In our culture with all of our technology there are a lot of things that we need to reset. I’m a Mac guy and if you are like me and work on a Mac, you are familiar with this:
I don’t know what it’s real name is but I’ve heard of it referred to as “the spinning wheel of death.” Everyone who has a Mac knows what it means when your computer stops doing anything and “the spinning wheel of death” shows up: time for a reset!
There are other words that we hear throughout our life that indicate it’s time for a reset. Here are a few:
- “Hello, this is Principal Irwin. We need to talk about your son,”
- “Honey…I’m pregnant.”
- “I’ve got bad news, it’s your transmission.” (I got that call this week. Anyone want to guess what that cost me?)
- “Mr. Hawkins, I’d like to marry your daughter.” (I heard those words just a few weeks ago. It was great and I’m so happy, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I think that’s going to turn out to cost me more than my transmission.
One line can reset your life. Reset your priorities. Reset your values. One line can reset how you feel about yourself. It can reset your financial priorities. So often we focus on the one line that resets our life, the bad email, the call from the doctor, the ugly conversation. What if we went about life differently? Instead of waiting for that conversation or email or lab report, what if we made the decision to reset our life now? What if got our priorities straight? Rather than waiting for the difficult time to come along before we reset our priorities, we reset them now so that we are ready for whatever life throws at us.
Understand: God can get our attention either way. He can allow us to go through hard times that will reset our priorities. Unfortunately, for most of us, that’s what it takes. And make no mistake, God can use those times:
6 Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. I Peter 1:6,7
Difficulties can refine us and grow us and mature us. Nothing wrong with having those hard times reset our priorities. But there is another way. We could start off the year by doing our own spiritual reset. We could make up our minds that we are going to put God first in our lives. Psalm 128 details what life can look like if we reset our priorities to put God first:
2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. 5 May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem 6 May you live to see your children’s children— peace be on Israel Psalm 128: 2-6
- Look at all the advantages of resetting your life with God in the top spot:
- Your kids will be like olive shoots. (I’m assuming that’s a good thing.)
- Your marriage will work.
- Blessing and prosperity will be yours.
- You’ll live long enough to see your grand babies.
This idea of a reset is by no means a new one. In fact, there is a book in the Bible dedicated to this idea of resetting the way we do life: It’s the book of Hebrews. Hebrews was written to one segment of society that was having the toughest time accepting who Jesus was. I’m, of course, speaking of the Jews. The Jewish people who lived in the first century had grown up with a very different idea of religion. The Jewish lifestyle included religious festivals, rituals, animal sacrifices. God set up these rituals to point his people to Himself and to foreshadow the coming of the savior, his son.
Let’s take animal sacrifice, for example. That was a regular part of their culture and heritage and it was part of their worship. I know that seems creepy. The thought of slaughtering an animal for our sin feels very archaic. It doesn’t seem to bother you when you eat at In-and-Out, but here it seems strange. We need to understand that there was a very spiritual point to those sacrifices. First was that God wanted his people to know that he took sin very seriously. The second reason why God had his people involved in animal sacrifices to pay for their sins was to foreshadow the time when Jesus himself would pay the price for our sins with his own blood. Jesus came to Earth to replace the animal sacrifices by making the ultimate sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:22 says without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. If you’ve ever wondered why we don’t follow those Old Testament traditions anymore, this is why: Jesus is our blood sacrifice so we don’t need to sacrifice doves or goats any more.
I’m sure that sounds reasonable to you and I, especially if you grew up in church, but that was not an easy transition for the first century Jewish people. They had been following these traditions for literally thousands of years. This was their heritage. This is what set them apart from everyone else. The point of all these traditions was to point them to the savior, but in some ways all the traditions clouded them from seeing the savior.
They needed a reset. They needed to learn a new way of living. That’s what the book of Hebrews is all about. This group of people had to trade in an old way of religious rule following for a new relationship with God.
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’” Hebrews 10: 1-7
Sacrifices were offered for sin but they had to continually be offered. Until Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Once Jesus did that, He made a new way. Rather than living by rules and rituals, we would be in relationship with Him. Jump down to verse 16:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Hebrews 10: 16-18
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice so that our sacrifices would no longer be necessary. This was a new way of thinking for people. They needed to reset the way they approached God.
I don’t think we are in that much of a different place. We need a spiritual reset. I’m guessing it’s not because we’ve learned an old way of religion, although some of you may have grown up in churches that were very strict and rule following, but all of us live in a culture that tells us to live a certain way. Some of the messages we hear include these:
- Your value is based on your net worth and your earning power.
- In order to fit in you need to dress a certain way and your car needs to be in a certain price category.
- Be free sexually. Look at what you want, do what you want.
- Live for you. Just do it, as long as it makes you happy.
We live in a culture that pulls us away from the way God wants us to live. Most of us don’t even notice it. It’s just the way our culture is. As we learned last week, these patterns of the world slowly drag us away from God. We are no different than the nation of Israel in the first century. We need a reset. And when I look at the struggles that we have with resetting our lives and getting our relationship right with God, they are the same struggles they had back in the first century:
The Power Principle
To reset something usually involves a reset of power. We have all learned that in the last decade or so. Let me give you a few examples:
- What do I need to do if my iPhone freezes? I need to reset it. I need to power it off then power it on again
- What about your DVR? Call the cable company and you know what they’ll tell you: “Turn it off and turn it back on again.”
- What about your computer? What if it starts acting slow or malfunctioning? What’s your first step to getting it to work again? That’s right: turn it off and then turn it back on again.
To reset your technology, you have to turn off the power and power back up again. That’s true of phones and computers and DVR’s and tablets. It’s also true of us. Resetting is a power issue, but not in the way you may think.
Too often what we take that to mean is that we have to slow down and recharge our batteries. That we need to power down and then summon enough power to take a fresh run at whatever our issue or habit is. We have to re-power ourselves. This is why so may New Years resolutions fall flat. We set a goal that we have set before and we vow to ourselves, “This year will be different” and then it’s not. Why? Because nothing has changed. So every year looks like this: Okay, I’m going to start now…No, now…Okay, now. But God has a different plan for us:
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10: 19-22
Do you know what the most important line in this passage is? “Let us draw near.” Those words hold the key to the Power Principle. When we face a problem our way of thinking is typically something like this:
- I’ll just lean into this.
- I’ll solve it.
- I can handle this.
- I’ll google an answer.
- I’ll look it up on WebMD.
- I’ll call an expert.
- I’ll put more hours in.
- I have the power to change this.
What God says is just the opposite:
- Don’t lean into it.
- Lean into me.
- Draw near to me.
- Come closer to me.
- Use my power.
Let me give you some ways that I do this in my life:
Read the Bible every day. I open my Bible first thing in the morning. I don’t even get out of bed. I open that book and read for a few minutes. I can’t seem to get out of the book of Psalms. If you are just starting to read the Bible, start there. Read 8-10 verses. You’ll feel yourself drawing near.
Take a prayer walk. I pick up 10 stones and each one becomes a prayer. “This one I pray for my daughter. Help her with her wedding plans. This one is for my son. Help him endure his school load.”
Read a book. Anything by John Ortberg tends to hold my attention and get me thinking about how God wants me to live my life rather than just going with the flow.
Here’s a great quote to end this point from John Ortberg. It’s from his book, If You Want to Walk on Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat.
“Never try to have more faith – just get to know God better. And because God is faithful, the better you know Him, the more you will trust Him.”
That’s the truth we see in verse 23:
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
The closer we draw near the more he will restore our hope. The more we will realize he has the power to help us. That he is indeed faithful.