3RD SUNDAY OF LENT - JUST GIVE UP #4
We all bear the scars from and are filled with regrets for those moments when anger boiled over and vitriolic acid filled words were spewed everywhere. We’ve all wrestled with various levels of self-doubt and self-esteem because of abusive words or actions. We’ve all had our lives hijacked by an unforgiving spirit over something we just can’t seem to turn over to God.
Like Hugh, our spiritual lives and our emotional lives have been Hijacked. How do we get them back? How do we avoid getting Hijacked again? As we look at a portion of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, we’ll explore how Paul encouraged this fledgling church to avoid being Hijacked.
The culture in which this early Corinthian church existed was sort of like a cross between New York City and Las Vegas. It was filled with culture but it was filled with every kind of distraction you could think of as well, both legal and illegal. Many of the Corinthian Christians were brand new Christians who had been converted out of the various cults and pagan religions in Corinth. Some were converts from the Jewish Synagogues.
They all struggled with many of the same issues we struggle with today. How do you live the Christian life? How do you live like Christ? They all felt like they were being tested because there was so much temptation around them. Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (NRSV)
 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
 and all ate the same spiritual food,
 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.
 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did.
 Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.”
 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.
 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents.
 And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.
 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
There’s a whole lot of stuff we could unpack in this passage. But since it’s communion Sunday, I want us to look at three things as we prepare to come to the Lord’s Table this morning. And we can understand these better if we Give Up and Lift Up.
I. LIFT UP AND OWN UP:
A. Remember, when we talk about Giving Up we’re not talking about throwing in the towel or quitting. Instead we’re talking about Surrendering ourselves to the Will of God so we can be more faithful and walk more like Christ. One of the things Paul implies in the first verse is that we have Lift Up and Own Up. He writes: “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea.”
Part of what Paul was saying was that when they were freed from bondage in Egypt, no one was left behind. Every one, the richest and the poorest; the tallest and the smallest; the young and the old alike were ALL, lead through the sea. God didn’t hold the waters back for just a few but for everyone. We have to Own Up to that. We have to Own Up to the fact that we’re in this together.
I also think Paul is saying is that we have to Own Up to the fact that we’re no better than anyone else and no worse than anyone else. We have to Own Up to the fact that we’ve all messed up. We’ve all blown it from time to time. We’ve all fallen short of God’s expectations.
B. And that means we’re all called to Lift Up one another in prayer. And to do those things that lift each other’s spirits and encourage each other in the faith.
It might be something as simple as a word, a gesture, a pat on the back or just a smile. But it could also mean going the second mile and writing a note of thanks or a word of encouragement. It could be a phone call or a card. But when we Own Up to the fact that we’re all in this together and begin to Lift Up one another in prayer and in practice, it will help us face the trials of the day.
II. LIFT UP AND LIGHTEN UP:
A. Paul goes through this whole list of things the Israelites did that was wrong while God was leading them through the wilderness, you begin to wonder how any of them made it. You begin to wonder why God didn’t just give up and have done with it. But Paul says all of those things can be seen as ways of teaching us what NOT to do and how NOT to live.
And Paul also tells us not to think more of ourselves or our walk with Christ than we ought to think. He tells us to Lighten Up and be honest about our relationship.
In verse  he writes: “So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.”
B. I ran across a great story this past week. The actress Megan Fox played Sam Witwicky’s girlfriend Mikaela Banes in the first two Transformers movies Transformers (2007) and Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). Yes, there have been three and a fourth one is in pre-production. Ms Fox was also in This is 40 and Jonah Hex.
The Wall Street Journal reported on a recent interview with the actress in which she talked about being filled with “the Holy Ghost” as she grew up in a Pentecostal home. The article also provided a brief and largely positive history of Pentecostalism in America.
The original interview with Ms. Fox had a fascinating exchange between she and interviewer that I think illustrates exactly what Paul was saying.
Megan Fox said: “I can’t stand pills. I don’t like drinking. I don’t like feeling out of control …. And I know what you’re thinking, Then why would I want to go to church and speak in tongues? You have to understand, there I feel safe. I was raised to believe that you’re safe in God’s hands. But I don’t feel safe with myself.”
When we Lighten Up and are honest about who we are and the faults and weaknesses we have, then we can Lift Up to God those areas in which need to be strengthened.
III. LIFT UP AND HOLD UP:
A. Finally, I think Paul tells us to Lift Up and Hold Up the name of Jesus. In verse  Paul writes: “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
That may be the most encouraging news Christians that we can receive. Not only will God not let us be tested beyond our capacity but God will provide the way out so we can endure the testing. We all need to hear that. Young and old alike. We need to instill this in our children and in our youth, now, so in later life when the temptations come like and the storms of life rage, they will be able to endure and find the way out.
B. It is their choice, our choice, it is their life, our life. But the Good News is that there is help we can have in making those choices. God has provided for us in Christ. Our youth need to know that they are not alone in these choices and decisions. We need to know that. We need to know it at the very depth of our souls so when those times come and they will come, we will be ready.
When temptations come; when friends are asking us, daring us, taunting us to try something we know is wrong; Hold Up the name of Jesus.
When self-destructive thoughts fill our heads and those voices from the past tell you that you’re worthless, that you’ll never amount to anything, that you’re a failure and you’ll never be strong enough, pretty enough or smart enough; Hold Up the name of Jesus.
When self-doubt tries to invade your soul and tell you that no one could ever love you, not even God. Hold Up the name of Jesus.
Draw from the very core of your faith; and look that voice in the eye and say: “In the name of Jesus Christ, leave me alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, leave me alone.”
It may only take one time, it may take 100 times but if you say it loud enough and long enough the doubt and temptation will flee because that’s all they can do. They have no power except the power you give them. They have no power because Christ has already defeated them.
And if you have Surrendered yourself to Jesus, He has the power to Lift You Up and Help You Up and Hold You Up if you will Hold Up the name of Jesus, the son of the living God in the face of those struggles and temptation. Not only for yourself but for your friends and family as well.
Hold Up the name of Jesus for them. Pray, “Lord strengthen my kids, my grandkids, my friends, my family, my neighbor’s kids so they too can say “In the Name of Jesus Christ, Leave me alone” when temptations surround them..
Does anyone remember the show “Hee-Haw?” Archie Campbell played the character Old Doc Campbell. One day a patient came to see the doctor and reported that his arm was broken in two places. The doctor said, “Well, stop going to those two places.”
It’s an old joke, but it’s good advice. If you are in a place where you are being tempted, get out of there! End that relationship. Quit stopping off at that bar. Cut out those late night snacks.
Temptation is strong, but God is stronger. Do your part to remove yourself from temptation and God will help you overcome it. “God is faithful,” writes Paul. “God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” God will provide a way out, but you have to take it.
The secret to resisting temptation is to stay connected to God and to stay connected to other believers. Lift Up and Own Up to the fact that we’ve all fallen short and we’re in this together. Lift up and Lighten Up, don’t take yourself too seriously or think more highly of yourself than you should. Finally Hold Up the name of Jesus especially in the face of temptation. For He will help you and Lift You Up so you can overcome and not be Hijacked by Temptation and Sin.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.