Lemonade

From refreshment stands spiked with bourbon to popsicle cyclists struggling to keep cold.  Is the weather normal and over reported or tragic and ominous.  Do these events mean something to the illuminated?

My introduction was- short.  I said, ‘My message today is less about what you get in the Christian life as how to live it.  It should not really be about what you get.’  It is more about wanting to be forgiven and loving God for what He has done about it.  So let us talk about some scriptures in Hebrews and elsewhere that illustrate my point.  The scriptures are the point of course but that is the authority that even Jesus used to make His points.  This is a very valuable tool used in evangelism and exposition and other disciplines like eschatology when involved with preaching.

Heb 10:36  For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will you can receive what He has promised.

What He has promised is His perfect love and eternal life.  Though it arrives after one has done God’s will or lived his life in a Christian manner.  Then he receives it.  But we need endurance before this time because all lives get hard, become difficult at some point.  Endurance is to patiently wait for something while a lot of tough stuff may be happening to you and others.  To keep waiting and keep up appearances until it happens, roll with the punches and letting it roll off your back while keeping a good attitude.  But nobody said we had to be perfect!

Christians need endurance too, perhaps more than anybody else.  I don’t see them getting persecuted!  It can be so tough that you need God to help you get through.  And we all know someone who has fallen away or backslid.  I would really like to know if they found a better life from backsliding rather than calling out to GOD?  Did you get what you wanted from your life after that?  I don’t think so.  The Bible says that men or women can’t renew to repentance anyone who has fallen away.  But God can, so if you want it bad enough, assuming you do, pray, read your Bible and do good works.  Make it totally apparent to God that you do and then He may call you back.  He did me!

Heb 10:37  For “in a very little while the one who is coming will return—he will not delay;

He is coming to reward us for our works, whether good or evil.  It is a little while until He- Jesus- comes back and the times show it.  It was a little while when the author wrote this in 80-90 AD and it is a little while now.  After all a thousand years is like one day to God.  Prophecies from the Old Testament point to these days for His soon return.  The making of the nation of Israel again is the biggee.  The sheer number of earthquakes and unusual storms and floods was predicted by Jesus long ago.  The Revival of the Church in Africa and China and their persecution also is evidence that these times are changing.  Wars and rumors of wars are prevalent.  The rapture could be any day and then the Great Tribulation would start.  The advent of the one world government and the one world religion is a sure sign and the technology to do the mark of the beast is in place.

Heb 10:38  but my righteous one will live by faith, and if he turns back, my soul will take no pleasure in him.”

My righteous ones are Gods people- Christians.  They are to live by faith.  Have faith in God’s provision, God’s love and Jesus of course.  And it is about backsliders again.  It is the Holy Spirit’s job to lead us to Christ and to convict us of sin.  He creates a kind of foreboding.  A feeling that we have done something wrong or that something bad will happen or fear caused by guilt.  When we see these things we know we should turn to God for repentance and forgiveness.  We know that is He trying to reach us

Heb 11:13  All these people died having faith. They did not receive the things that were promised, yet they saw them in the distant future and welcomed them, acknowledging that they were strangers and foreigners on earth.

These people are all the people in Hebrews 11 that are examples of great faith and they did not receive the promises- no Holy Spirit, no perfect love, or eternal life until after the Messiah came.  But they had the right attitude.  They saw these great things in the future and not in their path and they rejoiced and lived the right way because they wanted to because of God. Not only that but they were persecuted and died without receiving.  They worked hard in various countries like the Jews and did well, and kept the culture going and blest God without receiving what they knew was coming.

Heb 11:39  All these people won approval for their faith but they did not receive what was promised,

They won approval in Hebrews chapter 11 and from The Holy One but not the promises like I said.

1Pe 1:8  Though you have not seen him, you love him. And even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,

This is what happens if you remain a Christian.  By faith we love Him, we believe in HIM, and the marks of a Christian- love and an indescribable and glorious Joy over what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

And the last one:   Heb 9:14  how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead actions so that we may serve the living God!

Not by the blood of animals but by the blood of the Messiah.  He offered Himself through the Holy Spirit unblemished- the perfect lamb, the perfect sacrifice.  Who among other things can cleanse our consciences from guilt and sin so we can serve God.  I am reminded of people who have it bad and a hard life an affliction or hang up or problem.  Through the healing of His relationship with you can make you right and able and copious to serve a function, for Him.  He makes us well to be productive in some fashion to use our gifts which He gave us for His purposes and there are plenty to go around.  He made me able, and all that I am is dependent on Him.

So live your life large in the Lord and be selfless and do the right thing.  With the Holy Spirit we can!   Become what you can and have a good attitude until you receive the rest of the promises.  Be content with where God has you because it is much better than it was.  Don’t focus on perfection until we get to heaven.   Put your trust in Jesus and be trustworthy to Him.  He is the great God he gives good gifts and has us doing His high values of unity and togetherness and faithfulness.  I was a wretch and He made me His servant, now I have enough and some to give.  I love because He first loved me.  He is good and I contribute my life for the cause.

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REALITY IS ……….

Are you getting the guilts out?  Do you think you can be perfect?  Do you think you are perfect because there is no one else like you?  Do you think you can endure your whole life when it is empty, because you think you have the truth?

I have a few more scriptures from Hebrews 8 & 9 about the covenants.  It is new and different and I want to tell you other aspects that the second covenant contains and about sin and its solution.

Heb 8:10  “FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

Many times these words appear in the Old and New Testaments.  The first time is in Exodus and by the time we get to Ezekiel we see that it is not yet true, still just a promise and has not happened yet.  Then in 2COR3:3 Paul begins talking about it as something new that is happening and is true.  We are His people.  It is acknowledged also in James as ‘yes’ we are His people.  This is the New Covenant, He has put His law into our hearts and minds and He is our God and we are His people.  Plus all the work that Jesus did- His words being the way and His death and Resurrection.

Heb 8:12  “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”

More of the Second Covenant and here the importance of knowing your sin has a tendency to become obvious.  If you don’t know that you have sinned or that you are a sinner then you can’t take advantage of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  We are sinners and we should want forgiveness.  If you harm or offend your mate then you want to be forgiven so that you can accept God’s forgiveness in the same way.  People sometimes want all the guilt out of their lives and they want to believe that they never do wrong, but we do.  We make mistakes and take it out on our families and spouses and friends and strangers.  We are very imperfect beings.  We are angry and unforgiving ourselves sometimes.  God is the only good, perfect being who never does wrong.  Why live the wrong and say it’s good?  Why not be sorry when you do offensively.  Be humble and admit it.

It is too high a standard to be perfect all the time.  To maintain an aura of perfection you have to rationalize your mistakes.  We often do harm, make up for it, repay with good.  Love your enemies, repay good for evil, not evil for evil.  Don’t retaliate but endure chastisement from our women for it is well deserved.  ‘Husbands love your wives’, for that is what we are called to do.  But repent, be sorry when you are wrong.

Oh yeah!  John Wesley says about Hebrews 8:12:  Hebrews 8:12

For I will justify them, which is the root of all true knowledge of God. This, therefore, is God’s method. First, a sinner is pardoned: then he knows God, as gracious and merciful then God’s laws are written on his heart: he is God’s, and God is his.

Very Important words!  But the Song of Solomon says it so beautifully in chapter 2 vs. 16  ‘My Beloved is mine and I am His; He pastures His flock among the lilies.’  I don’t know about the second part but the first part is beautifully true.  He is the beloved, He is ours.  He is talking about the church His beloved and bride.  Ha.  They, the Jews the Israelites received much encouragement about this new covenant by hearing about it all the time, ‘their salvation’.  In Jeremiah 24:7   ‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with their whole heart’.

God seems to be encouraging Himself too with these words, by having hope in their return.  He knows they will return, He is looking forward to it but worries like a Father over His children until they do.  My sister went away to college but she went one year to France and we missed her.  She was just a little thing first time away from home seeking a dream.  She wrote about gross stuff like the toilets there and she met weird people that she wanted to get to know and it all sounded so scary and dangerous to us.  It was just because we loved her.  It was kind of a hard year for her family, but she was having a good time.  When it was time for her to come home she wanted to stay and we missed her more.  But when my folks ran out of money to send to her, she came home.

But that is how God misses us like a whole family who’s precious one is gone, sorrowfully.  Just like the Father in the Prodigal Son story.  He runs to greet them at the airport and kisses them.  Ha.  His church, His people.  He actively seeks his/her return.

Jer 31:1  “At that time,” declares the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”

He is a personal God.  He wants to be intimate with every family and to be their God, and again they will be His people.  Repent often it will not harm you, be sorry to GOD, hate your sin to the point you don’t want to do it again.  I think you can understand my words, but if you want God’s blessing of forgiveness or want to be on God’s side…  If you have guilt and don’t know why or fear!?…  If you want a better way- many motivations; any problem you need God for, some answer or something.  Many things God will fix; forgiveness will fix a lot of puzzles.  You can find a new start and life.  God is good, look at the work He has done and is doing.  Do you want to be one of His people?  Do you want God to be involved in your life?  He is personal and closer than a brother.

Heb 9:12  and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

The blood of animals wouldn’t do it, wouldn’t earn anything permanent for us.  God wouldn’t change for that.  But His own Son shed His blood and that moved Him to a whole new deal with us for all eternity.  By His blood and only Jesus’ blood He earned eternal redemption for us and only on this earth.

Have You Ever Been Promised Something?

Hebrews 8, 9, 10 offers some great discourse on the first and second covenants that God made with Israel and thereby to all men and women, of course.  I gathered some individual scriptures that describe the covenants and their ramifications to Israel and today I want to talk about two of them.  Next week we can talk about a few more and again the next week.  My purpose in showing this to you is that GOD said the second is a better covenant.  Knowing what it has for someone strongly influences the course of events, don’t you want to know why it’s better and what it contains?

Heb 8:6  But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

So Jesus has a more excellent ministry, He is the mediator of a better covenant, and this covenant was founded on better promises.  This answers many of our questions already.  But it needs some explanation.  Jesus did all the work of this new covenant.  He came, brought wisdom, proved He was God bringing it, died and rose again.  The agreement says that ‘GOD so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life’.  John 3:16.

I am reminded of someone having an excellent ministry.  But Jesus had the ministry of love who died to give us heaven.  No other man could do this.  It is by far the best anyone could do, the best gift is imparted- eternal life.  As an example of a man’s ministry on earth my friend Leo who died this year had a good ministry.  He was a strong man, energetic and full of life.  He cooked here in the afternoon and he was the principal of our little school when we had it.  He loved people and kids and wanted to help.  He knew that helping people was the highest activity a man could do.  He was retired and like many of us he did what he could to further people’s lives.  He fed them, he was an administrator and worked for free.  He got more done in a day than two men.   To me that was excellent.  It can be done, we can help, we can please God but, nothing pleases Him like faith in His Son – enough to move mountains in our lives.

Some of the promises The Holy One made are in the Bible.  He promises heaven to those who love Him; forgiveness for our sins is a sure one to those who ask sincerely; and that our sins will be put away forever.  He promised the law would be fulfilled by loving God and loving our neighbor and Jesus did that.  The ‘poor’ Pharisees were corrected with ever increasing vehemence because they would not listen and they were the leaders in control of the society.  Whole books have been written about the promises of God and one contains over 800 promises from the Bible- The Pocket Promise Book.  In fact there is more than that.  Promises for the betterment of our lives, for what God promises he enables us to do.  If we have fear Isaiah 41:10, if we want to see God working Isaiah 26:3-5.  And on and on, a promise for every need a man or woman could have and much, much more.

Heb 8:9  NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.

This is about the New Covenant.  What happened in the New Testament, all the works in the Gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles of the greatest work of salvation was not because of the old covenant which was broken but did lead the Israelites out of Egypt in a time of need.  But it is precisely because they didn’t heed it that HE let them die in the wilderness, that whole generation.  They had tempted Him 10 times there and He had to teach them who He was- the Sovereign God.  He wanted to be treated as such.  They had to learn who He was and that He could do what He said, He wanted a people of faith, but they refused to go into the Promised Land, so how could He take them there.  They refused to go.  They did not, would not have faith in Him.   ‘Nothing is impossible to he who has faith’, within reason.

So don’t be disregarded by God.  God loves you but    Rom 15:13  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God loves us He has promised us great things in the New Covenant.  It is not about obeying hundreds of laws to a tee ‘or else!’  Some of the promises were for the Jews, but ours are now better, based on Jesus life and death.   It is about what Jesus has already done on the cross.  We become free from sin and guilt.  God is open for communication and relationship.  We can improve and grow and mature by living the healthy way, a holy life.  Cry out from your soul for God to come into you and dwell and give peace; all things that God does if you do what is helpful.  But you can be resistant or carnal and resist God’s work to sanctify us so that the promises will be nullified in your life.  Take it all just as it is and let it work, let it fill you so that you can have joy to be alive.  And so when you repent and get the sin out of the way it will happen for you.  SAY:  Father in Jesus name I ask you to forgive me for all the things I’ve done wrong in my life.  I want you to fill me with the Holy Spirit of wisdom, joy, peace and discernment.  I am committed to follow you.  In Jesus Name, Amen.