Christ Lutheran Church Stover, MO
Christ Lutheran Church
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Loving GOD Through Worship and Service
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Pastor Tuura

 

the "bluff"

 

By Rev. Tom Tuura

Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

 

I am the Way the Truth and the Life.”  John 14:6 NKJV

I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12 NKJV


Truth to bank on. Then there’s this, Jesus’ description of the devil.


When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44 ESV


We are all way to good at poker...

...at least with our “poker” faces.


Believe it or not I have never played poker, and don’t even know how to play.  But I’ve spent a lifetime working on the “bluff”, and my poker face. I suspect most of you have too.  It’s only natural.


But I’m not talking about the card game.  I’m talking about pretending that our lives are fine.  One popular meme goes something like, “people don’t smile to cover up pain, but they are in pain and pretending to smile.

Is your smile fake?

Hardship in life has been around since the beginning.  That includes illness, and a range of things we don’t want to think about.  But trials and tribulations are a tool that God is not afraid to use because He has the end result in view, which is more precious than short term pain.  See Hebrews 12:1-11. Verse 11 says, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Philosophers have debated the “problem of pain” and a loving God, who allows it.  But for the child of God it is yet another opportunity for faith, as Job discovered and testified to.  Godly trials have a point, a purpose, though we may not see it even in this life. St. Paul is correct in 2nd Corinthians 1:1-11when he states the point of trials “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (v 4)


However I want to shift gears and talk about another cause of a fake smile: sin.  Violating God’s Laws whether in ignorance or eyes wide open rebellion eventually unleashes uncontrollable mayhem into a situation.  And a popular insurance policy TV commercial can’t help. 

If disregarded and violated, each and everyone of the Ten Commandments will unleash a harvest of hardship into one’s life and family.  But not right away. The sowing of sin most often takes a season of deceitful smiles. Most people today don’t even know the Ten Commandments and are living in that sunny summer of deceit.  But harvest is coming. Paul says in Galatians 6:7,8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to this flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Many are today in the deceptive summer season of smiles, but beware the crop is growing under your feet!


Outward ignorance of the Law is no excuse, and many are ignorant, particularly the young.

No one is inwardly ignorant of the Law.  Our conscience and creation testify against us.  The Bible says everyone has the law written on our hearts.  How do we know? We all universally feel guilt and shame.

That’s why they say, “stop judging me”. 

Pretend smiles, shame and guilt are burdens carried by a lot of people today.  How many? I really don’t know. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Rom 3:23).    So everyone is a sinner or law breaker.   Some just are wrestling with guilt and shame.

Many of these people are sitting in churches week after week.  Research has hinted that prior to doing something very sinful, the person was in church a Sunday or two previous, wrestling with their conscience.  This was true of women who got abortions. What about the men? Maybe, maybe not.   

Perhaps you are wrestling with a temptation.  Don’t do it whatever it is!


The conscience burdened by guilt and shame comes to hate the church.  Some even say, “I hate the church, because they never accepted me.” Or, “They are all hypocrites over there.”  Here is where the Devil’s lies come to the table. You have been dealing with your flesh, now enters the Devil.

If there was a snopes for excuses, it would say that’s not true.  While there are occasional hypocrites in the pews, most church members are wrestlers just like you.  I know because I was on both sides of the aisle.  


Finally the lie the burdened conscience believes is, “But I’m different...”  The Evil one whispers, “No one is as bad as you.”

Here’s the truth, its not because we are different, but because we are ultimately the same.  We just think we are different, we think we are the only one. We believe the lie. We don’t have to “bluff” anymore.  We don’t have to fake smile anymore.

Everyone has evil desires of one sort.  Here’s the latest, the Devil and the world are now telling us there are no “bad” desires.  They want to remove the morality from any behavior. It’s called the Sexual Revolution, and now the LBGTQ agenda.  That’s a lie. What is not a lie is this, if they redefine one thing, they have to redefine all of God’s Law.

Here’s how the Bible puts it, “Put to death your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy...”


Paul says here, “ your members...” in another place, “For the flesh lusts...”  another translation says, “for the sinful nature desires...” NIV.  You are not different.  No you are not “worse” than anyone else because of your flesh’s desires. You are the same.  The sinful nature desires sin. That’s why we talk about man being “fallen”. It’s archaic, but that’s the expression.

So what do you do with your bad desires, scary things that you don’t want anyone to know about?  God is not shocked, you are not weird, just do what Paul says above, put them to death. Then “put on” the new life in Christ.  “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come.”  (2 Cor 5:17)

Just because we have a desire, doesn’t mean its our identity or destiny.  That’s a lie. Our destiny is Christ.

 

Eventually the hand we have been playing is going to be revealed.  And we will have to fold. No more bluffing, or fake smiles. Right now, take the winning hand of Christ on Calvary’s cross and surrender to Him.  And relax in His loving arms, forgiven—and now smile, for real.

"That's My View From The Blackberry Patch Pulpit" 

-Pastor Tom Tuura