Jesus prepared by seeking wisdom.  He grew in wisdom.  He didn’t have a know-it-all attitude.  He embraced the value of learning.  If you are someone who grows in wisdom, you are someone who has a humble spirit.  You realize you don’t know everything there is to know.  You realize the benefit of reading someone else’s point of view.  You value learning from other people’s experiences which makes you better in relationships.  The wiser we are the better we are equipped to be engaged in certain circumstances.

Proverbs 4:7 says:  Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Whatever it is you hope to accomplish in life, learn as much about it now as you can.  Solomon says wisdom provides protection for our lives.  He even said it is supreme.  I know that especially for students who are in school it can seem like many of the things you are being asked to learn are random and will be of no use to you later on!  I would have to say that is partially true, but part of acquiring wisdom means we become well-rounded in our understanding of many things.  Do your very best to learn what you are being taught.

And we aren’t just to have the attitude that we will tolerate learning, but that we are pursuing it.  We are to seek wisdom.  Proverbs 3:21-26 helps us develop a personal sense of security and well-being.  Other places in Proverbs tell us that wisdom helps us build strong families (Pr. 24:3; 10:1; 19:13).  Students and young adults you can prepare now to have a solid family of your own later by pursuing wisdom.

Wisdom is something that is still recognized in our society as good.  It is still something that is recognized and rewarded.  Wisdom will earn a person favor in their workplace or on their sports team or in their circle of friends.  Wisdom will make you more valuable to your boss.  It will make you more respected by your teammates and friends.

Obtaining wisdom can prepare you for obstacles and challenges.  It can lead you to better ways of doing something so that you don’t have to work harder if you work smarter. Being wise will help you know how to deal with difficult people and difficult circumstances.  Wise people know how to diffuse angry and bad situations.  Proverbs 29:8 says, Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger. Obtaining wisdom will help you get through of drama and difficulty.

The Bible says that Jesus grew in wisdom.  I don’t know how He went about doing it.  I don’t know if He went from house to house asking questions.  I don’t know if He stayed after school to ask His teachers questions.  I don’t know if He shadowed His dad who was a carpenter and learned all He could about woodworking.  I don’t know if He helped His mom do the cooking.  I don’t know if He interacted with His brothers and sisters to try to learn from their perspective, but He intentionally grew in wisdom.  How do I know it was intentional?  Because you don’t become wise on accident.

Young people, learn all you can now because let me tell you it becomes harder to learn and retain information when you get to be my age!  If you think you want to be in the medical field, start researching now.  If you think you want to become a paramedic start talking to paramedics about their experience and the best way to prepare now.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out answers.  It is the way to acquire wisdom.

Luke 2:52 again:  And Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men.

I won’t spend time on the fact that Jesus grew in stature which just means He grew up physically.  I suppose He ate His Wheaties and broccoli.  I don’t know.  We know good nutrition is good preparation for life, but for our purposes this morning let’s skip to the next item of preparation.  Luke says Jesus grew in favor with God.  How did He do that?

Jesus prepared by learning the Word of God.

Luke 2:46-47 tells us:  46  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  47  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.

We know what Jesus was discussing in the temple.  It wasn’t politics or agriculture or the business of the day.  It was the Scriptures.  He was asking questions.  He was even answering questions.  This took place when He was just twelve years old, so you know He started learning the Scriptures prior to this encounter.  He took seriously the Word of God.  Learning it well prepared Him not just for His Messianic Rescue Mission, but it prepared Him for life as well.  He memorized passages of Scripture, and when He was challenged as an adult about what certain things meant or why He did what He did, He was able to quote the Scripture which He had hidden in his heart.

The more we learn about God’s Word as young people, the better we will be prepared to handle every aspect of life.  The Bible is a commentary on everything we need to know in order to succeed.  It talks about money, sex, relationships, health, dreams, goals, business, family relationships, conflict, authority, eternity, the powers of darkness and more.  It ought to be the most read book in our home library.  Get a translation you can understand and enjoy reading or get it on CD, but find a way to study God’s Word.

I believe more failures occur in life because people fail to know and live out the Word of God than because of any other lack of preparation.

Luke 2:52 one last time:  And Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Jesus grew in favor with people.  People liked Him.  Jesus learned to work well with people.  He was others-focused.  He looked for ways to lift other people up.  We know He respected the authority of His parents because Luke 2:51 tells us He obeyed them.

Jesus never sought to pick a fight with the Roman authorities or the religious guard of His day.  He didn’t live with an antagonistic or mean spirit.  He never had an “I’ll show you” attitude.  He wasn’t vengeful.  He never sought to get even with people or to make them pay for the way they were treating Him.  There was conflict and there was drama just because He modeled truth, taught truth, and performed miracles, but it wasn’t because He came to “teach them a thing or two.”

Jesus was followed by crowds of people.  He had favor with people.  He certainly knew how to build a team.  He was followed closely by 12.  I mean, when 12 people sign up to leave everything they have worked for and known behind to follow You and for no pay, You must have favor with people.  People wanted to be around Jesus.

Some were drawn by His teaching.  Some were drawn by His miracles.  Some were drawn by His authority and confidence.  Some were drawn by His compassion.  Some were drawn by His way with Scripture.  Some were drawn by the way He lived.  Some were drawn by His mission.  He had a way with people!

We need to learn the art of preparation as it pertains to dealing with people.  Proverbs 3:4 reiterates that we should seek to find favor not only with God but with others as well.  Seeking favor with people is important.  I’m not talking about schmoozing or kissing up to people.  I’m not talking about being fake or just telling people what they want to hear in order for them to like you.  I am also not talking about buying their friendship.  I’m talking about dealing with people fairly, respectfully, and with a humble attitude that seeks to help them.

For Jesus, finding favor with people began in obedience to his parents.  Favor with others starts with getting along in our homes.   After that, if we are in a leadership role we need favor from our followers.  If we are in a support role we need favor from our boss.  If we are in a parental role we need favor from our children.  If we want to enjoy life we need to learn to get along with people at school and in our communities.  To adopt the mindset that you will live for yourself and look out only for yourself and that you don’t “care what others thing” isn’t having the mind of Christ.

I believe Jesus had favor with people because He lived a positive, others-focused life.  It wasn’t all about Him and His ability to tell a story or His ability to perform a miracle.  Even when He did those things, He did them in order to help others and to teach His disciples to do the same.  It was never about advancing Himself, but about sharing what He knew with everyone else in an effort to make them and their lives better.  People who are generous with what they have and what they know will always find favor with other people.

Jesus prepared well by knowing who He was and why He was on earth.  At His baptism in Matthew 3, Jesus heard the Father repeat what He already knew.  He was God’s Son.  God was pleased with Him.  He was so clear about His identity.  He knew He belonged to His Heavenly Father who couldn’t make a mistake.  He knew His life’s mission was directed by God, and that gave Him confidence to complete it.

Jesus never wondered what He was supposed to be about.  He stated boldly in John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”  When Jesus’ parents had searched for Him when He was just twelve years old and they scolded Him for not being with them when they were leaving town, He was able to say even then, “I had to be here in my Father’s house.”  His identity and life’s purpose drove His activity when He was just twelve!

How many of us possess that laser-like focus?  Do we know what our overall life’s purpose is?  Perhaps many of us are still struggling to know what we want to be when we “grow up” spiritually speaking.

When you know who you are and what you are supposed to accomplish you can let those realities drive and define you rather than what others might be doing or what may seem good to you at the time.  Without that understanding, we will be tempted to only live in the moment rather than to prepare well for the future God is leading us toward.

People who don’t live for Christ aren’t going to be focused on God’s purposes for their lives which means they will live for their own purposes.  If you don’t know who you are and why you are here, you may be easily swayed in a direction God never intended and you will lose time, money, effort, and investment that could be spent on what God had in mind.  While we want to live peacefully and agreeably with people, our ultimate goal isn’t their approval or applause, but it is God’s.  What does He want for our lives?

Some of the best preparation you can do for life is to have conversation with God about why you are here.  Ask Him why He has created you and what He has in mind for your life.

The last thing I would suggest to you today is that Jesus prepared well by learning how to fight for His future.  That is where our Matthew 4:1 verse comes in.  Matthew 4:1-Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

Satan wanted to alter Jesus’ mission.  He wanted to derail His life.  He wanted to shut Him down.  He wanted Him to opt for plan B rather than the Father’s mission.  What Satan must not have realized is that Jesus was already determined.  Jesus was already in training.  Jesus was already prepared to begin His earthly ministry.  Verse 1 of Matthew 4 tells us the Spirit led Jesus into the desert.  Jesus was already following the voice of the Holy Spirit.

And there in the desert, Jesus was fasting and relying on the power of the Spirit to sustain Him.  James 4:7 tells us:  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”   There is an order to this principle.  Submit to God first.  Seek God first.  Follow God first.  Obey God first.  Listen to the Spirit first.  Then you will have power to resist the enemy.

Jesus was already in submission mode.  His future was secure because He was already fully relying on God and was living in God’s power.  Listen, you don’t stay alive for forty days without eating or drinking anything if you aren’t being sustained by supernatural power.  You can, however, stay alive and you can battle Satan even when you are at your lowest point ever if you are fully submitted to God.

Satan doesn’t fight fair.  The two times we read about him trying to take Jesus’ life up to this point were when He was weak and vulnerable.  One was when Jesus was a baby and Satan put it in Herod’s mind to kill all of the Hebrew boys ages two and under in hopes that wherever the baby Messiah was that He would be destroyed.  The second time was when Christ was physically weak here in the desert.  Jesus had never experienced such physical weakness before.  Satan thought sure he could get Jesus to throw His future away.  After all, who could even be thinking clearly after not eating and drinking for forty days?  I’m hardly thinking clearly two hours after breakfast.  J I can’t imaging not having anything for forty days and nights and be tempted with food as the first temptation!

But Jesus’ previous preparation to train Himself spiritually kicked in proving that it doesn’t matter how weak we are physically or mentally, that greater is He who is in us than Satan who is in the world.  When we have first submitted ourselves to God as Jesus did at His baptism in chapter 3 and then we are Spirit-led even if it is into the desert as He was in chapter 4 and we are seeking Him through spiritual disciplines like fasting and prayer the preparation to study the Word of God and to grow in favor with God, that preparation, that Power comes to our defense in the moment of trial, and we will emerge victoriously.

Listen, I am going to live for Christ as long as I live.  And I am going to live with joy, peace, and contentment.  And my life is going to bear Kingdom fruit.  God has called me and appointed me to bear fruit (John 15:16) and that is what I am going to do.  I am going to live a good life.  I am going to enjoy favor with God.  I am going to seek favor with others.  I am going to prosper in every way God desires for me to prosper.  I am going to have a future in Christ, and no matter what I face that leaves me physically or mentally drained or incapacitated I won’t surrender my future to Satan.

I can call on Jesus.  I can quote Scripture.  I can pray in the power of the Spirit.  I can sing the praises of God.  I can lift my hands to the Lord and ask for help.  I can employ the discipline of fasting.  I can get Christian friends to intercede for me.  I can exercise faith.  I will not surrender my future in Christ.  Jesus died not just to save me, but He died so that I could live and enjoy life.  He died so that I could have a future not just in heaven, but a future here on earth.  And as long as I have breath I am living in Him, by Him, through Him and for His purposes.

Listen, prepare yourself to fight the enemy so that you aren’t tempted to surrender your future in a moment of weakness.  Know Satan will come to you when you feel weak.  You may be grieving the loss of a loved one and you have cried so hard that you have depleted your strength.  You may feel hollow and empty.  Life can go on.  You can have a future.  Don’t surrender your future.

You may be bullied in school and be told you are of no value or worth.  Listen, it isn’t the truth.  Just like Satan didn’t tell Jesus the truth, he isn’t telling you the truth either.  Don’t fall for it.  Hide yourself in the Lord.  Commit your way to Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Seclusion or suicide will destroy your future.  Don’t hand your future over to Satan.  Get with God and fight!

You may be walking through the pain of divorce.  You may feel unwanted or unloved or like you have made such a mess of things that you can never recover or be happy.  Life can go on.  You can have a future.  Don’t surrender your future.

You may have lost a job and had a car repossessed or have lost your home due to bankruptcy.  You may feel like a failure and like your reputation is destroyed and like you could never rebuild your credit.  Life can go on.  You can have a future.  Don’t surrender your future.

You see, too many people, when they live life unprepared and they get knocked down, they stay down and surrender their future.  It is not time to wave the white flag.  It is time to submit to God and seek Him in every way possible and to resist the devil and tell him to flee from us.

I don’t know what is ahead for you, but I do know today is the day to prepare for it.  Today is the day to seek wisdom, to grow in favor with God and others.  Today is the day to claim who you are in Christ and to seek and to rejoice in the plans God has for you.  Today is the day to fight for your future and to fully rely on the power of God.

Don’t wait to prepare.  Preparation is something we can all do right now.  Jesus didn’t wait.  At twelve He was working on preparing Himself for the day He would enter ministry.  Don’t prepare for your future tomorrow.  Do it today.  Don’t think you will prepare your mind for battle through the Word of God when you become an adult.  Do it today.  Don’t prepare to get along with people when you get into a new relationship or you get another job.  Do it today.

Father God, help us to prepare well for every aspect of our lives by pressing into You in order that we might experience the Supernatural Power of Preparation!

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