April 9, 2020
  • 11:59 pm From Atheism to Christ
  • 11:58 pm By die Tafel :Wie sit aan?
  • 10:58 pm Delta Cafés “Estamos Juntos” | #fazatuaparte
  • 10:58 pm Santa Cruz Shelter in Place 2020: Day 17
Online Service – Faith For The Weary

Well good morning friends and family of
Riverview church we’re so delighted that we have the capability to join together
in an online format my name is Justin I’m one of the pastors here, I have the
privilege of serving at our REO town venue and you know it doesn’t matter who
you are or where you’re tuning in from this morning it’s been quite a week for
all of us I mean right now if you go to the supermarket we don’t have enough
toilet paper but what we’re not in a short supply of right now is questions and
anxieties about the future so from the outset I just want to be clear about why
we do church, we do church because we have a great God who loves us He is
worthy of our praise right now His foundation is so secure He is on His
throne therefore we have a firm footing in any age at this point in the
New Testament history the Apostle Paul wrote his protege Timothy during a time
of turbulence and chaos things socially and theologically were off-base many
people weren’t responding in faith and what he encouraged him to do was to keep
his head in every situation to be sober minded, to think rightly to endure
hardship and to do the work of an evangelist what that means for us is
that we can fulfill our ministry serve God love people at any time down through
the ages if you look at church history Christians have met in a number of
different ways given different circumstances sometimes they met in each
other’s homes other times they met in large public gatherings sometimes they
met in hiding they met in secret so as we gather this morning digitally we just
want to welcome you those of you from the Holt venue, from the MSU venue,
Westside venue, REO town venue and for those of you who might be checking out
Riverview for the very first time know that we are honored to have you as we
proclaim the liberating power of the gospel together. My name is Tony I’m one
of the pastor’s here at Riverview I oversee our Westside venue and while the
delivery of this service is going to be a little bit different than normal we
would love to encourage you to engage with us as you normally would
we’re gonna be singing some songs… and we’re gonna put the words on the screen
there for you if you’d like to sing along or if you just like to sit and listen and meditate on the truths of those
lyrics you can do that as well we’re gonna hear a message from Noel
we continue through our study of the book of Hebrews and then we’re gonna
have a time of Prayer in the description you’re gonna find some some links that
really help you connect more with this service today one of those is if you
have kids you can click that link that’s gonna take you to a kid’s message in an
activity that you can do with your kids later today what you’ll also find there
is an online tear-off we’d love to know that you tuned in today so you can click
that online tear-off you can submit prayer requests we’d love to be praying for you
you can also request some information about our ministries and events that we
have going on here at Riverview. So as the band leads us into this first song I
just want to remind you that here at Riverview we are a people of faith
believing in who Jesus is and what he’s done for us. [Music] Well good morning everyone, my name is
Young and I have the great privilege to be the MSU venue director as we’re going
through the service I want to take this time to read a bit of the passage that
we’re going to be going over today and it comes from Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1
through 3 and verse 6 this is what the author of Hebrews writes: Now faith is the
reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen, for by it
our ancestors won God’s approval, by faith we understand that the universe
was created by the Word of God so that what is seen was made from things that
are visible – that are not visible – now without faith it is impossible to please
God since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he
rewards those who seek Him. And before I take a minute to pray for our time I
just want to remind you and encourage you to look at our online tear-offs
where you can actually submit your prayer requests that you might have
today and for the week and I want to encourage you to know that we actually
have a prayer team that will be reading through these prayer requests and will
be praying through these requests throughout the week. So would you come
and pray with me? Father we thank you so much for this chance that we can worship
you together all from our homes and that we can redeem this digital media and
this digital age Lord by gathering together and to be able to do a church
service, to worship you as our church community, and even inviting those other
churches in the in the Lansing area. We pray Father that you will be glorified
during this time even though it is a time of the unknown and uncertainty and
fear and anxiety I pray that we would still be able to give you glory we pray
Father for a chance that we can invite even our neighbors into community we
pray for our governing officials that will have to make hard decisions and
wise decisions, we pray father that you would give them wisdom that comes
from you Lord so that they may make the right decisions for
our society we pray for our healthcare workers that you would keep them safe
and make them – allow them to make wise decisions as they take care of the sick
we pray for those that are highly susceptible to getting sick and we pray
Father that you protect them and we pray Father that you O Lord, again, would be
glorified in the midst of chaos, panicking and anxiety and uncertainty
and that Lord, that we would be able to proclaim the gospel in such a time as
this and that you would receive the glory. We thank you so much for Christ, we
pray all this in his mighty name, amen. [Music] Well thank you again for joining us
everyone today, my name is James I am the venue pastor here at the Holt
venue I just wanted to take a moment to share some opportunities that we may
have to serve and to be generous over the coming days and weeks just even
thinking about. We’ve been talking a lot in the past couple days about
opportunities we have to connect with our neighbors. There may be people around
you that during this season with the circumstances that we face, you may have
an opportunity to be able to provide tangible needs for folks. My mom on
Monday she had her hip replaced and so she’s a person that’s kind of in that
vulnerable range having just had surgery she’s an older person and so I’ve been
bringing, you know, going to the pharmacy for her, getting stuff from the store
whatever she needs you may have somebody in your neighborhood that that needs you
to step in for them in some way and provide just look for opportunities to
serve and to love and to be available to those around you. Also last weekend at
all of our Riv services we shared about the opportunity we have to bless some
folks over at Pregnancy Services. We shared with you this kind of this list
of supplies that we are collecting on behalf of young women who become
pregnant unexpectedly and are going to be in need of specific resources and
supplies just a great way to tangibly love and serve some folks. We had said
that we wanted you to bring those supplies with you to our weekend
services this weekend and next weekend however with our venues being closed on
the weekends we’re gonna – we’ve designated the whole venue as kind of
point-central for the next week or two if you have bought some stuff or want to
participate in this drive, just bring those items to the Holt venue any time
during the week between the hours of 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock and we’ll
have a bin that’s out by door number three where you can drop that stuff off
and we’d love to continue with our efforts to bless pregnancy services and
the women who are connected there and so feel free to participate in that way as
well. This is the time in the service where normally we would have the red
buckets come forward for the offering and so what we actually need you to do
is just go to your front door there should be someone from the Welcome team
waiting there with a red bu- I’m just kidding um don’t you wish we could
really do that though? We we tried to figure out we just were a couple people
short to be able to go one person per door. We’re gonna do our offering by
just sharing with you the ways that you can give online like we do every weekend.
There’s a text to give that you just use the number on the screen there or you
can go to rivchurch.com/give and you can give online that way. This may also
be a time for you to consider beginning a monthly online donation as a way to be
able to give more consistently, more regularly, that’s something my family has
done for a long time that’s another option that you may want to consider.
However you choose to be generous, we’re just grateful for you here at Riverview
for us to be able to continue to proclaim the gospel in our community and
beyond. Your generosity enables us to do that so we’re so grateful. Thank you very
much. [Music] Good morning everybody, my name is
Noel, I’m one of the pastors here at Riverview and this is definitely
a unique service for us not just because we’re holding these services exclusively
online but also because we’ve heard from a number of churches and church plants
that they were planning on joining us in our services today because their
services have closed for the weekend and they’re trying to figure out what to do
in the coming weeks and so they’re joining us for this week
I want to give a challenge to those of you who are joining us from
other churches especially smaller churches and church plants, and it’s
simply this: would you please give financially to your church this week.
We don’t want you to give here but we do want you to give there. Imagine what it
would be like for you to have a week where you don’t have one of your
paychecks so you have to kind of go without a week. For a lot of smaller
churches and church plants this can be a very difficult season so if your church
has online giving I want to ask you to please use that. If not, send a check in, do
whatever, in fact, be more generous than you normally are because there’ll be a lot
of people who may not give this particular week. So we are as a church
working our way through the New Testament Bible book of Hebrews and it
strikes me that last week we covered a particular passage in the book of
Hebrews, chapter 10 verses 24 and 25 verse says this: And let us watch out for
one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together
as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other and all the more
as you see the Day approaching. This passage clearly says to not neglect to
gather together and yet it feels a little bit like that’s what we’re doing
today in fact I’ve talked to several, and chatted with several people who were
concerned about churches taking we can off of live gathering and going
online precisely because they want to obey this passage. But let me give you a
challenge from this passage: we can’t rip verse 25 from verse 24 and verse 24
clearly gives us a reason, in fact it gives us three reasons for us to gather
together this is the heart behind why we gather. First we gather to watch out for
one another, we gather to provoke one another to love and to provoke one
another to good works and sort of ironically it’s precisely why we had to
cancel services this weekend and why we’ve gone with online services is in
order to look out for one another, watch out for one another, to love one another,
to encourage one another in good works especially with those in our community
who are the most vulnerable. I also want to start today by sharing a little bit
of a personal story. This last week I was in Paris France with a number of network
leaders from church planning networks around the world and we were planning
and strategizing and dreaming about how we can plant churches and reach people
for Jesus and I was supposed to come home this weekend to preach this message
and then head back to England where I was going to preach in a couple
different churches as well as help facilitate a conference for church
leaders across Europe but of course everything changed. In the middle of this
week as cancellations began to happen and we were concerned about being able
to get back into the country we, we cut our meetings short and all of us flew
home to our countries around the world. And it wasn’t until the day after I
returned that I found out that France, the country that I had been visiting, had
been placed on a level three by the CDC and what that means is there are – there’s
14 days of specific guidelines that are given to anybody who went to a country
like the one that I went to. And so even though I was only in Paris for two days
and there are no confirmed cora- virus people there, I was in an
international airport, I was on a bunch of airplanes and so I’ve decided
to follow the quarantine guidelines that the CDC has put out for level three
countries and what that means is that I’m going to self-quarantine for the next
two weeks so, which, that brings the big question like how and why am I here
today well first of all if we were doing in-person services I wouldn’t be here
today, just categorically wouldn’t be here. But because we are doing online
services and because this message was something I had already prepared, our
leadership team talked about it and decided we would follow the CDC
guidelines for this pretty much empty room that I’m in right now there’s a
handful of people in the room and none of them have been anywhere near me and
we are following – we have extreme social distancing happening here and so
everybody’s staying far away from me and as soon as I’m done teaching today I’m
gonna head off and go into my isolation my quarantine for the remainder of my 14
days and so that’s just how this is impacting us here right here in the
Lansing area and so whether you are joining us by watching this on TV or
your iPad or your phone or your computer whether you’re a Rivite or you’re a guest
whether you’re here for the first time or you’re watching it on Sunday –
whatever’s happening in this moment right now, this present moment, would you
stop with me would you bow your heads and would you pray? Let’s pray. Heavenly
Father we thank you for this unique opportunity that we have today to watch
out for one another. We thank you for this unique opportunity we have today to
provoke one another to love, to provoke one another to good works, and we pray
that this would be the reputation of followers of Jesus in the coming days,
weeks, and months. And through all of this we just pray that you would help us
remember that Jesus is still seated at the right hand of God the Father, that
Jesus is still our great Savior, that Jesus is still our great high priest, the
Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world and so we just pray that we
would represent him well then we pray that we would trust in him
and it’s in his name that we pray amen. We are, as I said, in this series
we’re working our way through the book of Hebrews and the book of Hebrews was
written to Jewish Christians who were becoming weary. They had given this whole
Jesus thing a good shot, a good run, but they were beginning to wonder whether
they should go back to Judaism. And I wonder and I suspect if there are people
here today who are feeling the same way I mean you probably aren’t a Jew that is
considering running back to Judaism, but I do bet that you are weary. In fact you
might be weary in the same way that the people in the original text were weary
and you were wondering whether this Jesus thing really is working out for
you or not. Maybe you’ve given Jesus a good run, you’ve given Christianity the
best that you could give, and now it just feels like maybe it’s time to go back to
what your life was like before Jesus. I talk with people all the time
who are experiencing this sort of drift. Now what we’ve seen in the book of
Hebrews in the first 10 chapters is two challenges that the author gives us.
The first is a call to believe and the second is a call to a very specific type
of belief: belief in Jesus. Jesus that he is the Jewish Messiah that they had
always hoped would arrive and now when we hit chapter 11, the author of Hebrews
gives this call to believe in this Jesus a name; he calls it faith. If you have a
Bible near you just flip, tap, or swipe your way over to Hebrews 11 because
that’s we’re gonna be today and Hebrews 11 is a a beautiful, and poetic, and
sweeping tour of the Bible showing how every person who was ever saved and
every person who will ever be saved is saved the same way through this belief
in Jesus through faith. In fact it’s so beautiful and it’s so poetic I was
afraid to preach it. It’s like I thought maybe I could just get up here and read
these 40 verses and then closed with an amen and then we would be done but we’re gonna walk our way all the way through
this this passage today. And we’re just gonna start in the very first verse Hebrews 11
verse 1 where says this: “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof
of what is not seen…” I love these few moments in the Bible
where the Bible just gives us a clear definition of something and says this is
what this is. And Hebrews 11:1 gives us the most clear and concise definition of
what faith is. Faith is the reality of what is hoped for faith is the proof of
what is not seen. Now, now don’t miss, it’s really important where this starts. Faith
starts in a really interesting place. It starts in a place of something we hope
for and yet we can’t see it. And it’s interesting because for a lot of
Christians this is exactly where we get criticized. People say, “You are believing
in something you can’t see, you are hoping in something that you can’t see
that’s just blind faith.” and Christians get scoffed at all the time saying,
“Listen if you can’t see it it can’t possibly be real.” But every single one of
us has faith like this in something in our lives. We hope for something that we
can’t see, we know that something exists that we can’t see. We know that something
is true even if we can’t completely put our finger on all of the details around.
I mean think about for a second, our criminal justice system, for a second.
If someone is going to be convicted of a crime, they must be convicted what, beyond
a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt. The key there is reasonable. Even in our
court system we are willing to convict someone of a crime when we don’t know
every detail we can’t see everything, but we see enough to say that this person is
guilty. Then you move from our Criminal Court to our Civil Court and it gets
even looser. It’s not beyond a reasonable doubt it’s on the – the preponderance of
evidence which is just a fancy way of saying majority. It basically says just a
hair above 50% likely that something took place so it’s like 51-ish percent
that something happened, that you can award someone civil damages. That is a
leap of faith. That’s saying I don’t fully see it but I believe it. There’s
just barely enough evidence. We operate on faith all the time and if faith
starts with hoping in the unseen we should really think about what hope is.
One commentator I was reading this week said that hope is to expect with desire.
It means that you want something unseen to be true. Back in the 1980s which was,
you know, when all the good music came out. There was a Christian artist by the
name of Charlie peacock and I remember his album was called The Secret of Time
and on this album he posed a question. He said: what would happen if we lived like
heaven existed. And I’ve never been able to kind of shake that question. What
would happen if we actually lived as if Heaven exists. Heaven is ultimately the
perfect example of something that is unseen and yet even some of my
non-christian friends that I talk to, I talk to them about Jesus, I talk to them
about heaven and whether they think there is Heaven and they often will say
this, they say: I hope that that is true, I hope that there is a heaven, and that is
that first step. And as that expectation grows in desire it’s the first step
toward faith, because faith starts with something that is hoped for and yet it
is not seen. And then faith moves to the reality, the proof of that thing, that
thing that you can’t see thing that you hope is true. You begin to
see as a reality, you begin to see the proof of that now a number of weeks ago
we talked about how sometimes language can be tricky, and it can be tricky
because sometimes if you’re not in the cultural moment in which something is
written, you – you miss the nuance and we talked about the word covenant as
something that is is like that. Well in this passage there are two different
words that have that kind of cultural nuance to them. The first is the word
reality. The word reality here can be defined deed, like a title deed, it can be
defined as confidence or assurance or trust or reality. And so it’s kind of a
mashup of all those things, and so when this passage says if the faith is the
reality it’s same faith is the – the confident assurance it’s the trust like
a title deed of something. And it is proof… proof is is like evidence or
conviction all wrapped up into one idea. And so the big idea of this verse is
that there is something out there that we hope for, something that is unseen and
faith gives us the confident assurance that it’s true and not only that he goes
so far as to say faith gives us the evidence, it gives us the conviction, it
gives us the proof that thats unseen thing that we hope for is real. There’s a
Bible translator by the name of Ken Wiest and I love his translations cause what
Ken Wiest does is he uses as many words as possible to accurately
describe the the passages that he’s translating and what that means is
sometimes he has these really, really wordy verses like there’s a verse that might
be a one-sentence verse in your – in your Bible translation and yet it becomes like
four lines and a paragraph with Ken Wiest. So when I was reading this verse I
thought oh, I wonder how Ken Wiest handled this? Has got to be really super intense
but he totally flipped the script on me and did the opposite. Ken Wiest made this
even more simple. This is Ken Wiest’s translation of this passage, he says: Now
faith is the title deed of things hoped for, it is the proof of things which are
not being seized. For me this was so powerful. Imagine if you were homeless and someone
came up to you and they said, “I’m preparing a home for you, I’m working
on this home for you.” and you’re like, “yeah yeah yeah yeah.” And then the guy
comes back and says, “No no no, I’m working on this home for you I’m preparing this
place for you, I’m preparing this home for you.” And you’re like, “yeah yeah yeah yeah”
and he just keeps saying it, and then one day he shows up to your cardboard box and he
has this title deed in his hand, and it has your name on it, and has the address
of where it’s going and you’re like, “I don’t even know how to get there.” he goes,
“you know how to get there, the address is here.” That’s basically a summary of John 14
where Jesus’s disciples were freaking out cause he was going away and they’re
like, “We want to be with you!” and then he’s like, “You know how to get to where I’m going.”
And they’re like, “No we don’t,” and then he said, “Yes you do, I told you, I am the way, I am
the truth, I am the life.” And this – this faith of this passage this faith that he
is talking about is what he’s been building in the entire book of Hebrews,
belief in Jesus, the Messiah that the Jews have been longing for and hoping
for this unseen reality that this Messiah would come had come true and
they now could have conviction and confidence and evidence and proof that
he is real. And this is what weary people like you and me need
it is likely that you are not a Jewish person wondering if you should
return to Judaism. But you are likely, or you will likely, be very weary in your
world you need the confident assurance the reality and the proof in something
bigger than what we have here. Something that is unseen. And when you have that
confident assurance it will change how you live here because true faith will
motivate you to action. Now I know you’re probably freaking out
right now because I’m 17 and a half minutes into my message in a 40 verse
chapter and we are one verse in. I basically figured since it’s a
livestream message, I can go all day, I don’t have another service out of the
way, but we’re going to do, is we’re now going to fly through the rest of Hebrews
11 ’cause all of it is anchored on this. What the author of Hebrews does next is he
talks about 17 individuals who all built their lives on this kind of faith that
we can learn from and all kinds of groups of people. So I’m gonna just read
straight through this and stop a few times and read and talk about a couple
of these passages, starting, let’s just go back to verse 1. Now faith is the reality
of what is hoped for it is the proof of what is not seen, but by it
our ancestors won God’s approval. By faith we understand that the universe
was created by the Word of God so that what is seen was made from things that
are not visible. It is so easy to look at the Bible and say in the Old Testament
people were saved by their works and the New Testament they’re saved by faith. But
the ark of scripture says no to that. And the very first act of faith that we all
have is the same. We look at the world around us, and and I know it sounds like
blind faith when I say look at creation. In fact there’s some people that would
even go so far as to say, “I look at the world around me and all I see is pain
and suffering and sorrow and mourning.” But I would say, “Take a step back and
look at all of creation.” To be honest I don’t have enough faith to not believe
when I look at the creation around me. I remember being a student in Michigan
State way back in the day and really, I was wrestling with whether or not the faith
that I grew up in, given to me by godly parents in a godly church was real or
not. I was going through that moment of wondering had I given Jesus enough of a
shot? Is it time to just give up on him? And there were two things that really
grabbed ahold of me when I was at Michigan State. The first was the
historicity of Scripture, the evidence for the Bible just blew my mind when I
was studying as a history major about evidence of different texts. And the
second thing was the probability that this world would even exist. I mean the
odds of this creation in which we live to not only become what it is, but for it to
have intelligent life is astronomically small. Stephen Hawking has even said that if
the expansion of the universe was off by like one one hundred thousand millionth millionth,
I don’t even know how many zeroes that is, the entire universe would have expanded
and then collapsed into a hot fireball. And this is not even somebody who’s out
there declaring that God is God but he’s saying it is so infinitesimally small
that we could even exist and yet we do. I don’t have enough faith to not believe
in a creator. Verse 4: By faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than
Cain did, by faith he was approved as a righteous man because God approved his
gifts, and even though he is dead he still speaks through his faith. You
remember Cain and Abel in the Bible? This is Adam and Eve’s kid they had the first
recorded act of worship in the Bible Abel brought fat portions of his
firstborn and so he brought an animal sacrifice and Cain brought a sacrifice
of the produce from being a farmer and then it said that God was pleased with
Abel and God wasn’t pleased with Cain. Well why is that? Well it’s the million
dollar question if we didn’t have this verse in Hebrews. We’re told very
clearly that the reason that that God was pleased with
Abel and not pleased with Cain was because of faith. In fact this first act
of worship turned into the first act of murder as Cain murdered his brother Abel,
and yet the author of Hebrews says he still speaks through his faith when we
hear his story it still gives us a story of faith. Verse five: By faith Enoch was
taken away so that he did not experience death. You did hear that right.
Enoch was taken away so that he did not experience death. He was not to be found
because God took him away, for before he was taken away he was approved as one
who pleased God. You want something gnarly on your tombstone let me read
this story of Enoch to you from Genesis 5 verse 24 here’s what it says: “Enoch
walked with God and then he was not there because God took him.” That’s his
whole story. What a boss. Now did God take him because he was such a good guy? No.
The next verse in Hebrews tells us why God took him. Verse six: Now without
faith it is impossible to please God since the one who draws near to him must
believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek Him. That’s why he
was taken. These are the linchpins of faith. He says: For Enoch and for you, if you believe that God exists, and you believe
that God rewards those who seek Him, those are steps of faith. And what I think
is kind of crazy is these first two examples that he gave here of Abel and
Enoch are guys who did stuff, and yet, in the verses about them and the Bible it
doesn’t say that they did stuff because they were filled with faith. How do we
know that faith is the key? Well it’s right here in this passage, what does he
say? Now without faith it is impossible to please God. In other words, if you ever
do anything in your life that pleases God, you can know that that came by faith. In fact let’s reread those two verses five
and six: By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not experience death, he was
not to be found because God took him away, for before he was taken away he was
approved of as one who pleased God now without faith it is impossible to
please God since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists, and
that he rewards those who seek Him. The logic is this: Faith believes God
exists, that God exists, faith believes that God rewards those who seek Him, and
when you please God you are acting on that faith. Verse seven: By faith, Noah,
after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear
built an ark to deliver his family, by faith, he condemned the world and became
an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. You want faith? Just look at the
guy in the Bible who had never seen rain and tell him that you’re gonna flood the
earth and to build an ark. That is about the definition of faith. Let’s keep going,
otherwise we’ll never be done. Verse eight: By faith, Abraham, when he was
called obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an
inheritance. He went out even though he did not know where he was going by faith
he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and
Jacob, co-heirs of the same promise, for he was looking forward to the city that
has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, even Sarah
herself when she was unable to have children received power to conceive
offspring even though she was past the age since she considered that the one
who had promised was faithful, therefore from one man, in fact, from one man as
good as dead came offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and as
innumerable as the grains of the sand along the seashore. Now, if – you’re not
gonna like this passage if you’re old because what he just described Abraham
and Sarah as as good as dead, and they were. Abraham was a hundred
years old, he was a full buck. A hundred years old, and Sarah was 99
years old. Now imagine for a moment that you are a hundred years old, your spouse
is 99 years old, and God comes to you and says you’re gonna have a kid what is
your response? Think about it for second, in fact even shout it out at your computers
right now. What is your response? Laughter. In fact that’s exactly what happened.
Abraham laughed and then Sarah even laughed and then when God said to Sarah,
“Why did you laugh?” she said, “I didn’t laugh.” He goes, “of course you laughed,
I’m God, don’t lie to me.” And so so they laughed at God, but when they had their
child, God said to them, “name your child Isaac.” And you know what Isaac means? It
means: he laughed. Which tells us that A: God had a sense of humor and B: God gets
the last laugh and the author at this point of the story stops his history
lesson and he begins to explain what this means for us he says these people
they all died in faith, although though they had not received the things that were
promised, but they saw them from a distance they greeted them, they
confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth, now
those who say such things make it clear that they’re seeking a home, a homeland
if they were thinking about where they came from they would have had an
opportunity to return but they now desire a better place, a heavenly one,
therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared a
city for them. The question that is often asked is, “How were the Old Testament
people saved by faith?” What were they, what was that faith? the faith is in this
passage, they were not looking back to the homeland they came from, but they
were looking forward to a hope of an unseen home. And is that just blind
faith for them? No, because the author of Hebrews goes
back to Abraham and he shows us how this is not blind faith but it is reasonable
faith. Verse 17, it says: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.
He received the promises and yet he was offering his one and only Son the
one to whom it had been said, “Your offspring will be traced
through Isaac.” He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead
therefore he received him back figuratively speaking. This is one of the
most stunning acts of faith in the Bible. And if you don’t remember this story
it’s in Genesis, where God came to Abraham and He called out to him, He said
Abraham, and – and Abraham was used to listening to God, he knew that this was God
calling, this is the God who had called him and said you are gonna have a son you
were a hundred, your wife is ninety nine, he laughed at God but then God said,
“No, no, no, you’re going to.” And then the son was born and he named him “He laughed,” and
so God says, “Abraham.” and Abraham says, “What God?” and he says, “Take your son, the
son that you love, and I want you to go to Moriah and I want you to sacrifice
your son in the fire.” Now the – the crazy and shocking thing in this passage is not
even that God asked Abraham to do it, but that Abraham obeyed. He had a
three-day journey from where he was to Moriah, a three-day, 50-mile
journey in which Abraham could reflect on who God was. He could reflect on God’s
character, he could reflect on God’s promises, he could wonder if there was
another crazy plan like him and his wife having a child at a hundred years old. He
had walked with God for thirty years and he had a three-day journey to reflect on
those thirty years, and I think by the time he got to Moriah he was pretty sure
how this thing was going to go down even though he may not have known exactly. Tim
Keller um describes it this way, in fact Tim Keller says he stole it from someone
else, so I’m stealing this from Tim Keller who stole this from somebody else,
but basically he says this is Abraham’s whole life with God. His whole – his whole
life, he started his journey with God with God saying, “Abraham I’m gonna send
you out.” and Abraham says, “Where?” and He says, “I’ll tell you later, just go.” and
then God said, “I’m going to give you land.” And he says “where?” He says, “I’ll tell you
later, just go.” And then God says to him, “I’m gonna give you a child.” and he says,
“How?” and He says, “I’ll tell you later, just – have – just wait.” and then God says,
“Take that child that you love that I have given you and kill him” And Abraham says,
“Why?” and God says, “I’ll tell you later, just go, take your son, take a knife take,
some fire, and walk to the mountain.” Early in Abraham’s story we’re told that he
is made righteous by faith, but it took the rest of his life to truly walk by faith.
And the trials got harder, and harder, and harder. I wonder if the steps toward
Moriah got more weary, and weary, and weary? But his faith grew stronger, and
stronger, and stronger? I wonder if that’s why the book of James tells us: Consider
it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your
faith will develop perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work in you
so that you will be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” Verse 23: By faith,
Moses after he was born was hidden by his parents for three months because
they saw that the child was beautiful and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. By
faith, Moses when he had grown up refused to be called the Pharaoh’s daughter and
chose to suffer with the people of God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasure
of sin, for he considered reproach for the sake of Christ to be greater wealth
than the treasures of Egypt since he was looking forward to the reward. Can these
two things be said of you? First, that you would choose suffering over the fleeting
pleasures of sin? You see this is the choice of temptation every single time.
Whether that temptation is lust, or envy or a lack of forgiveness, it is always easier
to sin, it is always pleasurable to sin, and it is never worth it. Could it be
said of you that you choose suffering over the fleeting pleasures of sin? And
second, could you choose reproach for Christ over wealth? It is interesting in
this passage that it says Moses chose reproach for the sake of Christ and yet
he was living fifteen hundred years before Jesus walked the earth, see
what happened is, he was hoping for something unseen, he knew that God’s
eternal promises to Abraham Isaac and Jacob would be greater than any wealth.
As I watched the videos this week of old ladies fighting over toilet paper, I
wonder if we have a unique opportunity right now in our culture? And I don’t
know what it’s gonna look like for you or for me or for our church, but do we
have a unique opportunity to value the reproach of Christ as greater than our
wealth? Is there ways that we can leverage the resources that we have in
ways that people will think are crazy? This reproach for Christ over our wealth?
Verse 27, and now I’m going to fly: By faith he left Egypt behind not being
afraid of the Kings anger for Moses persevered as one who sees him who is
invisible. By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood
so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. By faith,
they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land when the Egyptians
attempted to do this they were drowned. By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down
after being marched around by the Israelites for seven days. By faith, Rahab
the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn’t perish for those who
disobeyed, and what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon,
and Barak, and Samson, and Jeptha, and David, and Samuel, and the prophets, who by
faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the
mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the
sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in
battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead, raised to life
again, other people were tortured not accepting release so that they might
gain a better resurrection, others experienced mockings and scourgings as
well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died
by the sword they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins and destitute
afflicted and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them, they wandered in
deserts and on mountains hiding in caves and holes in the ground. You stand in a
long line of weary people and you will probably not be sawed in two. And – and
that’s not meant to downplay or shame you in your weariness, your weariness is
real. But you can know, by the example of these people, that you can make it
through that weariness the same way. By faith. Some of these people were
victorious, some of these women received their dead
back, and some did not but they all had faith. They all had their eyes set on a
home that they could not see, a hope in an unseen reality. Verse 39: All these
were approved through their faith, but they did not received what was promised
since God had provided something better for us so that they would not be made
perfect without us. No one was made perfect under the Old
Covenant because Jesus had not walked the earth yet. Jesus had not lived his
sinless life, died on the cross, was buried, rose again, ascended to the right
hand of God the Father. They were saved but they were not perfected, not until
Jesus came and did the work that he had to do. You are in a better place than
Abraham, a better place than Sarah and Moses. Why? Because you know the end
of the story, you know Jesus, you believe in Jesus, you have faith in Jesus. They
didn’t receive all that God had promised yet, but one day with us they will be
made perfect so when you are weary, remember their faith in the unseen and
look forward with them to Jesus saving us all. Would you pray with me?
Heavenly Father we thank you so much for Jesus. We – we confess that there are times
where our weariness causes our faith to waver and so we just pray that you would
help us to set our minds and our hearts on the unseen. We just pray that it would
be a reality to us that it would be a proof, a conviction to us. We just pray
that that our faith in Jesus would be like the title deed of a mansion, handed
to us, saying that one day we will be in glory because of what Jesus did. As we
face our weariness as, we face our pain, as we face our confusion, help us to know
that Jesus is bigger, and Jesus is better and help us to anchor our hope in Him
and Him alone. We pray all of this in Jesus’s precious saving name, amen. [Music] Thank you again everyone for
joining us, I just want to say a big thank you to our staff and the folks who
worked on the production for our service today. We have a team of very, very smart
and hardworking people who banded together to kind of make this whole
thing happen. We will be back next weekend as I said,
using the same format. So you can log in. We’ll be producing a service online
again, ten o’clock a.m. next Sunday. For updates going forward on meeting
schedules and everything that’s going on here at Riverview you can go to
rivchurch.com/news – we’ll be informing you about different things that are
coming up and what’s been canceled, and how we’re gonna do the weekend services you
can follow along that way at rivchurch.com/news Also, if you are in a life group you
can feel free to continue meeting live in person as you
have been with your life group folks if everybody in your life group wants to do
that. You may want to consider postponing or meeting virtually using like Google
Hangouts or Skype or something like that. The idea is to stay connected to one
other in prayer and in encouragement, that we can as the body of Christ
continue to encourage one another and build one another up as a family of
believers and to help us to just walk through times like this that are filled
with uncertainty, that are very unusual and that – and that present challenges to us.
Let me go ahead and pray, and and then we’ll wrap up our time Lord we’re
grateful to you for your sovereignty, we pray Lord for wisdom for our leaders in
our country and in the world and for safety and for healing there’s so many
people who have already been just deeply affected by the virus that’s going
around and and just even for folks who are facing trials and struggles that are
disconnected from everything going on, as well Lord, that we we just pray that you
would help us to trust you and to lean into you in those times where our hope is
in – is in what we cannot yet see Lord. We pray that you would give us faith and
we’re thankful for Jesus and pray in his name, amen. Thank you all for
joining us this morning.

Jean Kelley



  1. Kathy Davis Posted on March 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Good morning Riv Fam!  Happy to be able to hear the Word of God with you all from the comfort of my home!