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Being Committed to one another

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·      Some of you received an email from me not too long ago with a list of organizations that are offering scholarships to students going to college.  What was so amazing was the fact that there is a large amount of scholarship money that has been set aside by companies for deserving minority students are either collecting dust or being returned back to the business because of lack of interest.

·      I would like to say; I see this and more in our local schools, and our local churches.  I must agree with Mark Dever, the author of 9 marks of a healthy church, when he points out that all statistics seem to point to our age as being an age of “commitment –phobia”.  Commitment-Phobia is the fear that in promising to do something good we will miss out on getting something even better.  And so, although we see many good things we could be doing, we would rather just keep our options open.

·      I see this among our young people, Juniors and Seniors in my math class, young people that I talk with in the role of an official, even young people who are active in our local church fellowships

·      Older students who return and in our conversation, I will usually hear and no Mr. McCreary I am not seriously involved with anyone at this time because I am not looking for a serious commitment at this time.

·      It’s an idea of singleness of being a maverick, my own person, accountable to no one and the feeling of an independence that says to all or anyone, ‘I don’t need you in my life’.

·      The troubling thing is that many of us are the product of this either directly or indirectly.  Many of us were reared this way and this is how we rear our own children. 

·      You may say; ‘how can you say this pastor?’  A simple observation of your behavior during difficult times demonstrate this.  And difficult times are defined by the person receiving them.  It could be family or finance, health or lack of help, could be about church members or union members, dwelling on the past or in awe of the future, dealing with death or struggling with living.  How you deal with difficult times is usually in a singleness and maverick way.

·      Last week we looked at the new commandment from Jesus to His disciples given in John 13:34-35

·      34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

·      Two questions, the first, have you ever been lead by the Holy Spirit to just approach another church member (the one another of the new commandment) and just say; “I have prayed for you my brother or my sister that your faith may not fail.”  Just as Jesus loved Peter enough to say that to him, even when Peter couldn’t see what was about to happen to himself.  For according to Peter, at this moment, he told Jesus that he was willing to go with Jesus both to prison and to death.

·      The second question for you, New Hope is; how is this actually accomplished or  how can you love one another as Christ has loved you?

·      Listen to this scripture

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ESV

·      Being committed to one another!

·      In light of all that I have said before and your modern day tendencies, this is not automatic

o       By ‘automatic’, I mean just how it is defined; “having the capability of starting, operating, or moving independently, or

o       Done unconsciously or from force of habit – you don’t have to think about it, it just happens

·      Nor is it independent

·      Notice that the verse starts off with the word ‘and’.  Do you see that in your bibles?  This means before we can successfully move forward, we must look backward and be reminded.

·      Let’s look there briefly, turn back to the first verse.  The actual context of our passage starts at verse 19 but you need to hear this entire passage; Hebrews 10:1-23 

1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ” 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. ESV

·      The verse starts with ‘and’ which causes you to see that the focus is on what Christ did in His sacrifice which is once for all.  Thus we can draw near, near to God, with a true heart and a clean heart and our bodies washed with pure water.

·      Let us, New Hope, that includes you and I, this local church, hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

·      So this is not an independent act but one that is by faith and hope.

·      It’s not automatic; ‘let us consider how’.

·      This is a conscious act that you need to do, it is also an act of repentance that you are a part of because you are about to stir up something.

·      Now my sin nature automatically stir up stuff also and I don’t have to think about it, it’s there in full force because of that sin nature.  I want to do good, but evil is always present.  And I find myself doing the very thing that I said that I shouldn’t do.

·      Thus you have to consider, you have to carefully think about it, pray about it, contemplate on it, reflect on and bear it in mind. 

·      You must move beyond the flesh and feelings, the mind, the thinking and the logic and look to your heart and as verse 22 says draw near, even in this, with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with your hearts sprinkled clean.

·      Then you can stir up, encourage, motivate, and urge one another to love and good works.

·      And yes, brothers and sisters, the order is important, just like the new commandment, it is love and then good works; love one another as Jesus loves us and then by this all will know that you are my disciples

·      For this to happen, you must be committed to one another

·      It is also stated in the New Testament as ‘ministry to one another’, ‘submitting to one another’, and bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

·      Oh, I thank the Lord for His wisdom and knowledge for even in today’s high tech world this passage screams at you and I. 

·      Notice that you may justify phone calls, emails, and even getting and listening to a copy of this tape. 

·      But my Bible says in verse 25 that this is accomplish by not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some (in the time of the writing of Hebrews and in our modern times)

·      It is being committed to one another

·      And you must hear me here; this is talking about active membership in a local church

·      Let me define active membership by saying what it is not

o       Active membership is not having your name in the church directory and not actively involved in the local church.  It is not being absent without leave.

o       ‘I’m a member of New Hope Baptist church and the last time we saw you here was, I can’t remember.  Encouragement to love here is difficult because of absence and not knowing what is going on in the life of that member

o       But it is also active involvement in the ministries here at New Hope.

o       But active membership is not actively visiting here or other local churches and failing to join and becoming a part.  It is not showing up and not being a part of.

o       Encouragement to love here is difficult because of the lack of accountability.  “I hear what you are saying and all of that sounds good but I’m not a member so you can’t hold me accountable.”

o       It is commitment to one another.

·      The positive side of this verse are the words; ‘encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (that Day is Jesus return for his church).

·      Our love and good works are directly related to how we meet together and how we interact with one another.

·      There is a powerful illustration in Scripture that shows this.

·      Listen to this from the book of Ephesians and listen to the comparison to Christ.

Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. ESV

·      I am not going to expound this passage but a few points in illustration.

o       Marriage is about commitment a husband and wife to each other

o       The love focus on how Christ loves the church and how the church responds to Christ

o       That love and response is us New Hope, as a local Church

o       How would you respond to a man or a woman who say that they are married but they are never at home and always seems to be out and about acting like they are not married?

o       How would you respond to a man and a woman who has setup house together, doing all the things that a husband and wife do but refuses to get married?

o       There was a time when both situations would be corrected by somebody

o       Man, you need to be with your wife sometimes, you are not a bachelor any more!

o       You two really seem to be in love, when are you going to get married.

·      Today many classify these statement as meddling instead of statements of love.

·      And because there is failure to obey the Word of God, in many cases that is true.

·      Look at the passage again; “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love, that’s first, and then good works”

·      But to do this we must meet together, in worship, in prayer, in fellowship, in formal times and in informal times

·      We need to meet when all is well and we need to meet when the well is dry, when the weather is nice and when it is not so nice.

·      We must be committed to one another and let each other know that.

·      I end with this exhortation.

·      If you are listening to this by tape or internet and you are not involved, actively involved in a local fellowship and you have profess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you back to a local fellowship where you can love and be loved.

·      And if you are listening and attending a local fellowship as a visitor and have not joined for whatever reason.  And Jesus is your Lord and Savior.  What is holding you back?  That local fellowship needs you and you need them, if not the Lord would not have sent you there.  Pray that the Holy Spirit give you freedom to make a commitment to walk by the same faith that you have in our Lord.

·      You should not join the church in order to be saved, but you may want to join the church to help you in making certain of who you are and whose you are.

·      It is about being committed to one another in love

·      Let us pray!

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