S. . Hebrews 10:23-25 "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some do, but encourage one another especially now that the day of His return is drawing near."
O. Throughout the ages, people would draw near the Christian faith and then fall away. There are a variety of reasons I think of when I think of people falling away. Some are caught up with busyness of simply living - work, careers, family life, relationships, etc. Some are, I suppose, distracted from the Christian faith and some are led away to follow others belief systems. Some allow tragedies to separate them from having a fulfilling relationship with Jesus.
I get it! I can certainly understand. I am not immune to the difficulties and maladies of life and I believe the writer of Hebrews certainly understands this. YET -- he/she (we really don't know who the writer of Hebrews is) offers this encouraging Word, which some have referred to as the "Salad Bowl of Faith" because of all of the "let us" that is found here.
The encouragement here to guard against falling away is:
1) Hold tightly to the hope. Don't drop your guard. Hold tightly without wavering. Guard your heart and mind to continue to affirm the hope that we have in Jesus. I think this can mean that we are careful to what information/communication we allow into our minds. We are careful in what we read, what we watch, what we listen to and of course, careful in the relationships we have. We are to hold tightly to our faith. I don't think it means that we become narrow minded and judgmental; rather we can have an open mind on things, however one person has suggested that we not become so open minded that our brains fall out. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with have some narrowness. Jesus did say that "narrow is the way and wide is the gate to destruction." Matthew 7:13-14
2) Be creative to motivate/cheer people to acts of love & good works. Sometimes people need some encouragement in life. I'm not a counselor but I do encourage. It seems though that we need to put some thought in creating ways for people to receive that encouragement so that it prompts them to do good things.
I am learning that this can be done without always having the "cheer leader" voice ..that is being vocal, loud and demonstrative. I think there are actually subtle ways of offering positive encouragement and motivation to people to move their faith forward and do good things. There are times for the cheer leader voice and then there are times when we engage in simple communication that is positive and encouraging.
Just this past week rather than share my opinion about things or offer my own ideas, I found "positive results" when I shared with a young lady who is studying abroad that I would be praying for her for the next 7 weeks. Yesterday I think I brought encouragement to another young person sitting next to me at Starbucks. She was studying for the BAR exam to be an attorney. She takes the test August 24-25 and then in September she is moving to Dallas. She seemed a little concerned about the move (finding the right place to live, etc.). I let her know I'd be praying for her during this time. I gave her my card but then I also referred her to my Associate Pastor who has lived many years in the Dallas area, as a resource person she could connect with. She was genuinely thankful and I could see the anxiety lift from off of her.
3) Being faithful in attending church services and related events. People over time have life hit them and then they stop attending church. Or.. some allow the inconsistency of someone else's faith hinder their own and they no longer attend. The writer of Hebrews says that attending the church services and other related opportunities, brings encouragement to others. And it does. We are not meant to live on an island by ourselves. We are not meant to do what some call 21st century cocooning. This is where we leave our homes in our cars pulling out of the garage. We work and then upon arrival to our homes at the days end, we open the garage doors, pull in, close the doors behind us and do not go back out until the next morning.
We are meant for more .. We are created by God for relationships with others. God gives us gifts to be used to serve Him and meet other’s needs. When we do not attend the church services and related opportunities, we really do miss the opportunities that the Lord has for us.. for our personal growth but also our interpersonal growth opportunities,.. serving and encouraging others.
A. Because of this, I will determine to guard my heart and mind to the things of God's word. I will look for creative ways to positively influence others and I will continue to be faithful in meeting with God's people (the church through services, small groups and other events) as I know it builds them up and me too. And it's God's will for my life.
P. Father, thank you for calling me to SERVE you. I pray for the Holy Spirit's filling to give me strength and wisdom to be positive, encouraging and filled with faith. In Jesus' name!