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Last week Andrew walked us through the great assembly of faith heroes. Today’s reading launches us from revelling in their faith to actively practicing our own. We have the final warning of the book and lots of ‘keep on’ and ‘remember’ instructions to guide our thinking so that our actions are right and from faith.
Read 12:1-3 Fix your eyes on Jesus
This is not the first time God has asked us to fix on Jesus. In Hebrews 3:1 you were called to fix your thoughts on Jesus. There because he was the faithful apostle and high priest. Here because we are surrounded by so many witnesses to faith. The imagery is of a long distance race, maybe a marathon. What we are called to do is strip down for action. The game is about to begin, time to take the tracksuit off, complete the warm-up exercises and be ready to play! Ready to run, prepared to do what is necessary to stay the course. So are you running a spiritual marathon or just sipping the isotonic drinks, wearing the designer gear but avoiding actually breaking into a sweat?
Is Abraham leaving home to follow a God he barely understands, or Moses abandoning the luxury of being an Egyptian prince, make good Film stories or a model to change you life on?
You see the examples we have direct our thinking to Jesus. He left heaven itself to become a vulnerable baby in a troubled country. He was obedient to the Father and rejected political power, economic security and a safe, quiet life. At 30 years of age he set out to challenge every religious and philosophic idea of his age and rather than avoiding the consequences, he set out to die on a cross. Why?
So that you and I could have eternal life.
So if you say you want to follow him.. are you in the business of giving up your security so that your neighbour can have life? Risking being thought a religious fool rather than a respected citizen? Are you too busy watching TV with its endless adverts teaching to break the 10 commandments, watching programmes that exalt sin and make mockery of godliness?
The whole point of our exploration of Hebrews is to ask this one question, to appeal to you to fix your eyes on Jesus. Not on the TV, not on the family, not on the economy, not on the health advice, but on Jesus. If you are a runner in a marathon, you will give up evenings in the arm chair, mornings in bed. You will be out in the rain and the cold, putting in the miles. Your eating will be highly disciplined as you balance calorie intake to your exercise regime. Your rest will be geared round your training programme and part of it. You will let nothing interrupt your schedule.
Are you doing that for Jesus? Is the prize of the high calling we have in Christ your joy your ambition? Lets be clear, I am not talking about your salvation. If you have put your faith and trust in Jesus, you are saved. Nothing further needs to be done to obtain your salvation. That was all done on the cross when Jesus died and rose again from the dead. What we are talking about here, is a grateful heart wanting to enjoy that wonderful relationship with God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
What are you doing for that? Is the joy of sitting down in heaven with God your joy, your desire? Do you want it now?
What if we go for it? Well, we will be losers in the eyes of the world. And if we haven’t got our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will be losers in our own eyes. Your brothers and sisters in Christ in many countries cannot expect proper jobs, secure housing and the like because they are Christians. In Saudi Arabia, you would not be meeting like this. In Many other places if is unlikely we would have a licence to meet. So we would be at the mercy of the local police’s priority. Want to get the conviction rates up? Go to South Ruislip and arrest the Leadership Team, they will be guilty of proselytising. Take the names and addresses of everyone there and put them on file along with DNA and fingerprints. Check out their employers know they are meeting illegally. That is the day –to day experience of the church in many lands. Generally in those lands the church is growing. Why? Because the Christians only stay Christians if they fix their eyes on Jesus.
Everything that follows to the end of this book, in a sense, emanates from this call. So I am going to run through the messages from God in these last chapters and leave you and the Holy Spirit to sort out which applies to you.
· God’s word 4-6 do not lose heart
· God’s care 7–9 God is treating you as sons
· God’s purpose 10–11 a share in his holiness!
Think of their immediate benefit (12:10)
it is for our good
Think of their ultimate outcome (12:11)
a harvest of righteousness and peace
12:12-17 What to do next
1. We must overcome despondency (12:12–13)
2. We must maintain harmony (12:14a)
3. We must pursue holiness (12:14b)
4. We must seek grace (12:15a)
5. We must prevent defilement (12:15b–17)
12:18–29 Sinai and Zion
1. We have come to a spiritual kingdom (12:18–22a)
2. We have come to an eternal kingdom (12:22–24)
3. We have come to an unshakeable kingdom (12:25–29)
a. We must be obedient (12:25)
b. We must be confident (12:26–27)
c. We must be reverent (12:28–29)
Life within the Confessing Community (13:1–25) Personal directives (13:1–6)
Keep on loving 1-3
Do not forget to entertain strangers 2
Remember those in prison 3
Keep pure 4-5
Marriage should be honoured 4
Sex is to be pure 4b
Be content 5-6
Keep free from love of money 5
Be content with what you have. 5b-6
Communal Directives (13:7–19)
Do not be carried away by strange teachings 9-12
Let us go to him outside the camp 13-15
Do not forget to do good 16
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority 17
Pray for your leaders. 18-19
Closing Doxology (13:20–21)
I want to spend a few minutes on verses 12-13. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13"Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
On the face of it, this is a policy for physiotherapy and disabled access but that misses the point. Despondency and depression express themselves in our bodies by us feeling feeble. You don’t have the motivation to do anything and getting up in the morning is too much. So the call of God this morning is to ‘Get up and go!’ You see the danger with a book like Hebrews is to become hooked on the complexities of the ritual and how it relates to Jesus but that is not the purpose of the book.
We have explored this salvation and found it excels in every way.
But all the warning in the book are about getting up and goin on with Jesus. Not necessarily to more activity but to greater faith. So if you are work-weary this is not a call for more action but to get enthralled with Jesus and with his service so that what you do, you do in the power of the Holy Spirit. Not running on empty but running over with the life giving anointing from God, not going through the motions, maintaining the witness and other expressions of despondency.
God has called you to a fantastic task, to be past of his plan for the salvation of the world; to be one of his sons and daughters.
Do not drift away, fix your thoughts on Jesus, make every effort to enter into God’s rest, go on to maturity we have a great salvation and a great Saviour, apostle, prophet, High priest and King, who has made a once and for all more than sufficient sacrifice for your sin, so lets get excited about Jesus, fix your eyes on him, you will not be disappointed.
So ‘make level paths for your feet’ walk the royal way with Jesus. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Life is tough but we have a Saviour and Healer and friend. The physical body are subject to decay but our spirits are being renewed day by day.
So stand tall step out in faith, God has no maliciousness, no trip-ups but will be your guide and present friend. He is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.Return to top