Hebrews 13:8 NKJV
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
WHAT DOES THAT VERSE SAY TO YOU?
The author of this letter to the Hebrews was apparently writing at a time, like ours, when there was great disagreement, both within the church and the wider culture. And because we were born in sin and live in a world all around us that is exceedingly sinful, we cannot say that we never change and are unmoved by the world's system.
But, in Jesus we have a rock, a fortress, which does not change. That means that He will be tomorrow what He was yesterday and today. James 1:17 tells us that there is no variableness in Him, and that He is the Father of lights, and the shadow cast by his light will never vary.
Malachi 3:6 finds God saying, "For I am the LORD, I do not change;..." Numbers 23:19 (NKJV) adds:
19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Don't forget or ignore that last word of Hebrews 13:8 - the word "forever." This word say that all He was when walking on this earth has not changed and will not, ever. This also says that whatever He did in the past, He can do it again. He has not lost any power since He created the worlds. Hence, the title to today's lesson: "He did it before! He can do it again!"
Some people think that God is like a genie in a bottle. You get 2 or 3 good wishes out of him and then it's all over. I'm here to tell you He is no genie in a bottle. He never runs out of compassion. He will not experience a power shortage. He will never forget His promises - they are today as good as when He said them. His loving-kindness did not stop flowing when He left the earth for Heaven. I am here to tell you that when you need His help - He will be there to help you. He's done it before - He can do it again. Let me give you some biblical examples.
1. An Oil well in a Jar
A. He did it for Elijah
In 1 Kings 17, we read about the prophet Elijah and how God was protecting him from King Ahab. Early in the chapter, we are told he was hiding in the Brook Cherith, where God sent ravens to provide meat and bread. God instructed Elijah to go to the city of Zarephath. This city was located near the Mediterranean Sea, half-way between Tyre and Sidon, and it was under the protection of Sidon. It is called Sarepta in Luke 4:26. In 1 King 17:9, Elijah is told to go to Zarephath and see a widow who lived there.
1 Kings 17:12-16 NKJV
12 So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.
14 For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.'
15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days.
16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.
There is so much that can be learned from this story. I wonder, if God's work depended only on the rich, do you think the church would have survived the 1st century? The church has always needed the widow and the poor. Out of this story, we can also see what a blessing comes to those who are obedient. But I must not get too sidetracked.
Because of her obedience, this widow had an oil well in a jar. And it did not run out or stop producing oil until the problem had gone away. God kept the oil flowing - and He can do it again.
B. He did it again for Elisha
Now, let's turn to 2 Kings 4:1-7 NKJV
1 A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD . And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves."
2 So Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil."
3 Then he said, "Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors - empty vessels; do not gather just a few.
4 And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones."
5 So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.
6 Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another vessel." So the oil ceased.
7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest."
What God did for Elijah, He also did for Elisha. God did it once - He can do it again. He IS the same, yesterday, today and forever.
2. Parting the Waters
A. God did it once for Moses at the Red Sea
Shortly after the Children of Israel left Egypt, they were pursued by Pharaoh. With the Egyptians behind them, the hills beside them, and the Red Sea before them, they needed a miracle from God. And He was up to the task.
Exodus 14:21-22 NKJV
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
This should tell us that when we are between a rock and a hard place, God is ready for the necessary action. But God didn't just do this once…
B. God did again for Joshua at the Jordan
This was almost exactly 40 years following the Red Sea crossing. But very few that witnessed the Red Sea were here at the Jordan River.
Joshua 3:15-16 NKJV
15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),
16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
He had already proved He could part the waters of the Red Sea. What could he do with water that was moving downstream? He did it once - He did it again. But, why not do it again.
C. God did it again for Elijah at the Jordan
Elijah and his successor, Elisha, were walking from Bethel to Jericho to the east side of the Jordan River.
2 Kings 2:8-9 NKJV
8 Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
9 And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?" Elisha said, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me."
In this same chapter, God parts the waters of the Jordan one more time.
D. He did it again for Elisha at the Jordan
2 Kings 2:11-14 NKJV
11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!" So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.
13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan.
14 Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.
God parted the waters four different times. God did it once - He can do it again and again. He truly is a God that does not change.
3. The breath of God
A He did it for Adam
Genesis 2:7 NKJV
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
B. He did it again for the disciples
John 20:22 NKJV
22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
This is a highly significant verse. As God breathed the "breath" of physical life into Adam in Genesis 2, Jesus now imparts the very " breath" of God - the Holy Spirit, into His loyal followers. Our God did it once - He can do it again - He does not change.
4. He provides peace
A. He did it once for the disciples
Mark 4:38-39 NKJV
38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
B. He did it again for the disciples
John 20:19 NKJV
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
He brings peace to any situation. Our God did it once - He can do it again - for He is a God that does not change.
5. He released from prison
A. He did it once for Peter
Acts 12:5-10 NKJV
5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands.
10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
Peter was in prison sleeping like a baby. An angel of the Lord came, woke him up and led him through each of three sets of gates.
B. He did it again for Paul & Silas
Acts 16:24-26 NKJV
24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.
Our God never changes. He did it once - and He did it again - and He can do it again.
6. He has resurrection power
A. God did it once for Lazarus
John 11:41-44 NIV
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
B. God did it again for Jesus Christ
Acts 2:22-24 NIV
22 "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In Him is life, not death. And because He was once dead, but now alive, we too shall live. He can and will do it again.
7. Spirit Baptism
A. God did it once in the Upper Room
Acts 2:4 NKJV
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
B. God did it again for the household of Cornelius
Acts 10:44-47 NKJV
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
Over and over again, we find repetitions of acts by God. He did it once - He can do it again. Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever.
• What is your need? He has already met that need at least once before. And He can still do it today.
• Do you have a financial need? If he helped one person by putting money in the mouth of a fish - He can do it again.
• Do you need to get somewhere? God can part the waters again for you.
• Do you have sickness of body? He has healed before - He can do it again.
• Are your spiritual batteries about dead? He has revived the dead before - He can do it again.
• Do you need God to breath life into you? He has done it before - and He can do it again.
• Are you bound by habits and addictions? He has loosed chains before - and He can do it again to set you free.
• Are you about to go under for the last time? He parted the waters more than once - and He can do it again for you.
• Are you lost and without God? He has saved people before - He can do it again, no matter what you have done.
• Do you need help living the Christian life? He did it for Peter and John and Paul - and for me - He would love to do it again for you.
• Do you feel all alone? He has become the friend to many in the past - He will become a friend again, just for you.
Acts 10:34 tells us "He is no respecter of persons." And because of that, whatever He has done before, He will do it again for you.
I have one more biblical illustration of how He can do today what He has done before. Let me begin it with a story - a true story. Some of you here today will recognize the participants of this story before I am half through telling it.
Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa - to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much tenderness and devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to set out from the main mission station and take the gospel to a remote area.
This was a huge step of faith. At the village of N'dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts.
They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there seemed to be none. Their only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood - a tiny woman only four feet, eight inches tall, decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And in fact, she succeeded.
But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria began to strike one member after another of the little band. In time, the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station. David and Svea Flood remained near N'dolera to go on alone. Then, of all things, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina. The delivery, however, was exhausting, and Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another seventeen days.
Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife, and then took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, "I'm going back to Sweden. I've lost my wife, and I obviously can't take care of this baby. God has ruined my life." With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God himself.
Within eight months both of the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. The baby was then turned over to some American missionaries, who adjusted her Swedish name to "Aggie." Eventually the missionaries brought her to the United States at age three. The family loved the little girl and were afraid that if they tried to return to Africa, some legal obstacle might separate her from them. So they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry. And that is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota.
As a young woman, Aggie attended North central Bible College in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young man named Dewey Hurst. Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time her husband became president of Northwest University in Kirkland, WA, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.
One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and, of course, she couldn't read a word of it. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross, and on the cross were the words Svea Flood. Aggie jumped in her car and went straight for a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. "What does it say?" She asked. The instructor summarized the story: It was about missionaries who had come to N'dolera long ago the birth of a white baby…the death of the young mother……and one little African boy who had been led to Christ. It also spoke about how, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up and finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. The article continue to say how that boy, now a man, had gradually won all of his students to Christ. The children led their parents to Christ - even the chief became a Christian. Today there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village. And it was all because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood.
For the Hursts 25th wedding anniversary, Northwest University presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. There Aggie sought to find her birth father. He was an old man now, and David Flood had remarried and fathered four more children. But, he had generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. He was still a bitter man, and he had one definite rule, "Never mention the name of God - because God took everything from me." After an emotional reunion with her half brothers and half sisters, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. "You can talk to him," they replied, "even though he is very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage."
Aggie was not to be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, and approached the seventy-three-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed. "Papa?" she said tentatively. He turned and began to cry. "Aina," he said, "I never meant to give you away." "It's all right, Papa," she replied, taking him gently in her arms. "God took care of me."
The man instantly stiffened - the tears stopped. "God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of him." He turned his face back to the wall. Aggie stoked his face and then continued, undaunted. "Papa, I've got a little story to tell you, and it's a true one. You didn't go to Africa in vain - Mama didn't die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. The one seed you planted just kept growing and growing. Today there are six hundred African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life. Papa, Jesus loves you - He has never hated you."
The old man turned back to look into his daughter's eyes. His body relaxed - he began to talk. And by the end of that afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades. Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. Aggie and her husband soon had to return to America, and within a few weeks, David Flood had gone into eternity.
But that isn't the end of the story. A few years later, the Hursts were attending a high-level evangelism conference in London, England. At the meeting, a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel's spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood. "Yes, madam," replied the man in French, his words then being translated into English. It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother's grave and her memory are honored by all of us.
They embraced and he said, "You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history." In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst and her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. She even met the man who had been hired by her father many years before to carry her back down the mountain in a hammock-cradle. Aggie was then escorted to see her mother's grave. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks.
Earlier, I said I had one more Scriptural example showing Christ to be the same yesterday and forever.
8. He saves entire families
B. He did it for the nobleman in Capernaum
John 4:53 KJV
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
A. He did it again for Lydia
Acts 16:14-15 NKJV
14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay."
Many of us have family members that are not serving our Lord. If you have a family member - son, daughter, husband, wife, sister, brother, mother, father or others, I want you to know that God has saved entire families before. And He can surely do it again.