Consistency from Christians is a needed quality. Practicing what you preach will give confidence, peace and assurance in Christ. We all know what it is like to behave contrary to what we believe. Don’t you get tired of kicking yourself?
Jesus answers the thin-skinned lawyer, READ Luke 11:46. That is a sad statement. Consistency. Helping others. Practice what you preach. READ Luke 11:52.
We who know Christ are given the privilege of helping people find the way to the road. Help people with their burdens it says in Luke 11:46. Practice what you preach.
A week ago Sally, Esther, Wesley and I made it to the upper gold mine on Sumas Mountain. It is easy for me to point you to the Sealund Trail head (I don’t like driving up to the cabin). I can explain to you exactly how to navigate the network of trails to get there, but unless you have been there and are a bit familiar, the odds are you will not find it by yourself. Here’s my deal for you: if anyone wants to go (that has the physical strength) let’s find a time and I will take you to the awesome old gold mine and I can show you the unmarked trail is off the trail off the trail.
I’ve got a more important offer. Are you searching for God? Do you need the freedom of forgiveness? Are you consumed by worry or lack purpose? If you will let me (I am not alone, others agree) I will help you find God, I will walk beside you on the journey. That is one of the most important purposes of the Church…Only God forgives, only He offers eternal life, but we are honored to help lift the burdens of one another. Back in the 1960’s my parents bought 3 acres of property on the Swaartwood Rd…it was covered in blackberries. As a boy, how much I enjoyed cutting paths through the black berries with a machete until eventually they were all gone. Clearing the land of overgrown blackberry vines is perhaps a better model of ministry than preaching: clearing the path so people can see with clarity… that is our calling as followers of God, to take the message we preach and clear the blackberry vines. I found a few twists on the common phrase, Practice what you preach. BTW, EVERYONE has a message. These all make sense to me:
It's practice that makes perfect, not preaching. —New York Times, 1913.
Preaching and practice are twins that often get separated. —Champaign Daily Gazette, 1910.
The man who practices what he preaches cuts his sermons short.—Dallas Morning News, 1909.
When a man's life does not preach his preaching cannot live. —Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, 1909.
And the one in the bulletin: Have you ever thought how embarrassing it might be to have to preach what you practice? ~ Hamilton G. Park
The thin-skinned lawyer is told he needs to put into practice what he preaches. It would be better if he did not preach at all. We all loathe politicians/teachers/Christians who tell the rest of us to act in a certain only to find out their life does not match their message. One of my dreams is for world leaders to gather for a global summit on climate change banning all speeches, all statistics, all weather models, and just share their power bills. Are they living the message the preach? A tremendous step forward in your walk with God and your impact on others for Jesus Christ is consistency: your message matching your actions. One more story about living out what you preach: The story of the mother that went to Ghandi with her son.
“My son eats too much sugar, please talk to him,” said the mother. Ghandi sent her away and asked her to come back with her son in a month. She came back. Ghandi looked at the son and said, “Don’t eat so much sugar.” The mother was put out: “why didn’t you say that a month ago?” Ghandi responded, “A month ago I ate too much sugar, too.”
There is much truth in that story, to practice what you preach, living the life you want others to live. Not wishful thinking, not someday, but today. It is surely the hardest aspect about preaching every Sunday ~ how can I say anything if I am not living what I preach … I do my imperfect best to be consistent… Honor the Lord Jesus Christ by living your faith. You will grow and others will have a lighter burden.
Let’s look at the wisdom of Jesus speaking of the prophets. READ Luke 11:47-51. Don’t be a prophet killer. What’s that all about? It’s easier to understand if I say it positively: Make the message of the prophets a living truth in your walk with Christ. The prophets are people sent by God to warn what is coming. Prophecy is about the present world and what is coming, especially if the ways are not changed. Jonah, one of the prophets found in the O.T., preached destruction upon Ninevah if they did not repent and turn their ways around. They repented, and destruction did not come. Many prophets were killed by the people. They did like the message. They did not want to change.
A prophet killer is one who hold on to what is. Prophet killers cower in fear and take refuge from the world… Luke 11:50-51 needs a few explanations. READ.
Able and Zechariah. The first murder recorded in the Bible is when Cain killed his brother Abel in Genesis 4. The murder of Zechariah is in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21. This example of prophet-killing makes a good summary of everything that is wrong with prophet killing. READ. This little known prophet was killed because the king and people did not like the message.
Why point to Zechariah as a prophet that was killed? In the days of Jesus the O.T. (Hebrew Scriptures) was divided into different categories from our Bible. Same books, but different order ~ Pentateuch, Prophets and Writings. The last book of the Writings/Hebrew scriptures is Chronicles. Zecheriah may not be the last prophet killed in history, but he is the last prophet recorded in the Bible at the time of Jesus. A toZ.
Prophet killing is another way of not practicing what you preach, because it is no longer a living message but a past message. We are called to engage in the world, to open our eyes to what is coming and bring Christ into the mix. Prophecy is an incredible component of our faith ~ prophecy is about keeping our fingers on the pulse of today’s world and considering what is coming. This gives us hope, direction, purpose and a message for the world to hear. There are a lot of voices of prophecy out there and it is very difficult to distinguish what is of God and what is of people’s imagination, but that does not take away the need to hear and discern what is true, what is beneficial…
Practice what you preach! Lighten the burdens of others and be forward looking, knowing what is coming. Be prophetic. Be realistic. The world is crumbling before our eyes. As people of prophecy, honestly facing the challenges of our world will shape our message. The temptation is to kill the prophets all over again and hold onto what we have, to escape into the refuges of our church building, our homes, and shut out the world… but that is not our calling. We have a message to the world, a message of hope and truth, a message of salvation and peace. When I say practice what we preach, I mean practice the positive message of Christ, to help others, to tell them there is always hope. Grace is a game changer….
Sometimes the lessons of the Bible are the opposite of the story that is told. In this case, the lawyer is thin-skinned (Luke 11:45). He is not open for correction. He heard Jesus and then decides to fight Jesus: READ 11:53-54. How sad is that. I DARE YOU TO NO LONGER LIVE AS A SUSPICIOUS PERSON looking for everything that is wrong. What a way to live. To doubt. To look to justify yourself. We live in a suspicious world!
The problem with the Pharisees and Lawyers: no confidence. They are shaky in their faith. That’s what happens when you try to hold on. That’s what happens for those whose message and actions are inconsistent. MARK MY WORDS: here is million dollar insight into human nature. People who yell a lot do not have confidence in what they claim to believe! We live in a world that does a lot of yelling. We live in a society with extremely shaky people. Like the Pharisees and Lawyers, those that are shaky in their faith cannot stand it when others disagree.
The world is so noisy we are getting to a place where quietness will stand out. In a shaky world consistency is desperately needed. Following Christ does not have to be complicated. It’s simple. Be consistent. Practice what you preach. Lift the burdens of one another helping them discover the narrow path of salvation. The road is narrow, but nobody is excluded. Be forward looking knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ has a message that will change the world.
In spite of all the reasons to be discouraged, in spite of all the warring and fighting, in spite of all the shaky people that yell loudly trying to convince themselves they are right, this is a great day to be a Christian because we have a message that changes lives, bringing peace and confidence. Let’s speak the message of salvation through Christ and live the message, so the people will hear and see. Amen.