A Devastating Judgment

Amos #10: an exposition of Amos 8:1-14. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 20, 2014.

Intro:
One of the chief attributes of our God is His loving, patient grace.  Though our God is altogether holy, different, distinct, set apart; He is also loving, gracious and merciful.  Those are marvelous words, “Slow to anger.”  I find tremendous peace in them.  I’m grateful that God is forgiving and kind in dealing with me and my many faults and failures.  I’m grateful for a loving Father who gives “without a lecture” and who meets my every need.  At the same time, if I am faithful to the teaching of the Scripture, I must acknowledge that His wrath is just and righteous.  I should glory in His judgment as I do in His mercy.  That’s not easy.  It is one thing to glory in God’s unmatched mercy it is another to glory in His unmatched judgment.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  It was the message of God’s judgment Amos was called to deliver to the northern kingdom of Israel.  A message that filled his heart with sorrow and his eyes with tears.  Amos knew God’s judgment would be devastating.  He also knew it was just.  Our text this evening is found in the 8th chapter of Amos.

Text: Amos 8:1-14

Amos was given a series of visions.
A swarm of desert locust devouring everything in sight.
Amos objected, “No, Lord.  How can Jacob stand?  He is so small.”
The Lord relented.
Then a great fire devouring even the depths of the great sea.
Again, “O, Lord please cease.  How can Jacob stand?  His is so small.”
Once again the Lord relented.
Then a plumb line.
No appeal this time.

Now comes the 4th vision – a basket of summer fruit.

From it we are reminded that…

Thesis: The constant rejection of God’s gracious call to repentance leads to a devastating, debilitating judgment.

God’s grace is not without limit.
His patience does come to an end.
Grace is not owed – a grace that is owed is not grace!

It is a dangerous thing to turn a deaf ear to God’s gracious, merciful call to repentance.

There are 4 things I want to point out as we work our way through this text.

  1. The prophet announces God’s sovereign and righteous judgment.  (8:1-3)
  2.  God’s judgment is in response to flagrant, persistent unrighteousness.  (8:4-6)
  3.  God’s judgment will be unrelenting.  (8:7-10)
  4.  God’s judgment removes the means of repentance and renewal.  (8:11-14)

 

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Our Confident Hope

Hebrews #15: an exposition of Hebrews 6:13-20. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 20, 2014.

Intro:
Do you ever feel like giving up?  Do you ever just want to quit?  Trying to live out your faith consistently in a culture that is increasingly hostile is emotionally and spiritually draining.  Do you, at times, feel like throwing in the towel and walking away?  The loss of hope is devastating.  Without hope you won’t last five minutes.  Hope is that essential as a small, struggling band of Hebrew believers in Rome discovered.  They were 2nd generation believers.  They did not hear Jesus directly they heard the message from those who had heard him.  But the joy of new found faith soon faded as their families rejected them and the government of Rome persecuted them.  Many had already walked away.  Others were considering it when the writer of Hebrews took pen in hand to plead with them to remain faithful to their calling.  In seeking to encourage them he warned of superficial faith, he rebuked their immaturity and then insisted that he was certain of better things for them.  Now he desires to inspire their hope.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews chapter 6 beginning with verse 13.

Text: Hebrews 6:13-20

There are times when doubts increase.

Doubts tend to increase when things you believe should never happen, happen.

  • I trusted in Christ – yet I got sick.
  • I believed the gospel, I try to live for Christ – yet I lost my job.
  • My faith cost me a relationship.
  • My faith put a strain on my marriage.
  • This is not supposed to happen.
  • I thought only “good” would come of my faith in Christ?

Doubts multiply when things you believe should happen, don’t happen!

  • I thought all my troubles would vanish.
  • I thought I would always feel the way I did when I was “saved.”
  • I thought people at church would be really nice.

Doubts intensify when things you believe should happen now, happen later.

  • Most of us are not very patient.

The biblical writer is wondering what he could say to these Hebrew believers that would inspire them?  What could he say that would give them hope?  Father Abraham!  That will cause them to sit up and take notice.  Abraham was the ultimate example of faith and hope.

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, So shall your offspring be.  19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  22 That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness.  (Romans 4:18-22)

As we work our way through the text here in Hebrews 6 we are reminded that…

Thesis: Our confidence in the face of great adversity rest securely in the certainty of God’s word, His unquestioned character and the priestly work of the Lord Jesus.

There are three things I want to point out.

  1. Our hope is anchored by the promise of God.  (6:13-16)
  2. Our hope is secured by our God’s impeccable character.  (6:17-18)
  3. Our hope is guaranteed by the work of Christ.  (6:19-20)
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Standing Firm

Amos #09: an exposition of Amos 7:10-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 13, 2014.

Intro:

There are times that we, as the people of God, are called to take a difficult stand.  Our message is not always cheered.  There are those who are offended by what we have to say.  Some are angered by our message, others want our voices silenced.  It’s hard to consistently stand and declare the truth of God especially if you want to be “liked.”  I want to be liked.  I don’t like to upset people.  I hate it when someone is offended by what I say or do.  So obviously I’m in the right line of work because no one is ever upset with the pastor!  Don’t you find yourself at times biting your lip at work?  Things are being said.  People are discussing issues of the day and there is something you really want to say but you know if you do – it could get ugly.  Haven’t you been at a family gathering and said to yourself, “Don’t say it.  Just walk away.  It’s not worth it?”  Yet there are times when you can’t be silent.  Times when it would be wrong to walk away.  How do we remain faithful to our calling as God’s people in a hostile environment?  Amos was from the Southern Kingdom.  He is in the North declaring God’s coming judgment.  The people of Israel are looking around and wondering, “What is wrong with this guy?”  They were enjoying economic and political freedom.  They were enjoying a level of prosperity not experienced since the days of David and Solomon.  This country bumpkin from the backwaters of Judah must be out of his mind.  Most wrote him off as eccentric but one powerful leader decided to address him head on.  Our text this evening is found in Amos chapter 7 beginning with verse 10.

Text: Amos 7:10-17

This is an interesting interlude.
Setting forth an exchange between Amaziah priest at Bethel and the prophet Amos.
Bethel was one of the two original shrines established at the founding of the Northern Kingdom.
We read about it in 1 Kings 12.

Jereboam was concerned that if folks returned to Judah to worship they would be draw back to the Southern Kingdom.  Thus he had 2 golden calfs made and said, “Here are your gods who brought you up out of Egypt.”  He then established shrines in Bethel and Dan and appointed priests to serve this new national religious system.  Amaziah is apparently the chief priest or high priest at Bethel.

Our text records what happened during this exchange.  From it we learn that…

Thesis: Standing firm in the face of adversity demands a realistic understanding of culture and a confident conviction of the truth of God’s Word.

Let me point out a few things as we work our way through the text.

  1. Standing firm demands you understand that times of testing are inevitable.  (7:10-13)
  2. Standing firm demands we take seriously God’s call and commission.  (7:14-15)
  3. Standing firm demands that you faithfully deliver God’s Word no matter what the cost.  (7:16-17)
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Confident of Better Things

Hebrews #14: an expositition of Hebrews 6:9-12. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 13, 2014.

Intro:

What do you do when someone you love is in great danger?  What do you do when someone you love is headed for sure and certain disaster?  Do you simply try to reassure them of your love?  Do you seek to “affirm” them or do you stop them?  If your child is heading towards the electrical outlet with that piece of wire, is it time for a stern rebuke or an affirming, “Good boy?”  Affirmation in a time of danger is not love it is treachery.  The stern rebuke is the loving act.  That is the position of the writer of Hebrews in chapter 6.  He has sounded a dreadful warning.  Beginning in 5:11 and running down through 6:8 his words seem harsh.  But if you listen carefully you will hear them filled with love.  He is driven by genuine pastoral concern.  Their souls are at stake.  They are considering walking away from the faith.  They are contemplating abandoning the gospel.  To do so would not only be disastrous it would be damning.  These second generation believers are storm-tossed.  They have been rejected by their families and are being persecuted by the Roman government.  Their world has been rocked.  They desire relief and who could blame them?  Add to the pressure they are under their lack of spiritual maturity and you have the makings of a spiritual disaster.

In Matthew 13 Jesus teaches 5 “mystery parables.”  These are parables dealing with the nature and growth of the Kingdom of God.  The first, the parable of the sower, makes it clear that genuine believers produce fruit.  Those who have the life of God in them express that life in the way they live.  The second, the parable of the weeds, makes it clear that there will always be false professors mixed in with true believers.  Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 7:16-21 not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven.”  We do not know the hearts of men thus a caution is given don’t recklessly seek to root out all false professors for you will destroy true believers in the process.  You leave it to the Lord at the time of the harvest.  This sets up the tension in which we live in the church.  We are to test the fruit.  We are to look for signs of life.  It is our duty, when there is no fruit, to lovingly confront our fellow believers for the sake of their soul.  At the same time, because we do not know the hearts of men, we are not to be the judge, jury and executioner!  We are to judge and we are to show restraint.  That is often a hard line to walk.  We err when we fail to do one or the other.

The writer of Hebrews states his warning with strong, startling language so as to awake the conscience of the false professor.  Now in 6:9-12 he seeks to reassure the struggling saint.

Text: Hebrews 6:9-12

The key to this section is found in the opening phrase of verse 9.  “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things…”

Though I have stated strongly the danger of turning from the Gospel I’m confident that you won’t!  The writer is confident because of the character of God and because of the what he has seen in the life of these believers.

As we work through these few verses we are going to see that…

Thesis: The mature believer’s hope is anchored by the character and comfort of God and fortified by focused and sustained striving after holiness.

3 things I want to point out along the way.

  1. The mature believer rests securely in the character and comfort of God.  (6:9-10)
  2. The mature believer remains focused to the very end.  (6:11)
  3. The mature believer patterns his life after those faithful saints who have gone before.  (6:12)
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Balancing Mercy and Wrath

Amos #8: an exposition of Amos 7:1-9. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 6, 2014.

Intro:

Doctrine divides.  That’s its purpose.  It divides between truth and error/right and wrong.  This is why doctrine matters and it matters supremely.  What you believe determines how you live.  Your conduct is the direct result of your worldview or your core values.  I would argue that the key doctrine is your doctrine of God.  Who is God?  What is He like?  What does He require?  Can He be known?  Has He revealed himself?  If so, what has He revealed?  Can you see how that is going to affect everything else?  What is your doctrine of God?  Of course we must acknowledge at the outset that your doctrine of God – whatever it is – is inadequate.  He is infinite.  He is beyond description.  Language cannot contain Him.  Your mind cannot adequately conceive Him.  You can’t put Him in a box, you don’t have a box big enough!  We also must acknowledge we can only know what He has revealed.  He has revealed himself in the Scriptures.  This book is His book.  Its purpose is to reveal Him.

From the book we know He is:

  • Holy
  • Righteous
  • Loving
  • Merciful
  • Gracious
  • Kind
  • Jealous
  • Full of wrath
  • Powerful
  • Creative
  • Transcendant
  • Everywhere present
  • All knowing
  • Eternal
  • Savior
  • Redeemer
  • Comforter
  • Trinity
  • Just to name a few.

He is all of these and more.  We must also understand that God is not a composite of all of these parts.  He is all of these.  He is not loving with a little wrath mixed in along with a pinch of transcendence.  He is love.  He is wrath.  He is transcendant.  He is fully all of these things.  That means when we speak of Him we are constantly seeking to maintain the balance of the biblical picture.  That is often a difficult line to walk.  This is especially true when we deal with His righteous judgment.  Our text this evening is found in the 7th chapter of Amos.

Text: Amos 7:1-9

Chapter 7 begins another major section of the book.
We find a series of visions given to Amos concerning God’s judgment of Israel.
Chapter 6 made it clear judgment is coming.
That judgment will be devastating.

As we work our way through the 3 visions given here in the opening verses of chapter 7 we are reminded that…

Thesis: Biblical preaching seeks to maintain the balance between God’s mercy and His righteous wrath.

There are 3 things I want to point out along the way.

  1. God graciously yet sovereignly declares the coming judgment.
  2. The prophet passionately intercedes on behalf of God’s wayward people.
  3. God is patient and merciful but judgment ultimately comes.
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The Demands of Maturity

Hebrews #13: an exposition of Hebrews 6:1-8. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist church on Sunday morning, July 6, 2014.

Intro:

The story is told that the evangelist D.L. Moody was walking down the streets of Chicago when a man stumbled out of a neighborhood bar and bumped into Mr. Moody.  Moody was jarred and the man fell to the ground.  Moody stopped and reached down to help the man up.  When the man look up and saw it was Moody, he became very excited and shouted, “Mr. Moody I’m one of your converts!”  To which Moody replied, “Sir you must be for you are certainly not one of the Lord’s.”  One of the unintended consequences of our doctrine of eternal security is a swallow understanding of conversion.  Too often it is assumed that all that is needed is an intellectual acceptance of biblical truth and a confession of that acceptance.  Thus people confidently profess they are saved because at such and such time they walked an aisle or said a prayer.  Never mind nothing changed.  Never mind there was been no further interest in spiritual matters, growth in spiritual knowledge or holy living.  Such an understanding of salvation is a deception.  It is not salvation at all.  Biblical salvation is the result of the working of God’s spirit awakening the soul to an awareness of sin’s presence in the life of the sinner.  Once that sin is known there is an understanding that the presence of such sin condemns.  An awareness that the sinner deserves the wrath and judgment of God.  Then comes a revelation of God’s mercy in the provision of the Lord Jesus.  In response to the beauty and wonder of Christ the sinner throws himself on the mercy of God in Christ submitting to the Lordship of Jesus and pledging to follow or obey him.  With this conversion comes the presence of the Holy Spirit within the life of the believer and the Spirit begins the work of sanctification which will be an on-going work until that believer stands in the presence of God without spot or blemish.  With life comes growth.  If there is no growth there is no life.

“Well pastor thanks for the theological moment but what’s the point?  Why are you tell us this?” We are heading into turbulent waters.  The tide has been turning for sometime.  Our faith, once dominant, is now marginalized.  According to recent studies 1 out of 3 Americans said the first amendment goes to far in the freedom it promises.  Specifically its promise to protect freedom of religion.  A growing number want to limit our freedom of worship and put limits on what we can preach.  In the name of tolerance the culture is becoming increasingly intolerant of our beliefs.  What will sustain us in the storm that lies ahead is a solid, biblical understanding of conversion which is the foundation of spiritual growth and maturity.  Maturity, growing up in Christ, is the call of God for every believer.  Our text this morning is found in the 6th chapter of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrews 6:1-8

Verse 1 clearly indicates what follows is a continuation of what has just been stated in chapter 5.  There the writer rebuked the willful immaturity of the believers in Rome.  They had grown sluggish of ear.  No longer interested in spiritual matters or biblical truth.  As a result they had digressed in their faith.  No longer able to take solid food they were back to nursing on a bottle.  Now the writer calls on the church to “leave the elementary things and go on to maturity.”

As we work through the opening verse of chapter 6 we discover that…

Thesis: The call to mature faith demands a solid foundation and an understanding spirit.

There are three things I want to point out along the way.

  1. The mature believer is thoroughly grounded in the truth.  (6:1-3)
  2. The mature believer understands the devastating consequences of abandoning the gospel.      (6:4-6)
  3. The mature believer accepts God’s sovereign judgment in response to the life lived.  (6:7-8)
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The Wilfully Immature

Hebrews #12: an exposition of Hebrews 5:11-14. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, June 29, 2014.

Intro:

It is the universal desire of every child.  The desire to grow up.  “When I get big I’m going to     .”  You can fill in the blank.  “Be a fireman,” “a professional baseball player,” “teacher” or “ride that really big roller coaster at the fair!”  Whatever that child sees as the sign that they have achieved adulthood.  There is a joy, an excitement, a longing to grow up.  “I’m going to go to that school when I get big.”  When you are young it feels as if that time will never come.  When something happens to arrest or halt that growth it is universally considered a tragedy.  Most tragic of all is the one who just refuses to grow up.  It’s sad when you run into someone from high school and though it has been 20 years or 30 years they have not moved on.  They’ve not taken on adult responsibilities.  They’ve not learned to act like a grown up.  Isn’t it sad to see a 50-something throw a temper tantrum?  More tragic, is the “Peter Pan” Christian.  The believer who refuses to grow up.  The one who has never grown beyond those early days in Christ.  They have known Christ for decades but have never grown beyond those first struggling steps of faith.  They do not know anymore about Christ or the things of God today than they learned as a 10 year-old in Vacation Bible School.  Yes, we are called to a childlike faith but not a childish faith.  It is the willfully immature the writer of Hebrews addresses in this next section.  Our text this morning is found at the end of chapter 5 beginning with verse 11.

Text: Hebrews 5:11-14

The writer has just demonstrated the superiority of Jesus in his priestly function.
He our Great High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
One who identifies with sinful humanity.
One who sympathizes with our weaknesses.
One divinely appoint as priest and king.
He pointed to Jesus as High Priest to inspire those who are struggling.
Weighed down by persecution and rejection they are on the verge of giving up.

His solution?  Look to Christ!  Take your eyes off of your struggles and burdens and look to the one who is able to deliver you.  Look to him who has walked this path; who has felt this sting; who emerged victorious.  Look to Him and find mercy and grace.  The writer knows this congregation.  He knows there are those who do not understand.  Here he expresses his frustration.  In love he rebukes them.  He rebukes them and instructs them out of love because he knows their souls are in danger.  To abandon Christ is no small thing.  To walk away from the gospel is to walk away from your only hope.  Yes, in their distress they need encouragement and hope but they also need to be warned that their souls are in danger!  Assurance in times of danger is not love.  Thus he rather bluntly addresses their willful immaturity.

As we work through this brief passage we discover that…

Thesis: God sovereignly rebukes the willfully immature.

The language in this passage is stern.
It is direct – you would have to “work” to misunderstand what he is saying.
Does this language bother you?
Does it seem “out of place” to you?
There is a time to encourage and a time to rebuke.

I want to point out 3 things along the way.

  1. The willfully immature believer stubbornly refuses to grow up.  (5:11-12)
  2. Such immaturity stems from a neglect of both doctrine and practical holiness.  (5:12b-13)
  3. Spiritual maturity is demonstrated by the ability to consistently discern good and evil and thus live righteously.  (5:14)

Conclusion:
We have been called to a child like faith.  A faith that believes and trusts wholly in the truth and authority of God’s Word.  May God grant us a passion for spiritual growth and development.  A longing to move beyond the elementary things of the faith and launch out into the deep.

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A Hope-Inspiring Vision

Hebrews #11: an exposition of Hebrews 5:1-10. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, June 22, 2014.

Intro:
There is nothing worse, nothing more depressing or soul-crushing than the loss of hope.  If there is hope then you can endure most anything.  As long as there is a light at the end of the tunnel you can press on.  The small struggling band of believers in Rome where huddled around the dying embers of their once vibrant hope.  They came to faith with great enthusiasm believing that Jesus was indeed the Christ and that a new day was dawning.  After multiple setbacks, after the sting of family rejection and state sponsored persecution hope was all but gone.  Many had in fact walked away from the faith.  Others were close to doing the same.  Maybe they were wrong.  Maybe Jesus wasn’t the Christ.  Maybe the rabbi was right.  All they knew for certain was this is not what they thought it would be.  In the rush of new-found faith they flourished.  Their hearts were full, their confidence undaunted; but, over time confidence waned.  Their hearts became burdened and their faith was failing.  With love, patience and yet firmness the writer of Hebrews pleaded with them to remain faithful.  Having warned them of the peril of unbelief and the need for whole-hearted trust the writer pointed them again to Jesus, God’s final and ultimate revelation.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews chapter 5 beginning with verse 1.

Text: Hebrews 5:1-10

Life in this fallen, broken world is a struggle.
Being a child of God doesn’t change that.
There are times of great struggle and intense trial.
Yes, there are days of sunshine and joy but also periods of dark clouds and heartache.
This world is not our home.
This is an alien environment.
We are pilgrims here our home is elsewhere!

The biblical writer, steeped in Old Testament theology and symbols, pointed the struggling congregation toward a very familiar image.  He pointed them to the High Priest.  It was an impressive sight.  Once a year, the Day of Atonement, the High Priest in all his finery with great pomp and ceremony took the blood of the lamb and entered behind the veil into the presence of God.  There he stood as the people’s representative and offered sacrifice for the sins of the nation.  Through that act the sins of the people were “covered” for one year.  It was a high and holy day.

Exodus 28 prescribes the garments to be worn by the Priest.  Garments filled with spiritual significance.  He first donned a linen tunic.  Over this was placed a blue robe.  At the bottom of this robe were pomegranates woven from blue, purple and scarlet yarn.  Intermittently there were golden bells that rang with his every move.  A richly woven multicolored sash held the robe in place.  Next came the apron-like ephod, woven of golden threads, finely twisted linen, and blue, purple and scarlet yarns.  The shoulder pieces of the ephod each bore a large onyx stone, set in gold.  The names of the 12 tribes were engraved on the stones, 6 on one and 6 on the other.  Then fastened to the front of the ephod with golden chains was the breastplate.  The breastplate was a 9 inch square tapestry of gold, blue, purple, scarlet and linen that bore 4 rows of 3 stones, each engraved with the name of one of the tribes of Israel.  Finally the Priest was crowned with a turban of linen, bearing a plate of pure gold with the Hebrew inscription, “Holy to the LORD.”

More impressive than the sight of these priestly garments is the spiritual significance they declared.  The Priest entered the presence of God bearing the weight of Israel on his shoulders and carrying them near to his heart.  It was an inspiring sight.  A sight that buoyed and inspired the heart of every Jew but the writer of Hebrews points beyond that mere shadow to the reality behind it all.  He pointed to Christ, our great High Priest!

As we work our way through this text we are reminded of the fact that…

Thesis:  Hope, in times of great testing and severe trial, is found in Christ our sympathetic, delivering, uniquely qualified High Priest.

There are 2 things I want to call to your attention.

  1. In times of great stress you need a vision that inspires hope.  (5:1-4)
  2. The glory of Christ provides the ultimate hope-inspiring vision.  (5:5-10)

Conclusion:

  • Troubled, burdened, hope gone?  Look to Christ!
  • You faith almost gone?
  • You want to turn back?
  • Look to Christ your sympathetic, delivering, uniquely qualified High Priest.
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Remaining Faithful in Difficult Times

Hebrews #10: an exposition of Hebrews 4:14-16. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, June 15, 2014.

Intro:
Do you ever wonder if anyone cares?  Do you wonder if anybody knows what you’re going through?  Are there times when you wonder if God really has knows and if He does, does He care?  He spoke and the world came into being.  He is powerful, majestic, awesome why would He care about what goes on in your life?  Why would He care how you feel?  He has a universe to run.  He’s concerned with the orbit of planets and the placement of stars.  He is focused on fine tuning galaxies who are you to merit His attention?  If by some strange fate He did look your direction how could He possibly understand how you feel?  How could He possibly know what it’s like to have a rotten day?  How could He know what it is like to stand in line forever in the express lane because some idiot, three people in front of you, can’t read, “10 items or less?”  How can He understand and relate to everything from a child’s broken toy to a spouse’s bitter sorrow and loneliness?  He can because in all honesty He can say, “I’ve been there.”  That is the focus of our text this morning found in the fourth chapter of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrew 4:14-16

The biblical writer is concerned about a small, struggling congregation in Rome.  These blessed saints have been buffeted by all kinds of trials and temptations.  They have been ostracized by their families.  These are Jews who have come to trust in Jesus as the Messiah.  They have put their faith and trust in Christ.  As a result their families want nothing to do with them.  In addition they have faced the wrath of the Roman.  They’ve experienced the first waves of persecution from the Empire.  Everything in their world says to them, “Abandon your faith!”  There is that part of them that is wondering if it is worth it to continue in belief.  Maybe they should just turn back.  Surely that would bring some relief.  Many have done just that.  With a pastoral love the biblical writer pleads with them to continue in belief.  Continue to trust.  Having heard the voice of God don’t harden your heart.  Don’t turn back.  He has warned them of the peril of unbelief.  He’s told them there is a Sabbath rest for those who believe.  For those who trust wholeheartedly in Christ.  He began his letter with an argument declaring the superiority of Christ.  Now he returns to the subject demonstrating that Jesus is a superior High Priest.

Our take away from this text is that…

Thesis: Faithfulness in difficult times demands a confident confession based on a biblical understanding, fueled by effectual prayer.

There are three things to note as this argument unfolds.

  1.  Faithfulness in difficult times demands that you hold fast to your confession of Christ as great high priest.  (4:14)
  2.  Holding fast to your confession demands a clear, biblical understanding of Christ as your sympathetic, gracious, merciful high priest.  (4:15)
  3.  Such an understanding enables bold, honest and candid prayer laying hold of God’s grace.  (4:16)

Conclusion:
Dear saint are you struggling?  Beleaguered believer are you battle-worn?  Child of God have you fallen?  Look to Christ.  Lay hold of your confession of Christ as apostle and high priest.  Come with confident, honest candid prayer and find grace and mercy from the hand of your sympathetic high priest.

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Soul-Searching Questions

Amos #06: an exposition of Amos 5:18-27. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, June 8, 2014.

Intro:
Have you ever had the wind taken out of your sails?  Ever been confident of something only to go down in flames?  I had been anticipating it for months.  I talked about it for weeks.  It was in the bag.  No question.  The day before I told everyone, “Tomorrow I’m Mr. Independent Wheels.”  Boy was it humiliating to be driven to school the next morning.  Did you know they don’t give you your license when you run a stop sign during the test?  I was asked to read Scripture the day of the big chapel service.  The one day when students led everything.  I was of course the obvious choice.  I was a speech major.  I had done very well in that interpretive reading class.  The student body and faculty would at last hear the Scripture read properly in chapel.  I worked on it for weeks.  I was subtle yet appropriately dramatic.  The pace was good.  Diction perfect.  Inflection in all the right places.  I walked confidently to the pulpit.  Announced the text and began.  It was masterful…for the 3/4 of the reading.  Then it all fell apart.  I left the platform in disgrace.  Friends said, “What happened?”  Foes said, “Hey Harris.  Nice job.”  I thought I was ready.  I was confident nothing could go wrong.  Neither experience proved to be life crippling just embarrassing.  But what happens when your confidence causes you to be wrong about that which is most important?  What happens when your confident assumptions prove to be damning?  Our text this evening is found in Amos chapter 5.

Text: Amos 5:18-27

The first 16 verses of chapter 5 are a lament, a song of mourning.
The prophet declares that Israel has fallen and will never rise.
This judgment comes because they have:
Substituted religion for devotion to God
They have practiced injustice
They have trampled the poor
They have hated righteousness

He pleads with the people to seek the Lord and live.
Seek good and not evil.
Love good and hate evil.

As we pick up with verse 18 we discover…

Thesis: The words of the prophet Amos cause the prudent believer to ask some soul-searching questions.

It is clear in the the text the nation of Israel suffers from self-deception.
Their future does not hold what they think it holds.
Their worship is not really worship.
Their god is not the God of the Bible.

This is a sobering text.  It ought to cause us to pause and reflect.  After all this is not a word to one of Israel’s pagan neighbors.  This is to the people of God.  On the surface all seemed well.  They were faithful to worship and attend to ritual and sacrifice.  They enjoyed a robust economy.  Their was no external threat.  It seemed they were blessed.  The truth is they were dead, they just didn’t know it.  Such a text should drive us to ask some soul-searching questions.  I want us to consider 3 such questions.

  1. Is your assurance of future bliss based on truth or your mistaken perceptions?  (5:18-20)
  2. Is your worship of God genuine worship or meaningless ritual merely storing up wrath for the day of judgment?  (5:21-25)
  3. This God you worship: is He the God of the Bible or a god of your own sinful imagination?  (5:26-27)
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