HEBREWS-JESUS IS BETTER: Strive
HEBREWS-JESUS IS BETTER Strive Pastor John Weathersby Sunday September 16, 2018 Hebrews 12:12-17 Today we’ll see why we can live our lives for God’s glory as we seek for peace with people that others would think you’d hate. While working to be a peaceful people, known for being peaceful. And while seeking to look more and more like the very son of God Jesus - so that others would see God too - it’s what we’re called to do, and that’s what the writer of Hebrews wants the Hebrew believers to see - that Jesus re-wrote reality. So lets join him this morning and see our re-written reality. Hebrews 12:12–17 (ESV) 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; Our men’s group talked about the change in precedence that Jesus brought, and it’s tangled up with this story: Before Jesus, fire was called down on sinful people(s) by the Prophet Elijah who came to a place where God told him to meet King Ahab (who hated him, a lot) to gather on Mt. Carmel and meet with all the Jews and all the false prophets. All this was happening because the people had turned from the true God to Baal. Ahab was in the time of the Kings and Jezebel, his wife, had convinced him to build a temple to Baal in Samaria - so God was worshiped AND Baal was added; hence the tension between Ahab (Jezebel) and Elijah (which means Yahweh is God), get the tension? So they started this worship of “other gods” which is so much more awful than you can imagine, aside from being blatant disregard for the creator’s law, worship God himself ONLY which Jesus quoted in Luke 4:8, as Satan asked Jesus to give worship to himself (which really is enough) but I want to give some flavor of what Elijah was called by God to stand up to. Luke 4:8 (ESV) 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” Baal worshipers gave sacrifices, most often animals (1 Kings 18) but they’d also, sacrifice their kids or the first born of the community for prosperity. They worshiped another god through ritualistic sex, meaning temples in the community where people would visit to have sex with folks they weren’t married to in order to appease the gods…. So the guy Elijah named one true God, is told go and address the king, I’m sick of this - so Elijah calls out the king, the false prophets and all the religious Jews to come see the duel between false worship and God. In the end, the god of the Baal worshipers was inept, they cut themselves to appease him, but nothing happened. Elijah ultimately mocked them. In 1 Kings 18:27, they’re in the thick of the challenge - Elijah had them put a bull on the alter but their god did nothing and God burned everything even the water in the trenches (Elijah had folks douse everything with water before calling down fire). Next Elijah gathered together all the false prophets and had them killed. 1 Kings 18:27 (ESV) 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 1 Kings 18:40 (ESV) 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. In 2 Kings 1, a king sent messengers to inquire of a false god to know if he’d be healed. The Angel of the Lord had Elijah, (remember one true God - Elijah) to intercept those men. Eventually he’d call down fire on two sets of the king’s men, the 3rd set came and said - ok ok, look we hope your God will show mercy on us. Fire was called down by the Sons of Korah in Numbers 16:35 and on Aaron’s sons in Leviticus 10:2. Numbers 16:35 (ESV) 35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the incense. Leviticus 10:2 (ESV) 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. God sees fit to record these stories and we see how the disciples would encounter unrighteousness and false god worship and say, time to call down fire…. But, that we’d know Jesus re-wrote reality. In the gospel, where Jesus lets the disciples see the Samaritan people, mixing God with false worship, gives them the opportunity to think to Elijah, then Luke 9:55 says Jesus rebuked them. Luke 9:55 (ESV) 55 But he turned and rebuked them. Why - what changed? That’s what the writer of Hebrews is telling them, how do we live as Christians? Why are things different after Christ - and how are things the same? Focus has always been on God’s holiness, his set apartness, and how he’s reaching people. In Christ, he’s reaching people finally - he’s demonstrated to people that we cannot live in accordance with his character, rather, we claim Jesus’ righteousness that God says is ours for the taking if we trust him by faith - and then we’re covered by His grace and in his family. And so things have changed. The writer of Hebrews reminds the Hebrew Christians and us too and believers for all time until Christ comes back to take us on and resurrect his church that we’re to make sure (Hebrews 12:14-15) Hebrews 12:14–15 (ESV) 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. We are to strive for peace because Jesus re-wrote reality. I want to challenge you, when did you last STRIVE for peace? At work, at home, socially, among each other? Have you strived? This is a command in the Greek, the tense is continual - we strive, we lean into, we work hard at, constantly moving towards what, peace. Why? Because when we strive for peace, when we STRIVE (work hard) at Holiness people see the Lord? Does it say that, yes and no. It says it in the negative - if we STRIVE for peace, if we STIRVE for holiness (without that no one will see the Lord) so with it people will…. We want people to academically see the Lord, and that’s OK - but without a witness in the world, without holiness without striving for peace, NO ONE will see the Lord. Church - want people to come to know Jesus? Be impacted by the Word and Strive… As you strive, because Jesus re-wrote reality: 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; How would a root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble? Glad you asked - by failing to seek peace, by failing to strive for personal holiness. See to it that, Hebrews 12:14–15 (ESV) 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, How are you sexually immoral? EASY - homosexuality is immoral, so is heterosexuality when it’s not inside God’s will, a committed marriage relationship. Don’t be like Esau, who did what? who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. He was more concerned with riches and later consequences but never the gift giver. We are encouraged here richly - in how we’re supposed to live as Christian believers. Think false worship doesn’t happen in our day? Jump on Instagram, do you know what’s being worshiped? Creature, rather than creator - Consider Romans 1:23–26 (ESV) says that the people, 23 exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; You see this all over - every day, we worship creature, not creator. Look on Instagram, on the news, we celebrate ourselves - and so, living differently stands out. Sexual immorality celebrating not God honoring relationships but pursuit of whatever makes you happy - it doesn’t honor each other as people who God has made and loves, it isn’t a safe environment for anyone - and sin always has consequences - but just like the Baal worshipers for whom fire was called down - the consequences aren’t the main issue, the main issue is God and his holiness, his set apartness and his standard now satisfied fully on Jesus and so we’re to live as a holy people, set apart and welcoming with open arms all people into God’s kingdom in Jesus. Church if we’re responsible to share the Gospel of Jesus with folks, and they’ll see us AS we strive - note not perfect, but strive, after God, as we strive for holiness, as we strive for peace among all people, we do God’s will. Our part is participating and desiring to share with people, desiring that no roots of bitterness spring up, but that people come to peace in Jesus. Church, is Jesus Lord? If so, let me ask you, how can you strive, I’ll give you a few ways, if you promise you’ll do this in the cover of grace, knowing you cannot perfect this of your own energy, and the exercise it’s self is one of faith, where you realize you grow over time, and growing over time, means you aren’t full grown. Take the week and focus on one of these: Arguing: Learn Proverbs 15:1 if you struggle here. Concentrate and pray over this ALL WEEK LONG, practice it this week in you life. Proverbs 15:1 (ESV) 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Vengeance: Romans 12:19 - learn this if you struggle with the desire to see vengeance, pray over it all week long and practice it. Romans 12:19 (ESV) 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Bitterness: Guys - this one hides in plain view. Let me suggest something to you, if you were to go back over your last 20 or 30 posts on social media, how would you rank the tone and tenor, complaining, thankful, happy, sad, mad? Does that expose that there is bitterness in you? With humility and prayer, you can once-over bitterness - and it can cause trouble in your life, for the people around you, and can spoil our witness making it so that people wont see the Lord, through us, and I don’t know about you - but I want to be a beacon for God. So pick on, vengeance, bitterness, arguing and strive here this week - learn a scripture about it, pray to God is this in me, and spend the week striving - it’s commanded for our good an the benefit of people around us. Consider Psalm 51:10, when you find instances of bitterness and imagine a live increasingly cleansed of bitterness; Psalm 51:10 (ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. We can do this because Jesus re-wrote reality, and our reality is that Jesus IS our righteousness and so we’re free to further experience God as we draw increasingly nearer to Him - and we’re saved in the grace and freedom of Christ to pursue him, as Hebrews encourages us, even striving after holy living because Jesus re-wrote reality, and you get to see this new reality when you participate through continual effort. Jesus Re-wrote Reality!