The Word of God penetrates us like as a two-edged sword. It goes to the innermost parts of our being. It lays bare all that is inside us so that we can come to Jesus who stands as our High Priest. (Hebrews 4;11-16)
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller, Pastor Eric Handel
Sermon # 11245
11:00 AM on 4/16/2017
P. Eric Handel
A story told about two pastors who graduated from Bible college and hadn’t seen each other 30 years. Ran into each other at a conference. What kind of church did God give you? It’s a very athletic congregation. Tell me, Fred. What do you mean by that? I have a church full of football players. What kind? Half backs. After Easter and Christmas only half of them come back! Fred looks discouraged by that. Bill says you shouldn’t be discouraged at all. You should see my church. They are very athletic too. I have football players too. My church is filled with quarter backs. Only a quarter come back after Easter and Christmas. We have our moments in the ministry when we feel like Fred and Bill. If you have ever preached the gospel for any length of time you have to deal with discouragement. It comes and goes. The zenith case of dealing with discouragement is a story about feeding the duckies.
Ec 11:1 cast thy bread upon the waters. Now you are getting it. The duckies. Thou shalt find it after many days. When will I ever cast my bread? You’re not going to see that bread again. Solomon in all his wisdom said cast your bread on the waters. You shall find it after many days. In the most hopeless situation when nothing good can come out of it, it will come back and bless you.
1 Cor 15:58 therefore be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know your labor is not in vain in the Lord. That’s the promise. This will happen if you minister over a period of time. You’ll say God was using that and I had no idea.
I was thinking of my daughter directing this play. I helped train her when she was 3. We did Christmas plays together. She was Mary and I was Joseph and the donkey, the innkeeper the wise men and the star of Bethlehem! We would go off to Bethlehem every night. She would hold that baby. Daddy, can we do it again? What part do you want to play, Leah? Mary. I would get all the others. She would ride on the donkey to Bethlehem so happy to have this baby. Daddy, can we do it again? Daddy, can we do it again? If I got out of there after five performances, I was lucky. James was called camel knees in prayer. I did it in theater. I said Leah what are you doing? Having rehearsal. Tomorrow? All day rehearsal. She hasn’t changed since 3 years old. Vacation Bible school I would write a skit. It needed actors and actresses and my daughter never got out of one of those skits. In high school she wrote a play and directed it as a student. Too bad other students couldn’t remember her parts. I asked how the auditions went. 36 women and 4 men. We need 36 men and 4 women! She has seen much more difficult things than this. She has been prepared for this. Never a time her mother would read the local paper and any time a musical was shown they went off to see it.
We picked up some people for church. We went to a house of a man named Tyrone who we were able to lead last year to Convention…I visited there and prayed with a woman and her husband to come to Christ. I said you could come to church the next day and she did not. She came to the play Tuesday night. She said it was deeply moving. Her testimony was watching that play took all the anger and bitterness out of me.
Our labors are never in vain in the Lord. God was using these things to do something in people’s lives. In the process we get discouraged. We feel we are feeding the ducks sometimes. Ever been soul winning and feel may as well feed the ducks? God has promised us. To express Christ is to be free inside. I had a privilege of telling a soul, one degree of eternal glory for ever and ever even though you feel like you are feeding the duckies.
You can see the eternal weight of glory God is working through our labors.
Think of all the people who come, answers to prayers. How are your families doing on a scale of one to ten? Two! How’s your life. P. Bill, great job the other night. P. Love, P. Wright. How about it? Andy Lincoln, Zane, Nick…look at the proud dad over there! Isn’t he a happy guy? Could you share that happiness with me! Rehearse in your heart. Do you believe the Spirit is moving and saving people? I have seen it. Do you believe the Spirit is waking up people and challenging people? Is the Spirit with you? Are you learning to shout it out and be encouraged deep in your heart where you live? What is deep in your heart? Sometimes hope deferred makes the heart sick. Sometimes disappointment and sometimes poison gets in my heart and I need a good counselor.
Heb 4. We had a beautiful day today. He has risen. Oula reminded me the Hungarian word for resurrection. It’s from “up” and then “attack,” two words. I like that.
Heb 4. How can soggy bread return? Cast your bread on the waters. It’s soggy. Yucky. What if the word that we cast on the waters is bread but what if it changes and it comes back and now it’s a tree?
It’s in Is 55, the water of the Word doesn’t return void. It’s like rain that comes down and the flowers and the plants come up. It comes up different. He talked about the investment in his daughter and his wife, Bea. Beautiful sharing with us.
Heb 4:10 we read about the rest. We had spoken about that.
Labor to enter into rest is vs. 11. Making the effort to be there, to understand it, to know Christ. We said that God is like this eternal rope. He has no beginning – oops! The Lord’s all tangled up! Eternal God, no beginning and no end. In time he touches us here at the Cross. We see him. This is where the eternal God visits us at the Cross. He is incomprehensible but here we see and he is still there in a sense that he visits us at that place where we come by faith without anything except us, our baggage, and our hurt, our pain. We really need someone who will sympathize with us and be with us and care about us. That is in our Bible referring to the high priest, the Levitical priesthood. The sacrifices relate to our present day psychology. The sacrifices of the Old Testament deal with the deep psychological problems of people. Words like guilt, fear, and shame. This is where people live and they suffer from it. Our God isn’t just far away like this rope. He came as a man, as a priest. If it is so we should labor to enter into what God has for us. We described it as two possibilities. The life that is here and that transcends this world, merely time and space and circumstances. It is the spiritual life in Christ. Christ came and lived with us, hungry, thirsty, and understood what it is to be a human being.
Heb 4:11, let us labor to enter into that rest. What kind of labor? Heart labor. Work of the heart. We have many examples of how we kind of hide.
I have a funny story. One day while vacuuming a woman saw at the bottom of her bird cage it was dirty. While vacuuming she reached for the phone and the vacuum cleaner sucked in Chirpy, a canary. She sucked in the canary all the way down to the little bag. She opened up the vacuum cleaner and cut the bag open and there was Chirpy trying to survive. She thought he was so dirty so she put him under a faucet and ran water all over him. When she finished she dried him with a blow dryer. The newspaper asked what is he like now? Well, he doesn’t sing much anymore! [End of story].
That’s a light way of talking about us. What happens in this life? We can labor. How do we labor? In our hearts. Lord, I am hurting but I believe that there is healing and restoration for me. Lord, do you know? Do you care?
Heb 5. We read that we have a high priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and can have compassion on the ignorant and those out of the way. There are many believers off wandering and discouraged, hurting people. Our God is not only the God of eternity but the God of our soul who speaks to us.
Heb 4:12, the Word of God is living and powerful and …sword. What does a sword have to do with this text but the priest had the knife and did operations of slaughter and butchering of animal sacrifices. When we are opened up where the knife of the Word goes where we are living and we say before God, God you are correct. Go to my heart as my counselor. I think we are familiar with excuses we make as people like everybody does it. The Lord is saying I don’t hear those things. I am God and I am speaking to you. It has nothing to do with other people. It has to do with me and you. I know your pain and I can have compassion on you. When Jesus was in Gethsemane and the sins came on him, was it the first time he experienced the effect of sin? Ever done something and caught and you kind of felt terrible about it.
Ever done something stupid and blamed for it and feel you could turn red. You turn colors, you feel ashamed and guilty. Or something serious where hurt people and sinned and caught. Overwhelmed with grief and guilt.
When Jesus came though he had no personal sin, did he experience what it’s like to be ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, condemned. Did he feel fear for the first time when he did not sin but took our sins? We could say this is how those people feel. This is terrible. This is that fear, guilt, remorse.
I want to hide. I want to go under my bed covers and never come out. I want to disappear. I want to kill myself. I want to be destroyed. Ever felt those feelings?
Yes, of course we have but did the Son of God feel what it’s like to be condemned, guilty, afraid? Can he come to Chirpy who had been through the vacuum, blow dried, soaking wet, doesn’t sing anymore.
Does he know me? Does he have a rest for me? How does it work? A Word of God is a sword that goes inside and searches my excuses and my reasonings. And my blaming and “she did it too.” Or I’m sorry but actually everybody does it. Or I don’t really care. I could care less. It doesn’t matter. The whole world is messed up and I could care less. I’m going to live to survive. The Lord goes to our hearts with those thoughts that come from him. He searches our hearts because there is a better way than blaming, hiding, defending, accusing, rationalizing, and saying everyone does it. Or you did this to me.
vs. 12. I don’t know how my life has gone. I don’t understand it but when I came here to this church more than 40 years ago, and P. Stevens was teaching the Bible, I decided to get under it and listen to him and turn the pages and get real with God. I remember when it came to the offering, I was thinking about it. Do people really give? I won’t be that serous about it. Then I realized wait a minute. What does that got to do with my life? Do others go on the mission field? It’s none of my business. Peter said to Jesus what shall this man do? Speaking about John. What is that to you? You follow me and don’t measure yourself by other people. We have a high priest who goes to our hearts. You and I decide. We kind of have or we have a relationship.
vs. 12. It goes through one edged sword can go through a body, but if two edged sword it goes through easier. It gets both sides and slices through on both sides. It adds a meaning here that this Bible is dangerous. It will slice through our stuff.
I have a thing on hypocrisy. What cancer is to the body, hypocrisy is to the church. It is a killing agent. It’s also addictive. Even though Jesus reserved his severe words to a hypocrite…
I have found such authenticity here in our fellowship. I believe this is why. We are hearing not the words from men but walking seriously before God in areas we don’t even know what our sisters and brothers are dealing with.
If there is a Chirpy in our audience or internet, you are suffering but there is healing and something for you.
Ask Peter. He said let us go with him. We will die with him. It didn’t happen.
King Saul said no one is with me. Are you insecure? Get deep with God. Walk with God. If God is with you people will be coming.
If God is with you, you will attract people. You need to shift and get a crown in your heart and David will have his 400 men with him.
“A man sat through church and on the way home fussed about the sermon, the traffic, the heat…He bowed and prayed. His son was watching him. Daddy, did God hear you when we left the church and you started fussing? Did God hear you when you prayed for the food? Yes, son. Which one did God believe, Daddy? “
vs. 12. The sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. Going to the very core down deep where we all live and the joints and marrow. This is beautiful. Neither is there any creature not manifest in his sight….due. Have you ever been exposed? Have you ever felt it? Of course you have? Have you been exposed in front of someone you love and know as a friend? Even more importantly before God. It’s pretty scary.
Our priest opens us up in vs. 13. Someone stole $100,000 and you stole $10 and you call the man a thief but not yourself. The Lord will go there and search your heart. You will say I am a thief also. That’s the meaning. We have all done it. This is an important part of our C. life.
“Tell God all that is in your heart as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasure and pain to a dear friend. Tell him your troubles may comfort you, your joys may sober them. Your longings may purify them, your dislikes may you conquer them. Talk of your temptations to shield you from them. Wounds that the may heal them. Lay bare your indifference for good. Tell him how self-love makes… if you pour out all you weaknesses there is no lack of what to say. People who have no secrets for each other never want for subject of conversation. There is nothing to be held back. They talk from the abundance of the heart and say what they think. …” I’d like to modify that a little. If my heart is only my heart it’s the same old garbage, the same old pain and the wounds. Our high priest didn’t come for us to be the same. He came that we would be changed, restored, healed, edified.
vs. 14. This priest went to heaven. Where did the Levitical priest go? To his tent, to have a nap, to go get something to eat, to go see his wife and he comes back and services in the tabernacle on the earth. Our high priest has passed into the heavens. It’s got to be amazing. This resurrection of this man to become our psychologist, our psychiatrist, our counselor heals, restores, and can identify. Jesus, do you know what it is to be alone, ashamed, embarrassed, naked, open, condemned fearful? Yeah, I got it. I was there. Ever tempted Lord? You don’t even know what temptation is. I never sinned. You don’t know what it was like for me to be tempted in all points. The devil was after me with all his devices and power. I identified with every human being. I can have compassion and sympathy with you. Our high priest has passed into the heavens. Even the heavens is not enough to contain all he is. He’s gone into the heavens on our behalf. Can he heal us, comfort us, visit us, search and go there at that point?
Peter? Yes, Lord. I’m done. Peter! Listen to me. I am God. Peter, where are you? There is no record of the talk between Jesus and Peter at that point. There is later when he said feed my sheep. It says he met Peter on that resurrection day but no record of what they said.
Imagine when God is seeking you, he finds you and heals you. It all gets right and you are ok. There is healing in his wings. There is a high priest that understands us. He has passed into the heavens.
vs. 15. He is sympathetic because he is compassionate and caring and has been touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He has been there. We have not a high priest removed from us. He’s been with us. The homeless people on route 40, the drug addict in despair, and suicidal, the man in unbelief, the man cowering, and the man blaming and accusing everyone who says the whole world is wrong and he’s right. Judas was at the center of his complaint. I got embarrassed, ashamed, I messed up so he took his life. He didn’t find this healing and restoration and this high priest who could come to Judas. At the cross is where our healing happens. God is saying you are wrong and I am right. We say Jesus you are wrong and I am right. Jesus says you got it backward. I am right and you are wrong. Judas, you are wrong. You will enter into your healing and restoration. I am a priest who cares about who you are. I will make you healthy and holy and blessed.
vs. 15. All points tempted as we are. Read history, read about leaders, pain, thieves, adultery, – second thought don’t – disasters in history. Then say Jesus was in all points every area he understands it and knows it. He’s been to the bottom.
He has been there and has passed into the heaven’s vs. 16.
Self-pity? Come boldly. Fail? Come boldly. What shall this man do? Come boldly to the throne of grace. Hypocrisy in life? Come boldly. The church is filled with hypocrites. Big deal. That’s not a reason to forsake the assembly but show up and bring authenticity and truth and life and joy.
vs. 16. And grace to help in time of need.
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