Summary: This sermon series asks the question - Do we really look like Jesus? Are we disciples or are we just tagging along? Are we becoming imitators of God?

The Next Best Thing

Eight Secrets to Imitating Christ Pt 3

Ephesians 5

A couple of weeks ago we began this series looking at Paul’s challenge to the church to be Imitators of Christ. The question that we posed last week and will continue to pose during this series is “Are you the next best thing to Jesus in the lives of those around you?” Paul shares eight secrets to imitating Christ in this passage - practical stuff to help us look like Him. We have looked at the first three - Being careful how we walk - and redeeming our time making the most of life, and making it our purpose to understand the will of God.

Today I want to continue with verse 18 -

1) Secret # 4 - Be careful what touches your heart (v18) - Friends I want you to listen to me this morning - everything that is lawful for you to do is not good to do. There are plenty of things in this world that are lawful for you, that are socially acceptable for you, and are even touted as good for you to do but in reality they are the destroyers of your heart. I want you to understand this morning that the things that you do, the things that you own, and the things that you see and listen to can touch your heart deeply.

• What you do can touch your heart - The choices that you make - make you. Sin will touch your heart. II Peter 2:17-22 Promising freedom sin ensnares the heart - and drags you down a road that you don’t want to be on. Sin is sin and the traps of Satan are all alike they feel good for the moment but like a mouse trap they snap shut with painful results. You know the last thing a mouse feels before he is smashed in the head by a steel rod? It’s pleasure - he’s eatin cheese then bam.

 Well friend I want you to understand this morning no one shoots up with heroin, snorts cocaine, or puffs crystal meth - thinking man I want to loose everything in my life, my family, my friends, my teeth - they are thinking man this feels good. But soon feeling good is replaced with just feeling normal - and then by shooting up just to feel bad because bad is better than hell.

 No one starts to gossip to ruin peoples lives - but friend that is the outcome. Loose lips sink ships. The bible says “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;” That goes along with the old saying it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

 No young girl gives herself to a boy thinking - you know in 6 months I’m going to realize this guy is a jerk, you know 9 months from now I am going to have a baby, you know on my wedding night I’ll think back to this day and regret the fact that I can’t experience this moment with the man I will spend my life with. It just feels good.

Drinking, smoking, dipping, sexual promiscuity, and even gossip may be socially acceptable and even socially promoted but friend “the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” Pastor Dan you can’t possibly be saying this - oh yes I can - as Brother Terry Knighten said at camp so many times “I don’t write this stuff I just read it.”

• What you own can touch your heart - Often the treasures of this world touch our hearts. Not just stuff but the desire for stuff. Jesus stood with a rich young man one day - who really wanted to know what he needed to do to be saved - Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor and follow him - the young man couldn’t. Why? Because what he thought he owned; owned him. His stuff had touched his heart. We live in a world of beg, borrow and steal but whatever you do remember that the one who dies with the most toys wins. I have always found it interesting that people who don’t have enough money to feed their families or to stay out of debt can buy lottery tickets every week. Funny how people with no money to tithe or share or give call the church on a cell phone to ask for money for oil or electricity. There is always money for cigarettes and beer but never money to pay the bills. We live in a world that tells you you deserve the best - you deserve the luxuries of life. We live in an affluent country - and marketers are paid for how much they can sell you - you don’t deserve fancy cars and jewelry any more than a person born in Haiti does - you have been blessed with many wonderful things but each one is a gift. Too often the things we own really own us. We are not free - we are just paying on time. Friend if you own something in your life that you would not give up if God asked for it - you better get rid of it now.

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