Hebrews 10:19 through Hebrews 10:25 (NRSV)
since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary
by the blood of Jesus,
20by the new and living way
that he opened for us
through the curtain
(that is, through his flesh),
21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22let us approach
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.
23Let us hold fast to the confession
of our hope
for he who has promised is faithful.
24And let us consider how to provoke one another
and good deeds,
25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but/ encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:19 through Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)
19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
*** At Asbury 1-27-88. . . On the way to class I came upon a young man with a smile on his face. Two flights of steps lower outside the library was a dog barking. "Come on, Come on," the young man coached. He was trying to get the dog to come up the walk way in front of the library. As I came closer I said, "Is he afraid to come up the steps?" "No," he replied, "he's barking at a bird in that tree." I commented that sometimes it Is difficult to tear ourselves apart from the IMPORTANT things in life. As I left, the young man continued to coach the dog to leave the bird and follow him. Later as I mused about this incident, I was brought to the realization that possibly God has to pause and coach us to leave behind some of the things that we see to be important in order to continue following him.
The Writer of Hebrews is calling us. "Come On!" He says. See what is really important. He coaches us forward, encouraging us in the Christian Walk.
I. Come In By Grace (vv. 19-21)
A. A Costly Entrance
Salvation is free, but it is not cheap!
***When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day's pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award--yet receives such a gift anyway--that is a good picture of God's unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
G.W. Knight, Clip-Art Features for Church Newsletters, p. 53.
B. A Continuing Entrance
*** "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." Hebrews 6:19 In this world of sin and death, we need a strong anchor to keep us from drifting into an ocean of fear. Knowing that Jesus prays for us is such an anchor to all who trust Him as Savior and Lord. The 16th-century Scottish preacher, John Knox, depended on this truth, especially during his final days on earth. As Knox lay seriously ill, his wife would read John 17, a chapter of Ephesians, and Isaiah 53 (prophecy of Christ's death). A little before noon on what would be the last day of his life, Knox asked her to read I Corinthians 15, that great keystone chapter on the resurrection. As she finished, he remarked, "Is that not a comforting chapter?" Four hours later, recognizing that his earthly stay was almost over, he said to his wife, "Go, read where I cast my first anchor." Immediately she knew what he wanted. She turned to John 17 and read one last time the comforting reminder that Jesus is the Christian's high priest.
C. A Confident Entrance
*** Herbert Hoover was one of the most vilified and maligned presidents in the history of our nation because the Great Depression began during his Administration. He did not seem to become cynical or bitter. He went on serving his country to the end, maintaining his dignity and serenity. His wife once explained it like this:" Bert can take it better than most people because he has deeply ingrained in him the Quaker feeling that nothing matters if you are right with God."
-- Exploring the Christian Way by Vernon O. Elmore p.14
***Sometime when you're in an airport, observe the difference between passengers who hold confirmed tickets and those who are on standby. The ones with confirmed tickets read newspapers, chat with their friends or sleep. The ones on standby hang around the ticket counter, pace and smoke, smoke and pace. The difference is caused by the confidence factor. If you knew that in fifteen minutes you would have to stand in judgment before the Holy God and learn your eternal destiny, what would your reaction be? Would you smoke and pace? Would you say to yourself, "I don't know what God's going to say--will it be 'Welcome home, child,' or will it be 'Depart from me; I never knew you'?
Hebrews 10:22, 1 John 2:3
***After John Wesley had been preaching for some time, some one said to him, "Are you sure, Mr. Wesley, of your salvation?" "Well," he answered, "Jesus Christ died for the whole world." "Yes, we all believe that; but are you sure that you are saved?" Wesley replied that he was sure that provision had been made for his salvation.
"But are you sure, Wesley, that you are saved?" It went like an arrow to his heart, and he had no rest or power until that question was settled. Many men and many women go on month after month, and year after year, without power, because they do not know their standing in Christ; they are not sure of their own footing for eternity. Latimer wrote Ridley once that when he was settled and steadfast about his own salvation he was as bold as a lion, but if that hope became eclipsed he was fearful and afraid and was disqualified for service. Many are disqualified for service because they are continually doubting their own salvation.
Moody's Anecdotes, pp. 101-102.
II. Come Near In Faith (v. 22)
A. With Nothing To Hide
*** "A young man once said to a preacher, "I do not think I am a
sinner." Then the preacher asked him if he would be willing for
his mother or sister to know all he had done or said or thought,
and all his motives and desires. After a moment the young man
said, "No, indeed I certainly would not like to have them know;
not for all the world."
- _Pulpit Helps_, August, 1990, p. 14.
B. With Nothing To Fear
*** When his two daughters were small, the pastor would sometimes seek the quiet and seclusion of his study, which was in the parsonage. It was understood that when he closed the door for
Bible study and prayer, no telephone calls or visitors were
allowed to interrupt him. But when he would hear little
footsteps, a tiny peck on the door, and a small voice whispering
"Daddy," what do you think he did? Ignore it? Oh, no! He would
spring from his chair, open the door, enfold that little girl in
his arms and say, "What do you want, honey?" He loved being
We can be sure that God, like earthly fathers, loves to hear
the call of His children.
C. With Nothing Between
*** A little boy was seen one day lounging around a circus tent. If there is anything in the world tempting to a boy, it is a circus, and knowing this a gentleman said: "Come, Johnny, let us go into time circus." "No," said the boy, "father would not like it." "But your father need not know it," said the man. "But I will know it," said the boy, "and when father comes home tonight I could not look up into his face." Ah, how important! Able to look into our Father's face. He has been very good to us. No good thing has He withheld from us, and yet so many times we find our selves unable to look into His face. God help us to live so close to Himself, so pure and so holy, that all the time we can be able to look into His face. --L. G. Broughton
III. Come Through With Hope (v. 23)
A. Holding Tightly
***A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!
Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should is effect be on our lives.
Today in the Word, May, 1990, p. 34.
B. Holding Steady
***I am not a connoisseur of great art, but from time to time a painting or picture will really speak a clear, strong message to me. Some time ago I saw a picture of an old burned-out mountain shack. All that remained was the chimney...the charred debris of what had been that family's sole possession. In front of this destroyed home stood an old grandfather-looking man dressed only in his underclothes with a small boy clutching a pair of patched overalls. It was evident that the child was crying. Beneath the picture were the words which the artist felt the old man was speaking to the boy. They were simple words, yet they presented a profound theology and philosophy of life. Those words were, "Hush child, God ain't dead!"
That vivid picture of that burned-out mountain shack, that old man, the weeping child, and those words "God ain't dead" keep returning to my mind. Instead of it being a reminder of the despair of life, it has come to be a reminder of hope! I need reminders that there is hope in this world. In the midst of all of life's troubles and failures, I need mental pictures to remind me that all is not lost as long as God is alive and in control of His world.
James DeLoach, associate pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Houston, quoted in When God Was Taken Captive, W. Aldrich, Multnomah, 1989, p. 24.
C. Holding Securely
*** A pastor had just received the news that he had a terminal illness. The next Sunday he said to his congregation, "I walked the 5 miles from the doctor's office to my home. I looked toward that majestic mountain that I love. I looked at the river in which I rejoice. I looked at the stately trees that are always God's own poetry to my soul. Then in the evening I looked up into the great sky where God was lighting His lamps and I said, 'I may not see you many more times, but mountain, I will be alive when you are gone. And river, I will be alive when you cease running towards the sea. And stars, I will be alive when you have fallen from your sockets in the great pulling-down of the universe.'"
A wonderful hope lies beyond the grave for all who are trusting Christ as their Savior. Death is not the end. Innumerable, indescribable, eternal glories await the child of God.
*** Ebenezer Erskine, a devoted Scottish preacher, who died in 1754, was visited on his deathbed by a friend, who asked him, "What are you doing now with your soul, Mr. Erskine?" to which the dying man replied, "I am doing with it what I did forty years ago, resting it on the Word of the Lord."
IV. Come Together In Love (vv. 24-25)
A. Considering the Help Needed
***People need people. Laurie was about three when one night she requested my aid in getting undressed. I was downstairs and she was upstairs, and ... well. "You know how to undress yourself," I reminded. "Yes," she explained, 'but sometimes people need people anyway, even if they do know how to do things by themselves."
William C. Schultz, Bits & Pieces, December 1990
***Everyone needs recognition for his accomplishments, but few people make the need known quite as clearly as the little boy who said to his father: "Let's play darts. I'll throw and you say 'Wonderful!'"
Bits & Pieces, December 9, 1993, p. 24.
***One Sunday morning after preaching, I was standing at the exit of our Church shaking hands and thanking people for coming. A young man who was a first time visitor began to exit with tears in his eyes. He paused as if to ponder something over deeply and then walked in my direction. He extended his hand towards mine and with a firm handshake began to tell me that he had made a decision to take a different course for his life. "I know that I will be all right now," he said, "I have carried this too long and now I have made up my mind to live." He did not want to speak more . . . just thanked me and shook my hand once more as he left.
I have often received things in a hand shake. People have "palmed" me money for special needs within the church. But, I have never received anything like what that young man gave me as he shook my hand and left the church. Inside a folded up one dollar bill was a live round from a 38 caliber hand gun. The young man had been pondering committing suicide and with the encouragement found in God’s word -- had changed his mind.
Every now and then, I take out this little "treasure" that I keep in a drawer of my desk. It helps me to focus on how important the work of the Lord is. My prayer is that each Christian could realize the impact that they can have -- and treat each day as if it might just be -- somebody’s last.
*** often visit newcomers in town and find them to be church shopping. They want to know what they can get out of church. Churches are one more consumer commodity. Worship services are not a place for us to serve God and neighbor but a place where people expect to purchase the best: Inspiring worship, good music, moving sermons, quality child care. As if we buy God and not vice versa.
Arthur Boers in The Other Side, May/June, 1989.
B. Considering the Habit of Neglect
***48% of church-goers attend an average of once a month.
-- U.S.A. Today, May 25, 1994.
***If You Want to Kill the Church
Never go to your church or meetings held there,
If you do go, be late, it's no one's affair.
If the weather is bad, either too hot or snowing,
Just stay home and rest, for there'll be others going.
But should you attend, be sure and remember
To find fault with the work, each official and member.
Be sure to hold back on your offerings and tithes,
The bills will be paid by the rest of the guys.
And never take office if offered the post,
But eagerly criticize work of the host.
If not on a committee you're placed, be sore!
If you find that you are, don't attend any more.
When asked your opinion on this thing or that,
Have nothing to say, just turn 'em down flat.
Then after the meeting, shine out like the sun
By telling the folks how it should have been done.
Don't do any more than you possibly can,
Leave the work for some other woman or man.
And when you see faithful ones work themselves sick,
Then stand up and holler, "It's run by a clique!"
C. Considering the Hour Nearing
*** "Mother, please," exploded the teenager." "I've heard all the religion business I can take. You and Daddy are always bothering me about it. I'm not interested!" The girl stamped her foot and marched out of the room, slamming the door.
Her mother sank wearily to a chair. What more could she do? Finally she decided to call the pastor. The pastor listened to the problem and made an appointment to see the girl alone.
When the pastor called on the girl the parents left the room and he turned sympathetically to the girl. "I think it's a shame," he said, "that your mother and father pester you so much about religion." The girl, who had been braced for a lecture, smiled in relief. Now this is the kind of preacher I like, she thought. He's willing to leave me alone if I am not interested.
"I have a suggestion," said the pastor. "Suppose I persuade your parents and friends not to mention the subject of God to you for a whole year." The girl was startled. "A year," she gasped. "I don't know whether it would be safe to wait a whole year. I might die before then." "That's true," agreed the pastor. "A year is too long. Suppose we make it six months?"
The girl pondered a moment and then replied that six months might not be safe either. "Well, then," proposed the pastor, "how about three months? I'll arrange it so you won't be bothered about God for three months."
The pastor stood up and started to leave, but the girl stopped him. "I don't think it would be safe," she said, "to put it off at all. Please pray with me now." Promptly they got down on their knees and the teenager asked Jesus into her heart.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved to the other bed. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
Epilogue. . . .There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.