Thinking of You – Hebrews 10:22-25 – August 18, 2019 – Pastor Donna Doutt

[1]Hebrews is one of the most powerful presentations of the gospel every written. It’s a bridge between the Old Testament world of promise – with its covenants, priests and sacrifices – and the New Testament world of fulfillment, where Christ functions as the high priest of a new and greater covenant with God. Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is our one mediator, whose once-and-for-all sacrifice paid for sins, completed our humanity, and opened the way to God.

The book was written by an unknown author for the Jewish Christians, who were then known as Hebrews, and who were suffering persecution and other pressures, and were in danger of driving away from the faith and reverting back to Judaism.

These were second-generation Christians. They’ve experienced persecution, but not martyrdom as those who had come before. By now, they should have been confident in their Christianity and serving as teachers, but they were still immature in many ways.

Some were starting to defect from the community and there was a danger that others would leave too returning to the security that they found in being solidly Jewish.

The writer of this book calls the readers of these words to stand firm in their faith. The new covenant they had received through Jesus Christ is far superior to the old, providing true forgiveness of sins and a restored relationship with God. Jesus is the complete revelation from God, the only way of salvation. To turn back and follow the old would bring spiritual disaster.

Our scripture today from Hebrews 10:22-25 shows us a picture of how a functioning community of believers should practice loving each other.

We are reminded who we were and where we are going. Previously, all of us in the original church carried an evil conscience and our hearts were filthy with sin, but now we are clean through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to hold fast to our faith without wavering. But in an imperfect world where we struggle to resist temptation, how do we keep that full assurance of our faith?

Well, let me tell you how! [2]We need to meet together with others who are Christians. The church helps each of us to grow up into a mature Christian. Together we grow in works of service, encouragement, unity of faith, and love. Encouraging each other protects us as a church family.

Do Christians really need to attend church? YES! Of course they do!

The Bible stresses the need for Christians to be part of a local church and have significant relationship with other believers. Christians who are not involved in a local congregation are inevitably stunted in their spiritual growth and their witness for Christ to others.

Most important, Christians must be a part of the church to please God. In John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed, “(May) those who will believe in me…be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Together we are Christ’s body in this world. Our unified presence as we actively love each other and fulfill our particular functions in the body of the church honors and delights God.

What’s more, our life together as his church makes God visible to the struggling world. Our unified prayers and decisions have the power of Jesus’ own presence.

Jesus also ministers to individuals through other believers in his body. The use of our spiritual gifts builds all Christians up as each one does their part. Here we have the opportunity to “carry each other’s burdens,” (Gal. 6:2) encourage one another in worship (Eph. 5:19), “admonish one another with all wisdom” (Col. 3:16), “submit to one another” (Eph. 5:21) and “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).

We do all these things because of the deep spiritual unity we have in Christ.

Our church is what helps us to survive. Love, good deeds, and encouragement are lights in a dark and desperate world. They keep us going. This kind of love keeps us from stumbling. The people in our church know what we live day to day. They relate and resonate with our issues because they live them too. We are cut from the same cloth. The neighbor next door, the person at the next desk at the office, or your yoga instructor might acknowledge us occasionally or give us a compliment, but the people in our church journey with us. Week to week, we are all travelers on the same path with the same goal.

We need each other. We can’t walk this journey without help. It’s too hard, and obstacles that are more difficult to surmount every day surround us. Those who walk ahead of us can show us how to navigate the difficulties of the trials ahead. And they can encourage us from the other side of the dark forests. With their experience, they can help us walk through. It’s the only way each of will survive.[3]We need each other. As Christians traveling the same path and experience similar life challenges, why wouldn’t we want to learn from each other? Love requires action.

In the book The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, nine characters are thrown together on a dangerous quest. The characters are all very different from each other. Some of the group are strong in might, and others are strong in character. Some seem useless but later show a hidden attribute. Several of them show weakness, and the group helps them to overcome it. In the end, it’s obvious that not one in their party would have survived without every one of the other’s helping along the way.

Jesus has planned for our survival. We need each other to accomplish His will. The first step on the journey is learning to love our church.

I’m going to throw out some questions to you. I invite you to grab a pen or a pencil and ponder these questions. Make some notes.

  1. What are some things you are good at doing? How can you share that skill with someone in this church?

  2. In what ways have you personally helped someone from this congregation along their Christian journey?

  3. What can you do to make it easier for someone to connect with you at church?

  4. How can we as a church be more intentional about helping people in their walk with Jesus?

  5. What can we do to make it easier for people to find connections in our church?

  6. If we made the assumption that everyone who sits around us in church needs some kind of encouragement, how would our actions change?
     

This Sunday morning, I want you to take a look around you. Assume that everyone sitting around you needs encouragement of some kind. Maybe you know for sure. Maybe you suspect. Think of one small way to show them that you sincerely care about them. It may be a hug, a kind word, a smile, or simply trying to remember their name! Allow yourself to be open to sharing someone’s journey.

Enclosed is a “Thinking of You” greeting card. Think about who you might believe could use a word of encouragement, or perhaps to recognize them for a kind gesture already done. Take this card, perhaps add a scripture of your choosing and let someone else know that you are thinking of them, and that they are under the loving care of our church family. If you want to bring them back next week to deliver personally, that’s fine. If you need an address, feel free to call the church office and we’ll provide it, or you can check the church directory before you leave.

According to John Wesley, loving one another is a never-ending Christian obligation. When we love one another, we keep the commandments that Jesus gave us, so that love is the only thing in our relationship with ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies, and with God.

Remember…a card can say a lot…but your words always say more. Let someone know you are thinking of them.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Starting Place Study Bible. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2019

[2] I Love My Church Small Group Leader’s Guide. Outreach, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co. 2014.

[3] I Love My Church Small Group Participant’s Guide. Outreach, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co. 2014.

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