Sunday, December 10, 2006

God: Past, Present, and Future

Intro.: There will come times when the place of God in our lives is not as obvious.

  1. Oh, I would like to think that I will exhibit perfect faith.

  2. I would really like to think that I am the epitome of a faithful believer – which of course I am.

  3. NOT!

  4. You see, like every believer, there are dry times in my Christian walk, times when it difficult for me to find a place to put my faithful feel.

  5. And there are times when, though I may be faithful, it may not be obvious to others.

  6. It is such a time as this that I will be exploring during our few minutes together today.

Read: Joshua 24:14-27


Trans: This week I want to spend some time looking at what have come to be known as the "Historical Books" of the Old Testament

  1. Last week we looked at the Pentateuch or the Law – Gen, Ex, Lev, Num, Deut.

  2. The historical books begin with the book of Judges and continue through the book of Esther – interestingly, the book of Esther is the only book of the Bible with no explicit mention of God.

  3. In Jesus' time the OT was divided into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings – with the books that we call the "historical books" being included in the prophets because they give a picture of a number of prophets who did not write books.

T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at how the Israelites looked at God's role in their past, present and future

  1. The Jews knew God was in their past

    1. The past played a key role in the thought life of the Israelite nation.

    2. They knew the history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. They knew how Moses had taken the people from Egypt to the edge of the promised land. They knew how Joshua had taken the people over the Jordan River into the promised land. They knew how Rahab, the great-great-grandmother of David had relied on Joshua for safety. They knew that Ruth was David's great-grandmother. And they knew that God had chosen David to be their king. We continue to see God at work in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The lessor prophets, otherwise known as the non-writing prophets, and the writing prophets all testify that God had worked in their nations past. They would not forget what God had done.

(Ill.) Most of us will remember the actor Tom Selleck. Of course his most famous role was as Thomas Magnum of Magnum, P.I. Almost continuously since 1969 he has been active in TV and movie roles – he already has two movies ready to be seen in 2007. Here is a successful man – and but when seen in interviews he seems very down to earth. Some have raised the question as whether it was all a charade. But when one looks deeper by getting the truth from his family and friends, we find that he really is as modest and unassuming as he seems. You see Tom Selleck remembered where he came from. He remembered the rejection that came early in his career. In fact he couldn't even get a date on that infamous TV show Dating Game. He knew that his accomplishments were as much the result of grace as it was his talent.

(Appl.) Just as Tom Selleck recognized that more was involved in his success, just as the Israelites remembered that God had been involved in their past, so we must remember that God has been there for us. Take time this week to remember how God has worked in your life.1

  1. The Jews knew God was working in their present

    1. Life sometimes gets so busy that we forget that God is there. We start running from one place to another and God gets dropped along the way.

    2. The Israelites fell into this pattern – they began doing rather than believing. For some it was more important to be offering the sacrifices than remembering than remembering the God to whom they were offered.

    3. It seems to me that Christmas does one of two things. First, it easily can become the perfect time to forget about God. We want to find the perfect gift, we go from store to store, we have second thoughts about that gift. And we forget about God.

    4. Ironically, Christmas is also the perfect time to recognize that God is working today. Christmas is not primarily about shopping. Christmas is not primarily about going from place to place. Christmas is not primarily about buying or giving gifts. Christmas is primarily about Jesus. It is about his being born in a manger located somewhere near Bethlehem.

(Ill.) Every one of us needs to keep the Christmas Prayer

Let every heart keep Christmas within—

Christ’s pity for sorrow,

Christ’s hatred for sin,

Christ’s care for the weakest,

Christ’s courage for right.

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!2

    1. So, how will you remember this Christmas – as one that went too fast to remember Christ or as one that put Christ at its center?

  1. I am not sure that the Jews knew God would work in the future

    1. Now I know that this not true – the historical books cover the same period as the writings and prophetic books. The Psalms and the prophets are full of references to a coming Messiah.

    2. But, interestingly, there is very little reference to a coming Messiah in the historical books themselves.

    3. I wonder what could be written about me. Would I be noted for my faith or for my doing? Would I noted for my faith or my going? Would I be noted for my faith or for my spending?

    4. Someone once said, "Faith and works are as inseparable as sun and sunlight. Faith is the sun; good works are its rays."3

    5. Because I believe this is true, I hope that I am remembered for both my faith and for my works. 24:

    6. I suppose that if I am willing to ask this question of myself, I can also ask it of you – What will you be remembered for: your faith, your works, or both. I do not expect you to answer me, I do expect you to answer God.


1Hurley, V. (2000, c1995). Speaker's sourcebook of new illustrations (electronic ed.) (170). Dallas: Word Publishers.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

3Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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