|Q&A Message 1|
|April 15, 2007|
Part 1 of 4 | April 15, 2007
I’m the father of a little boy who is almost three years old. Any of you who have kids know some of the ramifications of being the parent of a young child. One is that, in Ryan’s eyes, I can fix anything. Sometime last year, Ryan had a little Matchbox car that broke. I took the broken piece and superglued it back on the car. That was all it took to convince Ryan that I can fix anything. No matter what it is, no matter how broken it is, daddy can fix it.
Not only can I fix anything, but in the eyes of my little boy, I can also answer anything. I’ve learned that parenting a young child means that you can expect questions…and questions…and more questions. Ryan questions absolutely everything. “What is that? What does that mean? Where are we going? What are you doing?” And the most frequently asked question of all…”Why?” Why this? Why that? Why, Why, Why?
Contrary to Ryan’s belief, I cannot fix everything. In fact, I’m terrible at fixing things. At some point, Ryan will sadly realize that his dad is a lot more Tim Taylor and a lot less Bob Vila.
And, contrary to Ryan’s beliefs, I cannot answer everything. My understanding is finite. My knowledge is limited. There are just certain things that I can’t answer. I’m no Solomon.
In the book of 1 Kings, the Bible tells us, “The Queen of Sheba heard how famous Solomon was, so she went to Jerusalem to test him with difficult questions…When she arrived, she and Solomon talked about everything she could think of. He answered every question, no matter how difficult it was.” (1 Kings 10:1-3, CEV)
Solomon, I am not. Eventually Ryan will ask a question that I can’t answer. I myself have questions that I can’t answer.
So really, it would seem that I’m the last person in the world who should preach a Q&A sermon series. We’ve been polling our church family, asking for questions that you have, issues that you’ve always wondered about. And we’re going to spend the next few weeks answering some of the questions that we’ve received. But you need to know upfront that I am not answering these questions. For each question, we’re going to search the Bible together in search of the answer. I’m simply serving as a guide, directing us to principles in Scripture that answer the questions that we have.
The reason I’m so excited about this series is because we all have questions. My son, Ryan, is asking questions…and I hope he never stops. When you stop questioning, you stop learning. When you stop learning, you stop growing.
Our goal is to, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18, NIV) Asking questions and seeking Scriptural answers is a great way to grow in our faith journey. So let’s dig in and answer some of the questions that you have submitted. We’re going to tackle two different questions today.
Question #1 – What does the Bible say about daily devotions?
If you’re new to the church, the term “daily devotions” may sound a little foreign to you. Basically this is just church-speak for spending time in the Bible and in prayer each day. We often teach that this is a critical component of growing in your walk with Jesus, but is that a Scriptural teaching? Just what does the Bible say about this?
Let’s go to the beginning of the book of Psalms to answer this question.
Starting in Psalm 1:1, the Bible says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3, NIV)
These verses hold some great truths for us. Let’s unpack them a little bit. The center of these verses is “the law of the LORD.” In other words, the Bible. And there are three reasons that the Psalmist tells us that the Bible is so important to us.
First of all, the Bible warns us. In verse one, the psalmist brags on the person who doesn’t, “walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”
To put it simply, there are some things that a godly person needs to avoid. There are sinful things, issues, and habits that we simply need to steer clear of.
Notice the progression in these verses. “Walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Walk, stand, sit. This is sin’s usual progression in our lives.
First, we walk into it. For many of us, we don’t run into it. We don’t dive in headfirst. We walk slowly into it. Often, we take baby steps into it. But, slow as it may be, we keep moving in a sinful direction.
At then at some point, we stop walking. Once we’re in the midst of sin, we stand around, checking it out.
And then we sit. Before you know it, we’re so comfortable in this lifestyle that we just have a seat. We didn’t plan for this to happen, but over time we have slowly become so desensitized to sin that we don’t even recognize it as sin anymore.
Most people who have extra-marital affairs didn’t just fall into bed with this other man or other woman. It progressed slowly. It started by exchanging glances. Some flirty conversations at the office. The brush of a hand. All of those should be warning signs that we’re walking someplace that we shouldn’t go. But if those signs are ignored, the progression continues.
The conversations get more intimate. The contact becomes more personal. The times you’re together are getting more intense. These are all warning signs that you’re standing in a place you shouldn’t be standing. But if those signs are ignored, the progression comes to completion.
You eventually get so comfortable with this idea, it feels so right, that it just can’t be wrong. After all, things at home aren’t that great. This person listens to you, understands you. And this emotional connection that you’ve made logically leads you to a physical connection. You’ve had a seat and made yourself so comfortable in this lifestyle that you’ve convinced yourself that nothing is wrong.
You didn’t just fall into bed with that person. You simply allowed a sinful progression to go on unchecked. You walked, you stood, you sat down.
You could make this case with almost any sinful lifestyle or activity. The more we lie, the easier it becomes. Fudging a little on your taxes isn’t as big a deal this year as it was last year. Pornography that would’ve offended you a few years ago now seems normal. When we allow the sin progression to move forward, slowly but surely, we’ll eventually wind up in a situation that we couldn’t even have dreamed of earlier.
The psalm writer also tells us that the Bible encourages us. It encourages us toward a proactive godly lifestyle.
The psalmist tells us that the godly person’s “delight is the law of the LORD,” and that “whatever he does prospers.”
That’s not to say that if we live according to God’s principles, then we’ll never fail. What the psalm writer is saying is that God can use what we do to accomplish his purposes. But for that to be true, we’ve got to take the emphasis off of the word, “prospers” and put it on the word “does.” “Whatever he does prospers.” When we delight in God’s law and do what it says, when we’re living by godly principles, whatever we do, God can use it. But we have to *do something* first.
Mike Yaconelli often used this phrase in his preaching, teaching, writing. “You have one life. Do something.”
Why do we so often define ourselves as Christians by what we avoid? Now, we just talked about avoiding sin’s sneaky, evil progression in our lives. There are things that we are called to avoid. No doubt. But we’re not defined simply by what we avoid.
That’s our culture’s definition of Christianity. We follow God, who is this cosmic kill-joy always telling us what not to do. His only goal is to spoil our good time. And we, as God’s followers, haven’t done very much to combat that misconception at times. How would our culture view our faith if, instead of simply condemning sin, we also put God’s grace in action by doing?
We’re defined by what we do. Our faith isn’t passive. It isn’t reactive. It is proactive. The Bible doesn’t just instruct us about what to avoid. It’s not a rulebook filled with “don’ts” It’s a guidebook that is filled with “do’s.”
Finally, the psalm writer tells us that the Bible sustains us. Look at what he wrote in verse 3.
The person who delights in God’s law, “is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3, NIV)
This past week, my dad and I worked at extending the backyard at my house. All day long, we worked at clearing trees, digging up stumps and roots, tilling up the ground, and sowing the new grass seed. The day after I did all this work, I was so sore. My hair was the only thing that didn’t hurt. It hurt to take a deep breath. So after I put in all this time and effort and work, I really want the job to succeed. I want this grass to grow, so I’m going to water it. Especially when it gets hot and dry this summer. I’m going to water my new grass so it will continue to grow.
God’s Word provides water to sustain us in dry times. We’ve all had those times when we feel like we’re just out there wandering in a spiritual desert. Those times are normal parts of our faith journey. Dry spells happen. God’s Word is the water we need to sustain us. It has the power to bring us through painful times. Times of crisis. Times of worry and fear. There is an incredible sustaining power in the Bible.
The psalm writer has reminded us that the Bible warns us about avoiding a sinful progression. It encourages us to not only avoid the wrong things, but also to do the right things. And it sustains us in all the seasons of our lives. And now let’s look at the center point of everything that the psalm writer wants us to know from these verses.
The godly person delights, “in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2, NIV)
The Bible warns us, encourages us, and sustains us…but it can only do that if we know the Bible. And we can only know the Bible if we spend time in the Bible. Time reading it. Time thinking about it. Time listening to teaching and preaching. It takes time. Daily time. If you’re too busy to make time for God, to enjoy his presence, to learn his Word, if you’re too busy for that, then you’re too busy. You make time for what’s important to you.
The cool thing is that the more you commit to learning God’s Word, the more that it comes up in your daily life. I was in Starbucks this week (big surprise) and I saw a sign for their new advertising campaign. This sign immediately made me recall a Scriptural principle that I had learned earlier in my life. And I mulled that principle over and over the rest of the day. The more you know God’s principles from the Bible, the more easily they can impact your thinking and your actions on a daily basis.
The Bible is clear. The more time we spend with God, the more we learn his Word every day, the more fulfilling and significant our faith will become.
Now let’s move on to question #2. Will our earthly relationships, such as spouses and children, be the same in heaven?
This is a great question. One that a lot of us have wondered about. It’s been question that has been debated for a long time, but it’s also a question that the Bible answers very clearly. The Bible gives us two-pronged answer to the question.
First, your earthly relationships have eternal impact. The Bible clearly teaches us that what we do in this life has a direct impact on the life to come. That truth applies to all areas of our lives, including our relationships.
In 1 John 4, John writes, “…we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.” “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:13-17, 20, NIV)
These verses are centered on our relationships. It uses the term “brother,” but that is a generic term can universally apply to all of our relationships. The teaching in this passage is simple. We’re called to a pattern of loving relationships. But notice this…
These verses directly connect our development of loving relationships to our eternity. If we develop the loving relationships that God has in mind for us, we can have confidence on the day of judgment. If we don’t, then the opposite is true. We should have fear of the judgment that is coming. But in both instances, our earthly relationships have an eternal impact.
But this is only half of the Bible’s teaching on our relationships in regard to eternity. Let’s complete the thought.
Your earthly relationships have eternal impact, but your earthly relationships do not last eternally.
Jesus had a conversation with the Sadducees that offers us a lot of answers in regard to our earthly vs. eternal relationships. The Sadducees were a small, but very wealthy and influential group in 1st century Jewish culture. They were the aristocratic, ruling class of Judaism. All the high priests and chief priests in Judaism were Sadducees. The majority of the members of the Sanhedrin--the ruling body in Israel--were Sadducees.
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. In other words, they didn’t believe in an afterlife. This life was all there was. After that, there was nothing else. In Matthew 22, this group came to Jesus, and tried to trap him with a question.
Let’s pick it up in Matthew 22:33. “That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother.
The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching. (Matthew 22:23-30, 33, NIV)
And some of us are probably astonished as well. Jesus just told us in no uncertain terms that in the resurrection, in other words in the next life, in heaven there will be no marriage relationship. Marriage is part of this world, but it will not be part of the next world.
For some of us, that sounds like good news. Marriage in this world has been very rough for us. A world without marriage sounds great.
For others of us, this sounds so sad. I’m in this camp. My marriage is wonderful. I love my wife so much that it sounds like a sad thing to not be married to her in eternity.
What we need to understand is that, in comparative terms, the best that this life can offer cannot begin to compare with the life that is coming.
The truth is that marriage just doesn’t fit into the eternal world that God has designed. The Bible often talks about eternity as a wedding and a marriage. Jesus is the groom and the church is his bride. Marriage is the most intimate relationship that we have in this world. In the next world, our relationship with Jesus will supersede everything else. We will, in a sense, be “married” to Jesus. Not in a sexual or romantic way, but the intimacy of that relationship will make all others irrelevant.
The sexual relationship of marriage will also not be part of life in eternity. God created sex for three purposes. 1. To be enjoyed. 2. To unite two people together for life. 3. To produce children.
When the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with their question about marriage and eternity, he quickly snapped back, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”
This would’ve really stung the Sadducees because they prided themselves on knowing the Scriptures. This group only believed in the first five books of the Old Testament. They wrongly believed that life after death wasn’t taught in these books. Jesus pointed out the fact that they didn’t know the Scripture or the power of God.
When we’re thinking of our earthly vs. eternal relationships, we’ve got to rely on the Scripture and on the power of God. Jesus has told us in the Scripture that our earthly relationships, specifically marriage, will not carry over into eternity. If that sounds like a sad thing, we’ve got to trust in the power of God. We’ve got to trust that God is powerful enough to create an eternal world that is so wonderful, we won’t need anything else. We won’t wish for anything more.
This applies to marriage, and to our other earthly relationships. Children, friendships, etc. The Bible teaches that there will be a complete, total harmony between everyone in heaven. We will all live in perfect harmony with God, therefore we’ll live in perfect harmony with each other. There won’t be any such thing as a best friend or anything like that. While we can’t comprehend it now, this is the wonder of eternity that is waiting for us.
A little boy who lived far out in the country in the late 1800’s had always dreamed of seeing a circus. You can imagine his excitement when he saw a poster announcing that next Saturday a traveling circus was coming to his town. He ran home with the glad news and the question: “Daddy, can I go?” Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to his son.
He looked at his boy and said, “If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time, I’ll give you the money to go.”
Come Saturday morning, the chores were done and the little boy stood by the breakfast table, all dressed and ready for his day at the circus. His father reached into the pocket of his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill—the most money the little boy had possessed at one time in all his life. The father cautioned his son to be careful and then sent him on his way to town.
The boy was so excited, his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground. As he neared the outskirts of the village, he noticed people lining the streets. He worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening. It was the circus parade.
The parade was the grandest thing the boy had ever seen. Caged animals roared as they passed by, bands marched by with horns and drums playing in perfect rhythm, acrobats flipped by, the sky was filled with flags and ribbons swirling about. Finally, after everything had passed by, a circus clown with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly colored face came by, bringing up the rear of the parade. As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill. Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned and went home.
The boy thought he had experienced the circus, but all he saw was the parade. He didn’t realize how much more was in store for him.
We have no idea what is in store for us in eternity. Nothing here, no material possession, no pleasure, no relationship can begin to compare with what God has in store for us.
The Sadducees were convinced that this world is all there is. They had seen the parade, but they were going to miss out on the circus. Jesus came to be sure that we didn’t make that same mistake. He died to forgive us of all our sins and to offer us the chance at eternity with God. Something so incomprehensible that it is impossible to find words that will adequately describe it. And this wonderful promise is yours if you have accepted the loving grace gift that Jesus offers you.
If you’ve never made a commitment to Jesus, we’d love to talk and pray with you about that.
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