Sermons

Do I Practice What I Preach?

Sun, Sep 01, 2019
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:31 mins 1 sec

Message text

Do I Practice What I Preach?
Matthew 23: 27 – 28

ILL. When was the last time you overheard a conversation like this? “Madge, how come you never shop at Walmart?” And Madge answers, “Well, I used to. But the last time I was there the place was just full of hypocrites. So I’ll never go back there again.”

You’ve never heard such a conversation about Walmart, have you? We don’t hear that kind of excuse in regard to grocery stores, schools, or the country club. But sometimes we hear it used in regard to the church.

ILL. Zig Ziglar said that he invited a friend to go to church with him. The man answered, “Well, I’d like to go. But the church is so full of hypocrites.” Ziglar replied, “That’s okay. There’s always room for one more.”

A. Turn with me to Matthew 13:24-30. In this passage Jesus is talking about the presence of good & evil in this world.
“24 Another parable Jesus put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
In this parable Jesus says that as wheat & weeds grow side by side they look a lot alike. And if we try to pull up the weeds we would likely uproot the wheat as well. So we’re told to let them grow until the harvest. Then it will be easy to see which is which, & to treat them accordingly.

Jesus told this parable nearly 2,000 years ago. But the lessons He was teaching are just as pertinent today. So let’s consider some of them this morning.
A. The first one is the presence of hypocrisy. Jesus says that there will be both good & evil people in this world, and they’ll be living side by side. Even the church will not be immune to this mixture.

On the one hand, it seems unfair to say that the church is full of hypocrites, because I know a lot of people who have been faithful and true and authentic in their Christian lives, and they’re wonderful Christian people.
B. Now there is a difference between a Christian struggling with sin & a hypocrite. A Christian struggling with a sin comes to God saying, “God, this is a weakness in my life & I really need the help of the Holy Spirit to deal with it.” God welcomes that prayer & He promises to help.

But the hypocrite doesn’t really struggle to overcome his sin. He just tries to hide it. He thinks, “When I’m in church I’ll behave like a Christian. I’ll say the prayers.
I’ll sing the songs. I’ll obey the rules. But when I’m out in the world I’ll act differently & behave exactly the way those around me behave.”

You see, the word “hypocrite” originally came from a word used in Greek drama that meant “one who is play-acting, wearing a mask.” The symbol of Greek drama, as some of you may know, is a two-faced mask.
That’s why a hypocrite is often called “two-faced,” someone who is trying to deceive, pretending to be different than he or she really is.

ILL. A preacher in the Midwest tells about a young couple in his church who boasted to all their friends & neighbors that they were flying to New York City.
They were only going to be able to spend one day there, but the highlight of their trip would be to go & see the Broadway play, “My Fair Lady.” They were so proud of this, & everyone was really impressed because no one else in that small town had ever been to a play on Broadway.

The day came, & when they arrived in New York they took a taxi to the theatre where “My Fair Lady” was playing. To their dismay, they found that the play was completely sold out for the night.
They thought, “What do we do now? Everybody knows that we came to see ‘My Fair Lady.’ We don’t dare tell them that we didn’t.” So they found a couple of ticket stubs on the sidewalk & picked them up.

They bought a program that described the various acts of the play. They went home singing “I Could Have Danced all Night.” And they told everybody that they had gone to see “My Fair Lady.”
The preacher said, “That’s right. They had the ticket stubs. They had the program. They had been to the theatre & they knew the music. But the trouble is, they didn’t see the performance.”

Then he added, “A lot of Christians are like that. We come to church. We have the bulletin. We know the songs. We know what to say & what to do. The problem is that some of us have never really let Jesus enter and change our lives.”

ILL. One of the questions that arose in recent years as the lives of some politicians came under scrutiny was, “Can someone be one thing in his private life, & another in his public life?” Now that’s a legitimate question. And Nathaniel Hawthorne answered it a long time ago.

He said, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself & another to the multitudes without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” You can get so confused that you’re not sure who you are anymore.
Jesus condemned hypocrisy. Listen to His words in Matthew 23:27-28.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
ILL. The story is told about a little boy who found a rat in his back yard. He jumped on it. He stomped on it. And he killed it. He was so proud of himself, & he ran to show it to his mother.
But he didn’t realize that the preacher had come to call. So the excited boy ran into the house, carrying the rat by the tail, hollering to his mom, “Mom, look what I found. I found this rat. I jumped on it, I stomped on it, &...” Just then he noticed the preacher & he finished by saying, “And then the Lord called him home.”

SUM. It’s terrible to have to remember to change your behavior depending upon the people you’re with. And that’s hypocrisy.
Now for Part 2 of our sermon ...
A man walked into a flower shop and asked for some potted red geraniums.
"I’m sorry," said the clerk in flower shop, "we are completely sold out of all of our potted geraniums. But I’d be more than happy to give you a deal on something else. Could you use African violets instead?"
Replied the customer sadly, "No, it was geraniums my wife told me to water while she was gone."

APPLY: You’d think that a simple task like watering the plants wouldn’t be too hard for a guy. But speaking from experience, I can sympathize with this man. I realize there are people here that really like gardening, but I don’t. Watering plants just doesn’t make it for me. If I want some vegetables, I’ll go down to the grocery store and get some.

But – of course – somebody had to grow that vegetable that I bought at the store. And our nation has some of the finest farmers that have ever walked the face of the earth. They have the finest tractors and plows and combines, and because of their skill and the tools they can use... America literally feeds the world.

Back in the days of Jesus, however, farmers had a lot less to work with. And the picture we see in Matthew 13: 1 – 9is that of the common farmer. He doesn’t have the tools to properly fit the ground and prepare for seed, so he simply reaches into his bag, takes out handful after handful of seed and flings it across the ground.
Because of the haphazard way he’s throwing the seed...
· Some of it falls on a nearby hard-packed pathway
· Some falls amongst the rocks
· Some falls on weedy ground...
· But then, some of it falls on fertile ground and the seed takes root and gives a bountiful crop

Now Jesus is telling a story, and He’s telling this story to illustrate how God intended to spread the Gospel across the land and bring people to salvation.
But there were a couple of things about this story that struck me as odd:
1st – The parable seems to give the impression that God isn’t all that concerned about which soil He allows His seed to take root in.

Just think about that for a minute:
The Seed is the Word of God.
The Seed belongs to God.

Now, since the Seed belongs to God... don’t you think He’d be a little more selective about which soil even gets to receive this gift?
But that’s not how it plays out.

The footpath and the rocky soil and weedy soil... they all get a shot at this seed... WHY?
Why would a farmer plant corn in a rock filled yard? Well, if the man wanted a crop... he had to scatter his seed in the land that he had... and then trust that the seed would bear fruit.
And the farmer in Jesus’ parable did the same thing.
He’s scattering His seed over all the land He had... trusting that the seed would bear fruit.
In Isaiah 55:10-11 God declares
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
You see that’s the power of God’s SEED - the Word of God
God scatters it all over the earth, because it has power to take root in the harshest ground. And once it takes root, it can bear fruit.
God doesn’t care about the condition of the soil.
Of course, the harsher the soil, the harder it becomes to get a crop... but you can still get a crop.
Isaiah 53:2 tells us
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Anybody have an idea about who that prophecy referred to???? (Jesus)
Jesus was a root out of DRY GROUND
The soil shouldn’t have yielded a harvest - but it did. It gave us OUR SAVIOR
So God doesn’t seem to be concerned about which soil His seed falls on. He’s confident of the power of the seed. The soil doesn’t matter, it’s the harvest He’s looking for.
The best soils were the ones that yielded a harvest of 30 to 100x’s more than what was sown.

The question to ask yourself today is: “what kind of harvest have you been yielding for Jesus?
How deeply has the seed taken root in your souls?

ILLUS: Henry Ford gave away millions of dollars to many different causes in his lifetime, but he was notorious for the fact that he refused to give any money at all to schools. He felt that well-meaning but nonbusiness-like people frequently mishandled those gifts.

Now, there was a woman named Martha Berry who had begun a school in Mt. Berry, Georgia. She’d started the school because she was shocked to discover that many of rural children attended neither a church nor school and were unfamiliar with stories from the Bible. So she decided to start a school where the poor could learn to read and write and do arithmetic and to know basic Bible stories.
But she needed more money than she had.
Now, she was aware of the fact that Ford never gave money to schools but she went to him anyway and asked for an endowment. As expected, Ford refused.
So Miss Berry, said “Well, then, would you give me a dime to buy a sack of raw peanuts?”

Ford was a little taken back and he asked why she wanted just a dime. She replied: “A dime is all I want, Mr. Ford, but I do want to show you what I can do with 10 cents”
Berry returned to her school and she and her students planted and replanted the peanuts. Then she sold the crop for $600 and took the money to Ford.

She stood face-to-face with Henry Ford, and said, “See how practical we are in the use of money at the Martha Berry School?”
Mr. Ford was so pleased with what she’d done, he gave Miss Berry the $600 back... and added $2 million to it. Martha Berry took the money and built the buildings that became Berry College in Mt. Berry, GA.

The difference between God and Henry Ford is – God believes we are capable of making good use of what He’s given us. He believes in us, and He trusts us to be faithful.
The question for us today... what have we done with the seed God gave us?
And a 2nd point I want to make about our text – Jesus tells this parable to the crowd... but He doesn’t explain what it means

(pause...) Why would He do that?
Well some have speculated that Jesus used parables to get the people’s attention. That’s why I use stories in my sermons. I hope they keep you interested and they help illustrate what I’m trying to get you to understand. But there’s an even deeper reason why Jesus told the people parables.
Look with me at
Matthew 13:10-16
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Now at first glance you might think Jesus told parables because He didn’t want everybody to understand what He was saying. But that’s not actually what that passage in Matthew is telling us. He’s not saying He didn’t want people to hear or see God’s truth... He was just being realistic. Jesus knew that there are people out there who really don’t want to understand what God is trying to say. He could explain Himself to those folks until He was blue in the face... but they’d just given Him a blank stare.

ILLUS: About 10 yrs ago Time magazine had an article on something called the “Jesus Seminar.” Apparently some self-appointed scholars got together and questioned the authenticity of the Gospels we find in the Bible. So they had been meeting together twice a year to vote on which sections of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John they felt actually recorded the true history of Jesus. When it came to the parables... the article explained that “these ‘scholars’ decided that they preferred parables without explicit applications.
In other words, they liked the parables - they just didn’t want to be told what they meant. They had eyes to see, but they refused to see... ears to hear, but they didn’t want to hear it.
1 Corinthians 2:12-14
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Until we become Christians, the stories of Jesus can catch our attention but we can never FULLY comprehend what those truths mean... until we God’s Spirit dwells within us.
Acts 2 tells us how we can lay hold of God’s Spirit
In that chapter, we’re told that Peter preached such a powerful sermon that the crowd interrupted his message to ask him what they could do. And in Acts 2:38 tells us that
“Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive (what???) the gift of the Holy Ghost.’”

Notice what it says:
When you repent of your sins
And your baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins...
Then God gives you His Holy Spirit to dwell inside you.
It’s like signing a contract.

When we bought our house, Debbie and I went into a bank office and sat down at a long table across from the sellers. Between us, on the table, was a contract, listing the physical description of the house and some legal jargon. But down at the bottom of that contract were two sets of lines. One set of lines was for us (as the buyers) to sell, and the other set of lines was for the sellers.

So also with salvation. We “sign” the contract by our faith, repentance, confession of Jesus, and baptism. But then God signs the contract. He signs it by placing His Spirit inside of us.
The Spirit is not a dormant thing that sets inside like some inanimate object on a wall. No! The Spirit of God is a living active force that not only marks us as belonging to God, but works within us to comfort us and help us... and to “teach us” spiritual truths.
And one of the tools that Spirit uses to teach us with is God’s Word (the seed). That’s why it is so critical for us to constantly expose ourselves to scripture on Sunday mornings, and in Sunday School, and in Bible studies, and in personal study time. The more we study God’s Bible, the more material God’s Spirit can work with to teach us more... and deeper... spiritual truths about God and our relationship with Him.

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