My strength is your strength
“Urges…and how to overcome them!”
Promise: My strength is your strength!
A few months ago my family and I met at Polaris Mall. It was a gorgeous Friday Night. We began wandering through the mall and ended up at JC Penny’s. I wanted to buy something, it was probably another shirt, and my wife had this coupon that if you spent $30 you received $10 back. The one problem was that the coupon was in her truck. So I volunteered to walk out to her truck and get this coupon. I made my way though the mall eventually getting to the food court and then right out the door. Remember now, it’s a Friday Night and being Friday Night teenagers are everywhere – doing what teens often do on Friday Nights – just hanging out.
As I make my way to the parking lot. There are around
three black teenagers who are being rather loud. I mean loud - do you shout across parking lots at people you’ve never met? That’s what they are doing. This one kid shouts to another guy who happens to be walking next to a teenage girl. “Hey, your girl friend is good looking!” Well, who knows if this girl was his girlfriend – he was with a group of people. Plus, it’s none of his business. So I’m now following this loud conversation in the Polaris Mall parking lot and this black kid sees me and he says, “Are you staring at me? I bet your staring at me because I’m black!”
Now here’s the truth, I was staring at him, but I was not staring at him because he was black. I was staring at him because he was a jerk. He was being an obnoxious jerk. Obnoxious knows no skin tone. The color of your skin does not instantly make you a bad driver, a lousy student or obnoxious. Obnoxious is a choice. I looked at him and said, “Man, I’m not staring at you. But that was a lie and I’ve since repented of that.” I had this sudden URGE to tell him off. I wanted to say to him. “You are a big mouth punk. I advise you in the future to keep your comments to yourself or someone like me is going to pound your head into the ground.” Now that’s what I had the urge to do. But I didn’t. I walked away. Primarily because I did not want to escalate the situation and then see printed on the Front Page of the Dispatch, “White minister fights black teen at Polaris.” Speaking of the Dispatch – did you happen to see this article printed on August 16 entitled “Evil Urges!” On October 4, 1982 an engaged couple, Annette Cooper and Todd Schultz had this urge to smoke pot and drink beer. So they go to the house of their eventual killer Chester McKnight looking for pot. He sells them what they want. Now Chester McKnight and his friend Ken Linscott fall prey to their urges. Chester is high on cocaine. His urge is to rape this woman and to hold off her boy friend at gun point. The boy friend is not cooperative so McKnight shoots him six times. Annette then screams so McKnight shoots her too. Sometimes our urges can be downright deadly!
Now just what is an urge? An urge as a noun is an act of impelling action.[i] Have you ever had the urge to go to the bathroom? David & I were watching an episode of Seinfeld where Kramer trying to find a bathroom. It’s all funny when it’s someone else, but not when you have to go! An urge is a drive, an impulse, a longing, a craving or a yearning! But I like how Peter defines an urge! Turn in your Bibles to the end of your New Testament and find 2 Peter 1. DO YOU NEED A BIBLE? Peter wrote two letters. Both are to people who call themselves Christ-followers. 1st Peter was written to instruct Christians on how to deal with persecution on the outside. 2nd Peter was written to confront false teachers on the inside. Now maybe you wonder… “What were they teaching that was false?” Jesus is not coming back. And since he did not keep this promise – consider all his other promises bogus as well. If you are new today – you’ve come at the perfect time. Today we begin a brand new series called “Urges and how to overcome them!” Look at how Peter defines an urge. Let’s read verses 1-4.
Peter defines an urge as a desire! Now I will admit. Not all desires are evil. Not all urges are evil. You might have the urge to turn on your TV. You might have the urge to get a cup of coffee in the morning. Maybe your coffee choice is Decaf Venti, soy, no foam, no whip, 180 degree, double cupped, white mocha. I pray you don’t get this urge very often because if you do it will cost you $4.50 every time. Maybe you have an urge to text or to hunt or to shop. Let’s be clear on the urge facing these Christians around AD. 67. They have this urge to give up on trying to live for God. I mean how can a person live a godly life – a holy life in this world plagued with evil desires and false teachers? Go back to verse 4 again in 2 Peter 1. Can I ask a question? How many of you would like to escape the corruption of the world? What does Peter mean by corruption? Corruption is “moral decay!”[ii] Did you hear about Penelope Trunk?[iii] She was twittering about her miscarriage. In essence, her "tweet" celebrated how the miscarriage was going to save her the time and cost of an abortion. We live in a corrupt world. I pray it would shock you to think that magazine producers would stoop so low as to put Marge Simpson on the front cover of Playboy. But they did. We live in a corrupt world. Halloween is around the corner. College co-eds are being encouraged to show allot of skin when it comes their costumes. Kelsey Corcoran, a junior at OSU said, “No one even thinks about wearing actual scary Halloween costumes anymore – it’s about how much skin can I show and who can I impress.”[iv] Our 21st century world and Peter’s 1st century world have collided and both are woefully corrupt! And your response to me right now – might be “DUH!” “Tell me something I don’t know Greg. Yes, Greg. The world is corrupt. I have fallen prey to this. My urge to gossip, my urge to drink, my urge to lust, my urge to be selfish, my urge to hoard – we are all contributors. Telling me I’m corrupt does not help. Give me something that does help!” God says that you can overcome this world and all its (our) evil desires and urges! Do you want to know how? Go back to verse 3. (3&4)
You can participate in the divine nature. You can rise above addiction. You can live Holy Spirit empowered by claiming the promises of God. I read through all of 1 & 2 Peter and I found six times Peter refers to the “evil desires or urges” that plague us. Every time he mentions an evil desire he gives us an awesome promise from God enabling us to overcome that urge. Here’s Promise #1: My strength is your strength. Look again at the first three words of verse 3. Peter wants you to know that Jesus keeps his promises! Now what did Jesus promise 37 years ago to Peter and 1,942 years ago to us. Turn to John 14:16. The HS is IN you! His strength is your strength. You are not alone. You have divine power pulsating throughout your body. When you hear the word “power” what comes to your mind? My male mind immediately goes to horsepower – so I think of engines. Car, truck, train, plane or rocket propelled. It does not matter. I’m talking raw power, baby! (Video clip) But I also associate power with authority! I am large and in charge. I am a king, an emperor, the President and you are going to do what I say! Now that could be for your good or for his ego.
Now don’t kid yourself – Nero was in charge in Peter’s day and President Obama resides in the Oval Office today, but both are mere men. Jesus however possessed ultimate power. People loved to listen to him because he spoke with authority. Jesus even had power to cast out demons from Satan himself. NO urge is too much for Jesus. SO this is how this works. Let’s go back to my Polaris parking lot confrontation. When that kid spoke to me – I wanted to lash out. But the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He said only two words. “Calm down.” And so I did. His strength became my strength. Then he brought to my mind two Proverbs. Proverbs 15:1: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 16:32: Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
Are there times in your life when you need to calm down? The urge to be angry wants to take over! You could do this. You could grab hold of your Copper Magnetic Jesus Bracelet or you can call out to the Holy Spirit. “God, I need your strength right now. I want to be mad. I want to be greedy. I want to lust.”
We keep making excuses. Philadelphia's Highway Patrol officers hear all kinds of creative excuses that drivers give for speeding. Here are some of the officers' favorites. A man told the officer he was rushing to the hospital because had been stung by a bee, and was allergic. A man going south on I-95 was stopped near Washington Avenue doing 79 mph. "My engine misses, and I'm trying to clean out the carburetor." One speeder said simply, "I'm trying to beat my wife home.” I'm due in traffic court!" An elderly person was stopped after doing 73 mph. When told he was getting a ticket, he asked the officer, "Is there a senior citizen's discount?"[v] We have the HS. The question is - are we listening?
[ii] Logos Bible Software,
[iv] Amy Saunders, Columbus Dispatch, Sexing Up Halloween, October 22, 2009
[v] Good Clean Funnies.com Email received on September 30, 2009