I LOVE COMING TO CHUCH!!! LOVE THE COMMUNITY, LOVE THE FELLOWSHIP, TREASURE MY FRIENDSHIPS. TOO MANY DON’T COME TO CHURCH BECAUSE THEY DO NOT SEE THE CHANGE . . .
A family from a remote area was making their first visit to a big city. They checked in to a grand hotel and stood in amazement at the impressive sight. Leaving the reception desk they came to the elevator entrance. They’d never seen an elevator before, and just stared at it, unable to figure out what it was for.
An old lady hobbled towards the elevator and went inside. The door closed. About a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly good-looking young woman.
Dad couldn’t stop staring. Without turning his head he patted his son’s arm and said, “Go get your mother, son.”
Citation: Owen Bourgaize, Castel, Guernsey, United Kingdom
TWO WORDS—LET US . . .
It does not say—LET ME or LET YOU . . .
But it says—LET US . . .
Without church—it is impossible to live the Christian life.
I. TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S GRACE THROUGH HIS FAMILY—v22
• V19—EXPLAIN THE VEIL IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES
• C21—explain high priest
• V22—A sincere heart—undivided allegiance in the inner being.
• Full assurance of faith—faith that knows no hesitation in trusting and following Christ.
• Hearts sprinkled . . . from a guilty conscience—total freedom from a sense of guilt, a freedom based on the once-in-for-all sacrifice of Christ.
• Bodies washed with pure water—allude to Christian baptism and the cleansing from sin through the sacrificial death of Christ that it signifies.
• It is only within the body of Christ can we know how the Christian can celebrate the very presence of Christ and live out his or her faith in a genuine way.
• It is only within the body of Christ can we learn of God’s grace and see models of how it is to be lived out.
1 John 1:9—If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
• The community of believers called the church allows the believer to actualize and come to understand what being released from the concept of sin really means.
Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality, not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws, but because we let go of seeking perfection and instead seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.
Citation: Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality (Zondervan, 2002), p. 1
PHILIP YANCEY—CHURCH WHY BOTHER?? GREATEST IMAGE OF THE CHURCH—-ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. FRIEND OF BILL W.
• The believer is then able to go into the world and display the character of Christ in forgiving his or her neighbor.
• Classical Christianity stresses not only that God in Christ pardons are sins but that God provides a COMMUNITY OF FORGIVENESS whereby we are enabled to actualize our freedom from bondage of sin.
• The bare word of unconditional pardon would be immoral without a community concerned with the ever-deepening growth of the forgiven person.
II. TO BE TRANSFORMED BY TRUTH—v23
HOW DO WE HOLD STEADFAST TO OUR FAITH?
FOR ME AS A BELIEVER—IT HAS BEEN A BRUTAL WEEK. FEEL OUR COUNTRY IS GOING DOWN A SLIPPERY SLOPE. HAVE BEEN VERY DEPRESSED ABOUT USA. WISH I COULD CHANGE THINGS . . .
• THIS APPEAL IS FOR A STANCE OF UNWAVERING FIDELITY TO THE END TMES HOPE THAT CHRISTIANS POSSESS THROUGH CHRIST.
• TO HOLD FAST THE HOPE WE PROCESS—is to maintain a firm confidence in the objective gift of salvation God has extended to the community on the basis of Christ’s priesthood and sacrifice.
• THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO HOLD FAST is reinforced by the term—without wavering.
• LET US HOLD FAST . . .—calling for the community to remain STABLE and to AFFIRM its privilege status as the people for the community to remain stable and to affirm its privileged status as the people who have been granted access to God through Christ.
LAURA CASSELS—DIVORCES ALL AROUND—TURNED TO MY PARENTS—I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO DIVORCE. I NEED YOU!!!
• The Christian acts in certain ways because of the Christian’s constant encounter with a God who sees things differently than we do.
• We are NOT good enough to go it alone. PAUL CHIEF OF SINNERS—THAT WHICH I DON’T WANT TO DO I DO—
A. TRUTH HELD UP HABITUALLY BEFORE US—EITHER TO REJECT IT OR ACCEPT IT.
• At church the truth is constantly and habitually held before us until we either see or reject the truth.”
WE HOLD UP THE WORD—ALLOW IT TO PENETRATE OUR SOULS WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT.
2 Timothy 4:2–Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
Hebrews 4:12— 12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
TOO OFTEN IT RUNS COUNTER TO WHAT I WANT TO DO.
• HOLD UP THE LEVEL
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.
=Citation: Martin Luther, “Martin Luther–The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34.
Chuck Yeager, the famed test pilot, was flying an F-86 Sabre over a lake in the Sierras when he decided to buzz a friend’s house near the edge of the lake. During a slow roll, he suddenly felt his aileron lock. Says Yeager, “It was a hairy moment, flying about 150 feet off the ground and upside down.”
A lesser pilot might have panicked with fatal results, but Yeager let off on the G’s, pushed up the nose, and sure enough, the aileron unlocked. Climbing to 15,000 feet, where it was safer, Yeager tried the maneuver again. Every time that he rolled, the problem reoccurred.
Yeager knew three or four pilots had died under similar circumstances, but to date, investigators were puzzled as to the source of the Sabre’s fatal flaw. Yeager went to his superior with a report, and the inspectors went to work. They found that a bolt on the aileron cylinder was installed upside down.
Eventually, the culprit was found in a North American plant. He was an older man on the assembly line who ignored instructions about how to insert that bolt, because, by golly, he knew that bolts were supposed to be placed head up, not head down. In a sad commentary, Yeager says that nobody ever told the man how many pilots he had killed.”
Matt Friedeman, The Accountability Connection (Victor Books, 1992), story from Chuck Yeager, Yeager, (Bantam, 1985)
• The church is the central place of a Christian’s moral formation, for only the church keeps this vision before us in this affective, habitual, social way.
B. THE CRUCIBLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
• When religion is reduced to the momentary psychological high, the sporadic encounter, the two-Sundays-a-year drop in, we are thereby protected from having this faith get under our skin, become second nature, a part of us. It will be only the brief happening, not the lifelong habit.
• Christianity is not a momentary, instantaneous affair.
• It takes times, cultivation, work, perfection, reformation.
• The essential locus for making of Christians is the crucible of the church.
• One of the central functions of the church is to call Christians to change, to be converted, and then continue to grow.
• We are creatures of habit, who do not self-sustain goodness, hope, and vision.
HABITS—neglecting their HABITS—v25
• But be well assured that we will conform to some worldview or we will die.
• “They have been neglecting their habits”—Many today do not feel the presence of God, are not motivated toward any responsibility for their neighbor, sense no claim upon their lives, because they have been neglecting their “habits.”
• Ritual is a dirty word in our society. We value freedom, spontaneity, casualness.
• Most of us find though that commitment requires a certain amount of sameness, repetition, and continuity; it takes time to grow, to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others.
BASEBALL GLOVE—Don’t think—REACT—DON’T HAVE TIME TO THINK
In our world as wickedness is everywhere—don’t have time to THINK.
At church—we develop our MORAL HABITS to where we REACT—and don’t have to THINK.
HOW DO WE HOLD FAST WITH COMPLETE FIDELITY? By repetition, by habits, and by continually holding the WORD OF GOD before us.
III. TO BE PROVOKED TO LOVE—v24
• RED HEADS—IRISH are known for their quick temper—quickly being provoked to anger.
• This word—provoke—used primarily, and almost exclusively when speaking of anger. Paul & Barnabas—provoked to anger.
ACTS 15:39— 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,
• Here love is provoked in the sense of being stimulated in the lives of Christians by the considerateness and example of other members of their fellowship.
“Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” Francis A. Schaeffer
• WHY–there is a motivation behind our love & encouragement. The Day of His return is drawing near. You either look at things earthly or heavenly. When you encourage people there is a savior. People NEED encouragement. Overs come alive.
• See Hebrews 3:13–encourage one another daily. It is a present tense ACTIVE VOICE verb!! Daily encourage should come out of us daily. It is an active voice verb. What if they do not deserve it? Not in there. Encourage one another. Your encouragement has to be sincere. Encouragement that is rooted in expectation will always lead to exasperation.
• Come to church to be PROVOKED TO LOVE others like Christ did. Not something you do alone. By conviction of God, example of others, charge by teachers.
YOU MAY NOT WANT TO DO THE WILL OF GOD
YOU MAY SAY—I CANNOT DO IT
LOOK AT MY LIFE—I AM A FALLEN, WOUNDED INDIVIDUAL
LOOK AT MY PAST SOME MAY SAY
BUT THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND THE POWER OF GOD ARE HERE BESIDE YOU—HOLDING YOU UP—CHARGING YOU TO GO AHEAD—DEMANDING NOTHING LESS THAN COMPLETE OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD.
From 1985 to 1987, Rick Hanson, a paraplegic athlete, circled the globe on his wheelchair to raise awareness of and money for spinal cord research.
It was a grueling trip. There are photos of him in all kinds of weather: burning heat, slashing rain, swirling blizzard, howling wind; and in all terrain: desert wastelands, dense forests, patchwork farmlands, craggy mountains.
He strains his head back, his neck fluted with stretched cords, his arms taut with aching muscles, his body a skein of bulging veins and his fists like stones, as he climbs the near impossible steepness of China’s Great Wall. He thrusts his head forward, flint like, his jaw set firm, as he wheels through rain-blackened street of some nondescript city, its inhabitants indifferent to his plight and his cause.
Mile upon mile upon tiresome mile. Hands thick with calluses. Thighs bruised, back blistered. Weariness in him like a rumor of death.
But on May 23, 1987, Rick Hanson came home.
When he was still far away, many miles from Vancouver, people gathered to welcome him. As he got nearer, the crowd thickened along both sides of the highway: hundreds of people, then thousands, then thousands on thousands. They roared, clapped, cheered, and wept. They threw flowers. Rick moved with power and grace, effortless. He climbed Thermal Drive in Coquitlam, one snaking precipitous section steeper than the steepest part of the Great Wall of China, and did it with jaunty ease.
And then he headed toward B.C. Place. A capacity crowd of sixty thousand people—national and international dignitaries, rock stars and movie stars, television crews, family, friends, those lucky enough to get tickets—waited inside, delirious with anticipation. As Rick got nearer the stadium, the streets grew impossibly dense with people. Helicopters hovered overhead. Police in cars and on motorcycles flanked his sides. Other wheelchair athletes joined him, coming up behind like a legion of charioteers, flashes from their spinning spokes spilling down the roadway like fistfuls of tossed coins.
As Rick came over the Cambie Street Bridge, he could hear, even above the din of the crowd around him, the roar of voices coming from inside the stadium. A hurricane brewing. A landslide loosening. But not even that prepared him for what happened next.
Rick Hanson entered B.C Place. He swooped through the wide lower gates and glided out onto the stadium floor—and sixty thousand people went berserk. Leaping, dancing, blowing horns, whirling clackers, the air shrill with wolf whistles, exploding with applause, swelling with throaty shouts of welcome and triumph. Wild, raucous, hypnotic. Metal girders hummed like struck turning forks from all the noise burned into them. A roar to deafen, to open the ears of the deaf, to raise the dead. And every time it seemed about to taper off, a fresh wind caught it and carried it higher, louder, brighter, fuller. Such a great cloud of witnesses.
Citation: Mark Buchanan, Things Unseen (Multnomah 2002), pp.148-149; submitted by Marshall Shelley