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February 17-23, 2010, Fighting Temptation With Purpose

Contributed by Angie Larson, Clive, IA

Warm-up Question

What do you think is your life’s purpose?

Fighting Temptation with Purpose


Shin Fujiyama, now 25, was born in a fishing village in Japan.  Born with a hole in his heart, he had childhood health problems.  The doctors told him that he didn’t have long to live. “Somehow I was cured,” says Shin, “and I became a normal kid and I had a second chance.”  Shin went on to study pre-medicine at the University of Mary Washington.

During his sophomore year at school, life took a dramatic change.  Along with his sister Cosmo, Shin signed up for a Christian mission trip to Honduras.  On this trip he found his life’s purpose.  The group did their mission work in the hurricane ransacked town of El Progreso.  Hundreds of children lived there without adequate housing, health care, or access to education. While the group was constructing a school, a ten year old girl named Carmen gave a letter to Shin.  It shared her dream that “one day every family in my village will have a safer home.”  This touched Shin greatly. 

Upon his return to college he and his sister began a philanthropic organization named Students Helping Honduras (SHH).  Shin began his fundraising campaign with two people, selling pens and pencils.  Anxious and frustrated about the poor response, he considered giving up, but his passion burned deep.  Next, the group moved to selling Christmas cards to provide uniforms and tuition for the community of El Progreso.  Since its inception in 2004, Shin has raised over $750,000 and SSH has grown to 25 campuses.  The group focuses on continuing to rebuild the village where Carmen lives. 

After graduating in 2007, Shin and Cosmo have postponed medical school and deferred well-paying jobs.  The mission of SSH is to build a movement of young leaders to empower orphaned and vulnerable children in Honduras. 

1. What would your reaction be if you received Carmen’s letter?

2.  Do you think Shin will ever go to medical school?

3.  What obstacles could get in the way of Shin’s fundraising?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 21, 2010 (First Sunday in Lent)

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Romans 10:8b-13

Luke 4:1-13

Gospel Reflection

In Luke 3, just before the gospel text in this study, we get a glimpse of who Jesus really is.  During Jesus’ baptism the sky opens up and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove over the river Jordan. Accompanying the Spirit, the voice of God proclaims Jesus’ identification, “This is my Son.”

In this study’s gospel text, Jesus has just spent forty days in the wilderness.  The scripture says that, “He was famished.”  He is weakened by hunger and open to temptation.  The devil sees this as an opportune time and comes to Jesus.  He first tempts Jesus with bread.  However, Jesus has seen his purpose forty days before and can stay strong through the temptation.  Next the devil tempts Jesus with power; he shows him all that he can give Jesus authority over.  Again, Jesus stays strong.  Finally, the devil even tempts Jesus using scripture.  Jesus, strong in his purpose, is able to resist that temptation as well.

While your purposes are not the same as Jesus’, there is still a reason why you are here. When you have an understanding of your purpose it helps you fight the temptation to do something that would cause you to lose focus.  Your personal demons come out when you cease to be yourself.  Your identification, a child of God, is given to you in your baptism. When you have a clear understanding of your identification and purpose, you are better able to overcome the temptation which comes your way.  Temptation might be doubt or frustration.  It might be power, popularity, and material goods.  It might be messages from the world trying to get you to be or act in a way with which you are not comfortable.  May you fight temptation, knowing that you are a child of God and that God will carry you through.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does knowing your purpose keep you from temptation?
  2. What do you think are some ways that you can seek your purpose in life?
  3. What are some possible obstacles and roadblocks that could get in the way of accomplishing your purpose?


Activity Suggestions

  1. Challenge youth to seek out their purpose.  Ask them to make a list of things that give them great joy.  Have them pray about what God is calling them to do.
  2. Come up with a purpose of your group’s time together.  What is the goal?  How can you accomplish that purpose?
  3. Discuss the following story and what it might mean. In the story of Alice in Wonderland the Cheshire cat meets Alice crying at a crossroad.  The cat in his mysterious way asks Alice why she is crying.  Alice replies that she is lost.  The cat asks her, “Which way do you want to go”? “I don’t much care where,” replies Alice.  “Well then, it doesn’t matter which path you take,” replies the cat. 

Closing Prayer

Blessed Savior, thank you for helping us see how you direct us in our lives.  Help us to avoid roadblocks, temptations, and obstacles that may prevent or deter us from following you.  We know that you will provide us with strength to recognize those dangers and push the demons away, for we belong to you. In your name we pray.   Amen