“A People in Danger: Led us Not Into Temptaition” 9-23-12 Provision for today; Pardon for yesterday; Protection for tomorrow
Video Snippet of Sermon: http://youtu.be/QIqJMyi6qXE
We are in hurricane season. In 1893 a hurricane hit South Carolina and 1-2,000 people were killed and 30,000 were left homeless. These people had no idea that a hurricane was coming at all. In 1989 one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit South Carolina in recorded history hit and no one in South Carolina died during the storm itself. The difference? People were warned, and people took the warning.
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” is a warning to us. Jesus was saying that we are in a spiritual danger zone, and that we need to be very careful to listen to His warning, and more than that call on God for help.
I. MANY DO NOT RECOGNIZE THAT THERE CAN EVEN BE SPIRITUAL DANGER
There are always people who are saying the sky is falling or doomsday is coming. We should, of course, not be paranoid about life. There are always people (including some Christians) who are over-cautious. In their desire to be over-cautious and to avoid evil, they never have contact with the world. There are Christians in monastaries and convents, and families who overly shelter their children in fear. But to change the world we must rub shoulders with the world. I think of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15- he says, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” The disciples lived in an environment hostile to the faith (our culture is increasingly hostile to the faith too). But the disciples did not form Christian clusters to change the world. Rather they risked all in amazing trust in God to change the world.
We were created to enjoy life to its fullest. But there are things that look like they would make life more enjoyable but in reality they can make life quite miserable. The other day I was eating out in a cafeteria. I got a nice cool glass of apple juice. My oldest daughter got a cup too and said it was sour. I was thirsty, it looked good, felt cold, didn’t smell bad, and I didn’t want to believe her, so I drank half the cup and it was horrible! You do not have to experience sin yourself to know that it is sin.
There are So many things we do to avoid physical danger- Buckle your seat belt, Don’t play with matches, lock your doors to your car, your house, your community. Eat right and exercise, list goes on and on. What do you do to avoid spiritual danger? Let us not be naive to think that there are great temptations and dangers to us physically and mentally and no dangers to us in the spiritual realm. Do not be naive enough to think that there are no forces who oppose God and godliness today. Signs of evil are not hard to find today. Today there are so many who have fallen away. Do not become one of them.
II. HOW DO WE FALL INTO DANGER?
I had a rancher friend of mine in Hartsville who had a time with his cows— they were always getting out. I asked him how they got out. He said, The cow starts nibbling on a tuft of grass: one tuft then the next tuft, then the next tuft on the other side of the fence, pretty soon it is lost. It has nibbled its way into getting lost. The most common cause of marriages falling apart are little arguments over things like picking up socks, how you treat the children, not doing the work around the house, and money. Sometimes these little arguments turn into avoiding communication all together, not ever holding hands, or saying “I love you.” Then the way is opened up to divorce or adultery.
How do people lose faith? It may be one bit at a time. Slacking off in worship, giving into the little temptations. There is a children’s story about a young frog who asked if he could go out and catch his favorite frog food flies. The mother said, “Okay, but watch out for alligators.” Sure enough, the frog saw an alligator, and stopped and watched as the alligator laid so still. Flies, the frog’s favorite food all flew in the alligator’s mouth. A lizard went into the mouth and ate a fly and hopped out. A frog jumped into the alligator’s mouth, ate a fly and turned to the young frog and said, “Young frog, come one in, this alligator’s as still as a stone. Another frog jumped in and ate some flies. The young frog stuck his foot in and drew it out and just then, “Snap!” The alligator’s mouth snapped shut- and the young frog then realized that no matter how safe it looked, good it looked, and no matter how many others were doing it, he would not do what is wrong. We need to learn that lesson as well.
III. HOW DO WE AVOID DANGER?
It is a little bit like how to avoid getting in trouble with your car. You must do regular maintenance- check the air in your tires, check and occasionally change the oil, make sure you have gas. But also drive the car defensively. Don’t text while you drive, stare at the radio or the carphone when you’re pushing buttons, look for the people who break the rules and avoid them, avoid breaking the rules yourself, and go! Don’t be so over-cautious that you go too slow- you can cause a wreck by going too slow.
There are maintenance things we do that keeps us strong spiritually and thus avoid temptation and evil.
One is to pray. The point of this prayer is to remind us that there is a spiritual side to evil, and we need God’s spiritual strength. The other point of this is that Jesus was telling his followers that they were not alone, and they need to call on God.
Another thing we can do to maintain our faith is read the Bible. The Bible itself says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Hiding God’s Word in your heart through memorization is a way you can always have these tools with you.
Good fellowship is important. Coming to church is important fellowship, but an hour on Sunday is not much preparation for spiritual danger. We see the importance of support groups when people are in trouble- like AA, Griefshare, Alzheimer’s support group. Some people don’t want to be around groups because they make themselves vulnerable. But I would encourage you to go to a circle or Bible Study or Men’s breakfast or some group because you will find this helpful in avoiding temptation and evil. Remember the “US” here. Together we avoid temptation and evil. Christianity is a religion of love- not a solo philosophy. We care when another falls.
Another key is to serve. As you serve Christ through the church- on a committee, or promoting the cause of Christ by helping the needy or inviting others to church, you will find Christ means more to you, and you will think more about the dangers of temptation.
Maintenance is important, but so is action. Sometimes we must avoid temptation by fleeing. Joseph did this. His boss’ wife wanted him to come to bed with her, and even grabbed his clothes, but Jacob ran away. There is a time to just avoid things. If you can’t turn off that nasty movie, then don’t order that movie channel! If you’re temptation is spending too much money- don’t get in the car heading toward the mall.
William Carl tells of a Little boy was told to not get near the cookie jar on the counter. His mother went upstairs, when she me down the little boy had chocolate all over his face, and the jar lid was off. She said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I was just going up to smell them and my tooth got caught.” Sounds like Adam and Eve- “the apple looked good for food” “The woman you gave me.” Someone said this prayer is like the boy who was walking with father through construction zone- told by his father to watch out for the holes, and then when the boy falls,and his father lifts him up, he asks his father for help to avoid the next hole. Lead us and deliver us.
Spiritual danger- is danger of your soul. In a world where we expect instant gratification at 4G, we are called to find strength in the Lord to resist temptation. Amen.
Prayer- Sue Madden, Ruthanne Nicholson, Melissa Hattaway, Kathryn Ann Mullis;