Pentecost is the fulfillment of the promise Jesus made to His disciples to send a helper, but Pentecost is also a promise made with a deposit for the age to come.
Video or Audio of the Sunday Service.
Jesus came that Jews and gentiles alike might have peace with God. We might consider ourselves to be outsiders who are not good enough for a variety of reasons but like Ruth we could be outlawed from being a part of Israel by scripture and change who we are by the grace of God to be used by Him for mighty things.
In the Book of Ephesians in Chapter 2. (Thank you dear.)
And verse 11 like Facio, I need these things. (glasses)
So Ephesians Chapter 2 Verse 11, it says; Therefore remember that you once Gentiles in the flesh who are called uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision made in the flesh by hands that at that time you were without Christ mean aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation having abolished in his flesh the enmity that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances so as to create in himself one new man from the two thus making peace and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross thereby putting to death the enmity and he came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the father. Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the Saints and members of the household of God having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets Jesus Christ alone. Sorry Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone in whom the whole building being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the spirit.
This is the word of God. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father Lord we thank you. You have come to make peace between us and yourself. You have come to. Bring us together before the Father. That we might enjoy this rich salvation that you have granted to us Lord during this period. Of time that we are now entering. Lord, I just pray that we will understand the truth of your word that regardless of what happens in the days to come that Lord, you have brought us to yourself that we can have this rich relationship. In Christ Jesus. Lord, we pray for a proper understanding of what we have just read and what we are about to study because we know we are not able to comprehend these things without your Holy Spirit. And so Lord right now we ask for a move of your Holy Spirit. In all humility Lord we call upon you to come upon this place. We voluntarily ask that you enter into our hearts anew. That you fill us up with your Holy Spirit. Because we are your temple.
Our bodies are your temple and our hearts are the holy of holies and Lord we we open our hearts and our minds to you. There you come in with us and sup with us and then we can have that relationship with you. The more we ask this in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
So this morning, how many of you know where we are in the Biblical calendar? Did you know that we are still in the days between the time that Jesus ascended into heaven and the time that the Holy Spirit came upon those who committed themselves to the Lord.
You’ve heard of Pentecost right? Anybody?
Well that’s next Sunday. Next Sunday is Pentecost. And so at the end of Pentecost it will have been 50 days since we recognize the day that Jesus rose from the grave.
When we recognize that the Lord has power over life and death that he has power over sin and that he has the ability to reconcile us to God that we might have peace with the Lord that we might set aside our sin and have this relationship with him. And one of the interesting things that has always been done during this season as we approach Pentecost the Jews and those that followed Jesus will read the Book of Ruth during this time just before Pentecost the book of Ruth is one of the one of the more beautiful books to read because it doesn’t have any law. It doesn’t have any preaching in it. It’s just about a woman who makes a commitment to her mother in law and to the Lord and the Lord says even though you were of a race that we said is not allowed into Israel, at all, ever. We’re letting you in.
You as a Gentile are coming to be joined with Israel. And that’s what we just read about in Ephesians 2. Jesus made it possible for us Gentiles. Now I don’t know if there are any secret Jews here but all of us Gentiles are able to come and be grafted into Israel be a part of the promise be a part of his rich salvation.
And so this morning what I would like to do is I would like to take where we are in the Biblical calendar because there are a few other calendars that are in operation right now. There are some calendars that actually are promoting violence right now.
Right now the Islamic State says hey Ramadan is coming. I want you to. I want you to create as much destruction and death as you can create. That’s what this world is wanting to have happen.
Jesus says I’ve come to bring peace. Do you see the opposition some are coming to bring war. Some are coming to bring destruction and death. And that’s really what Satan does right? The enemy according to Scripture comes to steal, kill and to destroy. But why does Jesus come? To give us life and to give it more abundantly.
And so this morning what I want to talk about is how even though you might be an outcast, I might be an outcast. In fact, I know I’m an outcast. The fact is that without Jesus there is no community for me.
There is no place for us before the Lord. Except Jesus went to the cross that even if I am the worst of the worst I still have a place in God’s family. If I accept his grace and His mercy and I commit myself to him. That’s where the joy of hope is found, is in Jesus Christ.
The other worlds come in to steal kill and destroy. OK.
Not a whole lot I can do about that. I keep watching all the movies have the super secret and ninja stuff and how to fight the bad guys and you know they come to attack and somehow I can take them all out right. Well that’s what you think in your mind. But the fact is I can’t do anything to stop people from being evil.
I really can’t. Jesus can and you know what. If more of us will accept the Lord we bring the peace that he gives us into this world that wants to kill us. We bring that peace and regardless of what they want to do we can bring the joy of salvation to others. If they’re just willing to listen. That’s what I want to look at this morning is the fact that the Lord is calling even the most rejected of us to come to him and to be grafted in to be a part of his family and have real peace. So look at that more here in just a few minutes.
The story of Ruth. Is really a pretty fascinating story to read and I would recommend that you read it yourself. That might take you 30 minutes 40 minutes to make it through.
If you’re really slow and take your time and go over each word it’s it’s a fascinating story that really brings out what a commitment can do to change your heart to change your life because she was from Moab, a people that was rejected by God.
Why? Well you remember Balaam and his donkey. Balaam and his donkey. Balam was hired to curse Israel, right? They were hired to come out and bring this massive curse upon Israel to get God to reject Israel even though he had promised to take care of Israel to adopt Israel and the Moabites joined in that they hired Balaam and they were the ones that followed Balaam’s advice to draw Israel away to follow after false gods to engage in sexual immorality and the sacrifice to idols and God cursed Israel because of what the Moabites did. You find the Amorites are lumped in with them too. And in fact. The Scripture says that the Moabites are to be a part of Israel they are to be brought in as strangers into Israel because while they were rejected by God and yet we have the story of Ruth now Ruth’s mother in law Naomi and her husband and the two boys they went into Moab because the business opportunities were there.
They went to where the money was. The boys married local girls and everybody died. All the guys died. Probably because they were disobeying God and marrying Moabite women and basically losing themselves to the World. And so Naomi says I can’t take this anymore, you know, I’ve lost my husband I’ve lost my boys I’m done I’m going back home. It’s over.
And she releases her daughters in law. And says you guys can go back to your families go get remarried to some good local guys. I’m headed out of here.
Yet, Ruth decided to commit to her mother in law. She saw herself as being a part of her people. And so she went back and she rejected the false gods of her people. She rejected the ways of her people. And she made a commitment to walk in the ways of the Lord to Join to the God of Israel to the people of Israel and to follow her mother in law back home.
Now where we come in as Gentiles, as people who were lost in our sin. I know many of you have made a commitment to Jesus but we need to remember where we came from because it’s important, that, we have all sorts of family backgrounds right. I mean there’s a myriad of backgrounds here represented in everybody that’s seated in this church. You have all sorts of family heritages that are different from each other.
And the fact is that you are all. None of you are Jews. You were all Gentiles and therefore you were outside of Israel. And yet Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly that we might no longer be among the rejected.
Because if you read Romans chapter one there’s this whole description of how our ancestors rejected God. They rejected the knowledge of God and chased after false gods worshiped inanimate objects worshiped wood that was carved into a certain shape or stones that were carved into a certain shape worshiped things that well shouldn’t be worshiped because they are the creation not the creator.
And so, God turned many of us over to a debased mind. God said, all right fine. You reject me. Well you also reject the knowledge and the wisdom that comes with me. And so we go chasing after crazy things just look around the world today you’ll you’ll see what I’m talking about. People are doing all sorts of terrible things I mean what possesses a man to strap on a bomb and go to a concert and blow himself up like happened earlier this week. You have to be turned over to a debased mind right. Your mind can’t be right to go do that kind of evil and yet God still loves even that person God still wants to bring that person into the family.
And we’re like wait a minute do we really want them in our family once Jesus is done with them. Yes we do. We don’t want them as they are. Guess what we don’t want you as you are either. You don’t want me as I am without Jesus either. You really don’t. You want me to be washed by the blood. You want me to make a commitment to the Lord. And you should want the same thing for yourself. That we reject what was our family heritage, the idol worship. The self-worship the worship of creation instead of the Creator.
We need to reject our heritage and say No I’m no longer a Moabite just as Ruth made the commandment that she was no longer Moabite. You see, a lot of people argue well how is it that God let Ruth into Israel.
And then it was OK.
Was that OK because he said specifically in his scripture no Moabite will be joined to Israel.
They will not marry in, not to happen. It’s illegal. It’s in the word. Well how does it work.
And people say well says to the tenth generation. some people say no, it says including the tenth generation and it can be interpreted to say from then on I mean from the beginning on out and saying you know because what it’s doing what the word of God is doing is referencing another part of the Word of God that says I will hate those that hate me to the tenth generation. Right. And so now he’s saying not just that we’re going to keep going Moabites No. No
Moabites some people would argue OK if we count the generations she’s actually okay to come in. No that’s not how works. No it doesn’t work. Well maybe it’s because she’s a woman because it says Moabite and that’s a guy. No that’s not how that works either. He’s talking about all citizens of Moab are not to be brought in and married into the family. So how does it work well here’s the fun thing. And maybe it’s not fun. To me it’s fun because I’m a geek.
But when you look at it how do how does our identity change.
Ever wonder what Jesus meant by a new creature, a new birth to be born again. What did he mean by that?
Well to be born again means that we reject who we were without Jesus. We say I am no longer who I was because I put my trust in Jesus that He will make me who I shall be. That makes sense?
If we reject sin what we’re doing is we’re saying is, Paul the mutt whatever I am because my lineage is muddled. You know you can’t really figure you tried. I’ve got ancestry going everywhere and I am a mutt, you know I can’t say I’m this or that or the other.
I’m a mutt and you know the fact is that Paul might still needs to reject Paul the mutt, Paul the flesh and say you know what I’m a human being I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I need to reject that that is not who I should be. The Lord tells me that if I put my trust in him that I am born again that means I’m no longer who I was.
You ever wonder why we say these things during baptism that you know the old man is buried in the new life begins from this day forward. It’s because what we’re doing is we’re no longer who we were. And. Ruth was no longer a Moabite as soon as she put her trust in the Lord and rejected her lineage and said I am now an Israelite.
Guess what? She is now legally able to marry because she is no longer a Moabite. Wait. You can’t just change who you are. Yeah actually you can. You know I know it goes against everything everybody says these days. But here’s the thing. Look whatever my heritage is and you know like I say I’m a mutt but you may identify yourself as being as belonging to a certain people group or to a certain family or even a certain nationality. But you know what we have to reject that we now belong and our citizens with Christ Jesus we’re now Israelites. Don’t don’t believe me look in the book of Romans it says that we are grafted into Israel how we did it the same way Ruth did.
We rejected who we were in favor of who we will be.
And so by making that choice even the worst of us. And you know we can all put ourselves at the bottom of the barrel because we can have a competition and say well no I’m the worst person ever right. You know and we would all think we won.
The fact is that whatever you think of yourself and you know we all have this picture in our brains of who we believe ourselves to be and some of us let’s be honest think we’re pretty awesome. We think that we just are amazing. But we got to reject that. You’re not amazing. You’re going to belong to Jesus now. You may think I’m the worst person ever i don’t deserve anything. Reject that. That is now rejected that is now no longer who you are. You are now a new creature in Christ you now identify with him. You were dead in your sins and now it’s time to be raised up. This period of waiting that we do before.
Before Pentecost or Shavuot or whatever you want to call it this holiday. Biblical holiday.
Is all about preparing your heart preparing who you are. And saying you know what my identity is no longer what it was. I reject that former man woman whatever you want identify as rejected.
It’s over now I am a new creature in Christ so I look forward to being filled with the Holy Ghost. You know this at the end of that scripture that read in Ephesians 2 it talked about us being fitted together to be the temple.
What is so great about the temple.
Well, I’ll tell you, it’s where God hangs out. OK. Now look. God is God and He can hang out anywhere. But the reason for the temple is God saying no I want you to come and meet me. I want you to come and meet me and I will come and meet you. We both have made an agreement to meet each other.
Here’s the thing you may think that you’re a terrible terrible person you’ve done awful awful things or you may think you’re the most wonderful person that’s ever walked the planet Earth and you’re just about, that far from being able to walk on water. Whatever end of the spectrum you find yourself what we need to do is say, no I come humbly to meet God.
What Ruth did is she with all humility presented herself to become a member of God’s family. She rejected who she was but she also came with humility saying I don’t have anything to give you. When she came before Boaz she had nothing. She was out picking grain.
You know you know how in the Commandments it talks about the corners of the field leaving the corners of the field for the poor. She was the poor out there picking the corners of the field. She was out there getting whatever grain she could whatever leftovers were there for her to gather for her and her mother in law.
She came out with all humility. Now I have no idea if she had money back home if the family could have provided for her well. We have no idea it doesn’t tell us that. But here’s the thing she came empty handed. To become a member of God’s family she did the same thing when she came to Boaz came empty handed. And she became the wife of Boaz. Now anybody know who her great grandson is?
King David. King David. let me ask you something, how much has your life changed when you are the great grandmother of a king?
And not just the great grandmother of a king but Messiah came from her. Think about that. Jesus is in the lineage of David. Right. So here we have a Moabite becoming an Israelite and giving birth to not just the king but to the Savior of the world the king of kings.
God can turn your life totally around.
God comes to bring peace where there is turmoil. God comes to bring joy. Where there is sorrow Jesus comes to give us salvation to change our lives.
And one of the reasons I want to preach this this Sunday as we come up on Shav’ot or Pentecost is because this summer is most likely going to be a very eventful summer. Now next Sunday I turn 50 which I don’t say that just to announce it but I was born at the beginning of the six days war in Israel. June 4th 1967.
This is the 50th anniversary of that event. At the same time we have ISIS, the Islamic state, declaring destroy the West during Ramadan. That’s why that’s coming in the same period of time what’s going to happen. I have no idea.
I’m not a prophet. I’m not here to prophesy to you. But I do know that the Lord is going to do something this summer because this is a year of jubilee when the Lord is at work in Israel. What happens in a year of jubilee? God gives the land back to Israel. Do you think that might upset some folks? If God gives more land to Israel they’re still going on about 1967 right. Well at peace if we go back to the 67 borders you think they’re a little upset about it.
Look I don’t know what’s really coming. I really don’t. But I do know there’s some turmoil on the horizon. I do know that there’s some things about to happen but you need to understand that as followers of Jesus Christ yes we need to be aware of it but we shouldn’t worry about it. Because the Bible plainly says things are going to get really rough and the last days right. But what does it say about the believer in Jesus Christ. We will not give up our testimony for Jesus and we will not give up following the Lord. We will continue to walk in his ways. We will continue to believe in him and tell others that we believe in him.
So it’s important that we get our identities straight now. While the times are still peaceful relatively so because what’s coming. Could be quite upsetting. We need to know what we believe before the storm hits.
So we’re waiting.
We don’t know what’s next. We don’t know what’s coming for sure. God knows exactly what’s coming. So we put our trust in him because he brings peace. But remember peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is the ending of chaos.
Let me say that again.
Peace is not the absence of conflict. It’s ending the chaos. Sin is chaos in your life. If God is going to move upon this earth and remove sin from this earth there will be conflict. But ultimately there will be peace because the conflict will end because that chaos will come to an end and where there was once chaos. Now there will be order. That order is established by God. It’s established in his word. It’s how we are supposed to live.
We’re not supposed to be like this world. Look in my flesh. I think we ought to go after all the bad guys and do bad things to them. You know for blowing up little girls. I don’t know about you but I’m pretty upset about that. In the flash, Let’s go.
But I also know that the Lord is at work. We need to be praying for the peace of this world and that means that they need to be convicted of their sin. They need to see the truth of their ways and they need to see the light of Jesus Christ. They will have the opportunity to accept him or reject Him. There is no middle ground. Just like for us we either accept him or reject Him.
And so I want us to prepare ourselves during this period of waiting just like the disciples who were waiting for the Holy Spirit to come down upon the temple and for them to receive the Holy Spirit and for great things to happen.
Just like on that same day thousands of years ago the Spirit of God came upon Mount Sinai and there were thundering and lightning there by heard God in their own language just like they did on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection. Both things are true. They were waiting for God they were preparing themselves they were getting themselves clean.
They were challenging themselves to be more of what God wanted them to be.
Look we’re sinners. We messed it up. We fall short of the glory of God but we don’t reduce the standard. God wants us to live for Him to be the best that we can be and to be ready for what’s coming what ever that might be. That’s the challenge that I give you this Sunday preparing this week for what is to come. I don’t know what’s on the horizon. Only the Lord does. Just like the disciples had no clue that Pentecost was going to fall the way that it did.
They had no clue. They didn’t know.
They kind of suspected but they didn’t know how it was going to manifest until it happened. The same thing’s true for us. We should prepare our hearts for what the Lord will do next.
Jesus performed many miracles while He was here on earth, so much so that the bible states that to list them all would be a great task indeed. Did the Lord perform these miracles to show off?
There is a more practical reason, He did them that we might believe.
Gospel of John Chapter 11.
John Chapter 11 verse 1.
Where it says. Now a certain man was sick Lazarus of Bethany. The town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wipe his feet with her hair. His brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters said to him saying Lord behold he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that he said this sickness is not until death but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through him. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was sick he stayed two more days in the place where he was. Then. After this he said to the disciples Let us go to Judea again. The disciples said to him Rabbi Layli the Jews sought to stone you. And are you going there again. Jesus answered. Are there not twelve hours in the day. If anyone walks in the day he does not stumble because he sees the light of this world but if one walks in the night he stumbles because the light is not in him. These things he said and after that he said to them our friend Lazarus sleeps but I go that I may wake him up. Then his disciples said Lord if he sleeps he will get well. However Jesus spoke of his death. But they thought that he was speaking about taking rest and sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.
Then Thomas who is called the twin said to his fellow disciples Let us also go that we may die with him. So when Jesus came he found that he had already been in the tomb four days now Bethany was near Jerusalem about two miles away and many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming went and met him. But Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God God will give you. Jesus said to her Your brother will rise again. Martha said to him I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Jesus said to her I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me though he may die he shall live and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this. She said to him Yes Lord. I believe that you are the Christ the Son of God who is to come into the world and when she had said these things she went her way secretly calling Mary her sister saying the teacher is come and is calling for you. And SOON AS SOON AS. She heard that she arose quickly and came to him. Jesus. Had not yet come into the town but was in the place where Martha met him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house and comforting her when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out followed her saying she is going to the tomb to weep there. Then. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him she fell down at his feet saying to him Lord if you had been here met my brother would not have died. Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping. And the Jews who came with her weeping he groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And he said. Where have you laid him. They said to him Lord come and see. Jesus wept. And.
The Jews said see how we loved him and some of them said could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind also kept this man from dying.
Then Jesus began groaning in himself came to the tomb. It was a cave and a stone lay against it. Jesus said Take away the stone. Martha the sister of him who was dead said to him Lord by this time there is a stench. For he has been dead for days. Jesus said to her did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God and they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said. Father. I thank you that you have heard me and I know that you always hear me but because of the people who are standing by. I said this that they may believe that you sent me. Now when he had said these things he cried with a loud voice. Lazarus. Come forth and he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes. And his face was wrapped with a cloth.
Jesus said to them loose him and let him go. This is the Word of God.
Let’s pray. Heavenly father.
Lord we come before you. With all humility. We come before you Lord. Because you are our God and we are your people.
We know that when you give your word you are faithful to keep it. The things you have told us, seem extra ordinary to most people but when we read them. We know that you love us so much. You always keep your word to us. Maybe we don’t understand it in the moment. Maybe we don’t understand what we’re going through and maybe we don’t get it.
When we’re going through the hard times.
But Lord. We know that you feel. The same emotion that we do because you love us.
And you sympathize with us.
And that you are the resurrection and the life. And that if we put our trust in you.
This is where life is found.
And so Lord. Let us be willing to put our hope and our trust in you. Let us not waver. Let us not lose our hope because of circumstances around us even when they seem insurmountable. But let us remember. The truth.
We just ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Now there are a lot of interesting things to this passage of Scripture. I mean you could break this down and preach on it for weeks and weeks and weeks. And I figure you guys really don’t want to sit here for weeks and weeks and weeks. So I just want to touch on a couple of a couple of important points. Number one Jesus is not showing off here. You know a lot of times you might think oh you know you see someone who does. I went and saw David Copperfield a few weeks back. Pretty neat stuff. He made stuff disappear and made a puppet talk. I don’t know. Just cool stuff. But it was all a show it was. There were no real magic. There was no real miracle happening there.
But it was good entertainment. The fact is that Jesus was not entertaining people. Lazarus had actually died.
And there’s an interesting thing to notice here and notice the love that Jesus has not only for Lazarus but for his sisters. And you notice that even as it states that Jesus loved Lazarus.
That. He allowed Lazarus to die.
In the midst of stating that Jesus loves Lazarus. He allows Lazarus to die. I don’t know about you but dying is not my idea of a good time. Dying is not my idea of fun. It really isn’t.
But here’s the thing. Lazarus went through it anyway. Why.
So that we could get a foretaste of the glory of God. Do you know what the glory of God is? It’s synonymous with the Kingdom of God. How many of you want to live with the Lord without disease and sickness and ailment and pain?
Anybody a fan of that? you know I don’t like hurting.
You know and I go and I try to exercise I try to eat right. We were talking about it this morning how you know you have to stay away from some things if you don’t want to hurt. As a diabetic if I eat sugar and I tell you people bring sugar all the time to where I work it’s crazy. They bring sugar and you know you have the temptation. My son yesterday we went to go visit my son who was working on my parents house and then he’s going to take off to Nebraska. We wanted to see him real quick before he took off. We stopped by you know what he had. He had a bag of these little candy bars. My favorite candy bars that my grandmother used to keep you know kept the little Mr. Goodbar in the dark Hershey’s and and the crackle and anyway it’s just chocolate. And it’s like yes he’s like Dad would you like some chocolate? Yes please. You know, it’s a little piece of chocolate. Just a little…
Like be careful. And then then it’s to say that you want some more chocolate? Yeah you know. And then the third time and Jo’s like. That. But she’s taken the chocolate too. You know I’ll just saying.
But pain is a part of this life. You know you eat the chocolate at least I do if I eat the chocolate. My legs start to hurt. It’s just it’s guaranteed. Happens every time. I can eat just a little bit. Few minutes later get the shooting pain going down my legs because my diabetes acts up because I’m not supposed to eat that much sugar. So just keep the carbs and the sugar under control.
You know what? When Jesus rules and reigns when he sets up His kingdom and sin is dealt with this is the good news. There will be no more pain. There will be no more sorrow. We won’t have reason to hurt. We won’t die any longer. The fact is that Jesus will set up his kingdom. We will only have to go through the death once we won’t have to suffer the second death. That’s what Jesus was referring to. What I went to look at. Is the fact that Jesus did these things for his glory for the glory of the father not for his own glory not to show off you know how often did Jesus say you know you’re only coming back so I can give him more bread and fishes. That’s the only reason you come back see me do the miracles again. So that’s not what we’re in this for. We’re not in this for the miracles. But how many of you would like a taste, of the age to come? the Messianic Age, the kingdom of God? Some might even refer to it as heaven. The fact is that what we’re looking forward to. Has all of the sin, all of the pain, all of the sorrow and the anguish removed from it. And the good life is to be found the abundant life is found in that kingdom that Jesus offers. So what I want to look at this morning is the fact that yes there is pain in this life yes there is suffering that the Lord allows us to go through.
And there’s even death that we’re allowed to suffer. But the fact is Jesus promised us. That we will be raised from the dead. Jesus promised that there would be eternal life. The fact is that we will see death. We will see suffering in this life but in the age to come those things are dealt with and we will live an abundant and productive life in Jesus.
And I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know about you but we’ll look at that more here in just a few minutes.
So when we look at the story of Lazarus You know there’s a lot been made of it. A lot of different ways to look at it. You know we always have to ask the question What is the purpose of the miracles that Jesus performed.
Have you ever wondered that. I mean. A lot of people would say it’s to identify him as. Jesus or identify him as the Messiah as the sent out one of God.
And there is some truth in that there is some truth that Jesus was said to perform miracles and that the miracles were a business card if you will to say yes I’m really Jesus.
I’m really the Messiah. There’s a problem with that. It’s you know other people do miracles besides those that follow the Lord. The Lord sent many prophets. He sent many people to do miracles. Now before Jesus came onto the scene there was that silent period between the Old Testament the New Testament. There was those many years when not a whole lot happened as far as miracles go. Now Jesus made the point that the devil doesn’t do miracles to divide his kingdom.
But the devil does perform some type of miracles to gain followers. And Moses was very clear that there will be some that come and do signs and wonders and miracles. Usually though when those things occur they are false miracles. Usually they’re not acts of God. They look like it. I mean it like I was talking about David Copperfield earlier Have you ever seen any of these magicians on TV that can walk on water walk up the side of a building or do all sorts of amazing things. Well I’m here to tell you those look amazing but they’re fake.
They’re they’re just misdirection.
You know I like playing around with cards I think it’s kind of fun and you know some of us have done that to where you know you think one card is going to come up but really another card comes up, right? How did you do that? Well, cards are easy to use to fool people because they’re flat then you know you don’t realize how many cards somebody is holding in a lot of cases.
The fact is that the devil can perform false miracles, when Moses went before the Pharaoh. They performed real miracles. They turned their staffs into snakes as well. I like the way the Hebrew puts it. There’s actually room in the Hebrew of what is a different Hebrew word of what Moses had happen when he threw his staff down versus the Hebrew about the snakes that the false prophets threw down.
It says snakes in the Hebrew, but there is wiggle room in the Hebrew that it might have been an alligator that Moses when he threw his staff, it could still be a snake. But I just like to think what if Moses threw down that staff and an alligator you know swallowed. That’s why it swallowed the other snakes. He just had them for breakfast real quick. I like that. I think it’s cool you know but it’s probably just me being a guy you know probably just snakes.
But anyway I just like the idea of it the fact that God performs bigger better miracles I believe he does. So I’m holding out hope that that’s still the correct translation. Fact is that miracles in and of themselves.
Well. They can be misused. They can be faked sometimes.
And certainly that could be the case with someone dying. You could make it look as if someone died when really they hadn’t. But the fact is they had put Lazarus. And there’s a reason why Jesus waited three days. Or four days actually sorry. There’s a reason why because everybody believed after three days it’s over and if somebody went without eating for four days.
Come on he’s been dead. He was sick. We all watched him die. We wrapped him up. We put him in the tomb. We put a stone in front of the tomb because it’s going to stink if you don’t put a stone. And animals are going to run off with the dead body. It’s just awful. So they put him in the tomb to allow the decay process to happen.
And then a year later to scoop up those bones and put them in an actuary and then have better storage.
You know, that’s what they did.
And. What I think is fascinating is if we look at the text again in John Chapter 11.
It says that Jesus loved Lazarus. I think that’s important. Verse 3 says therefore the sisters sent to him saying Lord behold he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that he said this sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
And again Jesus is talking about the fact that. Lazarus isn’t going to stay dead. Yet. You have to understand that.
What was expected was the normal death process and Jesus says that’s the normal thing isn’t going to happen that’s what he was saying. What normally happens is not going to happen this time yes he’ll die. But he’s coming back. And this is to show us Lazarus is loved by Jesus. That’s an important thing to remember. Lazarus is loved by Jesus and yet Lazarus is allowed to die.
Again I don’t think this is any fun for anybody to go through the dying process. It’s just not. Lazarus went through it.
Jesus allowed him to go through it. Why? For the glory of God.
Look, I don’t want to go through the dying process more than once if I can avoid it. But the fact is that if the Lord could use my death for his glory and then raise me up again. OK. Not a big fan but I think Lazarus was in the same position. If he had known ahead of time that the Lord’s going to raise him back up. OK. If I have to go through this to expand the kingdom of God OK I’m going to go through it. Jesus loved Lazarus but he did not let Lazarus know what he was about to go through. It and sent word back he could have sent a messenger back. Lazarus was going to die but I’m going to raise him from the dead. It will be OK.
He said that right. He could of had Mary and Martha not go through the grieving process for four days. The grieving process is no fun either. Right? When we mourn our loved one that is not our idea of a good time for sure.
But yet Jesus allow these two women whom he loved to go through this.
What can we learn from this?
The fact is that the Lord loves us and things still happen in our lives whether we like them or not because of the world we live in. Death is a natural part of this world right now.
I would call it an unnatural part of this world but we’re so used to death being in this world that. It’s all it’s almost natural. The reason that death is here is because of sin right. There isn’t sicknesses here is because of sin. But here’s the thing we don’t always know why we are allowed to suffer the way that we suffer. We don’t know. Sometimes people die. It’s over it’s quick it’s easy. No suffering. Other times they need to be dragged away kicking and screaming. I don’t know why. Why is it that the Lord allows some people to die instantly and other people to linger, to suffer.
I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that. I can’t give you the answer to that because that’s above my pay grade. That’s something that only God understands. And Jesus, being here on planet Earth operated the same way with Lazarus someone he loved. Right? It says that he loved Lazarus. And he allowed Lazarus to go through this suffering.
He allowed him to die. Because. It was good for the kingdom that he die.
Jesus suffered and died. Keep that in mind. God doesn’t withhold suffering from himself. In fact the Bible tells us that God is long suffering, unwilling that any should perish, right? What does that tell you? God is suffering, long. Do you realize that God cannot abide sin in his presence? Did you realize it is agony? It’s like allowing himself to be sick all the time. To allow sin to be here in us, in any way shape or form is like allowing him to be sick all the time. He is suffering because of sin. He can’t stand to see us suffering. He can’t stand to see sin in this world because how many of you know sin is unfair?
Has anyone been murdered? Has anyone been treated unfairly hurt unfairly? Has anyone suffered because of another person’s choices?
Yeah, all sorts of people. Why does God allow that to happen? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard atheists say well if God were a loving God he wouldn’t allow any suffering at all. Yeah that’s convenient right. But what must to end in order for sin to end?
You can have a choice anymore about whether you will send or not. And therefore you can’t choose God or reject God. The one thing God wants is for you to be able to choose him of your own free will for you to choose to do what is right and good of your own free will. He doesn’t want a bunch of Mind Numb robots he doesn’t want to program you. OK. We’ll do everything perfectly. You know I I will no longer sin.
God doesn’t want that. Why?
Well it’s the same reason I don’t want my wife to be a mind numbed robot. I love you. I love you. Yes dear I’ll do whatever you say dear. Yeah. Now that doesn’t you know let’s face it she has a free will and she tells me no all the time. You know let’s go to Albuquerque, no. Let’s go to hobby lobby. No I don’t want to go to Hobby Lobby she tells me. Can’t stand the hobby lobby. Oh you love hobby. Ok that was me that was right.
Well, I mean seriously we have to have free will don’t we in order to be able to love. You have to choose to love. You can have a good marriage. If it’s fake. You just can’t. You have to choose to love your spouse.
My wife and I have been married for 30 years not because we turned off our free will and we’re going to love each other perfectly and treat it treat each other without sin ever. No she chooses to love me. I choose to love her. That’s how marriage works.
We choose each other day after day after day. Marriage is not a one time commitment.
And it’s not. Believe you me if it had just been 30 years ago I. I do. I do. You know we’d been done. But no, instead, every morning we have to get up and choose to love each other. We have to choose to treat each other well. Do we do that perfectly. OK.
Yes we do.
Well the same thing is true with our relationship with God. Jesus had to suffer in order to take our sin.
Jesus had to die in order to put our sin to death and to give us his life. He had to become sin for us to give us his righteousness. The suffering that we all endure is a result of free will and sin being in this world.
Bad people do bad things because if they weren’t able to do bad things and they couldn’t really choose to do good things if they weren’t allowed to hate them they couldn’t choose love.
And I know it’s like well but I don’t like this. This doesn’t work for me. There are people that I love and care about that have gone through terrible suffering.
Because other people made choices. Disease is in this world because Adam and Eve made the choice they did. Disease is in this world because sin is in this world. Sickness.
The fact that our bodies are broken and breaking down and going to die that happens because of sin. When are we going to die. I have no idea. It’s going to be different for everybody right.
But here’s the thing. What Jesus did by allowing Lazarus to go through his death. Was to give us a taste of what life will be like once we’ve made the choice live the life and we are raised to newness of life. We are raised to be a part of the kingdom of God by proving that death had no power over Jesus. We can now put our trust that death no longer has power over Jesus but Jesus has power over death.
Grave, Where is your victory? Where’s your sting? That’s what we hope for. That is what we have faith in God for is that he will deal with our sin once and for all. Yes it was dealt with on the cross but how many of you know sin still in this world right. So that means suffering still in this world why so people can choose.
So you can choose him. And also so you can reject him, to be honest. You have the freewill to totally reject Jesus at any time. You can reject him. You can tell him go away. I don’t want you I don’t want a relationship with you. I don’t want you to love me. I don’t want you to do anything for me. I want you to just go away. You have the free will to do that. I wouldn’t advise it. In fact I would advise against that. I would advise that you say Lord do you love me that much that you give me the free will to choose you?
And that’s where the victory is. That’s where the hope lies.
Because anybody lost anybody to death? We all have right. If you’ve lived long enough you’ve lost somebody to death. Here’s the good news. Death does not win. Death does not have the victory.
Jesus has the victory and the kingdom of heaven is built upon the truth that he is the way, the truth and the life. If we want to avoid the second death we put our trust in him and he says. Hey, Don’t fear the one who can take your body. If you’re the one who can take your body and your soul. Don’t fear this first death you should be afraid of the second death because that makes a first death look very easy, look like nothing.
The second is where there is pain and suffering, separation from God and punishment for sin. Whereas to be raised to new life in Jesus Christ, is to Love Him as He loved you. To put your trust in your hope in him and to walk with him in the light. And where is that light found, but in the Word of God. We want light in our life. We go back to the Word of God. We want to be raised from the dead. We put our trust in him.
Now here’s that fun little tidbit. I always have to tell when it comes to Lazarus and many of you have heard this not from me but from better preachers than I am. But the fact is that if Jesus did not specify Lazarus what would have happened. Everybody that heard his voice would come out of the ground, right? Come forth! Everybody would come out of those graves.
You want the power of Jesus the power of life. It is found in his words and he said you believe in God the Father believe also in me. In me, there is life and life more abundant.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Amen
None of us have perfect mothers and none of us are perfect parents but does that mean we shouldn’t try? We also probably don’t honor our moms the way we should but what does it mean to honor our parents?
There was a teaching that brought destruction to Israel, the doctrine of Balaam. It was and is a simple thing to destroy a Godly people. Because to attack them directly will fail due to the Lord’s protection, just appeal to their flesh.
There is also a doctrine, a sound doctrine of Jesus that teaches obedience to God’s word. This doctrine brings blessings and the goodness of the Lord to His people.
In this sermon, Pastor Paul Holt of First Baptist Church of Magdalena contrasts the doctrine of Balaam against the doctrine of Jesus and how the enemy is still using it to remove God’s protection from His people and cause judgment on the house of God.
There are interesting parallels in the scriptures telling of Word of God made of Stone and the the Word of God made Flesh. In these parallels we find great truth and the challenge to live well.
“The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets” -Exodus 32:16
Moses descended and broke the tablets when he saw the golden calf. He returned to the cloud of glory, carrying new stone tablets before descending a second time in the glory of the LORD, carrying the new stone tablets of the renewed covenant.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:14
Just as Moses brought the word of God twice, the first time to be broken on account of sin, so too our Lord Jesus Christ will come twice as the living Word of God, first broken because of sin.
Exodus 32 recounts the sin of the golden calf. When we see movies such as the “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston, we do not see that the Lord gave the children of Israel His commands before Moses was given the stone tablets.
In the movies, Moses is in some sort of holy daze and more or less leaves the people wondering why he had to leave them.
In the bible, the Lord has Moses prepare the people to receive His commands. Moses ascends the mountains and the descends with instructions, then up and then down. Finally, once everyone has gone through the process of washing themselves and abstaining from marital relations, once they understand the boundaries they are not to cross. The Lord comes down to speak his commands.
The Lord speaks the commandments (see Exodus 19 and 20) starting with the 10 commandments that prohibit making an idol. The Lord keeps giving instruction for several chapter until we reach Exodus 24 where Moses repeats what the Lord spoke and it is all written down in what we now call scripture.
This was done before a few million people, not Moses running off by himself. After Moses takes the time to write it all down and read the commands of God again to the people, the people actually state that they agree to obey these things.
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” -Exodus 24:3
These were not empty words. The Lord was entering into a covenant with His people similar to a marriage. Vows were being exchanged, this was personal to the Lord.
Bear this in mind when you read Chapter 32, the Lord was heart broken over the sin of the golden calf. Just as a husband who loves his wife dearly would be heart broken to find her with another man during their honeymoon, so too God was crushed by the people’s unfaithfulness so soon after the covenant was signed by the finger of God.
That is why the Lord’s reaction seems so intense, because it is intense. The Lord is so angry at this betrayal that He states His intention to remove them from the face of the earth. But Moses cannot bear the thought of the Lord destroying everyone and He pleads with God for the lives of the people.
The Lord repents and it falls to Moses to deal with Israel. Moses descends the mountain once more carrying the stone tablets written by the finger (the Spirit) of God. Upon seeing the sin of the people Moses breaks the tablets with the commands on them and challenges the people.
Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. -Exodus 32:15-16
There is an explanation given by Jewish scholars that is very interesting. The story goes that the very word of God written by God’s Spirit leaped off the tablets. This is compared to a person who has died, once their spirit has left they become heavy.
At this point the tablets are too heavy for Moses to carry and so he throws them to the ground. The stone tablets which contained the Word of God were broken on account of sin.
Jesus is the Word made flesh (see John 1). He too was broken for our sin. The Lord had inscribed on His heart the very word of God, and just like the tablets of stone there was no part of His heart that did not have the Word of God written.
We are saved by an act of grace. The Lord showed grace and mercy to his people when he did not destroy them for their sin. He saves us when we agree to accept His grace and the sacrifice made on the cross.
What we should also consider is that the Lord is finishing that which He started in us. He is writing on our hearts His commands. There are still some blank spots that He is working on, but when He is finished, every part of our hearts will be covered in His Word.