Summary: Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will never forget you.
I recently read of a young man with a terrible stuttering problem. Determined to seek help, he visited a renowned speech therapist in his city. The therapist had a very unconventional method of treating such a problem as this. He had the young man talk with his mouth filled with marbles. Every week he would allow him to take one out. Amazingly, his speech began to improve. Finally, after he had lost all of his marbles, he became a preacher!
Have you ever noticed person you’re sitting next to nodding off during church? When people sleep in church, it may be the minister who needs waking up!
You know, the Pastor plays only a small part of a church. As I have mentioned before, my job is to equip the Saints, and you are the Saints. Yesterday your Deacons, Elders and Staff gathered for a few hours to discuss what church growth means. During our wonderful and meaningful discussion we discovered that there is much more involved than praying, “God please use me?” Or, “Lord, use me as an instrument of Your peace.” We should pray, “Lord, make me usable.”
This morning we are reading from the book of Hebrews. As I have mentioned when we have studied passages from this book in the past, we are not sure who wrote this book. The author is unknown; in fact, it is the only New Testament book or letter with an unknown author. Several have been suggested – of course Paul, perhaps Barnabus (Mark’s cousin and Paul’s traveling companion), Silas, Apollos, Phillip, Pricilla, Aquila, or even Luke, the writer of his own Gospel and the book of Acts. However the vocabulary style and various literary characteristics do not clearly support any particular claim. So the author is unknown, but we do know that whoever the author was, he or she was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews is a wonderful book, one that inspires and encourages us. Perhaps the most often verse quoted from Hebrews is found in the first verse of chapter 11 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And chapter 11 is most likely the most read chapter in Hebrews. It is the “Hall of Faith” if you will. We read of men and women of great faith throughout the ages, who endured in the face of trials and tribulations, from Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses to David and Samuel and others.
If there was a “Hall of Faith” in the lobby of our sanctuary, where on that list would you find your name?
We are reading from chapter 10 of the 13 chapters of Hebrews. Chapter 10, verses 19 -25 reminding us to hold fast to our confession of faith.
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I like the translation from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” same chapter and verses:
“So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body. So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his Word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the Day approaching.”
“So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body. The writer says that we can be bold or having boldness – confidence in our faith to now enter the Holiest of Holies because of Christ – boldness to enter into the presence of God.
And verses 24 and 25; “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”