Last Sunday, I decided to eat cereal for breakfast. I dumped a pile of Fruity Pebbles into a bowl and reached for the milk. That’s when things got messy. You see, the pile of Fruity Pebbles in my bowl was rather large and stiff. So when I poured milk into the bowl, the milk bounced off of the Fruity Pebbles and landed on me!
“Darn it! My pants and shoes are milky now.” That was my first thought.
Then, I had a second thought: “This is how we are with God sometimes. We’re too hard to receive His blessing. So when He pours Himself out to us, it goes right back to Him.”
One day, the disciples had a question for Jesus. They asked Him, “‘Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?’” (Matt. 13:10 NLT).
Maybe you’ve wondered the same. Almost every sermon Jesus preached came through a parable. Jesus began to explain, telling His disciples how they were permitted to understand Heaven’s secrets.
But wait, there’s more! According to Jesus, people who listen to Him will grow in understanding. On the flip side, those who refuse to listen to Him will lose understanding.
“‘That is why I use these parables, for they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand’” (V. 13 NLT).
You see, a handful of religious leaders were too stubborn to listen to Jesus. They were so fixated on their laws and traditions that the words and actions of Jesus ricocheted right off of their proud chests.
If I can be completely honest with you, I believe God’s Church is full of Pharisees today. People who have hearts like stone. Unwilling to listen. Unwilling to see. Unwilling to escape a mindset of tradition in order to see God’s Kingdom advance. Make no mistake about it, I’m not saying people should compromise the Word of God. It’s unchanging. But what if men have gotten some things wrong over the years? What if the Church needs to make some God-honoring changes in order to reach a lost and dying world?
In the days of Jesus, religious people had the hardest hearts. Could it be that the same is true today? I’ll leave that between you and God.
Back to the Bible. As Jesus continued His parable explanation, He referred to the prophecy of Isaiah.
“‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them’” (V. 14-15 NLT).
If you want God to move in your life, come to Him openly. Come to Him with open ears, open eyes, and a heart wide open.
In the Gospels, the people who got the most from Jesus were those who came with nothing to hold onto.
Can I challenge you? Come to Jesus with no preconceived idea of who He is. Lay aside what you’ve always believed. Lay aside your tradition. Lay aside your doctrines. And come openly to Jesus. Then, if He leads you to believe a certain way, then so be it. But most of us base what we believe about God more so on what preachers say than what we personally experience through His Word.
I know I’m “stepping on toes,” but I sense an unusual anointing on this message.
I’m not sure what’s keeping God’s Word from penetrating your ears, eyes, and heart. I’m not sure what your pile of Fruity Pebbles looks like. Maybe it’s religion. Maybe it’s preconceived ideologies. And yes, maybe it’s sin.
But like God told the Israelites, He tells us today: “‘And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart’” (Ezek. 36:26 NLT).
Trust me from experience. When you pour milk on your cereal, you don’t want the milk splashing back at you. And when God pours Himself on us, I doubt He wants it splashing back at Him, either.