First Sunday of Lent 2-28-2023

On T.V. today, we see a lot of political debates. Reporters
usually interview the winners and losers. To the losers, the
reporters often ask very blunt and often irritating questions.
I would like to take you to one of those interviews—except
the participants are not politicians.
They are Jesus and the Devil. The Devil, like in the gospel,
has just lost very badly in his debate with Jesus over such things as
power, prestige, values. I believe it would go like this—let’s
“Mr. Devil – How are you feeling after the debate?”
“Terrible, lousy – how would you feel if you just got your _____
kicked by Jesus?
“Do you plan on a rematch — A second debate?”
“You can count on it, but next time, I am going to develop a
new strategy, a new plan of attack! I’ll tell you one thing, Mr.
Reporter, the next time I won’t be wearing a red outfit with horns
and a tail. That outfit is too obvious. I must come up with some
new outfits, with some new temptations, and remember this—you
can count on one thing—I am not going away!” shouted the Devil.
Till the day we die, we are going to be tempted to do or say
things that hurt ourselves—hurt others—and damage our
relationship with God. We are going to wrestle on a regular basis
with how to keep things like food, work, relationships, sex, money,
computers, sports, the list goes on—how do I keep them in a
healthy perspective and not abuse them, not allow them to get out
of balance.
In these areas of our life and in many others, we are gong to
be under attack. We are in a Giant Tug of War with Mr. Devil.
It’s OK to tell little lies, your wife will never find out.
Cheating in school doesn’t hurt anyone. You don’t need God, look
out for number 1. Church is for hypocrites—you’re a virgin—
everyone does it—a couple of pills won’t hurt at all—come on—
just one drink. “A Tug of War”.
The Good News is that we are not in this “Tug of War”
alone. Our God has said over and over—I am with you. It won’t
be easy, but no matter how dark it gets—you are not alone. I want
to be your partner!
In closing, I have one final and very important point to make.
What happens when we blow it, when we give into
temptations that get us into trouble, cause us to sin, leave us with a
lot of guilt?
Do we pretend like it’s no big deal? I hope not.
Do we beat ourselves up over and over again with tons of
unhealthy guilt? I hope not.
Or, do we take responsibility for our actions—stop blaming
other people, sincerely ask for forgiveness and healing and move
on trusting in a God of second chances? A God who says, start
over – try again. I hope so.
“I am not going away”, proclaims the Devil.
“I am with you always, through it all”, shouts the Lord of
Hope. “Don’t forget, we will win the battle together—Believe it!”


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