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Love - The Best Sermon
Hebrews 13:1-6
Skip Heitzig

Hebrews 13 (NKJV™)
1 Let brotherly love continue.
2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--since you yourselves are in the body also.
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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58 Hebrews - Topical - 1988

The author of Hebrews is unknown, but the truths in its pages are powerful: it presents Jesus Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of Judaism and the Old Testament Law. Join Pastor Skip Heitzig for this topical study to see how Jesus is the Great High Priest, superior in every sense to the Levitical priesthood, and how we as believers should live in the light of this truth.


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… you have given us Your words of love, beautiful love letter that we call the Bible. Father I pray today that our hearts would be tenderized and open, our heart would receive, be nourished. Lord, I pray that you might give us keen vision to find needs, that they be presented before us, that we could demonstrate to the world the fact that You are alive by the love we have one for another. Lord, as I've meditated this week just on this portion of scripture, you've helped me to realize the real basics of what our relationship with You is all about and how it's exemplified in our servanthood. We invite Your Holy Spirit now to teach, in Jesus name, amen.

Hebrew 13 is, in a sense, like 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. I Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter. Hebrew 13 is also known as the love chapter of the book of Hebrews. Now one of the most famous passages of scripture is 1 Corinthians 13, "Love is this, love will never fail, love is patient, love is kind." But more often to not, it's been reduced to a sentimental sermon on love that's used in greeting cards and that's about it. But the whole crux of this chapter, Chapter 13, as well as 1 Corinthians 13, the emphasis of love is that the apostle is saying, "Here is your chance to demonstrate your spirituality. Here is your chance to demonstrate to the world and to the church that God is alive, that's real, by demonstrating it through love." Now, Hebrews 13 is not an afterthought. It's not, well Paul said, "Well I've got an extra chapter, I've got to fill it in, so I'll just put love and love your marriage, love your spouse, love a stranger." There is a real flow to this book. There's a real flow. First there's doctrine, then there's duty. First of all, he says Jesus is better, He's superior than the angels, than the Old Testament, than the prophets, than Moses, than Aaron. So let's draw near with a true heart. Let's hang in there. Let's come close to the Lord whom you serve. Then Hebrews, Chapter 11 is the great faith chapter. He gives us examples of people who lived by faith. Then Chapter 12, he tells us to run the race just like all the people who ran before. The race of faith. Then Chapter 13, he focuses on very, very practical nuts and bolt issues: love is the demonstration of that faith. You will demonstrate the fact that you love the Lord and that you have faith in Him by how you treat one another. So you could say that love is the asset test of faith. Or you could look at it this way: faith is the root of your salvation, love is the fruit of your salvation. One commentator I read this week entitled his commentary on Chapter 13 this way, "Pardon Me, Your Faith is Showing". And that's really what it's about. Your faith is showing by the love you exemplify. When you see someone that is very gifted, exercising any spiritual gift, even if he raises the dead, don't run after that person so quickly. Walk a little bit closer, peek up under the leaves and see what the fruit is like. Look at the fruit of their lives. Are they demonstrating their gifts with love? Not to draw to attention to themselves, not to bring glory to their own little trip, are they doing it because they love the body of Christ and they love the Lord?

When I was a kid, my dad, in his early years, was an engineer. And he loves gadgets, probably that's why I love gadgets. And he brought home a gadget one time, a steam engine. It was stainless steel, it was quite heavy because it had iron inside. Nice, big, red wheels and about a four or five foot cord. You pour water in it and you plug it in and it boils and creates steam, and the steam would move that engine, only four or five feet cause it had a cord on it, then it'd stop. But it would just, "Chug, chug, chug, chug" and we'd get to watch how steam can propel, how energy is made. There was also a little string on the engine, and if you'd pull it, all the steam would go out the whistle. "Choo!" If you pulled the whistle too long, you wouldn't have any steam left to drive the engine. So it is with many believers. They've got all of this energy, all of this power, all that God has invested, they let it all go out the whistle. It's not a motivating force in their lives, it's not driving them, it's not being demonstrated. And that's what the world is interested in is a demonstration of our love, a demonstration of our faith.

It says, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing, some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them— and those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'”

What a beautiful set of instructions to the early church. You know the early Christians were amazing in that, as much as the world tried to find fault with them, tried to find some discrepancy, they couldn't find anything. When the Christians were growing by leaps and bounds, the Roman government felt threatened, and they thought, "I don't know what these people are doing but there's millions of them running around." And they felt threatened, they thought that they were going to be disloyal to the government, so they sent spies into their congregations, into their churches to find out exactly what they were practicing. And Tertullian, the early historian, wrote that a spy went into a local assembly in Rome, and this is the report of the spies that came back. He said, "These Christians are very strange people," well, I'd said amen to that. "They meet together in an empty room to worship. They don't have an image. They speak of One by the name of Jesus, who's absent, but whom they seem to be expecting at any time. And my, how they love Him and how they love one another."Boy, what a testimony that is, isn't it? My, how they love Him and how they love one another. And every time the government tried to find a discrepancy in their faith, they could not. Any time they tried to find something wrong, some fault, some moral fault, they couldn't find it. Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he wrote this. Let me read what it says in the book of Titus, in fact you can turn to it. The last chapter. He says in verse 7 of Chapter 2, excuse me, Titus 2, "In all things, showing yourself to be a pattern of good works, in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed having nothing evil to say." Now, you and I are surrounded by critics, right? We are surrounded by people who want to find a discrepancy in our faith. They're looking for something that we do wrong. Now, I'll admit, the world and the media loves to find stuff that's the worst possible about a Christian. They're looking for the worst example to demonstrate to the whole world on the front page, and on CBN News, TBN news- not TBN, those are Christian stations. The major secular networks, they're trying to find the worst example, right? You never hear of things like, uh, uh, "Christian minister loves his wife," um, "supports missionaries, lays down his life for the sheep."You always find, "Minister caught in adultery" because that makes good press. The other stuff doesn't make good press. However, I don't want to completely fault the media and the world because they've got a lot of stuff on us. There's a lot of stuff they can point to. We have given them an opportunity to discredit the gospel. I call it the David principle. Remember after David sinned and the prophet came to him and he said, "David, by this deed, you have given the Gentiles great occasion to blaspheme." Many Christians have given the enemy great occasion to blaspheme. Knowing that we are surrounded with these critics, this should give us an incentive to minimize those bad examples and to live to a high standard. To cover what is in these verses and let our light so shine before men that God would be glorified, our Father would be glorified in heaven. John MacArthur said that one time he visited a prison. While he was visiting someone in jail, he noticed there was a Christian who was very vocal about his faith. He'd always follow him around and he was preaching the gospel to everybody. And John MacArthur finally said, "Now, why are you in prison?" Figuring that the guy was put in jail because he resisted some law that was anti-Christian. Well the guy was in jail because he ignored over thirty parking violations. And so John MacArthur strongly advised him not to advertize the fact that he was a Christian. Keep it quiet. Because he was a bad example. He was actually discrediting the gospel of Christ rather than upholding it. I re-remember the words that I read of a guy named Soren Kierkegaard, ever heard of him you college students? The father of all modern thinking. He said, "You know Jesus did an amazing thing. He turned water into wine. But the church seems to do even a more amazing thing. They're turning the wine back into water." By their example, by what they do, it seems like the gospel is just becoming watered down more and more and more and more. Now we're being watched constantly. And how, let me ask you this, how does the world get an idea of what God is like? Will they go out and read their bibles, do you think? Think they're going to go research what Jesus was like, the historical Jesus, and make their evaluations based on what they read. Is that right? No. how will they get their idea of what god's like? By watching His kids. By looking at us. So we need to let our light shine.

And it begins in verse 1, in the spiritual family. "Let brotherly love continue." The word is philadelphia. Let philadelphia continue. Let the camaraderie, let the friendship, in spite of all your differences, let the love that you have one for another, that brotherly love, continue to flow out of you. You know when I was uh, in high school, I disdained Christians. I thought all of them were a bunch of nerds. I didn't want to be like them. I didn't like the way they looked, the way they dressed, the way they talked. I shunned them. Now when I became a Christian, I all of a sudden had this realization that I was one of them. I was- those nerds were my brothers and my sisters. And I knew that other people were looking at me the same way I was looking at them. That despite our differences, I needed to love these brothers and sisters. Let philadelphia, brotherly love and affection, continue with each other. You know, this is where it begins. Because how are we going to tell the world to come to Jesus Christ if they look inside our assemblies and say, "You guys can't even get it together yourselves. Why should I be like one of you? I don't want to be like one of you. You guys can't even get your own story straight. You're always arguing and bickering and backbiting and finding some petty issue with each other." Remember Jesus did not say, "Let your mouth so speak that men may hear your nice words," but, "Let your light so shine that they'll see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Jesus said, "By this all men shall know you're my disciples by the nice things you say," by what? "The love you have one for another." Not the the love that you have for the world, the love you have one for another. In other words, Jesus gives the world the right to evaluate us based on our love for each other. He gives them that right to peek inside the church and make an evaluation based on the way we act toward one another. In philadelphia. In brotherly love. So let brotherly love continue.

I want you to turn to, uh, 1 John, Chapter 3. Begin with me as I read in verse 14, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." So if you ever wonder if you're saved, if you ever wonder about the status of your salvation, just ask yourself this, "Do I love the body of Christ? Am I concerned about them? Do I minister to their needs? Do I love fellowshipping with them?" If the answer is yes, no sweat. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods," see, this is what I like about the biblical writers. They set this premise. And people hear it and go, "Oh I can agree with that. That makes sound sense." Then He puts it real down to where the rubber meets the road and says, "Whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?"Somebody comes up to you and says, "Boy I really, I need a meal." "Okay, let's pray right now: Lord, give this brother a meal, in Jesus' name." And the Holy Spirit goes, "(Knocks) Psst. Why don't you do it?" "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."You see, Christian love is not a sentimental feeling. It's not a superficial hug, handshake, "God bless you." It goes on to meet needs of brothers and sisters, right? It goes on to meet those needs. Our church, let me pluralize that, our churches should be characterized by unselfishness. Our churches should be characterized by a philadelphia, by an unselfishness that is so pervasive that anyone walking in can pick up on it. And I don't just mean the leadership. I'm not just saying, "Leaders, love the people. Ushers, love the people. Parking lot attendants, love." That's true. But let's take the other side of the coin as well. When you come to park in the morning, Sunday morning, don't hassle the parking lot attendants cause they asking you to park on the dirt lot. You'd be amazed at the reports I get of people who just get angry because they're trying to help them. Don't yell at the ushers if they say, "Mam, let me help you take your child to the nursery." Think about the whole body. And it says, "Let brotherly love continue." He's not denying that they don't have it. He's not saying, "Well, I don't think you have love." He's saying, "I know you have it, just let it continue." It doesn't end with a hug. You can't say, "Well, look, I hugged somebody one time. I loved them." "I worked in the nursery last year, I put in my time. I don't need to help over there anymore." Let brotherly love continue. You know that word "continue " is where we get out word monument. Set up your love as a monument so the world can walk by and say, "That is a Christian because of the love they have one for another."

Next, "do not forget to entertain strangers." Now, the word "entertain" isn't entertain in the sense that you're thinking about it. (Sings a little melody) It means to show favor toward. Or to show hospitality. Or to minister to the person in a practical sense. So, first of all, the brethren. The Christian assembly. Love your brothers. Now, progressively, each step is going to get harder. It begins in the church, but then it just, it doesn't end there. It says, "now entertain strangers," people you don't know, or you're not that familiar with. "For by so doing, some have unwittingly entertained angels." To the Jew, hospitality was one of the greatest virtues. If somebody came into town, needed a place to stay, needed a meal, it was one of the highest virtues in Judaism to take that person into your home and minister to them, put them up for the night. Because the inns were expensive, there weren't very many of them, and they had a bad reputation for being like a whorehouse. And so it was a virtue to allow someone to stay in your own home, to feed them, to let them spend the night, to put them up. Entertaining strangers. Being hospitable to strangers. And it says, "For some have unwittingly entertained angels." That's a wild idea. That person this morning on the freeway that cut you off, you know the one you yelled at, called a jerk? How do you know that that wasn't an angel? You say, "Ah, not what he told me after I did that (laughter). He wasn't an angel." How do you know the person down on the street that really had a need that you passed by wasn't an angel God placed there just to test you? You say, "Well, if I would've known they were an angel I would've done something." That's the point. You don't know. And because you don't know, show the same love for the stranger. Cause you don't know who it could be. And your motivation isn't that it might be an angel. Your motivation is that your love should go beyond just the brethren and reach out to everybody else. Who do we usually entertain? Who do we usually invite over for meals, go out to lunch with, hang out with? It's people we know, right? It's not the stranger, it's usually people we know, we love. It's the body of Christ. And it's not even all the body of Christ cause we don't even like all of them. It's certain select people that are like us, that dress like us. We like them, we like their personality, thus we will entertain them. But you remember what Jesus said? If you love those who are like you or those who love you, what difference is that than a tax collector, than an unbeliever. And unbeliever does that. Christian love should go beyond the bounds of the likeable to the irregular, loving the stranger, those we don't know. There's a commandment in the Old Testament. Love your neighbor as yourself. That's an Old Testament commandment. And this is how it works, this is how I love my neighbor as myself. If I have a plate of food, and my neighbor doesn't have any food, for me to love him like I love myself, I go over and give him part of my food. That's neighbor love. If, uh, my kids are well-fed and well-dressed and my neighbor's kids don't go to school, they're not well-fed, they're not well-dressed, for me to be a neighbor and to show neighborly love, to love my neighbor as myself, I go and make an equity with him. Now that's only Old Testament. But do you know something? A lot of God's children aren't even keeping the Old Testament commandment of loving our neighbor as ourself. Jesus went beyond the Old Testament, he said, "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." But if the church would keep just the Old Testament commandment and start loving people, loving neighbors as ourselves with just neighbor love, there'd be a revolution. The world would see that and say, "That's Christianity. I've been waiting to see that for a long time. They're loving the strangers. They're going beyond the bounds.

There was a lady in Argentina who thought this way, by the way. She was a little old lady. She lived alone in a little rental house. And she would always bemoan the fact that she never led anybody to the Lord, she'd never won one soul for Christ. And as she was praying about this day, she was thinking, "Lord, I've never been able to witness effectively, to lead a person into the kingdom of God myself." She began to think about God and His love. And she came to the realization that when God wanted to demonstrate His love to man, He didn't send a tract to heaven, He sent His Son, who would be a living, breathing example of one who shared people's hurts and sorrows. A light went on in her head. There was a new neighbors that were moving in across the street in another rental house in a poor community. She went over there and she cooked a meal for them. That's it. Came over one evening, had a whole meal prepared and said, "Look, I know you're moving in. You don't have time to cook, you're not ready to cook. I just want to give you this meal and I'm going to cook for you for the next couple weeks till you get settled. Don't worry about the dishes, don't wash them. I'll pick them up in a couple hours and bring them home and wash them. In one month, the whole family had accepted Jesus Christ. She took the love out of the church and on to the stranger.

Now it gets a little harder. You say, "Well, I've done that. I can love my brothers. I can love people I don't know.""Remember the prisoners as if you're chained with them, and those who are mistreated since you, yourselves are in the body also." Now he's speaking about the persecuted Christians, and in those days, there's a lot of people that were hanging out in jails because they made a commitment to the Lord because they followed Jesus Christ. It was a capital offense in some regions. A lot of the Christians Paul was writing to had suffered persecution, or knew someone who was suffering persecution. So he says, "Put yourself in their place. Put yourself in their place." If you were in their place, what would you want? Would you want somebody to write you a letter? Bet you would. Somebody to visit you, somebody to send you a care package, prayer? And he says, "Since you yourselves are in the body also," or better translation would be, "Since you guys have a body of flesh and blood like prisoners who suffer, and since you are susceptible to the same kind of trials, the same kinds of suffering, that should make you more sensitive to people who are indeed suffering. So remember the prisoners as if you're suffering with them." You know, I found out that in the early church there were people who actually who sold themselves into slavery to get enough money to free people who were in prison. Who took this injunction seriously, it's on record. It's on record. They sold themselves to free prisoners. Now, we live in America, and you're not going to be put in jail if you share the gospel. If you go out and you start witnessing downtown Albuquerque, they're not going to lock you up and say, "It's illegal. You're coming to jail." Now if you make a fool out of yourself, they might do it. But if you share in a matter of integrity, they won't pick you up. So it's hard for us to relate to something like this because he's speaking primarily of those who are imprisoned for their faith. But what about people who are our brothers, but who are prisoners on the other side of the globe, like in China, in India, in Russia. Behind the curtains who are suffering for the gospel. You're saying, "What can I do? "Well, you can continue to pray for them. You can take what we have in the bulletin week-by-week as a very serious responsibility before the Lord. Like this weeks, it's Yugoslavia. Perhaps you could write letters, if it's done the right way. Perhaps you could go to China and bring bibles in. that's loving the prisoner. Or let's even go beyond that. What about the prisoners in our own town like in hospitals or in nursing homes. In convalescent homes, or widows who feel like they're a prisoner. They're lonely, they need someone to reach out to them. Those who really need that ministry.

You see, each time it's little bit harder. The brother, the stranger, the prisoner. It's taking love beyond the doors of the foyer out to where people really need it and where they can really see it. There was an ambassador of the United States who was going to live in Paris, France. He was going to be an ambassador for America in France. And he'd learn French up till the time he was leaving. And when he was about to leave, somebody asked him, "Ambassador, how's your French?" He said, "Oh, my French is excellent all except for my verbs." Boy that sounds like a lot of us, huh? We have great nouns: Father, Lord, brother, friend. We have great adjectives: blessed, wonderful. But what about verbs, action, doing it? This is taking love out and really doing it with the stranger and the prisoner.

Now, it gets a little harder. Verse 4, " Marriage is honorable among all, the bed undefiled. But fornicators and adulterers God will judge." In other words love your spouse. You're saying, "Now, wait a minute. It's getting harder? You're going from brother to stranger to prisoner to spouse? It's harder to love your spouse?" Oh yeah. You know why? Because at home, it's different isn't it? It's where Christianity is lived day in and day out and where that commitment is unseen by most people but where it really counts. If you can be a Christian at home, you can be a Christian just about anywhere. I'm talking about a true Christian, full of commitment. And there are many people who can minister all over the world. Minister to the body of Christ, see someone who has a need, but neglect their own family. Neglect their own family. And I think many times it's tougher to live the real Christian life in front of your wife and children. Not just in the kinship but in the kitchen. Not just in church, but in the living room, in the dining room, in the bedroom. Let me read the Amplified Bible in this particular verse. It says, "Let marriage be held in honor, esteemed worthy, precious, that is, of great price, and especially dear in all things." One of the best ways to preach the gospel to the world is to let them know that you love your wife and you love your husband. You say, "That's a powerful witness to the world?" Yeah. You know why? Because a recent survey shows that of all the people that they surveyed, seventy-five percent of the people in this survey said that their marriage was a failure, and rated their homes as unhappy. They did another survey with young people, you know the yuppies, the newly marriage. From twenty years old to thirty-five. Six out of a hundred said that they were fulfilled and satisfied. So when you show the world that you're in love with your wife, you're in love with your husband, and that Christianity works all the time at home, that's a powerful witness. Loving your spouse. It says marriage is honorable. You know that in God's eyes, marriage is one of the most honored institutions that He invented. And He invented it, by the way. Man didn't come up with the idea of marriage for a nice tax break. God invented marriage. He honors it. It's very honorable. And when a husband and wife show honor in their marriage vows, that pleases the Lord, and it's effective before the world. Marriage that is held in honor.

Look at the second part of the verse. It says, "Marriage is honorable among all and the bed undefiled," or literally, "the bed should be seen as undefiled. But fornicators and adulterers, God will judge." You know what that verse paraphrased means very bluntly, folks? It means keep your sex at home. It means if you're single, handle your hormones till your married. And once your married, keep your sex at home in your marriage. It's undefiled. But it says adulterers and fornicators, God will judge. Now let me say, God invented sex, too. He invented it, He gave it as a gift to men and women. But people are obsessed with it today. It made it a god. One of the owners of a pornography magazine stated this concerning the whole deal of sex in modern society. He said, "Sex is a function of the body. It's a drive which man shares with animals, like eating, drinking and sleeping. It's a physical demand that must be satisfied. If you don't satisfy it, you'll have all sorts of neurosis and repressive psychosis. Sex is here to say. Let's forget the prudery that makes us hide from it. Throw away those inhibitions and find a girl who's likeminded and let yourself go." Now, that philosophy, I don't know if you'll agree with me or not, but that philosophy pervades almost every movie out today. You might be inoculated to that fact, but the themes of a lot of the movies and TV shows is exactly that: illicit sex, adulteress affairs. So much so that it can affect us. Keep your heart from those kinds of things. It's like what Billy Graham, in commenting of our society, the authors and the movie is coming out, he says, "It's like the dripping of a dirty sewer in our society. You'd do well to keep your heart pure from really scrutinizing what you watch lest those values creep up into your own relationship. When a Christian man or a Christian woman is immoral, it pollutes the testimony of the gospel. But when he esteems his wife, when he honors his wife, when she loves her husband, it's a powerful testimony to the world. Let's go on.

It says in verse 5, "Let your conduct," your manner of living, "be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ' I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'" Finally we can show our faith by loving our provision, what God has given to you. When you think of sins, does covetousness ever enter your mind? It might not. And we think, "Well, sin. Let me think. I can think of some sins." You start naming them off. But I wonder if covetousness every enters your mind as something as sin. Charles Spurgeon said, "You know, I've been to so many testimony meetings all my life, and I've had people confess to me this sin and that sin and stand up and weep for their sins," he said, "Never once has anyone come up to me and confessed covetousness." Boy, I can't remember, even myself, anyone saying, "You've got to pray for me. My great sin is covetousness." But it says here, let your conduct be without it. Be content with such things as you have. Now, listen to some of the words that Jesus said in light of this verse. Jesus said, "Take heed and beware of covetousness. For a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses." Covetousness means to stretch yourself out to obtain. Beware of covetousness; a man's life doesn't consist in what he has. Or how about another scripture, when Jesus talked about the sower going out to plant seed. He said, "Some fell on the ground and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the deceitfulness of other things came and choked up that seed." Covetousness, well you don't have to have a lot of things to be covetous. In fact, you can live in a ghetto and be covetous. Because covetousness is an attitude of the heart. It's that longing for more. "I'm not satisfied, I've got to just get that one extra thing on sale. I've got to have it. I'll be fulfilled if I do. I'll be happy. More, more." It's that incessant reaching out for something and never being satisfied with what God has given you. It is the "grass is greener" syndrome. And, indeed, the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but as someone said, the water bills are probably higher, too (light laughter). You know that society has a plan of attack against you? If you've studied advertising, you will know that those boys on Madison Avenue stay up all night long figuring out ways to make you dissatisfied. Figuring out ways that they create within you and me a dissatisfaction that will only be fulfilled when we go out and buy something. It's working. But let your conduct be without covetousness. You know, it's sort of like the law of diminishing returns, isn't it? That promises fulfillment, but the more you get it, the more dissatisfied you become. How can it end? Listen. Contentment needs to be learned. It's not something you just come in to. It needs to be learned. Paul said, "I have learned in whatever state I'm in to be content." Just like discontentment is learned, contentment needs to be learned. We have learned discontentment from growing up. It starts when we're a kid. We want just a little better toy because so-and-so has one. First we want a doll. Then we want that doll that talks and eyes open. And then we want the doll that's the designer doll. And then we want the doll that cleans our room and does our homework (light laughter) and it goes on and on and on. We've learned that as part of our society. We learn contentment by bringing it before the Lord constantly and saying, "Lord, teach me contentment. I want to learn." Number two, you learn it by boiling down life to the basics. You boil down life to the basics. What is life? Paul said, "Having food and clothing. With this, we shall be content." I eat, I got clothes, I got a roof. I'm happy. Boil life down to its basics, and learn contentment by bringing it before the Lord.

Let me read this, uh, last part of verse 6 in the Weiss translation. "For He Himself, and the statement is on record, 'I will not, I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you. I will not, I will not, I will not let you down.'" That's what it is in the Greek translation. "I will not, I will not, I will not cease to uphold and sustain you. I will not, I will not, I will never let you down."NOw that's the promise you have. And that's why he concludes by saying, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Remember what Solomon said in the Proverbs concerning money? He sort of, in a joking sense, says that money is like a eagle; it sprouts wings and it flies away. You have that experience every other week on Friday when you get your paycheck, right? It's like, alright! And by Monday, you think, "Where'd it all go?" And your wife goes, "See the bills, honey? That's where it all went. It went whoo, whoo, fly away."

Let me leave you with this. The Christian life is like a tree, in that the most important part is absolutely unseen by your eyes. A tree is sustained by its root system, where it goes down and gets its nourishment. Now you don't think about the roots, you don't think, "My, what a nice tree. I'd love to see the root system." You look at the leaves. But the most important part of that tree is what's underneath the ground- the root system. The most important part of the Christian life is what you don't see. What goes on in here, where your roots go down and have nourishment and contentment in Jesus Christ alone. That's stuff that the world doesn't see that readily. But what a message, what a sermon to preach, the sermon of love, to the world. Wouldn't it be great, just like the spy who came during the times of the Romans and spied out the Christian assembly, if people would spy us out and unbelievers would say, "My, how they love him. My, how they love each other. My, how they love their wives and their husbands. My, how they're content and they love the stranger. And I think I wanna become one of them." That'd be a powerful, powerful thing. Let's pray.

Lord, You promised that You would never ever, ever let us down. Forgive us, Lord, for in a sense a harlotry, where we sell our heart out to other things to be content. I thank You, Lord, for Your incredible love and forgiveness, that no matter what is going on in our lives, or what our attitude is, Your love for us never ceases. Now I just pray, Lord, that we would come into such a neat contact of relationship with You, where we would experience Your love for us and Your grace abounding for us to the extent that we would copy You and show love to the unloveable as well as our brothers, show love at home day in and day out, show the world that it can work. In Jesus name, Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/24/1988
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Shh...God Has Something to Say
Hebrews 1:1-4
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1/31/1988
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A Priest Who Can Sympathize
Hebrews 4:14-16
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2/7/1988
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Privileges and Responsibilities
Hebrews 10:19-25
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2/14/1988
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Moses at the Crossroad of Decision
Hebrews 11:24-27
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There are 4 additional messages in this series.
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