THE WORD OF GOD IS HERE TO LEAD US TO HEAVEN
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
15 NOVEMBER 1992
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Today is Bible Sunday; not that it is anything special for this Sunday, or for that matter, any other Sunday. Every Sunday should be Bible Sunday. Every day should be Bible Day.
Because, as the title of today's service tells us, "The Word of God is Here to Lead Us to Heaven."
Today, let's begin our journey through the Word of God with a glimpse of what Heaven will be like, as recorded in Isaiah 11:9.
9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
But even this should not be reserved for heaven, for we should be doing everything within our power to live this way in the here and now.
Shouldn’t we be practicing our kingdom living, now?
And think about something else: why would God want us in heaven, if we go around hurting and destroying his beautiful creation?
Hymn: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Did you hear how that hymn began?
"Love divine, all love excelling, Joy of heaven, to earth come down;"
And if this isn't enough to focus us in the right direction, then let us recite the Lord's Prayer together, as He taught us.
The Lord's Prayer:
Let's again consider what we have just prayed for (Matthew 6:10).
10. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Are we really sure we want a heavenly existence here on earth?
I sincerely pray the answer is, yes; for if it is not, then we are not on a heavenly journey.
Because we are not letting the Word of God lead us there.
And if we have any hesitation at all, then we need to repent and seek the Lord's forgiveness and guidance.
Let’s take a moment of silence with God, and put our lives in order.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 82:1-8
1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
2. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?
3. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
7. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
8. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
In this psalm, the psalmist is expressing God's grace and judgment to those who should know and follow the Word of God, but don't.
Let's go back and look at these verses again, and see how this applies to the church today, and to us personally, and to our community.
God is here pictured as standing in the midst of the congregation, a congregation of His people: the Hebrews and the Church.
He promised His people that they would be as sons and daughters to Him, and would even be given godly qualities.
Yet the people, as a whole, don't live that way, do they?
The psalmist sees all the corruption among God's chosen people and it makes him sick.
It hurts him to see people judging others unjustly, while at the same time honoring those who do wickedly.
And he cries out to the people to bring the desires of God into their hearts, and do as God would have them do:
Defend the poor and fatherless.
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy.
Rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
But most of the people wouldn't listen then, as they won't listen today.
The word of God, if they read it or studied it at all, just ran off them, as water off a duck’s back.
They had no understanding of the ways of God; and the evilness of their hearts shook the foundations of the earth.
The earth's foundations were set upon God's Word, and they were made in heaven – perfect, and holy, and in love.
They were set to give an example of who God is, and to encourage His people to come with Him into everlasting life.
But most people seem to have rejected this offer.
So, those who were to be as gods, in their lifestyle before others, were being rejected and denied access to heaven.
Thus, God ends up judging His own and receiving others.
If we allow the Spirit of God to guide us in the Word of God, we will turn from evil and be in heaven.
We all need to hear this word and be revived.
Hymn: Spirit of the Living God.
Scripture Reading: Malachi 4:1-6
1. For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
3. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.
4. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
5. Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
It's beginning to sound like those old fire and brimstone days, isn't it?
And when we consider the horrible ways “the calves of the stall” are treated today, it is no wonder, for I strongly believe that God is really fed up with us, today, as he was them.
And I suppose for those who don't follow the Word of God, this passage is fire and brimstone; but for those of us who do follow His word, we should see only His grace and mercy and love.
We should see the Lord's compassionate hand reaching out to the sinners, to bring them back.
We should also feel sorrow for those who reject God's hand.
It is God's love that sent us Jesus Christ, and it is His love that continues to encourage us to have heaven here on earth; and when our time here is done, to come home.
It is so sad to see how many reject this great love.
It is this love that is the foundation of our journey into heaven.
It is this love that strengthens our families, and our churches, and our nation.
Rejecting this love destroys us.
We must strengthen this foundation and build upon it.
Hymn: How Firm a Foundation
Scripture Reading: Luke 21:5-9
5. And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
6. As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
7. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
8. And he said, Take heed that ye are not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
9. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
We have such a tendency to look upon the world around us, and consider that everything exists now, and that all our decisions have to be made now; and this is incorrect.
With God there is no time, and if we are going to look into the heavenly places and see the good things, we have to get our eyes off our earthly limitations.
Things were bad when Jesus and His disciples went out and viewed the temple, and the physical temple presented itself as a sign of hope.
So, Jesus in His love explains that they are near-sighted, for all that they see will be gone in forty years.
They had to get their eyes off the earthly buildings and see the things built for them in heaven.
And they also were not to get discouraged by the things that are wrong in the world, and make the mistake of following a false Christ; for His return would not take place until all things were accomplished, and then only in a special way; not as He came at that time.
Furthermore, they were not to mistake wars and problems of the world as the end of the age either, for there was still a long time to come before His return.
In the meantime, they were to keep their eyes upon the heavenly things, and be encouraged; for if they held on, they would be with the Lord forever and ever.
The Bible is here for us today to remind us of these things, so that we, too, would have hope and peace in our hearts – no matter what the world around us is like.
Scripture Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
6. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
7. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
8. Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
9. Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us.
10. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
The Word of God lets us understand that the world around us, and our so-called Christian community, and the church itself, have not changed very much since the days of Jesus and Paul.
And if we allow the people who act disorderly in some unchristian manner, or who are selfish or unloving, to distract us from the ways of God, we only end up hurting ourselves.
Paul is here encouraging and even commanding the people of his day, as well as us today, to separate ourselves from such people if we find ourselves being drawn away.
We are to extend the love of God to them, so that they would change; but we are not to do as they do.
We are to pray that we would not do anything to dishonor ourselves in Christ's eyes or before others, so that they would not be discouraged by us.
We are to live in such a way that we would encourage others to live a Christ-like life, so that they, too, would have hope.
But even if they don't change, we ourselves are not to lose hope, or become tired of doing good in this world for every other human being, for every other animal, and for the rest of God’s creation.
No matter what is going on around us, we are to continue to be filled with love, even to overflowing.
We are to have the Word of God within us to such an extent, that we shed light wherever we go, so that we ourselves would not stumble, and so that others would see us and follow.
We are to remember the words that Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter: 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;
17. That the man [or woman] of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Take this light, take this insight, take this encouragement with you, and live in it.
You will never regret it.
Hymn: Thy WordYour Comments are welcome
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