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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Unchanging Jesus

Pastor Shim's sermon from November 14, 2010 ( Hebrews1:1-4;13:1-8)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Quotes from great men about the Greatest One:
“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.” –Napoleon
“A man who was completely innocent offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” –Mahatma Gandhi
“Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.” –Blasé Pascal
“As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.... No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” –Albert Einstein
“Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language that men can understand.” –S.D. Gordon
The writer of the book of Hebrews concludes in chapter 13 with words about love, leaders, and Lordship. He reminds his readers to keep first things first, to keep Jesus Christ in mind and heart, in everything we do because Jesus Christ is unchanging. The book of Hebrews gives us the following two exhortations to live the Godly life.
A. Jesus followers are to live by the law of his love. Heb. 13:1-4
1. Followers show it when they love. Why should we bother to obey the command to love each other as brothers and sisters? Only if we believe that in Jesus Christ we are brothers and sisters. The Book of Hebrews points us to the living Jesus in Heb:13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." We all bring yesterday’s unresolved relational issues of unforgiveness, bitterness, hurts, disappointments, etc. We need to ask Jesus to help us to deal with these past issues. Since he was there in our yesterdays, let us go back to those hurtful places and ask him to heal us. God said this about our yesterdays or past: "God heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” (Psalms 147:3), and "I will give you back what you have lost (Joel 2:25).
2. They show it when they love their spouse. “Give honor to marriage, remain faithful to one another. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery” (Hebrews 13:4). People say everything changes and nothing is permanent. That might be true in the physical world. But God doesn't change—His standard doesn't change. Hebrew 13:8 stands as a constant reminder to us of who Jesus Christ is: He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. Keep this in mind when you are tempted to accept the changing values of this changing world and those who dismiss the unchanging attribute of God. God is eternal and immutable by nature. St Paul challenges us in Romans 12:1-2 as God’s children to resist the world’s system that is opposed to Divine mandate, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The love practiced at home and church naturally spills out to the community. We Christians are called to be the light and salt to our world, and the book of Hebrews tells us how to show it.
B. Jesus’ followers are challenged to reach out beyond their walls.
1. They show it when they are hospitable: "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels.” Our example is Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18:1-5. The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my Lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.”
2. They show it when they remember those in prison: This includes all who are hurting, or as the Book of Hebrews instructs us, “Remember those being mistreated as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” Why should we obey this teaching? Because Jesus Christ does the same.
C. Jesus followers are called to be examples in trusting God is both in material and spiritual needs- here are two reasons from God’s word.
1. Why we don't have to worry about money and related needs? Because God promised "I will never fail you, I will never abandon you. So we can say with confidence, “The Lord's my helper, I will have no fear, what can mere people do to me? (Heb: 13:5-6) Remember this promise, Jesus was with you in the yesterdays where you learned to trust Him. If you have never learned to trust Him, maybe you are filled with fear today. Whatever is the state of your heart and mind, Jesus knows about your yesterday issues. If you trust him, he will help you to resolve your yesterday issues.
2. Why should we listen to those who teach us the word of God? Hebrews 13:7 tells us the reasons: "Remember your leaders who taught you the Word of God.” This is the key—leaders are to lead people to God for guidance and comfort. God is the only source of true wisdom. The power to change a life is in the unchanging power of Jesus. Jesus is able to help us about all your yesterday issues. He was before yesterday; therefore, we can count on him to help us heal as stated in Isaiah 9:6 “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace." Here it is clearly stated that Jesus Christ is God, as God the Father is and as God the Holy Spirit is. We should always remember this—before Jesus became a man he was God—he did not become God because he rose from the dead. He rose from the dead because he is God.
“Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ's 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity.” –Author Unknown
The changelessness of Jesus is proven by the difference he makes in people’s lives yesterday and today and by the hope he gives to the despairing, as this story from the “Biography of Dr. Nassir K. Siddiki:”
By age 34, Nassir Siddiki, a successful businessman, had made his first million, but money meant nothing to him on his deathbed. Diagnosed with the worst case of shingles ever admitted to Toronto General Hospital, his immune system shut down and doctors left him to die. Born into a Muslim family, Nasir had pinned all his hopes on modern medicine. When doctors could not help him, Nasir whispered, "God, if you're real, don't let me die!"
In the dark hour of the night, Jesus appeared beside Nasir's bed and said, "I Am the God of the Christians. I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Those brief moments in Jesus' presence left Nasir Siddiki miraculously healed. From that day to this one, Dr. Siddiki's passion has been to know and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
May this Jesus our ever living savior become our passion and highest goal.
Jesus’s humble servant,
Shim Habte - Willows United Methodist Church
544 North Shasta, Willows CA 95988
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