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Summary: We are all ambitious, in one way or another. That is how God created us. We should be ambitious for who we are.in Christ Jesus. Ambition is a healthy thing when it motivates us to reach our God-given potential.

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For thse not familier with an Anglica Service: there are four Scripture readings prior to the message. Today's assigned readings are: Job 38:1-7 & Job 34:41; Psalm 104:1-9; Hebrews 5:1-10 and Mark10:35-45

What does it mean... to be ....ambitious?

When is ambition.... healthy,... and when can it get us....into trouble?

Let us look into the faces .....of James and John in our Gospel Lesson.... And see if they mirror ....a part .....of our own lives.

And hopefully .....we will be able to direct our ambitions .....toward something more noble .....than having the best seats .....in the house.

Let's begin with A question: .....Are you ambitious?

Of course you are.

Ambition, ....in and of itself, ...comes naturally.

It is how ....we are wired.

Healthy ambition ....is a sign .....of A positive self-esteem.

It is what parents try to instill .....in their children ....from the earliest age:

"You can do it, honey, ....just keep trying"

"Just a little more practice, .....and you can be ......even better."

Ambition motivates us .....It motivates us to get up in the morning ....and to want to do ...our best.

At the heart of ambition ...is a hunger for recognition, .....a hunger for being wanted .....and for many ....a hunger for a reward.

According to the Scriptures, ....ambition ....is in our genes.

In the Book of Genesis, ....we are told how God took a lump of moist clay ....and fashioned it into a man ....and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, ....and he became A ....Quote...living being. (Genesis 2:7)

The word translated ..... "living being" ....is the word, "nephesh," (NEH-fesh) .....which literally means, ....."a bundle of appetites."

Beloved .... We are a living being..... a bundle of appetites.

And it is this bundle of appetites ....that stirs A hunger ........within us.

A hunger to savor ....the goodness of life,..... to flex our muscles.... to prove our ability..... to accomplish..... great things.

A healthy appetite .....is essential ....to good health, ....and it lies at the heart ....of a healthy ambition:

We hunger for something we do not have, ....and that hunger drives us... to excel .....to want more.

A more prominent position, .... a better salary, .... a loving family ..... a comfortable home, .... a good name in the community.

Once firmly established, ..... (Slow) this pursuit of excellence ..... will stay with us ....for a lifetime.

Many students study hard ....to make good grades ....because they want ....to be recognized.

Young adults put in long hours ....and go the extra mile ..... because they want to receive recognition ....and hopefully move up.... the ladder.

Middle-aged adults.... save ....and invest their finances ......in order to enjoy ....a comfortable retirement.

Ambition.... that force within us ....that compels us to strive to reach ..... our God-given potential.

Unfortunately, ....there is also..... a dark side..... to ambition. .......It is called greed.

Greed .... Instead of wanting to do something with your life to the glory of God.

You pursue what..... you can get for yourself ... and the more you get... the greater the need.

Left unchecked, ........greed is like a cancer.... it grows and spreads..... It infects .....everything it touches.

In addition, ....Greed is cyclical ....the more you have, .....the more ....you want.

And this leads to an addiction .....where, no matter how much you have, ..... it is never ....never quite enough.

Whether it is a hunger for power.... for prominence .... Prestige .... Or for worldly possessions,

Once greed takes hold of ambition, ..... it corrupts it, ..... and then .....kills it. (Pause)

This is sadly ....the story of Kenneth Lay,..... the founder and CEO ....of Enron.

He grew up in Missouri, .....the son of a part-time Baptist preacher.

His family ......was dirt poor.

But Lay .....was ambitious.

He managed to get accepted..... into the University of Missouri, ....where he earned his bachelor's degree.

He went on from there ...to land a job with Exxon ....in Houston.

That led to a government position..... as a federal regulator.

In no time, .....he was undersecretary...... for the Department of the Interior.

He was a rising star.

When the federal government deregulated energy, ....Lay returned to the private sector .....to form the company ........ Enron.

It quickly became ......a high-tech corporation.... on the cutting edge.

Its stock ......soared.

Investors could not get enough of it.

Then it fizzled..... Then it crashed.

As it turned out,..... Lay and his executives .....were falsifying reports..... cooking the books.....so as to exaggerate earnings.

Now Lay's friends ....would say ....He was a good man .....at heart.

Yet, .....something went..... wrong.

Instead of enjoying the fruits of success, ..... unhealthy ambition .....got the best of him.

In the end, ....he was convicted of fraud.... and conspiracy.

He would have gone to prison, ....but he died of a heart attack ....awaiting his sentence. (Pause)

Beloved .... There is a dark side to ambition, .... Its name is .... greed.

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