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Opening the Scrolls

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Opening the Scrolls

Text:  Revelation 5

Big Idea:  Live for eternity.

Purpose:  To help people understand that they should live a life that will please the One who has an eternal claim to their lives.

Introduction:

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (published in 1852)

            -follow the life of a slave named Tom – sold from his master, taken from his wife and children, trying to hold on to God as he is bought and sold, until he ends up in the hands of a thoroughly wicked man named Simon Legree.

            Legree has in mind to make Tom the foreman of his slaves – but in order to do this, he believes it necessary to force Tom to beat and whip the other slaves.

            Tom, striving to live for Christ – refuses to commit this sin, and for his obedience to God’s commands, he receives a vicious beating.

            While recovering from his beating, Tom is visited by another of Legree’s slaves, named Casssy, and she advised Tom to merely go along with Legree’s desires, and let go of God.

            “It’s all in vain for you to struggle.  You are in the devil’s hands; - he is the strongest, and you must give up.”  “There is no use calling on the Lord, - He never hears.”

            -from Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Tie to Asia Minor - felt like God never visits. Christ did not yet return.

            -in the hands of Roman rule

            -persecuted for their faith

            -waiting for Christ to return

                        -but He still had not come back

            -they may have wondered, Does God ever hear us?

                        -Is he in control, or are we under the thumb of the devil’s power?

Tie to our day - does God rule in the hearts of humans? 

            -We see decaying of accepted moral standards,

                        -exulting of God's name being defamed. 

Question could be asked:  Does God have a claim on our world?

            -or are we under the rule of the devil?

Set-up:  Christ has already spoken a word to the churches in Asia Minor, this scene in heaven shows His authority is not limited to the churches.

Sermon Body:

*There is a battle going on for the rights to your soul.

            -religious ideas

                        -Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, New Age

                        -or more common – take what you like – make your own religion

                                    -combining philosophers, religious leaders

                                    -maybe even some of Jesus’ teaching

                        -this can sound so good

                                    -but deceptive

                                    -keep Christ’s name

                                                -and deny Christ’s right to be the only Lord of our lives

            -cultural movements

                        -call for free expression of self, defiance of any criticism

                        -despise the idea of sin

                                    -no sexual morals, no-one else can tell you what to do

                        -and it seems as though

                                    -in our culture, the so-called “moral” people

                                    -are the ones who never say anything is forbidden

            -the illusion of self-governing

                        -That I can decide for myself

                        -I do not have to submit to anyone else

                                    -I have a radical freedom to do what I want

                                    -don’t have to listen to church, politicians, teachers, parents, boss

                                    -just follow my own standards

                        The irony is – this is Satanism

                                    -the idea that we are each our own gods – we determine our destiny

                                    -we belong to ourselves

            This is a battle – to shape the way you view your life

                        -fooling many into believing that God has no claim on their lives

                        -but friends in Christ – we will be ruled by someone or something

                        -our souls have pledged allegiance to something

                                    -whether we know it or not

*The condition of your soul is revealed by your priorities.

            -which is seen by where you pay your attention

                        -what’s important to you?

                                    -look at spending, time, focus (obsession)

                                    -even if it is just having a good time – then you worship yourself

            -refer to mobile ESPN commercial

                        -customer constantly consults his sports network

                                    -even for advice with his girlfriend

            -previous days - battle was angel and demon on shoulders

            -today - it is your favorite pastimes - at your convenience.

What claim does Christ have?

*Christ holds the deed to the universe.

            -begin to explain the scene in Revelation 5

                        -the royal chamber – and the scroll – which is a deed to God’s universe

                        -scroll with seven seals – either a will – or a deed for property

                        And the Apostle John is saddened

                                    -because it seems as though no one can open the scroll

                                    -only the rightful owner, heir of a will, can open it

                        -and it seems as though God’s will will not be read

                        -and God’s property will go unclaimed

            -he has the right because he is the lamb – sacrifice

                        -His death showed Him faithful to God

                        -gave up His life

                        -and now the deed to God’s universe is His

            This deed – will, will be opened

                        -and God’s final plan will be realized

                        -to the delight of Asial Minor

                                    -who longed for God’s justice

                                    -who longed to see Christ’s rule realized

*Christ's sacrifice has given Him a claim over you.

            -REFLECTIVE:  death would end any claim

                        -if he died, can he claim us any longer

                        -this will - seals a place for us in eternity

            One of the themes we run into in this book

                        -where is your name

                        -where is your allegiance

                                    -because there is no middle ground or straddling the fence in this battle

            If you belong to God

                        -then this title is yours as well – for giving your life to Him

            If you belong to Satan (or are opposed to God)

                        -then this will and testament

                        -is not an inheritance – but a judgment

            God will proclaim judgment

                        -justice will be served

                        -for those who have opposed God – this is bad news

                        -for those who wait for Him – good news for eternity

                                    -the battle that rages – will be won by Christ

*Let your attention prove Christ is your priority.

Conviction - prick people with their attention.

            -demonstrate how we live like the world claims us

Call - to live for Christ

            -setting aside the ways of the world

            -look at habits and disciplines

            -habitual practices - tv, sports, hobbies

                        -do they choke out Christ

            -make room with new habits

            -disciplines - prayer, devotion, worship, tithe, service

                        -these can change a destiny

            -can be an act of sacrifice

            -so that you have a claim to that deed

Conclusion:

Uncle Tom - facing Legree.  Legree wants him to brutalize other slaves.  Tom says, you may own my mind and body, but my soul belongs to the Lord.  I could make life better here by obeying you, but I have eternity to worry about.

“Master, I know you can do dreadful things, but… (stretches his arms up), but after you’ve killed the body, there’s no more you can do. And Oh, there’s all eternity to come after that…”

            -from Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Do you have this perspective?

            Today the battle may rage – you may wonder whether the devil is in charge

            -But the deed is in Christ’s hand

            -and there is all of eternity yet to come.

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