“Great Issues Of Life” Series #4



TEXT:       Heb. 12:25-29;   2 Pet. 3:3-15


INTRO:     Imagine a huge ocean liner full of people pulling out of the dock in New York City.  No destination is announced and there are reports that the boat has everything a boat should have except a rudder ... lots of power, plenty of fuel, plenty of fun, food, water, pool, tennis courts, etc. ... but no rudder!  Who knows where this boat will end up?


Such is the life without God ... without God, life has no purpose or meaning, we are just drifting through this universe and happen to exist for a brief period of time ... and nothing we do will have any real lasting consequence!  We might have plenty of food, water ... and even lots of laughs ... but we are rudderless ... no sense of direction or destination!


Those who aim for nothing will likely find that target!


PROP. SENT:     We are not a people merely wandering in a desert without direction ... we have a certain “meaning” in Christ that those in the world cannot have!  We are a people “receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” ... what we do not only matters now ... but for all eternity!


I.  WORDS OF PERSPECTIVE    Heb. 12:25-27;  2 Pet. 3:3-15


A.   Warnings From the Past     Heb. 12:25-26a

1.   How reliable is God's Word?

a.   One only has to look back in order to look ahead!

b.   God used Moses to warn His people ... and when they chose to ignore God's warnings they suffered the consequences!

c.   History is full of God's Word being true!

2.   The Old Covenant gave mostly warnings ... hope was in the future New Covenant.

3.   God warned Israel of the dangers of sin ... through the 10 commandments given Moses ... to this day those commandments still stand as a warning for sinners of the dangers in sin ... and the painful consequences if ignored!


ILLUS:      In her novel about Maine, Sara Jewett describes the ascent of a woman writer on the pathway leading to home of a retired sea captain named Elijah Tilley.   On the way the woman noticed a number of wooden stakes randomly scattered about the property without any seeming order.  Each stake was white trimmed in yellow like the captain's house.  Curious she asked the captain what they meant.  His answer, "When I first plowed the ground my plow snagged on many large rocks just beneath the surface ... so I put the stakes where those hidden dangers are so as to avoid them in the future."  This is what God has done with the 10 commandments; they are warning signs of the trouble spots in life ... helping us avoid snagging our plows if we obey them! – Source Unknown


4.   History is full of people who have obeyed and disobeyed God's Word ... with the results pretty predictable and constant!

a.   Those who have sought to ignore God's Word have reaped many of the same pains.

b.   Those who have obeyed have discovered the joys of being in right relationship with God.

5.    If people listened to God speak through Moses on Earth ... how much more we need to heed Jesus who speaks to us now from heaven!


B.   Watching for the Promises    Heb. 12:26b-27;   2 Pet. 3:3-15

1.   "Once more" means God is going to make a great announcement again in the future!

2.   Those things which can be shaken one day will be!

a.   The meaning is clear ... material things won't last forever!

b.   Only the spiritual things will last!

c.   Science even says this; our universe if obeying the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics; or the Law of Entropy … the universe is winding down and decaying.

3.   It will not be easy to hang on to spiritual realities, like other times in the past ... many will scoff at God's promises!  [READ: 2 PET. 3:3-15]

4.   People will scorn our boat with a rudder...


ILLUS:     Like those who scorned Columbus for really believing you could sail a boat across the ocean and actually find a new land or at the least a new route to the east!  Jokes of the day ran something like this: “Why did Columbus cross the ocean ... to get to the other side!”  Their thinking was “Can you believe anybody would go sailing with this mad man?”  Perhaps another joke of the times: “What do you think you're going to find Columbus ... Ohio?” – Source Unknown


5.   Scoffers will come ... and scoffers will go ... but we will remain on course if Christ is our rudder, our meaning in life!  Steer a clear course by Him and you'll make the right destination!

6.   People assume God doesn't exist or that there is no heaven and hell ... but assumptions can be wrong!


ILLUS:     A woman traveling on a plane stopped and bought a package of cookies to eat on the plane.  She sat down next a gentleman reading a paper ... and shortly to her horror she heard a rustling of the cookie package.  Looking down next to her she watched as the man tore open the package and began eating the cookies ... not wanting to make a scene she reached down and began eating them herself ... thinking he will be embarrassed when he realizes she is eating also!  A minute or so passed and the man again helped himself, she again grabbed several and ate in a way he could not escape notice of!  they had nearly eaten the entire package when as she was about to grab the last cookie, he took it just ahead of her ... to add even more grief, he took the last cookie, broke it in half and offered her half of it!  While she stared at him, he ate his half and left!  Still fuming, later she opened her handbag to get her next ticket and to her shock and embarrassment she found her entire package of cookies in her purse still!  How wrong assumptions can be at times! – Source Unknown


7.   People assume that because it has been thousands of years since Christ promised His return that He isn't coming again!

a.   This is a bad assumption!

b.   God isn't slow by His standards ... only by our understanding of time! (2 Pet. 3:8-10)

c.   God's "slowness" by our standards means "salvation" for many people ... God is still giving time for people to respond to His offer of forgiveness and salvation! (2 Pet. 3:15)

8.   The rest of this passage includes the reality of how transitory the things of this world really are ... they are the shakable things!


ILLUS    Like Columbus ... we keep gazing through the fog looking for that new land, believing in our hearts we are on track and not just wandering aim­lessly!  One day we are going to hear the SHOUT ... LAND AHOE!  Keep watching for the promises of God!  Don't lose sight of God's promises!  Keep steering by His Word ... you won't get lost even when you can't see well! – Source Unknown


C.   Well-Being for the Persistent!   2 Pet. 3:8-9,11,14

1.   Did Columbus' trip pay off?  YOU BET!

2.   Will our persistent efforts to steer your life based on God's reality pay off!  YOU BET YOUR LIFE IT WILL!

3.   The trip is never too bad when you know that the boat has a rudder and the captain knows where he's going!

4.   Of course Satan would rather keep us from trusting in the captain and keep us in bondage and fear!


ILLUS:     Like the little boy who was visiting his grandparents, he was given a slingshot and spent a great deal of time practicing, though he never did hit his targets.  Coming back to grandma's house he noticed her pet duck, on impulse he took aim and let fly a rock!  The stone hit the duck and killed it ... to his surprise and dismay!  He panicked and decided to get rid of the evidence, so he quickly buried the duck ... only to discover his sister had watched the whole thing!  After lunch that day, grandma asked his sister Sally to help with the dishes, but Sally said, "Johnny told me that he wanted to help you Grand­ma" ... while whispering to Johnny "REMEMBER THE DUCK!"  So Johnny did the dishes.  The next day Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, but Grandma said she needed Sally to help make supper.  Sally smiled and said, "That's already taken care of, Johnny said he wanted to help make supper" ... whispering again to Johnny, "Remember the duck!"  Johnny helped make supper!  After several days of doing all Sally's chores Johnny decided to just confess to killing the duck ... and as soon as he did grandma responded, "I know already Johnny, I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing, I was wondering how long you were going to let Sally make a slave out of you!" – Source Unknown


II.  WORSHIP OF POWER!    Heb. 12:28-29


A.   Whole-hearted Praise     Heb. 12:28a

1.   Drawing a conclusion to the foregoing information we can therefore be thankful knowing “we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken!”

2.   This thankfulness can even cross over the present painful situations ... because it looks beyond just the present difficulties to victory!


ILLUS:      Like the old man a college student by the name of Mark Tidd of Webster, New York met.  This old man showed up at their back door, he was glazed eyed, face full of stubble, dirty with old clothes and selling vegetables that were already past retirement age!  Nervously they bought a few just to get rid of him, but the man returned every week!  He finally introduced himself as Mr. Roth who lived just down the road in an old shack ... finally realizing that his marbled eyes were from cataracts, not alcohol.  He would often shuffle in with 2 mismatched right shoes on, pull out his harmonica and play a few old gospel hymns on it ... and of course sell the old vegetables.  One visit the old man stated, "The Lord is so good, I came out of my shack this morning and found a whole box of shoes and clothes on my front porch."  Mark Tidd responded, "That's wonderful Mr. Roth ... we're happy for you!" To this the old man responded, "You know what's even more wonderful ... just yesterday I met some people that could use them!" That's whole-hearted praise! – Source Unknown


3.   There is always something to be depressed about ... but much more to be thank­ful for!


B.   Worship & Perception     Heb. 12:28b

1.   "Worship God acceptably..."

a.   Not so much a correct format ... as much as it is a correct attitude!

b.   Worship can take on many forms ... with the right attitude many types or models are acceptable!

2.   2 things are required to worship God acceptably:

a.   Reverence!

b.   Awe!

3.   Reverence:  This means with respect.

a.   God is not just our "Santa Clause in the sky!"

b.   God is to be treated with respect ... recognition of His greatness!

c.   God is not just another human being ... He is the creator of all things!

d.   Worship that is genuine takes this into account!

4.   Awe:  This means recognition of His supremacy!

a.   He is awesome ... great, nothing is greater!

b.   We are His subjects, not vice versa!

5.   Acceptable worship actually grants us a proper perspective of God that allows us to truly worship Him as He is ... and not just for what we get out of it!

a.   Proper worship creates proper perspective!

b.   This demonstrates itself in our life and lifestyle!


ILLUS:      A guy can talk all he wants about how good a rudder is for a ship, but if his life wanders aimlessly about his statements of faith are unfounded!  Like the Boeing engineer who helped produce the Boeing 707.  When he was flying on a propeller driven DC-6 he ran into another engineer who asked about the new 707.  He went into great lengths on the testing and development of the new jet.  Finally he was asked if he had yet flown on the new 707 he worked on, this was his answer, "I think I'll wait until it's been in service awhile."  His great bragging on how great the new 707 was suddenly lost credibility! – Source Unknown


C.   Wasted or Preserved!    Heb. 12:29

1.   “God is a consuming fire” -- a strange but powerful statement!

2.   The future will someday catch up with all of us ... will your life have been a waste ... or will it be a blessing?

a.   For sinners … they always have their past catching up to them!

b.   But Christians always have their future catching up to them!

c.   Which would you prefer?

3.   No one can escape God ... the picture here is probably that of the properties of fire!

a.   It can benefit you ... or destroy you!


ILLUS:      A couple of guys were duck hunting in southeastern Georgia when they noticed in the distance a huge black cloud ... soon they could hear crackling noises and smell smoke ... a huge brush fire had broken out and the wind was driving it straight towards them!  The wind was strong and there was no way to outrun it, the one man reached into his pocket and took out a lighter and quickly reached down and lit a fire at his feet ... calling his buddy to stand in the circle it left as it burned out from them in each direction ... soon the main fire came ... but because they stood in the area already burned out, it went around them and they were safe!  God either clears the path for you if you accept Jesus ... or His fire will consume you when it hits everything! – Source Unknown


4.   Will you be wasted or preserved ... that's your decision now!

a.   While we live we have the opportunity to decide.

b.   Death however seals whatever decision we made in life.

5.   Only God gives meaning to life ... don't just float through life rudderless, drifting aimlessly through a number of emotional storms and feeling helpless!

6.   It doesn't matter how big your ship is or how powerful it is ... without a rudder you're in big trouble!


CONCLUSION:    Without a sense of meaning to life we are doomed to live from emotional highs or lows, life becomes a meaningless trip through a sea of conflicting emotional waves.  A relationship to an everlasting God gives far-reaching meaning to our lives, and keeps us afloat during stormy seas!