Holy Friendships – Part 2

Hebrews 13:1-7

True story:

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love! In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience! An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad! It is supposed to make you feel guilty! The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization!” Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Last week: If we love God, worship God as he deserves, are looking to Jesus as the goal, then we will – love others, love spouse.

will love Christian brothers and sisters; will love strangers and cultivate attitude of hospitality; will love those who are suffering and in prison

will honor marriage, love the complement God has given – will demonstrate that honor and commitment in all areas of life: before children, co-workers, neighbors

This week, finish section: love God not stuff, love godly teachers. Be prepared, you will not be “coddled in your selfishness”!

C. love God, not stuff v.5-6

pursue Jesus in your vocation, not stuff (including money)

pursue stuff, you lose; pursue Jesus, trust him for the stuff, you win

world says measure of person determined by: appearance, acquaintances, achievements, accolades, acquisitions

Jesus said: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”Luke 12:15

certainly applies but not limited to material wealth, goods

wealth can be gained and lost…. repeatedly; ask the Donald about that! same true for what wealth can acquire/achieve

what about position – business, government, community; power – to make decisions, to influence: as a goal, just as elusive as wealth

none of those things bad in themselves – wealth, possessions, position, power; even things world says of most importance not necessarily bad

question is: where does all that fit in your life, priorities, pursuits? are they your goals… or God’s gifts to you?

some questions to ask self as you consider what God has entrusted to your stewardship:

how can I best use these resources to bring glory to God? to build up godly character in brothers & sisters? to lead other people to Jesus? to enable Christ’s church to grow in size and strength?

may mean you work diligently, earn lots of money to buy Bibles, support church planter, give to missions; may mean you give away what you already have that goes beyond your need

if Jesus had loved his stuff most of all, would never have left heaven; I know, not possible, but… work with me

imagine Light of the World – lived in the dark for 9 months; Ruler of the World – taking orders from mom and dad; Maker of the worlds – not even place to lay his head

John 4:31-34the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

pursuing what would please the Father more important / rewarding to Jesus than food and sleep

loving Jesus more than things requires making difficult choices – when world or circumstances force choice between loyalty to Jesus, retaining things we might think are important

do what is right, pleasing to God => risk material security?

contentment something that must be cultivated

“always had plenty to eat growing up – ask for seconds, Dad would say “you’ve had plenty, now be quiet”” Coach Lou Holtz, Notre Dame

do you love and trust God, your Heavenly Father that much? that God knows how much is enough for you?

here’s low-down on discontent: expression of pride that says “I know what I really need better than God does, I can provide for my own needs better than God can”

if He’s always with you, He knows precise need

God doesn’t miss details, not unaware of circumstances, ignorant of individual limitations and needs

so if God knows need, has resources to meet need, really comes down to trust… in God’s goodness

why is church-at-large in USA in such pitiful shape? too much stuff, life is too easy, aren’t required to trust God

most evil of men powerless to take away anything of eternal value, anything God your good Father says you need

loss is hard, some losses more so than others; human agents can only take away things that relate to this life, only as God permits

if are pursuing holy friendships, most important one is friendship with God: Abraham “was called the friend of God” Jas. 2:23

will be true of us when greatest treasure is Jesus, when Jesus is one we are pursuing, when Jesus satisfies our desires – after all, Jesus Is the Best

D. love your teachers v.7

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” ESV

how do you best learn to love others? spouse? God, not stuff? to cultivate contentment? to have all desires satisfied by Jesus?

1 more question: Jesus’ last instructon? “Go and make disciples, …teaching …and baptizing them”

most effective teaching involves multiple pathways for concepts/information to flow: hear it, see it, do it

“those who spoke”, you heard it; “their way of life”, you saw it; “imitate their faith”, you do it, cycle repeats

remember them

reminiscing is good, especially when purposeful: reminisce in order to consider and then imitate

call to mind one or ones who introduced you to Jesus, those who have come along since, built on their foundation

maybe was parents, should certainly include spiritual leaders – pastors, Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders

think about, recall to mind what they said, those eternal truths they communicated from God’s word

consider their example

audio / video / books are helpful but only one piece of picture – to get really cemented in there, need living example

is seeing theology lived out in all messiness of life that makes it real, demonstrates God’s purpose in giving it

can’t always remember all the words, do remember other things

American, heard much of Robert MacCheyne, anxious to find some one who could give him personal reminiscences. went to see old man who had known MacCheyne and his preaching. “Can you tell me some of the texts of MacCheyne’s great sermons?” “I don’t remember them,” “Then can you tell me some of his best sayings?” “I’ve forgotten them entirely,” was the reply. “Well, don’t you remember anything about him at all?”

“Ah,” replied the old man, brightening, “that is a different question! One day when I was a laddie playing by the roadside, Robert MacCheyne came along and, laying his hand upon my head, said, ‘Jamie, I’ve been to see your poor sick sister. I’m always glad to see her and help her as I can.’ Then he paused and after looking a bit into my eyes added: ‘And, Jamie, I’m very much concerned about your own soul.’ I’ve forgotten his texts and grand sermons, sir, but I can still feel the tremble of his hand and see the tear in his eye.”

culminates in seeing how their faith guides to right goal – “consider the outcome of their way of life”

many opportunities to see how foolish choices made earlier in life lead to sad ending; believer who has genuine saving faith can have good ending in spite of poor beginning – thank God for power of Gospel!!

consider those who end well, remember what they said / how they lived, then imitate their faith

imitate their faith

genuine faith shows its presence throughout life, especially when getting close to finish line

important note: says “imitate their faith” not “imitate their life” – life is the result, faith is the root: belief governs behavior

good, godly leaders be quick to say: “I blew it, don’t copy that part of my life”; that, too, is evidence of right faith

is those same saints of past who poured Gospel truth into your life who are lining sides of race course to heaven

imitate what they did well as they lived out their faith, imitate their faith in Lord Jesus, with God’s help stay focused on Jesus

it’s all about finishing well

each one of these holy friendships has its place in Christian’s life of faith – your own and that of others

just as you have those who bless you and invest in you and leave example for you, God gives you opportunities to do same for others

Lord Jesus came “to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus showed us how to live dependently on God 24/7; gave us task of proclaiming truth to others – telling and showing them who will set them free and give them sight. Not a message or task limited to Advent season – in fact, no off-season for sharing Gospel with others, living in light of Gospel in sight of others. By God’s grace, in his strength may we do just that – continuing to cultivate holy friendships and point others to Jesus.

 

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