Friday, July 8, 2011

Spot the Difference

Spot the Difference

The title of my sermon today is taken from the visual puzzle where you are given 2 pictures very similar, but there are a few subtle differences in the pictures. Doubtless you have all at one time in your live done one of these puzzle, probably as a child, and today we are going to do something very similar. I’m going to call this “Christian spot-the-difference”. And the idea is that we are going to look at humanity as a whole and look at how different people groups differ from each other, and what differences, if any, there are between people who profess to be Christian. Then to conclude, I intend to draw some spiritual application as to how we should treat people, whether the same as us, or different from us.

So here’s our first spot the difference, it’s a very easy one: first picture we have is that of the non Christian, he’s out partying every night, he rolls in drunk and starts beating his wife, he has utter hatred for everyone. In our second picture we have a kind-hearted Christian, he cares for other people, he laughs, he smiles, and we see him giving money to a starving African child, he’s just so full of love!

So, SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The difference is striking the two seem like definite opposites, like love and hate, cold and hot, and like God and Satan. See I told you it was easy!

OK, here’s our second spot the difference: In the first picture again we have our kind hearted Christian who loves everyone and he gives money to the poor. And in our second picture we have another man he look similar, he wears the same kind of clothes, he goes around telling everyone that God is Lord and that God loves you and wants to save you, and that’s so great, I think I’m really starting to like this guy. But then if we take our focus off the man for a moment, we might look at the background and see that he is in a pub drinking beer and having ‘fun’ with his mates.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! This one might seem a little harder, the two pictured men look very similar they wear the same clothes, but they are found in different backgrounds. You may remember that I preached a sermon called “Birds of a Feather”, and in it I warned you that if you mix with unbelievers and do the things unbelievers do, however Godly and good you might be, you are bound to fall into sin. This might be the first time the man has been out with his mates having fun and drinking beer, but it makes no difference, if you act like the world you will soon become the world.

So we come to our 3rd Spot the difference: in our first picture we have a young Christian man, he loves God, he smiles, he laughs, he talks about God as if He was a close friend, he sounds like he has recently been called to Grace! Then in our second picture we see a girl of the world wearing sensual clothing, showing of all the curves of her body, but she has a sweet smile on her face. Then if we take a step back and look at both pictures together, the picture of the Christian young man and the worldly girl, we see that the two are holding hands.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The two pictures separately look so different, but are they? The girl is obviously sinning, but maybe the guy is too? I’ll let you think over this one, see what differences there are between the man and the women and pray to God about it and read His Bible!

Now I have got a 4th Spot the difference for you: In out 1st picture we see a mighty preacher, shouting at the congregation below him, exhorting them to forsake the error of their ways, and come to Jesus who is the only way of Salvation, his only desire is that God should be glorified. Then in our second picture we see a quiet lady who is sitting in the congregation, looking up at the preacher smiling, loving all that is spoken.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The two are husband and wife, they love each other. The only difference between the two is the same difference that is between a hand and a foot, both have different functions, but both need each other so much. The preacher would not be able to continue preaching like he does if he wasn’t coming home every night to a wife that loves him and can give all the emotional support that he needs. A minister’s wife is just as important as the minister himself!

Ok, here’s our 5th Spot the difference, are they getting harder? In our first picture we have again our fiery minister, shouting out the Gospel of salvation. And in our second picture we have a young doctor praying for God’s assistance in the upcoming surgery.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The two men are obviously both Christian, and they both feel to have found their calling in life. Christians are all put on this earth to fulfil some kind of calling, whether it is to preach the everlasting gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, or two be a minister’s wife, or to save people’s lives as a masterful surgeon, or even just to clean toilets. There is a purpose on this earth for you, maybe you don’t know what that is or maybe you do, just be certain of one thing whatever you do, you know that it is God’s will that you do all for His honour and His glory!

And now here’s our 6th and final Spot the difference. In our first picture we have a man who is most definitely a Christian, he talks about God all the time, he walks with God and he talks with God, and one day, early on in his Christian walk God came to him and spoke the words “I’ll never forsake you”, and he has never forgotten those words, and he says that it’s his “assurance of faith” it is how he knows that he will one day be brought to glory to be with God! Then in our second picture we see yet another man filled with the Holy Spirit, full of love and grace, he reads the Bible and prays every day, his whole delight is in the Lord, but he cannot claim any Assurance of faith, he cannot be certain that in the last day that God will bring him home to glory, but he hopes for it with all his heart and daily prays for it!

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! This is my favourite one. The only noticeable difference between the two men is that one has the assurance of faith while the other doesn’t.

Hebrews 10:22 says: Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

That’s the full assurance of faith, is it required that we should have this full assurance of faith to know of a certainty that we are one of the Lord’s people? Those that do not have this assurance, are they damned?

To answer these questions honestly, I will have to reply that I don’t really know. Some people report that it was some time after their conversion that they received this assurance of faith, some people say that it came when they were converted

The majority of Bible believing Baptists seem convinced that God has given them an assurance of faith and that will be their key to Heaven. Some Christians have no assurance, but just hope that they are one of the elect, crying day and night unto the Lord.

I hope that whether you have this assurance of faith or not you will, whatever happens, cry day and night unto the Lord.

So are there differences between our two men? Can we categorise people into Christian or non-Christian? Which one will they that have no assurance fall into? Or should we make 3 categories, Non-Christian, Christian with assurance, or Christian without assurance? Or maybe they are not Christians, but righteous non-Christians?

I’ll tell you one thing, if I am a non-Christian, I’d rather live my days in obedience to God, because God blesses those that obey His voice, it beats living in a bad relationship, having broken families, and no purpose to your life. And nothing beats the joy of hoping in God!

I’m reminded of the hymn: Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! If you have that assurance of faith then you truly are blessed!

So in conclusion, we have seen 6 different Spot the differences and we have seen that there are differences between the Christian and the non-Christian, I would like to have compared a few different types of non-Christians, but I didn’t really get round to that, but I will warn you, some non-Christians can look very much like Christians, but the Bible says “BY their fruit ye shall know them”.

We looked at a few difference between different groups of Christians. Even though people may not be exactly the same as you, they are still Christians, don’t make it look like you are better than they because God has given you a more frontline or public calling. Don’t despise the minister’s wife because she lives under the shadow of her husband, he would not be able to continue without her!

So we know that there are differences between Christians. Let me tell you about a very common mistake: You may think that because someone is a Christian they can take the same kind of criticism you are able to bear, you may rebuke them very bluntly, and they make be a lot weaker in heart than you are, and really resent being rebuked in such a manner. Don’t get me wrong, in is important to point out each other’s faults, but does it hurt to do so softly?

Anyone you meet on the street, you don’t know anything about them, everyone is different, be kind and courteous and don’t get caught up in discrimination. We all subconsciously stereotype people, but there isn’t one person in the world that fits perfectly into a stereotype. You might see a homeless person on the street, you immediately think, he’s a down-and-outer, he’s been on drugs, and it’s his own fault that he has no place to call home, you pass by without a smile or a hello. Later on you hear about the missionary from church who gave up all his possessions to live with the homeless people and to tell them about Jesus, you can’t help but think maybe this was the man you saw on the street!

Well I hope there has been something in this sermon that has made its way down into your heart. And I pray that if God has planted the seed of His word today that He will water it and nourish it.

May God add His blessing! Amen!

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