Jump Start # 2962
Haggai 1:7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.”
I watched an old black and white Clark Gable movie the other night. All in all, it was pretty good. Two boys, best friends, grow up on the opposite side of the law. One becomes a District Attorney for New York City. The other is involved in gambling, crime and even murder. The two remain friends. As scenes shift, the camera points to a clock with the inscription below it, “Young man observe the time and fly from evil.” This is shown multiple times during the movie.
As the movie progresses, the good kid, the District Attorney, runs for governor. His campaign manager, has a story that he is going to release to the press which will cost him the election. The bad kid, Blackie, is told this by the wife of the District Attorney. Blackie guns down the campaign manager. A trial is held, and Blackie is found guilty and is scheduled to be executed in electric chair. The District Attorney wins the election and is now governor. He has the power to stop the execution of his friend. Blackie is ready to die in the chair. He is smiling and cheerful. The governor agonizes over what he should do. Manhattan Melodrama is the name of the movie. It was released in 1934.
There was a reason I wanted to watch this movie. It was played in Chicago on a hot summer night. It happened to be the last movie John Dillinger saw. Moments after the movie, as he left the theatre, he was shot and killed by FBI agents. I wondered what Dillinger would have thought as he watched that movie. The bad guy. The trial. The jail. The execution. The reminder, “Fly from evil.” Did he have a conscience? Did that movie seem a bit close to his own story? Did he think that this may be the way it ends for him? He never knew that minutes after the movie was over, he would die. Dillinger sat there and watched a movie that in many ways mirrored his own life of crime. The criminal didn’t win. He didn’t win in the movies and he didn’t win in real life.
As Dillinger sat there and heard those words, “Fly from evil,” did he even think about his wicked ways? And, yet, how similar is this to us on a Sunday morning. The preacher tells us about the unforgiving brother of the prodigal. And, there is that person in our life, sometimes in that very worship room, that we have not forgiven and probably won’t forgive. The sermon is us, but do we take it to heart? Or, the preacher paints for us the wonderful picture of the apostle Paul. Strong. Faithful. Dedicated. And, there we sit, hearing those words, but pretty much certain that we’ll not be back for the evening services. There is nothing hindering us other than a lack of the very things Paul illustrated.
As King David heard that story that Nathan the prophet put before him of a rich shepherd who stole the sole lamb of a neighbor, David’s blood boils. The things that person ought to die. Yet, David never thought that Nathan was talking about him. It was not until “thou art the man,” that David got it.
Within the concept of receiving the word, is making application to yourself. How does this passage, this lesson, this class apply to me?
Here are some simple reminders:
First, see yourself before you see others. I have had folks tell me after a sermon, “I sure wish so and so were here to hear that.” I do too. But you heard it. Did it do anything to you? Look within. Be challenged. Open your heart. Open your eyes.
Second, humble yourself. That is essential to making applications. Pride will close our hearts. Pride will tell us that we are ok. What if no one else was in the room but you and the preacher. How would that change how you heard that lesson?
Third, application is wrapped around the idea that we all can do better. We must do better. The honest and good heart will grow when taught. It will change when rebuked. It will be comforted when encouraged. It is always looking to do better.
Fourth, I like taking notes. I still do when I listen to others. This helps me remember. This keeps the thoughts fresh. Get a notebook and fill it full of sermon notes. Then, every once in a while, go back through those and take another look. They will help you.
Sermons are like bricks. Week after week, the preacher is handing you another brick for your foundation. Someday when the storms come, you’ll be ready. You’ll stand firm. You’ve wrapped your faith around a strong and steady foundation.
A bad guy watching a movie about a bad guy. In the end, crime never pays.
Sure makes you wonder…makes us wonder about Sunday sermons. Makes us think about our verse today, “consider your ways.”