Glory to Glory

Glory to Glory

God is so awesome!  He meets us and accepts us right where we are at, but always desires to grow and mature us and to take us to a better place.  He wants to do a work in and through us so that we can obtain the full potential for which we were created.

There’s a lot that we can learn from our past mistakes, but there is a far better way of doing it.  Learning from the mistakes and successes of others!

God didn’t create everything, hand it over to us, and then leave us on our own to figure things out.  He left us a record spanning the course of thousands of years to teach us about why we’re here, how to best live our lives, who God is, and how people before us got it wrong and got it right.

It’s a pretty impressive and thorough user’s manual for life!

Romans 15:4-6

4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

The scriptures provide encouragement and hope.

5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God provides endurance and encouragement.

If you picture a runner taking on a marathon, God is like one driving alongside of them giving them directions to stay the course, guidance in how to run the race, encouragement when the road gets tough, water when we’re getting dry, healing when we get injured, and everything else that we could possibly need to run the race well.

God gives us everything we need, but it is our choice whether or not to run the race.  God is speaking, but are we listening?

Hebrews 1:1-4

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

The author then goes through an exhaustive list of quotes from the Old Testament proving that Jesus was not an angel.  It’s a great apologetic resource when studying the scriptures about this issue with those who might hold this view such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Apologetics is not apologizing for our beliefs, but rather, the ability to explain and defend what we believe.

Hebrews 2:1-4

1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Again, signs, wonders, and miracles testify to God’s great salvation available to us all.

It’s so easy in life to drift away from God and His ways.  It’s so easy in life to ignore God’s great salvation.  It’s so easy in life to neglect the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit has distributed to us.  It’s so easy to miss out on God’s will.

To live out God’s will takes effort.  We have to seek Him, listen to His voice, and obediently follow His lead.  However, it is the only way to live a full and abundant life.  It is the only way to live a blessed life where we never lack  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

To live out our own will comes easy and naturally.  All that we have to do is whatever we feel like doing in the moment.  In the end, however, it’s not at all an easier life.  It is one, according to Galatians 5, that is full of sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, and the like.

Any life worth living takes work.  It takes intentional effort.  However, the reward is well worth it in the end.  And, to be completely honest, God really does all of the hard work.  All that we have to do is allow Him to do it in and through our lives.  Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  It’s really just a matter of letting go of our will and embracing His.

Pay the most careful attention to what God is speaking to you and hold firm to it.  What God is calling us to do is not too difficult for us.  In fact, He already did it for us!

Hebrews 2:9-11;14-18

9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Jesus can completely relate and empathize with us in our weaknesses and temptations because He personally dealt with them, too.  However, He successfully overcame it all; living a sinless life that none of us ever could.  God became flesh and dwelt among us.  He then paid the penalty for sin, which He was innocent of, so that He could freely apply that payment to anyone who places their faith in Him. 

God freely offers us His salvation and everything that we need to know and to follow His ways.  God meets us where we are at and then offers to lead us into His promises.  Just as He lead the Israelites away from their Egyptian bondage and walked with them through the wilderness and into the literal promised land; He offers to lead us today.

Hebrews 3:7-14

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

8     do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion,

    during the time of testing in the wilderness,

9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,

    though for forty years they saw what I did.

10 That is why I was angry with that generation;

    I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,

    and they have not known my ways.’

11 So I declared on oath in my anger,

    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

Let’s encourage one another every day to re-enforce our conviction to firmly stand with Jesus on the living Word of God and not to allow our hearts to turn away from the living God. 

From the very beginning of our creation, we turned away from God.  However, God has always pursued us and made a way for us to be forgiven and restored into right relationship with Him. 

God made a covenant with His people when they were freed from Egypt.  He gave them His law on tablets of stone.  He created a system of forgiveness for their sin of breaking that law by the shedding of blood.  He gave them detailed plans to create a place on earth that was a shadow copy of heaven where His Presence dwelt with them and where they could go to meet with Him and hear from Him.  God’s glory would remain radiant on Moses’ face as He met with God face-to-face.

That is the Old Testament or the Old Covenant.  Jesus came and fulfilled the requirements of that covenant and established a new covenant.  Chapter after chapter of Hebrews explains this in detail, but for time’s sake, we’ll get to the point this morning.

Hebrews 8:1-10;13

1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord,

    when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel

    and with the people of Judah.

9 It will not be like the covenant

    I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

    to lead them out of Egypt,

because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,

    and I turned away from them,

declares the Lord.

10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel

    after that time, declares the Lord.

I will put my laws in their minds

    and write them on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people.

13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Hebrews 9:11-15

11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

The Israelites experienced the shadow of Heaven.  Under the new covenant, we experience the reality of Heaven.  God’s law is no longer written on tablets of stone.  God’s law is written on the flesh tablets of our heart and mind.  God’s Presence isn’t hidden away in the holy of holies in a temple that can only be entered into once a year by one person.  God’s Presence dwells in us as we are His temple and we enjoy His Presence constantly.

We don’t participate in the transient ministry of Moses that brought the law that lead the people to death and the fading glory that came with it.  We participate in the eternal ministry of Jesus that brings righteousness and life and go from glory to an ever-increasing glory!

Right now, we’re going to enter in together to this new covenant as we celebrate communion; remembering the cost of our salvation and the great faithfulness and love of God that freely offers it to us.  Let’s go from glory to glory as Jesus transforms us from death to an abundant life!