Los Alamos Church of Christ

Let the Word Dwell

#31 Hebrews 10:25

Encouraging One Another

 

This morning we are back in to our memory challenge.  I am thinking about reducing the challenge from 50 to 40.  My brain is ¾ full so holding 50 is going to be hard.  But 40 memory verses would still be amazing.  40 is a good biblical number.  40 years in the wilderness is kind of like memorizing 40 verses.  I will let you know what I decide.  If any of you would be heartbroken by not memorizing all 50, let me know.

 

Anyway, we are on number #31.  Let’s work our way toward our verse.

 

We are in the sermon we call Hebrews.  So far, in Hebrews, we have memorized 2 verses…

 

#29 Hebrews 1:2a but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,

 

God communicates with his people.  From Adam and Eve in the cool of the Garden, down through the ages, God communicates.  We learn to hear his voice amongst all the noise.  We learn to connect.  We love the Lord our God!

 

#30 Hebrews 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

 

We have been delivered from the fear of death.  We know the Lord will transform this lowly body to be like his glorious body.  We know our destiny on the renewed earth.  Therefore, we have no fear of death.  The slavery with which our enemy Satan holds the world captive, does not imprison us.  The Lord releases us to live in freedom.  We don’t have to prove anything.  We don’t have to outdo death with neurotic obsessions. We simply love the Lord and each other.  We live free, simple lives!    

 

All this gets us closer to Memory Verse #31. 

 

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Let’s pick up the flow leading up to verse #31 in Hebrews 10.

 

ESV Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 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. 

 

The blood of Jesus creates a thin place for us to enter.  The curtain separating us from the presence of God is opened.  The curtain is drawn back.  We enter the presence of God.  We are made pure enough to enter the presence of God.  Our bodies are washed in the pure water of baptism so that we are ushered into the presence of God by our great high priest! This is a wonderful paragraph… we can enter the holy places of God.  This becomes a holy place of God.  The curtain is opened before us.  We step in… with confidence.  “You’re kidding.”  That is what it says. We enter the thin, holy places with confidence because of what the blood of Jesus has accomplished for us!

 

Therefore… keep reading. 

 

 

ESV Hebrews 10:23-24 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

 

When each of us was baptized we made a confession… “I believe is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God!”  Let us then be faithful to that confession!  Let’s not waver!   Our God is faithful; so must we!  Because of our confession… let’s figure out how to stir each other to live the confession… to do love… to do good things.  Our free, simple life in Christ is to love and do good things. 

 

We are getting close to #31.

--Because we can enter the holy place… that thin place close to God;

--Because we have been washed… in the purifying waters of baptism;

--Because we have made the confession… I believe;

--Because we need to stir each other up… to love more.

 

#31 Hebrews 10:25 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.

 

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The word church is from ekklesia… the out-called; those who come together out from the world.  It is in our meeting together that we enter the thin place, where the washed make their confession to stir each other in love.  Our time together is… important… crucial… precious… vital… life-giving… worship entering… love encouraging. 

 

This was one of the favorite verses for preachers when I was growing up.  It was one of the reasons why my family went to church “every time the doors were opened”.  Going to church is part of my heritage.  I don’t remember not going to church.  Lots of my memories of growing up are of church.  Hebrews 10:25 made my list of 50/40 verses to memorize because it shaped who I am. 

 

So let’s memorize it…

 

#31 Hebrews 10:25 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.

 

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The question I want you to ponder with me this morning is why.  Why do you go to church?  Each of you chose to be here this morning.  You could have stayed home, gone to town, went on a hike, watched sports on TV, drank your coffee in your underwear while doing a crossword puzzle… or any other number of things.  But you chose to be here… why?  Ponder…

 

Out of curiosity, I went to the internet and googled benefits of going to church. Here are some of the answers I discovered…  I arranged them into these categories.

 

5 Weak Reasons to go to church

 

 

1) Provides much-needed balance

We live in a world of open access to more than we ever wanted to know.  We are bombarded by worldly values constantly.  We are hounded by the hurried. We need a place where we get a perspective of sanity.  Good reason? 

 

 

2) #31 commands it

This is true.  The verse sounds like a command… don’t neglect meeting together. I think legalism works for some people. But it leads to a view of church as something that must be endured as penance.  Coming to church as a punishment for your sins kind of misses the point. 

 

3) Reduces stress

Studies have shown that people who go to church are 36% less stressed.  Sure.

 

4) Social Events

It is a great place to meet girls.  Single guys have a great reason to go to church.  “I hope you-know-who is there this morning.  Maybe, we can go to lunch after church.”  

 

5) Teaches good manners

At a recent funeral I attended it was easy to note the kids who did not go to church. It is good for kids to learn to sit still and be quiet.  We learn to manners at church.  …Pretty weak.

 

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5 Adequate Reasons to go to church

 

 

1) Opportunities to make a difference

It is hard to make a difference by yourself.  But the synergy of working together can have an impact.  The connections at church can be a place where you can join together to make a difference in the world. 

 

2) It is good for children

It is interesting that when couples have their first kid, they often decide to start going to church.  It is important to teach our children about God.  Kids who grow up going to church have 73% change of being healthy and successful.  I just made that up.  But it is a reason. 

 

3) Friendships

My best friends come from church.  But it still seems to be missing the point.

 

4) Acceptance

It is nice to go someplace where people are required to accept you.  It is hard to get kicked out of our church for being obnoxious.  You can be part of the body… regardless. 

 

5) Meet others needs / Get your own needs met

We all have a variety of social needs.  From help moving furniture, to sharing recipes, borrowing tools, to having people listen to your problems.  We do that for each other.  It is good to go to church. 

 

Are you still pondering?  Are some of these reasons yours?

 

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5 Better reasons to go to church

 

 

1) Spiritual strength

Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds; #1.  We learn to have that core of strength to connect to suffering… at church.  Getting better. 

 

2) Protection from evil

Within in the body of Christ is protection from the evil one.  You probably did not come with this in mind this morning.  Protection from the evil is found in the body of Christ.  Staying together is important.

 

3) Learn theology

How we view God and how he interacts with us makes all the difference in our lives.  Memorizing our 50/40 verses is going to form a core of theology from which all your life flows.  Our Bible classes, our interaction with Scripture changes everything.  Without your roots in solid theology, you could easily be blown away in the slightest breeze.  We are a place to learn theology. 

 

4) Strengthens faith

Doubts are like termites.  They eat their way into our souls.  Doubts weaken the foundation of our spiritual houses.  Going to church is like Terminex.  It reinforces the foundations.  It keeps you solid in your faith. 

 

5) Commitment

Unlike penance, there is value in honoring commitments.  If you dishonor your commitments it has consequences across your life.  Your word has less value.  Your moral strength is weakened.  Going to church is not like going to the movies.  “Well, I don’t think I will go today, I don’t think I like what Tim is preaching, or what Jimmy is singing, or all those boring people.”  You come to give not to take.  What am I going to get out of church is the wrong question… with whom am I supposed to connect… is the right question.

 

Which leads us back to the 2 Best reasons why you should be here…

 

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ESV Hebrews 10:19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain,(1) that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 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.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And (2) let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.

 

2 Best Reasons

1) The thin place of worship

We are able to enter the holy places where we connect our hearts to the heart of God!  What better reason could there be? Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?  The Spirit gathers us here today to be a place of connection to God!  Come on… how could we not love to be in such a place?

 

2) To encourage each other to good works

We are to encourage each other.  The Day is drawing closer.  One day this life will end; either in our death or in the return of Jesus.  We have His good work to do, before that Day.  We have His love to share, before that Day.  We have His kingdom to advance, before that Day. We need to encourage each other, before that Day.  I need you here.  You need me here.  We need each other to keep on keeping on with love and good works.

 

We come to connect to God and to each other.  These are the best reasons!

 

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I have been thinking for a while, how to we do our time together to meet these two best reasons?  How do we worship in such a way that each of us reaches across the curtain to connect our heart to the heart of God? 

--To just go through the motions;

--To simply be here paying our penance;

--To not be interacting with each other;

…Is sad.

 

Individually, we wired a bit differently.  Some of us would want…

--a more enthusiastic connection;

--others a more contemplative quiet time of growing deeper;

--some love listening others singing

--some more education

--others more tree slapping

--some more pot-lucks

--Some connect with the old deeply theological songs

--others the same words over and over and over

 

We each are wired a bit differently.  Yet, we believe in the priesthood of all believers.  I am not Pastor Tim. He is not Elder Bill.  Fred is not Brother Thronas.  She is not woman.  We are all made holy by our High Priest who brings us all past the curtain.  How do we all connect and help with the connecting?

 

How do we be that place where we connect to God while encouraging each other? 

 

 

Ponder this as well while you memorize…

 

#31 Hebrews 10:25 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.

 

Tim Stidham

August 23, 2015

Los Alamos Church of Christ