Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When our faith in God is genuine, it causes us to make choices in God's favor. We willingly take the risk of alienating those around us when we choose God's way over that of the world.
That's what Moses did as we read in Hebrews 11. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, the world is getting crazier every day. Do you think that believers need to take more risks of faith than perhaps ever? Certainly those of us who live in the West, Dave, we need to take more risks of faith. The path oftentimes is not very clear to us, and as our culture is collapsing around us, we need to make up our minds and follow Christ no matter the cost. Very interestingly, I've written a book entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, and one of the chapters is entitled Faithfulness to Christ Requires an Acceptance of Persecution.
And I point out that throughout the centuries, the Church of Jesus Christ has so often been marginalized and persecuted. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. And by the way, we're coming to the end of making this resource available to you. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us turn our attention to God's word, asking the question, are we willing to take a risk taking that which we see and trading it in for that which we can't see? We stand with Moses in choosing between the visible world and the invisible. Did you notice that little phrase, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season? The Bible teaches very clearly that there is pleasure in sin, but it has two negatives. Number one, it is fleeting.
It is here. Robert Burns was absolutely right when he said, but pleasures are like poppies spread. You seize the flower, its bloom is shed, or like snowflakes on the river, a moment white, then gone forever. One of the things about the pleasures of sin is that they are fleeting, and secondly, they always have a bad aftertaste. Moses was not willing to get involved in the pleasures of sin.
All the women that were available to him in the palace, all of the wealth that was available to him as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, he said no to all that. He chose other pleasures. And we have to keep in mind that God is not against pleasure. What God wants us to do is to see the higher pleasures. In thy presence, there is fullness of joy at thy right hand. There are pleasures forevermore. The pleasures of God have no bad aftertaste, and they go on forever and ever. Jonathan Edwards was a preacher who has voted out of his church, America's premier theologian, back in the 1700s. And his biographer said of him that his happiness in God was beyond the reach of his enemies.
Wow. His happiness in God was beyond the reach of his enemies. What they are saying is that he found that there are pleasures at the right hand of God that no one could take from him. But we all stand with that. Our world is awash with pleasure. Earlier this year, I spoke on the whole business of technology and the kind of entertainment that people watch.
It's everywhere. We stand with Moses, and we must decide that we are going to choose the invisible world of God, his attributes, and the enjoyments of God at his right hand. There's a second lesson we must learn, and that is that every sacrifice, every sacrifice we make here on earth merits a reward. Every sacrifice we make merits a reward, and God is exceedingly generous. Have you been unjustly fired perhaps because of your Christian testimony, because of your integrity? I remember speaking to somebody in the hallway of the church here about that a couple of years ago.
They had been released from their work because they wouldn't do some of the shenanigans they were asked to do. And I said to them, are you rejoicing? They said, rejoicing? You know, I have to pay the bills and all that.
And I said, yeah, I know that. That's a very realistic way to look at it. But this is what Jesus said, blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven. Let's talk about the sensitive issue of money. When we as pastors talk to a congregation and we tell them, you know, the end of the fiscal year is coming and we have a shortfall that's going to impact ministry.
Many of them say, well, you know, that's just the way it is. You know, the pastor needs money. The church lights have to be on.
Ministry has to continue. And what we forget is that that is such a small part of giving. What we forget is that when we are not generous, and let me say it plainly, if you're not generous, almost surely you are not a Christian. It's unthinkable to me that somebody would receive the grace of God freely and understand the high cost at which we were redeemed and then not in turn be generous. But nonetheless, people think to themselves and they forget that when we are stingy, when we are not generous, we're robbing ourselves of eternal reward. All throughout the New Testament, you have this emphasis and then the devil comes along with a big lie and says, oh, you can't take it with you.
What a lie. Of course you can take it with you. All throughout the New Testament we're told how we can do that. What you need to do is to transmute it into something that you can take with you. That word transmute means if you go to Walgreens with a $20 bill and buy some aspirin, you can't swallow the bill so you transmute it into aspirin. And that will help you a great deal more than the $20 bill.
In the very same way, if we take our investments and transmute them into something that will meet us on the other side, we take them with us. Love to tell that story about the princess in Europe who had a crown and she was a Christian. She wanted to be able to sell the jewels in her crown so that she could build an orphanage. And of course her husband said no, no, no. But eventually she convinced him. You've heard me say, you know, that when it comes to television, oftentimes it is the man who wants the remote control. And I've explained why.
Because to a man, even remote control is better than none at all. So she convinced him. She sold the jewels, built an orphanage, and then she came back one day and when she heard the children singing, she said, I found my jewels. I found my jewels. And she took it with her because the Bible says we should invest our money in such a way that when we die, there are those in heaven who welcome us into everlasting habitations.
And Jesus said that if we are faithful in that which is little, we'll also be faithful in that which is much and be rewarded for it. Remember that story about the wealthy Raja in England, in India, I should say, riding along in his chariot. And then you have the beggar who was there. And the beggar was very upset because he thought, why doesn't this rich man give me money?
So he stood there along the road. And to his surprise, the wealthy man got off, looked at him and said, beggar, give me some of your rice. The beggar was angry, but he gave the wealthy Raja one grain of rice. The Raja said, beggar, give me more of your rice. Gingerly and still angry, the beggar gave him a second grain of rice and then a third. And at that point, the beggar was so angry he went off in a huff.
Raja got on his chariot and left. But a little later, the beggar looked into his bowl of rice and noticed that there was something that glittered. He looked more carefully and it was a grain of gold the size of a grain of rice.
He found just two more. He thought to himself, oh, if only, if only I had known I would have given him my entire bowl of rice. Friends, if we could see into the world to come, if we could see into eternity, we would be so generous. We would be looking for places to give our money. We would have so much income as a church and for our missionaries and for the advancement of the gospel that I'd have to stand up here and say, folks, enough already.
Enough already. It's a day for which I pray that has not yet happened. Every investment, every penny that you give will be rewarded. Jesus said a cup of cold water, if it's given in my name, will be remembered in the day of judgment. And so we must keep in mind that every sacrifice has its implications and rewards.
And now we come to the bottom, bottom line. The bottom line is simply this, that eternity often reverses. Eternity often reverses the decisions of time or the verdict of time.
We could put it this way and say that heaven sometimes reverses the verdict of earth. You think, for example, Moses. Now, from one standpoint, it looked as if he was a loser turning his back on the world to follow God with all of those problems. But look at what he inherited.
Look at him there on the Mount of Transfiguration and interview him now and ask him whether the suffering was worth it. Of course it was. If we look through the text, the next person that is mentioned is the harlot Rahab. We all know her story. The prostitute, and there she was in Jericho. And earth said, what about her? Well, she was a woman of the streets.
You can imagine how she had been betrayed by men, all of the humiliation, the self-hatred, the things that were said about her. But you know that because she believed in Jehovah and was therefore forgiven, she shows up here in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, which is the place where you have all the heroes of faith, of all things. And this isn't the only place where she is in the New Testament. You read Matthew chapter 1. She is in the genealogy of Jesus. And furthermore, I never realized this until recently. I've read the genealogy often.
She was the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, and they had a child by the name of Obed, and Obed in turn becomes the father of Jesse, who's the father of David, and on and on it goes. Because God says, I want people to know from the outset that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. Even prostitutes on the street can become a daughter of God. And so what we have here in the Scriptures is a reminder of how eternity reverses the verdict of time. You know, sometimes I've asked young people this, and we're so glad that we have so many of them here today.
I've said, now, I want you to ask this question. I want to ask you, what would you rather do? Would you like to be somebody who has a lot of wealth? They can go on any cruise they want. They can eat in any restaurant. They can have any clothes that they want. They can live in the finest home. They're loaded with bling because they have so much money. Would you like to live that way, or would you prefer to be a beggar on the street trying to eke out an existence? And of course, it's a no-brainer, right?
I mean, why even ask the question? One day, Jesus was confronted with Pharisees, and the Bible says they were lovers of money. So Jesus told them a story. He told them a story about a rich man who ate at a wonderful table and had all of that wealth.
And then he said that there was a beggar who came, and the dogs actually licked the sores of this beggar. But both of them died. The poor man was carried into Abraham's bosom, which is really another word for paradise.
The beggar had wonderful experience on the other side. But what happened to the rich man? The rich man ended up in Hades in torment. Jesus didn't tell that story to teach us how to get to heaven.
That's clear. What he did is to say that eternity sometimes reverses the decisions of time, and that's why it is so critical for us to know God. If you're here today and you've trusted Christ as Savior, I want to be very clear and say that this life, with all of its trials, all of its difficulties, all of its heartache, is the worst it will ever get. After you die, it's going to be paradise, and it's going to be glory. But if you don't know Christ as Savior, this is as good as it'll ever get. You'll never get any better. Because if you die without Christ from here on, it is going to be nothing but heartache, nothing but torment, nothing but isolation, nothing but yourself, your sin, and eventually, hell. Wow.
No matter how much you have in this life, because remember eternity often reverses the decisions and the values of time. A couple of years ago I was speaking in California, and some folks said to us, you know, there's a cemetery just across the way, and that's where Frank Sinatra is buried. So we went and we found the grave of Frank Sinatra. Actually, we couldn't find it, but somebody pulled up in a big SUV, and we said, we're looking for the grave of Frank Sinatra. So he pulls out his iPhone, knew I guess what to type in, pushes a button, and says, now what you need to do is to go along this path about 100 feet and then turn right and it'll be there. I guess everything is on the internet today. If we could just feed the internet into our brains, students, you wouldn't even have to go to school because it's all there.
I'm assuming that you'd have a very good filtering system, by the way. There we stood at the grave of Frank Sinatra. One of the things that impressed me, first of all, is that the gravestone was the same height and size as all of the others. So at the end of the day, you basically die, and death is the great equalizer. But on his tombstone were the words, the best is yet to come. Because Frank wrote a song by that name, the best is yet to come, baby. Won't it just be fine? The best is yet to come. Someday you'll be mine.
The best is yet to come. But I looked at that and I thought, I'm not going to judge Frank Sinatra. He's in the presence of wherever eternity ended up for him, and you'll be judged by God. But I thought to myself, for those who do not know Christ as Savior, you've never savingly believed on him. You've only made a profession, but you've never been born again. On your tombstone should be written, the worst is yet to come. The worst is yet to come. But for those of us who know Christ as Savior, it is true that no matter how bad life is, the best is yet to come.
Because eternity reverses all of the suffering of time. I urge you today to make a radical decision. Students, fling your life away for Jesus Christ.
Just give it to him. Take the risk of faith. And be like the Apostle Paul who said, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.
There's really nothing at the end of the day except Jesus and eternity. Look forward to the reward because eternity is on its way. Let's join together as we pray. And our Father, we pray in these moments that your Holy Spirit would speak to us and help us to make wise decisions. May we be willing, O Lord God, to choose the path of Moses, to be willing to suffer mistreatment and hardship because we see the invisible world. We pray that as we sing this chorus together now in the next few moments, that it may be sung as a prayer. But we need your help. We can't do it on our own. Would you come and help us and speak to us even as we sing in Jesus' name? Amen. In light of the message that you have just heard, I find it very interesting that in my book titled, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, I have a chapter entitled, Things Are Not What They Appear to Be.
The point, of course, is simply this, that evil sometimes appears to win on earth, but all of those decisions and all of those victories are reversed in the world to come. I wrote this book to give us encouragement, to give us hope. It's a resource that I think will be a tremendous blessing to you. The book is entitled, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, An Informed Response to Islam's War with Christianity. And this is the second to last day that we are making this resource available.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Remember, I wrote this book because when we are visiting Turkey, we discovered that there are no seven churches of revelation. There are only mosques. And a very devout guide made it clear that Islam's ability to replace the church is proof of its superiority. And so I wrote this book to help us to understand what are those lessons that we need to learn in the West that the history of Turkey has to teach us. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
And thanks in advance for helping us because together running to win is in more than 20 different countries in four different languages. Go to rtwoffer.com or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, An Informed Response to Islam's War with Christianity.
Call right now 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Not everyone likes what they hear on Running to Win. John listens to us on KDKR in Rutherford, Texas. He has this observation. In one of your broadcasts, someone asked a question about profanity. In your answer to him, you made the statement that we must accept people and their faith so that they may accept our faith. If this is so, I'd like to see anywhere in the Bible where this is taught. Jesus is portrayed as meek and mild on this subject, and I, for one, can't find anywhere in his Word where he says we are to do this.
Please enlighten me on this statement. John, I'm not exactly sure what it is that you're referring to in the question that I answered, but I doubt very much that I made the statement that when people use profanity, we simply have to accept it. There is a way, of course, by which we can connect with them and let them know that we don't appreciate it, because after all, they are talking about our God and our Lord Jesus Christ. But I think that this can be done in a winsome way rather than a condemning way, and I'll tell you why. Because the real issue in these people's lives is not the fact that they use profanity, however unscriptural that is. The real issue has to do with their relationship with God, and what we need to do is to recognize that profanity is but a symptom of a much deeper problem, and that is that they haven't been reconciled to the Father and don't appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ. So, I'm simply saying that what we need to do is get beyond the sin to the Savior, and that's, of course, I think what I meant in the comment that you referenced.
So, I pray that God will really give us wisdom, because what we need is wisdom so that we can both rebuke but also bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Some say, why have faith in God when He never seems to answer prayer? Next time, a look at those who believed God no matter what. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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