Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Cubs’ fans blame curses and a kid but not their own team for their failures. We will blame anyone and anything rather than take repsonsibility for ourselves and our moral failures, teen pregnancy, violence, evil during Halloween. God says no more!

Please e-mail me with any comments or if you use any part of this at your church at Mail4ChrisR@aol.com. I would love to hear about it. God Bless! - Chris

How many of you know about Billy Sianis’ goat? Sianis, a local tavern owner, tried to bring his goat into Game 4 of the 1945 World Series at Wrigley Field, only to be turned away. And so it was that Sianis, whose tavern remains a must-stop for Chicago Cubs’ fans, put a curse on the Cubs, vowing they never again would play in the Series. So when the Cubs lost this past week to the Florida Marlins for a chance to play in the World Series many people were blaming the curse.

They were also blaming Steve Bartman. Bartman is the kid who reached over the wall in game 6 of the playoffs which gave Florida a homerun that may have otherwise been caught. Bartman is the most-hunted man in Chicago since Al Capone. TV helicopters have been hovering over his house, reporters have chased his every step, and squad cars have been on round-the-clock surveillance in his neighborhood. Cubs fans may be blaming him for centuries to come for spoiling their chance to get to the world series.

Curses… Steve Bartman… I say to all those Cubs fans… get over yourselves. It was not a goat or a kid that prevented the Cubs from moving on to the World Series, it was the Cubs poor playing. The Cubs were up 3 games to 1 in a best of seven. They lost three games in a row, including two at home. They can’t blame curses or fans… they can only blame themselves.

This is the gist of our lessons from God’s word today. There are no more excuses for your bad behavior. Blaming others for our problems is an epidemic in our society. People pass the buck and attempt to take the attention and the blame away from themselves by pointing at someone or something else. In our litigious society this problem is running rampant. I once read about an FBI agent who embezzled $2,000 from the government, and blew it all in one afternoon of gambling. He was fired, but then rehired. Why? The court ruled that he had a gambling addiction and was protected under federal law because of his “handicap.” (H. Norman Wright, “After, You Say ‘I Do’”) We all have heard stories like this.

In a marriage devotional Renee and I read together before we go to bed, the author noted in an evening devotion, “Blaming cripples the atmosphere in a marriage. It tears a couple a part” (H. Norman Wright, “After, You Say ‘I Do’”). One partner blames the other for problems in the marriage. Sure someone is responsible, but in all things responsibility lies with both partners. It is easy to blame your spouse for a problem, but what are you doing to help solve the problem. Or maybe you are the one causing the problem, are you working toward reconciliation? Together, are ways being sought to make things right? Or do you just run away from the problems and hope time will heal the wounds?

Blaming cripples a marriage... in fact blaming cripples all our relationships. It is time that we take responsibility for our own actions. There are no more excuses.

In our passage out of Ezekiel, Yahweh, God through the prophet Ezekiel attempts to restore Israel to her former glory. Through this great prophet Yahweh explains to the Israelites that there are no more excuses for their disobedience and poor behavior. Children can no longer blame their parents for their sins. We hear it as a threat and forget that children almost always do suffer from the sins of their parents; addictions and dysfunctions that are often passed along -- although we don’t see or understand how. Adult Children of Alcoholics. Problems handling weight or money. Backgrounds. Reputations. But somehow the idea of blaming others is easier to grasp than actually facing the problem.

As verse 4 of Ezekiel 18 reads & is the theme of the passage, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.”

Now the people of Israel thought this was unjust. It is just unfair that God would be so hard on those who had wicked parents. Is it right that God would judge those who know him and follow him the same as those who don’t? Yes, because at some point those who did not follow God had the opportunity to make things right. The emphasis here is in recognizing your own sin and then repenting.

As Ezekiel declares in verse 31, “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit.”

That is pretty good advice for the sons in the parables Jesus tells the Pharisees in our Gospel lesson today. When we hear the story in Matthew of the two sons we think of obedience and either berate ourselves for not doing whatever, or commend ourselves for doing it when we didn’t want to (Of course we should be careful about doing this too much after all our ancestors aren’t Pharisees). Which of the two did what the father wanted? One had an excuse but did it. The other did not make any excuses but did not do it. Excuses or no excuses what is most important is that we do what is right. It is more important that we obey God’s will for our lives. The sons need a new heart and a new spirit.

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