With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, I have heard a lot of stories of her faith and service of God. One story I heard was a my favourite. It talks more about her sense of humour.
Around 2005, the Queen and her Personal Protection Officer, Dick Griffin, were walking alone one afternoon in the hills near the Scottish royal castle, Balmoral. Two tourists approached them, and engaged in conversation. Griffin recalls:
“There were two hikers coming towards us, and the Queen would always stop and say hello. “They were two Americans on a walking holiday. “It was clear from the moment we stopped that they hadn’t recognised the Queen, which was fine. “The American gentleman was telling the Queen where they came from, where they were going next, and where they’d been in Britain. “I could see it coming, and sure enough, he said to Her Majesty: ‘And where do you live?’ “She replied: ‘Well I live in London, but I’ve got a holiday home just the other side of the hills.’ “He said: ‘How long have you been coming up here?’ “She replied: ‘I’ve been coming up here ever since I was a little girl, so over 80 years.’ “You could see the cogs whirring, so he said: ‘Well, if you’ve been coming up here for over 80 years, you must have met the Queen.’ “Quick as a flash, she said: ‘I haven’t, but Dick here meets her regularly.’ The hiker then asked Griffin what the monarch was like in person. “Because I was with her a long time, and I knew I could pull her leg, I said: ‘Oh, she can be very cantankerous at times, but she’s got a lovely sense of humour.’ “The next thing I knew, this guy comes round, puts his arm around my shoulder, and before I could see what was happening, he gets his camera, GIVES IT TO THE QUEEN, and says: ‘Can you take a picture of the two of us?’ “Then we swapped places, and I TOOK A PICTURE OF THEM WITH THE QUEEN. “And we never let on, and we waved goodbye. “Afterwards, Her Majesty said to me: ‘I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to his friends in America, and hopefully someone tells him who I am’.”
The title of my message today is “Let us…” Not lettuce that you have as a part of a salad! But “let us” as in let us do this or let us do that together.
In the Bible the term “let us” is used on a number of occasions. In the very first chapter God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit says “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26-27). That is a positive example. A more negative example is found 10 chapters later. “Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4). In 2 Samuel 10:12 it says, “Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.” So we see the term “let us” can be used in both a positive way and a negative way. Like last week we said “let us have a service in Westonia”. We did and it was a really nice time as a church.
The passage I want to look at as our main text today is Hebrews 10:19-25. This passage looks at some key things that helps us to stay on track as individuals and as we do them together it helps us to stay of track as a church. I will also look at some other verses to fill in the things we need to do.
In this passage, it uses the term “Let us” four times. I am going to use this as the main points of my message today. Hopeful this will help you to remember and every time you re-read it, you will remember.
1. Let us draw near to God
Verse 22 – Let 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.
Today’s text tells us because of Christ’s death on the cross for us we can have confidence to enter the most holy place of God.
In Old Testament times the people had to sacrifice animals to be right with God. It was the shedding of the animal’s blood that placed a temporary covering of the persons sin. And we read in the Bible that only the High Priest could enter the most holy place where God’s presence was. After prayer, fasting and ritualistic behavior could he go in once a year. He had to wear elaborate garments with everything just right. Only one person, once a year.
Now we can enter in to the most holy place because of Christ and what He has done. His shed blood cleanses us from our sin and we are free to enter in. We can enter in any time.
Ephesians 3:12 tells us, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Hebrews 4:16 also says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
We can approach God with freedom and confidence. Drawing near to God is a key part of the Christian life. It is also a key component of church life. We have direct access to the Father through Christ. We can enter in.
Church, let us draw near to God. Because the Bible promises that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:6).
2. Let us hold tightly to our hope
Verse 23 – Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Let us hold tightly to our hope. The original Greek word used in the text means to hold down, keep, possess, retain, seize on, or stay. All of these give us the thought of holding tightly and not letting go.
What does the writer want us to take hold of? He wants us to take hold of the hope and faith we have in Christ. We know Christ is with us in this life and He helps us through. We also have a great hope that Jesus is coming back for us. We have a great hope of spending eternity with God. We have faith that all God says is true and correct and will come to pass.
As I was praying about hope this week I thought of the letters used in the word hope – H O P E. They can stand for “Hold Onto Promises Eternal”. That is really what hope is about.
Church, we know that life has a way of throwing curve balls at us. Some times bad things happen at the least expected time. We can be knocked down. But if we hold on to our hope, we can jump back up again, dust ourselves off and continue on. Hope acts like an anchor for our souls and the wind in our sails. It helps us moving forward with a confident expectation that God will do all He promised to do in His Word. The Bible tells us that all God’s promises are Yes and Amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). they are true and they will happen. Because the promises of God are sure and firm, we can hold on to our hope without wavering as the text says today.
So, let us hold of tightly to our hope.
3. Let us consider how to spur one another on
Verse 24 – Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
This is the third let us in this passage. There are two things I like in this verse. The first one is “let us think about ways”.
We should think about ways in which we can be more inspired to serve the Lord. Imagine if we all came to church thinking about how we could encourage someone. I am encouraged by hearing testimonies or praise reports of things that have been happening. I like to hear about the impact people are making in their work for the Lord. It inspires me on towards love and good deeds. Things like we have in our God Talk time where we share of Bible verses God has encouraged us with, breakthroughs we have had, and the impact we have made. It is not about big noting yourself. It is about encouraging others in their journey with the Lord and their service.
The second thing I like in this verse is, it uses the word motivate. So, what are the good deeds would should be motivated to do? When we use our gifts for the good of others. When we share our faith with others. When we give people a helping hand when they are in need. When we are a listening ear when someone is going through a hard time. When we help others grow in their faith. When we provide Bibles and resources for people who can’t afford them. When we take someone into our home who has nowhere to live. When we provide food for someone in need. There are endless things we can be inspired to do – things that are both practical and things that are spiritual. If we do them in love and with a heart to serve God, most good things we do would be considered good deeds.
So today before I go on to my last point. How can you we inspire each other? Who can you inspire on to love and good deeds?
Church, let us motivate one another to love and good deeds.
4. Let us not give up meeting together
Verse 25 – And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Let us not give us meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. Habits are easy to form and a lot harder to break. Just as anyone who has ever started a diet or started to exercise knows. It is much easier to fall off the wagon, than get back on and stay on.
When I think about church attendance I think of Jesus. He is my Lord and Saviour, but He is also my example. Jesus was raised a Jew and He followed Jewish tradition. On the Sabbath, He went to the Temple or Synagogue.
Luke 4:16 tells us that, “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.”
Jesus, as the Son of God, saw attendance on the Sabbath as important. I need to too. We all do.
Why is church attendance so important? Today’s text tells us that we need to encourage one another. In a world that can at times be so discouraging, we need encouragement regularly. We hear about wars, earthquakes, famines, tornadoes, floods and people just treating each other badly. We need a safe place to come to where we can see our friends and our church family and just enjoy the Bible, prayer, worship and fellowship. We need to fill up our encouragement tanks.
Years ago I heard of a story of a man who stopped attending church. Life’s circumstances had just got on top of him and he stopped going. People went over to see him but it didn’t help. One day the Pastor knocked on his door. The man let him in and they went and sat by the fire. The man did not speak and the Pastor remained silent too. They just sat and stared at the fire. After about 20 minutes the Pastor scooped at hot coal out of the fire and left it on the hearth. Slowly over the next 30 minutes it went cold and black. Still no words were spoken. Then all of a sudden the man stood up and shook the Pastor’s hand and said “Great sermon Pastor, I will see you Sunday”. The man realised for him to stay on fire in his faith he needed to be with the church, not at home by himself. The simple illustration of seeing the coal lose its fire made him realise, his faith was growing cold.
For us as Christians it is so vital to be here when we can or watch along online. We need to fill up our encouragement tanks and we need to love and support each other. After all we are all in this together. That is how God wants it to be.
Church, let us not forsake meeting together. Let us continue to meet and encourage each other as the return of Jesus comes closer each and every day.
Today we have looked at Hebrews 10:19-25. A great passage that calls us to love God, and to love and encourage on another. We saw four main things.
1. We need draw near to God.
2. We need to hold tightly to our faith and hope in Christ.
3. We need to think of ways to encourage each other to love and good deeds.
4. We need to not forsake meeting together.
As a member of this congregation I need to commit to these things. We all do.
Here is a devotion from a great free resource I have used a lot over the years – Our Daily Bread. I found it encouraging today. I especially liked the statement about self control that I bolded…
A hole in the wall
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. Proverbs 25:28
Something was eating my flowers. The day before, blooms proudly lifted their heads. Now they were headless stems. I prowled the perimeter of my yard and discovered a rabbit-sized hole in my wooden fence. Bunnies are cute, but the pesky animals can mow down a garden of flowers in minutes.
I wonder, might there be “intruders” shearing off the blooms of God’s character in my life? Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” In ancient days, the wall of the city protected it against invasion from enemies. Even a small opening in a wall meant that the entire city lay open to attack.
So many of the proverbs are about self-control. “If you find honey, eat just enough,” wrote the wise man (25:16). Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit that guards us, protecting us from losing ground to impatience, bitterness, greed, and other pests that can intrude and destroy God’s harvest in our lives (see Galatians 5:22–23). Self-control is a healthy-mindedness that watches for the holes in the walls of our lives and keeps them patched.
When I inspect the perimeter of my life, I can at times see vulnerable holes. A spot where I give in to temptation over and over. An area of impatience. Oh, how I need the healthy-minded self-control of God in my life to guard me from such intruders!
Dear God, please grow the fruit of self-control in my life that I might be protected from intruders. Amen.