Get Real !
Luke 3:7 through Luke 3:9 (NIV)
7John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Introduction: TELLING IT LIKE IT IS
A minister had just been moved to a wealthy congregation with a great parsonage and salary. Consequently, he wanted to present the facts of the Gospel, but he wanted to do so tactfully, and without hurting anyone's feelings.
He therefore pronounced these memorable words: "Brothers and sisters, you should REPENT, to some extent - or else you might be DAMNED, in a perchance - and possibly go to HELL, more or less."
The minister failed to get real with the people, therefore, it is highly unlikely the people will get real with God. A minister must tell it like it is (get real).
I. Awaken Yourself To The Real Desire For Salvation.
A. Delivered From The Stain Of Sin
-These people realized they carried the stain of sin that marked them as targets. It was nothing that they could wash off, but they were marked from within.
*Have you ever bitten into an apple and found a worm in it, and yet the outside of the apple showed no hole or entry point for the worm? How did the worm get inside the apple? Clearly he could not have burrowed in from the outside. No, scientists have discovered that the worm can come from inside. But how does he get in there? Simple! An insect lays an egg in the apple blossom. Some time later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats his way out. Sin, like the worm, begins in the heart and works out through a person's thoughts, words, and actions.
Luke 5:31 through Luke 5:32 (NIV)
31Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
B. Delivered By The Aid Of Another
- These people had to realize that they could not help themselves.
*There are three things that are hard to do.
One is to climb a fence leaning toward you.
Another is to kiss a girl who is leaning away from you.
The third is to help someone who doesn't really want to be
- Zig Ziglar
- John came to prepare the way for Jesus and to point others to him, for only Jesus can help those who cry out for it, but until the realization hits you that you need help, and you cry out for it, you cannot be helped, for you will struggle on trying to do it yourself.
- Sarah, saying "I do it."
C. Delivered From The Coming Judgment
* It is said an Hungarian king, finding himself on a certain day depressed and unhappy, sent for his brother, a good-natured, but rather indifferent prince. To him, the king said: "I am a great sinner and fear to meet God." Here was a king facing Job's question: "What shall I do when God riseth up? And when He visiteth, what shall I answer Him?" But the prince only laughed at him, and treated the matter as a joke, just as some of you are doing now. This did not serve to relieve the royal unhappiness. When you get a vision of your guilt before God, you want help, and your friends may laugh at your seriousness but that will never answer the question.
It was a custom in Hungary at that time, that if the executioner at any time sounded a trumpet before a man's door, it was a signal that he was to be led forth to execution. The king sent the executioner in the dead of night to sound the fatal blast before his brother's door. The prince, awaking from sleep, realized its awful import. Quickly dressing, he stepped to the door and was seized by the executioner, and dragged, pale and trembling, into the king's presence.
In an agony of terror, he fell upon his knees before his brother and begged to know in what way he had offended him. "My brother," answered the king, "if the sight of a human executioner is so terrible to you, shall not I, having grievously offended God, fear to be brought before the judgment seat of Christ?"
The sense of sin makes every sinner fear to face God. We are reminded in the Bible that "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." --O. A. Newlin
II. Awaken Yourself To The Real Demands Of Repentance.
A. Must Resist Pride
* A little boy came to his mother, saying, "Mamma, I am as tall as Goliath; I am nine feet high."
"What makes you say that?" asked the surprised mother.
"Well, I made a little ruler of my own and measured myself with it, and I am just nine feet high!"
There are many people who follow the little boy's method, measuring themselves by some rule of their own. <Knight's Master Book of New Illustrations p. 515>
B. Must Respond Personally
* Rev. George F. Pentecost tells of a timid little girl who wanted to be prayed for at a religious meeting in the south of London. She wanted to come to Jesus, and said to the Christian man who was conducting the meetings: "Will you pray for me in the meeting please? But do not mention my name." In the meeting which followed, when every head was bowed and there was perfect silence, the gentleman prayed for the little girl, and he said: "O Lord, there is a little girl who does not want her name known, but Thou dost know her; save her precious soul." There was stillness for a moment, and then way back in that congregation a little girl arose, and a pleading little voice said: "Please, it's me Jesus, it's me." She did not want to have a doubt. The more she had thought about it, the hungrier her heart was for forgiveness. She wanted to be saved, and she was not ashamed to say: "Jesus, it's me." --H. F. Sayles
C. Must Result in Purity
* A Sunday School teacher once asked a class what was meant by the word "repentance." A little boy put up his hand and said, "It is being sorry for your sins." A little girl also raised her hand and said, "It is being sorry enough to quit." --Donald Barnhouse
Acts 26:20 (NIV)
20First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
* Lord Kenneth Clark, internationally know for his television series Civilization, lived and died without faith in Jesus Christ. He admitted in his autobiography that while visiting a beautiful church he had what he believed to be an overwhelming religious experience. "My whole being," Clark wrote, "was irradiated by a kind of heavenly joy far more intense than anything I had know before." But the "gloom of grace," as he described it, created a problem. If he allowed himself to be influenced by it, he knew he would have to change, his family might think he had lost his mind, and maybe that intense joy would prove to be an illusion. So he concluded, "I was too deeply embedded in the world to change course." Our Daily Bread February 15, 1994
III. Awaken Yourself To The Real Danger Of Neglect.
A. Through A Waste Of Time
* Yonder to the great Northwest, a young civil engineer went to construct a bridge across a mountain chasm and after weeks and months with his groups of helpers he had almost finished the bridge at the close of a certain day. He said to his men: "Come back men, after supper and, we will finish it in about an hour and I will pay you a day's wages for the extra hour." "No," they said, "we have made other arrangements." He said "Come back and I will give you two day's wages." They said, "No; but why do you urge it." He said: "If a great storm should come down tonight on the mountains it would sweep this unfinished bridge away. We have not quite secured the bridge." But they went their way saying: "It won't rain in months." But the clouds were filled with rain that very night and emptied their floods upon the mountains, and the floods came down, resistless in their power, and swept the unfinished bridge utterly away. Oh, men and women, that is a parable and picture of the soul that knows and wishes, and yet presumes and delays and waits. --George W. Truett
B. Through A Waste Of Opportunity
* A little girl had been rummaging in her mother's trunk. There she found a church letter which her mother had neglected to present to the church into whose neighborhood she had moved. The little explorer rushed into her mother's presence shouting: "Oh, mamma, I have found your religion in your trunk!" There is a needle-like point in that story for a great many people. That mother had confessed Christ some time, somewhere, but her life had been such a repudiation of her profession that even her own child was surprised to accidentally come across her "religion". --Topical Illustrations
C. Through A Waste Of Warning
* Mt. Saint Helens belched gray steam plumes hundreds of feet
into the blue Oregon sky. Geologists watched their seismographs
in growing wonder as the earth danced beneath their feet. Rangers and state police, sirens blaring, herded tourists and residents from an ever-widening zone of danger. Every piece of scientific evidence being collected in the laboratories and on the field predicted the volcano would soon explode with a fury that would leave the forests flattened.
"Warning!" blared the loudspeakers on the patrol cars and
helicopters hovering overhead. "Warning!" blinked battery-
powered signs at every major crossroad. "Warning!" pleaded radio
and television announcers, shortwave and citizen-band operators. "Warning!" echoed up and down the mountain, and lakeside
villages, tourist camps and hiking trails emptied as people heard
the warnings and fled for their lives.
But Harry Truman refused to budge. Harry was the caretaker of
a recreation lodge on Spirit Lake, five miles north of Mt. Saint
Helens's smoke-enshrouded peak. The rangers warned Harry of the coming blast. Even Harry's sister called to talk sense into the
old man's head. But Harry ignored the warnings. From the
picture-postcard beauty of his lakeside home reflecting the snow-
capped peak overhead, Harry grinned on national television and
said, "Nobody knows more about this mountain than Harry and it
don't dare blow up on him...
On 18 May 1980, as the boiling gases beneath the mountain's
surface bulged and buckled the landscape to its final limits,
Harry Truman cooked his eggs and bacon, fed his sixteen cats the
scraps, and began to plant petunias around the border of his
freshly mowed lawn. At 8:31 a.m. the mountain exploded.
Did Harry regret his decision in that millisecond he had
before the concussive waves, traveling faster than the speed of
sound, flattened him and everything else for 150 square miles? Did he have time to mourn his stubbornness as millions of tons of
rock disintegrated and disappeared into a cloud reaching ten
miles into the sky? Did he struggle against the wall of mud and
ash fifty feet high that buried his cabin, his cats and his
freshly mowed lawn -- or had he been vaporized (like 100,000
people at Hiroshima) when the mountain erupted with a force 500
times greater than the nuclear bomb which leveled that Japanese
- Billy Graham, _Approaching Hoofbeats_, pp. 13-14.
There is a time, we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men,
To glory or despair.
There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path
The hidden boundary between
God's patience and His wrath.
To pass that limit is to die:
To die as if by stealth:
It does not quench the beaming eye,
Nor pale the glow of health.
The conscience may be still at ease,
The spirits light and gay;
That which is pleasing still may please,
And care be thrust away.
He feels, perchance, that all is well,
And every fear is calmed;
He lives, he dies, he wakes in hell
Not only doomed but dammed.
Oh, where is that mysterious morn
By which our path is crossed;
Beyond which God himself hath sworn,
That he who goes is lost?
An answer from the skies is sent
Ye who from God depart,
While it is called today repent,
And harden not your heart.
John 6:37b (NIV)
37b whoever comes to me I will never drive away.