We pray for the reading of God’s word. This prayer I’ll pull from Psalm 119. Let us pray. Heavenly Father, teach us the way of your statutes, that we would keep it to the end. Give us understanding that we would keep Your law and observe it with our whole heart.
Lead us in the paths of Your commandments and enable us to delight in them. Incline our hearts to Your testimony and not to selfish gain. Turn our eyes from looking at worthless things and give us life in Your ways. Father, we ask that you must, that you might let us see you this morning as we attend to Your Word. Through Christ we pray.
Amen. This morning, this life. Sunday we’re reading two portions of Scripture, two Corinthians 416 to 18 and Revelation 21. I’ll be reading from the ESV. This is the word of God, so we do not lose heart.
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. As we look to the things that as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. And he who was seated on the throne said, behold, I am making all things new.
Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true, the word of our Lord. You may be seated.
Let me pray for the preaching. Father, as my words are true to Your Word, may they be taken to heart. But if my words should stray from yours, may they be quickly forgotten. I pray this in the name and in the power of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Leo was born in Nicaragua. I don’t know all the circumstances of his family. I never remembered him mentioning his father. But at an early age he moved to Puerto Rico. And when he was about four years old, tragedy struck his family.
He was hit by a car, which actually ran over him and crushed his head. No one knew what to do, and he was apparently left for death. I even understand that the medical teams that eventually came, they gave him up for debt. But here is where the love of a mother stepped in and taking up her destroyed son with profound force of personality, she made the medical team do something. Although little Leo was as good as dad, she prayed and she pushed.
She prayed and she waited. She prayed and she cared for her little dying son. And slowly, after several surgeries, what seemed a miracle to her, little Leo began to recover. His mother looked past what she could see and rested her trust on God, who holds all life under faithful and personal care. That faithful and personal love enabled Leo’s life to thrive.
The women are about to study nancy Guthrie’s better than Eden. And in that work, Nancy will take threads throughout Scripture, biblical theology, and trace a thread through the Scripture. I hope to do that with the thread of life this morning. To you, for you. So we should start at the beginning.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And from the earth he took dust from the ground and he formed it. And he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And man became a living creature. Here is where human life begins.
It begins with God’s involvement. And God has chosen to have his recorded actions using physical language. He took dust, he formed it, he breathed into it. And we see that same intimate, personal, physical involvement in his forming of Eve as well. God fashions man and breathes life into mankind.
Life then, is God’s first gift to mankind. And of course, we’ll see that through his son, Christ Jesus. Life is his greatest gift as well. It’s no wonder that the psalmist can declare in Psalm 130 915, my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. You see, Adam knew and David rejoiced that God was both the author and the giver of life.
Such was his glorious involvement. And yet almost immediately in the garden, a garden filled with glorious plants and animals and trees, the rival of God as a serpent deceived Eve. And she ate of the forbidden fruit, as did Adam, who was with her. And now death enters in. No longer can Adam and Eve enjoy life and its fullest degree to its fullest end, that of direct personal relationship with God.
Now their life’s work of tending the ground, of multiplying and filling the earth, they’re both cursed. The ground will resist their efforts, childbearing will be full of pain, and their relationship will be regularly strained and death awaits them. And yet, even as death entered into the garden, god promised one day to destroy the serpent, to destroy death with a son born of a woman. You know that Eve did bear a son to, in fact. And the one Cain rose up and killed, the other able life and death.
But God gives to eve another son in Seth. And through his line a Redeemer is born. One of the earliest Redeemers, the pictures of a Redeemer, was in Noah and God used him to gather and to preserve life through the flood. God reiterates the the value of life when after the flood, in Genesis nine six, he says, whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed. For God made man in his own image.
God reiterates the value of life. God explains the tragedy of death. But this isn’t the end of death. Death returns again. We see that in a couple of ways.
One man’s lifespan is greatly reduced after the flood. And we also see men die naturally and at the hand of one another sinful man. And soon, in the story of the children of God, they find themselves in slavery, god’s children created in his image. Treating one another with such disdain for life to enslave another is horrible, but to take another man’s life is even worse. And that’s exactly what Moses did to the Egyptian overseer.
And yet God redeemed the murdering Moses and called him into service. Moses, go tell Pharaoh to let my people go, that they may worship me. A new life for the people of God. Of course, you know the story. Or perhaps you know the story how God used Moses to bring the children of God out of Egypt and eventually into their new life in the Promised Land.
But even in that journey to a better life, a life that was supposed to flow with milk and honey, there was death. Clearly, we learned from Paul in Romans 512 that just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men, because all sinned. Paul goes on to show us that death rained from Adam to Moses, even to those whose sin was not like the sin of Adam. This is the rhythm of the natural world. Men and women are born into it.
And it’s a world, you know, that’s been impacted by the fall. The effect of man’s sin brings disappointment, discouragement, dysfunction, distance, despair, and finally, death. All of the troubles of mankind are as a direct result of someone’s sin against them or their own sin, or perhaps simply the effects of sin in general on the world. Truly, the wages of sin is death. Well, this sounds rather dark for a Sunday morning sermon, especially on this life Sunday.
But it is a darkness that, you know, the children of God feel from time to time. David, for instance, captures his lament in Psalm. In Psalm 42, he asks of himself, why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me? Listen to David’s heart as he sings in verses five.
And following, he says, my soul is cast down within me, therefore I remember you deep, calls to deep, but the roar of your waterfalls, all your breakers and your wave have gone over me. And I say to God, my rock, why have you forgotten me? Why do I go on morning? In dozens of psalms, there’s a lament where David shares his confusion, or he questions God’s plan or God’s timing, or even the silence of God, and he raises it in lament. And David is not alone.
All throughout the Older Testament, the prophets share similar petitions. They plead them before God. In fact, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Kabakik and Zachariah. They’re all recorded as asking the same question how long, O Lord? How long will sin rule?
How long will death reign? How long will hearts remain cold and hard before the Lord. How long before the Lord breaks through and brings about the deliverance that only he can provide? You know, in the story of the Bible that when the time was right, God did break through. Sure, you see his faithfulness all the way through those older Testament stories as well.
For instance, he stepped in and clothed Adam and Eve as an act of mercy. He protected Noah. He guided and cared for Abraham. He enabled Baron Sarah to conceive. He raised up Joseph, who then in turn saved Israel.
The list goes on and on of God’s faithfulness, his faithfulness to the prostitute rehab his faithfulness to the Ford and Ruth, to King David, though he was a murderous adulterer. And on and on are the stories of God’s faithfulness. And yet in Galatians four four, we read that when the fullness of time had come, god sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law. Now, this is the law that shows us our sin. This is the law that condemns us to die.
This is the law that we, in our own strength and ability, are powerless to fully obey. Some of us have tried for quite some time. This is the law that leads to death. You read further in Galatians chapter four, that Christ came to redeem those who are under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons. Like the first man whom God breathed life in, into whom he fashioned in his own image and then enjoyed a personal relationship with Adam and Eve as he walked with them in the cool of the day.
Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, has given us that same life again, has given us the future hope of that same intimacy again. Jesus has done what none of us could do, and in redeeming us, he saved us, not only for a future glory, but he has saved us right now in the present as well. If I can break back into my story introducing Leo Leonardo. He was saved from death, but with such severe head trauma, everyone wondered, how would he do? And yet, as he grew, he was recognized for academic brilliance, an incredibly steady hand, and a hard work ethic, which enabled him to eventually graduate as the magna cum laude with a doctorate in dentistry and medicine.
And he specialized as a maxio facial surgeon. You may wonder, could God really save you? You may wonder, can God really save your friend or your child, that close person in your life, or some coworker that you’ve been praying for for some time? Can God really save them? Of course he can.
He is the God of life. He is the author of life. Remember that he breathed life into man in the first place. Remember that he raised up the dry bones in Ezekiel’s Valley and brought them back to life. Remember that his son raised Lazarus and then raised himself on the third day and death has been conquered by Christ.
God is not only the author of life, he’s not only the giver of life, but he is the restorer of life as well. Nancy Guthrie, in that work again that the ladies will be studying, she writes this if you have been joined by Christ or to Christ by faith, the process of your being remade into the image of the resurrected Christ has already begun. The new is breaking into the now. When Guthrie writes, the new is breaking into the now, she is pointing out that all the glories of our being remade fully and perfectly into the image of God are beginning right now. And this is where our text in your bulletin fits in.
This is why we need not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away. You see, Paul clearly understands the impacts of disease and time and aging. But he reminds us that even when things are going physically bad for us, the inner self is being renewed day by day on this life Sunday. Do not despair if you are experiencing a wasting away. That could be your health.
But what often troubles us is when we experience other wasting away, the wasting away of hopes and dreams, of opportunities or relationships or possibilities. And it’s just it those dark moments when we might feel or someone we love is feeling completely lost. That’s when people contemplate death. Death for themselves, death for the child they’re carrying. And at times like that, when the valley of the shadow of death casts long in your life, that we must be reminded of the author, the giver, the restore of life, that we ought to call out with Peter lord, to whom shall we go?
You alone have the words of eternal life. Our options, our opportunities, our future is expansive and bright because our God is making all things new. If you are struggling here, or if you know someone that is struggling here, point them to the objective reality of God’s life breathing, life restoring work, that he is making all things new, that in Christ, though it feels pretty bad on the outside. And here I was going to reference when it was 35 below a couple of weeks ago, but after this morning, if you tried to walk on the ice, that’s even worse. Everything is still and frozen, and death is at your next step.
God is renewing us on the inside, even when the outside of our lives feel just like that. And this renewal comes from His Son, Jesus, who is the great I am. He’s the reason that we can have heart and confidence, not because we can do it, but because he has already done it for us. Jesus has said, I am the bread of life. Again, Jesus said, I am the living bread.
So I invite you to take Him at his word and let Him be your source of strength, your source of nourishment. Let his words be your food and your encouragement. If you want to be daily renewed, feed on Him daily. Feed on his word daily. Do not lose heart.
Do not suffer alone. Bread and meals are to be shared. So share in these meals. What do I mean? Well, first, in a few moments we’ll share at the Lord’s table.
But you have opportunities otherwise to be fed each week as well. For the men, there’s a Wednesday morning Bible study. For the women three different times. On Wednesdays, there are opportunities for a meal in God’s Word during the Sunday school in Colossians, as well as for various children’s ages as well. And there are small groups in the Valley, including a new one just starting up.
For couples or families with young kids, there are opportunities to regularly feed on God and His Word. And there’s an opportunity for you daily as well, reading just a few verses or a chapter or two and praying that the Lord would feed you. Read and as you read, consider how is he showing Himself faithful? And consider what might he be requiring in response to his goodness. And then pray again.
My last break back to Leonardo. We got to know Leonardo and Rebecca and their children in Japan, where he saw his first snow and promptly went out and bought a big snow blower and carefully cleaned all the sidewalks and the parking area and even the streets with the precision of a surgeon. He loved snow and got plenty of practice as we averaged over 150 inches a year. Leo from Puerto Rico now works in Alaska. Apparently he loves the snow and his life as a surgeon is lived bringing others back to life, rebuilding jaws and faces, opening airways after accidents and injuries.
He’s a long way from being left dead in the street or left for dead in the street. But he would tell you that he also sees his life as one to be shared by others. You have to seize patients on the brink of death and he prays with them for their new life. They’re restored a new life in Christ, day by day. In His Word, we are all being renewed in our inner self.
And as we are being renewed, as we push through the dark days in his strength, with his words, we begin to see our perspective change. We begin to see, as first Corinthians, or Two Corinthians 417 states that this light, momentary affliction is preparing us for eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. And here we may be reminded of Jesus declaring, I am the resurrection and the life. And we might notice that as we are being renewed by Christ, the death truly has lost its sting. You might think of Paul when he was anticipating the possibility of execution.
He writes, to live as Christ, to die is gain. Imagine the confidence that that would have given Him. Paul knew that in dying he would finally and fully be alive, because he would be in the presence of Jesus. And the new is breaking into the now, Jesus is the one who said I am the way, the truth and the life. And that’s the fullness of life described in Revelation 21 that Paul is referring to, where we see the phrase that I’ve used several times I am making all things new.
Let me read a few more verses in that 21st chapter. And he who is seated on the throne said let me interrupt my own reading to point out that this is one of the few glimpses of God’s direct words in the book of Revelation. So I invite you to listen to his voice, hear his words. God says, Behold, I am making all things new. Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.
And he said to me, it is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the springs of water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be His God, and he will be my Son. This is God’s future gift to you to drink from the waters of the spring of life.
And we also read elsewhere to finally eat of the fruit of the tree of life in glory. Yet it is by no means easy in this world, in this world where we see the effects of sin and the suffering and death. Yeted verse 18 in our text reminds us the key is to look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things unseen are eternal children of God. God is the author of life.
He is the giver of life, and he is the restorer of life. Look to Him and trust Him with your life. Let us pray.
Father, again we give you all thanks and praise for the love that you have shown to us, for the faithfulness that you have displayed to us, for the giving of life and for the giving of Your Son such that we might live. Father, I pray that you would attune our hearts to Your word, that we would feed on you as we have need. Father, we would also look to those around us, to friends, family members, coworkers who are thirsty, who are hungry, and we might look to you for confidence and opportunity to give them the words of life as well. Lord, we need you to be at work in us, renewing us, and we need you to be at work in others lives as well. Teach us to trust you with our life.
In Jesus name we pray. Amen. I invite you? Let’s.
Disclaimer: Automated Sermon Transcription