Sermon:  New and Improved!

Summary:  We need to renew our relationship to Jesus periodically by considering 
biblically how Jesus is better than any thing else we might search for, rely on, 
or be enamored with.  Jesus is God's ultimate message because he is God who is 
the ultimate victor and solution to everything.

Know:  The ultimate solution to all of life's questions and problems can be found 
only in Jesus Christ

Feel:  Trust and confidence in Jesus

Do:  Read the passage and discuss how Jesus is better.  Reflect on the various 
things in life that people tend to rely on for answers, meaning, comfort, etc., 
and reflect on how Jesus is superior to those things.  Identify ways that you 
might tend to lean on things other than Jesus and how you might learn to lean on 
Jesus more.

Text:  Heb 1:1-14

Scripture Reading:  Rev. 21:3-5

1.  There are lots of products in the store, various brands and types
	a.  All claim to be better
	b.  Some get better with the label, "New and Improved"
	c.  Its often confusing when I go to the store with so many options
	d.  The simple store as went from market, to supermarket, to supercenter, 
	      what's next?  Mega-Mart?  Giga-Center?
2.  We are always looking for something better
	a.  Not just talking about the products you buy
	b.  We like to have better car, better house, better health, better job
	c.  Wouldn't you like to have what is better?
	d.  The text this morning deals with what is better
3.  New Series on the Book of Hebrews - Theme of the book is "Jesus is Better"
	a.  Why a message that Jesus is better?
	b.  Background of the book
		- The readers had bee Christians awhile and facing challenges
			= Unlike Judaism, Christianity was not a legal religion
			= Ostracized, marginalized, persecuted, property confiscated
			= Rumors of family disloyalty, cannibalism, orgies, treason
			= No support system like the Jews, no synagogue, temples, 
			   Jewish trade unions, Jewish community, etc.
		- Had to worship in each other's homes - truly exiles in their 
		- They tired, worn out, exhausted, beat down, but not killed
		- Stopped assembling, stopped confession, started drifting away
	c.  Author wanted to strengthen them.  But not in the way you might think
		- Could have given them a pep talk, but he doesn't
		- He strengthens them with Christian doctrine -- Says more than 
		   once to "consider Jesus"
		- Word of God living and active - So he does exposition on the word
		- His exhortation flows from the word of God
	d.  If encouragement, exhortation not flow from God's word - will have 
		- It will all become relativistic, enslaved to pop-culture
		- It will have little to no truth, no power, and no strength
		- Encouragement has to flow from the word of God
4.  Do you ever feel tired, burned out, unfulfilled, something missing
	a.  Do you ever find yourself looking for something "better" in life?
	b.  If so, then this is for you.  
	c.  If not, then tuck this away for future challenges
	d.  (Heb 1:1-14) - Begins with message that Jesus is better than angels

I.  Jesus is God's ultimate message (v.1-4)
	A.  This reminds us that God is not far removed
		1.  God is not just out there someplace
		2.  Text says that, "God has spoken"
		3.  God has a message he wants us to know
	B.  Look at what the passage says
		1.  God has been speaking since the beginning in many ways
			a.  There is the creation itself that declares the glory of God
			b.  Spoke through the fathers - Abraham, Jacob, etc.
			c.  Spoke through the prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah
		2.  In these last days he has spoken to us in his son
		3.  His son is the best message of all.  Why?
			a.  Radiance of his glory
				- Other translations:  Brightness, reflection
				- Talking about illuminating the glory of God
			b.  Exact representation of his nature
				- Other trans:  Stamp, impression, express image
				- Can tell the nature of God through Christ
			c.  Upholds/sustains all things by the word of his power
				- God's word is not just audible sounds
				- We make audible sounds
				- God's word is powerful, creates, sustains, thinks
				- His Word is God and became flesh
			d.  In so many ways, Jesus is the best message of all
	C.  ILL:  If you want to know God, it is through Christ - these images try to 
	      communicate this
		1.  Radiance of his glory
			a.  Replace light bulbs above the sink
			b.  Lit up the whole room brilliantly
			c.  Jesus clearly illuminated the justice, love, faithfulness, 
			     grace of God
		2.  Stamp/impression of his substance/nature
			a.  I have a money, can see a face on it
			b.  It was "stamped" and you can tell the shape and contours 
			     of the die by the stamp
			c.  In similar way, can tell the shape and contours of God's 
			     nature through Jesus
	D.  God gave us the clearest message of all - Jesus
		1.  Jesus is God's ultimate message
			a.  Not merely a rule book - Limited in how can know God 
			    through just a set of rules
			b.  Can grow to understand God through Jesus, a person
		2.  How is God good, loving, righteous, faithful, patient, kind?
		3.  What pleases God the most, what angers him, what moves him 
		     to compassion? etc. - Look at Jesus for the answer
		4.  What does it mean to be godly?  Look to Jesus as the model
II.  Jesus is God - Ruler, Creator (v.5-9)
	A.  This chapter reaffirms the deity of Christ
		1.  Jesus was most definitely human
		2.  But he existed before he became human, he was God
	B.  Look at what the text says
		1.  Jesus better than the angels.  Why?
			a.  v.5 - Angels are not God's Son
				- God never calls angels his son
				- Son is a title of kingship
				- Means Jesus is ruler, Lord
			b.  v.6 - Angels are the ones who worship Him
				- Means the Son is greater
				- Means the Son has all authority
			c.  v.7-8 - Angels are servants, the Son is God
				- Angels are fiery ministers/servants
				- But the Son is God
				- His "scepter" is "rule" is righteous
			d.  And like the last point said, Jesus does just deliver a 
			     message, he IS the message
				- God has spoken to us in his Son
		2.  Jesus is superior to the angels in every way
		3.  People have always been enamored with angels
			a.  In ancient times, many stories about dealings with angels
			b.  Recent times, a lot of stories/movies about angels
			c.  Problem - Angels are NOTHING without God
				- They are merely servants of God
				- They cannot even exist without God
			d.  So why all the interest in angels?  Diverts attention away 
			     from the one the angels serve
				- They don't act alone
				- They take their orders from their Lord
				- Those that disobey are cast out
	C.  ILL:  A lot of surveys in recent years have shown an increase in 
	      interest in spirituality
		1.  Many see this as a positive trend.  Really?
		2.  Interest not in God, Christ, or the Bible, but in generic spirituality
			a.  And there are such a wide variety of religions out there
			b.  No matter what kind of religious consumer you are
			c.  That's why interest in angels, not necessarily Christian
		3.  Let's see, what kinds of interest in spirituality are there . . .
			a.  Pop spirituality, Eastern Religions, New Age, 
			b.  Scientology, Buddhism, Taoism
			c.  Darwinism, naturalism, atheism, communism, etc.
		4.  What they all have in common? Man made
			a.  Can man solve all of our dilemmas?
			b.  When jettison God out of public square, what happen 
			     over the last century?
				- Some of the greatest atrocities in human history
				- Genocide, world wars, increase in violence, etc.
	D.  Only solution is in the creator and Lord - Jesus
		1.  Jesus is better than the angels
		2.  Jesus is better than any alternative solutions
		3.  We must turn to our Lord for strength and answers
		4.  Jesus will guide us

III.  Jesus is faithful and reliable (v.10-12)
	A.  Since Jesus is God, it makes sense
	B.  Look at what the text says about Jesus being faithful and reliable
		1.  The creation will wear out, actually it is wearing out
		2.  Like your favorite shirt
			a.  I remember my brother had a favorite blanket
			b.  Took it everywhere, pretty soon the size of wash cloth
			c.  Became worn out, and couldn't use it any more
			d.  That is what will happen to creation
		3.  Everything gets old and wears out.  Think about it
			a.  Look at the Leavenworth 100 years ago
				- Go to library, see old photos
				- Many streets look completely different
				- The famous Planters Hotel is no more
			b.  You favorite shirt, or favorite accessory, watch
				- No matter how much you take care of it
				- It will get old, will break, tear, etc.
			c.  Sad thing - Even relationships can wear out
				- Friendships, marriages start strong, then end
				- Can be some of the most difficult things
				- Knew a couple married for years, Christians, strong, 
				  but she left husband for another woman
				- Can't depend on anything, everything changes
			d.  Even our bodies wear out and ultimately die
				- Find a picture of when you in high school
				- Compare it to what you see in the mirror
		4.  Seems everything wearing out
			a.  Means everything must have had a beginning point
			b.  There will be an ending point as well  
	C.  ILL:  Science bears this out - Second Law of Thermodynamics  
		1.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that "in all energy 
		    exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the 
		    potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the 
		    initial state." 
			a.  This is also commonly referred to as entropy. 
			b.  A watchspring-driven watch will run until the potential 
 			     energy in the spring is converted, and not again until 
 			     energy is reapplied to the spring to rewind it. 
			c.  A car that has run out of gas will not run again until you 
 			    walk 10 miles to a gas station and refuel the car. 
			d.  Universe is winding down, being spent
		2.  Indicates the universe has an ending point
		3.  Also indicates that universe has a beginning point
		4.  Everything in the universe is getting old and wearing out
	D.  However, our Lord does not wear out - has no beginning or end
		1.  He will not change, will not wear out on you
			a.  When was world created?  God's plan still in effect
			b.  When God call Abraham?  +/- 2000 B.C.
			c.  When was Exodus?  +/- 1300 B.C.
			d.  God has been working his plan ever since
		2.  Do you know of any other plan in effect that long?
			a.  Many civilizations, some long forgotten
			b.  But God's plan in effect for thousands of years
			c.  To God, 1000 years is like a day
			d.  God is not going to forget, not get senile, etc.
		3.  So, when God makes a promise, he will make good on it
			a.  He promised to
				- Die on the cross for your sins, and did it
				- Give you the Spirit to strengthen and pray for you
				- Be your advocate to the Father when you fall
				- Return and take you home
			b.  Just because time passes doesn't mean God changes
			c.  He is not like your favorite shirt, he remains the same
		4.  Brings us to our final point 

IV.  Jesus is victor and will make it right (13-14)
	A.  Jesus won a victory that was impossible for anyone else to win
		1.  Look at what the text says
		2.  Rhetorical question - God never said this to any angels
		3.  God only says this to Jesus, the victor
		4.  Sweetest image of Christ - Jesus on a white horse, Rev 19
	B.  Ultimate enemy is sin
		1.  Sin twisted and distorted everything in creation
			a.  Obvious things like work, childbirth, death and decay
			b.  Also affected our moral will, our mind
			c.  Separated from creator and God of life
		2.  See the handiwork of sin in the world everyday
			a.  Whether it is wars, crime, breakup of family
			b.  Stealing, cheating, moral breakdown, poverty
		3.  Many answers proposed throughout history for these
			a.  Humanistic science, naturalistic philosophy
			b.  Abolition of private ownership of property
		4.  On personal level, many simply try to live life to fullest
			a.  Get ahead, save money, live a good life
			b.  But death still comes knocking just the same
			c.  Many of ills of life still come upon you
	C.  ILL:  Recently a good friend of mine from Soda Fountain in hospital
		1.  Very bad pneumonia, tests, diagnosed with cancer
		2.  We have a common enemy, sin and death
		3.  The enemy may have affect you in some way
			a.  Taken a loved one, ruined family, ruin career
			b.  Maybe death of a relationship, marriage
			c.  Enemy can wreak havoc in your life
	D.  Only one who defeats the enemy is Jesus
		1.  When die on cross, defeat power of sin
		2.  When rose from grave, defeated death
		3.  Neither has any power over him any longer
			a.  Brings life to your souls
			b.  Brings life to your marriage, family, community, country
			c.  Jesus truly is the only answer
		4.  The root of all of our problems is sin, and only Jesus defeated it

1.  Cannot replace Jesus with something else to solve ultimate life's issues
2.  Sometimes we turn our back on Jesus
	a.  Not overtly, may still come to worship and sing
	b.  But perhaps Jesus is only someone we sing about on Sunday
	c.  When it comes to life's problems and issues, how we deal with it?
		- Money, popularity, humanistic science, relationships, etc.
		- Pop religion, humanistic pop psychology, etc.
		- Jesus is better than all these things
3.  Jesus is the only one you can depend on - He is God and has the answers and power 
    to take care of it 
	a.  He is the one who made purification of sins
	b.  He is the ultimate victor
	c.  You need Jesus (inv)
4.  Do you want something new and improved in life?
	a.  You can find all kinds of "new and improved" things out there
		- Maybe think this man or woman improvement, make you happy
		- Maybe think that a career or job is answer to life
		- Shouldn't we have something better, don't we want that?
	b.  Not saying that these are inherently bad, but . . .
	c.  If you want better, then get not what is new and improved, but what is 
	     tried, tested and true - Jesus


Small Group Notes:  New and Improved!

Summary:  We need to renew our relationship to Jesus periodically by considering 
biblically how Jesus is better than any thing else we might search for, rely on, 
or be enamored with.  Jesus is God's ultimate message because he is God who is the 
ultimate victor and solution to everything.

Open:  (choose one)
-  What product have you used that is truly new and improved?
-  Which product do you wish was new and improved?

Explore (Heb 1:1-14)

1.  What points and comparisons does this passage make concerning Christ, including 
his identity, character, power, activity, etc.

2.  How is Jesus better than the angels, according to this chapter?

3.  Discuss the various challenges early Christians faced, and how the message in 
this chapter would be an encouragement to those early Christians who struggled in 
their faith.

4.  Why do you suppose this chapter doesn't jump straight into motivational speech, 
but instead starts making doctrinal points about Christ?  Why would these particular 
doctrines be practically important?

5.  If the purpose was to turn the readers to Christ, what might have been some of 
the things they had been turning to instead of Christ?


6.  What are some of the things in life that people tend to turn to or rely on for 
answers, meaning, comfort, strength, joy, significance, etc?  Out of these things, 
which seems to describe you?

7.  How is Jesus superior to these things?  

8.  How might you use the biblical teaching about Christ to encourage someone who is 
struggling, tired, etc., and starting to turn to other things rather than Christ?

9.  Brainstorm on ways you can learn to rely on Christ in a greater way.