Deflected Scriptures and Ricochet Sermons

 New Life crime scene images for POOL At the end of a sermon, how often have you said out loud or to yourself,  “There are a lot of people here who could use that sermon.”  Or, “I hope brother _______ was paying attention to that.” Or, “I wish sister ________ had been here to hear that lesson.”  For most of us, it’s easy to see how the Scriptures apply to others, but it’s not as easy to understand how they apply to us as individuals. This was one of the main shortcomings of the Pharisees.  Jesus said of them, “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23:4).

  I’ve heard old time preachers talk about preaching ricochet sermons.  They would preach a lesson aimed at convicting a particular individual, only to have that individual remain entirely unaffected, but someone else in the congregation would holler and complain about how that sermon had been aimed right at them.  Apparently, the lesson bounced off one person and hit someone else!  A ricochet sermon!

  A bullet won’t ricochet off butter.  It has to hit something hard.  That’s true of God’s word too. When hearts and minds are hard, even God’s word cannot penetrate.  The person who rejects and deflects the Scriptures will not be changed by them and cannot be helped by them. The seed that falls on the hard wayside soil can’t penetrate, so it doesn’t germinate, and it never has a chance to bear fruit (cf. Matthew 13:18-19). In those whose hardened hearts deflect God’s word, “the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them'” (Matthew 13:14-15).

  My friend, the truth of God’s word is for you.  It applies to you.  It will help you.  Receive it and examine yourself to see how.  “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:15).

— Steve Klein

Where is it Written in Stone?

  Our culture deplores unchangeable rules.  We don’t like prohibitions and restrictions, and so we want to be able to alter or eliminate them.  This attitude is so prevalent that some advertisers actually try to attract buyers with slogans like “no rules, just right” or “the rules have changed.” 

  Often those desiring to change rules will ask, “Where is it written in stone” that something must be done a certain way?  The implication is that if it isn’t written in stone, it wasn’t meant to be permanent to begin with, and it is therefore subject to change.   The question, “Where is it written in stone?” expresses the desire of man’s heart to change rules or procedures.

  So, rules are changed constantly in virtually every area of modern life.  Some are changed because they are bad or inadequate; but just as often, they are changed because it’s inconvenient to keep them, they aren’t being kept anyway, or somebody complained enough.

  The rules or laws God gave the Israelites in ancient times actually were written in stone.  They were literally delivered on “two tablets of stone” and were “written with the finger of God” (Deuteronomy 9:10; cf. Exodus 34:1).  Choosing the medium of stone as a writing material emphasized the relative permanence of these laws.  By writing with His own finger, the Lord indicated that these laws were of divine origin, unalterable by human hands.

   The Lord Himself did eventually change those rules.  He took the “handwriting of ordinances…out of the way, having nailed it to his cross.” (Colossians 2:14).  He decided to give His people new rules as part of a new covenant. He declares, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10).  Notice that the new laws would still be written by God and thus be unalterable by man. But they are not written on tablets of stone.  They are written on human hearts. 

    God’s laws today are on the hearts of His covenant people. Since God has written them there, they are not subject to change by humans.  But more than that, because they are written on our hearts, we do not want to change them.  You see, if we are truly God’s people, His laws are part of us.  They are what we want to do!  Regarding His laws, we would never begin to ask, “Where is it written in stone?” because there is no desire within us to change His rules.  We love His laws, and we live His laws. 


 — Steve Klein