The Divided Gap – Repost of Pastor Boxley Sermon
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to “Try Jesus!” If this is your first time joining us, it’s great to have you with us. I would like to thank all the new members for joining “Try Jesus.” Also welcome those in Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio, South Carolina, Nevada, and Central Pennsylvania.
Praise God for all those who have come to Jesus Christ in the midst of a nation that’s in decline. Like a an orchestrated crescendo, God is playing out his final redemption plan for his beloved saints.
Let’s welcome the King of kings, and Lord of lords this morning. Hallelujah! “Heavenly Father, there is no one like you. No one else can touch our hearts like you do. We can search for all eternity long, and find, there is none like you.
Lord, set hearts ablaze for you today. Come and magnify your name in the midst of hearts that have gathered today. Lord, you are the bread of life, let us feast on you and find nourishment for our souls.
You are the light of the world, let us follow you out of the darkness. You are the door, let us enter the father’s presence in your name. You are the resurrection and the life, let us find true life and victory in you.
As we gather today around your name, I pray that you would fill our hearts, our minds and our souls. Transform us Lord and make us more like you. In your precious name I pray, amen.”
Have you ever had a loved one or friend who went on vacation with you, but couldn’t quite fulfill all the requirements you had set on your itinerary? In other words, they simply let you down. Their obligations were less than adequate.
That kind of half-hearted commitment can make for a day filled with misery and frustration. That happened some time ago with myself and family members when we traveled to Cedar Point amusement park.
The day before we were scheduled to go, there was all kinds of excitement. Especially for those who had never been to Cedar Point. The teenage kids were all fired up about which rides they would be getting on.
Roller Coasters were a big deal in my family. All the teens talked about on the drive down was which coasters they would ride. Once we arrived and checked into the hotel, the boasting and bragging between the teens intensified.
Each one tried to upstage the other as to who would ride the biggest coaster. When we entered the park, they immediately pointed to the first coaster they saw. It wasn’t the biggest coaster, quite frankly, it was the smallest.
They ran to the line to get on. (Adults don’t run from ride to ride). Smile. When we got to the line, I noticed one of my nephews looking up at the coaster. I won’t mention his name because he might be listening or reading the message. LoL.
As most of you know, whenever you get on a coaster, you have two riders for each seat. So, all of the teens were paired off and ready to have big fun that day. But all that changed when one my nephews declined to get on.
From there on, it was a really rough day for him. The other kids were angry, frustrated and disappointed with him. The adults tried to tell the other kids that you shouldn’t force someone to ride certain rides if they don’t want too.
But when the grown-ups were not always around, they ridiculed him some more. They wouldn’t let him forget that the day before, and the day we drove to the park, he was doing the most bragging and boasting about riding every coaster once he got there.
He reminded me a little bit of how people can date each other, loving each other’s company, get engaged, set their wedding date, until someone gets cold feet and can’t walk those last few steps to the alter. So close, and yet so far away.
For many people there seems to be this gap between them. Their reluctance to come together causes so much turmoil. This especially can happen in marital relationships. Have you ever felt close to someone but felt distant from them at the same time?
One of the greatest examples, I suppose would be couples (spouse’s) who separate but still have some kind of connection between themselves. It can be because of family ties (having children).
It can be because of distant employment. Whatever the reason for separation, if there is a gap due to unresolved circumstances, it can lead to burned bridges that people choose to never cross again.
These gaps tend to grow weeds of unforgiveness that have been fertilized with pride. Afterwards, all manner of heated divisions can take place. If vented thoughtlessly, anger can hurt others and destroy relationships.
If bottled up inside, it can cause us to become bitter and destroy us from within. So, as the gap between broken relationships widens, the pain and sorrow can boomerang back on ourselves.
Pride has destroyed many relationships throughout history. It seems like one the hardest things to do in our society today, is say the words “I’m sorry.” Thats a word that can heal divides and cover the gap with forgiveness.
I grew up hearing that word ring loudly from the lips of my parents to their children when we hurt someone’s feelings. I can still hear those words, “Say you’re sorry.” But real sorrow must be heartfelt and produced with action behind it.
There are tremendous gaps in our society today. The nuclear marriage family foundation is under attack. Our educational system is divided and under attack. Traditional family values are under attack.
Our government has grown a gap the size of the Grand Canyon. The normal expression of language has been divided. Secular comedians cannot be comical anymore due to the cancelation woke culture.
If you take a moment and look through the word of God, Jesus mentions in the gospels that all these things would happen. Again, just stop and look at our nation and the world today.
I think you’ll agree somethings not quite right. You can turn on your television or scroll through your news feed on your tablet or phone and watch as war rages in Ukraine.
In our cities crime and lawlessness is rampant. In our classroom sin and perversion is celebrated. And corruption fills our capital. But in the midst of this chaos people should turn to the Lord.
That’s the answer for this great divide that is taking place. Jesus Christ is that only living bridge between man and God. No other method is going to work. You can turn societal norms upside down and inside out, but you’ll still get the same results.
Some unknown person recently said, “We have to burn it all down to build it up the way we want.” Sounds like the voices who wanted to build the tower of Babel. There are people who want a utopian nation where a few get to dictate to the masses.
When freedoms and liberties are under attack, the people suffer. When the gospel, Christians, and churches are under attack, the gap between good and evil widens.
Jesus told his disciples about end time divisions. The Bible is so precise on all prophetic words that come from it. Have you ever met, knew, or watched someone disregard things that are right in front of their eyes, but refuse to acknowledge the warning signs?
Jesus told his disciples many things that would happen presently and in the future. There is coming great persecution, and it will be intense as never before. We’ve already seen foreshadowing glimpses across the country.
When the pandemic came through many leaders tried to use it to shut down churches and Christians who gathered for prayer. Even if they were outside. But those same states allowed the bars and home improvement stores to stay open.
Protest were allowed but gathering to pray was shut down. This is just a microcosm of things that are going to continue to raise its evil attacks in our midst. Since the time of Jesus, Christians have been persecuted in their own lands and on foreign mission fields.
Jesus told his disciples that nations will rise up against other nations. But this persecution will even unfold in family homes. The divisions will be wide and deep. Children shall be moved to have their parents executed (Mark 13:5-13).
But as the gap widens between good and evil, the narrow road is still attainable on this side for those with repentant hearts (Matthew 7:13-15). Even though the horrendous times are coming, the cross is still the bridge all can cross over to meet Jesus.
Theses persecutions are opportunities for Christians to witness for Jesus to those opposed to him. God’s desire is for the Good News to be proclaimed to everyone in spite of persecution.
But that good news has an expiration date on the life of everyone. How so? The Bible says, 27} “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28} So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:27-28 KJV).
[God’s judgment doesn’t worry most people today, but the Bible teaches that everyone will stand before him to give account for his or her life. As sure as death itself, judgment awaits everyone. God’s judgment will have no higher court of appeal.]
God certainly knows the beginning of your life, and when your life will end. No life ever leaving this earth catches God off guard. He has given every individual an opportunity to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
His word is proclaimed everywhere (Romans 10:8-13; Acts 17:29-31; James 4:13-14; Hebrews 3:15-19). God has such loving mercy on us. We don’t deserve his long-suffering actions he demonstrates on a daily basis.
Today’s message is not for the authentic born-again believer. It is for those who find themselves sitting on the fence of indecision. That fence has a wide gap underneath it. It has two destination places underneath it.
To stay neutral in a world of good and evil, means you have chosen evil. Why? Because God is your maker whether you believe it or not. Just as you had no choice in your birth, or your gender, God gave you life from his spirit.
So, when people say things like, “I have no skin in this game, I don’t believe in God or the devil.” Then you have already chosen your fate. So, here is God’s living response to all the fence sitters in our nation.
Please read God’s living word aloud to your group or self (Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:15; 2 Samuel 24:13; KJV). God has made himself known to the undecided heart. (Exodus 32:19-26; Numbers 16:19-50).
People make choices in life every day. You don’t have to sit on the fence that’s headed towards eternal destruction for your soul. The skin in the game is your highly valued soul God created. It lives forever.
It does not have an expiration date like your natural body. You either leave this earth with a generated soul (born-again, saved by the blood of Jesus), or you leave this earth unregenerated (spiritually dead). (Revelation 20:10-15; 21:8).
We all came into this world lost in sin and no way to get out of this spiritual pit. (Romans 5:8-12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:1-9; Mark 14:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 2:10-15). Today, Jesus gives everyone the opportunity to come him.
This was the case for someone who seemingly had a good life. He was wealthy and it looked like he had all his ducks in a row. He lived a luxurious life. He may have given sporadically to keep self in the spotlight.
He was the type of individual that says, “look at me, and all my accomplishments!” But he couldn’t see the poor beggar who sat his gate daily with sores. Even the dogs paid more attention to the beggar, by licking his sores. (Luke 16:19-31).
This story should be read aloud to yourself whenever you feel self-absorbed with pride and delusions of self-grandeur. This man lived a life thinking that he had more power, wealth, and intelligence than others.
He was certainly sitting on the high fence of life. He didn’t have a care in the world. Sometimes we place those in Hollywood (tinsel-town) in the same category. And sometimes rightfully so.
They cannot always see from being so high-up on that wealthy fence. Sometimes theirs becomes a high wire lifestyle looking down on the peons below them. But every soul has to give an account to God Almighty. (Luke 12:16-21 KJV).
That story involved a wealthy individual. But let’s return to the man in (Luke 16:19-31). This man was able to narrate his own demise after he died. He got to see the end of his life just beginning. He didn’t have time to be concerned about the less fortunate.
But notice how he was concerned about everything after he died. He had all the comforts of home and slept on the best linen when he was alive. Now look closely at the role reversal.
First, the beggar died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom (Verse 22). The poor man was given a spiritual angelic escort into the presence of God. The rich man was just buried. No escort and no celebration.
Self and pride now extinguished but yet set on fire.
[The Jewish Talmud refers to both paradise (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4) and Abraham’s side (or “bosom”) as names for the place of blessedness beyond the grave.]
Abraham’s bosom conveys the idea of the poor man enjoying Abraham’s company at the messianic banquet (Luke 13:29). Also, notice Jesus mentions the name of the beggar, Lazarus. His name was written in the book of life.
The rich man’s name was not mentioned. Therefore, Jesus didn’t see his name in the book of life. (Revelation 20:15). Note, this is not the Lazarus Jesus raised from the dead in (John 11:1-14).
The rich man was aware of his situation. The Greek word Hell (Hades) is the place for departed spirits, the realm of the dead, the destiny of those who have refused to believe and accept Jesus. This is the place of death, the grave, and hell.
Look at the irony of the wealthy man. Now he could see everything. He could even see the beggar at the banquet table. Before he could only see self. Many people in our culture today are seduced and blinded by Satan.
Those in the political realm, acting, and sporting world are just some that Satan will blind in his grip. Holding power, money, status, and control over others is Satan’s blinding trap. (1 Timothy 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 4:3,4).
His spiritual blindfold keeps all light from penetrating until that person cries out to God with a repentant heart. In our main scriptural text, the rich man was blinded by the world’s resources. Look at the desperate situation he placed himself in.
Many times we try to point blame at others when our lives are in turmoil. The rich man could blame no one. All he could do was cry out and ask for mercy. But his cries were a day late.
A pastor friend of mine told me some time ago, “Everyone in hell today is a true, bona fide believer. But they will never experience the new life with a dead life.”
What a powerful statement! The new life and dead life cannot coexist eternally. There’s a permanent separation that takes place. The rich man called out to Father Abraham, (verse 24).
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This was a name any Jewish would use for Abraham, the father of their nation (John 8:39). The rich man was asking for mercy, the same mercy he couldn’t see someone else needed. Lazarus had his sores licked by dogs.
But now the rich man was gasping to have his parched throat and tongue cooled from the torment of flames. He also was still seeing Lazarus as subservient to Abraham and himself by asking Lazarus to bring him water.
God will always keep account of how we lived our lives on this earth. (1 Peter 4:5; Matthew 12:35-37). The rich man was reminded of his life on earth and how he treated others.
The worldly (the unsaved) don’t understand that the roles of torment and comfort will be reversed. True Christians will leave this earth comforted. There will also be a great divide between comfort and torment.
Abraham referred to it being a great gulf (verse 26 KJV). The Greek word gulf (chasma) is a gaping opening, a chasm, a vacancy. An impassable interval. This gulf is fixed (stērizō). That is, it is set fast.
Imagine trying to make your way through the Grand Canyon in 120 degree temperature without water and proper clothing. You probably would succumb to the elements. The immense chasm in the Canyon stretches more than 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide.
However, in hell, spirits don’t succumb to the deathly elements around them. They will live in it eternally (Mark 9:43-48). The rich man was in torment but did not die in the flames. Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? (Daniel 3:19-27).
They were thrown into a fiery furnace, but they were not tormented neither were they in any pain. Why? Because there was a fourth person in the flames with them. Care to guess who it was? Notice there was no one around when the rich man cried out.
This great chasm was fixed by God between heaven and hell so that the fate of the dead is irreversible. (Hebrews 9:27). After death there is no second chance. There are no appeals. Many people think they have time on their side.
But life goes by very quickly. We are only here for a short while. Our lives are like vapor that dissipates in the sun. (James 4:14). If you choose to ignore God’s knocking on your heart, you may soon find it impossible to open it.
Again, so there are no misunderstandings in my appeal to those sitting on the fence, I reiterate, in the afterlife, there is a separation between believers and unbelievers that cannot be spanned.
It is not possible to cross over from heaven to hell or hell to heaven. Here’s something to keep in mind. Preparing for life before death is wise. But neglecting life after death is disastrous.
If you accumulate wealth only to enrich yourself, with no concern for helping others, you will enter eternity empty-handed (1 Timothy 6:7). The rich man did not go to hell because of his wealth, but because he was selfish, refusing to help Lazarus.
You don’t have to be like King Agrippa, or like the rich man Jesus spoke about. When Lazarus died, the angels carried him to Abraham’s side, the kingdom feast at the banquet table.
Lazarus enjoyed an angelic escort after his death. The rich man sowed his own demise. God never takes joy in those that perish. (Ezekiel 18:20-24). The heart is like a can of play dough. When you leave the lid off, all the dryness starts the hardening process.
After awhile the play dough is useless. You have to toss it out. The expiration date is canceled. When people are set in their ways, sometimes they invite the impossibility in the equation surrounding the outcome of their life.
Only when the rich man was completely aware of his eternal prison, did he start to think about his family. Now he wanted Abraham to send Lazarus back from dead to testify to his brothers.
It’s always amazing that we as humans always want extreme proofs of God existing before we will believe in him. “If God is real _____________, (fill in the blank). If Jesus is real ___________, (fill in the blank).
Many people want this tangible proof that Jesus is real. God doesn’t have to show you that heaven or hell is real. His word is truth and God cannot lie. It is impossible for him to do so.
He has showed us enough on this side of earth that he is the creator of all living species. (Romans 1:19-21; Colossians 1:12-19). So, the rich man thought “ok, my brothers will definitely believe if someone comes back from the dead to testify to them.”
Listen my friends, when Jesus himself raised Lazarus from the dead (the brother of Mary and Martha), the Pharisees and Sadducees not only wanted to murder Jesus, they wanted to kill Lazarus too. (John 12:9-11).
Instead of the religious leaders believing in Jesus for this great miracle, their hearts hardened even more. Their hearts were like that can of useless opened play dough. Abraham had even told the rich man they had the law and prophets.
Jesus said that if they did not believe Moses and the prophets, who spoke constantly of caring for the poor, not even a resurrection would convince them. Just as your hands and feet can become callous, so can the heart.
Again, sometimes people are set in their ways, and neither scripture nor God, or Jesus himself would shake them loose. (Verses 29-31). Today we live in a society where everyone has dug their feet in the trenches.
The divide and divisions in this country are clearly seen. However, I don’t believe in all the so-called deep racism that is in our country. Sure, there is some out their because Satan is still among us. But racism is not a pigment, it is a spirit.
But there are those who falsely use it to purposely divide where there never was division. Let’s face it, misery loves company. Some people are just miserable, and they want you to go around looking at the world in anger.
Remember beloved, it’s not the pigment of any skin that’s evil, it’s the condition of the heart that makes one evil. Caucasians should never feel guilty about the skin God wrapped them in at birth. Satan is behind every form of racism.
And yes, African Americans can be racist also. Anyone can. Again, the pigment has nothing to do with evil intentions. God always looks at the heart when confronting injustice. (1 Samuel 16:7; Mark 7:20-23; 15:18-19; Romans 3:23; Galatians 5:19-21).
Paul tells us to deal with our anger immediately in a way that builds relationships rather than destroys them. If we nurse our anger, we will give the devil an opportunity to divide us. And Satan is a divider of the human race.
Please keep these important practical viewpoints close to your heart:
1) In the first two chapters of the Bible, God plants a garden on earth; in the last two chapters of the Bible, he brings down the New Jerusalem, with a garden at its center, to the new earth.
2) In Eden, there’s no sin, death, or curse; on the new earth, there’s no more sin, death, or curse. In Genesis, the redeemer is promised; in Revelation, the redeemer returns. Genesis tells the story of paradise lost; Revelation tells the story of paradise regained.
The gap and divide in this nation, and even in false churches, can only be filled by the cross. Not Just any cross. But the one that spilled the sinless blood. Jesus’ death for us on the cross sealed a new covenant between God and us.
The old covenant involved forgiveness of sins through the blood of an animal sacrifice (Exodus 24:6-8). But instead of a spotless lamb on the altar, Jesus offered himself, the spotless Lamb of God, as a sacrifice that would forgive sin.
🗣📢 Last words: God made physical human beings to live on a physical earth. There was no divide in God’s original design to be with his creation. Sin is the ultimate divider of everything.
[We have an immanent God, who chose to become a man on that same earth. He did this that he might redeem mankind and the earth. Why? To glorify himself and enjoy forever the company of men and women in the world.]
Remember my beloved friends, hell was not prepared for man. God never meant that man would ever go to hell. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, but man rebelled against God and followed the devil.
Hell is essentially and basically banishment from the presence of God for deliberately rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You don’t have to live a life filled with division and hatred. You don’t have to stay angry all day long.
If you are still on the fence of life trying to stay neutral in this world, you are already destined for disappointment. Get off the fence and get on solid good ground. Do you look forward to Christ’s return or are you afraid of it?
Pray today, right now. Pray for the freedom and pardon Jesus has won for you. (Romans 10:8-13). Then rejoice that God’s judgment on you will be removed because now you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
For those who love poems, here’s your favorite:
“Strange that so much of heaven and hell should in one bosom meet; Lord, can thy Spirit ever dwell where Satan has a seat?
Now I am all transformed to love and could expire in praise; Then soon not all the joys above one cheerful note can raise.
When I with pensive thoughts review the mazes I have trod, astonished at the grace that drew my wandering soul to God. Unknown author.
^Here are the words that can close the divide between you and God. (Psalm 51:17; James 4:6-8; Psalm 86:11-13).
🛐 Here’s a prayer you can pray to bridge the divide in your heart. “Heavenly Father, thank you for today’s message about why I feel so divided when everyone else seems so close together.
Lord, my heart feels like it’s a million miles away from the real love I need. I thought that popularity, power, money, and prestige achievements would bring me happiness and contentment.
Lord, I realize now that I was not created to have a life attached to me that reads “my way or the highway.” That highway was leading me to hell like the rich man. Heavenly Father, I want to turn from sin to salvation.
Teach me your way, Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. Break my heart with the things that break yours. Mend the gaps in my heart with your precious touch.
Light a relentless fire in me for you. Let me pursue you morning, noon, and night with all my heart. Thank you, Jesus for being the one who restores the empty chasm in my heart, in Jesus name, amen.”
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“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Pastor Todd Boxley
Worship Center Ministrry
TRY JESUS https://www.tjforlife.com