Sometimes circumstances and people beat us up. We’re already tired, and we get to the place where we are about to lose heart.
Stephen tells us Moses was forty years old when he made a momentous decision. He could continue to live in palace and enjoy all fringe benefits of being the grandson of the Pharaoh but he decided to turn his back on the trappings of royalty and identify with the plight of the Hebrew slaves. He knew that choice would cause him to suffer alongside them.
It wasn’t so much how Jacob started, but how he finished the race. Maybe you’ve left a trail of mistakes behind you as well. But God can change your life without changing your name. There’s still time to grab hold of His grace and let him turn you from a cheater to someone who is a blessing to others.
Every relationship you have here with Believers will be deepened and enhanced in Heaven. Yes, you will know your loved ones who are in heaven. You will maintain your distinct identity. People want to know, “How old will I be in heaven?” Ready for the answer? You will be the perfect age. And you will know people of faith in Heaven that you’ve never met before. You’ll get to ask David how tall Goliath really was. You can ask Jonah what it was like to sleep on a foam blubber mattress for three nights. You can ask Ruth to tell you her love story with Boaz.
Let’s face it. God must have an interesting sense of humor. He chose a couple of super seniors to begin his chosen nation. We know God laughs because Psalms 2 says that he who sits enthroned in the heavens laughs. If we had been making that plan we would have chosen a couple of young twenty-something’s.
God has placed us in a wicked and corrupt culture and we are to do what Noah did. We don’t need to build an ark, because we already have one. Jesus is our ark who will carry us safely through the waters of God’s final judgment. So our job is to warn the people around us that there is going to be a final judgment against sin. And don’t be surprised if people mock you the same way they mocked Noah.
God didn’t primarily save us to serve Him. He has an innumerable company of angels to serve Him. He created us to have fellowship with Him. God doesn’t want you to think of Him as some impersonal force on the backside of the universe who doesn’t care about your life. He wants you to know Him intimately as a loving Father who cares about the details of your life. He wants you to walk with Him every day.
Scientists have devoted centuries of studies trying to figure out HOW the universe was created. But the Bible isn’t so concerned with HOW it happened, it’s more about WHY God created the universe. Scientists aren’t even interested in the “why,” they just want to know the “how.” God created the heavens and the earth. Then He created plants and animals. And finally, His ultimate creation was a man and woman. If you can understand why God made them, then you can understand why God made you—it’s the same reason.
What’s the difference between a deserter and a disciple? It’s the difference between a son and a pig. A son may wander away from his father, but he will always be the child of his father and have his nature. Sons return, but pigs love the mud too much to leave. Believers sin, but we feel filthy when we sin. A make-believer can wallow in sin like a pig in mud and never feel bad.
We used to live in a world that was totally literal. You had literal friends and literal experiences. But today we live in a virtual world. You can have virtual friends and you can have virtual experiences. Some people today are looking for a virtual church experience but the writer of Hebrews stresses that we need to have a literal experience of gathering with other believers.
Let me give you three words to describe our culture without Christ. They are darkened, they are depraved, and they are doomed without Christ. There are fifteen blocks in Hollywood that feature 2,600 stars listing the names of people our culture calls stars. But in God’s accounting, the real stars are His children who allow the light of the word of God to shine through their lives.
Our founders believed in absolute moral truth. They believed there is a basis of right and wrong. Truth is not relative. Truth isn’t what the King or the British Parliament decreed. The Bible teaches there is a God-given sense of right and wrong placed in every human heart: A conscience. This truth is self-evident.
Shadows are real, but they are dead. If I walked up to you to greet you and you tried to shake hands with my shadow I would infer one of two things: A) that you are probably crazy, or B) you like my shadow more than you like me. How the heart of Jesus must have been broken when some many of the Jewish people loved the shadow of legalism more that the substance of the Son of the Living God.
We see the important role that blood atonement plays in the Old Testament and the New Testament. This trail of blood redemption begins in the first pages of the Bible and goes all the way to the last pages of Revelation. As we trace this scarlet thread through the pages of scripture we will keep circling back to the key verse that speaks about the importance of the shedding of blood.
Some of you are on a life-long guilt trip, and that’s one trip you should cancel. Too many Christians lose their joy and effectiveness because they spend all their time looking in the rear-view mirror, regretting all their past mistakes. The reason that rearview mirror is so small and that windshield in front is so large is because where you’ve been isn’t nearly as important as where you’re going!
Have you ever told a lie? The first time you told a lie, you felt badly about it. But the next time you told it, the lie came a little easier. We have all known people who were so good at lying that they can look you right in the eye and lie without any sign of moral compunction or remorse. They have convinced themselves that telling a little lie is actually not so bad.
Thank God we are no longer under the Old Covenant. God has given us a new covenant that is New and Improved. The faith of the Bible is all about newness. We read about it in a new Testament; we enter through a new birth; we become a new creation; we receive a new name; and one day we’ll live in a new heaven and a new earth. And on the last page of our Bible Jesus says, “Behold, I make ALL things new!”
It is all seen in God’s affinity for the number three. In the Bible, numbers mean something. Three is the number of God. Of course, we know there is one God but He reveals Himself through His triune nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are created in God’s image in that we are a tri-unity as well. We are body, soul, and spirit. We are one person, but like the tabernacle pattern, we are comprised of three elements. This triune theme is repeated throughout God’s creation.
In 2007, Discovery Channel aired a show called “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” claiming Jesus’ tomb had been found. One of the most implausible things about the claims of this show is that IF Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a son, what would be the odds of them naming him after the betrayer of Jesus, Judas? That would be as likely as a couple Holocaust survivors naming their son Adolph Hitler Goldberg. But on this Easter, let’s entertain the possibility that they found the bones of Jesus. What would it mean?
How were people saved in the Old Testament? Not by keeping the law. They were saved the same way we are, by faith. They had faith in God’s plan for redemption. We know God’s plan for redemption is named Jesus. They couldn’t see Jesus clearly yet, but they had faith that God would deliver His people and forgive their sins. They had faith that God had a better priest, a better bridge, and His name was Jesus.
Melchizedek was unusual because he was both a priest and a king. Later, when Israel had a king, the king could never be a priest, and a priest could never be a king. They came from two separate tribes. But Melchizedek was both. That’s why he is a great picture of Jesus. His name represented both righteousness and peace. And Jesus is the source of our righteousness and peace.
Loving your neighbor as you love yourself simply means you see yourself as God sees you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, but we are all made with flaws. But God loves us in spite of our imperfections. You and I are trophies of His grace. When you see yourself as a sinner saved by grace, but deeply loved by God, you are free to love others.
I not only believe in the security of the believer, but I believe in the insecurity of the unbeliever. There might be people whose names are on a church roll but they haven’t darkened the doors of a church in decades. If they are hiding behind a “once saved always saved” belief, they are deceiving themselves.