Sermon "You're Getting Audited"

You’re Getting Audited Luke 13:1-5 1 Corinthians 13:1-10 Isaiah 55:6-9 March 24, 2019
It’s tax season, hope things are going well for everyone.  Probably next to the stress of meeting the tax deadline of April 15th is to receive a letter in the mail from the Internal Revenue Service to inform you you’re being audited.  Audits can be intimidating because they can reveal both our unintentional mistakes and the intentional ones.  
Introduction:  I have been driving by a church sign in Arlington, that at first glance has a bit of that feel of being audited, but in a spiritual way.  They just changed their sign this weekend, but the sign had read for the past couple weeks, “Be a fountain; not a drain.”  It immediately provokes me to ask whether I take away more than I give in relationships?  Do I suck the energy out of people and situations more than I pour encouragement into them?  I have to admit there have been days when I have past-by that sign its message brings to my mind people I have known over the course of my life, and I put them into categories of drains and fountains.  But most often, the sign prompts me to take stock of how I am living. It is blunt to the point and it jolts me into asking the relevant question that challenges me to take inventory of my life.
There is a story from the gospel of Luke that is very pointed and jolting as well.
Listen to these words from chapter 13:1-5.
First impression
My first impression of this story is that these people were shocked by the words of Jesus.  I believe they had to be shocked because they weren’t talking about themselves.  Yet, Jesus brought the issue back to them.
His answer took off the table for discussion that they must be better people just because nothing bad happened to them. Jesus took away the notion that when something bad happens that is God’s way of punishing people.
I don’t want to blur my focus this morning, but I just have to hit this point while I am here.  A story on was posted this past week that described how 40 children were unharmed recently when a level F-2 tornado hit a church in McCraken County Kentucky.  It described how during the storm the kids were taken to a safe room and sang songs like, Jesus Loves Me.  The headline for that story was 40 Preschoolers Sing, Jesus Loves Me, Escape Storm Unscathed.  See I’m not sure Jesus would like that type of publicity because what are the parents in Alabama thinking when last month four kids were killed from tornados?
Jesus told those who report the bad news that ready or not, you’re getting spiritually audited. Whether bad things happen to you or not is not an indicator about where you are in your relationship with God stands.   Notice he told them they needed to repent.  Make the corrections, don’t just talk the talk, do another study, read another book, download another sermon – there are action steps for change that must be made.
For Jesus, “I know I should but” is not repentance.
Why Audits
 The words of Jesus hit two basic realities of why we need to carefully examine our lives.  
Not as good as you think you are First is that none of us are as good as we think.  We do many things well.  We don’t do some things that we hear of people with greater intelligence, money, prestige will do that are wrong, and it just makes us wonder what they were thinking. But never the less, none of us are as good as we think we are.
Story bears repeating from Pastor Rick Warren when he was doing consultation with a church.  The church was once dynamic and growing then experienced a decade or two of decline.  One of the leaders at the meeting told Warren proudly, “We are a sound church.”  Warren said he was shocked the man wasn’t seeing the reality of decline and thought, “you’re a sound church, sound asleep.”
Isn’t the explosion of stories in the Protestant churches about ministers and other church staff misbehaving over sex, money, and power an example where there is a failure among Christians to take seriously the biblical teaching of watchfulness over the condition of our souls to heart?
None of us are as good as we think. This is why, Bible does contain passages that say to Christians, “awake from your slumber…”  Translation take stock where you are because no one is as good as they think they are.
Listen to this passage from 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Verses 1-4 Pointing to the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea by God and Moses
 Verses 5-11 Point the people who went through the parting of the Red Sea blew big time in many ways. • Idolatry • Sexual immorality • Testing God • Complaining
Vs.12-13 Watch your own life for where you can fall.
“No testing” is not talking about things like diseases or the car breaks down the same week your water heater goes out.  The context of the testing is linked to situations where God’s people walked into sinful, disobedient behaviors and if the people who witnessed the power of God at the Red Sea could fall into disobedience and faithlessness – Paul says “watch” nobody is as good as they think they are.
Jesus said repent! Paul said watch!
Not as bad as you think
But here is the good news for being watchful, asking deep questions, auditing ourselves is this, none of us are so bad we cannot be changed by God.  None of us have sin too great for God to forgive and none of us are too big of a mess for God to restore and heal.
I tend to think that we fall in this category when we will not open up to God or others about what we perceive as our failings because we think we’re the only ones.
I think we fall into this category when we cannot accept affirmation for the good were doing because we see others as more worthy, than ourselves. I think we fall into this category when we don’t take some time to say thank you to God for what he is accomplishing in our lives because we only see the negative.
If we search the scriptures, we find, there is not a category or class of sin that God cannot forgive and restore.
Listen to these words from Isaiah 55:6-9
Isaiah assures forgiveness for the “wicked” and the “unrighteous.”  You can’t get any worse than wicked or unrighteous.
Isaiah said, “let them return to the Lord…that he may have mercy on them…” The forgiveness and love of God is just waiting for us like the father of the prodigal son waited and watched for his son to come home.
Isaiah said God “will abundantly pardon…”  Abundant means plenty.
Then Isaiah shared those classic words about God’s ways and thinking being far above and beyond our ways and that includes the power of God to love, forgive and transform us.
You may know someone who thinks they are worse than everyone else – I would suggest Isaiah 55:6-9.
If the shoe fits, maybe you need some meditative time on this passage.
The bad news of the gospel is everyone’s audit shows blemishes on our spreadsheets, we’ve all fallen short.
The good news is your audit in the eyes of God is no worse than anyone else. Remember in mid-2000’s when big corporations were exposed for cooking their books and they were a mess – you might be the Goldman- Sachs or AIG for spiritual inadequacies, but God can handle it.
Focus on you, do your audit.
The last point is simply - focus on you.   Jesus told the people – unless you repent – take a look at your life. Paul said, “If you think you stand, watch! Isaiah said, you seek the Lord.
Don’t do a spiritual audit on others – just focus on you!
Sometimes the best answer for our problems that even include other people and circumstances we cannot control is to keep a close watch on the integrity of our lives, our words, and actions.
Illustration: Our men’s group has been using a study series by Pastor Matt Chandler.  He tells a story of a season in his marriage when there was much conflict with his wife.  He shares how the marital problems got better when he decided to go to counseling for himself without trying to get his wife to go with him.  He took the step for himself to reach out for spiritual direction and when he did things improved.  
• He realized she didn’t necessarily change. • But he did, and he quit trying to control “them” and just worked on “him” and life got better, especially the peace God brought deep into his soul.  
Focus on you. 
Healthy companies, honest companies conduct audits.  
 Jesus said, repent. Paul said watch. Isaiah said you seek the Lord.
The good news by the audit God conducts is motivated by the truth and love of God.

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