Sermons

Summary: One-third of church goers have quit watching online services and experts predict they will never come back to church! They are falling away. They are playing games with God and we must alert them to the terrible consequences.

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY WITH GOD

Isaiah 1:13-17

INTRODUCTION

A. HUMOR

1. An avid fan of the Washington Redskins took his dog to a friend’s house for an afternoon of watching their favorite team. The friend was surprised to see the dog, but felt like the dog might be more exciting to watch than the Redskins. He was right!

2. When the Redskins kicked a field goal the dog went crazy. He started barking, he ran around the room, and did several rolls and flips. The friend was amazed.

3. He asked, “If he does that for a field goal, what does he do when they score a touchdown?” The owner replied, “I don’t know; I’ve only had him two years.”

B. MOST PEOPLE LIKE TO PLAY GAMES

1. Football, baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, board games, card games, computer games, etc. Americans are ‘game-crazy.’

2. In addition to sports games there are a myriad of popular TV game shows we all could name: Wheel of Fortune (Pat Sajak & Vanna White); Jeopardy (Alex Trebek); Family Feud (Steve Harvey); Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Regis Philbin) (And, yes, that's our final answer), etc.

3. Then there’s Board Games: Monopoly, Trouble, Operation, Chutes and Ladders, Risk, checkers, Chess, Candyland, dominoes, and a million other games. Then there’s crowd or party games where singles or groups of people compete to win.

4. But we must be careful not to carry our tendency of gaming over to God or the things of God. Yet playing games with God is nothing new. Listen to what God says:

C. TEXT Isaiah 1:13-17 (MSG); “Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious GAMES….I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening….Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.”

2. Jer. 6:16-20; “I’m visiting catastrophe on this people, the end result of the games they’ve been playing with me.” [MSG]

D. THESIS

1. To many people, religion is nothing more than a game to be played. That’s what I’m talking about this morning: “Games People Play With God.”

2. What are some of the games people play?

I. THE GAMES PEOPLE LIKE TO PLAY

A. LET’S MAKE A DEAL

1. TV Hosts – Monty Hall, Wayne Brady. People dress crazy & act like nuts. OBJECT: Contestants are offered a deal & have to figure out if it’s better than what they already have.

2. It happens in REAL LIFE – we are hit with financial disaster or a rebellious child – and we’re ready to make a deal; “God, if you’ll get my teenager off drugs, then I will _____.” “God, if you get the creditors off my back or save my marriage, then I’ll ______.”

3. BARGAINING – is trying to get God to do something for me in exchange for something I would do. [“I’ll quit drinking; I’ll quit gambling; I’ll start going to church regularly; I’ll start tithing.”]

4. JACOB (Gen. 28:20-24) wanted to cut a deal with God; “If you’ll take care of me, I’ll pay you my tithes.” God does respond to faith if we seek Him, but wrong motives are still wrong motives.

5. The sad thing is, the bargaining chips we use are things we ought to be doing anyway. What people don’t know is that God doesn’t bargain; His promises are all written down in contract form. When we start meeting the requirements, the blessings start flowing.

6. I know of one man who got saved so he could date a Christian woman. God got the last laugh when she ended up moving away and he stayed saved. He had wrong motives, but God worked it for good. Another game people play is…

B. GUESSTURES/CHARADES (crowd game, play at parties)

1. Object: You assume an Identity, then you ask others to identify who you’re impersonating.

2. EXAMPLES IN THE N.T.

a. Simon the Sorcerer Acts 8:13, 20-21. He pretended he was a believer in Jesus. He got baptized and started attending church. But his true colors came out when he offered Peter money to give him the power to work miracles. Peter exposed his false motives: he was only impersonating believers!

b. Ananias & Sapphira, Acts 5:1-2. They also pretended they were very spiritual, giving a large amount of money to the church, but God exposed them as hypocrites who just wanted “spiritual” status. Pretenders.

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