Sunday, August 25, 2019

How to Live Set-Apart and Pure in Jesus

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[c] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[d]

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[e] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”[f]
-Hebrews 12:14-29

Today we’re talking about how we can learn to follow Jesus Christ our glorious savior. And we’re considering the book of Hebrews, chapter 12. This book of the Bible is just amazing, it’s so powerful, it’s so deep, it’s so meaningful. I just love it. But I love the whole Bible, it’s all so amazing, I can’t get enough of it. I hope you have a Bible, and that you take time to read it everyday. I usually read the Bible in bed before I sleep at night. And I hope your also praying regularly, asking God to be with you each day, and praying for people and for the world, and for your own needs. Prayer is powerful.

I’m alive today because I had a praying grandmother. I had a mom praying for me. I had a bible study group somewhere praying for me when I was lost in addiction. That’s powerful.

So we know that we’re saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, that was shed on the cross. Jesus was taken by the ruling authorities, and whipped, and beaten, then forced to carry his own cross, to the place where he’d be killed. Then Jesus was made to lay across the wood of the cross, and nailed were driven through his hands and his feet. And then the cross was hoisted up, and dropped into a hole in the ground. And Jesus roasted in the sun, until he had lost so much blood, and become so exhausted, and so dehydrated, that he could no longer hold himself up. See, on the cross you would die from suffocation. You had to force yourself up, to be able to breath, but eventually you were so weak, you couldn’t do it anymore. And you’d die.

But something was strange about the way this Jesus person died. He was on the cross, and it was about noon, about 12 noon, and suddenly it went dark. And this event is actually recorded by historians of the time. It went completely dark for 3 hours. From noon until 3. Totally darkness. Can you imagine this? 3 hours. And then there was an earthquake. And Jesus cried out, he just screamed, screamed so loudly, and then it says he died, and gave up his spirit. That’s what Jesus did for us. Jesus took the punishment that each of us deserve for our sins. He took it on the cross. Then 3 days later he resurrected from the dead. It wasn’t over when Jesus died. He came back to life.

Now our job as Christians today, is to believe in Jesus Christ. To believe that Jesus is really alive, and at work in the world today. He conquered death itself. Meaning we can have eternal life, and live forever, because of what Jesus did.

Now, when we believe in Jesus, we become born again. God changes our heart. My old self is dead. And now a new life starts. Has your new life started? My new life has started.

So now that we are Christians, which means followers of Jesus, we seek with all our strength and determination to live as Jesus lived. This is the tough part. I knew instantly 7 years ago, that when I got saved, Jesus was saying to me, you need to get clean and sober. And Jesus was saying, I’m gonna help you. But I knew Jesus was telling me to go back to recovery. It’s not enough to just believe in Jesus, we need to live differently.

And that’s where a lot of us can get stuck. Because we want Jesus as our savior. But we aren’t really willing to change. But we have to change. That’s what God expects of us. That’s why as soon as I had cried out to Jesus, and I knew Jesus had come into my heart, I started trying to live differently. I started going to 12 step groups. I started attending celebrate recovery. I joined a bible study, attended Sunday services at a church faithfully. I began pursuing the new life Jesus had given me.

Sins started dropping from my life. I quit drinking. I drinking using drugs. A year later I quit smoking cigarettes. I stopped having sex with whoever I wanted to. I decided I was going to honor God in my romantic life. I decided I would wait for marriage to be intimate with a woman. That’s what God made sexual intimacy for, for marriage, a lifelong marriage between husband and wife. So God is challenging us, as His people, to show Him that we really mean it. That we really trust Him. Faith without works is dead. So I gotta get to work!

And its’ fun. It’s great. Sure it’s tough. But man it’s so exciting to watch Jesus change my life. It’s so great to be free from dope, from alcohol, from cigarettes, from meaningless relationships. And it’s so exciting to see a whole new life of purity, of holiness taking hold in my life. It’s like wow, I never thought this was possible, but God is doing it in me! God does the deep work in our souls. And we do the foot work.

As our scripture today said, “See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” Do you recall that when God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, and Moses led them into the wilderness, that they began to complain against God, and disobey God, and so that generation died wandering in the wilderness, and lost the inheritance they were so hoping for.

What scares me is that I could fall short of making it to heaven when I die. And that’s always a possibility. If I held on to some sins in my life, secretly, and only I knew, well, God would know. And say I come before him on judgment day, all of that stuff is gonna come out. And then God would have to send me to hell. And I would burn in fire and torment forever. That’s terrible. But I was playing games with God, if I did it that way. I’m not going to play any games. I want to be holy, because God is holy. And the new city of God, the new heavens and new earth that God is preparing for us, is for holy people. People who are not living in sin. So I do need to live holy. But it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process. Over time God removes sins from my life, I fight against the sin, and God gives the victory. But it’s in his timing. But I work very hard to live in holiness. God does it in me. Jesus Christ lives in me. And it’s amazing. God is so good. But my job is to resist temptation, and pray, and seek God, and study the Bible, and stay in fellowship, attend church faithfully. Then I stay close to God, and those old sins can’t get near me. But if I were to stop attending church, stop praying, stop attending my meeting, and start hanging with the wrong crowd, then pretty soon the devil would be knocking and those old sins could easily come right back.

If you recall when Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, they came to mount Sinai. And God would call Moses up the mountain to meet with him. But at that time, that was considered holy ground. And some didn’t take that seriously, and they touched the mountain, and they were struck dead right there. Boom, dead. And Moses witnessed this and he was so shocked, it says he was trembling with fear, trembling before God, because our God is not some sappy, love-sick sort of hippie God. Our God is righteous, holy, and a God of justice. He is going to set all things right. Yes, He loves us. He does, so much. But He is also just. Like any good father, he disciplines us. And let me tell you, growing up, when you hear the dad voice, or grandpa, yelling, because I was doing something wrong, well, you understand. I fear God. I know God can send me to hell. I know He doesn’t want to do that. But God demands that I live right. That I live holy. And he demands the same of all of us. So let’s be holy. If we stick close to God, then we will be holy.

One final thought is this, like we talked about, Jesus Christ is alive right now, he walked the Earth about 2000 years ago, about. In fact somewhere between 2030-2035 will be exactly 2000 years since Jesus walked the Earth. Isn’t that interesting. See after Jesus resurrected from the dead, he showed himself to many witnesses, to his disciples, then he ascended to heaven. And that’s where Jesus is right now, in heaven. But the ultimate conclusion of this planet, and of our lives is when Jesus Christ will return. The Bible says he is coming in the clouds, and every eye will see Him. So we as Christians are watching for the return of Jesus. We are eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus. We must be watchful. Are you watching for his return? He is coming very, very, very soon. Be watchful.