August 17, 2020
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Gary was a summer lifeguard on a beach in Southern California, which is kind of a nice job. During his training, he heard some information that seemed so bizarre to him he just didn't believe it. The trainers told him that most people they tried to rescue would resent and even resist their assistance. Clearly, that just didn't make sense. Anyone who was in trouble - like life-or-death trouble - would surely welcome help, right? No. Then we got to Gary's first rescue. The man who was in trouble cursed at the man who was trying to save him. He kicked, he clawed, and he did everything in his power to fight off his rescuer.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Dying of Stubbornness."
We humans are pretty proud folks, right? Sometimes even when our pride could cost us our life! Jesus understands that all too well. He's been trying to rescue people from the clutches of their sin for a long time, only to find many people trying to resist Him at the expense of their own eternity.
The Bible paints Jesus' coming to earth as an urgent rescue mission. He saw that our sinful choices, our commandeering of our life from God, had left us hopelessly cut off from the God we were made for. That separation makes this life pointless and our life after death unbearable: a little hell now - all of hell later. So like a lifeguard jumping in the water to save a drowning person at the risk of his own life, Jesus jumped into our world to give us a chance to live instead of die. It wasn't just at the risk of his life, it was at the cost of His life on a cross - separated from God, paying our bill, taking our place.
He doesn't want to lose you. So now He comes to people like you and me, reaching out to rescue us. But sadly, heaven's Rescuer is often greeted with our proud resistance. "Look, I'm a good person - a religious person. I can give you a list of people who can tell you how I've helped them. I think I can get to heaven on my own, thank you." No, you can't. Or Jesus would never have gone through what He did on the cross. The Bible could not be clearer on this: "He saved us," the Bible says, "not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy" (Titus 3:5). Jesus has done all He can to rescue you, but it could be you've done all you can to resist Him.
It's important to see the danger that puts you in. In our word for today from the Word of God, we watch what happened to one man who consistently refused to respond to God's messages. Pharaoh, who was the King of Egypt, continually hears God's messages from Moses. But Exodus 8:15 says, "He hardened his heart." That could be what you're doing without realizing it-letting your heart get harder to Jesus every time you ignore Him, you bypass his offer. Again, the Bible says "Pharaoh hardened his heart" (Exodus 8:32). Then comes these sobering words, "The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart" (Exodus 9:12).
If you turn your back on the Lord enough times, eventually the Lord will "permanentize" the hardening of your heart. Now you'll never respond; you'll never be rescued. Ultimately, Moses, speaking for God Himself, says to Pharaoh, "I will never appear before you again" (Exodus 10:29). For Pharaoh, from that day on, it is over - forever. For you, thank God that day has not come. Or Jesus wouldn't be coming to you again today, saying, "I died for you. Here's My hand to save you." What none of us knows is when He will "never appear before us" again.
So this really is a holy moment - a precious opportunity for you to put your trust in this Rescuer who is your only hope - Jesus. This time, grab His hand. You can do that by telling Him, "Jesus, I'm sorry for my sin, for resisting Your love. I resign from running my own life. I am Yours." At that moment, the Bible says you are what's called "saved" - rescued forever.
Our website's all about how to get started in this eternity-changing relationship. Let me urge you to go visit there today. It's ANewStory.com.
Whatever's held you back just isn't worth it. There is nothing worth missing Jesus for - worth missing heaven for.