God's Longings for Your Life #3: Renewal
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 14, 2014
*Over the past two Sundays, we looked at some of God's greatest desires for our lives. And we began with God's rescue: God wants to rescue all of us from our sin and eternal death. His commandments help with that, because they teach us how much we need to be rescued by God.
*No matter how hard we try to obey God's laws, we find that can never keep them all. And the just punishment for our sin is eternity in the horrible place called hell. But God loves us so much that He wants to rescue us from that terrible fate, even though the only way He could do it was to come into the world as a man, and die on the cross for our sins.
*That's what the Son of God spoke about to His Heavenly Father in vs. 5-7:
5. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.
6. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure.
7. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come in the volume of the book it is written of Me to do Your will, O God.'''
*And that's why vs. 10-12 tell Christians that by God's:
10. . . will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices (i.e. the same Old Testament sacrifices), which can never take away sins.
12. But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
*One of God's greatest desires for your life is to rescue you from eternal death. And He will, if you will trust in our crucified and risen Savior Jesus Christ. But there's more, because God also wants to have a relationship with us. Jesus wants to be our best friend, and in John 15:13-15, Jesus said:
13. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
14. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
15. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends. . ."
*God the Father also wants to be our Heavenly Father. He wants all of us to be able to be able to sincerely pray, "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. . ." But we must be born again into the family of God, and we are born again when we receive God's Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
*God wants to rescue us, and He wants to have a close relationship with us. But Christians: God also wants to renew us. And all Christians need these times of spiritual renewal. Today's Scripture helps us see how we can be renewed. So let's begin by reading Hebrews 10:18-25.
*Way back in high school I used to have a muscle car. It was a 1966 Oldsmobile 442. It had a 400 cubic inch engine with 350 horsepower. That car was a rocket ship!
*Every once in a while, you'll see one of those great, old cars driving around. One of our neighbors up in West Monroe has an early sixties Corvette convertible. He gets it out of his garage every once in a while, when the weather is just right to put the top down. That car is beautiful. It looks like it's in mint condition. But that car had to be renewed! And Christians: God wants us to be renewed.
*One of the best Old Testament places to see this truth is in Isaiah 40:28-31. There God began with these questions:
28. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding.
29. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
30. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,
31. But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
*God wants His people to be renewed. One of the best New Testament places to see this truth is in Romans 12:1-2, where Paul said:
1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
*Christians: God wants us to be renewed, because we need to be renewed. Imagine that old Corvette without renewal. It would just be an old rust bucket. And we're a little like that on the inside. So God says: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." And today's Scripture helps us know how to be renewed.
1. First: Move closer to our Master.
*Christians: We have to move closer to our Master Jesus Christ. That's what God's Word urges us to do in vs. 22, when it says: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. . ." "Let us draw near," he says. Move closer to the Master.
*Verses 18-21 help us do this, because they put our focus on Jesus Christ and all He did for us on the cross. For example, in vs. 18, we see that we don't need any more sacrifice for our sins, because Jesus paid it all! Speaking of our sins, vs. 18 says: "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin."
*"Remission" -- That's the forgiveness of our sins, plus our freedom in Jesus Christ. This word "remission" includes the idea of release from prison, deliverance, pardon, and letting our sins go as if they had never been committed. We don't need any more sacrifice for our sins, because Jesus paid it all!
*And that's why vs. 19 says we have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus." As Christians we can have boldness to enter into the most holy place in the universe, because of the blood of Jesus Christ! Verse 20 rightly calls this "a new and living way," which Jesus has "consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh."
*When he talks about the veil of Jesus' flesh here, he's talking about the Lord's humanity. And the Lord's flesh surely was a veil, because while Jesus was in this world, His Godhood was hidden behind His humanity. If Jesus was just walking down the street, you could never tell He was God. But the Son of God took on our humanity, so He could take our sins when He died on the cross.
*Larry Kalajainen told about a Christian lady who was teaching English as a second language to young children. One day, a first grader brought a drawing of a skeleton to class, and the title across the top said: "Inside of Me." The poster was designed to teach children that everyone has a skeleton inside of them. The boy unfolded it, and proudly showed it to the class.
*One little girl from India was astounded at the thought that she and other people had this scary-looking skeleton inside of them. So she asked her teacher, "Even you got one of these inside you, Mrs. K?" Her teacher replied, "Yes, I have one too." Then, the little girl asked, "Even God got one inside him?" (1)
*Church: God didn't have to have a skeleton like ours, but He certainly got one, and He did that for us. God became a man for us. He even died on the cross for us. So our new and living way came through the veil of Christ's flesh.
*This veil also reminds us of the veil in the Old Testament Temple in Jerusalem.
*That veil covered the holiest place in the Temple, because in Old Testament times, God was almost always unapproachable. His glory rested on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. Only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies, only once a year, and only by the sprinkling of blood to protect him from death.
*Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God. In fact, anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die. Tradition also says that when the High Priest went inside the veil, they tied a scarlet rope around his ankle, so that if he fainted or died inside the veil, they could safely pull him back out.
*The veil in front of the Holy of Holies was no ordinary curtain. It was 60 feet high and 4 inches thick! But when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew 27:51 tells us that God tore that veil in two from top to bottom. God was showing us that the door to Heaven and to Him was opened through the cross of Jesus Christ.
*One pastor was telling the children how this veil miraculously split open. And a little boy asked, "How big was the hole?" The preacher answered, "Big enough for anyone to get through!" (2)
*And it IS big enough for anyone who will put their faith in Jesus Christ! So again in vs. 19, we have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus." And in vs. 22, God wants us to approach Him with great confidence: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. . ." God wants us to take a big, bold step, and move closer to our Master. -- That's one of the best things we can ever do for spiritual renewal.
2. But also hold on to your hope.
*Hold on to the hope we see in vs. 23: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." Here the KJV says this to all Christians: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)."
*This word "faith" is different from the word we see up in vs. 22. The word "faith" in vs. 22 is the original word usually translated as "faith," but the word here in vs. 23 is usually translated as "hope". It means our joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation, and God tells us to hold on tightly to our hope.
*One reason why is because life sometimes pulls real hard against our hope. Things that are unfair, things that hurt us, the stresses and strains of everyday life, evil influences, and our own shortcomings, all of these things can loosen our grip on hope. So God urges us to hang on tightly to our hope.
*Christians: God also urges us to hang on to our hope, because hope is an anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:19&20 puts it this way:
19. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
20. where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus.
*Our hope is an anchor, keeping us steady in the storms of life. A ship's anchor goes down to an invisible rock to hold the ship fast. The anchor of our hope goes up to Jesus, the invisible Rock of our Salvation.
*Some of us have been blessed to see the gigantic Niagara Falls. Up close, they are truly amazing. Just before the falls are very dangerous, violent rapids, but farther upstream, the river flows more gently and boats are able to travel. At that point there is a very important warning sign posted for the boaters: "DO YOU HAVE AN ANCHOR?"
*Well, do you have an anchor for your life? Do you have an anchor for your soul? -- If you are a Christian, you can say: "Yes, I do!" But that warning sign on the river also asks this question: "DO YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT?" God tells us right here in vs. 23, and He says: "Hold on!"
*"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." Hold on to your hope! That's one of the best things we can ever do for spiritual renewal.
3. But also be strongly committed to God's Church.
*This source of spiritual renewal is found in vs. 24&25, and here in the KJV, God's Word says:
24. . . Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
*The church is the Body of Jesus Christ, here in the world to do His will, and He wants us to be fully committed to His church. That means: Showing-up, growing-up and building-up.
 In the first part of vs. 25, God tells us to be committed by showing-up.
*He says we shouldn't be "forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is." Or as the NIV says: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing."
*Some people have gotten the idea that church doesn't matter. But they didn't get that idea from God! Yes, you can be a Christian without going to church. But you can't be a healthy, happy, renewed Christian without going to church.
 God wants us to show-up, so we can grow-up.
*Growing up in our hearts, learning to be more like the Lord Jesus Christ, being the people in vs. 24, who overflow with love and good works.
 God wants us to show-up, so we can grow-up, and so we can build-up each other in the Lord.
*In vs. 24, that means we try to "provoke" or "stir-up" one another to "love" and "good works." And the word-picture for "provoke" here is like sharpening a knife. The NIV says: "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." And the idea is to excite one another with a call to action.
*God wants us to spur each other on to love and good works, so yes, we come together to worship the Lord. But we also come together to help each other get fired-up about following Jesus.
*That's also why vs. 25 tells us to be "exhorting (or encouraging) one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." God wants us to encourage each other, helping each other to be all that we can be in Jesus. And we can help each other. Every single one of us can be a blessing to the Lord's Church.
*Back in 2003, I was invited to a Pastor's Conference in Washington D.C. David Barton of Wall Builders was the leader, and it was amazing to see the Christian history of our nation up close. During our free time, I happened to walk by the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. That wouldn't mean anything to most people, but it was a real wow for me, because that's where Abraham Lincoln went to church during the Civil War. And that's where Peter Marshall preached during World War II. Dr. Marshall was a great preacher, one of the most famous of his day, and he served as a Chaplain in the Senate.
*Well, I found the office door and asked them if I could see the sanctuary. The man said sure, and told me the way. It was pretty dark in there with just a little light coming through the stained glass windows, and nobody was around. But wow! -- Right in front of me was the pulpit where Peter Marshall preached! It was way up high, maybe 5 steps up to the platform and 7 more up to the pulpit itself.
*You know, it just didn't make sense to be so close, and not go up there. But it was way too dark to see behind the pulpit, so, I sort of got down on all fours, and was feeling my way up the stairs to the pulpit. That's when all the lights came on. -- Busted!
*The janitor got a good laugh out of seeing me on all fours, but that janitor just wanted me to be able to see. He even let me sit in the pew that President Lincoln used to sit on!
*Church: I will never be famous like Peter Marshall. I will never be Chaplain of the Senate. But that doesn't matter at all. The work that God has called me to do is just as important in His eyes. And the same thing is true for you.
*Every single one of us can be a blessing to God's Church. Every single one of us can make an everlasting difference in someone else's life! That's the power of commitment to the Lord's Church. And that's one of the reasons why God wants us to be renewed.
*Christians: God wants to renew us, and all Christians need these times of spiritual renewal. So move closer to our Master, hold on tightly to the hope you have in Jesus Christ, and be strongly committed to God's Church. And if you have never taken the first step of faith, call on the Lord Jesus Christ to save you right now, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) "Extraordinary Faith For Ordinary Time" by Larry R. Kalajainen - CSS Publishing Company, Inc, 1994 - Adapted from Sermonillustrations.com online illustration 11072004
(2) Sermonillustrations.com - 03132002
(3) Holwick illustration #2172 - SOURCE: Leadership - TITLE: Faith - AUTHOR: Paul Adams - DATE: Summer 1992 - TYPIST: Schrum/Holwick