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Christian Living (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2022 6:00 am

Christian Living (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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April 15, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter to the Hebrews

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We have these stories, these lives of faith that are here to challenge us. You bet they are. What if we're not challenged?

We just stay home in our pajamas all day. We're challenged to match those lives of faith in the arena that we find ourselves in, the Christian life. So again, we're not to say, well, I'm not Joshua. I can't bring down walls of Jericho. Well, God's not asking you to bring down walls of Jericho.

There are no more walls of Jericho to bring down that he once brought down. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Hebrews.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Hebrews chapter 12 for a brand new message called Christian Living. We are in Hebrews chapter 12 verses 1 and 2. In the 11th chapter, we covered lives of faith, faith that pleases God. And if you're not a student of the scripture, hopefully you'll be able to follow along and concentrate on those things that you do understand, that do minister to you. And as we looked at those lives in chapter 11, how many of them struggled in life through hardship and danger?

It would do us well to study those lives before it is our turn to go through hardship and danger and suffer, to analyze lives of faith and scripture because they match so well our own lives at some point. That 11th chapter toward the end, we read these words about those saints of whom the world was not worthy. Now the world is humanity in rejection of Christ. That is a brief definition of what the Bible means when it says the world, not the planet.

That in context, of course, does show up. But spiritually, the world is that which is in opposition to the Son of God and the saints of scripture. We also gathered from that 11th chapter that faith enables us to be more interested in God's approval than anyone else's. And if we get that one right, we will certainly be a benefit, a blessing to those around us and not hopefully a drain on good things as is so easy to do when we live in the flesh. And now for those again who are not students of scripture, the flesh is your sinful nature. We're all born with it. We are born sinners. We are born sinners even before we have a chance to sin. All of the codes, everything necessary for us to sin is there and it is not a possibility if we grow and develop in life. It is a guarantee that we will offend God. We will sin and thus we need a savior. And so this faith that has been spoken of throughout the scripture and particularly this Hebrew document has to do with the righteous and their walk through this life, pleasing God, overcoming the things that would set us, would separate us from God who loves us and that is what we preach.

Now I should point out that if you're going through life and you have faith and you're not being delivered from something, that does not mean you do not have faith or that faith does not work. Having read that 11th chapter, again I keep referring to it because this chapter, this chapter, it hinges on that 11th chapter. You might read that 11th chapter and say, well that's the climactic point in Hebrews. Perhaps not.

Perhaps not. Look now at verse 1 please in Hebrews chapter 12. He says, therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. That therefore splices together everything said in Hebrews 11. Remember when Hebrews was written there's no chapter divisions, no verse divisions, it's just one single document. It is good that we have chapter and verse divisions. They are coordinates on a map to help us find particular places and we would be very stressed to find this and that in scripture without them.

I don't know why it took so long to come about with chapter divisions and verses but that's how it is. But that therefore it's critical, it is one of the great therefores of the scripture. The writer is saying those lives that I was just talking about, those real lives that followed a real God, the son of God named Jesus, those lives therefore because of everything we just talked about them is connected to us. We have a faith to live just like them. We're not to say well they had faith that's not available to us any longer.

Well why not? The same God, he doesn't change, he hasn't lost power. The same God is available and all that he has for us. It's just that he is working right now in a different way. He's working primarily through the truths that have been shared and preserved in scripture.

That is our primary weapon, that is our primary tool. It is why Satan so targets truth in churches. And so you go to a church and they're not preaching the truth, they're preaching the garbage that comes from the world. Not all churches, not at all, but a great many of them.

I don't know if it's the majority or the minority, I just know it's enough to watch out. You better be careful even before you recommend somebody, before you say to a new convert you need to go to church, which one? Some of them aren't interested in Jesus Christ, they're interested in the approval of men. And so we can say, as we read in chapter 11, by faith, by faith Rahab did this, by faith Gideon did that, and on and on.

Well you can say that about you and I. We can say by faith, put your name there, you did what for Jesus? By faith I did nothing. Well sometimes by faith you're supposed to do nothing, like keep your mouth closed. And then there are other times when you're supposed to do something.

You've got to learn when to and when not to. And we're going to get to some of that. He says, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness. The witnesses that surround us are the stories we just read.

That's what he's referring to. The scripture is full of true stories about those who served God by faith and brought about victory in honoring God through their lives. That is the cloud of witness. Now what it does not mean, as some have taught, I think without grounds from scripture at all, that there are our loved ones in heaven now in the grandstands looking down at us. I hope not. That's pretty spooky.

I'm wearing clothes in the shower, that's it. I mean it's discomforting and kind of creepy, if that's the case. Why would they want to relive our failures?

We'll see this, what we're going through. There's no grounds for that in scripture. I don't want them to see my loved ones in heaven. I don't want them to see my failures and my struggles. I serve God, not them, as much as I love them. There's no love diminished in that. Well, I think that's enough about that. I could go on if you'd like, but that's enough. It means, again, we have these stories, these lives of faith that are here to challenge us. You bet they are. What if we're not challenged?

We just stay home in our pajamas all day. We're challenged to match those lives of faith in the arena that we find ourselves in, the Christian life. So again, we're not to say, well, I'm not Joshua, I can't bring down walls of Jericho. Well, God's not asking you to bring down walls of Jericho. There are no more walls of Jericho to bring down that He wants brought down. There are walls to be lifted up, there are walls to be brought down, and you're only going to find out if you follow by faith and obedience. And let us not forget grace. We'll be covering grace in this section.

He says, let us lay aside every weight. This is the ninth time we have heard the writer of this document say, let us. There's 13 of them in Hebrews, four more to go. They show up quite a bit in all the writings of Paul, almost, well, many of the writings of Paul, not much in everyone else's writing. Another evidence that Paul probably is the author of this for you who are Christian students or the scribe of the Hebrew document.

But when he says, let us, it is a tactful way. He is encouraging for them to get past their failures. Remember, the Hebrew Christians that he is writing to in particular were those Christians who had suffered for Christ. They knew the gospel, but now they were growing weary because of persecution, because of cultural pressure, family pressure, and they were thinking about mingling Christianity with Judaism. You cannot mingle Christianity with anything and still have Christianity. And this is what he's writing to them.

Stop doing this. And so he says, let us, it's an encouragement. If others live by faith, let us do likewise. See, this is still to this day. That is that therefore of the first verse.

Therefore, because they were encouraged, we too are encouraged to live by faith. He says, lay aside every weight. The unnecessary baggage that causes us to fail to gain altitude. There is, you know, Admiral Byrd, a great pioneer explorer of Antarctica, and he's in a plane on one of his trips. They're going through a route and blazing a new trail in the sky. And they're going through sort of a canyon with the plane.

But the canyon is too narrow for them to turn around and they're not gaining altitude to get over these mountains, these 10,000 foot mountains. So the pilot, Belkom, tells Byrd, we need to get rid of some weight. So they all jumped out.

No. That would have been the end of the story. So they had two options.

Byrd knew right away what to do. Either get rid of fuel or food. They got rid of the food and they just made it over the hump. They just got over the mountains.

They would have crashed. They had to get rid of baggage. It was life or death in their situation. And in many of our cases, it's life or death. Let us encourage, encourage, that is what that means, get rid of the baggage, with the baggage. Some of it we find is actually handcuffed to us by the flesh.

And it is a fight to get rid of this baggage if we're going to gain altitude, but we cannot give up. Now, each one, each Christian has to learn how and where to best serve the Christ whom they claim to love. And if you don't love Christ, you're not a Christian. What makes one of the things that makes us Christian is that we love the Lord, that we believe He died on a cross for us, not for Himself, for us. And no one else could do what He did. That He rose again from the dead and that we will see Him one day and be like Him in heaven forever.

Well, how are you going to find out? The Bible stresses that we are to not satisfy that question in our own strength according to our own wisdom. Many Christians don't care for the wisdom of God. You know, Solomon, he stopped caring for God's wisdom.

He started working with his own counterfeit brand, and look where it landed him. Well, Proverbs 3, many Christians know this verse. I don't know how many are eager to act upon it. Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Well, whose understanding am I going to lean on? Well, it depends on what we're talking about.

If you're talking about furniture, you might want a furniture maker. But if we're talking about faith, serving the King, Christian living, then we have to go to Christ. How do we do that? Well, He's given us the Holy Spirit just for that. I will not leave you orphans. I will send the paraclete and the greet, the comforter, the one who is beside you, and He will guide you into all truth.

And so that's who we depend on. But this was happening even before the crucifixion, the resurrection, and Pentecost. In Genesis, we read about the servant of Abraham being sent on this mission to find a bride for Abraham's beloved son, Isaac. And the servant, he gets to his destination and he is praying to the Lord to show him what to do. We pick up just a section of it, Genesis 24, verse 27. When he realizes that God has guided him and he makes it known, he says, As for me being on the way, Yahweh led me to the house of my master's brethren. So we have that it's necessary in Proverbs.

We have that it is doable in Genesis 24. And then we have that it is a brand of the believer, a mark of the believer in Romans 8.14. For as many, Paul writes, as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God. The ones that are led by the Spirit. What about those who are led by the Spirit? Well, what are they led by then? They say Jesus is Lord, but they're not led by Him. The Lord leads, He's master, He's commander. Who are you led by? Your own wisdom.

You have enough Bible knowledge, I understand you do not need to check with Jesus Christ because you know enough. Everybody's doing it that way. That is a blueprint for gossip and disaster and self-will.

Being an irritant to everybody around you. If I asked which one of you has ever irritated someone else and been on the wrong side of the irritation, everybody should raise their hands. And then if I said, well, which one of you have sought the Lord to stop doing that and to redirect your energies into something that is profitable for Him which would be profitable for others?

And I hope everyone would then raise their hands also. In Acts we find this ongoing, this concept of being led by God. Paul, that great apostle, you would think that while he had seen Jesus, he received instruction personally, homeschooled by Jesus in the faith.

You would think he just could be on automatic pilot now, just fulfilled the imperatives laid on him at the beginning. But all through his life we find Paul dependent on the Holy Spirit. Paul wanted to minister in a certain area and instead of saying, well, the gospel's not there, we've got the gospel, we're going, what else, you know, what could be wrong with that? Instead of doing that, they sought the Lord and this is what Luke writes about that moment. He says after they had come to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

Not bad weather, it may have used bad weather, but they knew this was from God Himself. We're talking about laying aside those things that cause us to not gain altitude and one of them is not being led by the Lord. Now there are times where the Lord says, you know, there are just certain formulas that are out there that you don't need me to lead you. If the dog is chasing you, then it's wise to run from him. You don't, Lord, do I run from this beast.

Maybe somebody can do that and pull it off. Me, I'm on the roof of a car right away. Jesus, of course, promised, He promised that He would speak to us and He promised, He doesn't chatter. Understand, God does not chatter. He doesn't walk every five minutes. What are you doing now, Bunky? He is high and holy.

This is very important. Jesus says, my sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. You can't follow Jesus and someone else at the same time unless you're ubiquitous and you're not, but what happens when you've been following the Lord, you know it's Him or at least you think you do and you act upon it and it fails.

Was it Him or not? Well, sometimes it wasn't, sometimes it may have been. The point is the next time you might be a little bit more sober minded and you're following and that's what God wants. He's not glorified by silliness. Christian immaturity does not do honor to Christ. How does He burn that out of us?

Failure, mishap. I've been led by the Lord in my life as a pastor many times, but there are times that I was led. I know that was Him and it didn't happen the way I thought it was.

Was it still Him? So the next time I'll be a little bit more careful, but I hope I do not become so careful that I become timid and cowardly. Striking that balance requires an ongoing relationship all the time that does not demand from Christ but expects that I follow His demands.

And often waiting is part of that process and it can take years. But if you're not laying aside every wait that so easily ensnares you, guess what, you're going to be ensnared. It tells us that next clause and the sin which so easily ensnares us. There it is, the sin. The cause of all sorrow and pain in creation, in humans and animals and insects and anything. All death is wrong. It is because of sin.

That is the problem. But sin is not something removed in this life. Oh, it's judgment is for the believer. But sin remains in this life.

It is to be grappled with, to be engaged, to fight against. It's so easy, so easy for the Christian to sin just like that. Who can deny it?

You're sitting in your car or you're riding on your bicycle. So you're listening to Christian songs. I must put this here. Listen, you listen to Christian music done in a studio with people who get paid to get better and better at doing it in a studio. And then you go into a church and you're frustrated that they're not as good as a studio performance. Watch that. That is sin.

That is wrong. Don't do that if that is you. Become the critic of the musicians.

I mean, it would be different if they sung like me. Then you could criticize them. But back on course, so you're listening to Christian music in your car or your whatever it is. And the next thing you know, you're in sin angry at somebody else because they don't have enough turn fluid signal.

Turn fluid in their signal. And you say, I hate that guy. That's a bit much, don't you think? Well, it depends if I'm in the flesh or not. Because if I'm in the flesh, that's not a bit much. It's not enough. But if I'm in the spirit, I am convicted instantly. The sin it so easily besets of, and that's a mild example. I don't need to intensify it.

You can do it on your own. And so if others live by faith, let us get serious about doing likewise. That's what he is saying to them. Therefore, let us lay aside the things that are holding us back.

Let's respond to the challenge. But pastor, I've responded and I fell. Okay, then lie there. Just lie there.

Go ahead. Satan will be merciful to you. Of course, that's a lie. Satan will never be merciful to you. And if you think he is, he's setting you up for something worse.

Maybe he is saying, you know what? I'm going to be merciful to this one so I can destroy all those. We see it when pastors stumble, do we not? Some sin the pastor stumbles into that is a disqualifying sin.

And whole congregations are turned upside down. And so let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us. Now one other thing about that clause, and the sin. That is the definite article. The sin. It's a particular sin.

He's saying let us lay aside. Each one has a particular one. For you it might be, you know, you like cereal without milk. And for you it might be, you know what I'm saying. Each one has to struggle with something. There are sins that have just never been a problem for me. They're a problem for others, but just don't bother me.

And then there are others that may bother me that don't bother others. And so you know which one is the sin that so easily ensnares you. Trips you up. Snare a booby trap.

Next thing you know you're dangling from a tree upside down because you've been snared. He says let us run with endurance. Who's going to be your running partner?

I don't mean politically, I mean to go running with through this life. Endurance. But I'm all alone.

No you're not. Endurance is going to be with you. Oh, comforting.

Endurance is discomfort with hope if it is endurance with Christ. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at CrossReferenceRadio.com or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Hebrews right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-30 23:54:04 / 2023-05-01 00:03:20 / 9

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