How to connect with God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

Romans 10:8-11 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

 Romans 10:8-11 (NLT)
8  In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of His Holy Word.

If you were with us in our last sermon from the epistle written to the church at Rome, you may recall that we shared a sermon in which we addressed the issue     of failing to connect with God

I shared with you a personal story about how Sister Cecile and I missed a flight when we were very young. We showed up a Logan, International Airport with the intention of going on a trip but we missed the flight because we didn’t understand that an 11am departure meant that you had to be there at 9:30am.

We missed it; we failed to connect because we were ignorant of how things worked.

In that teaching Paul took us through a diagnostic analysis of how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with the God of their fathers.

It was both interesting and upsetting to learn that a group of people, actually ended up missing God, because they failed to understand and were blinded to the truth of who God is and how he operates.

In their human efforts at connecting with God through the keeping of their laws, they failed to grasp the fact that man in his own efforts, no matter how sincere, can never work his way up to God.

They had zeal and a desire to connect with him, but they were untutored, they were unlearned, they were ignorant says Paul of God’s way of making a person righteous.

Ultimately their efforts and their commitment to those efforts caused them to reject the Messiah, Jesus Christ God’s own Son.

If you were not here for that sermon, I very much want to encourage you to take the time to request the notes by e-mailing me at Pastorjharp@gmail.com, or going on our you-tube channel to watch the sermon.

Today we are going to talk about how to connect with God and we are coming from one of the most well known passages in the bible.

Now this passage is really the crème de la crème of salvivic scriptures.

It is a clear and no none-sense answer to the question of what it takes for a person to be saved.

In fact I would urge each and every one of you to take copious notes and to keep these notes in your bible, because these doctrinal truths, will keep you grounded AND they will help you to share the gospel with anyone who asks you, what it takes to become a born again child of God.

So let’s walk through these 4 points

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. A person must believe that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

Romans 10:8 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

Psalm 14:1-3 (NKJV)
2  The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3  They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Romans 6:23a (NKJV)
23  For the wages of sin is death,

John 3:17 (NKJV)
17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 6:38a-b (NLT)
38a-b  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me

Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)
28  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

In this first point of the sermon, we want to look at and answer the question that is posed today within the context of the title of this teaching and we also want to examine the comparison between what we learned in the first part of this sermon in which took a look at how Israel actually missed connecting with God.

Now in the Jewish approach to reaching and or connecting with God, the focus was upon man’s efforts as evidenced in the zealousness of the nation of Israel, as it pertained to the LAW.

Remember now, we learned a few weeks ago that there were over 613 commandments and or directives that were on the books.

The concept that one could qualify; the notion that one could obtain the acceptance of God by reason of effort, was rooted in the notion that if you were really serious and really focused and really intense and committed to the law, that you could literally scale the heights of heaven and be accepted by God as a result of your own works.

Paul in his teachings knocks that notion out of the water, and he says that the way to connect with God and the way to become acceptable to him, was literally and I quote “in their mouths and in their hearts”

All that they needed to do was to hear and believe the core message of the gospel, which declared that Jesus came down from heaven, to save men from their sins.

That is what Paul meant when he said and I quote ““The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

In order to be saved, in order to connect with God and become acceptable to him, the first thing that a person has to do is to believe what is being preached or shared with you, concerning who Jesus is and the purpose of his coming.

You as a listener have got to believe that what you hear IS TRUE.

Israel for the most part could not accept this, no matter how hard Paul preached, they rejected the gospel and responded to it by trying to kill Paul.

Everything that they had in their customs such as the sacrifices and atonement, was pointing to Jesus and the need of man, to have a SAVIOR who would be the sacrificial lamb who paid for their sins, it was all pointing to Jesus but they missed it.

Thought:

People today can miss the simplicity of the gospel, by failing to believe the good news about why Jesus came.

You see gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ must be responded to not with doubt, or skepticism, but by faith.

You don’t have to know the bible.

You don’t have to agree with everything in the bible, you don’t have to be able to access the Greek and Hebrew text to be sure that King James got every word correct, all you need to do is to embrace the simple message of the why Jesus came and what he did for you.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who always falls short in terms of measuring up to the righteous standards of God. When God looked down from heaven, he sees that there is NONE righteous no not one.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who has earned a wage for HIS sins, which is death. This is why every man, women, boy or girl is born with a death sentence on their lives.

You must believe that God so loved the world and he loved man so much that he sent his SON Jesus to pay the wages of sin. He sent Jesus to die on a cross as a sacrificial lamb who would take upon himself, the sins of all man.

That is the reason why Jesus came to the earth, to shed his blood for many, as a payment for US, so that our sins might be remitted.

To be saved, to be born again, to be accepted by God, You have to respond in faith to the gospel (good news)

Thought:

Now for some here today who are sitting in the sanctuary and perhaps for some who are tied in to the video stream, this is where you get stuck.

It’s too simple and you won’t accept it. It doesn’t sound appealing or you won’t believe because you want to argue and keep on searching on line.

You won’t accept the gospel because in order to do that, you’ve got to admit that you are a filthy sinner, just like the rest of us.

In fact you didn’t even react, because as soon as you heard the word sinner, you shut your heart and mind down.

You want to be stroked. You want your ego lubricated. You want to be sold, you want to be pampered and I understand why the flesh needs that, but I am here to tell you this morning that the good news is about Jesus redeeming you from YOUR sins.

It is not about him getting you a job, or making you feel good about yourself.

The message of the gospel it is about the unmitigated act of love and mercy, where God himself, sent HIS sinless SON, to die on a cross and the ugliness of that event, which was caused by each one of us.

The good news is that in spite of that reality, WHILE WE WERE yet sinners; Jesus came down from heaven to do something incredible for the benefit of those who could not appreciate it, nor in any way deserved it.

If you want to be saved, if you want to connect with God you must believe that Jesus came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/Saved/Born again)?

  1. Declare (confess) your spoken acknowledgement that you truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Romans 10:8-9a (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9a  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus

John 6:38 (NLT)
38  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.

John 6:33 (NKJV)
33  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

John 16:30 (NLT)
30  Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”

John 1:1-2 (NKJV)
1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2  He was in the beginning with God.

I really enjoyed preparing for this sermon that we are sharing today, because I have found that some of the most interesting and enlightening things we learn together, often come from scriptures that we are already familiar with.

This passage from Romans Chapter 10:9 specifically looking at the “a” portion is a perfect example of that.

Now from time to time I’ve heard Pastor Winston refer to this particular web-site called got-answers.org and I was directed there by a Google search.

When I asked the question as to what exactly what was meant by that portion where it says that a person must confess that Jesus is Lord, I found some interesting information.

Now in the scripture we see the use of the word confess.

I’ve added the word declare, based on what I learned from my research.

I did that because the word DECLARE helps to communicate the necessity of acknowledging him verbally and doing do in a way that makes it clear that you understand and believe in Jesus as GOD.

I also looked at and did some research on the word LORD.

In the bible the word Lord isn’t used only in reference to Jesus.

The term Lord can apply to ordinary human being.

If you own property and your rent your property to others you are a Landlord.

If you are a member of the House of Commons in England, you might have the title of Lord.

But when it comes to declaring and acknowledging Jesus as Lord, it means more that just giving him a title of respect.

When you declare that Jesus is LORD you are acknowledging to others and declaring to others that you understand and embrace the deity of Christ and that you acknowledge Jesus as God.

Jesus isn’t just another prophet.

Jesus isn’t just or another religious leader, like Muhammad or Buddha.

Jesus is the bread of God who came down from heaven.

Jesus is the WORD of God, who was with God and is God, and was from the beginning.

I don’t know how it works. I don’t fully understand the complexity of the Godhead.

I only know and believe with all of my heart and I am willing to confess and declare it to anyone, that Jesus is God and God’s own Son who came down from heaven and that he is LORD, Master, creator and sustainer of the universe and that he came DOWN from heaven to do HIS Father’s will.

Thought:

This my friends is non-negotiable.

You can’t soft peddle his LORDSHIP when it comes to salvation.

You can’t be saved by any one else other than Almighty God.

If you are still struggling with seeing and believing that Jesus is GOD, my friend, I am here to tell you, that you are not ready.

You can’t come to him as a fan of Jesus.

You can’t come to him as an admirer.

Jesus cannot be just another great historic figure that you have decided to become acquainted with.

Jesus won’t fit on your shelf right next to the other mere men, whom you look to for advice or direction or suggestions.

Jesus must be God and LORD of your life.

Thought:

This by the way is why a lot of folks lack passion and love and fire when it comes to Jesus

It’s the reason why there is a lack of Joy. It’s the reason why, you cannot be thrilled and in love with Jesus, because he is NOT your LORD.

It’s not that lack of preaching, it ‘s not programs, it’s not doctrines; it’s that Jesus doesn’t occupy that place of deity in your life; he’s an action figure that we’ve placed on the shelf, along with our other self-help books and advice.

When Jesus is embraced and taken into your heart as LORD and GOD, it overwhelms you.

  • He fills you.
  • He thrills you.
  • He turns you upside down

Thought:

Paul was an example of that; he was a person who was overcome, with the awesomeness of having Jesus as GOD in his life.

It’s not just saying the words, “ Jesus is LORD”, but it is believing in your heart, that Jesus is GOD and then you speak, you declare, you confess out of your mouth, what is in your heart.

Thought:

Have you done that my friends? Have you gotten to the place, where Jesus is the LORD who has completely taken you over.

Does your heart still skip a beat, when folks start calling his name?

Do you get dizzy, when you think about Jesus?

Do you know him as LORD and God…..or are you just an admiring a fan

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. Believe in your heart, that Jesus died to pay for the sins of mankind, that he was buried and that God raised him (Jesus) from the dead.

Romans 10:9a-b (NKJV)
9a-b  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead

Isaiah 53:5a-c (NKJV)
5a-c  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

Romans 4:25 (NLT)
25  He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

1 Corinthians 15:4 (NLT)
4  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 

Hebrews 10:4-5 (NKJV)
4  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5  Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.

A person connects with God; a person becomes born again, by believing in what God did for them, through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ HIS Son.

That is how a person gets saved.

Earlier in point number one we spoke about the reality of man’s sinfulness and the actions needed in terms of the salvivic process, whereby the issue of sin and the payment for the wages of sin, were dealt with through the process of payment and remittance, by reason of a blood sacrifice.

Someone had to pay the price for our sins and Jesus did it.

Thought:

The nation of Israel was familiar with this principle.

In their laws and customs, there was an established formula of dealing with the issue of sin.

When a sin was committed or when a person offended God, they would offer the bodies and blood of bulls and goats and doves, as a payment for their sins.

Now problem with that was, that these offerings never did the job; because they would find themselves coming back year after year, time after time, offering that which clearly could not completely nor once and for all, take away the stain of their sins.

A person connects with God, by hearing the gospel message and by believing that Jesus was born into this world, that he lived on the earth as a man and that he went to the cross and was crucified “as the sinless lamb” of God, who gave his life as a sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.

In other words, a person must believe that Jesus was crucified.

A person must believe that Jesus died, not that he fainted. Not that his disciplines hid him away for a few days, until he recovered.

A person must believe, that Jesus died AND that GOD raised him from the dead and in that raising HE signaled an acceptance of what Jesus did on the cross as a PAYMENT IN FULL.

And once you have that settled into your heart, it becomes a reality that transforms your heart and mind completely.

That is why you see folks shouting. That is why you see them getting happy at the funeral of a loved one who has died in Christ.

Folks act like that because they have placed their FAITH and trust not in a new or interesting idea, but rather they have placed their FAITH in the power of almighty God, as evidenced in the reality of the risen Lord. 

This is another area, where we must stand and believe in a non-negotiable reality.

Jesus died and he rose again, and he GOT up with all power in his hands.

This is where the rubber meets the road baby, this is where faith in Jesus makes all the difference between what other folks says about their faith.

This is what I am hanging my faith on. This is what you must believe and know as a reality in your heart.

That Jesus died and he stayed in that grave for three days. They beat him, they killed him, but he got up, with all power in his hands…. 

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved by/born again)?…4th and finally you ..

  1. Place your faith and trust in him Jesus as the one who has secured a right standing of acceptance with the Father.

Romans 10:10-11 (NLT)
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with

God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

John 7:37 (NKJV)
37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink

1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)
18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Romans 5:1 (NLT)
1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

CLOSE:

In the beginning of the sermon, I told you that it was important that we have an opportunity to compare and contrast the response of Israel to the gospel and to look at that as a model for how a person can miss God.

Israel missed it on several levels. Firstly they missed understanding that the key to a right standing with God was not by works but by faith.

Israel also missed the message because of their pride and their prejudice.

They missed the messiah, just like people today can miss HIM because of pride, or arrogance or just being rebellious.

The scripture says “ that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame

To be accepted by God you have to, humble yourself, you have to accept the truth about who you are as a sinner and you have to embrace the gospel and believe in Jesus as Lord with all of your heart.

You have to abandon the notion that you ever can save yourself and instead you must place your faith AND trust in Jesus, believing, counting on, putting your firm confidence in God’s love as expressed in the life of and in the work of JESUS the

SON of righteousness who has secured for you a RIGHT STANDING of acceptance with the Father, NOT because of YOU, but because of HIM.

And when you do that, you can rest and have complete confidence that you will never be left hanging and never be put to shame

That is HOW you connect with God that is how you get born again, that is how you become saved and accepted, NOT through works but through faith.

AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed….

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How to miss connecting with God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper                  

How to miss connecting with God

Romans 10:1-4 (KJV)
1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the HEARING of HIS Holy and mighty word.

We are delivering a sermon today, that will in some places sound familiar to some of the doctrines and truths that were shared in our sermon last week which was entitled who are the children of God.

As we go through this letter, I get the impression that Paul teaches us sometimes by repeating and or bridging certain concepts and molding them together, so that we will often find ourselves, being reminded of points and or of thoughts we’ve learned about earlier, which in fact work together, very much like what happens when you are dealing with mathematics.

You learn addition and subtraction, but then those principles are molded into and Algebra and calculus, so when you hear things that you’ve learned about before, just embrace them as being part of what is required to help you as you move into more detailed teachings….if you follow what I am saying here say AMEN.

Today as we continue our studies through the epistle written to the church at ROME, we enter into this 10th chapter starting with part 1 of a two-part sermon, having to do with the issue of missing or failing to connect with God.

When my wife and I were very young, I remember the first time that we missed an airplane.

Our intention was to connect and get that flight, but being new to air travel we were ignorant of the rules and realities of the airline business.

We didn’t understand that an 11am departure meant a 9am arrival and so because we were ignorant of how the airlines operated we missed connecting with the airline.

Paul here in this teaching uses the nation of Israel to help us understand the realities and truths concerning God and how he operates.  

Paul shows us in these first verses of chapter 10 how it is possible to actually miss connecting with God and his righteousness.

Paul as we learned earlier was very concerned for the salvation of the nation of Israel.

In fact he was so concerned that at one point Paul states that he would be willing to be accursed and cut off from Christ, if it would save his Hebrew brethren.

Now as he begins this portion of the letter, he paints for us a very powerful and tragic example of how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with the very God that they loved.

And for us there are some cautionary notes in looking at the example of Israel, which can speak directly to us.

So that is what we want to focus on today in this 4-point sermon entitled, HOW TO MISS CONNECTING WITIH GOD.

Israel shows us how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Having an enthusiastic desire and effort without correct knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2 b-c (KJV)
1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:2 (NLT)
2  I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal.
Romans 10:2 (Weymouth New Testament)
For I bear witness that they possess an enthusiasm for God, but it is an unenlightened enthusiasm.

John 16:2b-c (NKJV)
2  yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

In this first point of the sermon, I’d like to talk about how a person can have a sincere effort and desire for God, yet miss connecting with him.

Paul in his writing is giving us a bird’s eye view of one who would be personally and intimately be familiar with the Nation of Israel’s enthusiasm and desire to please and to connect with Almighty God.

Before Paul was converted he himself was a Pharisee, he was a Jew of Jews, he know about the law, he knew about the passion that the Jewish people had for God.

These were the oracle people who had a great deal of knowledge about God.

They had the law of God, they had the prophets, they had personal history with God and they had committed themselves to applying a level of attention to the matters of God, which were totally heads and shoulders above other nations.

They were Zealous for God.

They had a burning passion, they had an enthusiastic and YES even fanatical level of interest in God, but Paul says that they were lacking because their knowledge was misdirected and incomplete.

And because their knowledge was incomplete, as fired up as they may have been, it was not enough to enable them to connect with God.

Thought:

This is something that brings three thoughts to mind and these thoughts may challenge you and the may even make us uncomfortable.

Here is the First thought.

Being zealous for God and having a strong desire to connect with God, without actually knowing the one true God, will not get you anywhere.

This is a word that applies specifically to those who rely on their religion, whatever that religion may be.

Thought:

I have members of my own family who are very devout and sincere in their Mohammad-dean beliefs.

I believe that those who follow the Prophet and the Koran are incredibly sincere and zealous for God at level, which puts to shame, the devotion and fervor of most western Christians.

These folks are serious. I remembered the first time I encountered that particular branch of the family.

My own cousin cannot shake my hand because she isn’t allowed to touch any man but her husband.

These folks pray like no ones business. Their prayer regimen is based on FIVE prayers a day; pre-dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night, where ever you find these folks from Mecca to Michigan; you’ll find them on their faces with their mats laid out every single day, if you go to the mosque; no one is sleep while the I-man is giving his sermon.

Yet their zeal, because it is a misdirected zeal will never connect them to the one true God.

Admirable as they may be, it is zeal without correct knowledge.

Second thought:

There are many folks who are trying to connect with God, through a pursuit of knowledge and they are doing so by studying and checking out all kinds of religions.

This of course is a phenomenon that is active across our nation and it is rampant in our information over-loaded society.

People are sincerely looking for him and are doing so, by reason of their own personal quest for knowledge.

And so you have people with all kind of messed up and mixed up concepts and beliefs.

You have people who search and constantly ask questions.

You have people who read the latest books and pursue the latest fad and philosophy, pursing God with zeal and intensity that puts a lot of believers to shame.

These people are serious.

And while it sounds good to say that all paths lead to God and that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere, when you end up standing before God on that great day, you’ll find that you were sincerely wrong.

Third thought:

You can be religious and have a zeal for the things of your religious organization and still miss God.

You can study books, you can listen to all kinds of teachings, you can enroll in a college or special university and be the most ardent dedicated student.

But if that organization is relying on anything other than salvation through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Chris all of your ZEAL, all of your memorization of the special books of revelation, will mean absolutely NOTHING.

For in-spite of the doors that you knocked on doors and the tracks you handed out, in spite of the fact that you were up bright and early on Saturday morning; on that day when you stand before Almighty God, Jesus himself will say I don’t know you, depart from me you who work iniquity, I never knew you and you certainly didn’t know me.

Look at Israel; hear what God is saying to us.

Hear what God is saying in his word to you.

Israel shows us how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Failing to understand (being ignorant) of God’s righteousness.

 

Romans 10:2-3a (KJV)
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3a  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness..

Isaiah 51:1-2a (NLT)
1  “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.
2a  Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.

Romans 1:17 (NIV)
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 4:3 (NKJV)
3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now we touched on this thought just a little bit last week, but here the thought that we want to focus upon today is the issue of ignorance.

Ignorance is a word that many people find insulting, but it really isn’t meant to insult, but rather it describes a state of being.

It means untutored, untaught, unlettered or uneducated, lacking not intelligence, or sincerity, or desire, or good intention, but rather lacking in an area of knowledge or understanding.

Paul said that Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness, because they did not understand that this righteous God, embraced and accepted people (Abraham and Sarah being examples) who would be seen and accepted as righteous, not because of what they did, but because of what they believed.

We read from Isaiah chapter 51 verses 1-2a and let me just quote that again; it’s there on the screen and you can read it too

Isaiah 51:1-2a (NLT)
1  “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.

2a  Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation…

In other words, the prophet Isaiah is telling the people of Israel to recognize the patterns and examples set by Abraham and Sarah.

The scripture declared in Romans 4:3 that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now according to the Apostle Paul, this is where Israel missed it.

They were untutored, untaught, unlettered, ignorant of the fact that the righteousness that God gave was a free gift given in response to a man’s faith and trust in God.

Israel had the law, but they didn’t trust and have a loving faith in the God of that law.

Israel provides and example of how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Trying to establish your own way of reaching God.

 

Romans 10:3a-b (KJV)
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness,

Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)
6  But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Amos 5:21-22 (NLT)
21  “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22  I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.

Romans 9:31-32a-c (NLT)
31  But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.
32  Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him.

Very likely most if not all of you here today are familiar with the TEN commandments.

Now we know that God gave Moses a set of TEN commandments that were written in stone and then there were many rules and regulations that were built up, over the years.

My research indicated that there are over 600 laws in the Talmud, which is the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and traditions.

248 of those laws are positive commandments and 365 of the laws and directives are negatives, or do not do X or Y commands.

Over time the Jewish system of laws ballooned to become a massive system, in which they attempted to establish their own righteousness, through rules and regulations and festivals and activates.

In other words it was a man made ball of wax.

God looked at all that STUFF and he rejected it, because he realized that no where in all that man made stuff, was the kind of righteousness that he desired.

No where among all that MAN stuff was thing that he wanted and that was faith and trust in HIM.

He God hated the pretense.

He hated the hypocrisy, he hated the legal approach of doing things, while inwardly the heart was wrong, it turned his stomach, it repelled him, so much so, that he said that their attempts at approaching him with their own righteousness, offended him and looked degusting.

It was so distasteful that he likened it to a used menstrual cloth.

Thought

To me, this thought troubles my mind tremendously because; there is a part my flesh that struggles with religiosity.

And if you are honest about it, you’ll admit that this may be a problem in your life too.

You see the flesh likes rules and regulations and things that you can do because they provide feedback to your ego and sense of self.

As Christians we must be careful to avoid developing and or coming to rely on a set of RULES that we lean on to make us feel that we are right with God.

Now I am not saying what some bone headed person is thinking right now in their mind, I’m not saying cut loose and go PARTY…

I’m saying that we have to avoid religiosity.

We have to be careful to avoid coming to have faith in the things that we do or do not do, as evidence of our relationship with God and our right standing with him.

And we can fall into that trap very easily, because working off of a rule book is a lot easier than trusting God.

Working off a set of rules is a lot easier than leaning, searching, seeking and listening to him and HIS Spirit.

If we are not careful we can just like Israel, focus on building our own route to God, rather than flowing in the never-ending reality, that we are completely incapable of doing anything, to bring our selves up to God on our own.

Each and every day we must embrace and flow in the reality that we are the recipients of God’s unmerited grace, who loved us, called us and justified us because of faith and faith alone, in the work of his beloved SON.

Thought:

To the unsaved, to those who may be here today, or connected electronically let me also speak to you here in this point before we move to the 4th and final.

There are some of you here today; some sitting here and some who are watching by Internet or got this message from a DVD or a shared file that someone gave you.

I speak to you also my friend because you too may be in danger of missing the one true God, because you are trying to go about it in your own way.

I say that because from time to time, I meet a lot of people who are from a human perspective, quite nice and good people.

These are folks, who do not commit heinous crimes. They are law abiding people who love their families, pay their taxes, treat people fairly, give to charity; people who by most HUMAN measurements, would be the kind of folks that God would accept.

You might be one of those good people.

You’ve done all the right things, but I am sorry to tell you, that your best efforts, although laudable, will always fall short; for God knows everything about every single person and when he looks down from heaven upon the children of men, what he finds is that there is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE.

No one can measure up to God’s righteousness as a result of his or her efforts that is not how God works.

If you believe that God will accept you because of your good works.

If you believe that you are a “good” person and that you’ll qualify for heaven based on your goodness, you are flowing in IGNORANCE and you’ll miss him and end up in a devil’s hell right along side of the worse no account bum you could think of.

I am not trying to insult you, I am simply describing your state of being and I am letting you know that it won’t work and you’ll end up missing God, even if you are the best person that you can try to be.

Israel provides and example of how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God 4th and finally by…..

  1. Refusing to submit to (accept) God’s way and instead clinging to your own way. 

Romans 10:3-4 (KJV)
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
 

John 1:11-12 (NLT)
11  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.
12  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Philippians 3:9 (NKJV)
9  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

The tragic mistake of Israel was and is, that they had everything at their fingertips, but they missed the coming of God’s anointed one, because they were determined to do things their own way.

Pre-Close:

In the opening of the sermon, I told you a story about the time that my wife and I missed our first airplane when we were young…

It was a bad feeling, because we failed.

We didn’t understand how the airlines worked. Even though our bags were packed and we were excited to go, we missed it.

You might be one of the folks who are doing your own thing; maybe you’ve developed a cornucopia of ideas and thoughts that form your own personal religion.

Maybe you are a proud person and understandably so.

In your mind God would accept you because you are a lot better than Johnny the wino or Julie the sleaze at the office.

You can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong and miss him.

CLOSE:

Today we’ve shared some things about how God works.

You’ve been shown an example of how to miss connecting with God.

I’ve laid our all of the details so none of us have an excuse when it comes to the issue of salvation and your response to the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

Right now we Gentiles have the blessing of being able to understand and accept the beauty and simplicity of the Gospel.

And if you haven’t heard it, here is it. All people are lost in sin.

We can never reach the level of perfect required by God.

We cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we may try.

But God loved the world so much, that he gave his only SON Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our sin.

Through faith in God’s only Son Jesus, who suffered bled and died on the cross and who rose from the grave, you as a person who is not perfect and who is guilty of sin and worthy of death, can instead be accepted as righteous and washed from your sins, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you openly declare with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you believe that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is by believing in you’re heart, that you are made right with God and by openly declaring your faith in him that you are saved.

Having heard the gospel we are without excuse.

My friend if you are unsaved I am here today to tell you that we don’t have to miss God.

But rather we can all come to a saving knowledge of him through Christ…AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed.

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