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1 John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This morning, some of our men are away on a continuation of a mission
trip we started over the Labor Day weekend. It will probably take at least
one more trip for them to complete the renovation of the old A-frame cabin
at Jenness Park to transform it into a staff dormitory.
Last Winter, our men went on another trip-we spent the night beside
San Antonio Lake on a Men's camping trip-not the brightest idea we've ever
had. Let me tell you that there isn't a word in the English language to
clearly communicate how miserable and cold it was there. As my bedtime
came and went, I couldn't talk myself into leaving the warm fire and walking
back to my Aztec to sleep. Finally, I gathered up the will to go lay down
on my soft air mattress and bundle up through the night to get some sleep.
And sleep I did for about an hour or so-that's how long it took for the
air mattress to deflate. This was my first time to use the air mattress.
I reinflated it and made sure the stopper was in good and got back in my
sleeping bag to go back to sleep. An hour later it was deflated again.
When I got home, I tried to find the hole so I could patch it, but never
did find it. It doesn't take a big hole to let all the air out of an air
mattress. Given enough time and pressure, even a microscopic whole is enough.
My point is that it isn't just the big stuff that does damage; sometimes
even a small problem can cause huge discomfort. The same is true with our
walk with the Lord. When we confess our sins, we can't just focus on the
big stuff, because the slow leak in our life will get us just as surely
as the huge gash in our soul. Over time, even our "small sins" will render
us ineffective in our Christian walk. We need to confess everything, even
the small stuff.
When I couldn't fix the air mattress, I replaced it with a new one.
This Summer, and I underscore the word Summer, Susan & I returned to
the same Lake and enjoyed a good night's sleep on a new air mattress-one
without holes. The Scripture promises us that God will forgive our sins
when we confess them, but we have to confess them to enjoy his forgiveness
There was another time when I noticed a problem with a leak, but that
time I didn't do anything about it until it was too late. The leak wasn't
in an air mattress--it was in my boat. About a decade ago, we bought an
old 14-foot wooden boat to take out on the lake in the summer. When we
moved from California to New Mexico, we hauled the boat with us and when
we moved back to California three years ago, some of the men from the church
drove it out here for us. About the second time I put it in the water in
New Mexico I had a couple of friends from the church with me. Now the boat
is rated for 4 people, so I didn't think anything of asking two other people
to join me on the Lake. What I didn't stop to think is that what the manufacturers
of the boat meant by four people was 600 pounds. At the time, I weighed
about 280 pounds and I was the smallest of the three.
Dan shifted his weight on the back, and when he did, the boat took on
some water. But I didn't reach for the bucket to bail it out. It wasn't
any big deal as far as I was concerned. I'd pull the stern plug when we
got back to shore and drain the water out. With a normal load on board,
it might have been right, but we didn't have a normal load. While I was
busy fishing, the weight of the load in the boat and the water we took
on was enough to drop the back of the boat enough that we slowly began
to take on water. By the time we noticed it, it was too late. The boat
sunk and we swam to shore. Luckily, we were on an Army Corps of Engineers
lake and they helped pull my boat out, but not exactly in one piece-it
was pretty torn up. When I remade the boat, I put enough Styrofoam in it
so it would float even if it was 2/3's full of water and I installed a
bilge pump. Today when I take on even a little bit of water, I pump it
out. I don't wait until I get to shore to drain it. I learned a lesson
from sinking my boat--never wait to take care of a small leak. The Scripture
teaches us to confess our sins-it doesn't say just the big ones, we need
to confess them all.
But that doesn't mean we don't need to confess the big stuff too.
Whenever I've traveled, I've gladly submitted to the extra precautions
the government has mandated since the terrorists attacks on 9-11. Yes,
they're inconvenient, but necessary. With that said, I've also chuckled
a few times as I've pondered the irony of some of the policies. Recently
I read a report from someone who saw a rotation of the National Guard Shift
at an airport as he waited in line to go through his security check.
The soldier that was about to relieve the guard on duty had to go through
the medal detector, just like everyone else. He handed his M-16 rifle,
his handcuffs and other highly metallic items like his flashlight to the
security personnel before he walked through the medal detector. The alarm
still went off, so they patted him down and discovered a Swiss army knife
in his pocket. "Sorry, sir," the security officer said to the soldier,
"but this item is prohibited."
After confiscating the pocketknife, the security guard gave him back
his other items, including his M-16 and let him in the secured area of
the airport so he could do his job.
Fresh Illustrations (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
It is possible for us to be so focused on the small sins that we commit
that we overlook the gigantic attitude problems we have. Greed, pride,
laziness, arrogance-these and other attitudes are huge problems that we
can easily overlook while we are confessing the small acts of sin that
plague all of us. Yes, we have to watch out for the small leak, but we
also have to avoid becoming comfortable with gigantic problems.
Matthew 23:23 says, "How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious
law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the
tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the
law-justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not
leave undone the more important things." (NLT )
Why do we need to be careful to confess all of our sins big and small?
Because our enemy is anxious to exploit our weaknesses.
You don't hear me talk about movies much, because frankly I seldom go.
But I am a Harrison Ford fan, and do watch some of his movies on video
occasionally. There is one scene in particular that I love from one of
his Indiana Jones movies. Jones encounters a master swordsman who taunts
Jones by swinging his weapon in beautiful symmetry, communicating very
clearly that he intends to slice and dice Jones into a million pieces.
Jones looked like he was impressed with the show of force as he drew
his pistol and shot the man. There are a couple of life lessons I've learned
from that movie clip. One is don't miss the obvious. Instead of showing
off his skill with his sword, Jones' opponent should have been more observant
and noticed that he was unprepared for the coming battle. Or to put it
another way, don't take a knife to a gunfight.
Don't think for a minute that your battle is with your will. You don't
need to just exercise more discipline or bear down a bit harder to be successful
in your Christian walk, you need God's help.
Paul wrote, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against
the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephes.
Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons-don't take a knife to a
gun fight, be prepared. The means that God has given we sinners to be cleansed
is to confess our sins-large and small-our actions and our attitudes. And
when we do, He has promised to forgive us of all our sins, but His promise
is more than just to forgive us, He's promised to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
Take a moment to think about sinful actions and attitudes in your life
that you need to confess. Confess them now, and discipline yourself to
make regular confession a part of your daily walk with God. Why daily?
Because we sin daily, don't we? Keep a short account with God, don't let
your sin build up. Confess it regularly and enjoy the forgiveness and cleansing
He gives when you're faithful to confess your sins to Him.