Total Pageviews

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking off your Mask

Good morning.

Thank you for asking me to return.

Is everyone finally all shovelled out?

Everyone here knows what day last Thursday was…right?

But who knows what special day is coming this week?

Valentine’s Day.

It has been a while since I was in school...but we had Valentine’s Day back then

Do schools still permit you to do things at school on Valentine’s Day?

What will you be doing at school for Valentine’s Day?

Do young people still hand out Valentine cards to friends?

Or is everything done by e-cards these days?

When I went to school, we actually had an E-card, but this was the only E-card we had. The letter E printed on cardboard.

Anyway…in the olden days at school…we used to hand out Valentine cards, to friends, and some times to others who we wished could be our friends.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you really liked someone at school… secretly of course…and you wanted that person to be your friend…but that person has always acted as if you don’t even exist?

Valentine’s Day was the one day when you could secretly give that person you secretly liked a Valentine card…but of course you would never sign it…because you don’t want anyone to know.

A few days before Valentine’s Day, the teacher would usually appoint someone creative to decorate a box, place it at the front of the class, and then during the week when we were sure that no one was looking, we would stuff our Valentine cards into the box.

In creative moments we would write crazy verses on the cards…something like this:

Roses are red, Violets are blue,
I would’ve made you some cookies,
But I ran out of glue.

Now if you were a guy in grade six, who would you send this card to?

Easy…you would send this to the girl that sits on the other side of the class… anonymously of course…because she is the girl you secretly like but don’t want anyone to know…including her.

Here is another card.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
Do you like me? Because I really like you.

Again, if you are a guy in grade six, who would you send this card to?

You send this card to any other girl in the class…but…you put your friend’s name on the card as the sender.

On the big day…Valentine’s Day of course…the teacher would choose one or two volunteers to open the box and then hand out the cards. Some classmates would receive a lot of cards, others, only a few.

Of course, you’re waiting to see what happens when that other girl in the class sees that card with your friend’s name on it. Some things don’t turn out the way you think they will.

There’s an interesting verse in the bible, where Jesus said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Luke 12:2)

What do you think? Do you think this verse is true?

Even though I didn’t put my name on this card, my signature is still here.

Handwriting; everyone’s handwriting is different. I’m sure you recognize your own handwriting. Some of you may recognize your friend’s handwriting. So don’t be surprised if your friend recognizes your handwriting…it’s a good thing to remember.

Anonymity is a mask and I think that a lot of people like to hide behind the Mask of Anonymity…but this is not the only mask.

Today’s message is “Taking off Your Mask” …but what is a mask?

My dictionary defines a mask as:

A covering used to conceal all or part of the face.

To assume a disguise.

The “Phantom of the Opera” is probably one of the most well-known stories about hiding behind a mask.

People today use different types of masks…the telephone to call chat-lines…or the internet to visit chat-rooms…or e-mail just to chat…people today can spend a lot of time talking to people they may never meet and may never really know, but at the same time  never speak to people they see almost every day and should take the time to get to know.

I just learned that you can even make your own personalized mask on the computer…but what would you use that for?

Who knows what an avatar is?

I didn’t even know what an avatar was until last week. I didn’t think there was any such a word in English, but I found it in my dictionary. What an unusual name for a disguise.

Avatar: In Hindu mythology, the incarnation of a god.

Incarnation means taking on the human form.

There is danger when someone starts to believe he is an incarnation of a god.

The Bible tells us about Herod, “On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:21-23)

I have wondered why the angel of the Lord struck down Herod so suddenly, but in His second commandment, God says, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:4)

How many of you here have seen the movie, “The Mask”?

I’m not asking about the Hollywood movie though; I’m asking about the Chinese move.

The movie is a story about an elderly man in China who is a master of telling stories. As he tells his stories, he can suddenly change the masks on his face. The secret of course is the method which the man uses to suddenly change masks, and this secret skill has been passed down from generation to generation in his family. The man does not have a family though and he travels from place to place, trying to earn money from his story telling.

In time, the elderly man wants to adopt a boy as his son so he can pass on his family mask secrets and skills to someone else. So the old man arranges to adopt a boy after paying someone some money.

We learn that the boy is really a girl who has been disguised to look like a boy, because in China, no one wants to adopt a girl…but the old man does not know he has been fooled.

The irony of the story is that the elderly man, who is the expert at masks, was so easily fooled by a young girl pretending to be a boy. You would think the mask expert would be the last person who could be fooled by someone wearing a mask.

Unfortunately, we are all like this, Christians included. If we are not certain about what we believe, then we can very easily be fooled.

Paul knew this problem when he wrote this to the Galatians, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” (Galatians 3:1)

The Bible tells us, Jesus was crucified, Jesus died and Jesus was buried. On the third day Jesus rose from the dead. The Bible is very clear about this. Jesus was not just unconscious and in a coma. Jesus was dead. While on the cross, a spear was thrust into his side and blood and water came out.

Jesus was the Passover lamb. The shedding of blood is the only means God has provided for the forgiveness of sins; our sins. This may sound very harsh and severe, but this is the truth of God’s requirement. Jesus paid that price for me, and for all of us who believe.

The Bible also tells about the power of God. On the third day Jesus rose from the dead and he was seen by many.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.  And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

This is the question Jesus asks all of us, “Do you believe?”

My answer is yes, I believe this. This is the reason I am here now to tell you this.

I have asked this question here before but I am going to ask it again. How do you know what you believe in, if you do not know what you believe in?

Be certain about what you believe in so that you know what you believe in, and will not be fooled.

Today’s Bible verses warn us in a similar manner.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)

This is a very strong statement…but what does it mean? What was Jesus telling the Pharisees and teachers of the law?

What does woe mean? Woe means overwhelming sorrow; disaster.

Who were the Pharisees and teachers of the law?

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were the two groups who knew Jewish scriptures and Jewish laws more than anyone else. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were the defenders of the Jewish faith. With all their knowledge and education the Pharisees and teachers of the law should have been the first to recognize the arrival of their long-awaited messiah, yet they refused to accept and acknowledge who Jesus was. They were blind to the truth.

Jesus is warning the Pharisees and teachers of the law that they face overwhelming and unbearable sorrow, even disaster, because they teach God’s laws that are right but do not live by what they teach.

Jesus wasn’t really talking about cups and dishes. Jesus was looking beyond the masks of respectability that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were wearing. They may have appeared to be very respectable, wearing the right clothing, saying the right things at the right time…very good at church-speak…but inside they were evil.

Today’s subject may be titled “Taking off your mask” but perhaps we also need to take off the whole uniform.

The Bible warns us that wearing masks to deceive can be dangerous…even fatal.

The Bible tells us “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the disciples called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement) sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostle’s feet.” (Acts 4:36-37)

The Bible also tells us about another man, “A man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece or property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostle’s feet.” (Act 5:1-2)

Here we have two men who have each done the same thing; they both sold a property. Here is where they differ: Barnabas brought all the money from the property he sold and Ananias brought part of the money from the property he sold. Both men put the money at the apostle’s feet.

Let’s read on, “Then Peter said, Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God. When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.” (Acts 5:3-5)

What did Ananias do wrong? Ananias lied to God.

Keeping a part of the money he received for the property he sold was not wrong, but lying about the amount of money he was giving to the apostles was wrong. Ananias was wearing a mask…a mask to look like a genuine Christian.

Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1)

What is yeast? Today, many people don’t really know what yeast is or does because most people don’t bake bread from scratch.

So let’s change the word yeast to something more familiar. Everyone today knows what a virus is and what it can do. Viruses make you sick. Some viruses can ruin your health or even kill you. Another type of virus is the electronic form. Have you ever had a virus get into your computer? You know if a virus gets into your computer, the virus will ruin all your files, and possibly your computer as well.

Be on your guard against the viruses of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

What is hypocrisy? Saying one thing and doing the opposite. Acting like one person, but really being a very different person. Perhaps someone is pretending to be your friend, but in reality, is ready and waiting to hurt and destroy you.

Jesus also said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” (Luke 12:14)

Was Ananias greedy because he kept back part of the money? Maybe, but I don’t think that money was the only reason. I believe that Ananias was greedy and wanted to receive the praise of other men. He wanted other Christians to think he was doing what was right.

The story’s not over yet, “About three hours later, his wife came in not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her out beside her husband. (Acts 5:7-10)

The Bible warns us about wolves in sheep’s clothing. We usually think of men as being wolves, but wolves are females as well.

Counterfeit Christians are wolves in sheep’s clothing waiting for the unsuspecting. Watch out for people wearing these masks.

Message for the young people
February 10, 2008
The Oddblock Station Agent

No comments:

Post a Comment