Sermons

Summary: AS WE FACE CHALLENGES AND TEMPTATIONS IN LIFE, WE SHOULD NOT BE SO CONFIDENT AS TO BELIEVE THAT ON OUR OWN STRENGTH WE CAN TACKLE THEM.

Facing the Inside

THERE ARE CERTAIN TOPICS APPROPRIATE FOR MEAL-TIME AND OTHERS THAT AREN’T. THIS PAST WEEK, I TOOK PASTOR PAUL HUNT TO FURR’S FAMILY DINING. THIS GAVE HIM A TASTE OF SOME GOOD TEXAN FOOD: FRIED OKRA, BLACK-EYED PEAS, CORNBREAD AND THE LIKE. FURR’S IS AN ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT RESTAURANT. THIS TRIGGERED ALEXIS MEMORY OF A STORY I TOLD HER REGARDING MY EXPERIENCE AT A BUFFET RESTAURANT CALLED “ROY’S CHUCK WAGON” THAT I WENT TO AS A TEENAGER. UNFORTUNATELY, THE WORD “CHUCK” IN THE MIDDLE OF IT BECAME ALL TOO REAL FOR ME. THE PROBLEM WAS THAT I HAD ALREADY TOPPED OFF MY TANK WITH FOOD BEFORE I DISCOVERED THAT THEY SERVED ICE CREAM. BEING THAT IS ONE OF MY WEAKNESSES, I INDULGED MYSELF. I STARTED FEELING SICK AND WENT OUT TO GROAN IN THE CAR. WHEN THE OTHERS CAME OUT TO JOIN ME, IT WAS NOT A PRETTY SIGHT THEY FOUND.

SOMEHOW, MY OLDEST DAUGHTER ALWAYS WANTS THAT STORY EVERY TIME WE GO TO A BUFFET. “HEY DAD, DO YOU REMEMBER THE TIME YOU ATE SO MUCH THAT YOU THREW UP?”

NOT A PARTICULARLY PLEASANT STORY OVER A MEAL.

I WONDER HOW WELL JESUS’ DISCIPLES FELT AS HE RAISED A CERTAIN TOPIC WITH THEM OVER A MEAL. MY GUESS IS THAT THEIR STOMACH’S KNOTTED AND TURNED. NOT BECAUSE OF THE FOOD, BUT BECAUSE THE TOPIC WAS SO TROUBLING.

LET’S EXPLORE THE SCENE TOGETHER AS WE TURN TO MATTHEW 26:20-22.

“WHEN THE EVENING HAD COME, HE SAT DOWN WITH THE TWELVE. NOW AS THEY WERE EATING, HE SAID, ‘ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, ONE OF YOU WILL BETRAY ME.’ AND THEY WERE EXCEEDINGLY SORROWFUL, AND EACH OF THEM BEGAN TO SAY TO HIM, ‘LORD, IS IT I?’”

THE IDEA THAT ONE OF THEIR OWN WOULD BETRAY JESUS WAS A NEW CONCEPT TO THE DISCIPLES. THEY HAD ALREADY HEARD JESUS PREDICT HIS DEATH…BUT THAT ONE OF THEM COULD BETRAY HIM? THIS WAS NEW, STARTLING AND DISTURBING NEWS! THEIR IMMEDIATE RESPONSE WAS EXCEEDING SORROW. AS THE ENORMITY OF THE CHARGE SINKS IN, ONE BY ONE EACH MAN ASKS, “LORD, IS IT I?”

HERE WE FIND A CRISIS. EACH DISCIPLE IS CONFRONTED WITH THE FAITHFULNESS OF THEIR OWN HEART. THERE ARE THREE ASPECTS OF THE DISCIPLES RESPONSE THAT CAN HELP US UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING A LOOK INSIDE OUR OWN HEARTS.

1. BE WILLING TO LOOK AT OURSELVES, RATHER THAN POINT AT SOMEONE ELSE.

I FIND IT UNUSUAL THAT EACH DISCIPLE “ONE BY ONE” AS MARK 14 HIGHLIGHTS…ASKS JESUS WHETHER THEY ARE THE ONE. THE WAY THE QUESTION IS PHRASED ANTICIPATES A NEGATIVE RESPONSE FROM JESUS, “SURELY NOT I, LORD?”

EVEN SO, I’D HALF EXPECT A RESPONSE OF, “IS IT HIM? OR HIM?” WITH A LOT OF FINGER-POINTING GOING ON… NOT THE INTROSPECTIVE QUESTION, “IS IT I?”

OR A RESPONSE OF, “WELL, I KNOW IT ISN’T ME.”

SELF-INTROSPECTION IS SOMETIMES THE LAST THING WE WANT TO DO. YET, IF WE ARE TO TRULY UNDERSTAND OUR HEARTS, WE MUST BE WILLING TO EXAMINE OUR OWN HEARTS.

NUMBERS, CHAPTER 15, TELLS THE STORY OF A MAN WHO WAS GATHERING STICKS ON THE SABBATH DAY. THE PREVIOUS VERSES MAKES IT CLEAR THAT THIS WAS A SIN OF PRESUMPTION, NOT OF IGNORANCE. WE KNOW THAT AS A RESULT THE MAN WAS STONED TO DEATH.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THIS INCIDENT IS FASCINATING TO ME!

LET’S PICK UP THE STORY IN VERSE 37 OF NUMBER 15.

READ: NUM.15.37-40

THE PURPOSE OF THE TASSELS WITH THE BLUE THREAD ON THE ROBE WAS TO REMIND GOD’S PEOPLE WHO THEY WERE! IT WAS TO REMIND THEM TO EXAMINE THEIR HEARTS. IT WAS TO HELP THEM NOT TO SEEK AFTER THE DESIRES OF THEIR OWN HEART AND OWN EYES.

SOMEHOW, WE HAVE GOTTEN AWAY FROM EXAMINING OUR OWN ACTIONS AND ATTITUDES. WE DON’T HAVE A SPECIAL TASSEL OR THREAD TO REMIND US TO LOOK INSIDE OUR OWN HEARTS FIRST…TO SEE IN WHAT WAY WE SHOULD GROW.

INSTEAD, WE HAVE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO CASTING BLAME. WE TEND TO POINT OUR FINGER EVERYWHERE BUT AT OURSELVES. IT’S MY UPBRINGING THAT CAUSES THIS REACTION, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT, IF THAT OTHER PERSON HADN’T ACTED IN THAT WAY—THEY TRIGGERED THAT REACTION. AND IT MAY BE THAT THERE IS SOME TRUTH TO WHERE WE PLACE BLAME. IN ALL LIKELIHOOD, WE ARE NOT ENTIRELY AT FAULT. WE LIVE IN A SINFUL WORLD, WITH SINFUL INFLUENCES AND AMONG SINFUL PEOPLE. IN A PERFECT WORLD, WITH PERFECT INFLUENCES AND PERFECT PEOPLE…WE CERTAINLY WOULD BE A LOT LESS LIKELY TO ACT IMPERFECTLY!

HOWEVER, THE PROBLEM IN POINTING FINGERS IS SERIOUS.

IT MISSES THE ONLY PART OF THE PROBLEM WE CAN FIX… OUR OWN. WE CAN’T FIX THE OTHER PERSON, THE DEVIL OR THE WORLD. BUT, WITH GOD’S HELP, WE CAN BEGIN TO ADDRESS AND CONFRONT OUR ISSUES. WHEN WE FAIL TO FACE THE ISSUES IN OUR OWN HEART AND LIFE, WE ROB OURSELVES OF THE OPPORTUNITY TO GROW. GOD CHALLENGES US TO “GROW IN GRACE”. REGARDLESS OF OUR AGE OR SPIRITUAL MATURITY, GOD HAS MORE GROWTH FOR US TO DO IF WE ARE WILLING.

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