May All Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful -Hebrews 13
This week we celebrate the life of my uncle Leland Pearson. Lee lived 94 years and one thing I know for sure is that he was a faithful Christian. In fact, even though he lived in Minnesota, he faithfully supported our small church in Luck, WI every month. Hebrews 11 records a list of Old Testament people of faith. If I could add more names to the list, one would certainly be my Uncle Lee.
The writer of Hebrews spent 12 chapters building his case that turning back would be foolish. The basic argument has been that Jesus is better than anything in the Old Testament system (Angels, the law, the sacrifices, the festivals, etc.). He calls his readers to endure. The eleventh chapter gives the Old Testament heroes. In chapter 12, the author points to Jesus as the ultimate example and continues to bring his message to a conclusion. In chapter 13, we discover some wonderful principles for finishing well. (The text is at the bottom of the page).
A scene from Rocky V comes to mind. The plot of Rocky V brings Rocky to a street fight with the newly crowned champion and former protégé of Rocky's, Tommy Gunn. Gunn knocks Rocky down and (finally, here is the good part) Rocky begins to have flashbacks of his old trainer, Mickey. Among the many things he hears in these flashbacks, Rocky hears Mickey say to him when he wanted to stop, “I didn’t hear no bell.” In other words, fight until you hear the bell.
Think spiritually today. How do you finish? How do you endure? We see.... Five Principles for Finishing Strong in Hebrews 13:
1. Live an Exemplary Personal Life
There are five areas that the author mentioned in verses 1-5.
Love all people all the time. Show Hospitality—We might call it love in action. Display Empathy to those who are sufferings. Live in Purity in your Marriage relationship. Practice Integrity in Money Management—We might say “Manage your money; don’t let money manage you.”
2. Be Established in the Precepts of the Faith
We do this by remembering the lessons of our spiritual mentors, but mostly by remembering the life and words of Jesus. He never changes. If He is unchanging, then His ways are unchanging. We cannot afford to be led away by a slick personality or by words that sound good but are false.
3. Have your Eyes on the Prize of Eternal Life
We see this in verse 14. We keep looking heavenward.
The story is told of a retiring missionary couple returning from decades of service. On their ship home was President Teddy Roosevelt returning from a big game hunting trip. Everyone wanted to talk to the President. The missionary couple, known by no one, returned home heartbroken and in obscurity. When the ship docked, a huge welcoming party was there to greet the President. No one was there to greet the missionary couple. Now, in their small apartment, the husband could not get this off of his mind. He felt slighted not so much by people, but by God Himself. Here this couple had given their lives for Him, but for what reward? This went on for a few days. Finally, the man went to his bedroom and talked to God about the matter. Soon, he got up and everything was different about his countenance. His wife inquired, “What made the difference?” Her husband said, “It was as though the Lord said to me, ‘You’re not home yet!’”
4. Be Engaged in Praise in word and deed
We see this in verse 15 and 16. Praise is sometimes in word and other times in deed. What is true worship? Romans 12:1-2 comes to mind.
“Therefore, I urge you brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
The Hebrews had knowledge and experience with the Old Testament sacrificial system, presenting dead lambs on altars. The author, here, is talking about self-sacrifice, which is meant to be a better and more God-pleasing system of sacrifice.
5. Be Equipped with Power not of yourself
Verses 20 and 21 bring this letter to a close. There is a reminder that ultimately Jesus is working in us, empowering us, equipping us to do His will.
Remember the words from Mickey to Rocky. “I didn’t hear no bell.” We might even change those words to “We haven’t heard the trumpet yet!”
My Uncle Lee was a servant leader, he lived an exemplary personal life, he was established in the precepts of the faith, he had his eyes on the prize of eternal life, he was engaged in praising God in word and deed, he was equipped with power from above, and he finished strong. I want to be faithful to God's calling in my life, just like my Uncle Lee, and finish strong. My prayer for you is that you also finish strong and be found faithful by those you know.
Lord, thank you for Godly examples you have brought to our lives. May we never forget the qualities they exemplified. Most of all, may we never lose sight of Jesus, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross for us. My prayer is that all who come behind us find us faithful. In Jesus' name. Amen!
Following in the footsteps of the faithful!
Faith Fellowship Sunday Worship: 10 AM / Message from Matt. 7:13-23 "The Culting of America"
Hebrews 13 -Let brotherly love continue. 2 Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.3 Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.4 Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers. 5 Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.6 Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
7 Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood. 13 Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace. 14 For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. 16 Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. 18 Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything.19 And I especially urge you to pray that I may be restored to you very soon.
20 Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.
22 Brothers, I urge you to receive this message of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 Be aware that our brother Timothy has been released. If he comes soon enough, he will be with me when I see you. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who are from Italy greet you. 25 Grace be with all of you.
More on Finding us Faithful Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you; the Devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the victor's crown of life. -Revelation 2:10
Faithfulness is not a word we hear often these days. Sometimes we hear it at retirement parties: "After twenty-five years of faithful service, we give you this gold watch." Or we use it to describe our dog: "My dog may be old and slow, but he's faithful." The word is employed to describe the most famous geyser in America, Old Faithful, at Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful is not the biggest geyser in America. And it's not the most powerful geyser in America. What makes it famous is its faithfulness! It's like clockwork; it is dependable. People appreciate constancy, even in a geyser.
It's not easy to find someone who can be counted on. One who will be faithful to the end. One who is dependable through thick and thin. The fact is that not everyone who volunteers actually comes through for us. Not everyone who says they will perform a task actually does it. Not everyone who makes a commitment can be counted on.
Faithfulness is not just a religious duty that we employ on Sundays or when we are supposed to be Christian. When we tire of our roles and responsibilities, it helps to remember that God has planted us in a certain place and told us to be a dependable and reliable accountant, teacher, parent or laborer. Christ expects us to be faithful where He puts us.
In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.
"Your Majesty," said Prior Richard, "Do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king."
"I understand," said Henry. "The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you."
"Then I will tell you what to do," said Prior Richard. "Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you."
Not bad counsel. Go forth and do likewise and be faithful.
Find Us Faithful
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful May the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe And the lives we live inspire them to obey. Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone And our children sift thru all we've left behind; May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find.
Although I had heard this song many times before, each Christian who passes from this world gives the lyrics a new and different meaning. Verse three reminds me of Lee when it says, "May the fire of our devotion light their way." Like Lee, we all can be encouragers to those who cross our path. May Lee's enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to God (and His church) inspire all of us to find greater faith and devotion. How do we do that? My Uncle Lee once said, "We are responsible for our attitudes and our attitudes influence our behavior."
We help others to have faith by our steadfast faithfulness to God and His church. In other words, keep on keeping on – be kind to one another. Lee lived out in his daily life the words to this familiar poem:
Do all the good you can, In all the ways you can, For all the people you can While you can. Commit to reading our Bibles and re-committing our love and devotion to God, His church, and one another.
God has not called us to be successful, He has called us to be faithful. May He find us faithful every day in all we do! Grace be with you all!
Forgive anyone who has caused you pain or harm. Keep in mind that forgiving is not for others. It is for you. Forgiving is not forgetting. It is remembering without anger. It frees up your power, heals your body, mind and spirit. Forgiveness opens up a pathway to a new place of peace where you can persist despite what has happened to you. Forgive yourself and create a place of freedom, inner strength and serenity. Affirm to yourself- I am now free. Peace, love, and harmony are within and around me. -Les Brown ...