Summary: We will persevere in tough times together through our church community (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community; chapter 14 Radically Perseverant, pgs. 367-370)
Pray for David and Philomena Morris- Monday, October 20th, 2014
After the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP took power following India's general elections in May, attacks on Christians and other minorities by Hindu radical groups has skyrocketed. In Uttar Pradesh, 600 reports of violence were recorded in the first 100 days of BJP's rule. Many of these attacks were perpetrated by Hindu radical groups against India's minorities.
Well that’s overseas, preacher. In Houston, TX the city council made it legal for men to go into women’s restrooms and for women to go into men’s restrooms. Evidently some preachers have spoken out about this so the mayor of Houston has ordered preachers to submit their sermons for review that discuss this issue and homosexuality. Later this was expanded to include any form of communication that discussed this issue. 5 preachers are prepared to go to jail.
For the most part we have enjoyed freedom and protected from persecution like this in the US. However, never has a time existed when the church was free from being persecuted. In its earliest days, the church met opposition from unbelieving Jews (such as Saul). Soon after, the Romans grew leery of the Christians and persecuted the church severely. Throughout history, Christians in places around the globe have been pushed to the edges of society and have faced beating, burnings, and martyrdom.
Talking about surviving in hard times. Need to keep our confidence, need to remember that we are God’s children and we have a Father and a family, need to remember that we are chosen by God, God really wants us and paid a big price to have us in His kingdom.
Thesis: We will persevere in tough times together through our church community
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12, 13, NIV.
When we stand together, we stand tall. When we stand apart, like burning coals removed from the fire, we grow cold. Story of the preacher who came to visit a Christian who decided that church is unimportant. In front of fireplace talking and hot coal taken out. Preacher said to the man that if he didn't come back to church that he would be like that hot coal that is now cold.
As we grow busier and busier, one of the harder things to do is get involved in the lives of other people. Probably because we hear more about staying out of other people’s business in our culture. We live in a more permissive age, or maybe, and most likely, we are too wrapped up in our own lives. Vs. 13 has a sense of urgency. The NKJV used a stronger word for encourage- exhort which indicates necessity and crisis. In simple terms, do it TODAY. Fellowship is serious. The protection of our souls is at stake. We have strength in numbers but weakness in separation.
The Great Cloud of Witnesses
In Hebrews 11 we have the Faith Hall of Fame. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others stood their ground in the face of suffering. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Some get wrapped up in the thought that there are many souls watching us from the grandstands and cheering us on. True in some way, but we are missing the main point of the verse. This is telling us that that we need to focus. Jim Collins, author of the book, Good to Great, writes: “Most of us have busy but undisciplined lives. We have ever expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing. But it rarely works. Those who built the good to great companies make use of ‘stop doing’ lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug from all sorts of extra junk and channel their resources into only one or a few areas.” But how? How do we focus? One way:
After Bible bowl season was over, we would be told what next year’s material would be. Had a couple of months to study before next season but each year my plans to get ahead would be futile. Only when practices began with my teammates did I begin to study. We pushed each other, encouraged each other, and kept each other accountable. We persevered together. My teammates helped me to keep the main thing the main thing.
When one Christian puts his arm on another Christians shoulder and begins praying, when a follower of Christ encourages a fellow follower to make the righteous choice, when a disciple looks another in the eye and confronts them for their own good, when a church member sends a note to her fellow church member exhorting her to “hang in there,” we have the strength to go on