Is There Really Pork in Pork & Beans? – Pastor Donna Doutt – 3-10-19
As you sat in your seats here today, browsing the bulletin and worship information, how many of you noticed the sermon title for today?
How many of you thought the answer to that question was easy? Would you not think that anyone would have to PRESUME that if a food is canned and called “Pork AND Beans” that there really would be pork in it?
Well maybe that’s true at your house, but not at ours. Here’s why…every time I open a can of pork and beans, I eat the pork out of it right away. So here’s the sad part…my husband is not even aware that I’m actually buying “pork” and beans. He probably thinks I’m buying simply a product tagged as perhaps “baked beans.” Because, as you may have figured out by now, he’s never found a piece of pork in his serving of beans.
So you may ask...what’s that got to do with anything? Well, this is what it’s all about: As of Ash Wednesday, we are now officially in our annual season of Lent. So what’s that got to do with pork in beans? Because Lent is a season of repentance, reflection, and self-examination, I truly do take it upon myself to reflect and self-examine. Although, truthfully, I’m always self-examining myself. No one is harder on me THAN me.
And another thing, truthfully, each time I eat that piece of pork out of that can, I feel guilty. Why? Because eating that piece of pork is really just telling a lie. And what is a lie, but a sin? I know it’s wrong. I know that by not allowing my husband to partake of that piece of pork, I’m lying by my actions.
And another truthful thing is that I just can’t resist the temptation to eat that piece of pork.
So here are the multiple truths I’ve exposed in the last few moments:
I see the pork and can’t resist the temptation
I eat the pork without admitting it’s even in the beans. That makes me a liar.
I selfishly eat the pork, because I’m not willing to share it with my husband.
I’ve committed three of the seven deadly sins, all for a piece of pork:
Lust (because I’ve lusted after the pork)
Gluttony (because I want ALL the pork)
Greed (because I don’t want to share it with my husband, or anyone else for that matter).
In our Gospel reading from Luke today, in verse 12, Jesus answered Satan by saying “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
I’m not trying to make light of this powerful scriptural lesson. However, the point I am trying to make is that Satan is at work in our lives every day in every way.
Our scripture today tells the story of temptation of a man, although he was the son of God, he was in human form like us. He was a man who was vulnerable to all temptations and sin. It is the same temptations and sin to which we humans are always vulnerable. He’s in the desert for 40 days. He is a human being. He has to be hungry, but yet by the power of God’s graciousness, he is able to resist.
First the devil comes and offers to turn stones into bread. When Jesus resists that temptation, the opportunity to feast from his fast, Satan offers him more. He shows him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only bow down and worship him. But Jesus doesn’t need what Satan offers, because he knows that God has already made those kingdoms available to him. His faith in God is steadfast. Then Satan encourages Jesus to do a “trust fall.” But Jesus rejects that offer. He doesn’t need to prove to Satan that God will catch him if he falls. Jesus knows that already.
I like the way one of my Bible commentaries addresses this temptation of Christ. “The devil presents “wants” as “needs,” falsehoods as truths, distrust as faith.”
In our world, falsehoods surround us, misleading information, half-truths. We are victimized every day by advertising promotions, politicians who seek to manipulate us, mass media marketing, and yes…even sometimes from the pulpit as false teachers expound over the airwaves.
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” I read once that lies create distance and destroy connections. That’s how we get distanced from God. That’s how we get sucked into temptation. We hear things over and over until truth becomes blurred from fact. Do you really think Satan left Jesus alone after that encounter? I don’t think so. I think he kept hammering away at Jesus. Don’t forget that last line that says, “The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.”
Are you brave enough to ask yourself the question, “what am I doing in my life that keeps me from being the person God intended for me to be?” What’s distancing you from God? Are you eating all the pork yourself?
Temptation leads to sin. It’s insidious. It seeps into our lives every day. It’s that creeping normality that makes us think the more we do something that is contrary to God’s plan for us, the more comfortable we are with it. After a while, we just don’t see anything wrong with it. We become so comfortable in our sin that we forget that we are sinning. We forget what the truth is.
A scholar writes in one of my texts about Lent saying, “Lent is not giving up something, but rather taking upon ourselves the intention and the receptivity to God’s grace so that we may worthily participate in the mystery of God with us.”
Do we or don’t we want to be in God’s good grace?
Our founder, John Wesley wrote in his Sermon #9, titled “The Spirit of Bondage,” that he believes we are born into natural bondage, a condition in which our “spiritual senses are not awake.” “We may be in a deep slumber, completely unconscious of our sin, or we may seem awake—conscious of our sins, performing righteous actions, and worship Christ for saving us from sin. But this is like sleepwalking. When our spiritual senses re really awake, we recognize sin’s control over us. But now we are at risk of legal bondage, a condition in which we become fearfully preoccupied with the gulf between God’s law and the state of our souls. Now we are bound by anguish over our sin or by efforts to free ourselves from sin. The spiritual tragedy is that we can be bound to sin whether asleep or awake to it, because in both cases our hearts are distracted from the grace of God, which can free us from bondage to sin.”
So, here’s the good news…we hear it in our Epistle reading this morning from Romans when Paul writes to them. Let me remind you what we heard, “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because[a] if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
We should be thankful that the Lenten season is offered to us annually because it provides for us time to set aside and reflect on our own temptations, our own, sinfulness, and our own repentance.
You know, we may think we’ve got all the time in the world, but we may not. God has a plan for each and every one of us. If God would call you home tomorrow, are you really ready?
I personally will call upon the Lord in this season of reflection and repentance. I will ask and welcome Him to walk alongside me. I know that Satan is waiting for another opportunity to tempt me.
Remember our Ash Wednesday services, we hear the "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Let’s not waste our time allowing Satan to insinuate himself into our lives.
When John Wesley heard Martin Luther’s preface to Romans being read at a worship service, his personal testimony was this: “While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins.”
When I am called home, I don’t want to get caught with a piece of pork from my family’s baked beans in my mouth! I want to know my soul is ready to go.
I don’t want to put the Lord, my God to the test. I want that blessed assurance that comes from knowing that my belief in Christ’s has forgiven my sins. When God looks at my life, I want it to be well my soul and acceptable in His sight. How about you?
 Wesley Study Bible. Common English Bible. p. 1429