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Temptations

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Opening: Greeting UCC Family and welcome to another United Christian Center Online worship experience. THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE…LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD! I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE AT THE END OF JULY! PARENTS THE KIDS WILL BE BACK IN SCHOOLS SOON! REJOICE!
We are in the final week of our Sermon Series Fighting Temptations. I pray you have been blessed by those who stood here before me. I know they have provided some encouragement and they let us all know that WE have the ability to fight off temptations! My assignment this morning is to keep the conversation going, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray that our discussion today will be impactful and life changing.
If you have your bibles please turn with me to the book of John 18 We are going to read 4-11 for context but our thought for this morning will come from verse 11, Jesus is getting ready to encounter those sent to arrest him! and it reads:
4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” 10 Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Mal-Kus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
New American Standard Bible, 1995 Edition: Paragraph Version (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Jn 18:1–11.
Many times I have read this story and focused on the arrest of Jesus, and the cutting off of Mal-Kus’ ear becomes a punchline related to Peter's personality. But God showed me something else! I thought it was fitting for our sermons series to use Peter's actions to illustrate our ability to become tempted to get in the way of God’s plan. Tempted to develop solutions that are contrary to what God has already ordained or put in motion.
My title this morning if you're taking notes, is Put your Sword away! I know this seems odd to discuss putting away a device used for Fighting in a Series entitled - Fighting Temptations. Today the Sword, as mentioned in John 18:11 is going to be symbolic of us getting in the way of the WILL OF GOD! The Sword represents us disrupting Gods ordained plan - and we must FIGHT THE TEMPTATION TO DO THIS!
Far too many times, in the heat of life's battles, when our heart is racing, when we are passionate and/or upset about something, we are Tempted to pull out our swords BUT God wants us to keep them in the sheath, because he already has a plan in place. Let me be very clear, there are situations in our life where God wants us on the battlefield fighting! For example, fighting off the negative influence of Satan! But there are other times, where he wants us to stand still.
2 Chronicles 20:15 and 20:17 puts it this way.
‘15 Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s
17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you,
Peter found it difficult to stand still while observing the arrest of Jesus - He wanted to pull out his sword and fight. As we dig into the story and the personality of Peter we can see why Peter was Tempted.
First let's talk a little about Peter, an understanding of Peter's background and personality will really help you pick up what I'm throwing down! :-0
Simon Peter, was one of the first followers of Jesus Christ. He was an outspoken, enthusiastic and passionate disciple, one of Jesus’ closest friends, an apostle, and a “pillar” of the church. Peter was strong-willed, impulsive, and, at times, some might have called him rude. But for all his strengths, Peter had several failings in his life. Still, the Lord who chose him continued to mold him into exactly who He intended Peter to be. Peter lived as a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Being a natural-born leader, Peter became the de facto spokesman for all Twelve disciples. More significantly, it was Peter who first confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” a truth which Jesus said was divinely revealed to Peter. Peter was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, along with James and John. Peter was that dude you always wanted around you if you thought something was about to go down
Peter loved Jesus, and He struggled with the thought that one day Jesus would be killed. Matthew 16:21-22 says:
21From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” - Matthew 16:21-22
In verse 4 of our Text, we are at the point in John's rendering of the life of Jesus that he is getting ready to be arrested and subsequently crucified. He had just finished praying to God to remove this tremondous burden but Got up from prayer realizing He had a purpose to fulfill! Jesus predicted His death at least three times in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and the book of John offers even more predictions. So Peter and the others knew this day would soon come but they refused to accept it. So can you imagine what was going through Peter's mind. I am a visual person and I can just see this playing out in front of Peter.
(ACT THIS OUT)
4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
(ACT THIS OUT)
As this dialogue takes place between Jesus and the Roman Soldiers, in my mind, Peters is pacing back in forth. Judas’ presence is not helping…thats His homboy now on rolling with the enemy. Maybe the other disciples are trying to calm him down, people got there cell phones out recording…The disciples still trying to calm Peter down, maybe they and remind Him that Jesus predicted this...but Peter is not trying to hear none of that! He probably pacing with one hand on his sheath! And in verse 8 when Jesus had to tell them for THIRD TIME...I AM HE; SO IF YOU SEEK ME LET THESE GO AWAY!
I can imagine that Jesus' voice might have raised a little bit and pushed Peter over the edge and he cut that poor man's ear off. AND JESUS HAD TO JUMP IN AND SAY HOLD ON PETER WAIT A MINUTE…CHILL... “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
why is this important? Because if Jesus doesn’t stop Peter and Peter incites a brawl, maybe Jesus never gets arrested, and maybe he never gets crucified, therefore no resurrection, therefore no SAVIOR for you and I!!!! The cup that Jesus refers to in verse 11, is the God ordained plan for the Salvation of the world.
And in the heat of the moment, and with emotions running high Peter was tempted to disrupt the plan of God! Saints of God this is a story that we should all be able to relate to, while some may argue the symbolism here is a little bit of a stretch. There is no doubt in my mind that like Peter we all can find ourselves in situations where we are tempted to get in God's way. We are all guilty of putting our personal motives, no matter if our intentions are good, ahead of God. We get into trouble when we think we know what’s best. A gentlemen by the name of Charles Stanley, listed four reason why we are tempted to pull out our sword and get in God's way:
We are Tempted BECAUSE We don’t understand the whole story.(CHARLES STANLEY)
When Jesus was being arrested in the Garden, Peter was still determined to disrupt the plan. That’s why he drew his sword to fight for Him. He didn’t understand that Christ’s death was essential for the Lord’s plan of salvation. Sometimes God’s will is unexplainable or seems unreasonable from our perspective because it may involve suffering, pain, or loss. But the Lord’s plan is so much greater than ours because it’s a heavenly one. Although it may include hurt and hardship, it’s always the best.
We are Tempted BECAUSE-We are prompted by sincere devotion and loyalty to intervene when someone is hurting or suffering.(CHARLES STANLEY)
It’s difficult to watch people suffer, especially loved ones. Our immediate desire is to fix the situation if we can. We want God to heal every physical or emotional ailment and meet every need, but that’s not always how He operates. Our protective love may actually hinder what the Lord wants to do in the other person’s life. This calls for discernment because Christians should help and care for one another, yet our priority is to follow God’s will. We can’t rescue everyone from trouble, but we can help them by seeking the Lord on their behalf. Instead of immediately requesting relief or healing, we should ask the Lord to keep them faithful, submissive, and humble until He accomplishes what He desires in their lives.
We are Tempted-BECAUSE We have a strong tendency to take up another’s offense.(CHARLES STANLEY)
When we see someone being mistreated or misused, we may want to do whatever we can to right the wrong, but the Lord could be working in that person’s life through the unfair situation. If we get between God and what He is doing in someone else, He then has to deal with us before He can achieve His purpose in the other person’s life.
We are Tempted-BECUASE We interfere because of our selfishness.(CHARLES STANLEY)
When Peter denied Jesus three times, he was thinking about his own safety. Being in the center of God’s will requires that we deny ourselves. We must be willing to let Him use painful and difficult situations to sift and sand us into Christ’s likeness. And we also have to trust Him to do the same in the lives of those we love.
I KNOW I SAID THIS BEFORE BUT LET ME SAY IT AGAIN...We get into trouble when we think we know what’s best, our good intentions are no good if they get in the way of God’s plans. I have four practical examples of how this plays out in our lives today. Situations were its common to be tempted to interfere with Gods plans for the reason I just discussed. Theses are situations were We need to put our swords away and let God do what He does!
1. Put our sword away and let God work on our..Children
Those of us that have been blessed with children know the joy and pain of raising them. The balance, especially in the later years, of when to interfere and when to step back is extremely delicate. It's like when we are teaching them to ride a bike, we should let go and let them pedal but we fear they are going to fall.
One of the most quoted scriptures about raising children states “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
But trusting that that training has stuck is totally different. That's where God steps in, through Prayer and Faith we must believe that we have done what we needed to do and trust that God will take them the rest of the way! We must step back and see the big picture, understand the whole story. Just like God rescued each and everyone of us according to His plan, He will do the same for our children.
Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;
God’s got this!
2. Put our sword away and Let God Bless You!
The ultimate blessing that God has given is the new life and forgiveness that comes through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The material blessings we enjoy from day to day are temporary, but the spiritual blessings available to us in Christ encompass time and eternity. We get in God’s way when we are tempted to focus on the material things or rate our spiritual blessings based on our possessions. When this happens we tend to go out and acquire things we can display as a sign of God's blessings. The two Greek words translated as “blessing.” in the New Testament carries the meaning of happiness and good words or the good report that others give of someone. The best life is available for those who love and fear God and order their lives according to His Word. Romans 4:6-8 ties this happy blessing to those whose sins are forgiven, for they know the relationship to God has been restored. We cannot allow our own selfish desires to convince us that material things, things we can’t take with us in the end, are our true rewards. Let not block God's ultimate blessing of NEW LIFE IN HIM!
3. Put our sword away and let God fight for our.. Marriage
Finally, marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. The body of believers that make up the Church are collectively called the bride of Christ. As Bridegroom, Jesus gave His life for His bride, “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25–26), and His selfless act provides is an excellent example of the sacrifice required in marriage. But Unfortunately, there are many battles that take place in the home that husbands and wife's fail to give over to God! We don’t have the time to cover them all but one that really fits our narrative today is the Temptation to fix your Spouse. If you are not sure what I mean by this, this is where you take on the role of God to develop a plan to address all of your spouse's short falls. There are many many things that I am sure my wife will tell you need fixing in my life, but it is not her job to do it. And here is some more symbolism from our key text. Every time a spouse addresses issues that God is responsible for, it's like cutting off the ear, or injuring your loved one. This is because we are not equipped to do it right. We will use the wrong words, bring up old stuff, intentionally say things that are harmful...And just as Jesus had to stop what he was doing to heal Mal-kus’ ear. He will have to stop and heal the wounds you cause in your Spouse, therefore delaying and disrupting the plan. This behavior could be catastrophic in a relationship where there is an unbelieving spouse. Allow God, in His timing to RENEW THE MIND of our loved ones.
END
There are many other examples of getting in Gods way! I am sure some of you can think of a few more, but I want to close with this thought. We have have identified that getting in Gods way ultimately disrupts the plan He has for our lives. We have discussed the impact Peter would have had on our Salvation had Jesus not interfered! But there is one more thing that I believe is very important. If we do things outside the will of God and have any measure of success, not only do we mess up the plan, we steal His Glory! If Peter kills the Roman Soldiers the story would become about the Peter saving the Savior, if we are the one dictating our children's every move, then they will thanks us rather than thanking God, and if we are the ones that “FIX” our spouse then its all about us and we never see the power of God in our marriages. The Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe, chooses us individually and then creates us exactly as He wants us to be. Scripture is clear that every human being was created by God for His pleasure and His purpose (Colossians 1:16). Therefore put away the sword and watch God go to work. Look for opportunities to praise Him as he works in your Favor! Look for opportunities to praise Him for our Children, praise Him for your happiness, praise Him for the sanctification that is taking place in your marriage ! Put away your Sword and Fight off the Temptation to get in Gods way!
LET US PRAY >>>>>> IMPACT LIVES ON PURPOSE FOR PURPOSE!
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