Mon, 1 December 2014
Worship that Works
Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
1. Be compassionate (v. 1-3)
a. Summary command
b. Specific cases
2. Be clean (v. 4)
a. Elevate what’s right
b. Eliminate what’s wrong
3. Be content (v. 5-6)
a. With what you have
b. With who you have
Sun, 23 November 2014
“See the King”
1. Reject the King
a. We are given a warning
b. We are given a welcome
2. Receive the King
a. Unbelievable gift
b. Unbounded gratitude
3. Revere the King
a. He is a compassionate father
b. He is a consuming fire
Sun, 16 November 2014
Jesus is Better
“Run the Race”
Key Verses: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2).
1. Before the race: preparation
a. See the witnesses
b. Shed the weight
2. During the race: dedication
a. We need a pace
b. We need a pattern
3. After the race: celebrate
a. There is rejoicing
b. There is rest
Sun, 9 November 2014
1. Order of Faith
2. Origin of Faith
3. Absurdity of Faith
4. Object of Faith
5. Absolute necessity of Faith
6. Outcome of Faith
Mon, 27 October 2014
Jesus is Better
“A Better Covenant”
Key Verses: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. . . . For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:10-12).
1. Because of its predecessor
a. Its focus was our works
b. Its fault was our weakness
2. Because of its participants
3. Because of its promises
a. Internal change
b. Intimate connection
c. Incredible compassion
Sun, 19 October 2014
Jesus is Better
“Jesus is a Better Savior”
Key Verse: Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
1. Because of his ability
a. His ability is limitless
b. His ability is loving
2. Because of his availability
a. His availability is for eternity
b. His availability is for everyone
3. Because of his advocacy
a. His advocacy is conditional
b. His advocacy is costly
Tue, 14 October 2014
Jesus Is Better
“Pilgrims [Should Make] Progress”
Key Verse: Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1a).
1. To make progress, we must be moving
a. Begin with elementary truths
b. Build on elementary truths
2. To make progress, we must be maturing
a. We must have roots
b. We must have fruits
3. To make progress, we must be motivated
a. We may be blessed
b. We may be cursed
Thu, 9 October 2014
Jesus is Better
“Our Better High Priest”
Key Verses: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
1. He is better because of his triumph
a. He ascended to heaven
b. He atoned for sin
2. He is better because of his temptations
a. We have an enemy
b. We have an example
3. He is better because of his tenderness
a. He is sympathetic to us
b. He is sovereign over us
Sun, 28 September 2014
Jesus is Better
“Help for Hard Hearts”
Key Verse: Therefore, as the Holy Sprit says, “Today, if yo hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion"(Hebrews 3:7-8a).
1. The causes of a heard heart
a. Deafness can cause a hard heart
b. Doubt can cause a hard heart
c. Deceit can cause a hard heart
2. The consequences of a hard heart
a. What you don’t get
b. What you do get
3. The cures for a hard heart
a. Fellowship with one another
b. Faith in One
When I was a senior in high school, I made a New Year's resolution. And the New Year's resolution was, that I was going to learn to play the guitar. And so with great gusto, I began playing the guitar. It didn't take too many days of, hours per day on that guitar until the tips of my fingers were you form the cords on those steel strings were actually cut and bleeding a little bit. But, I didn’t give up and you know what happened with the passage of time those cuts became calluses. I don’t play the guitar that much anymore but I still when I feel the ends of my fingers, my fingertips on the left-hand, I feel that callouses still today. You know it's okay if some parts of your body get calluses on them. If you ever shaken working man's hand, you know you get that big old hand and you shake it and you feel those calluses, it serves them well because, his hand has become hardened to carry out the tasks that are his.
But there are other parts of your body that you never need to grow hard. That would be, chief of all, your heart. Your heart needs to always be supple and soft and flexible. In fact did you know, there’s a phrase, a lot of you are too young to recognize this phrase but its called, the hardening of the arteries. It’s really a term used for heart disease, when you get plaque buildup in your arteries and it restricts the flow of blood, as the passage narrows. Soon enough if you don't get enough blood to your heart, you can have a heart attack or you can have a stroke, you can die. And so you need your heart to always remain soft and pliable and supple. And so today I want to preach a message that takes that physical principle and puts it into the spiritual realm.
Just as your physical heart you cant afford it for it to get hard, spiritually; you can't afford to get a hard heart. You need a soft heart. I need a soft heart toward God. And so here's the title of today's message, help for Hard Hearts. I wonder, don’t show your hand, but I wonder how many of us would say, you know Pastor Jeff, I'm afraid, if I were to be honest, you know my heart maybe getting a little cold. A little hard. This morning I know God wants to soften our hearts so that they will be pliable in his hands and useful to Him.
So today were to get some help for hard hearts and we’re going to do so out of the book of Hebrews. That’s toward the end of your Bible, so if you would please turn there. Hebrews chapter 3 and stand to your feet in honor of God's Word. We’re about to hear the King of Heaven speak and I want you given your best attention. Hebrews chapter 3, we’re going to start in verse seven. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts.” you see their there's the phrase. “Do not harden your heart as in the rebellion on the day of testing in the wilderness where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for 40 years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation and said, they always go astray in their heart they have not known my ways. As I swore in my wrath, they will not enter my rest. Take care brothers. Take care sisters. Lest there be in any of you, an evil unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another, every day, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For, as we have come to share in Christ. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end, as it is said, today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. Lets pray. God, thank you that you speak to us. I thank you that we can hear your voice today if we if we got a heart to here. I pray that we will have soft pliable soulful hearts that are responsive to you. Awaken us to what you say today Lord and change for, Jesus sake, Amen.
Please be seated. Help for hard hearts. Let me advise you if you're visiting us today, if you’ll turn on the back of your worship guide, just flip that guide over, there’s a skeleton outline of the today's message, and really for all of our sake, it's helpful to follow along, and just jot down anything that you think God is saying to you. That you need to apply from what would we be hear today. All right. I will begin the message by talking about what causes a hard heart. What are the causes of a hard heart? First of all, a heard heart is caused by deafness. Now in the physical realm don't tend to think of hearing being related to heart. But in the Bible there's a huge connection between hearing and heart. And if were hard of hearing we will be hard of heart. God wants us always have an open ear to hear what he said. I take this from verse seven. He says, “Therefore as the Holy Spirit says, today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” what's the implication? That if you don't hear his voice, over time, your heart gets to be hard. Soon enough, you won't be able to hear it. So today, if you hear his voice, then respond to it, so that your heart will not become hard. Now heart disease, in the physical realm, can be caused by not listening to good counsel. For example, we all know that if you have a healthy heart, you need to exercise. Right? Every day do some exercise? Some cardiovascular workout. You need to watch what you eat. You need to get plenty of rest. You need to let the stress in your life go down. All of these things, that’s the counsel that you get, and if you hear it, and respond to it, it will help you have a soft healthy heart. But, if you ignore that counsel, you may get the hardening of the arteries and you have a stroke or heart attack. You may get into trouble.
Now the same thing is true spiritually. God gives us council from his word on how to live. And if you listen to his counsel, then our hearts will be soft and will be spiritually healthy. We need to listen to God. It’s dangerous not to listen to good counsel isn’t it? Let me tell you a story about a church youth group. Now all you teenagers listen to me. There was a youth group very much like ours that went on a trip to Yosemite national Park. Way out West. They were from California. So it wasn’t that fare of a drive. They went up to Yosemite and they said we're going to hike the most famous of the hikes in that great park. In it's the hike up what's called Vernal Falls. We’re going to put a picture on the screen, of this beautiful waterfall. It’s the Merced River, it falls about 317 feet at that precipice and thousands of people every year make this hike. It’s gorgeous. Well all along that hike, there are warning signs, because while it looks placid and beautiful and majestic, the truth is it's very dangerous. In fact the signs are actually in four languages, so that nobody misunderstands or fails to hear the warning. They caution about the force of the river and that the rocks are slippery. And of course, you can imagine with the falls and the mist that the bellows out from that, the rocks get slippery. And so the youth group start making its way up to the top of Vernal Falls and when they got up there, there were three of them that decided they wanted to get a picture for instagram. You young people know what I'm talking about? Something to post on Facebook I guess. And so one of the girls, well in fact three of them, the girl is the particular one that was leading the pack, they climbed over a guardrail that bordered the Merced River there the top. Now I think in part the reason they did it, is that when you're up on top, the water is actually kind of placid. In fact, they call it the Emerald Pool and other of the pictures of you can see online, I’m not going to put it on screen but either other pictures of it, and you can almost see that that placid pool of green water there at the top. It’s beautiful. It’s crystal clear and the girls said, come on ya’ll. Lets Climb over this guardrail and we’ll just go out there and stand on a rock, and ya’ll can take my picture. Harmless enough. I really can hardly blame the young people, because I could almost see me doing something foolish like that. They climbed over, got out in the river, they didn’t know it but that year, there had been a real heavy snowfall and the snowmelt have been great and the Merced River had swollen with that extra water, and the force of the river was greater than even normally was. Beneath the placid surface, the were currents that they couldn't even see. The girl got out on the rock and she slipped. She splashed into the water and her friend, alarmed of course, because they were only about 25 feet from the edge of the falls, he went out into the water to try to grab her, he lost his footing. So now the third guy was to take the picture, he goes in after those two. And before anything could be done. To the wailing screams of the whole group, those three young people were swept over the precipice to their deaths. That is a terrible story, but it's a true story. Fact, they couldn't even find their bodies for several days, because the force of the water was so great. They were pinned there on the rocks somewhere beneath the surface at the foot of the falls. What had happened? They had ignored the warnings that had been given.
Deafness can be deadly. You must listen to God's voice, because deafness can cause a hard heart, and a hard heart can be deadly. Now what else can cause a hard heart? Not only deafness, but doubt can cause a hard heart. I think most of you know the story that is in view here, in Hebrew 3. It’s actually looking back to the children of Israel, who had been enslaved in Egypt. You remember this. For about 400 years, they were enslaved there. But God never forgot about his children. He heard their cry. And he sent Moses to them to deliver them. And you'll remember that God, with miraculous power, sent plague after plague after plague and in patience, he was saying to Pharaoh, and the Egyptians, let my people go! But pharaoh was deaf to God's voice and he had a hard heart. And the Bible says he stiffened his neck against God. God continued to send those plagues until finally the night of Passover came, the death Angel came and all of the firstborn, both of the livestock and even of the male firstborn sons of every family, died in the Egypt. God spared the Israelites. Finally Pharaoh and the Egyptians said please go! And out went the Israelites in great freedom. Well, they made their way down to the Red Sea. Once they became alarmed. There like, we're going to die here because Pharaoh had regained his courage, and you want to go back and capture them. He was in hot pursuit. On one side, had the Red Sea, and on the other side was Pharaoh bearing down on them. And mountain walls hemmed them in. it looked as though they were goners. Again, God heard their cry. And Moses extended his rod and the Red Sea opened. A strong wind blew and they walked across on dry ground. Then they went to up the wilderness there. Safe now from the Army of the Egypt that was destroyed. They were hungry and a cried out and God heard them. God sent manna. He dropped groceries from heaven. And then they ate their fill. They got thirsty and they complained against God. God caused water flow from the rock. Again, again and again God provided for them. But it was if if they'd never could get over their bellyaching. There murmuring. They’re complaining. Finally they came to the Jordan River, God had proven himself true to every promise, and he said “this land that you see that flows with milk and honey, where there are vineyards that you did not plant, where their houses to live in that you did not build, with their walled cities that you can inhabit, all of this I'm giving to you. The children of Israel, what did they do, the they doubted. They said that land is too mighty. There are chariots there. There are walled cities. We are as but grasshoppers in our own eyes. We can't do it. And they doubted and it gave them our atherosclerosis. I mean it hardened their arteries. It gave them heart disease.
Listen to what the Bible says in verse 12 of our chapter, Hebrews 3. Take care brothers, lest there be in any of you and an evil, unbelieving heart. Leading you to fall away from the living God. What had happened? They had they had heart disease. Their heart had become evil, and it is rooted in, what the Bible says, unbelief. You know what God wants for us above everything? He wants us to believe him when he makes promises. He wants us to believe that they will come true. When he says what the Bible says, God so loved the world; he wants us to believe it. That he gave his only begotten son; he wants us to believe that. That whosoever would believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life; he wants us to trust that promise. That’s what he seeks above all. That we would trust and believe in him. But they doubted. It caused a hard heart.
Let me give you one other cause of a hard hart. I've mentioned deafness and doubt but deceit can cause you to have a hard heart. Look in verse 13, but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. You see sin is at work in us. The devil was at work to deceive us. To think that God is not good. That he is not faithful to his promises. And to pull us away from the living God. The deceitfulness of sin.
I heard a story years ago, about what was called the perfect crime. It’s a story set in New York, back in the days when they were building the skyscrapers. And there were two men that have become enemies of one another on the building site. But they worked, side-by-side, on the girders as they were building this mighty skyscraper. One of the men had the job of affixing the rivets to the girders so that they would be in place. The other man would pitch the rivets to the first man. He would pitch them. The man would catch it and he would attach the rivet and on they would go throughout the day, attaching those great steel girders. The one man thought of away to murder his coworker. And here was his plan. As he threw the rivet to him, with each successive throw, he withdraw just a little bit further out from the building. And so the man that was catching the rivet and attaching them, you know he caught the rivet, with the next throw he had to reach out just a little bit further, the next throw, a little further, and it was so subtle, it was so incremental, it was so sinister, he didn’t recognize he was reaching out further and further. Until finally that last throw came and he lost his balance as he reached out to get it. He plunged to his death. Now they called it the perfect crime because there was no trace of any misdeed. He subtlety, very incrementally murdered his coworker.
Now, why do I tell that story? That’s the way sin operates in our lives. The devil, he’s not going up and get you to like jump over to some massive evil like Hitler, but he's going to incrementally, very subtly, throw you a temptation that just close enough that you might bite. Once you've indulged in that, he may throw at temptation that's a little further out from God's will, in a little further out, until finally you take a great fall because sin is deceitful. I wonder today if I'm talking to some people whose hearts are becoming hard because you've been deceived by sin. You find yourself doing things that you never would've dreamed of doing, because incrementally, you gone there. Today if you hear his voice, awaken to the danger that is in front you. These are the causes of a heard heart. Now quickly, what does it matter? Are there any consequences for having a hard heart? Well you know physically, if you have hardening of the arteries, and your heart gets where there is not enough blood flowing to it. It’s deadly. In fact, did you know every 33 seconds, someone in America dies of heart disease? In a year more than a million people die. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Physically, it's dangerous. There are consequences. What about spiritually? If your heart gets cold and hard toward God, does it matter? Well I am going to tell you today it does matter. I’m going to give you two reasons it matters. First of all, it matters because what you don't get when your heart is hard. Now, remember I told you that God was taking the children of Israel to the Promised Land. They were going to go to that land of milk and honey. Those walled cities. They were going to inhabit them. Every good thing was going to be provided them. But because they did not believe, because their hearts were cold and hard, they did not get what God would have otherwise given them. Do you see how this is applicable to you and me? God of the Bible says Jesus came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly. The Promised Land is but a picture of the life abundant that we are to have in Jesus. But you don't get it if you have a hard heart toward God and if you ignore his voice.
I’m going to put on the screen a picture of fellow, you may recognize. Him his name John Candy. Here’s a famous actor, some years ago. He starred in the movie, Cool Running about the Jamaican bobsled team; Splash He was with the Blues Brothers and so a little bit dated. So you may know John Candy. He was actually well known for being a comedic character. He was a big man, physically very big. In his family that was a history of heart disease. His father, now get this, his father died when he was only 35 years old. Can you imagine? Almost 20 years my younger, dying of a heart attack. So John grew up in a family that should've known well the dangers of heart disease. But John, I guess it goes with that comedic, jovial feel. He loved to eat. He gave it a good Louisiana. He loved to eat and he would put on a big spread for everybody. He would smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. He just lived the life. Those in violation of every rule of good health and we was 43 years old, he too died. He didn't get the love out all of these years. He lost it. He didn't get what he could've otherwise had. He was making $4 million per picture. That was back in the mid-90. All that wealth. All the future that was before him, but he squandered it, because of his hard hardening heart. In the physical realm.
The same thing can be true for us spiritually. God wants us to enter into a life of joy and freedom and purpose. We can’t have it, if we can have a hard heart. So the consequences are, what you don't get what the consequence is also are, what you do get. When you have a hard heart, what they get? Look again at your Bible and Ill show you. In verse 17 it says, “and with whom was he provoked for 40 years, was it not with those who sinned? Whose bodies fell in the wilderness. What did they get? They got 40 years; listen to me, 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Until every one of their bodies fell dead in the desert. All those that were of age that could've gone to the Promised Land, save Joshua and Caleb. Those faithful men who said “let's go.” all the rest died. What they didn't get was the Promised Land. What they did get was death. Spiritually, don't miss what God would give you and don't get what the world would give you. Right? I said before, I said again, God wants for us what we would want for ourselves, if we had sense enough to want it. He wants a life of goodness for you in abundance and joy and purpose. But if you have a hard heart, you never going to get it. Well let me conclude. Is there a cure? You know physically, if you have a heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, which I have several those things, to some small degree, is there anything I can do? There is something that I can do. I can exercise. And I need to do more than I do, but I could exercise. I could eat better. And I'm trying to do a little better on my eating. You let the stress out of your life. You can rest better. We need these disciplines in our lives physically. But what about spiritually? Is there something that you can do? Is there a cure for the hard heart? There is. Let me give you two cures. Number one, fellowship with one another. Notice what he says in verse 13, “but exhort one another, every day, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, do you see that? When we exhort one another, when we encourage one another, it helps our hearts to be soft. That’s why it is so good for you to come to church. Ill tells you something curious. You know they have done a study and that regular church attendance actually prolongs physical life. It’s good for you to come to church. Even if that were the spiritual element, which is supreme, but even physically good for you to come. And spiritually, how good it is to be in the company of other believers. When I see you here, what does it do, it warms my heart. It softens my heart. It encourages my heart. And I know that you have that sensation as you gather with one another. And I hope you're part of one of our small groups. We call them ABF’s, Adult Bible Fellowship. Or if you’re a teenager you’re in our student ministry with the table groups. We have to Thrive classes where you can come on Wednesday nights and exhort one another as the Bible says. Be one of our D groups. But get into the company of others. That will keep your heart soft. Don’t get out there by yourself and be hardhearted. There’s one special night I’m going to mention, its November 2. I want all of you to please put this on your calendar, all right. On November 2, that morning were going to have Go Global Sunday. Dr. Dave Early is going to be here to speak to us and that night we going to gather back, we we don't normally come on Sunday nights, this is getting be an exception. We are going to come together and our purpose is to cry out to God, to exhort one another, God bring revival to my heart. I tell you something; my heart needs to be softer. I bet some of you if you were to be honest would say, me to preacher. I need my heart to be softened. Our church needs revival. Our nation needs revival. Our world is desperate for the peace and life that Jesus brings.
We are going to get on our knees, November 2 and I want to be here. We are calling the night, The Power of One. The since of us being together. Exhorting one another. One Church, one heart, and one voice, an all campus prayer gathering on November 2 at 6 PM. alright now, the other thing that you can do to have a soft heart, and it's the chief thing, while it is important fellowship with one another, you to have faith in one. I mean you need to have your faith in the Lord Jesus, who gave his life on the cross. Who shed his blood? That we might live. Verse 14 of this chapter says. “ For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” he's talking about faith. He’s talking about belief. And he says we're to hold our confidence firm until the end. Does that mean that, by having firm confidence to the end, we save ourselves? No. We don’t save ourselves. We are saved by him. But our confidence to the end reveals the genuineness of our faith. And so were to hold that confidence firm. That faith that fate firm to the end. When I was a boy my preacher, used to say, “faith that fizzles before the finish, was faulty from the first.” you heard that? Faith that fizzles before the finish was faulty from the first. And so man look, don’t let your faith fizzle. Don’t get a cold heart man. Stay in fellowship with one another and put your faith in the Lord Jesus.
Now conclude. In 2011, Steven Spielberg produced a wonderful movie. Some of you went and saw it. I'm sure it's called Warhorse. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommended even for family viewing. It one of those few Hollywood movies that you wouldn’t mind your children seeing. It’s a story of a young boy and his horse. The horses’ name is Joey. Joey is a thoroughbred. And by a set of circumstances, Joey's poor family comes into possession of this prize horse. The boy's name is Albert, is it not? Albert. Thank you. He loves Joey the horse. And so he just raises up that thoroughbred. They’re the best of friends. Well, World War I comes along and Great Britain is in need of horses to pull the heavy artillery and for the chores of battle and are buying up all the horses. One day Albert was out and the Army men came and Albert's father needed money for their farm. He sold the horse while the boy was away the boy came back he was “Where is my horse” and they were taking them away to the Army. Well, with the passage of time the boy himself went into the Army. And he and the horse were scattered across was thousands of miles, far apart from one another. He didn’t know where his horse was. But he never forgot him. As the battles of drug on and the war drug on, one day the boy was in a trench, and some poison gas was shelled his trench and it blinded the boy, temporarily. So he went to an infirmary to be nursed back to health. And he didn’t know it but the horse had been captured by the Germans and had been put into very harsh labor. The horse, his health to become broken, his spirit had become broken, and in one scene that is very memorable, the horse tries the bolt across no man's land. And the horse becomes entangled in the barbed wire. You remember that horrific scene? The freed the horse but the horse is so wounded that they can't nurse him back to health it seems. And so there are going to just shoot the horse, to put him out of his misery, remember this? And the boys in the hospital, and it happens that now the horses is very close at hand. The boy hears some people talking about this, this ghost horse, this is miracle horse that had survived no man's land, which no one survived, if you heard them talk about the horse, he thought, perhaps that's Joey. Perhaps that's my horse. And so he staggers up out of his sickbed. In he makes his way into the alley and they're about to shoot the horse. And the boy Joey, he had this whistle the always use with the horse, from the horse in the earliest days. [Whistles]. The old horse perked his head up. Looked about, showed some life and vigor that he never shown before. And the blind boy begins to inch his way through the crowd of soldiers. They are all just silent, because they are about to hear the gunshot, right. The horse neighs and the boy whistles again. The old horse begins to snort and gather strength up again and the soldier’s part like the Red Sea, and the boy in the horse are united. The horse was saved because he knew his master's voice. He heard it. He responded to it. His salvation.
What am I saying to you? Listen to the bookends of this passage, how does the passage start? How does it end? Verbatim, today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as your forefathers did the rebellion in the wilderness, instead be saved. Would you bow your heads please? I wonder who here today would say, preacher my hearts been hard. I've been getting further and further away from the warmth of God. I've gone astray and preacher, I need, I name my heart softened. The Bible says that God wants to take out of us a heart of stone and put in us, heart of flesh. Like the heart of a new baby. He wants us to be born again and saved. Forgiven. Maid new. Warm. Responsive. Would you just cry out to Him? Lord! Lord please; take out my hard stone heart. And God give me your heart, a new heart. New life. And for those of you who know Christ as Savior, and if you been away from him, would you just say Lord I repent. I come back to you. Lord from the deceitfulness of sin. I want to get away from those temptations and Lord I come to you, tower of strength and I run into you Lord. Revive me. Cleanse me. Help me to walk closely with you. All of these things Lord, we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.
Wed, 24 September 2014
Jesus is Better
“See Our Savior”
Key Verse: But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesue, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).
1. See Jesus in the cradle
a. He is humble below angels
b. He is high above angels
2. See Jesus on the cross
a. His grace is great
b. His goal is global
3. See Jesus with the crown
a. Submit to him
b. Share with him
It is great to have all of you here. Take your bibles please and lets open together to Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 2 is where we are going to be. Were going through a series titled Jesus is better. That’s the theme of the book of Hebrews. In fact, I think the word better appears in the book thirteen times. Which is one for every chapter. There are thirteen chapters and it just says over and over again, Jesus is better. He is better.
And so today we are going to continue that series and I want to ask you a question before I start and it’s this. What did Jesus look like? Have you ever wondered that? Well there have been those who have tired to portray what he looked like and I going to put on the screen here some pictures, some portraits of Jesus, the first two are drawn by a fellow named Walter Salmon and his portraits are among the most famous a in our culture that have ever been drawn. The first one is a picture of Jesus knocking at a door and I wonder if I made you remember seeing this picture at some point maybe in a Sunday school classroom or in your grandmother's Bible or something of the sort. That’s a beautiful picture of Jesus and you may have noted before that when you look at that picture carefully the door does not have a knob on it and kind of the message of the portrait is that if Jesus is to come into your life and be your Savior and Lord you have to be the one who opens it up because the knobs not on the outside. He doesn’t barge his way in, you invite them in, you receive him and so that's the idea of that picture its very well known. There’s another one even better known. Again painted by this fellow Walter Salmon and it's called the “Head of Christ,” and you see the pictures here. I remember this from when I was a boy and you look very closely and it's very interesting he got blue eyes almost like blonde hair. It’s curious, Walter Salmon was himself from Norwegian descent it's almost as though he drew a picture of Jesus as he would be as if he were Scandinavian and I think that's the that's something that you observe across cultures and people portray Jesus, they often do in their image.
In fact, someone has said, they have quipped that in the beginning God created man and ever since then we've been returning the favor. We’re trying to create someone in our image and so I really doubt Jesus had blue eyes. As we know he was Jewish. He probably had deep Brown eyes. His skin was probably bronzed by the sun. If you how middle Easterners have that appearance and so for what ever its worth he depicted a picture of Jesus the best he thought.
There’s another one I’m going to put on the screen. This is really not painting but it is a portrait of sorts. Is actually on cloth and some of you may recognize this. Its from a burial shroud and it was discovered many years ago and it's somewhat mysterious because you see on the shroud, the visage of a man and some believe that what we're looking at there, is actually the visage of Jesus. It is a bit mysterious how this shroud ends up and this is way before the days of any kind of electronic reproduction. In fact this is of a believe some believe it was carbon dated to the medieval period. Others would say goes right back to Christ. But in any case, somehow this picture of a man gets imprinted, in a manner of speaking, on this shroud. So could this be what Jesus looked like?
What does Jesus look like? Well I want to surprise you this morning. I'm going to show you a portrait of Jesus. I going to dare to say it is 100% accurate and it's found right here in Hebrews chapter 2. Now before I read the passage, I was reminded of a story I heard about a kindergarten teacher. I know I some teachers here today of little kids. She had assigned the class to draw a picture of someone they love. And so, she was going up and down the aisles looking at the pictures the children were drawing. She went by this one little boy and she said, “Who is that you are drawing?” is my daddy. She says, that’s beautiful. Encouraging him and she walked on a little while by a little girl and said, “Honey, who is that you are drawing?” “Well this is a picture of my mama.” Oh my, that’s, beautiful. She came up to this one mischievous little boy and she couldn't quite make out what he was doing and so she said, “Johnny, whose portrait is that mature your drawing?” He said, “Well this Jesus.” the teacher said, “Johnny, nobody knows what Jesus looks like.” he didn't look up, he didn’t hesitate, “they'll know it looks like when I'm finished.” Well when I finish this message I hope that your going to say “I know what Jesus looks like.”
Alright, in honor of God's word let's stand up and read Hebrews chapter 2, verses five through nine, and verse nine the last going to be where we’re going to camp out. All right so let's get the running start there beginning with verse five. God's word says. Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come of which we are speaking it has been testified somewhere, what is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him. You made him, for a little while, lower than the angels. You have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him, but we see him, who for a little while, was made lower than the angels. Namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death so that by the grace of God, he might taste death for everyone.
Now before we’re seated, look again there at verse nine, the very last words. He says, but we see him! We see him! You know you saw that movie avatar? I'm not backing its theology, but in the movie it says I see you. All right. We see him. He is portrayed for us here and I want us to ask the Lord to open our eyes and our hearts to see him. Lets pray. God, help us to see Jesus, in all of his glory and all of his beauty. In his humility, in his suffering, in his victory. Help us to see him. Help us once upon seeing him, to fall in love with him and to surrender our all to him. Do it Lord I pray, for Jesus sake, Amen.
Please be seated. The title of today's message is, see our Savior. See him. I want you to see him. And here we find a portrait of him. Now, the follow along, I want to encourage you to turn to the back of your worship guide, you’ve got an outline of the morning's message and you can fill it in. I think it will help you to pay attention and also at the head of that you'll see verse nine given to you there. That’s where were really going to focus, in verse nine. Now the portrait that I'm going to present to you, I'm going to show it to you from three angles, all right? Three features I'm going to highlight and here is the first.
If we’re going to see Jesus, our Savior, we got to see him first of all in the cradle. Now you wonder where I get the idea of Jesus in the manger Jesus in the cradle, from this verse. Notice how it begins verse nine. It says. “But we see him, but for a little while, was made lower than the Angels.” what is this referring to when it says Jesus was made lower than the angels? Well it’s speaking, of course, about his incarnation. His coming in flesh.
One of my friends told me that she'd been to the mall. She said she couldn't believe it, she went into Dillard’s and they already have the Christmas decorations out. All right well this morning, were going to start hanging the Christmas decorations too, because we see him made a little lower than the Angels. That is, we see Jesus come to this Earth. Taking upon himself the form of a servant. Emptying himself of his glory. A Jesus that babe in Bethlehem. If you want to see Jesus, look in the cradle. And when you do you’re going to see two things. First of all, you see him humble, below the Angels. Philippians, Chapter 2 verse seven says that “Jesus emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” this is what's talking about. He was made a little more than the Angels. He took on human flesh and lived among us, and for while, a little while, he was made lower than the angels. But then, just as quickly as you see that, I want to see him now high above Angels. Because this one, who for a little while was made lower than the angels is in reality, infinitely higher than the Angels, right. He is the one who created all angelic beings. And in fact, all of us and the world. He flung the stars into space; He hung the sun and the moon there to rule by day and by night, respectively. All that is made, he is the agent of it. And he sustains it by the word of his power. This is what we learned in Hebrews chapter 1. And so, he is for a little while, humbled. Made lower than the angels.
But don't miss that babe in Bethlehem, is actually, the creator God, sovereign of all. Now where can you find a model of someone who would be high, yet humble themselves. It’s actually hard to find. But let me give you this illustration. A lot of you will remember Princess Di. She was from Great Britain and became engaged to be heir to the throne. She was beautiful. She was the quintessential Disney princess. Really her wedding was storybook, a lot of you remember Princess Di. But I want to show you a picture Princess Di, as perhaps you’ve never seen her before. In the year, 1997, Princess Di was on a tour of Africa and she happened to be in the country of Angola. And there in Angola, there was a tremendous scourge, they had had internecine warfare, civil war of sorts, and it was brutal. One of the things that they had done, they had sown down the land, with land mines. A landmine, if you can picture this, is almost like a plate and a saucer, and it's filled with explosives and shrapnel, and they buried these landmines all across the countryside. And though the war had largely subsided, innocent boys and girls and men and women, would simply be walking across a field, they would accidentally step on one of those landmines and it would explode. It would blow them up. Perhaps a limb would be lost or their lives would be lost by the thousands. Princess Di, to her credit, was burdened about perhaps she decided that she would identify with the plight of the people, and to inspire the world community to do something to eradicate the world of mines. She actually got on those protective clothes and mask and she went out into the Angolan countryside, Of course, cameras clicking everywhere, to say to the world, let's put a stop to these mines. Lets save lives. In way it pictures what Jesus did for us. Jesus that… if you think Diana was royalty, Jesus is the Prince of Heaven, and he came to earth with no protective gear. And on purpose, took the wrath of sin. The wrath of God against sin and he suffered and he took them blow so that we could be forgiven and be saved. And that's the story of Christmas. That’s what happened with the babe of Bethlehem. So see him first of all, there in the cradle.
That segues perfectly into the next aspect you need to see of this portrait. Not only seen in the cradle, see him on the cross. And you'll never know Jesus; you’ll never know what he looked like, who he was if you don’t see him on the cross. Now, if you look back to verse nine, which is our key verse, Ill show you where I take this. Verse nine. But we see him for a little while, was made lower than the angels that is Jesus, crown now with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. So that by the grace of God, he might taste death for everyone. Do you see him?
Do you see Jesus there on the cross? What do we see when we look at the cross? We see first of all, that his grace is great. His grace is great! The Bible says, so that by the grace of God, he might taste death for everyone. Jesus died on the cross, not because he had done anything wrong, in fact, complete contrary, he done nothing wrong. We are the ones who it done wrong. We’re the ones who sin, but he died on the cross to pay for the sins, the price of them, so that we need not, Folks, that what grace is. Grace is us not getting what we deserve, but instead getting what we don't deserve. We deserve punishment. We deserve wrath. But we don't have to take it, because Jesus has already taken it for us. And now we get all of the goodness of God showered on us because of what Christ has done. By grace, he tasted death for every man.
Someone said it is an acrostic of grace, if you've never heard this you ought to jot it down on your notes. What is grace? G R A C E. You know it? Grace, God’s Riches At Christ's Expense! God's riches, what are they? His riches are forgiveness, reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, eternal life. All those riches come to us at Christ's expense. He paid for them. Again I say, it is grace, amazing Grace that pardons us. So look at the cross and see his great grace. But also, look there and see that his goal is global. What does it say? He tasted death for whom? For every man, every woman, every boy, every girl. His goal is global. You see Christ no only died for LSU Tigers; he died from Mississippi State Bulldogs. Right? He not only died for Americans, he died for Europeans and Africans and middle Easterners. He longs for everyone to be changed by his grace. And if you look at the cross, you see these things, these things so clearly. Revelation 5:9 tells us, it actually gives us a glimpse into heaven. “And they sang a new song, saying worthy are you, to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood, you ransomed people for God, from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation. He is a global God. He is a global savior. And would embrace all of the peoples of the world.
Some of you know Kevin Bacon? You know of him. He is a famous actor. He tells a story about his son. His son had gotten to an age; I think he was six years old at the time, where he could watch some of his daddy’s movies. And he was watching the movie, Footloose. And in one scene, his father, the character his father was playing, grabbed a hold of the rafters and swung and kind of with an acrobatic move and landed right on his feet. And his son was so impressed. He said, “Dad, how did you do that?” and Kevin said, “Aww son, I didn’t do that,” He said “that was my stunt double that did that.” And the little boy said, “what's a stunt double?” “Well that’s that looks like me, is dressed up like me, but does things that I could never do.” the little boy, he accepted that. He kept watching the movie and in another scene his daddy something else, or the character his daddy is playing does something else really spectacular and acrobatic and he said, “wow… You do that?” He said well son I didn’t do that that was my stunt double again… “ And he went on three or four more times through the movie, every time something really spectacular would happen, sure enough it would be the stunt double. So finally the boy said, “well daddy, what’d you do?” He said “I got all the credit, without doing anything.” Now what's the point? We got stunt double. And I say that with all reverence. We got somebody that looked like us. That’s the cradle, see him there. The God of Heaven come here to redeem. And he looked like us. And he dressed like us. He learned our language, but he did for us, what we could never do for ourselves. The innocent one, the sinless one, died for our sins. More than that on the third day, he conquered death when he arose from the grave. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. And we get the credit. We get the forgiveness. We get the redemption, based on what he did.
I’m telling you, here is what Jesus looks like. Look at the cradle. Look at the cross. And then finally look at the crown. Your going to see it here, in verse nine again, he says, “but we see him” do you see him? We see him who for a little while, was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of god might taste death for every man. Do you see him there, crowned with glory and honor? He is crowned! He’s the king!
A lot of you know the show on television, the family feud; it's hosted now a guy named Steve Harvey. Is it still playing? I’m not even sure but all of you know family feud. What they do is they have these series of questions that they've asked the public, and they’ll get a hundred respondents to each question. What they do is, they have a couple of guys, you know from each team and they hit the button to try to respond. Right? And get the answers. So a couple of years ago the question was this, “when someone mentions the king, to whom might he or she be referring?” and people answered. Who’s the king? Well, the answers included, two people said “The Burger King.” Y’all know McDonald's and Wendy's, you know, the Burger King. That’s who you’re talk when you say the king. Three people said Martin Luther King, Jr. and maybe you thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. and you heard the king. But you know what the number one answer was? 81 people the King, Elvis Presley. There was one other answer given and it was the right answer, seven people said Jesus is the King. I’m going to tell you something, Elvis is not king. The burger king is not the king. Jerry Lawler is not the king, for some your wrestling boys. Jesus is the king that is the right answer. He is crowned with glory and honor.
How then ought we to relate to him? We ought to to submit to him. You see, Philippians, I referred to it earlier. He emptied himself and he took upon himself the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, therefore God has highly exalted him, and given them a name that is above every name, that the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue confess, Jesus Christ is Lord. If you have never before, definitively seen him, confessed him as Lord and bowed the knee of your will to him, I’m going to invite you to do that this day.
Submit to him and when you do, you're going to share with him in his glory. I love this and I want to see this, because I didn’t read it earlier but here's how this concludes. He says, but we see him, who for a while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor, because he tasted death by the grace of god for every man. Then verse 10 says, for it was fitting that he would bring many sons to glory. No listen, we see Jesus crowned with glory. He is the glorious one, but did you know he is bringing with him many sons to glory. That is, those of us were redeemed. We actually get into that train of glory, and we become a part of his family. Were joint heirs with Christ as we saw last week? Well, do you know what Jesus looks like? You might think he has long blonde hair and blue eyes or you may think he’s like the shroud of Turin visage. We really don't know. But, we know his heart. We know what he has done for us. Here’s a portrait that's 100% accurate. Look at him. See him. They’re in the manger. They’re on the cross. Now crowned. Follow Him.
Would you bow your heads please? I didn’t preach this, this morning, just for entertainment. Just to occupy the time. This message is preached so that you might make a response to god. If you’ve never before bowed your will, your knees, in effect, to Jesus and confessed him as Lord, would you do so now? Jesus, I do see you. I see you. I believe you came from heaven, to earth; you lived sinlessly. You died in my place. You arose from the dead, and Lord Jesus, the best I know how, I open up the door and I say come in. I want to give you my life. I want to follow you. I want to be a new creation, Lord by your grace, save me. Save me Lord. And for those of you that know Christ as savior, you may just need to say to him Lord, I see you afresh this morning and I’m more in love with you now. That I’ve seen you more clearly; Help me to follow you, to serve you. I ask it in Jesus’s name, Amen.