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“Unlocking the Treasures
I'm holding a piece of Styrofoam about the
size of a small briefcase. Do you think
it’s dangerous, even if I hit you over the head with it or threw it at
you? Probably not; after all, it's just
a light piece of Styrofoam. What
possible damage can it do? The answer
is, plenty! It was a piece of Styrofoam
about this size, scientists believe, that caused the tragic destruction of the Columbia space shuttle
upon its reentry into the atmosphere on February
of the Lord's Prayer”
"Navigating around the Traps of LIfe”
Based on James 1:12-15 & The Lord's Prayer
Delivered on May 16 & 17, 2009
by David J.
2009 by David J. Claassen
of Columbia's launch showed
that at 83 seconds into the flight, a piece of Styrofoam broke away from the
large fuel tank and struck the leading edge of the left wing. Over the next few days there was some
discussion about the event. Few people
took seriously the idea that it could have caused any serious damage. It was likened to having a Styrofoam cooler
blow off the roof of the car ahead of you on the road and hitting your
windshield: it wouldn’t do any damage.
However, upon reentry into the earth's atmosphere, when the outer shell
of the orbiter was at a temperature of 2,880 degrees Fahrenheit, the shuttle
broke apart. Streaks of glowing debris,
like so many meteors, were seen across the Texas sky.
the investigation led the scientists to perform an experiment where they
blasted a similar piece of Styrofoam at a mock-up of the leading edge of the
shuttle’s wing. They fired it at
approximately the same speed the Styrofoam would have hit the wing: 800 feet
per second. Most of them were shocked to
see a hole punched through the wing mock-up large enough to put a basketball
through! Their “risk management” hadn’t
taken seriously the risk from a piece of insulating Styrofoam. Let's
talk about “risk management” in our lives.
Think about the mistakes we've made in the past: the messed-up
situations and the sinful actions we've been guilty of. In virtually every case our thoughts, words,
or actions started out not all that bad.
Maybe they weren’t ideal or even good, but they weren’t terrible — but
the results proved otherwise.
this six-part sermon series we're looking at Jesus' prayer that He taught us to
model our prayers after. We're calling
the series “Unlocking the Treasures of the Lord's Prayer,” and today’s message
is part five. Last time we looked at the
part of Jesus' prayer where He has us pray about God’s forgiving our sins as we
forgive the sins of others. Now Jesus
has us pray in a way that can keep us from sinning in the first place! It's good to fix a problem, but it's better
not to have the problem at all. If only
the engineers at NASA had been able to see the potential danger of something
seemingly as innocent as a piece of Styrofoam and had done something about
it! When it comes to our lives, Jesus
has us include some risk management in our prayers. He has us pray to our Heavenly Father
something to the effect of “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil.” (Matthew 6:13)
Risk Management Assessment in Our Lives
As the space
shuttle Columbia came through the
atmosphere, the extreme heat was driven through the hole in the wing, melting
the wing from the inside. The wing
probably broke into pieces, followed by the rest of the shuttle.
does an unfolding disaster look like in the flight we call daily living? The writer of James in the New Testament
described it: “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is
dragged away and enticed. Then, after
desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown,
gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)
James gave a detailed, blow-by-blow description of what happens to
us. We have a wrong desire or
thought. We think about it long enough
that the wrong thought becomes reality in a wrong action, and the action ends
up being painful, hurtful, and really nasty: what James called death. James was using the imagery of a life cycle:
he talked about conception, birth, and death.
does the temptation to think, speak, and do wrong come from? Just as a space shuttle can be hit by ice
falling from its exterior tank, by Styrofoam, or by something else that causes
catastrophic damage, the Bible points out three sources of where our trouble
can come from.
threat comes first from Satan.
There’s other intelligent life in this universe. A race of creatures were created before
humans, at some prehistoric point in time; we now call them angels. They were given the opportunity to make their
own choice whether to be for God or against God. A massive exodus from God followed, led by
one being we now call Satan or the devil.
Ever since then, Satan has been hell-bent on destroying anything God
considers important. That makes us
target number one for Satan, because of all God's creation, we’re most
important to Him.
face direct assaults from Satan and his followers. Because we’re physical and spiritual
creatures, we experience assault from the spiritual realm. The apostle Paul wrote, “For our struggle
is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual
forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Satan is real, and his impact on each of us
is nothing to take lightly. That's why
the apostle Peter warned, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a
roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith, . . .” (1 Peter 5:8-9a) Part of our risk management against sinning
is to realize that there's a real, conscious enemy out there that's hell-bent
on destroying us, our relationships, our marriages, and our work for God. There's also another source of our trouble.
threat comes second from the world.
This is a fallen world, and sin permeates people, government, business,
education, entertainment, and everything else.
The world around us — the world we have to live in — is a major
negative, sinful influence on us. Jesus
often talked about living apart from the world as His followers: “If you
belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but
I have chosen you out of the world! That
is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
We're being assaulted all the time with a view of life that’s contrary
to what the Creator/Sustainer of life wants for us.
why James wrote in our New Testaments, “Don't you know that friendship with
the world is hatred toward God? Anyone
who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James
4:4) There's another source of our
threat comes third from ourselves.
The most famous quote from the “Pogo” comic strip is “We have met the
enemy, and he is us.” The Bible makes it
clear that we are indeed our own worst enemy.
We’re born with a tendency to sin; just watch any young child and you'll
come to that conclusion. Even when we
come to God, are forgiven through His Son Jesus, and receive the gift of His
Holy Spirit within us, we still deal with our residual fallen natures. Paul wrote, “For the sinful nature desires
what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful
nature. They are in conflict with each
other, so that you do not do what you want.” (Galatians 5:17) That certainly describes our own personal
hit from three sides: Satan undermining us from below, the world surrounding
us, and ourselves like a Trojan horse — the enemy within us. There are different ways this all comes into
play, threatening the God-pleasing life God has planned for each of us.
The Methods of Temptation
I want to share
some random thoughts about how we’re taken in by sin and how it works on
us. Here are some examples.
is appealing at first. We don't see its
negative results very easily or quickly.
It's like the worm on the hook to a fish, or the cheese on the trap for a
mouse: they look so good! Evil is
disguised as good, or at least as something not very bad; it seems to be nearly
as harmless as Styrofoam. Our wrong
thoughts are just thoughts, after all.
We won't carry them out; we just want to enjoy thinking that hateful
thought, that depressing thought, or that lustful thought for just a little
while longer. We don't take temptation
can even be disguised as good. Working
hard and long hours can be good, unless it takes you away from the family too
much and has you focusing on what you can use the money for. Relaxing in front of the TV or at the
computer can be good, unless we do it so much that we have very little time
left for praying, reading the Bible, talking with a mate, or playing with the
kids. We can seek to serve the Lord
sacrificially to the point that we give in to the sin of pride, thinking that
we’re much more spiritual than someone else.
can also be tempted by the ordinariness of life. I'm reading a book by Kathleen Norris called Acedia
& Me. I didn't even know what
acedia was, or is; it means the absence or lack of caring. It’s a lot like apathy, and it has been
called the noonday demon. You know how
you feel in the middle of the day, or in the middle of a project. The excitement of starting it is past, and
the excitement of finishing it hasn’t come yet.
You're in the middle of it, often without seeing much in terms of
results. That’s acedia.
ancients thought that it was the worst sin!
It can affect us at our jobs, in our relationships — particularly our
marriages — and in our church work.
Things are going so-so; there’s not much excitement and not much to show
for our effort. The temptation is to
coast along, going through the motions or dreaming about a more exciting and
rewarding job, marriage, relationship, or church. Of course Satan, the world, and our own
fallen nature conspire to tolerate the seemingly safe, Styrofoam-like thoughts
always living dangerously! We need to
always do some serious risk management, and that should drive us to pray as
Jesus would have us pray!
Praying for God's Help with Temptation
Jesus would have
us pray regularly something to the effect of 'And lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Our prayers should express a rightful fear and
healthy respect for the dangers of temptations that come in all shapes and
sizes. We shouldn't even want to be
tempted by something, lest we give in to it.
We’re quickly out of our league and in over our heads, and most of the
time we don't even know it! We need the
Heavenly Father's help, and we should always ask for it. Eugene Peterson wrote that we should be
“asking God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” (Tell It Slant,
to the Father about what you're being tempted with: hateful thoughts, angry
thoughts, an “I don't care” attitude (the sin of acedia), prideful thoughts,
lustful feelings, selfish thoughts, or whatever else it might be. Talk to Him about how sin is damaging your relationships,
your marriage, your work, or your attitude toward each day — how it's damaging
everything! Ask Him to lead you away
from those temptations and to deliver you from the evil that will come from
giving in to them. Don't take temptation
lightly; don't see it as harmless Styrofoam!
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
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