Message – sons & daughters

Hebrews 13:20-21

Scripture Reading John 10:11-16

Intro- The Book of Hebrews has been a powerful message to us over the last 1 year and three months. The whole of the letter has been one that points to Christ Jesus. Who He is, what He has done and what that means to us.

And now, Paul closes this letter with some encouraging words. I find it a double blessing today as we are seeing two of our members launching into another phase of their life’s journey. One graduating college another High School.

This message could be titled, “A Parting Message of Encouragement to all Sons And Daughters.” It is with great hope that you will take these words to heart and let them be an encouragement today and for the rest of your life.

1. You Have a God of Peace V20a- We human fathers have more than likely failed you at times. Surely many fathers have failed. They haven’t been at peace with themselves. They have been fickle, self absorbed, divided hearts, emotional wrecks, stressful, angry, warring, domineering, angry, frustrating, control freaks….etc…

But if Christ Jesus is your Heavenly Father, you have a God of Peace as your Father, always! He is consistent, never changing, never failing. He is at peace with Himself and at Peace with you.

You should never run away from this Father. You should always cling to Him. For direction, for His Providence, for His Protection, for His Wisdom, for His Loving kindness, For His Mercy, for His Grace, for His Presence.

V20b- teaches us that He is the giver of life. He is all powerful, all eternal, and will keep you in this life and raise you again to live eternally with Him in Heaven.

2. Follow the Shepherd V20c- IT goes against the grain today of most people. Most people are independent. Self governing. Self directed. They want to be in charge, in control, masters of their own destinies. They don’t want to lose that control or that independence.

But throughout the Bible, God’s people are referred to as sheep. Sheep gather. Sheep follow. Sheep are dependent. They are governed. In this case, by the Shepherd Himself. He is the Good Shepherd. He cares for His Sheep. His sheep depend on Him for guidance, strength, sustenance, health, safety, virtually every area of life.

Follow your Shepherd Jesus Christ. Don’t follow the shepherd of the world. The shepherd of your own heart’s desire. The shepherd of your peers at school or the workplace.

Stray away from self absorbed, self=motivated, self directed, independent people. They will only try to cause you to stray away from the Good Shepherd. They are only there to steal and destroy.

Rather, you follow the direction of Jesus. From His Word the Bible. Listen to His Voice. Be Jesus motivated, Jesus directed, Jesus dependent, Jesus absorbed, in all your ways and all your days.

Others may ridicule you, they may ostracize you, they may say you will fail in this world etc… You say Psalm 21!

3. How is Jesus Your Great Shepherd? V20d- The Blood of the EVERLASTING Covenant. Be in a covenant relationship with Him. Those that are in Covenant with Jesus, are His Sheep. His followers. Those who display a hard hearted, hard headed, independence, are not sheep, they are goats. Gospel.

On the last day, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep will separate the sheep and the goats.

4. The Will of God and my prayer for you V21-

a. Make you complete in every work to do His Will – The Holy Spirit is in you. You have been given Spiritual Gifts and will gain more throughout your life.

Spiritual Gifts don’t work unless you do! Stay focused on using your gifts within the local church.

Mature in them. We pray that you will grow more and more. In every work to do His Will.

b. Be pleasing in His Sight, Jesus working through you, all for His Glory 21b- Preach it.

Message to all sons and daughters – applies to everyone who is born again.

Pray it.

Prayer

Hebrews 13:18-19

Scripture Reading James 5:13-18

Intro-Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told this story. “A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair.

So we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister. One of the girls responded. ‘Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won’t feel so lonely.’

That little girl understood something few Christians today do.

To put it like Arthur W. Pink,

“Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude—an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. Prayer is a confession of creature weakness, yea, of helplessness. Prayer is the acknowledgment of our need and the spreading of it before God.”

After giving the Hebrews doctrinal truths, Paul pleads with them to put their doctrine into practice. Review 13. As he closes his letter, he asks for something from them.

1. Prayer V18a, 19a-

Prayer is certainly a great blessing from God and should be a powerful part of the Christian’s life. We know prayer is important to God, because the words pray, prayer, prayers and praying are mentioned over 450 times in the Bible.

What is Prayer? — The word pray means “to petition, request or entreat.” It is the avenue by which we communicate with God. Prayer necessarily involves praise, thanksgiving, confession and petitions.

Here Paul asks for those who confess Christ to pray. Good request for us here today. Ill. Busy lives this week. Too busy to pray. Truth is, so much is going on, we are too busy NOT to pray.

2. Why should we Pray? — Because prayer is a direct command. It is the medium through which we obtain God’s wisdom and blessings.

Ill. Winning the Lottery, living like a pauper.

Prayer is indeed a powerful tool for God’s faithful. Queen Mary –“I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the armies of England .”

Communion with God, growing in Christ, the Word, Holiness, Effectiveness in ministry…

Someone once said, “Man stands no greater than when he is on his knees.”

3. How often should we Pray? V18, 19— Petitions before God should be offered as often as we have a need, and prayers of thanksgiving should be offered as often as God blesses us. In fact, the Bible teaches us to pray without ceasing.

How often does God bless you? How often do you have a need? Wisdom, strength, patience, holiness, endurance, love, etc..?

4. What should we Pray for? — Just to name a few; for strength to overcome our temptations, for God’s wisdom, for forgiveness, for the sick, for all people and those in authority, for the saints like Paul who here was asking for it. For Pastors, evangelists, leaders in your local church, for workers, etc..

5. What hinders our Prayers? —

A. When we allow sin to remain in our lives.

Ill. Sin and prayer are like magnets turned against each other. One repulses the other. Pray more, sin less, sin more, pray less.

How is your prayer life? That’s how your sin life is. There is no static Christianity. No state of motionless. You are either growing in Christ, or growing in sin.

Another hindrance to prayer is..

B. When we pray with selfish motives, seeking our own will.

Ill. Anchor and shore.

C. When we pray doubting the outcome.

Ill. George Mueller was known for his powerful prayer life . Once while on his way to speak in Quebec for a engagement. He informed the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by Saturday afternoon.

As the captain told the story, he said “’It is impossible,’ I said. ’Do you know how dense this fog is?’” ‘Mr. Mueller said, “No, my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of life. I have never broken an engagement in 57 years; let us go down into the chart room and pray.’ He knelt down and he prayed one of the most simple prayers.

When he had finished I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. ’As you do not believe He will answer, there is no need for you to pray about it. Get up, Captain, and open the door and you will find that the fog has gone.’ “The fog indeed was gone, and George Mueller kept his engagement.”

6. Who can Pray? V18, 19— Anyone who is in need of repentance, restoration, forgiveness, wisdom, strength, direction, healing, providence, spiritual gifts, holiness, usefulness, protection, effectiveness in ministry, advancing the Kingdom, salvation etc…

It’s obvious, Paul is writing to those who have heeded his words throughout this letter. Prayer is the privilege of the obedient, those who are submissive to God’s will, and those who are faithful.

Remember the little girl praying for the water bottle and the doll? The missionary goes on telling the rest of the story. She says,

“That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, ‘If God sent that, I’m sure He also sent a doll!’ And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child’s sincere requests, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies’ group to include both of those specific articles.”

V18, 19- Let’s pray

Heart of Faith

Hebrews 13:7-9

Dt. 32:1-7

Intro-Vs 1-5 Instructions on how to live. It’s tough. Humanly speaking to lay your heart, life and faith out there. How do you do it? V6- In the power of Christ.

It looks like some of the Hebrews were going through the motions of religion. Some were sliding back into their Jewish practices that they felt justified them before God. Some were embracing doctrines that were contrary to what they had been taught.

Some were just going through the motions of Christianity and seemed ready to just quit. In short, they had lost their spiritual heart of living faith.

They needed a Holy Ghost revival. They needed to let the Word of God saturate their entire being. They needed to embrace a heart of faith that exemplified Christ in their lives.

Sound familiar?

William Booth – “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”

Are we there yet? How do you regain a spiritual heart of living faith?

Paul says,

1. Look to those who have gone before V7- Those leaders who lived the Word, preached the Word, and died faithful till the end. He is not dismissing those who are faithfully preaching and living.

But he says, look at these that have died in the faith. Why remember those who have died? Why not revere some who are still alive?

Simply put, they may not finish well. But those who lived and died in faith, remember them. They are an example to you. They were frail humans just like you and me.

Remember them so that we become meek with Moses, patient with Job, chaste with Joseph, devout with David, loving like John, Zealous like Peter, passionate like Paul, earnest like Mark etc….

Follow their FAITH. It’s a good word for us today. In the times we live in, we are prone to look for the celebrities. To look to the sensational. To look to the new interpretations. To look to the new ways.

What we need is to look to the old ways.

Jer 6:16 NKJV – Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way [is], And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk [in it].’

Humble, loving, earnest, faithful, sacrificial living. Where are the John Calvins, Martin Luthers, Zwinglis, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Charles Spurgeons, etc…? Is it over? Are your thoughts saying, “They don’t make them like that anymore?

Christians in our times seem to think so. The Hebrews must have thought so. But Paul says, “It ain’t so!” Strengthen your spiritual heart!

2. Look to Jesus V8-The Lord who worked mightily in the hearts of those who have gone on in the past, NEVER CHANGES! He is the same always. Christ will accomplish much through anyone having a heart of faith.

One man, named George Mueller knew Christ never Changes. When he was 28, he founded The Scripture Knowledge Institute for Home and Abroad. Five branches of this Institute developed: 1) Schools for children and adults to teach Bible knowledge, 2) Bible distribution, 3) missionary support, 4) tract and book distribution, and 5) “to board, clothe and Scripturally educate destitute children who have lost both parents by death.”

The accomplishments of all five branches were significant, but the one he was known for around the world in his own lifetime, and still today, was the orphan ministry.

He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison.

Fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.

He did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1830 to 1898, at least 10,000 times. And when he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87.

He traveled to 42 countries, preaching on average of once a day, and addressing some three million people.

From the end of his travels in 1892 (when he was 87) until his death in March of 1898 he preached in his church and worked for the Scripture Knowledge Institute.

At age 92, not long before he died, he wrote, “I have been able, every day and all the day to work, and that with ease, as seventy years since.”

Listen to me church. The same Jesus that worked mightily in George Mueller is the same Jesus today and forever. You want to see your family saved? Look to Jesus for the heart of faith. You want to see your neighborhood saved? Look to Jesus. You want to see this city saved? LOOK TO JESUS. AND LIVE THIS FAITH

Have your heart of faith strengthened today. Get out their and stretch your faith.

ILL> Children ministries. Nursery. ESL ministries. Youth Ministries. Evangelism ministries, prayer ministries, missions ministries.

V9-13- Establish your heart by grace. Atonement. In other words, go to your altar. The cross of Jesus Christ. When you are doubtful, go to the cross. When you are hurting, tired, discouraged, empty, go to the cross. Have your heart established by grace.

Get with it!

Love Works

Hebrews 13:1-6
1 Cor 16:13, 14

Intro – Paul has been encouraging us to persevere in the faith, to continue in the grace of God, to run with patience the race that is set before us. Then, he says, “Let brotherly love continue.” It is as though he is saying, “The way to run this race, the way to persevere in grace, the way to walk in faith is to keep on loving one another.”

Who here today could honestly say, “I want to be like Jesus!”? Then what you need is to have your love dial turned up! Nothing is more like our Savior than love. Nothing is more unlike him than the absence of love.

1. Love Works V1- After all of his doctrinal statements, after all his exhortations, he comes near the conclusion of his letter and He says, “Let brotherly love continue.” He is saying, “Children of God, never cease loving one another. Let nothing divide your hearts. Make it your life’s business to love one another and to show your love to one another. Let brotherly love continue in you and among you.”

We are to love all men, even our enemies; but the love Paul is talking about here is that special family love that God plants in the hearts of his people for one another. It is the love of hearts united to Christ. – “The fruit of the Spirit is love.”

It was Jesus who said, “By this they will know you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.” Do you see this? The fruit of the Spirit is love, by this they will know….. The evidence of biblical salvation is love.

Ill. I love him, I just don’t like him…..

I am not talking about lip love. Anyone can say, “I love you.” Lip love is no love. Love is manifested by deeds.

If we love one another, we pray for one another. That’s how Christ loves us. Isn’t it?

If we love one another, we bear one another’s burdens. That’s how Christ loves us. Isn’t it? If we love one another, we are kind, patient, longsuffering, and forgiving with one another. That’s how Christ loves us. Isn’t it? If we love one another, we meet together to encourage and exhort one another. That’s how Christ loves us. Isn’t it?

1 John 4:20, 5:1 says…

If we do not love one another, we do not love Christ. (1 Peter 2:17; 1 John 3:14-18).

How does the Bible interpret the word LOVE? 1 Cor 13:1-7

Saying, “I love you” and actually loving someone are two different things. Paul says, “Brethren, see that you make this the unbroken habit of your lives. Love one another. As you grow in love for Christ, grow in love for one another.”

Verse 2. Here the Holy Spirit tells us something about how this love for the brethren is to be expressed.

Hospitality. That’s right. Be hospitable to God’s people. Hospitality flows out of a heart of love. It is a means of showing the love of Christ for one another.

Ill. Senior Citizen – You need to find out if they are here legally…. I’m thinking what many need is to actually feel the love and hospitality that Jesus Christ demonstrated when He gave His life on the cross and died for them.

I’m thinking that when someone truly sees the love of Christ and how He was hospitable enough to grant us citizenship in Heaven while we were still His enemies…..

Our Savior tells us that entertaining one of his people is entertaining him Matt. 25:38-40.

2. Love Works by caring for brethren in need v. 3-

This is not talking about prison ministries and caring for legally incarcerated criminals. It is talking about those who are in bondage for the gospel’s sake and those who suffer adversity because they are Christian. Because we are in the same body with them.

If we love as brothers and sisters in Christ, we will see that missionaries, old people, needy

people, sick people and people out of work have their needs supplied, as we are able to supply them.

3. Love Works in the Home V4- Paul seems to throw in something that is unrelated to brotherly love. What does brotherly love have to do with marriage? Everything. He says…

Brotherly love flourishes when home love flourishes. If I do not love my wife and care for her, if I do not devote myself to her, I do not love you or Christ and will not care for you and the things of Christ.

When someone lives in adultery, and comes to church on Sundays, prays, sings praises, offers tithes etc… it is only demonstrating their hatred for the church and the Lord. So Paul says…

Take your marriage vows seriously. – Let marriage be held honorable and highly esteemed in all things. Your marriage bed is honorable.

Love means you keep yourself from sexual promiscuity! “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

4. Love Works in our Desires V5, 6- Paul is still talking about brotherly love. Covetousness destroys it. Contentment promotes it.

Children of God live free from love of money, free from craving wealth and worldly possessions, free from greed and lust for material things.

Be content with what God has given you. Be content with your present position and circumstance. God has said, “I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up, nor leave you without support.” “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”

[Psa 37:25 NKJV] I have been young, and [now] am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.

[Phl 4:6 NKJV] Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

[Phl 4:11 NKJV] Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

[Phl 4:12 NKJV] I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

[1Ti 6:6 NKJV] Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

[1Ti 6:7 NKJV] For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out.

[1Ti 6:8 NKJV] And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

[1Ti 6:9 NKJV] But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

[1Ti 6:10 NKJV] For the love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Come to Mount Zion

Hebrews 12:18-29

Scripture Hebrews 12:18-24

Intro – Last week, don’t sell yourself out to worldly temporal pleasure and possessions. Keep pressing on to heaven. Don’t be like Esau. Keep your focus on heaven. Keep your focus on being in the Lord’s Presence. Live more for the next life than you do this life because he who lives more for this life than the next life will lose it. But he who lives more for the next life than this life will find it.

1. A Great Contrast V18-24-

V18-21- Mount Horeb – V22-24 – Mount Zion

At the base of Mt. Horeb, God assembled His people. It was from Mt. Horeb that He gave His perfect law. The people were given the law to live by but they were never given access to the Lord.

Never allowed a personal relationship with Him. Never invited into His Presence. They could not keep the Law. For them, it was Darkness, ominous, thundering, lightening, fire, fear, holiness of God, trembling.

Here in our text, the apostle reminds all those who have been born again, you have not come to that place. You have not come to the mountain of the Law of God, you have come to the mountain of the Grace of God.

At Horeb it was darkness. At Mount Zion, it is light. Heaven has no sun. Nor does it have any darkness. It is lit with the Shekinah Glory of God. We are children of light, not darkness. 1 John 1:5-7. Jesus said, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

At Horeb, the loud trumpet blasts were piercing the ears of the people. Terror was struck in their hearts because the trumpet blasts were used by great armies. But in our Mt. Zion, there is no need for those who have been born again to fear the trumpet blast of the Lord, because we are part of His Army!

At Horeb, the people could not handle hearing the voice of God. It struck fear to the very center of their being. And it should have. But in our Mt. Zion, those who have been born again, do not fear the voice of the Lord.

In fact, Jesus said, Jhn 10:27 – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

At Horeb, it was a place burned with fire. The presence of God made the mountain flow. God revealed Himself in a consuming fire. V29 says- What’s different about this fire? Is there a reason we should fear this fire like those on Mt. Horeb?

Not if you are born again. 2 Thess 1:3-10 – The same fire that consumes the adversaries, is the same fire that purifies the saints and brings them into eternal rest.

Think about it. One day – ILL> The Lords Return, A loud Trumpet Blast. Voice of an archangel. As a flash of Lightening. The Consuming Fire of God. We are not to be consumed, we are like gold being refined.

You are not hearing me. Cancer may be my adversary, but it will be consumed and we will be refined. Heart disease, sugar diabetes, old age……wheel chairs, nursing homes, funeral homes, hospitals, cemeteries, relationship problems, politicians, taxes, abortion, war, sin, all sin…..all gone!

2. A Grand Church V23- The Church of the Firstborn. Who is that? Who is the firstborn? Jesus. The firstborn from the dead. Who is that church? The Church of Jesus. The General assembly. The church that Jesus loves so much that He gave His life for on the cross at Calvary. The church that He adores. His Bride.

Don’t miss this. Here the apostle is saying that there was one mountain, Horeb, it was terrible. The assembly at the base of that mountain could not walk into the presence of God. They could not be in a personal relationship with Him. They could only tremble in fear at the holiness of God. And could only look forward to the wrath of God. Because they could not live up to His Law.

But he says here is the mountain of those who have been born again, its assembly is those who have been redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Its assembly is in the company of angels.

The negative is the assembly at Mt. Horeb. Those who could not stand to hear the voice of God.

The positive contrast is the assembly of the redeemed. That know His Voice. Those who Love to hear the voice of the Lord. Who love to hear the Word of God. Who have His Law written in their hearts. Who are in an active personal relationship with Him. The church of the firstborn. You are either in one assembly or the other.

THE WHOLE OF THE PASSAGE IS A PRESENT/FUTURE TENSE.

Question. Who loves their church? He who wants to assemble with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ now. He who wants to hear God’s Word now. He who wants to fellowship with the saints now. He who wants to serve the Lord with the saints now. He who wants to worship the Lord with the saints now.

If your faith isn’t strong enough to get you to church now, what makes you think it will be strong enough to get you to church in Heaven?

It says they are registered. Their names are written in the Lambs book of life.

The Bible teaches us that only those whose names are written will be allowed entrance. All those whose names are not written will spend eternity in hell.

V24- This assembly is for those who have been born again. They go to a mediator of a better covenant. Blood of sprinkling.

Abel, when his brother murdered him. The Lord speaks. Gen 4:10, 11. The curse of fallen man, but in our Mt Zion, the curse has been lifted. Because Jesus, paid the price for your sin and for mine.

THE TRUTH CONTRASTED.

Light and darkness. Sin and holiness. Fear and love. Life and death. Heaven and Hell. Saved or lost. No third option. No middle ground! The contrast is black and white.

Ill. Nicodemus. Unless a man is Born Again, he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jn 3:16ff.

What’s the promise being delivered? Hevean or hell.

A secure future no matter what happens in this life. You just run the race of faith. Keep going. V28 – PRESENT/FUTURE TENSE. A Mt. Zion, a general assembly, a Holy citizenship, a secure future, God’s Grace, A life of serving/worshipping Him, and holiness.

Danger of Presumption

Hebrews 12:14-17

Gen 25:21-34

Intro-Last week – RUN! Don’t quit. Persevere. How? V14-

1. Corporate Race V15a- When you and I picture a race, we see it as a competition. Winners and losers. Not here.

a. looking carefully – watchmen on the wall

b. Lest anyone – Ill. Running a marathon and seeing a friend fall, go back and pick him up. A picture of church life.

c. Fall short- Fail in attaining. Not earning grace, but not truly receiving it.

Ill. Picture of typical salvation today – Saved, on fire, loves the Lord, the Word and the church. Young people, college, careers, girlfriends, boyfriends, instant gratification, etc…sliding down the wrong way. Loses their zeal for the things of God etc…

This is where the others that are in this race are to come along side that person and help them get back on the right track. Gal 6:1

2. Corporate Warning V15b – Root of bitterness. When you and I think of bitterness, we think of anger, pessimism, etc… But is this the type of bitterness he is talking about? Grumpy, angry etc…What does he mean by “Root of bitterness?”

Dt 29:14-18. Here the Lord had commanded Moses to gather His people and Moses does so and begins detailing their covenant together with the Lord. He is saying that they are to corporately look out for a deadly, poisonous root that would spring up and defile them together. What would be the fruit of this deadly bitter root?

V19- It is a person with a wrong view of salvation and eternal security. He feels secure when he is not secure. When someone says, “I shall be safe [=secure], though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.”

It is a misunderstanding of the covenant of God. He thinks that because he is part of the covenant people, he is secure from God’s judgment.

It is a presumption. This kind of presumption is what the book of Hebrews deals with repeatedly—professing Christians who think they are secure because of some past spiritual experience or some present association with Christian people.

3. A Terrifying Illustration V16, 17- Old Esau. Fornicator. Profane. We church members look at him and say in our hearts, we are not like him.

You may be surprised. The English word “profane” is derived from the Latin profanus which means “outside the temple, not sacred”. Profane – describes that which disregards what is to be kept sacred or holy.

Profane describes a mindset which takes little notice of anything beyond the material. Westcott sums up this word by saying that it describes the man whose ….thoughts, aims, pleasures, are earthbound.

What was Esau’s problem? He was hungry and the stew smelled good. He was always looking for instant gratification. At the “here and now” immediate circumstances and disregarding the more important future. He thought that pursuing the things present was more important and he took for granted his future.

The birthright was so far down the road it didn’t seem important enough for him to pursue in the moment.

Who here could honestly say they don’t identify with Esau more than they would like to admit? How many a young person……relationships outside of God’s Covenant. How many an adult?

How many have said a prayer, been baptized, are part of the covenant people of God, and yet allow their lives to be filled with the material benefits this world has to offer more than the pursuit of holiness? Bible reading, prayer, church, tithing, serving, gifts and talents etc…?

Some here today believe and trust more in wealth than they do purity. Some here today desire the physical, material things of this world and makes it their life’s work to attain them more so than they pursue Godliness and heaven.

“Heaven is a long way off and I will pursue that then. I have time and besides, I’ve said the prayer, joined the church, believe the Bible and am basically a good person. I will gain all the pleasures that I can in this life and rest assured that I have heaven in the next.” PRESUMPTION!

Esau could have said the same thing. In many ways, he was a much better person than his brother Jacob!

V17- After he got his material wants, he saw what he lost. And found no place for repentance. Though he sought it with tears.

What was he seeking with tears? The blessing. He was tearful because he didn’t get what he had thought was coming to him. He presumed too much.

Like many of us today. Ill.

Conclusion-Oh don’t let that be you. Young man/woman. Little boy/girl. Moms/dads. Seniors….

Don’t Quit!

Hebrews 12:12-14

Scripture Reading John 10:27-30

Intro- At 7 p.m. on October 20, 1968, a few thousand spectators remained in the Mexico City Olympic Stadium. The last of the exhausted marathon runners were being carried off to the first-aid stations. More than an hour earlier, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia had crossed the finish line, the winner of the 26.2-mile run.

As the last spectators got ready to leave, those sitting near the marathon gates heard the sound of sirens and police whistles. All eyes turned toward the gate. A lone figure wearing the colors of Tanzania entered the stadium.

His name was John Stephen Akhwari. He was the last man to finish. His leg bloodied and bandaged, severely injured in a fall, he grimaced with each step as he hobbled around the 400-meter track. The spectators rose and applauded him as if he were the winner.

This catches the intent of the Apostle as he writes this letter to the Hebrews. Some had identified with the church early on, but had started falling away.

Some were being harassed and persecuted, some wanted to go back to their Jewish practices, some were sincere, but discouraged.

Although this passage would do well for each of us individually, I want you to look at this corporately. As a church. V12 says “The Hands…” Paul is writing to the Hebrews as a group.

For Paul, finishing the race well means everything. 2 Timothy 4:7 says…

Speaking about this text a man named Don Kistler said, “How interesting that there is no mention of winning—only that of fighting, finishing, and keeping! We are so prone to think of ourselves as failures if we don’t set records or win so demonstrably as to have monuments built to our endeavors. But for Paul… it was a matter of endurance. For Paul, he won by lasting.”

Three things you need to see in this text today. Perseverance, peace and purity.

1. Persevere in this race. Don’t quit! V12, 13- When a runner is in danger of falling out, he will let his hands dangle. When his knees start to buckle, it won’t be long until he falls.

Folks, listen, perseverance is the mark of a true believer. Philippians 1:6 says…

Many think that perseverance is automatic and effortless for those who are truly saved. They say, “Since God saved me by His grace and He has promised to keep me by His grace, I don’t have to do anything to persevere.”

That would be outright ignoring the whole Bible! Especially this book of Hebrews. God never promised you a rose garden. He didn’t say this would be easy. He didn’t say that church life would be a vacation. Acts 14:20-22

V13- Straight paths- original connotation is the picture of a wagon making a path or a pedestrian. But make it straight. Make it a path. He’s telling the believers, you run this race and make good solid paths for those that follow!

In the context of Trinity today, That’s exactly what needs to happen. You’ve been saved by grace. God gave you gifts and talents. He placed you here in this body of believers. It’s been hard. Many looking for the rose garden have fallen by the wayside.

Ministry in Port Arthur is tough enough. Many have decided to move off to safer communities. Many have moved on to cushier churches.

Some are perpetual visitors.

But I am persuaded that the Lord Jesus Christ loves the City of Port Arthur even if some of His Children hate it! He loves the children in the school system. He loves the moms and dads that are trying to raise their children in a sin sick city. He loves your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.

The straight paths are what each of you will be accountable for and are meant to be made for generations to come.

Love the Lord, His Word, the Church, the lost. (Gifts and talents, perseverance, for the future, NOT to live on successes of the past, not to rest in the present!)

He didn’t place Trinity Baptist Church here to quit the race. He placed us here to finish it. And His measurement of success is not how many are here, how big our building is, how many programs we have… His measurement is to persevere IN THE FAITH, IN THE CHURCH, IN THE WORK, IN THE GOSPEL, to the end.

He is like a drill sergeant who is running beside you. Cadence, shouting, run, run. Sadly, there are always more spectators than there are athletes. More perpetual visitors than there are Spirit Filled members using their gifts and talents. Use your gifts and talents. Get in there a tough it out. Be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Look unto Jesus…..

2. Pursue Peace V14- In as much as possible. Pursue peace without compromising holiness, with your enemies, with Christ’s enemies, with your neighbors, your relatives, your immediate family, etc…especially your fellow church members.

Pursue peace with the grumpy, rude, gossips, those that take advantage of you, those that hurt your feelings….

3. Pursue Holiness- Personal and corporate holiness. Ill. Matthew 5:21-14. The point is, not only in your outward practices, but if your thought life isn’t holy, your physical life is in danger of hellfire. V14 without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

Conclusion – Why is this so important for us today? We are moving to a new location. Already we are under many stresses. It will be easy to become tired, stressed, and discomforted.

We will be tempted in our thought life, in our actions, to fall into sin. We will be tempted to not PURSUE peace with one another. Tempted to be disagreeable and to pursue our individual wants and desires.

Tempted to demand too much. Tempted to be selfish. We will be tempted to argue with one another. MANY will be tempted to quit when it gets rough, tiresome and weary.

Tempted to just crawl under a rock. Step out of the race. Move as if we are defeated and just go as if we are going to the funeral home.

Or, each of us, V12-14- this is a time where we can regroup, rekindle, and run.

Oh, by the way, do you want to know what happened to the runner at the Mexico Olympics? After crossing the finish line, Akhwari slowly walked off the field. In view of his injury and having no chance of winning a medal, someone asked him why he had not quit.

He replied, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it” (from Leadership [Spring, 1992], p. 49).

The Lord did not redeem you with His blood, did not gift you with His Holy Spirit, call you to serve, just to start this race, ….He ____________ you here to finish it.

Who’s in?

Resurrected Life

Philippians 3:8-10

Reading Philippians 3:1-7

Intro- Ill. Mormon scientists and DNA. Two choices, quit the Mormon religion, or continue on as usual and just remain faithful to your religion.

What if the body of Jesus were found? At first, many Christians would deny it. But, what if there was Archeological and scientific proof? Would it change you? Would you just quit? Or would you continue to worship as usual? Would you stay in the faith?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is nuclear to Christianity. Paul said, 1 Cor 15:12-19. IF Christ has not risen, then, at best, you have faith in your faith. But your faith is based on a lie. Your testimony is false. You are a hypocrite, a shyster, a false prophet. You might as well live like the rest of the world.

Pursue money, fame, power, influence, pleasure etc…get all you can in this life. Let that be your highest pursuit. The driving passion of your life ought to be making the time you are here on this earth more pleasurable. That should be normal, right?

But if the resurrection is true, shouldn’t it make a difference? Shouldn’t it change our value system? Shouldn’t it change our passions? Shouldn’t it change our pursuits?

It did for those in the Bible. This account of Paul sums it up pretty well. V3-8- Everything he treasured in life, all he pursued, he counted that as garbage, dung….

Paul experienced a resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. From that moment on, everything changed. What was the passion, what was the pursuit of his life? Saved by Grace through faith in Christ. His driving passion, his pursuit is summed up in Vs 10-

1. That I may know Him V10 – He didn’t say, “That I may know about Him.”

a. Some know about Christ. His history. Who He was. Where He was from. Who His family was.

b. Some know His doctrines- What He taught.

c. Some treasure His life’s example – He was good, kind, etc…

d. Some know all about His sacrificial death on the cross. They saw the movie, “The Passion.” Can explain in detail what took place.

e. There are those that are expecting His return. They look forward to a day when they will joyfully enter in to Heaven. Some will delve into books about His return and watch movies about His return and are fascinated at the events that will take place before He returns.

f. Those who are satisfied by reading about Jesus.

g. Those who are satisfied by hearing about Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:12 For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day

You can know about a person. President, movie stars, etc…. You can know someone by acquaintance, maybe shake his hand and greet him every day, but not know him. You can work with someone, and not really know them. In the same way, you can know about Jesus and not know Him. His likes and dislikes, His mannerism, His teaching etc….

But to really know someone, you have to commune with them. Converse with one another on a person to person basis. You have to live with them. Be a part of their family in their home.

That is why Paul says the ultimate pursuit of his life is TO KNOW HIM. More than anything else the world has to offer. More than pursuing retirement, personal preferences, money, influence, position, pleasure, security, etc…..

Jeremiah 9:23, 24, John 17:3, 1 John 5:20

I wonder sometimes if the Lord will ask many a church member the same question he asked Phillip. John 14:9

Have you been coming to my house and identifying with my family? And you do not KNOW me? Have you been reading the Word all these years and do not KNOW Me? Etc….

Paul’s pursuit was to know Christ and …

2. The Power of His Resurrection V10b-If there is no resurrection, then you can’t know Christ! IF there is no resurrection, He is dead. Gone. All you can do is know about Him. But you can’t presently know Him.

Although Paul looks to the future resurrection of the dead in the next verse, make no mistake, his pursuit is in the present tense. He met a resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus and his pursuit became the passion to know Jesus more and more. Ill. Paul’s experience

Listen, the power of His resurrection ought to have a dynamic effect on your life. His resurrection power is salvation. His resurrection power is what brings you into a personal daily, present tense relationship with Him.

His resurrection power is what enables you to live a holy life. To become more and more like Him. His resurrection power is what enables you to defeat sin in your life.

His resurrection power is what brings you true joy, happiness, meaning and purpose. His resurrection power is what enables you to minister in His Name. His resurrection power will save you, keep you saved, and see you through this sin sick world all the way to heaven!

This resurrection power will enable you to love Him, love His Word, love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and yes, even love your enemies.

Knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection is worth pursuing. Without knowing Him, without His Resurrection power all we will have is a dried up, spiritless, pitiful life. But with this, we will have nothing less than a total, transforming, revival.

Do you know Christ? Word, Faith, Belief, Prayer, Repentance, Follow Him. Do you earnestly pursue the power of His Resurrection? If you know Christ, you will.