Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shepastor: “Let us… Marching Orders”

Hebrews 10: 22-24

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

In this passage of scripture, the writer encourages us with three, “let us” phrases:

(1) Let us draw near to God… Even as preachers of the Gospel, we can be drawn away from the true source of our strength, joy, peace, and fulfillment in life. Hectic schedules filled with family obligations, counseling sessions, preaching engagements, board and community meetings, individual projects and a myriad of other things can drain us of vitality. When we are tired, our guard is down. Over burdened hearts and minds leave little room for the refreshing Word that comes only from spending time with the Lord. So often we stand and deliver words of faith, hope and encouragement when our own reservoir is depleted. Frustration, doubt, fear and even guilt can begin to loom over us like a dark cloud. Marching orders? Draw near to God! Move forward, not backward. Move towards the Lord – seek His face, study His Word, not just for sermon preparation, but to discern His leading in every situation and circumstance in your life. “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8

(2) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess… Are you easily discouraged? You are “swerving.” Do you allow doubt to cloud your vision, dowse your enthusiasm, strangle your joy? If so, you are swerving. Like a car careening down the road out of control, if we don’t nurture and build our relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ, with continual prayer, personal study, fellowship with other women and men of God and healthy activities, our faith will begin to falter and our grip on “the hope we profess” can become loose. Our positions as preachers, teachers and leaders can set us up for swerving. We are so busy pouring out into the lives of others, if not careful, we can end up on empty, swerving off of the path of faith.

“The Ministry” has had many casualties - women and men who started out with energy, vision, promise and purpose but somehow swerved and fell backwards. Seasons of drought – plowing, planting, praying and seeing few results, or “super success” – times of bountiful blessings and abundance with the temptations of pride and self indulgence, somehow loosened the grip of their hold to God’s unchanging hands and they fell backwards. Marching orders? Hold fast to the profession of your faith, remembering that the God “who promised” is faithful. God is faithful – He will not forget your labor of love. God is faithful – all His promises are true – God is faithful. Earthly abundance cannot compare to the blessings He has for those who endure until the end!

Don’t you want to stand with the great cloud of witnesses and proclaim, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…”? As Bishop Millicent Hunter declares, “Don’t die in the winter!” As the late Rev. Dr. Bill Jones declared, “Don’t die in shallow water.” You’ve come this far, don’t give up now!

(3) Let us consider how we may spur one another on… We need each other. We need support, encouragement, challenge and at times confrontation to help us to be all that we are called to be. The dynamics of “community” healthy, God led community can “spur us on” to “love and good deeds.” Isolation contributes to unhealthy patterns of thinking. We become inward focused, susceptible to depression, resentment and unforgiveness. Too much time alone can cause you to dwell too deeply upon the past, hurts, mistakes, regrets etc. In loving community, we have the opportunity to process our feelings, share our thoughts, receive feedback and guidance that may help us make better choices and decisions. In community we can help each other to move forward, keep the faith, persevere, remain hopeful, let go of the past and forgive. Marching orders? Encourage one another to love and do what is right in God’s eyes.

“Onward Christian soldier, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before…”

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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