01/24/2016 – I Corinthians 10:6-13 – “The Promise of Deliverance”

Audio version

Mark Wheeler

I Corinthians 10:6-13

“The Promise of Deliverance”

01/24/2016

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Mighty God who delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, who cooled the fiery furnace, who closed the lions’ mouths, who sent Your only begotten Son to save us from our sinful nature, we come to You today, gathered as Your people, because we recognize that we need a Savior. Rescue us today, through Jesus our Redeemer. Amen.

 

Have you ever woke up to your alarm clock blaring, knowing you had something to be at, and then thought to yourself, “15 more minutes …. They won’t miss me …. Suppose I call in sick ….”? Of course you have. Maybe you didn’t follow through with that temptation, but you know you’ve been tempted.

That’s the thing. Everybody experiences temptation. All people get tempted. No one escapes. And you know what? All people also yield to temptation! Not every time, but even once and you’ve joined the club.

Temptation is a reality for everybody. I am tempted, almost constantly, to eat another donut.

Now, not all temptations hold the same consequences; right? Falling to the temptation to sleep another 15 minutes on your day off is probably not that big a deal. Falling to the temptation of sleeping with another 15 people probably is.

Today we are going to talk about that latter kind of temptation – that which is an invitation to DISOBEY God. It is vital to remember that temptation is not a SIN, but DISOBEDIENCE to God is a sin!

 

Give me a quick show of hands – did anybody here make a New Year’s Resolution? Who has been tempted to go off your diet, to skip a morning of Bible reading, to watch one more half-hour of TV? Right? We are 3-½ weeks into 2016! Of course we have all been tempted to break our Resolutions! In a general way, this is one of the most significant challenges every adult follower of Jesus facesovercoming temptation!

How can we, as growing disciples of Christ, as people who claim Jesus as our Savior and Lord, as church-going citizens of the Kingdom of God, how can we resist temptation?

If you look at your Sermon Notes Page you’ll see that there’s a simple 1-2-3 step process for resisting temptation. Don’t believe it. These steps will not secure you a sin-free life. They are, indeed, three practical steps toward overcoming temptation, but the only real security is in a living relationship with Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.

 

Today we read from Paul’s letter to the Church in the sin-harboring city of Corinth. This city sat at the intersection of two major sea ports, with sailors and dockworkers and people from all over the known world – and all the sinful temptations that that kind of social climate produces; and Paul writes to the believers there to help them cope with the various temptations that spawned all around them. Listen to these words from  I Corinthians 10:6-13…. —-

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  

 

Paul begins this particular pericope reminding these Corinthian Christians of the mistakes made by people in the past these things occurred as examples to keep us from making the same mistakes! So he tells us what they did and why it was wrong; and the command for us is to not do the same things!

Step number 1 is Assume RESPONSIBILITY. When we sin we have no one to blame but ourselves! We can cry that our mother didn’t potty train us soon enough, or that the environment in which we grew up was filled with violence, or even that my genetic code “made me this way” – but the decisions to act on our temptations are all our own. I decide to eat another donut, to drink another beer, to steal what isn’t mine, to cheat on my test or my taxes or my spouse. Those are all on me; on you; on us.

The first step to overcoming, resisting the next temptation is to take responsibility for our own actionsconfess our sins, repent, and ask for God’s help.

In the margin of your Sermon Notes Page, scribble down a temptation you are willing to assume responsibility for today.

 

Step number 2 is Be on GUARD. Look at verse 12: “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”  We seldom fall when we think we’re on slippery ice; we might, but we’re usually much more careful, maybe even asking for help, when we know the ground is slippery. But when we think it’s dry, solid, safethat’s when we take our eyes off the surface and start to make moves we shouldn’t have. We slip when we get a little over-confident or careless – when we think we’re safe!

The second step in overcoming, resisting the next temptation is to be on guard. When I’m a little hungry, I should not go near the table with the free donuts! I should run away from the temptations that usually get me down. That’s why 12-step support groups work. They help their participants recognize their own tendencies to falling, and avoid those slippery slopes. Call your sponsor. After confessing our sin, we repent – literally, we turn around and walk the other direction – and ask for God’s help.

In the margin of your Sermon Notes Page, scribble down a place where your temptation is most dangerous and beware of that danger.

 

Step number 3 is Claim God’s PROMISE. Look at verse 13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to all mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Let’s take a minute to unpack that verse. First, he says that no one on earth is alone or exempt. All mankind faces temptation – and yours is really no stronger than anyone else’s.

Second, he reminds us, “God is faithful.” The whole of Scripture is account after account of God’s fidelity, His faithfulness, to His creation, to His character, to His Covenant of grace for His people. He is faithful. “Who is like Him, seated on the throne? The mountains bow down, every ocean roars. Praise Adonai!” “Beautiful Lord, wonderful Savior, I know for sure, all of my days are held in Your hand … You gently call me into Your presence, guiding me by Your Holy Spirit.”

The next line says, “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” Sometimes we hear that line as, and some Bibles translate it saying, “He won’t let us be TESTED beyond what we can handle.” Tested implies that God is giving our faith a trial, to see if it’s real. God does put tests in front of us, but I think the context of this sentence holds that Paul meant to sayGod won’t let us be TEMPTED beyond what we can bear.” Here’s why I believe that’s what Paul meant. God does not tempt us. James is clear about that in James 1, “God does not tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” God does not drag us away from Himself. Temptation is an invitation to DISOBEY God. Satan gives us those invitations. Paul’s line in I Corinthians 10:13 is in the passive voice: “God will not allow us to be tempted beyond…He will not let Satan invite us to disobey in ways God will not give us an answer to.

But God will allow us to be tempted – that’s the broken, free-choice world we live in! But the last line in today’s passage says, “God will also provide a way out ….Claim God’s PROMISE!

The third step in overcoming, resisting the next temptation is to claim God’s promise. After confessing our sin, after repenting – turning around and walking the other direction – we ask for God’s help.

In the margin of your Sermon Notes Page, scribble down a possible way out for you from your most susceptible temptation.

 

These are, indeed, three practical steps toward overcoming temptationassume responsibility for your own actions, be on guard for the next temptation, and claim God’s promise of a rescue; but the only real security is in a living relationship with Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.

As we move into our time of prayer, let’s begin with a moment of silence as we each confess an area of temptation we are susceptible to slipping into, repenting of those times we have decided to go that direction, and asking Jesus to walk alongside us every day, as our Savior and our Lord.

 

Resources:

Family Bible Study; “Advanced Bible Study Commentary”; Winter 2002-03; Pp. 58-65.

01/17/2016 – Matthew 6:25-34 – “The Promise of Peace”

 

Audio version

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 6:25-34

“The Promise of Peace”

01/17/2016

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Mighty God of majesty and rest, we come to You today, gathered as Your people, because we remember the Sabbath and we hope to make it holy. Give us what we need to find our rest in You, through Jesus our Savior, Amen.

 

So, most of you know I just came back from 2-½ weeks in Alaska with Brianna. This year Jennifer was able to also go up. Our vacation schedules weren’t exactly the same, so we each got to spend a week with her alone, and we also got to spend a week with her together.

Shishmaref, AK, is a small island where, it seems, everyone is literally related to everyone! One morning I was having breakfast with Clifford Weyiouanna, one of the island elders, along with his friend Florence Olanna. Flo was telling me about all the children and grandchildren that are currently in her house (I’m guessing it’s about 12, in an 800 square foot house); and so I asked her how she is able to be responsible for that many people. Flo told me that long ago she made a deal with God. I asked what she meant and she said, “I said to God, ‘Lord, I will help raise whatever children you bring me to help raise if You will do all the worrying.’ And that’s what we do.

 

As a father of three and a pastor of 7 dozen, I have tried to make that same deal with God. Is it possible to be free from anxiety? Do you need help, like I do, in learning to deal with worry?

Because there’s a Seahawks game happening right now that I know some of you really want to see the last half of, I’m gonna give you the one-sentence version of this sermon right now (although if this game is anything like last week’s game, the Seahawks won’t score until the 4th quarter anyway). Are you ready? Because of God’s promise to provide, believers never need to be overcome by worry! That’s it! Do you trust Him for that?

 

Today we read from the largest single body of Jesus’ teachings; we know of it as “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). What Matthew tells us is that Jesus gave us these words while speaking from a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Listen to this short section, from Matthew 6:25-34…. —-

25‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

       28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own….’

 

What’s the first word in this passage? “Therefore”. What is the “thereforethere for? They’re there for the answer to the paragraph immediately preceding. In that paragraph Jesus talks about how money and stuff and even others cannot be our main priority (Commandment #1: “You shall have no other gods before me!”). So, our bank account is not to be our main priority. “Therefore, I tell you, don’t worry about your stuff!

 

Real quickly, name three reasons Jesus says we shouldn’t worry:

  1. Worry is UNPRODUCTIVE.

Jesus had just warned His followers about the tyranny that comes from giving highest value to our material possessions. He alerted them to be devoted to God rather than to money.

The “therefore” means that deliverance from worry comes as the direct result of giving first place in our lives to God!

He says that when we worry we don’t add a single thing of value to our well-being. All worrying does is bring us down. It is a completely unproductive means of making anything good happen. Psychologists tell us that 95% of what we worry about never happens, so why did we worry? And the other 5% wasn’t stopped by our worrying … so why did we worry? The best that worry might bring about is an ulcer, or hypertension, or insomnia. Worry is unproductive.

  1. Worry is UNBELIEF.

In verse 30 Jesus calls us worriers, “you of little faith”. Remember, Jesus was speaking to His followers. He was talking to people just like you and me. They got up that morning, they went to the outdoor sanctuary, sat on the damp grass, surrounded by flowers and birds and the beauty of the lake and nature. And they’re there to listen to Jesus. And Jesus says, “O you of little faith!

They had what some would call a “saving faith” – the faith to trust Jesus for salvation; but they lacked the faith to allow them to trust Him or all of life’s needs.

Most of us here in this room have that “saving faith” – but are you one who needs to take that next step of faith and trust God for our daily needs? That’s a question we probably need to ask ourselves every day. Today, do I trust You, God, in every circumstance?

Jesus reminds us here that our heavenly Father already knows what we need. Do we believe that? How do we pray when we wonder why He hasn’t given us what we think we need? Paul sums this belief up in Philippians 4:19, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!” A growing faith is one that believes this kind of promise, even when we can’t see the source of the answers to our prayers.

We worry when we don’t believe this is true. Worry is, by definition, unbelief!

  1. Worry is UNNECESSARY.

Look at the underlined verse in your Sermon Notes Page. In contrast to people who do not claim to follow Jesus, we who do make that claim are to give ourselves to the diligent pursuit of God – to know Him and become more like Him – to “seek first the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God”. When we do, Jesus makes a promise: “all these things will be given to you as well”.

This section commenced with a “therefore”, and now it concludes with a “therefore”. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow….” Since it is an act of unbelief, and since it is totally unproductive, worry is utterly unnecessary!

 

All of this is true because the peace which passes understanding, the peace which alludes us when we worry, that perfect PEACE is available with Jesus. If your life feels like it lacks peace, maybe we just need to invest some time and trust with our true Lord and Savior.

That is His invitation to us. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus bids us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

Florence Olanna showed me how to partner with God – how to give Him the heavy side of the yoke, how to trust Him with my day-to-day worries. As we move in to our time of prayer this morning, I invite you to concentrate on the areas of our lives where we need to find rest for our worried souls, all who are tired and overly burdened, let’s come to Jesus. And claim His Promise of Peace. Amen.

 

Resources:

Advanced Bible Study Commentary; Winter 2002-03; LifeWay pub; Pp. 50-56.