Friday, July 30, 2010

Hebrews - Book of Warning(s)

Our focus today is Heb. 2:1 - the warning BEGINS here. The warning is SUMMARIZED here.

Point being: "slipping away, drifting" is a great danger!!!! It is the subject of the whole book of Hebrews.
A. it is a serious danger - note the various warning phrases:
make every effort
let us hold firmly
let us hold unswervingly
do not give up
do not throw away
run with perseverance
endure hardship
do not forget
keep on
see to it
don't be carried away
B. it is a common danger - ALL are subject to this.
C. it is a practical danger (not just a Sunday thing) - it has life consequences! When we step out of truth, we step into falsehood.

So....... let's look at the text.

I. The Lead-up (to the text) - Heb. 1:1-4 , 2:1
The point is: Jesus is Lord, He is Truth, He is Superior... therefore: must pay more careful attention

II. The Word (drifting, slipping) - this Hebrew word is used only here in the New Testament
There are two views:
A. We slip from truth
B. truth slips from us

EITHER WAY, it leads to: 1. separation from truth and 2. beginning of a process (inattention leads to apathy leads to disobedience leads to hardened heart leads to turning away....)
God's truth doesn't stop even if you do.

NOTE: drift is NOT irreversible. But, it is progressive (if not addressed)

III. Implications of the Word. (the Word implies, suggests...)

A. A subtle movement - ie: example - gentle stream, snow falling off shoulder, etc.
B. An unintentional movement - doesn't mean pull away, deny, discard. Similar to a vehicle driver's drift across the line or off to the side.
C. A preventable movement - (example: kayak pulled up on the riverbank but not far enough and not tied. Drifted away during the night. Could have been prevented.) Prov. 3:21

IV. The Cause of the Drifting
Inattention, shifted focus, misplaced priorities

Compare: Matt. 13:3-9 Matt. 13:18-23
All are exposed to the truth
None consciously or intentionally rejects the truth.
Rather they drift from truth OR truth slips from them.

V. Prevention from drifting Heb. 2:1 "Pay Attention"
1. "PAY ATTENTION" - give heed, focus
2. "TO WHAT WE'VE (ALREADY) HEARD" ie: gospel truths, apostles doctrine, teachings of Christ, etc.

VI. Observations
1. "drifting, slipping" may be the greatest spiritual danger you face (as a Christian)

2. if it's a spiritual danger, it's also a practical danger. - has life consequences - Gal. 6:7
We can't separate spiritual life from practical life.

3. it doesn't take great sin(s) to disrupt your walk or destroy your soul (example: tornado vs. termites)

4. truth does not benefit you until it's heeded

5. truth is not heeded until it is acted upon....

2 Cor. 6:1-2

Monday, July 12, 2010

Developing Christian Optimism

Last week we looked at Post Millennial optimism which was the norm among Christians up to 60 to 70 years ago. People like Matthew Henry, Johnathon Edwards, John Wesley, etc. were all staunch post millennialists. Therefore, they had a mindset of post-millennial optimism.

Hymns such as Onward Christian Soldiers and Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus were written in this optimistic frame.
Contrast the majority of early Christians were POST millennial and therefore optimistic as to the direction the church and country was going to take
With the majority of contemporary American Christians who hold a PRE-millennial viewpoint and therefore are pessimistic as to the direction the church and the country are going to take.

Post Millennial viewpoint is that things are going to get better and better and THEN Christ will return.
On the other hand, the Pre-Millennial viewpoint is that things are going to get worse and worse before Christ returns.

NOTE: Which end times scenario is true remains to be seen!!
We do have good reason(s) for concern (pessimism)
However, there are many reasons to be optimistic as well!!

The sermon last week gave Reasons for Optimism (concerning the nation)

This week: we're looking at Developing Christian Optimism.
The focus is not national but personal.
The focus is not the end, but is in the meantime!!

So: 1. should we be more optimistic?
if so, 2. how can we develop and optimistic spirit??

#1. Recognize the reasons for optimism
(this is last week's message. The number one reason for optimism is that
God is greater than ___________.
(anything you put in the blank.)

#2. Recognize reasons for concern.
Because, Christian optimism equals realism!! Isaiah 6:8-12
BUT, realism is not alarmism!

#3. Factor in God. He is all powerful, knowing, loving at work, And personally interested in you!! Psalm 139:1-10, 13-18 (a)
However, there is no Biblical optimism in the end for people who have rejected Christ. They have plenty of reason to be pessimistic.

#4. Review His Promises (read the history, review the promises given)
Question: if you spent equal time in God's Word as with the media, would your outlook change?

#5. Look back. (at what He's done. for you!!! What He's carried you through, and carried you to!!) Deut. 8:2-5 - "remember" - used 16 times in Deuteronomy, 166 times in scripture.

#6. Reaffirm your confidence. (in Him, His promises, etc) - rededicate, recommit.
On one hand, there's time to lament, but on then the lament should end with confidence in Him.
Psalm 13:1-6
Psalm 42:1-6 a
Psalm 42:9-11
Hab. 3:17-18

#7. Seek His will (direction, plan, guidance, etc.
"in His general will is not necessarily a safe, comfortable place. Example: the cross. Christ was definitely not in a safe, comfortable place, but He was right in the center of God's will for Him.
Thus, it will turn out all right!
Example: Dan. 3:15-18 This was NOT foolish, empty optimism, but confidence in God and His will.

#8. Act Accordingly. Find God's word, find God's will, then: react with obedience, response, human effort. Often that is a catalyst for miracles! Example: feeding the 5000.
Point: if you do right, you are more apt to get right which leads to feel right.
Example: Moses - was he optimistic about the Exodus?
Gideon - was he optimistic about deliverance?
BUT - they received orders, promises, obeyed, saw the outcome, changed their attitude.
Ex. 3:10-12 (a) Judges 6:14-16 (a)

#9. Reject (refuse) a pessimistic spirit.
2 Tim. 1:7
For Christians, feelings are NOT Lord!!!

#10. Give Thanks.
Compare and contrast:
Psalm 37:1, 7, 8 - "do not fret"
with Phil. 4:6-8

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reasons for Optimism

In a World Magazine informal survey "concerning the future of the USA", it was found that 25% of readers surveyed were: Optimistic - 25%
Pessimistic - 35%
A doomsday cataclysmist - 40%
Meaning that 75% of persons surveyed (mainly conservative Christians) are pessimistic regarding the future of the United States.

BUT NOTE: Americans were not always so pessimistic. In the 19th. and early 20th. centuries, people were very optimistic as to the future of the country. Believed things were improving and going to get better and better.

Question: Was the optimism justified??
On the one hand, there was a lot of good happening.... medical, technology, education, social efforts, political freedoms, religious adherence, economic growth, etc.

Still, they faced "life as we know it!!" - human nature, failings, war, crime, economic recessions, illness, death, apathy, indifference, political corruption!!

Question: What happened? Where did the optimism go?? Answer: (Speculation) - it died when they failed to reach and accomplish our ideal utopia. WW!, Great Depression, WWII, etc.

So, What should our stance be today???
Answer: balanced, Biblical, ..... probably better.

Reasons for Optimism - from a 19th. Century American viewpoint.

1. God's still in control (on the throne) Fill in the blank: God is greater than ________

#2. His promises still stand. Matt. 16:18 The Kingdom will do more than survive. It will thrive.

#3. His purpose is unchanged. It is still to: draw (man), save (souls), and transform (lives)
Luke 19:10 I Tim. 2:3-4 These apply to individuals and to the nation

#4. We are still a Christian nation. 80% claim Christianity. 66% say this is a Christian nation.

#5. God does not quickly abandon His people. Example: Israel - pre- exile, in exile. He is NOT done with us until we're done with Him!

#6. His Spirit still works. John 5:17 - this has not changed. Awakening is still possible. However, Revival is not the norm, it's the exception.

#7. We still have a say in our destiny. Jer. 18:7-10 - example: Ninevah. Inhabitants have a great deal of choice in what happens. It's in our power to turn things around.

#8. We're not blessed solely on our righteousness. Deut. 9:6 Often, in places where people were the least churched, God blessed the most.

#9. He's brought us through worse. ie: the Revolution - going against England. Economic failures in '29, post revolution politics - much conflict - almost resulted in 13 nations, rather than 13 states in one nation. Civil War, World wars.

#10. We remain extremely blessed. Question: are these really hard times? Are people literally dying of starvation? etc.

#11. He still works good out of the bad. Rom. 8:28

#12. His time table differs from ours. 2 Pet. 3:3-4 2 Pet. 3:8-9 . We're a "microwave" society.

The End of the Book says that "we win". - Revelation.

Meanwhile - Rom:8:31