RAP SHEET 10/3/21
Sermon: You'd Better!
Scripture: Hebrews 11 / Daniel 3
ICE BREAKER: Would you rather eat your favorite dessert once a year or a dessert you don't love every week?
This week we finished up our HEROIC series by looking at the "untold ending" of verses 32-40 of Hebrews 11. These are the verses that are often left out of sermons because they demonstrate that even the Heroes don't always get what they desire. Many people who faithfully lived their life for God ended up captured, tortured, killed, and variously disappointed.
This can be a real turn-off in our culture. We tend to carry a sense of entitlement and view many of our relationships as transactional. The bargain is, "If I do _____ THEN you have to do ______." This attitude bleeds over into our relationship with God. Christians often have an attitude that if we follow the Bible and make good decisions, God owes us a certain amount of blessing. In other words, when we do faithful things we look to God and think YOU'D BETTER come through with your end of the bargain!
Can you think of a time where you expected God to grant you something based on your performance?
Have you ever been disappointed when your obedience didn't result in a blessing quickly?
It is difficult to break out of the YOU'D BETTER mindset that our society operates in; however, that mindset will hold you back from living a HEROIC life!
Hebrews 11 mentions one young group of men who were able to stay faithful and truly trust God, instead of trying to bargain with Him. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and they were captives in a foreign land. The king of that land had a giant statue made of himself and commanded the nation to bow down and worship it whenever the music played publicly. This was a problem because the young men were devout followers of God who makes it clear we are to worship nothing else!
To make matters worse, the king had a furnace fired up and the punishment for not bowing to him was instant death in that furnace. The music played and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow. The king was outraged and had them brought before him. He offered them one last chance to bow. It was then they responded:
"17 If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king.
18 But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
Even if He does not rescue us is the polar opposite of a YOU'D BETTER worldview. These men had faith enough to stare down the fiery furnace and yet they did not expect the God of the universe to HAVE to act according to their plans. Serving God with their lives was a grand enough mission that they did not require God's immediate, material blessings to make it worthwhile. They turned a YOU'D BETTER life into a YOU'RE BETTER life - trusting that God is better than anything else the world could offer them!
The King of Babylon is a great example of how our culture operates today: "YOU'D BETTER bow down, or else!" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are a prime example of how HEROIC lives are lived in pursuit of something that goes beyond the needs and desires of this present world. That is exactly what the last two verses in Hebrews 11 mean:
39 All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.
As you dig into your own life, don't be ashamed of the areas where you are living with a YOU'D BETTER approach - we all have them. At the same time, to truly live the Heroic life you were created for, you must begin fighting for a higher perspective that will allow you to live an "EVEN IF HE DOESN'T" kind of story.
HERE IS THIS WEEK'S APPLICATION QUESTIONS:
What is ONE AREA where you are living with a YOU'D BETTER attitude?
What is ONE WAY you will work to change that into an "EVEN IF HE DOESN'T" Faith?
Ask God to continue to remind you the truths that we learned throughout this series. Spend some time seeking the Holy Spirit to reveal the areas where you are bargaining with God. Ask Jesus to bring you reminders that He is truly enough - that He is better than anything you could get in this world.