First, a note:
If you'd like to print the whole year of the Bible reading plan that we're putting in the bulletin, it's here: http://bit.ly/rv38G6 or http://bit.ly/dhbrpdf It's called the M'Cheyne plan, named after the Scottish pastor, Robert Murray M'Cheyne who wrote it out in the 19th Century. More on him another day.
Evening Outline: Genesis 25
I'm putting the evening outline first because the outline was much shorter.
Do not trade it in...
The birthright of the grace of God
The value of God's grace
The greatness of God's provision
What are we trading our birthright for? Whether it is for our nation, our family, or ourselves?
What about our spiritual birthright? The one bequeathed by ages of martyrs for the faith of the Gospel?
Do we despise it by treating as replaceable? By acting like there are more important things?
If we lose it, there's no getting it back. It's gone.
Hold fast. To freedom in Christ. To the testimony of the Gospel. To the truth and power of the Word.
Morning Outline: Revelation 22:10-21
It's more of a semi-manuscript that gives way to an outline.
Starting at the End
January 1, 2012
How many of you have ever planned a trip? A vacation, a work trip, even a crazed shopping run through the mall?
How did you go about the planning? Making sure you have a good trip somewhere?
Even if it’s just to the grocery store, the better planning comes by looking at the end and working your way back to where you are. What, you don’t think that works in the grocery store? All my growing up years, we shopped at the Air Base Commissaries wherever Dad was stationed. Every two weeks, we’d load up all the coupons, the list, and grab two carts to work our way through the whole giant grocery store to stock up for the next two weeks. Now, at the time, they used a single line system to check out of the store. You got in the big line, and then went to whatever cashier was available next.
For the record, I think Wal-Mart should do that, too, but that’s not sermon material.
The big line worked its way backwards, no matter what base we were attached to, through the freezer section. You planned your shopping to work all the way through the store until you hit the cold stuff.
Likewise when you plan a trip. Rare is the occasion that you just get in the car and “go” wherever you want. Typically, you know where you want to go, but you make adjustment plans about what to do on the way. Even if you’re headed in a circle back to home, you know the destination.
So, as we talk about starting our year, let’s consider how we want our year to end.
And for Christians, that question is really part of a greater question: what about life? What do we want at the end of it all?
To answer that, let’s go to the end, and work our way backwards:
After all, for the Believer, the question is “What does God desire for me? Where does His will take me?” more than simply “What do I desire? Where do I want to go?”
So, let’s consider the ending. Fortunately for us, God has provided the ending of all our measurable time in the book of Revelation in the Bible. Revelation holds for us many mysteries, but it also contains the unlocking of some of our bigger questions.
It contains the end of what we will do and be before we are permanently in the presence of God. After Revelation comes eternity, where we will see clearly and know fully…
Let’s look at how John concludes the Bible:
Read Revelation 21:10-21
1: Do not seal up the words of this book. While John speaks this in Revelation, the Holy Spirit has inspired this for the whole Bible. Do not seal up the words of this book:
1. From yourself: it’s an oft-quoted saying “A Bible that is falling apart reveals a life that isn’t.” Be certain that your Bible collects no dust this year as you read it, spend time with it, and grow with your understanding of it.
2. From your circle of influence: another oft-quoted saying is that you may be the only Bible some people ever read. Many people own Bibles but never read them. Far too many of those people are driven to that by the actions and attitudes of those of us who claim the name of Christ. Do not let your life seal off the Bible from another.
3. From your circle of influence: this bears being made clearer, especially this year: politics matter. The election process in this country is a blessed right granted by God, that we elect our leaders and change governments without violence—at least that’s how it ought to be. Do allow your understanding of the Word of God to direct your voting—Philippians 4:8 makes a great start: how does the candidate do with that verse? DO NOT confuse being Christian with being a part of any specific party or campaign. DO NOT be so enamored of your candidate that your actions for him/her destroys your credibility regarding sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No government can save souls: re-electing this one or replacing it will not atone for sin: only Christ did that. Vote based on the Word and focus on what matters even more: Jesus.
4. From the world at large: there are whole swaths of people without the Word of God or anyone to teach them about it. Dare we seal up the Word by feathering our own nests?
2: Let evildoers do evil. You do righteous things: this is not to say we ignore crimes, but I assure you of this: if we focus on taking the evil deeds away, we will miss the opportunity to change hearts. Believers are charged with doing righteousness and spreading the Gospel. The Gospel, when it takes root and grows, will change behaviors.
3: Be ready: He is coming.
4: Don’t tinker with His message: seriously. The Word is the Word. My words are not---neither are yours. Make certain that you recognize His Word as the key.
5: Whoever you are: come. Come to Christ. Come to the Father through Him. Come to the fellowship and the body. There is nothing to stand in your way but yourself. The Spirit calls out. The Church, the Bride of Christ calls to you. Come.