Summary: The church today is the great cloud of witnesses of tomorrow.
May 28, 2017
Text: Hebrews 12:1-2
Subject: Memorial Day
Title: Remember Us
Memorial Day weekend! The un-official beginning of Summer. The pools are opened. Kids are out of school. We are now busy for the next three months taking time to find ways to enjoy ourselves. Travel, vacations, family reunions will take priority over nearly every other thing.
And it’s OK. I get it. We need those times of R and R. These are things that help keep us going the rest of the year.
But before we get too far into the summer we need to stop and remember what this Memorial Day is all about.
Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
We have many here today who have served our great nation in military service, and we appreciate all that you have done, but how many of us have friends or family that have given their lives in service to the country? Those are the ones we remember today.
But now I want us to go in a different direction. What about those who have been in this church for the 84 years that it has been in existence? Do we ever stop and think of the sacrifices that have been made to keep the church alive? Many times, if you stop and think about the history of this church, it would include the former pastors… but the church is not about the pastors alone. It is those folks who have remained faithful to what God has established here and who desire to live out His Word in their lives to the fullest.
Yes there have been many mistakes made and many unnecessary battles fought over the years, but this Full Gospel Church remains.
Hebrews 12:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
I believe this is God’s word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
I will appropriate it to my life today…
In Hebrews chapter 11 we see a great list of those who have gone before and by faith have been justified before the Lord. This is the great cloud of witnesses that he remembers in 12:1…
What does remembering those who have gone before us in the church do for us?
I. It helps us to see our church life in its proper perspective… let us lay aside every weight… I want you to understand something. This building where we meet on Sunday and Wednesday is not the church. You, individually, are the church. But more importantly, you, collectively, are the church. Paul addressed this concept of the church in 1 Corinthians when he wrote that the individual and the whole as a group are temples of the Holy Spirit. So the question and/or the idea is out there that since I am a temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore the church I don’t have to be in church in order to walk out my faith. Is that true? Before you answer that shouldn’t we see what the bible says about the church? Acts 2:42 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. The key word there is “fellowship”. koinonia (koy-nown-ee'-ah) n. 1. partnership; 2. (literally) participation… koinonia (partnership or participation) only takes place when people are gathered together. Galatians 6:2 (NKJV) Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. The Greek word translated bear does not mean just to carry or help support, but to do so until it is carried away – until the burden is lifted. You can lay aside every weight because there are others here to help you carry those burdens – to lift you up and agree with you in prayer until you see the fruition of your prayer – the burden lifted off of you. Well you don’t have to be in church to do that… again, let’s go back to the book of Acts and the early church to see how they did church. Acts 2:46-47 (NKJV) 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. The argument here is not as to whether we should meet in a house church or in a church building. The thing we need to see is that they met together. Acts 4:31 (NKJV), And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. And finally, Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 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. We lay aside every weight because we have a church full of believers who are willing to cooperate with one another, to partnership with one another, in prayer in carrying our burdens. If you are in church and are struggling with a particular burden find someone who will pray with you a prayer of agreement and who will continue steadfastly in prayer until you see victory.