my installation as Senior Pastor on January 22 I have been
teaching about prayer because I believe prayer is the key
to intimacy with God. For the last few weeks we have been
talking about the Lord's Prayer, specifically in which we
have learned how to pray. That is what Jesus was doing when
He gave us His prayer. The disciples had asked Him, "Lord,
teach us to pray." He taught us to:
Recognize our relationship with God. We say, "Our Father," and
from there we let God know that we realize who He is. We
realize His power and His ability to answer our prayers
and to do all things.
Thank Him for giving us our daily needs and our spiritual needs.
convinced that as people pray our nation becomes stronger
that people become connected with God, that families are
mended and healing takes place in America and in souls and
in lives. That is what we pray today. We pray we will experience
the healing power, the emotional and the spiritual power
of God. When we pray the next phase of the Lord's Prayer,
"Lead us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil,"
the first thought that comes to mind are probably the same
thoughts that Norman Peale had as a young man. As a young
man, when he was going through adolescence, he would see
a pretty girl, and he'd start thinking thoughts he didn't
think he should be thinking. He wanted to go into the ministry
so he was rather concerned that he was having these thoughts.
He went to his father, who himself was a minister, and he
said, "Dad, I've got a problem. I see these pretty
girls and I think these thoughts I shouldn't be thinking."
His Dad said, "Well son, you can't stop the birds from
flying over your head, but you can keep them from building
a nest in your ear." A picture is worth a 1,000 words
isn't it? When we read the words that Christ taught us to
pray, "Lead us not into temptation," at first
glance that is what we think of. But the truth is the nests
are never built in our hair unless it is a symptom of a
deeper struggle. The birds fly over our head, oh yes, but
they don't build a nest in our hair until we are wounded
and we try and find a way to heal our hurt through our dysfunction.
In our dysfunction we find ways to start listening to the
dysfunction comes in so many ways. Sexual addition, alcohol
and drugs, controlling, compulsive clinging, organizing,
over working, overspending, spending money we don't have,
building up debt, need I go on? The list goes on and on
and on. Out of our wounded ness, the symptoms of our dysfunction
take place and the love we were seeking isn't there. The
wounds remain because we're trying to deal with the symptoms
rather than dealing with the problem and the core issues.
The core issues are lead us not into the temptation, yet
we think this is going to make you feel superior, this is
going to make you feel worth while, this is going to give
you intimacy, this is going to give you love, this is going
to make you feel good and we listen to those lies and we
allow the birds to make a nest in our hair. Today our prayer
is, "Lead us not into temptation." Don't listen
to the lies, the lies that say the cure for our wounded
ness is found in the dysfunction, when the cure for our
wounded ness is truly found in the promises of Jesus Christ.
The truth is found in these words and these are all straight
from the Bible: "You are God's child; you have been
redeemed and forgiven; you cannot be separated from the
love of God. You have not been given a spirit of fear but
you have been given a spirit of power and love and a sound
mind. You are the salt and the light of the earth. You have
been chosen and been appointed to bear fruit, you are God's
workmanship; you can do all things through Christ who strengthens
you." These are the promises and the reality that we
find in the scripture of the Bible upon which we can rely.
So when you hear those words, those lies that say this is
how you find satisfaction, this is how you find love, this
is how you find self esteem, as dysfunctional things that
you know are not scriptural, that you know God does not
want you to do, you can pray this prayer that leads to healing:
"Don't allow me to listen to those lies Lord, but help
me to hear the truth of the positive gospel of your message
that gives me hope and self esteem and good news through
Jesus Christ who comes and heals and brings me hope and
joy and goodness."
us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Oh Lord."
We see circumstances and troubles and tough times come into
our lives sometimes because we've allowed the birds to nest
in our hair and sometimes because it just is and happens.
The bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust
alike. Bad things happen to everybody, not just bad people,
not just good people, but bad times come upon everybody.
What happens to people with a strong heart that has been
founded upon the rock of Jesus Christ? What happens to people
who have built themselves upon a foundation of the love
of God? They have the ability to take these circumstances,
this evil if you will, and turn those circumstances into
good. Because we realize in all things in all ways, God
is blessing us. Not maybe He will bless us, not He has blessed
us, not going to bless us sometime in the future, but in
all things and in all times in all ways, God is blessing
had the privilege of listening and hearing Dan Cathy here
in the Cathedral this morning. His father established a
tremendous business with Chick-fil-A. He established it
out of brokenness. It was in the lowest time in his life
where the whole idea of Chick-fil-A came to him. He had
two restaurants and his partner who was his brother. Within
a very short period of time his brother was killed, so he
lost not only his brother but he lost his partner in business.
Not long after that one of the two restaurants burned down
and he didn't even have insurance to re-build it. So he
was without his partner, he was in grief for his brother,
he was struggling to make ends meet, and he had to have
some surgery. Then he found out he was allergic to the anesthesia.
He almost died in the operating room. Within a few weeks
he had to go back in for more surgery and he was bedridden
at a time when the business required more attention than
ever. It was during this time of distress the idea of Chick-fil-A
was born. If it were not for him being still in the presence
of God, his mind would never have opened up to the creativity
and the joy and the promise God was bestowing upon him.
Instead of saying, "poor me," he said, "God
what blessings do you have for me today?" God revealed
our prayer, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from evil," is a prayer of healing; emotional and
spiritual healing allowing God's spirit to come and touch
our soul and our spirit and reveal to us it is Jesus Christ
and His grace and His love and His forgiveness that makes
us whole today. Deliver us from evil.
was 11 years old when he became an apprentice on his father's
slave ship. The year was 1736 and as John became a teen
he became the most uncouth of men. He abused the slave women
on the ship, he had absolutely no morals, and no ethics,
whatsoever. By the time he was 17 years old even his own
father could no longer tolerate him. His friends didn't
like him, his father didn't like him. So, they forced him
into the British Navy with hopes and expectations that maybe
the Navy could straighten him out. He abandoned the Navy,
was arrested and ultimately sold to a slave trader in Sierra
Leon; who then gave him to his mistress and for over a year
she abused him and she whipped him and used him as an object
of satisfaction. He was finally able to escape that imprisonment
and found himself on a British ship and there he was given
a book. The book was a means for him to pass the time as
they made their way from Africa to Britain. As he read this
book he discovered there was a story about Jesus Christ.
It was a story about redemption and healing and hope. It
was a story that shared with people about how they could
renew their spirit. He didn't give it much thought, but
he did think, "If it is true, well so be it, but it's
not for me." The next night, March 10, 1748, a storm
hit their ship and this is what he wrote in his memoirs.
went to bed in my usual indifference. I was awakened by
a violent sea that broke on me. Much of it came down below
and filled the cabin where I lay. This alarm was followed
by a cry the ship was going down. We had immediate recourse
to the pumps but the water increased against all of our
efforts. Almost every passing wave broke over our heads.
I expected that every time the vessel descended into the
sea she would rise no more. I dreaded death now and my heart
foreboding the worse if the scriptures to which I had long
since opposed were true."
ship survived and he survived. He came out of that storm,
not just the physical storm of a battleship against the
waves, but a spiritual battle for himself against giving
himself to Jesus Christ. He gave himself to Jesus Christ,
only a man from this wretched state could've written the
beloved song we all know:
Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now see."
(Words, John Newton íV 1779)
no one, no one who is too bad to come in and there's no
one too good to stay away and so the Crystal Cathedral has
big doors and it has lots of windows and we invite everybody
to come and to experience the presence and the grace and
the healing of Jesus Christ. Don't follow the temptations
to run away. Don't follow the temptation that says it won't
work, don't follow the temptation that says you can go on
living your sinful life and it's not going to make a difference
and you're not going to feel any consequences, don't follow
those lies. Listen to the truth. The truth is the amazing
grace of Jesus Christ who loves every single one of us,
who created every single one of us in His image who knows
us all by name, who knows how many hairs are on your head,
who gave his life for you so that you might have ever lasting
life. No greater love has a man but to give his life for
his friends. Jesus gave his life for you. Today, I ask you
to allow Jesus to come and bring healing into your soul
and into your mind. I ask you to follow that call today
and to say, "Yes," to Jesus Christ and thank Him
for saving you today. Will you pray with me right now?
Heavenly Father, we thank you, that You have snatched us
from the evil one, that You have delivered us from evil
and today we no longer follow the temptations that hold
us back, but we move forward in faith knowing the truth.
We know you created us and we are yours. We thank you God
for forgiving our sins, for making us whole and bringing
healing and hope and joy and goodness into our lives as
we walk and we follow your path today. Thank you Lord Jesus.