"CONTINUE IN LOVE, CONTENTMENT AND LOYALTY"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 6/13/99 a.m. Hebrews 13:1-8
PROPOSITION: The writer to the Hebrews wraps up his epistle with several instructions for his readers to continue, to stand firm in their love for one another, in their contentment in Christ alone, and in their loyalty to the faith and example set by their spiritual leaders.
- WHEN the pressures of life are the greatest, most of us tend to forget the fundamentals, and go into self-preservation mode.
- I HAVE told the story before, how when I took my first solo flight, and got behind a slower airplane in the traffic pattern at Montgomery Field in San Diego, and the pressure was on........I forgot the fundamentals of flight and tried to use the right rudder pedal like a brake pedal.
- SHORTLY after getting to Seattle, I had the opportunity to fly a rented Cessna out of Paine Field with Wes and Pastor Barry’s brother, John.....and in a small Cessna, one of the fundamentals when you reduce power is to pull on the carburetor heat so that the fuel doesn't freeze in the carburetor jets......a condition that can be terminal.
- ON my return trip I called in to Paine Tower just off Olympic View Drive, and got permission to land on runway 16 R....which looks like it is 14 miles long from the air.
- AND then, when I was on 45 degrees to downwind, the first thing that I noticed was a 747 standing at an intersecting runway to 16 R. Then the tower started talking to a Mooney behind me in the pattern....and he said that he couldn't see me, and I sure couldn't see him....and that made me a little nervous.
- THE pressure was mounting.
- BUT my immediate task was to get the plane set up for landing......while I am watching the 747 to see if it is moving..... looking for the Mooney on final who can't see me.
- SO, even with the approach end of the runway I pulled the power to start my descent and turned final.....and John Crane, who is also a pilot, quietly reached over and pulled on the carburetor heat.
- I HAD forgotten the fundamentals with the pressure of the moment.
- CARBURETOR heat is one of the basics in a Cessna. But I had forgotten the basics when the pressure was on. If that had been in the winter, especially, you run the risk of the carburetor freezing up and you would never get power back, no matter how badly you needed it.
- NOW, for the Christians to whom the book of Hebrews was written, the pressure was on big time.
- THEY had started their life of faith back in the safety of Jerusalem, and the comforts of home sweet home.
- THEY had learned the fundamentals from the apostles.They had practiced the basics of the faith in the excitement of the early days of the church after Pentecost.
- IT is easy to serve the Lord in the excitement of your first love.
- THE Hebrew believers knew the fundamentals by heart.
- ACTS 2:42 says that they devoted themselves to,
“....the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
- BUT then the pressure came, and they had to run from Jerusalem under severe persecution.
- THEY left behind family and friends and homes and jobs....for a foreign land where they were not welcome and their faith was ridiculed.
- AND under that extreme pressure....they had forgotten the fundamentals.
- SO, in Hebrews 13, the writer delivers a machine gun burst of the fundamentals at the end of the epistle.
- IN the first 8 verses, I see three fundamentals that I want to leave with you this morning.
- LIKE carburetor heat, without which you can crash a Cessna, these fundamentals are critical to the Christian life.
ii. be loving
- HERE is the first burst of the basics, found in Hebrews 13:1-3. See if you can identify the core principle.
"Keep on loving each other as brothers. (2) Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (3) Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
- IN a nutshell, the basic command in these three verses, is to BE LOVING.......to brothers.......to strangers.......and to those who are mistreated.
- UNFORTUNATELY, when the pressure is on, most of us tend to focus our attention on self-preservation, not on loving others. So we forget this critical basic in the life of the Christian.
- "KEEP on......." writes the author of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit.....love is the one debt, says Romans 13:8, that you will never pay in full.
- DON'T allow your love to be just in words, or an emotion, or a sentiment that you hold dear......but let it be love in action, that's the only real kind of love there is.
- IT seems, by reading Hebrews 12:14, that love was a fundamental that was missing.
* 12:14 talks about making every effort to live in peace with one another, and not letting a root of bitterness grow up and defile many. Divisions had arisen because of a lack of love....that covers a multitude of sins.
- THIS basic, tangible, expression of love between Christians is not some nice sentiment. It is an expression of the love of God that is supposed to exist in the life of every born again child of God.
- IT is one of the evidences that the Holy Spirit is living in and through you (Galatians 5:22).
- IT is actually the first test and evidence that you are a Christian.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
- IT is a basic, not some advanced theory of religion, attained by those who grow long white beards and live in monasteries.
- JESUS said, in John 13:34,
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
- THE apostle John picked up the theme of Jesus, in I John 4:11, and wrote,
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
- PAUL writes in I Thessalonians 4:9, about the source of this kind of love,
"Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other."
- HOW, you ask?
- BY opening up your lives, your homes, and your resources to those that God brings into your life to love.
- YOU can't love all of Seattle, or all of Edmonds, or even all of Westgate Chapel. That would be so impossible that you would quit before you start.
- BUT what about that person sitting next to you this morning that you don't even know, or the person at work who desperately needs a friend, or the single Mom here at Westgate that needs a helping hand?
- MANY of us Christians guard our homes and our time and our resources as if they were our own.
- MY family, my home, my time, my resources are all on loan. They are given me by the Lord to use for His name's sake.
- THERE are four classes of people that we are to love in the basics, according to Hebrews 13. They are,
* Brothers........those who are part of the family of God by new birth.
* Strangers.......those the Lord sends into your life that you don't even know.
* Prisoners......those who are bound by bars or circumstances.
* And the mistreated.....those who are victims in this life.
- TANGIBLE, real, practical love. Jesus said that when we had done it to the least of these, we have as good as done it unto Him.
- LET'S don't forget the basics of love.
- JOHN says that if it the love is not there, then neither is God within. Strong words, but true.
iii. be content
- HERE is the next burst of the basics in verses 4-6. See if you can spot the core value.
"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (5) Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'(6)So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'"
- OUR market-driven society is based on one thing....people like you and me being dissatisfied with what we have.
- AND when you and I are under pressure in life, they are counting on us to head for the refrigerator, go to the car dealership, or find a new spouse.
- IN New Testament times the Pharisees taught that scriptures permitted divorce whatever "indecency" the offending party was guilty of.
* Moses defined "indecency" as infidelity, but the Pharisees broadened it to include anything from an untidy house to burnt toast.
- ON the other hand a group of extremists called ascetics taught that if you really loved God you would stay single.....that marriage was unnecessary and meaningless.
- AND it seems that the Hebrew Christians, under pressure, were succumbing to the ways of the world.
- SO the writer of Hebrews says, "Marriage is an honorable thing....not to be treated lightly but treasured. And the marriage bed is to be kept pure.....kept alive and interesting......treasured as sacred between a husband and wife....and not violated by adultery."
- BE CONTENT with your spouse, sexually, intellectually, physically, emotionally, spiritually....Now implicit in that command is the responsibility to stay attractive sexually, physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually.....for your spouse.
- NOW, their faithfulness to you cannot be predicated on your appeal in any of these areas.......their faithfulness to you will only flow out of the vitality of their relationship with Jesus. But it is up to you to love your spouse enough to stay interesting and appealing physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.
- AND this text is clear. If you chose not to be faithful, God will judge the adulterer, and those who are sexually immoral.....the Greek word there is "porneia" and would include the gratification of any sexual lust, from pornography to homosexual activity.
- BE content with your spouse.
- BE content with the things you have. Coveting the money or things that another has is a dangerous snare in life.
* It destroys marriages.
* It cripples family budgets.
* It overloads credit cards.
* It takes control over your spending habits.
* It leaves you never satisfied, always wanting more.
- PAUL says, in Philippians 4:11-13,
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
- ALWAYS wanting more, more clothes, more money, more things, more gadgets, more investments......being driven to get more is a symptom of doubt and unbelief.....We are afraid of not having enough for the future.
- CONTENTMENT is born of faith, because it puts its trust for the future in the hands of God.
- NOW, I am not saying that ambition, hard work, and success are wrong......but that the driven, compulsive, frantic acquirer of more, more, more.......has his heart where his treasure is.
- THERE is only one reason that God would prosper a believer with the things of this world.......and that is to be a blessing in the building of His kingdom.
- IN the pressure cooker world that you and I live in, let's not forget the basics of contentment.....with our spouses, and with the things of this life that will pass away.
iv. be loyal
- BURST #1.......Be loving.
- BURST #2.......Be content.
- BURST #3 of the basics.......Be loyal.
- LET'S read from Hebrews 13:7-8.
"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.(8) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
- REMEMBER, these are Christians under extreme pressure, who are teetering on the verge of abandoning their faith, having forgotten the basics.
- AND the writer says, "Remember those spiritual leaders who touched your life at one time, who were an example to you and taught you the Word of God...."
- DON’T let the pressures of this life choke the life out of the seed of the kingdom that is alive in you.
- GET your eyes off the pressures around you.
- LOOK over your shoulder at those who went before you....who stood by faith in the battle.
- LOOK very carefully at their lives. Examine the fruit of their daily lives. What was the outcome of their lives when all of it was added up?
- AND if you see the right fruit, and if they had an abiding influence on you, then imitate their faith and be loyal to Jesus like they were....some of them even to the point of giving their very lives.
- EXAMINE and weigh the fruit of the lives of those that the Lord has given you as spiritual leaders. This passage doesn't say that you have to agree with them, or even like them....it says examine the fruit.
- DON'T just accept hook, line and sinker, the lives of those in spiritual leadership over you......look to see that the fruit, the evidence of the Lordship of Jesus is there in how they handle their family, and their finances, and their mouths, and their attitudes, and their witness.
- AND if you see real faith there, and real fruit.....(not perfection)......then imitate what you see.
- AND DON'T give up! This is the cry of the writer of Hebrews when it comes to the basics.
- BECAUSE when all is said and done,
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (verse 8)
- WHEN you are in the traffic pattern and look down only to see a 747 on your intersecting runway..... and hear that there is traffic in front of you that you can't even see.......don't panic and forget the fundamentals.
- BE loving.......to brothers, strangers, prisoners, and the hurting in your life.
- BE content.....with what God has given you.
- BE loyal.....to Jesus, just like the example set by those God has given you in spiritual leadership along the pathway of your life.
HOLD TO HIS HAND