Transforming Stories: How your story points to His Story! (Week 8)

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This message was presented on February 26, 2017 by Pastor Jerry Ingalls to the First Baptist Church in New Castle, Indiana.

A 4-Part Teaching Series on How to Live the Transforming Story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
PEOPLE OF THE PROMISE: STRIKING GOLD IN THE PROMISED LAND!

WEEK #1: “Stake Your Claim on God’s Promises!”
Hebrews 11:8-12 (ESV)


The years were 1848-1855: Why did people head west?  Because they were hoping to strike it rich and quick—they went seeking their fortunes in the promised land of California. And then the rumors began… Then those rumors were confirmed:

“THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THERE HILLS!”

And the great migration west began—California became known as the Golden State and the 49ers were birthed (not the football team). Over 300,000 people would set their eyes on the golden dream of this new promised land; most of them did not find fulfillment of the golden dream though; rather, they found desperation, lawlessness, and poverty. In short, they found the fool’s gold of a twisted American dream!

Today, people are still chasing after the same fool’s gold of the “golden dream”: chasing the latest scheme for instant wealth, or cultural fad for social acceptance; looking for a little of heaven here on earth. People are looking everywhere, except up to God, to figure out how to make life work for them in a broken and fallen world. Unfortunately, in the process American Christianity has lost its focus on Jesus, and has joined in the fool’s errand of trying to make life work in a cursed world, instead of being focused on God’s eternal kingdom!

God is calling us back (through repentance) to being the people of His promises! God has called us to the plumb line of faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

Let’s learn from the Patriarch of our Faith—Abraham. Hebrews 11:8-12 proclaims, “[8] By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. [9] By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. [10] For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. [11] By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. [12] Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore” (ESV).

“THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THERE PROMISES!”

Let’s look at 2 of the qualities of the golden promises of God.  These are important because most of us have enough Bible knowledge to know what I am preaching is true, but these two qualities will bring you the prospect to living a transformed life.

(1) CONSISTENT TRUTH! Hebrews 11:9-10 states, “By faith he went to live in the land of promise . . . whose designer and builder is God.”

From Abraham, we learn to set our eyes on the promises that come from God alone—to have the consistent truth necessary to apply our faith to every opportunity set before us! So often, we get distracted by the many options set before us and our focus moves from God’s eternal kingdom—one “whose designer and builder” is not of this world—to settling for an earthly kingdom. How do we keep our eyes on the right promises and not chase counterfeit ones?

For example, Jesus teaches us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). How does this famous promise pan out in the real world? Let me tell you, the list of things the world tells us will satisfy is beyond my ability and our time to cover today. The options available to you range from socially acceptable things like a successful career, prowess in athletics, financial wellbeing, hobbies, relationships, and a host of other fun and fulfilling activities. But, the list can also dabble into the dark places of habits, addictions, alternate lifestyles, you name it, whatever floats your boat.

So, how do we keep our eyes on the promised land of Jesus when our mind, body, heart, and soul seem to be hungering and thirsting for some other forms of satisfaction other than in righteousness?  And let’s not be deceived—there are options!  But we must ask ourselves, “what do I want more than temporary satisfaction of accomplishments, possessions, or pleasures?”

How about: a healthy mind and body, unpolluted and uncorrupted by the toxicity left behind in the wake of hungering and thirsting for worldliness. We can have a clear conscience, have less anxiety, sleep better, have lower blood pressure, not bring STDs into our marriages, and have healthier relationships. Jesus promised, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

If you were offered a pay raise, but you would only see your spouse and kids on Sundays, would you take it? You could provide for them more stuff, but you would be absent from their lives.

Every decision we make has a cost-benefit decision: how you weigh those costs and benefits truly depends on the criteria you use.  The promises of God allow you to get a true and accurate perspective on the true costs and benefits of the options put before you every day.

But, temptation is difficult because the options seem to have legitimate paydays and sin is pleasurable. There seems to be a benefit, even if briefly, by doing it. Once again, if obedience was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Hollywood, the media, and the music industry would have us believe that everyone is satisfying themselves with something other than righteousness. That is where we need the promises of God to sober the seduction of our appetites to be like everyone else: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

The Bible promises:No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God has not only promised you victory, but He has made a way for you! But, you will never find the way of victory if you don’t believe it enough to look for it and you just take the easy way out—the wide path of fool’s gold!  Do you have consistent truth in your mind and heart?

What is the other quality that sets apart the golden promises of God?

(2) PERSISTENT TRUTH! Hebrews 11:11 states, “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who has promised.”

 God took an old barren woman and gave her the fruitfulness of abundance! From Sarah, we learn that the fulfillment of the promise comes from the persistent truth to hang on to the promises of God, especially when our circumstance and life situation tell us it is impossible. We serve a faithful God, for whom nothing is impossible!  Do you believe that God can remove your barrenness and replace it with abundance?

For example, Jesus teaches us, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Again, how does this promise pan out in the real world? Let’s say you have a great job, but one day your boss calls in on the phone and asks you to lie for him, essentially to cover for him to a client. You tell him that you can’t lie for him and he screams at you before hanging up, “If you don’t, I will hire someone who will.”

What do you do? From the Bible, you know you are supposed to be truthful. When the preacher preaches about honesty, you say to yourself, “that is me: I tell the truth, I don’t steal office supplies, I do my taxes, I got this one.” You agree and you teach it to your children: we don’t break God’s top 10 so: don’t lie, steal or cheat! But you also value having a job, because in the real world it takes money to put food on the table and a sweet job like this one is hard to find. Which value wins when the values of the world collide with the values of the Kingdom of God? The most persistent truth in your heart and mind will prevail!

If you remind yourself of Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” then you can imagine different possibilities like: (1) God is my provider and He can provide an even better job when I am faithful to His ways; (2) God can work on my boss’ conscience about firing me for telling the truth and this could actually work out to put me in a place to share my faith and be a person of influence in my boss’ life; and (3) your middle school son notices you don’t go to work the next day and asks if you are sick. You tell him what happens and he tells everyone at school that you got fired for refusing to lie. Was the job worth having a son who is now one step closer to being a man of integrity.

When you believe that you serve a faithful God, then nothing is impossible for Him and you are empowered in the very real world to make very hard decisions. But you must know God and meditate on His promises to be able to make these kinds of decisions under pressure when it counts.  That is why we must stake our claim on the promises of God: we must dwell in God and have this persistent truth in us!

So, when Paul says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6), he is saying you can take all of God’s promises to the bank for these promises are the real thing— “That’s GOLD Jerry, GOLD!”

The substance of your faith that will allow you to be a person of the promise is the consistent and persistent truth found in the promises of God. All the promises of God—including your eternal destiny—are answered YES in Jesus Christ!  Will you say YES to Jesus today?

 “THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THERE PROMISES!”



 

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