Here you will find service outlines,
and additional writings.
Dec8SunDecember 8, 2019
Call to Worship: 1 Chronicles 29:10 “Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
Songs: Psalm 34 - The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Born That We May Have Life - Chris Tomlin
Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy) - Chris Tomlin
God With Us - Jeremy Camp
Scripture: Deuteronomy 7
Song: Take Me Into The Beautiful -Cloverton
Sermon: “Beautiful, Spacious and Glorious”
Closing Song: Beautiful Saviour (Live) Casting Crowns
Benediction 1 Chronicles 16:27 “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. 28 Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. 30 Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. 31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” 32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! 33 Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” 36 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the LORD.”
1 Chronicles 17:23 “And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, 24 so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.”
Sermon: “Beautiful, Spacious and Glorious”
Today we are talking about the beautiful land that Jesus has offered us. I realize the song we just sang talked about a future land and the song we will sing at the close does too, but I trust that after today you will see that not only is there a beautiful, spacious and glorious land for eternity but our belief in Jesus and our obedience takes us to a land like no other presently.
So here we are again, yet another Advent and then it’s yet another Christmas and the new year 2020 is coming in fast and before you know it, another Easter will roll by. I am astounded by how fast time is passing us by, but having said that Peter said, 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” So really what is the big deal about this Advent season compared to others. Paul tells us Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” 1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” Peter also said 2 Peter 3:14 “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
We have been raised with the distortion of scripture, which has caused our desolation. Ignorant and unstable men have changed the word of God to their liking and truth is nowhere to be found. Isaiah said Isaiah 59:15 “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.” Many have fallen from their secure positions and have been carried away by the error of the lawless. In keeping with our advent them “Awaiting the power of the Holy Spirit,” we so desperately need to be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit once again. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The church decided to reject the commands of God and then blame Him for not keeping his promises. Man makes up their own truth in their disobedience and expects God to bless them. Since God has turned his face from shining on us we are missing truth. Yes we have Gods’ word but everyone goes their own way. John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” We must have the power of the Holy Spirit to make it to the end. We must turn from our wicked ways and return to the word of God.
Before I go on I was thinking this week about trust. Most people find it very hard these days to trust anyone, let alone believe the words of a God they can’t see. Most think the bible is just a book that is outdated and can’t relate. They don’t realize the bible is the living word of God. Yes people will quote from it for their own gain but to live by it is a different story. If a personal trainer or a financial planner charted a course for you to follow, they would expect you to follow it. You went to them in the first place to get advice, so to reject it would be foolish. So you read their materials and do what they say and over a period of time you come back a changed person or you don’t because you did not follow the plan. But here we have the one who knows all plans and every hair on your head since before the beginning of time and knows everything there is to know about you, yet you go to men and woman for help because you don’t believe Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” We are like Israel who 2 Kings 17:14 “would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God.” Not listening to God’s word is not trusting God.
So why should we trust the word of God. Let me say this first; if you don’t believe Genesis 1:1 “in the beginning God” and Matthew 1:1 “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham,” you are in trouble. How do we know we can trust God? The answer is Jesus. John 3:16 said “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” We know that God sent His son and very few people don’t believe there was a Jesus. They just refuse to believe Matthew 16:16 “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus came as Matthew 1:1 said. Just because his own people did not believe, doesn’t mean he didn't come. Everything points to Jesus. How do we know that Jesus will return? God said he would. Jesus came the first time and he’s coming again. Revelation 22:12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” The bible is the living word of God. Jesus is the word. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Yet the world rejected the light and still rejects the light but God remains God and Jesus is the Messiah. Will God do as He said he would? The answer is a resounding yes. Why because he said so. Acts 4:8 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Everything points to Jesus. You can’t say you love Jesus if you don’t know His voice. If you don’t know his words how do you obey his commands? If you don’t obey his commands you won’t spend eternity with him. We celebrate the arrival of Jesus because He is the fulfillment of God’s promise as Simeon said in Luke 2:28 “Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Jesus said he would return and he will. Jesus said he would not leave us as orphans. God said if you seek me, you will find me. He said return to me and I will return to you and he will. Will you trust God to honor him as holy? Numbers 20:12 “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” When God tells us something; it will happen. He offers us eternal life, a life everlasting. He said he would never leave us or forsake us but there are conditions. Yes God said he would not abandon his people yet he did as Isaiah 54:7 said, “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.” Yes he turned even from the remnants. He even turned form his promise to David briefly but we always have hope because the sun still rises and sets. As Psalm 22:2 “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” God only turns his face when we abandon His words. He said in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Yet the even the remnant was vomited from the land. Did he lie? No! He said 2 Chronicles 7:16 “I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” Yet the temple was destroyed twice. Does that make God untrustworthy? Absolutely not. What it does is show us that disobedience to God’s word has the power to change everything. It even changes God’s promises temporarily. We are told 1 Kings 8:25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.” Again the answer is Jesus as He reigns on David’s throne. Jeremiah 22:4 “For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin. 8 “People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’ 9 And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.” The answer is not whether God is trustworthy.
God calls out to his people and wants to bless His people. Jeremiah 3:19 “I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. 21 A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God.” Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.”
What God offers us is beyond imagination but we must obey Him. If we do not trust God at His word, then Jesus cannot be our savior. If we do not believe Jesus can save us, we then become an enemy of God. This is why we can’t change His words to make them palatable to our taste. Revelation 22:19 “And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” All we have to do is do as we are told. God wants to save us and showed us the way of which there is only one. John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If we want to be saved from this desolation, Jesus is the only way. If we return as He said and even test Him in this, God will return to us, which means he will clothe us with His power. It means he will dwell within us. We will once again live in the promised land, a land of milk and honey. Isaiah 4:2 “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.”
What God has given us is supposed to be beautiful, spacious and glorious. God’s plan from the beginning was to give us a beautiful land. Isaiah 28:5 “In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people.” Even after the people returned Isaiah said, Isaiah 51:3 “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” How beautiful is that? Ezekiel 36:33 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.” 24 “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!” Ezekiel 36:19 “I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. 20 And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’ 21 I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone. 22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.”
God gave man the Garden of Eden. He then gave them the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 11:8 “Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 9 and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. 13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”
God wants to bless us with the land again but we must obey. He wants to give us a beautiful land. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” Because of this we have hope. 2 Samuel 22:17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 20 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” After God saved mankind after the flood. Genesis 9:1 “God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” He saved Israel from captivity. Jeremiah 23:3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.” Then Jesus Mark 16:15 “said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” The world was supposed to be changed. Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Believing in Jesus gives us the opportunity once again to eat from the tree of life but we must not disobey. We can return to the beginning but what is being offered to us is far better the Garden of Eden. The church at Ephesus was told in Revelation 2:5 “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:1 “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Jesus said John 4:7 “when a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus also said to Martha John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Just as Revelation 21 said God wants to make His dwelling place with us. John 14:23 “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Isaiah 52:1 “Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendor, Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. 2 Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive. 3 For this is what the LORD says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” 4 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “At first my people went down to Egypt to live; lately, Assyria has oppressed them. 5 “And now what do I have here?” declares the LORD. “For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock, ” declares the LORD. “And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. 6 Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.” 7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. 9 Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. 11 Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the articles of the LORD’s house. 12 But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Jesus said Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So in Christ we have the promises to Abraham and to David and the tree of life but we also now have access to the tree of knowledge. ” Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Adam and Eve were told Genesis 2:17 “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Yet they disobeyed and lost the land and death entered this world. Yet as everything points to Jesus we have hope of life everlasting once again. Jesus said John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Adam and Eve sinned and took that away. Genesis 3:22 “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” The only way back to the tree of life is belief in Jesus and obeying his word as we read in Revelation.
Christianity is supposed to be this beautiful land that is spacious and glorious. Isaiah 4:2 “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. 5 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.” Balaam describes this beauty. Numbers 24:1 “Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. 2 When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him 3 and he spoke his message: “The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor, the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly, 4 the prophecy of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened: 5 “How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel! 6 “Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters. 7 Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. “Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. 8 “God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. 9 Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse them? “May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” Just so you know, Balaam was later struck down by the sword.
Not only did God bless Noah, he blessed Abraham by promising him the land. Genesis 12:1 “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 6 At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Exodus 34:10 “Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Today like Israel the church has turned away from the beautiful land that was spacious and fertile. The rejected this beauty and made their own. Nehemiah 9:32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.” Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” They disobeyed and were drawn to the beauty of this world even when told specifically not to. Joshua 7:21 “When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” Judges 7:11 “Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” We too have been made liable to destruction because we have tried to make our own beauty. Jeremiah 22:13 “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor. 14 He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’” Deuteronomy 31:29 “For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord and arouse his anger by what your hands have made.” Isaiah 2:8 “Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.” Too many Christians are mesmerized by structures and programs and what they can see with their eyes. Yes there are some beautiful churches on the outside but there is the dead on the inside.
God wants to make all things beautiful again if we would just turn from our wicked ways and trust him. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We must have God turn His face and shine on us once again by pouring out His spirit on us in power. Paul said 1 Corinthians 2:3 “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”
As we continue this journey to the beautiful land God has prepared for us, presently and in the future, trust Him with everything you have. Ezekiel 20:6 “On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.” God does not lie. He demands our obedience but he loves us enough to let us choose, so choose this day whom you will serve, the gods of this world or the God who created the universe. Psalm 118:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.” 5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. 6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.”