8 years ago United Airlines Flight 93 was flying from Newark NJ to
San Francisco CA. Among the 37 passengers were 4 men who had a plan to wreak death and destruction. A little over 40 minutes into the flight, they put their plan into action, commandeering the cockpit.
What these terrorists did not know was the passengers locked out of the cockpit had another plan. Led by a 32 year old account manager Todd Beamer, a group of them found out by cell phone about the twin towers in NYC, and suspected Flight 93 was headed for the White House. They came up with a plan to storm the cockpit.
Beamer called the GTE Customer Center in Oakbrook, Illinois and told supervisor Lisa Jefferson they were planning to jump the terrorists. Then he asked her to pray with him. They began to pray: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name… As they finished, Beamer added, Jesus, help me. Then Beamer and his fellow passengers prayed another prayer: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ... Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Then the famous last words: "Are you guys ready? Let's roll." We know from the cockpit voice recorder Beamer and other passengers wrestled with the hijackers and forced the plane to crash into the ground, sacrificing themselves but foiling the hijackers' plan to crash into the Capitol or White House.
Many more heroes were made on Sept. 11, 2009. All of whom deserve to be remembered and honored. Firefighters, law enforcement officers, men and women serving in our military---many who died and many who saved lives. Would you pause in the presence of our Lord this morning in a moment of silence to honor their sacrifice?
On that plane 8 years ago there were two groups of people with 2 sets of plans. One plan was for evil; the other plan for good. One plan to kill and destroy, the other plan to save lives and prevent destruction. What happened on that plane is a picture of two sets of plans being carried out in the world today. Jesus described them in
John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
This morning I want to talk to you about two sets of plans and how they play out in your life. Specifically I want to focus on 3 truths to keep in mind about these two plans.
I. WHAT SATAN MEANS FOR EVIL, GOD CAN TURN TO GOOD. (Gen. 50:20)
One of the first questions on the mind of many on 9/11 was who is responsible for this?
It’s an understandable question in which usually leads us to ask another: why did God allow this to happen?
We reason this way: if God controls the universe and something bad happens, God must be to blame. The problem with that thinking is that while God allows many things to happen, He doesn’t cause all of them.
Someone asked a Civil War officer how the South lost the War Between the States when God was obviously on their side. He replies, “Well, I kind of believe the Yankees had something to do with it.”
Any answers to the questions about God and tragedy must take into account at two things: God’s sovereignty, and man’s free will. God doesn’t cause every bad thing to happen, though He obviously allows many tragedies. What God wants to do and will do is take what happens and bring good out of it.
You see this in the life of a young man named Joseph. In his youth he’s his father’s favorite son, the dreamer with a bright future. Later he’s betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit, left to rot in a dungeon far from home. If anyone has a reason to ask God why? It’s Joseph. But after Joseph’s dreams come true his brothers worry about how Joseph will treat them. Joseph, we’re sorry about everything. No hard feelings, right? Joseph’s response is recorded in
Genesis 50:20 …you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
Joseph says, Guys, you shouldn’t have done what you did. You meant to hurt me and kill me, but God had another plan- a plan to bring good even out of your evil.
Joseph is not sugarcoating sin. He’s not calling their evil good, but he is saying God in His wisdom and power turned tragedy into triumph.
God specializes in bringing good things from bad. He does not cause evil people to do what they do- He didn’t send these terrorists on their mission—Satan did. But God took what Satan did, and brought good from it. How many of you remember what a difference that day made?
On Monday, we were fussing about praying in school.
On Tuesday, we would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying.
On Monday, there were people trying to separate us by race, sex, color, and creed. On Tuesday, we were all holding hands.
On Monday, we were irritated our rebate checks had not arrived.
On Tuesday, we gave money away gladly to people we’d never met.
On Monday, we argued with our kids to clean up their rooms.
On Tuesday, we couldn’t get home fast enough to hug our kids.
On Monday, September 10th, life felt routine.
On Tuesday, September 11th, it did not.
What a difference a day makes![i]
There are days in your past, your future, or even right now that will make a difference in your life. It may be the death of somebody you love with all your heart. It may be a divorce you never wanted. It may be a disease that cripples your body and your spirit.
It may be dreams you watch slowly die a painful death. The world is full of broken people and we all spend time in the house of heartache.
You cannot always choose what happens to you. But you can and you must choose to hold on to your faith in God, a faith that’s convinced He can bring good out of the worst that happens. The devil will use tragedy to drag you down into doubt, discouragement, despair, and if he can, even death. But God has another plan. He will bring good out of what others mean for evil. Another important truth to keep in mind about these two plans is
II. SATAN WANTS TO FILL YOU WITH FEAR, BUT GOD WANTS YOU TO FILL YOU WITH FAITH. (2 Tim. 1:7)
The purpose of the attack on 9/11 was to scare us, to fill us with fear and anxiety. But these fanatical murderers underestimated us.
I remember in the days following being amazed at the courage I saw, from the bravery of firefighters storming burning buildings, to our brave soldiers who are the true heroes of our times. Even today there are still young men and women who courageously sacrifice their own safety to fight the war on terror and to help and save others.
Fear is one of the Satan’s most powerful weapons. He used fear to stir up rebellion among the Israelites in the days of Moses. They became so afraid of Pharaoh’s army they were ready to go back into slavery! The devil uses fear to paralyze people.
Even Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith, had his sturggles with fear. Paul encourages him in: 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. The word fear = timidity=being afraid of doing what you know you should do. This kind of fear does not come from God- it comes from the devil.
It’s the fear that keeps you cowering in the boat instead of stepping out in faith and walking on the waves. It’s the fear that keeps you quiet when you should speak up. It’s the fear that drains your faith and feeds your doubt.
God has another plan- to embolden you to do what’s right, to give you faith and wisdom to do the right thing at the right time. Faith is not foolishness, but it is living dangerously in the hands of God. The words God spoke to Joshua are good ones for us to take to heart.
Joshua 1:9 …Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
The devil wants to fill you with foolish fear; God wants to fill you with fearless faith.
Pat Tillman always had trouble staying out of the spotlight. As a young man, Tillman enrolled at Arizona State University, where he graduated among the highest in his class.
He was drafted to play for the Arizona Cardinals soon after, and was known as a player who have his all for his team. The Cardinals eventually ended up negotiating a deal for several million dollars.
But Pat Tillman decided to leave the NFL in May 2002, leaving behind not only riches but also a newlywed wife to serve a three-year stint in the army. Earning membership in the elite Army Rangers, whose motto is "Lead the Way," Tillman was deployed to Iraq in March 2003 with the 75th Regiment Ranger Battalion, and, after a brief break, was stationed to Afghanistan.
Tillman was ridiculed by many for passing up the American dream of fame and fortune to serve his country. On April 21 2004, Pat Tillman paid the ultimate sacrifice: he was killed while serving in Afghanistan. But he left a word of testimony to everyone who loves freedom: "To those who die for it, freedom has a meaning the rest of us cannot understand."
You might say Bro. Mike, this is what courage will do for you—get you killed! But sooner or later, we all die. The real question is do you die as a coward or a hero?
Satan’s plan is to keep you cowering and comfortable. God’s plan for you is to boldly go by faith where few men and women have gone before.
Matthew 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
III. SATAN WANTS US TO EMBRACE EVIL, BUT GOD COMMANDS US TO OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD. (Rom. 12:21)
One of the most common reactions to the events of 9/11 was the desire for revenge. TV
reporters interviewing everyday citizens invariably got this reaction: Let’s kill them for killing us.
The Bible suggests a different approach.
Romans 12:17-19 17Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Paul condemns vengeance, but commends justice. He says you cannot overcome evil by becoming evil. You can only overcome evil by the power of God’s goodness.
A good example from history is how America treats her enemies after we win the war. After WWII, Germany and Japan lay in shambles. The war had taken a terrible toll; these nations bankrupt and dying. Who helped these nations get back on their feet? It was the USA who helped rebuild these nations. Today Germany and Japan are strong nations, but it seems they have forgotten who it was who helped them recover after a war we won!
Every day you and I hear a lot about how violent Afghanistan and Iraq have become. But more and more soldiers returning home tell about how many schools and hospitals have been built, how many people who are so grateful for being freed by us. America is doing what we have always done- overcoming evil with good.
What’s true for America should also be true of you and I. God expects us to be people who overcome evil with good. When you are lied about, God says you be truthful. When someone insults you, don’t use insults to fight back- turn the other cheek. When others do you wrong, do not wrong them in return- do good to them. That’s not always easy. But one thing is certain: this is God’s plan for defeating evil.
It happened on a hill called Calvary 2000 years ago. The devil’s plan was to torture the Son of God, to heap scorn and ridicule on Him, to kill Him. And his plan worked, at least to some degree.
But God had another plan: for His Son to endure the worst the devil could dish out, and transform what looks like the worst defeat into the greatest victory. God’s plan made a way for every sinner to find hope and forgiveness and eternal life.
Eight years ago the Associated Press reported the discovery by rescue workers in the rubble of the World Trade Center of a large perfectly shaped cross, twenty feet tall. The cross was formed as a result of the destruction. It was made up of the steel that had been part of that great structure. Many of the workers cried, and the cross was lifted up and became a kind of rallying point and makeshift memorial. Out of all the destruction and pain of this world rises the cross. The place where God took tragedy and transformed it into victory.[ii]
This is what God wants to do in your life.
You sit here this morning and you’ve been asking over and over again Why? Why did this happen to me? Why did this happen to the one I love? Why, why, why? I don’t know you will ever get a satisfying answer to that question. But I do know if you’ll let go of your why and ask God bring good out of this He’ll help your heart heal and give you back your hope and peace.
You sit here this morning and you’re allowing fear to keep you from doing what God wants you to do. Maybe fear is keeping you from witnessing to that friend or family member. Or fear is preventing you from asking forgiveness. Perhaps God is calling you to ministry, and you’re scared of surrendering. You may be afraid to come to Christ and be saved today. Today God wants you to do one thing—refuse to let fear control you. Step out in faith, and God will give you courage to do what He’s telling you to do.
There are 2 plans to choose from. Right now, won’t you follow God’s plan for your life?
t[i] Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com, November, 2001
[ii] J. Michael Shannon, PREACHING, Jan./Feb., 2002, p. 66.