Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Hebrews 13

April 29th, 2012 by Vic

April 29, 2012

16 Ways to give thanks and honor God

Hebrews 13

 

For the last 12 weeks we have been focusing on the majesty of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The end of chapter 12 says, “Therefore” (12:28) let us be thankful and honor God.  On the basis of who God is and what He has done through Christ Jesus, the writer commands us 16 ways we can give thanks and honor God.

 

A thankful heart is the foundation for acceptable worship.  A thankful heart is the foundation for pleasing God.  Thanksgiving is an essential condition for reverence and awe.  Without a thankful heart there is no reverence and awe.  Chapter 13 commands us to continue to do what we know we should be doing.

God has spoken (1:1) and is speaking.  This whole book of Hebrews is a summary of God’s plan that was fulfilled in Jesus.  Are you reading the instructions God is speaking to you?  Instructions on products can be very important.  They identify the product.

 

I’ve told some of you about my gopher traps.  In the spring of 2000 I trapped over 50 gophers.  Through the years I have tried many methods.  I have a home-made shotgun trap.  It has a hair trigger.  I used it until it went off once in my hands.  Now it hangs in my shop as a reminder to be careful.  I’ve tried the long spikes, the smoke bombs, and the scissors.  One summer Kevin brought me some rodent dynamite sticks.  They are used by farmers in Idaho to put in rodent holes, fox holes, prairie dog holes, etc.  I don’t know if they killed the gophers or gave them such an earache that they moved over to the neighbors, but I just used a couple and they worked well.

 

Unfortunately I had 1 left.  I put it in my bucket with the smoke bombs.  It was the same size as the smoke bombs but it had a distinctive label.  But over the winter the bugs chewed on the labels and they all looked the same.  I forgot what I had in the bucket.

 

The next spring when the gophers started working again I took my little tractor and went out with my shovel and traps and found a situation that a smoke bomb would work well in.  I dug down to open up the runway and set this bomb in the hole.  I lit it, picked up my little board to cover the hole and waited for it to start smoking.  Sometimes you get a dud at BiMart and they don’t smoke.  I can take those back and they exchange it.  My dog was with me.  She had her nose in the hole.  I told her to get out of there just before it blew up.

 

It was not a smoke bomb.  It was a rodent stick that made a crater about the size of half a soccer ball.  I realized I was still alive, but I was spitting dirt.  I was covered with dirt and it was still falling.  My tractor was covered with dirt and my ears were ringing.  I couldn’t find my dog.  I called and then spotted him about 150 yards away back up at the house.  When I got back to the house I called my dog and he still did not come.  He could not hear for several days.  I had a ringing in my ears for over a year.

 

God has spoken and is speaking.  He has told you how to get rid of sin.  The instructions are for your good.  Don’t get careless and throw His word in the bucket with all your other books?

 

Think about God’s command to honor Him and give thanks.  What is the attitude you most appreciate in your kids?

 

You can’t buy honor, thanksgiving, friendship, or respect.  It comes with a growing relationship.  As I learn to respect my kids for who they are and they respect me for who I am we are thankful for each other.  How’s your relationship with God?  The very nature of God requires us to be thankful and worship.

 

Chapter 13 is the conclusion to the preacher’s sermon.  The preacher is reminding the church what they already know.  He is telling them to imitate the faithfulness of past leaders (13:7).  Each of these 16 commands is related to a principle already discussed.  I mentioned to a friend that I had a 16 point sermon.  He suggested that next week my sermon should be pointless.

 

13:1    Continue to love the brethren

2        Do not neglect hospitality

3    Continue to remember the imprisoned and mistreated

4    Respect marriage

5    Don’t be greedy                    Be content

7    Continue to remember         Imitate

9    Don’t be carried away

13   Let us go out

15               Let us continually offer

16               Don’t neglect

17               Continue to obey Submit Yourselves

18               Continue to pray

 

13:1  Brotherly love (philadelphia) must be continued.  To be Christian is to love God and your neighbor.

 

13:2  Hospitality (philoxenia) is literally the love of receiving a guest.  Hospitality is primarily an attitude, not an action.  It is a desire to celebrate with others the abundance of God in Christ Jesus.  Shared life was an integral part of the early Christian message.  Christians are united by their confession in Christ and they are united in love as God’s children.  Many Christians suffered the loss of all their jobs and property.  The public Inns were not family friendly.  Matthew 25:35 says, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”  Rom 12:13; 1Peter 4:9; Titus 1:8.

 

13:3  Let your hospitality extend to the Christian prisoners and the mistreated.  Prisons did not have laundries or cafeterias.  When we remember the mistreated with compassion, then we can offer God the sacrifice of praise and generosity with which He is pleased.

 

13:4  Respect marriage.  Sexuality is a gift of God not a toy.  Marriage is a God-planned relationship.  God will judge those who have sex outside of marriage and those who are unfaithful to their marriage vows.  Purity is required for the true worship of God.  Those who ignore God’s plan and place personal gratification above responsibility to God and to the community will come face to face with God as judge.

 

“The marriage bed must be undefiled” is a euphemism for being sexually pure.  Illicit sex profanes what God has made holy.  He is not pleased.

 

13:5  Sexual purity is related to greed.  Most fights have a root in greed, which is rooted in selfishness.  These 2 commands support one another.  Greed is a desire for more.  Discontentment is the curse or punishment for greed.  The phrase “free from the love of money” is a word only used here in the NT.  In the Roman world wealth was a protection from persecution.  It seems common in our culture too.  But our real security is in God.  We can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper” (6).  In God I trust.  What can man do to me?

 

Godliness with contentment is great gain.  The love of money and trust in God are mutually exclusive.  Greed is a form of idolatry.  It is a trust in money and not God.  We can be content because of God’s promise (13:5c).  God is near and God cares.

 

13:7-8  Remember your leader’s example and way of life.  Don’t break the chain of holy tradition.  Imitate the faithful leaders of the past.  In Hebrews, discipleship is the imitating of past exemplars of faithfulness rather than “following Jesus”.  Our leaders change, but the message of Christ is the same forever.

 

13:9  Don’t get deceived by the new, novel, or strange teachings.  You don’t need special foods, secret rituals, or an empty mind to know the presence of God better.  As every meal is a celebration of God’s grace and faithfulness and nourishes the body so every praise and thanksgiving of God’s grace nourishes our relationship with God.  Consider every day as a holiday and every meal as a feast.  You can’t strengthen your heart by changing your food diet.  You do it by being thankful for your food.  You can’t strengthen your heart with inspirational seminars.  You strengthen your heart by praising the God who inspires.  Following the law does not strengthen the heart.  You strengthen the heart by honoring the God who gave the Law.

 

We have an altar (10), the cross of Christ.  By faith we participate in Christ’s sacrifice.  We die to self so that Christ can live in us.  Through His sacrifice we have access to God’s presence and worship Him.

 

In 13:12 the Bible says Jesus was crucified outside the camp.  This was not done in the Temple.  It did not satisfy the expectations of man, but it fulfilled the plan of God.

 

We gain our access to God outside of man’s ritual.  We have access to God outside the walls of our church building.  We do not have to be a high priest to get into God’s presence.  We can now offer a sacrifice of praise, a living sacrifice, an offering of our lives and deeds of kindness beyond any physical limitations.  We can worship God and please Him outside the camp.

 

Access to God was made available outside the camp, outside the sacrificial system, outside the rules of men, outside the wise man’s expectations.  In Christ all the barriers to God have been removed.

 

13:13  Let us go to Him outside the camp.  Leave behind the security and sacred enclosures.  Leave the familiar and the easy.  Be willing to suffer persecution.  We are to be like expectant pilgrims not settlers.  For the Jews to leave the Temple meant he lost citizenship.

 

13:14  There is no permanent security in this place.  God is calling us to seek the city He has prepared for us.  Disciples are called by Jesus to, “Come.  Take up your cross.  Follow Me.”

 

13:15  True worship consists in the praise of God (15) and a shared life of love (16).  Continually offer up a sacrifice of praise.  God desires the praise of His name, the honor of His name.

 

13:16  The second component of a well pleasing sacrifice consists in deeds of love.  There is to be a shared life in the community of faith. Without generosity we cannot properly worship God or please God.

 

13:17  Our leaders are giving their lives for the community.  Obey your leaders.  This is not the normal word for ‘obey’ but is a word that carries the idea of obedience that is won through a consistent character or persuasive conversation.  Follow me as I follow Christ.

 

13:17  Submit to your leaders.  This also is a unique word that only occurs here in the NT.  It is more a persuasive obedience than a mandatory obedience.  It recognizes authority while maintaining personal independence.  Your leaders will give account to God.

 

13:18  Continue to pray for those not worshipping with you.

 

This is serious.  God has spoken.  Read the label.  It is a matter of life and death/heaven and hell.

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