Monday Apr 22, 2019
Monday Apr 22, 2019
Monday Apr 22, 2019
Avoiding a Drifting Heart
Matthew 23: 23 – 28
IF GOD CAN MAKE A BUG’s BOTTOM LIGHT UP TO DECORATE THE NIGHT SKY, IMAGINE ALL HE CAN DO IN YOUR LIFE!
Dr. Evan Kane was the chief surgeon of Kane Summit Hospital in New York City.
He had practiced his specialty for 37 years.
Over the course of time he came to question the wisdom of using general anesthesia for every surgery.
He believed people would recover quicker if they only had local anesthesia.
Yet, no matter how convinced Dr. Kane was about his theory, he had one problem.
No one wanted to go under his knife while they were awake. Everyone he talked to had the same fear.
They did not want to feel the pain of the scalpel while they were awake during the surgery.
After much searching, Kane finally found a willing subject.
It helped that it was a relatively common procedure.
According to Dr. Kane's own records, ...... during his practice he had performed around 4,000 appendectomies, (P) so the procedure was almost second nature to him.
The patient was prepped and brought into the operating room. The local anesthesia was carefully administered.
As he had always done, he cut into the right side of the abdomen and entered the body cavity.
He tied off the blood vessels, found the appendix, excised it, and finished by sewing the incision back up.
To his own credit, he proved himself right.
Throughout the surgery the patient felt very little discomfort.
In fact, the patient was up and about the next afternoon, which was remarkable since this was back in 1921.
Back then when people had appendectomies they stayed in the hospital from 6 to 8 days.
It was a milestone in the world of medicine.
However what made it particularly noteworthy was that the patient and the doctor were the same person. Dr. Kane operated on himself. (Pause)
Believe it or not, that is what I am going to ask of you today.
What I want you to do is something like "spiritual exploratory surgery."
I want you to root around a bit in your soul, take a hard and honest look at your spiritual health, and to see if your faith walk is as healthy as it should be.
• Today we will see how the scribes and Pharisees ended up with the worst-case scenario
• Somewhere along the line, these men had drifted so far from God that they ended up with no heart for God.
• They were so far from God that they were plotting to kill Jesus.
• How could this happen, these men were supposed to be the cream of the crop when it came to being religious.
• They were the ones that people were to look to in order to see what it meant to serve and follow God.
• These men follow the law to the letter, but yet here they are, so far from God they could not recognize Him if He were standing right in front of them, WHICH HE WAS!
• Are the scribes and Pharisees so unique that what happened to them could only happen to them?
• Is it possible for me to drift so far from God, that I would no longer have a heart for Him?
• Wait, nothing can separate us from the love of God, no one can snatch us out of His hand, is that not what the Bible tells us?
• It sure does, BUT, we are a free-will being who can walk away from God anytime we choose.
• The context of the message today is that Jesus is confronting the scribes and Pharisees.
• Jesus will proclaim eight WOES against these leaders, chastising them in eight blind spots in their lives that was driving them from God.
• Not only were they drifting away from God, but they were also leading others to do the same thing.
• You know what is scary, how can folks who are so religious be so far from God?
• Let that thought bounce around in your mind, we will come back to that question later!
• Today we are going to look at three of the eight woes so that we can see how to protect ourselves from letting our heart drift so far away from God that we lose heart.
• Let’s turn to Matthew 23, we will be in verses 23-28, let’s start with verses 23 and 24
23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
Our heart will drift from God when we...
Allow the practice of putting the little things over the more significant things.
• The Pharisees were not treating the essential duties (how to treat people in a way that honors God) with the same sense of urgency as they were counting seeds.
• That would be like seeing your loved one with their arm almost cut off, and bleeding profusely, then you would get on them because their shirt does not match their pants?
• Jesus offers what God sees as weightier issues, justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
• Justice is making sure we give all their just due. Treating everyone evenhanded, in a fair way.
• Mercy is displaying compassion and kindness to the poor and miserable, displaying loving-kindness in one’s conduct toward others.
• Faithfulness is a commitment to one's promise and/or belief in God.
• The Pharisees were very religious, yet they lacked in these crucial areas because they were only worried about being self-righteous.
• Jesus dealt with this in Matthew 25 where Jesus talked about clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and visiting folks in prison.
• The people asked when was Jesus in any of those conditions, He replies...
• Matthew 25:40 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
• The religious leaders treated people with contempt, they were so wrapped up in being what they considered righteous, that they forget that God loves people and has compassion toward people.
• Now, let’s take it to a different level.
• Jesus knew the heart of these people, He also knew what they were going to do to Him.
• These men prided themselves on being righteous, yet these men, in their desperation to get rid of Jesus, were willing to accuse an innocent man, to condemn an innocent man to death.
• These men would participate in pronouncing an unjust sentence against Jesus. They were unmerciful toward Him, and they had no faith in anything He or the Father said.
• Jesus told them they were to practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness without neglecting the other things they were doing.
• In verse 24, Jesus uses some humor to make a point.
• It was common practice to strain one’s wine through a linen cloth to keep one from swallowing an insect, which would make one ceremonially unclean.
• Jesus said you all are straining gnats and swallowing camels (which would make them unclean also).
• Religious duty is essential, but we are not to perform that duty at the exclusion or in place of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
• Jesus called them blind guides, the blind cannot see where they are going nor can they be trusted to lead others.
• Let’s look at verses 25-26
• Matthew 23:25–26 25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Our Heart will drift from God by...
II. Focusing on what man can see.
• Now Jesus hits them with WOE number 6.
• These guys would clean the outside of the dishes and cups they would eat and drink from.
• Jesus was not condemning the practice, He was condemning the fact that these leaders were so focused on what man could see, the outside, that they paid no attention to the inside.
• Those pretty cups and dishes were littered with crusty and moldy food particles from past meals.
• These leaders were great at looking good on the outside.
• People wrongly surmised that because these guys looked the part, that they were the real deal.
• In the NFL, they love a big strong-armed quarterback.
• Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been so many prototype quarterbacks who looked the part but failed miserably.
• The year Peyton Manning was drafted, Ryan Leaf was that big strong-armed quarterback. San Diego selected him number 2 behind Manning in the 1998 draft out of Washington State.
• Leaf was 6’5”, 235 lbs, he could make all the throws and had a cannon for an arm.
• Many believed he should have been the number 1 pick.
• Leaf washed out, he looked the part, but could not play the role. His life is a sad story of failure.
• When you spend all your time focusing on what others can see, you will neglect what is important in life.
• How much time did you spend getting ready for church today? How much time did you spiritually prepare to be here, I am looking in the mirror on this one also?
• To these guys, appearance trumped what was on the inside. Should you take care of your appearance, YES, but not at the exclusion of what is happening on the inside.
• Many relationships fail because one or both in the marriage work hard on putting on the appearance of a perfect marriage, yet they do nothing internally to make it healthy.
• It is like spending all your resources on making your car look good while neglecting what is under the hood.
• Jesus said, you look good but, on the inside, they were full of greed and self-indulgence.
• It is like the man who says he loves his wife, yet is hooked on porn, and lusts after every female that crosses his path. Yet the marriage appears to be strong.
• In verse 26, Jesus tells them to clean the inside first then the outside. This leads us to verses 27-28.
• Matthew 23:27–28 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
28Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Our Heart will drift from God by...
III. Neglecting what only God can see.
• The seventh WOE deals with a different level of hypocrisy.
• The religious leaders were careful about what others could see yet gave no regard for only what God could see.
• Time and time again they did things to receive the applause of man, not caring what God thought.
• Only God knows your heart.
• The Jews would whitewash tombs just before Passover so that a person would not accidentally step on a grave and make themselves ceremonially unclean before the Passover. Numbers 19:16
• It is easy to look good, to give off an impression that you are holy and devoted to God.
• It is actually quite easy to fake it. You can fool pretty much everyone you want, maybe except your spouse and children.
• We need to place our focus on working on only what God can see.
• We do not need to clean ourselves then come to Jesus, we need to go to Jesus and let Him work on us from the inside out, not the outside in!
• Jesus said, gentlemen, you look marvelous on the outside, but just like those whitewashed tombs, on the inside, they were full of dead bones and every kind of impurity!
• These were the ones who would put Jesus to death.
• He says this in verse 28.
• In the same way, on the outside, you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
• What good is it to fool people when I cannot fool God.
• The only explanation is for one to live this way in my view is that they do not think there is a God to fool.
• Back to a question I posed in the introduction, how can folks who are so religious be so far from God?
• This can happen when we do religious acts, and we think those religious acts make us righteous.
• We need to understand that you can be the most religious person on the earth, but if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, those acts are just acts.
• When I feel like I can earn my salvation, I have no need for Jesus, and my heart will drift away.
• There are so many out there who do not think they need Jesus because they can do it on their own, their own way.
• Don’t let your heart drift so far away that you end up with no heart for God.
• Do not neglect only what God can see. Use that same thought in your relationships also!