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Lessons From a Sore-Mouthed Croaker

After recording the Sunday service on Friday night, Mary and I left Saturday morning for the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My sister Barbara has a house there that she is graciously allowing us to use. My daughter Molly, her husband Paul, and their kids Sam, Maryn, and Luke are here also (and Penny the dog).




The picture is of a croaker fish. As we walked a dock over the Currituckfish Sound last evening we saw a 10-year-old boy catch this fish.  He threw him back because he was too small, just to catch the same fish just a few minutes later! 

Maybe you’re thinking, these croaker fish are not too smart! And you may be right. But I am writing about temptation, and probably all of us have succumbed to the same temptation more than one time.


Some things we can learn about temptation from fishing: 
1. The enemy baits the hook with things that are attractive to us. For we all stumble in many ways. James 3:2  All stumble; the “way” varies from person to person.

“I often fish up in Maine during the summer. Personally, I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted.”  -Dale Carnegie

2. The enemy tempts us to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways.  (Fish need to eat right?)  When Jesus had been fasting for 40 days, he was tempted by the enemy to make bread from stones. Bread is not evil; bread is necessary. 
3. All temptations are a quick fix. We are tempted always to a source of pleasure that we are in control of.  Something that always satisfies. But so many of the “unfailing” pleasures of the world have a bitter aftertaste.  They promise more than they deliver.  There is a “hangover” of some kind.  Only God himself is truly an unfailing source of pleasure. A source of pleasure that brings fullness of joy. 

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  

Psalm 16:11

4. Temptations come from unfulfilled desires.  God’s plan is not to quench desire but to redirect it.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

(If you have 20 minutes today, the C.S Lewis essay, The Weight of Glory is truly a worthwhile investment of your time!)

The topic of how to resist temptation is a broader one than this can cover, but I think if mother fish were training their sons and daughters they would say:

  • Flee!  The longer you look at that bait, the more likely you are to take it. 
  • Learn! Your sore mouth is an indication that something is wrong. You’ve heard this before:  “The definition of insanity is…”  (You fill in the rest.)
  • Seek! A fish with a belly full of the right kind of food is less likely to go after the hook.

So maybe you have a sore mouth this morning. Please understand how God wants to use that painful experience to lead you to the one source of true pleasure. 

Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.  Proverbs 29:6

– Pastor Mike

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