:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hebrews Chapter 12 (part 2)

 Hebrews Chapter 12:14-29

vs. 14-17

- “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”

- These seem kind of small at first glance. Yes, peace is good. Living a holy life would be great! I can be good. I can live a good life. Give money to the poor. Maybe get along with my neighbors... most of the time anyway... Sounds okay right? I'll be fine.

- Nope... HOLY. Not okay. Holy. At peace with everyone... all the time... doesn't say only work to be at peace occasionally... or only work one day a week at it.

- Holy. Us? Not likely... And yet... this is not the only place in scripture where we are given the command to be holy. Or at least to work at it...

- And to be at peace with everyone? “God doesn't know my neighbors...” “God doesn't know my co-workers...” And yet... He does... and He still says to be at peace... with everyone... Or... at least to work at it...

- As for living peacefully with people? Well... it's hard to live a life worth following if you can't forgive... forget... make peace... love those who are hard to love...

- If we are constantly fighting with our neighbors... are we living out the command to love them? If we can't make peace in our house because we're too proud to admit that we're wrong... are we honoring our parents? Or teaching our children how to grow up? If we constantly nitpick at people around us and complain about all their failings and shortcomings... are we seeing our own and learning to grow?

- What kind of witness will you leave behind you when you die? And what kind of disciples will you have had? What kind of example will you leave for your descendents?

- Over the holiday, we were with family and talking about stories about some of the ancestors... we're a pretty musical family... on both sides... and mom and I were laughing about which side had more talent and where we got it from... and as we were joking about it, she said something that kinda caught my attention. She was talking about some of her uncles and great uncles and she said “they used to all get together and play fiddles and sing and dance and they'd play all night... and had they not drank themselves to death and tore up a bunch of stuff when they got mad drunk... they might have actually done something with their music.”

- Is that not sad? To know that they had a talent, a gift... and threw it all away. And to know that... their sons followed in their footsteps... and ended up in much the same way... well... it's just sad...

- If we don't live in peace... neither will our children. And neither will their children... and instead of being known as Christians by our love... we'll be known as hypocrites.

- I Peter 1:13-16 says “So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God's obedient children. Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

- Man... that's a harsh statement to us who are so fallible.

- You know... working at living a holy life is like a house... Houses get dirty. Especially if you have a lot of people living in them. Or visitors often. Crumbs fall. Mud gets tracked in. Dust falls. Bugs get in. Mold and Mildew starts to grow.

- You have to make the effort to keep them clean. You have to go through and wash the dishes, run the sweeper, mop the floors, kill the bugs...

- If you don't... well... have you ever seen the TV show “Hoarders?” It's this show where professional cleaners go in to clean out these houses that people have just... never cleaned. Some of them just like to keep things... they collect boxes, or toys, or newspapers... some... just don't know how to clean. There's filth everywhere. They're climbing over things to get into the house.

- There was this one old lady, who was climbing over enough stuff that she was holding onto the ceiling to walk to her chair... FEET of piled up garbage...

- Some of these houses have no working plumbing... Some have no running water. So in addition to the house being filthy... the people themselves aren't that clean either...

- If we're not careful... our hearts get like that. At first it might just be one thing. “God I know I should get rid of this sin... but I want to hang on to this one just a little longer. I'll throw this one over here out... but I want to keep this one...” And then before you know it... there's another thing you're just not ready to surrender yet. “Okay God... I know You want me to get rid of this one too... but it kind of matches this other one over here. So I'll hang onto it until I throw the other thing out. That way they can stay together for a little longer.”

- Before long... your heart... that had started a cleansing process with God... is worse than it was before. God doesn't walk into our lives and automatically, there's no more dirt. It's a process. Oh sure... when we ask God to come in... there's a cleansing. He cleans us up. But we're human... we fail. We fall. We get dirty. So... we have to yet again, call the Master cleaner and get scrubbed out again.

- My mother is a little bit of clean freak... I think so anyway... lol Every week she cleans the house from top to bottom. Scrubs out every little corner she can find. There was a time a few years ago... I felt like we cleaned every 3 days. It seemed like it was getting a little ridiculous.... But the point is... I've heard a thousand times over... “If you don't clean every week, then the dirt starts to add up. If you let it go, then it's easier to let it go next week... and by the time you realize the place is filthy, it's really HARD to clean it up. So if you clean a little every week, then it's easier than doing a MAJOR cleaning every couple of months.”

- Holiness is not a one time act. We don't become Holy just by claiming the Name of Christ. Holiness is a constant cleansing and growing process. It's a daily surrendering to the will of God. Which is why it says to “work” at it. Nobody's perfect. And none of us will reach perfection in this life... But it doesn't mean we're not supposed to try... “For those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” It's not just God trying to make us be good... it's a big deal... Our eternity depends on it...

- “But I'm not perfect... I'll fail... and God will cast me off!” Nah... not for a one time offense... but if you refuse to clean the house? If you insist on holding onto things? Insist on keeping the dirt in your life? Won't allow God to come and do some cleaning when it needs done? Eventually, your heart's going to be so full of sin... that there's no room for God... and instead of getting rid of the sin... you're going to opt for pushing God out the door instead.

- He'll try to get back in. He'll stay and knock on your door. He'll stay and try to convince you of what is right... But eventually, He'll let you go.

- So let God come clean the house...(hatred, anger, and over in the corner fear, hurt feelings, unforgiving, selfishness, self pity, and out in center court--PRIDE)

- Remember... you're not alone in this. You have a church full of people to help you. You have family, both biological and spiritual.

- “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father's blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”

- Esau was rejected because he gave his birthright away... we are sons and daughters of God... unless we sell our birthright for some fleeting thing... A fleeting moment of a met desire...

- And just for that one moment... Esau is called immoral and godless... why? Because he looked at his birthright as a nothing. Something worthless to him. Something that... he could give away for a fleeting thing... as if they were equally as unimportant as one another...

- So we need to be careful... not only in our own lives... but in our watching of the lives of our fellow believers. Oh I don't mean we should start nitpicking at everything they do... but if we see something really out of whack... we're supposed to go talk to them...

- In Galatians 6 it says “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

- It doesn't say go rub your holiness in their faces and tell them their dying in their sin and they'll be good for absolutely nothing if they don't change things right this second. Nor does it say to walk in and yell and scream and demand an immediate change...

- It says to help them back on the right path... GENTLY AND HUMBLY... And to share their burdens.

- This walk was not meant to be walked alone. It's a group effort. It's a community event. It's not the survival of the fittest. It's a family. Working and growing together.

- It's not about you... It's about Christ. And the furthering of HIS Kingdom... NOT about how successful you are... not about how much stuff you have... not about how often you pray or how holy you are... it's about Christ... and HIS work... not yours...

- Amos 7:8
- Matthew 7:1-6; 18:15-20
- I Thessalonians 4
- II Timothy 1:8-11
- II Corinthians 6:3-7:1
- Romans 12:6-21

vs. 18-24

- “You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God's command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

- Old covenant. Physical temple. Physical place to represent the presence of God.

- No more do we tremble before the voice of God. No more is the presence of God too much for us to take... because we are no longer still sin-soaked creatures.

- “No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God's firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God Himself, who is the Judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.”

- New covenant. Better covenant.

- No longer do we cower before a voice. We have a mediator who is not frightened. Moses himself trembled before God... however... Christ doesn't do that. He is the ultimate mediator between us and God. There is forgiveness! Complete and total! No more crying out for vengeance!

- Until Christ came... the debt had not been paid in full. We were still owing. Our lives were still held forfeit for our sins. The blood of bulls and goats could not bring about forgiveness... only justification for a time... But CHRIST! Brought FORGIVENESS! Our sins have been washed away! There is no more sacrifice for sin! It was a one time offering! Pure and holy and complete!

- We don't come before a cloudy mountain... we come into the city of Zion. We come into an assembly... not of terrified cowering people... but into an assembly of the firstborn children of God. Able to stand before our God in worship... without being afraid of the fact that our sins would destroy us in His presence.

- footnote- “What a contrast between the people's terrified approach to God at Mount Sinai and their joyful approach at Mount Zion! What a difference Jesus has made! Before Jesus came, God seemed distant and threatening. After Jesus came, God welcomes us through Christ into His presence. Accept God's invitation!”

- Galatians 3:10-4:7
- I Timothy 2:1-7
- Jeremiah 31:31-38
- Matthew 26:27-29

vs. 25-29

- “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai His voice shook the earth, but now He makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.”

- In other words... if refusing to listen to a messenger of God resulted in major discipline... then how much more so, will we be disciplined for not listening to the direct voice of God.

- On the shakable and unshakable things... When the last really massive tsunami hit a couple years ago, it literally shook the earth off of its axis. We have lost like 2 seconds or something like that off of our daily time because of the amount of shaking. So when God said that everything would be shaken... He wasn't kidding... Everything that can be shaken... will be shaken... The only things left... will be God's things. His Kingdom is an unshakable thing. It's not going anywhere. Christ's sacrifice... is an unshakable thing. It's not going anywhere... These are UNSHAKABLE things.

- God is the only stable thing we have. Everything else can be taken away in a heartbeat. So “....let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe....”

- footnote- “Eventually the world will crumble, and only God's Kingdom will last. Those who follow Christ are part of this unshakable Kingdom, and they will withstand the shaking, sifting, and burning. When we feel unsure about the future, we can take confidence from these verses. No matter what happens here, our future is built on a solid foundation that cannot be destroyed. Don't put your confidence in what will be destroyed; instead, build your life on Christ and His unshakable Kingdom.”

- Haggai 2:4-9