— Brother Phil Enlow: I just have this sense in my heart. I haven’t even got this organized. It seems like the Lord, so many times, He won’t let me organize it, and that’s all right. But we need to have a heart that says, God, there ain’t no ‘quit.’ There’s no going back. I’m going on. There are songs about some of that, about that theme. There’s no going back. Folks, if you’ve got something less than that, you don’t have what you need.
( congregational amens ).
I just pray that God will help every one of His children to wake up and realize what we need.
You know, one of the things that I thought about was…of course, coming up to Hebrews 12, we said that the faith chapter leads into that, but there’s something that leads into that. The whole book was written to a group of Jews, who had heard of Christ and perhaps, in varying degrees, had embraced the Gospel and the hope of the Gospel, but yet, the writer was concerned. He saw in them too much of a tendency not to let go of the past and their traditions, because after all, God spoke to Moses. We can’t just leave that alone. We’re just adding Jesus to that.
And over and over again, he goes through in tremendous detail showing how God did something back then. It was temporary. Now, we have what is permanent. We leave that behind. It’s Jesus and Him alone! That’s our hope. All that the Old Testament Law pictured was fulfilled in Christ! There’s no more sacrifice, but One, and that’s for all time. And so, we leave that behind, and we lay hold of the hope of the Gospel, 100 percent, and trust in Him to be able to bring us all the way through. Okay?
So, on the heels of that, in chapter 10, what is the conclusion of that? Verse 23, “Let us hold unswervingly…” (NIV). That sounds like what we’ve been talking about, doesn’t it? “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess….” It’s something that we don’t possess at the moment, but it’s there. It’s before us. We have enough of a conviction to give our lives to that hope, for that to become more real than this world in which we live. That’s what the Gospel is about. It has to be that real.
“…Unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he…” Why? “…For he who promised is faithful.” Over and over again, you have this sense of a God who cannot lie, who has promised. He has had a purpose from all eternity. You read that in chapter 6, and that’s the reason we’re here this morning, because there is a God who has made you and me and…and me, all of us. He’s made us a promise of something that we can participate in. He’s called us to it. Praise God! Do we want to take that lightly, or just try to mix it in with our life and our will? No, you don’t.
You know, I’ll just interject this. Back in Romans, Paul talks about…unlocking the Gospel, trying to lay it all it all out. And early on, he deals with why the world is in the condition it’s in, and it’s because people have known truth but rejected it. Okay?
But then, he comes, in chapter 2, he talks about two classes of people. One of them seeks for glory and honor and immortality, and they do it with a persevering spirit. They go against the grain. They go against the flow. But, their whole life is defined by that quest. And everybody else goes on in sin and self-will, married to their lusts, their earthly desires, and they reject that.
Boy, do you think that’s a diametrically opposed destiny involved there? But it’s interesting that he actually uses the word ‘perseverance’ in that passage. That’s how we pursue life and immortality. Is that something that we can achieve? Through Christ, we can, certainly not any other way. So anyway, we’re told to hold unswervingly to this hope.
“And let us consider….” Now, here’s another dimension that we need to recognize, and that’s that we’re not alone on this journey. Yes, we may have an individual journey, but God has woven our journeys together, so that you and I, we will, every one, come to places where we are discouraged, we are struggling. We have battles that we need to fight, but thank God we’re not alone.
Yes, we always have Him, but I’ll tell you, we have one another, and that’s what God wants to bring to pass, to make a functional thing. I’ll tell you, the church of Jesus Christ is not just a bunch of people who come together, have a religious service and go on with their lives. It’s a family, that loves one another, that watches out for one another.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Let’s encourage each other. That’s what it says in the next one. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Does anybody here see the day approaching? Do you see the trend? I don’t know the dates. I’m not gonna worry about that. That’s in God’s hands, but I know where this world is going. And so, here is the Word of God to us today. We need to be in a place to encourage each other.
The Devil is gonna do everything in his power to divide, to give us a self-righteous, critical spirit, if we trend that way, to make us super sensitive to one another. There are a thousand and one ways that self-will and our old nature rises up to divide us. We need to recognize it! We need to say, go back to hell where you came from, Satan.
God wants us to rise up and say, we are one in Him. We will walk of the unity that He gave His life for to provide. And when we see a brother and a sister struggling, we’ll pray, we’ll stand with them, we’ll encourage them, because that’s part of the battle that we fight. That’s part of winning the battle.
“Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Boy, here’s something that…I’m gonna throw this in, because this needs to go out. We don’t need to have this mealy-mouthed Gospel that just kind of embraces everybody with this this happy, happy, lovey-dovey thing, that doesn’t really confront the problem.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” Now, I will not…don’t ask me about people, specifically people, or specific people. God knows. I pray that God will be merciful to every one that might come to your mind when I read something like that.
I don’t know when someone has reached that point, but this is something to think about. Man, you don’t mess with this. Your eternity hangs on what you do with Jesus. What’s left? “…No sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” Man, that’s the world in which we live, and the world that opposes us and hates us, that’s the destiny they are choosing.
If you and I serve God, we’re gonna have to go against that. We’re gonna have to swim against the tide, and be willing to do it and not give up, and not hold back, because there’s a God who’s gonna take us through. But man, it’s that serious.
And he goes down and he encourages his people. He’s saying, look, when you came to the Lord, look at all you went through. You were persecuted. You suffered things that we haven’t ever even suffered here. These people had already stood up under that for a time.
Verse 35: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere….” Ah, there’s that word again. “…You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
That is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s not just, believe in Jesus and go to heaven. This is, put your faith in Jesus Christ, turn your life around into His care and for His purposes, and you’re gonna serve God until you die, until this life is over. Your life becomes defined by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His claim upon your soul.
I’ll tell you, if you don’t have that, if you don’t have the reality, cry out to God until it’s real, until He reveals Himself to you! This is…I mean, do you see how serious this is? I don’t know why I’m emphasizing this, but there’s got to be a reason. People need to know that this is serious.
But I’ll tell you, there’s a call of God to every child of God to face the facts that we’re gonna have to fight, and we’re gonna have to walk together, and lay hold of what He has given to us.
“For in just a very little while…” he goes on, “…He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” See, that was the issue here. It was people who were coming up to it. They learned about the Gospel, and then, they kind of drew back and went back to their old ways.
Man, we’re gonna have to press in. We’re gonna have to be among those who have turned our back, burned our bridges, and said, I am His, come hell or high water. If they line me up and shoot me, I’m still His. There’s nothing in this world worth clinging to when He offers me that.
You know, like Jim Elliot the missionary said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” But that conviction can only be planted in the heart by the Word of God, that we open our hearts to and say, yes, Lord. I humble, I yield my life, I yield my everything to You.
But oh, I’m thankful that the writer has more confidence in the people to whom he’s writing. He feels the need to say these things to show them how serious it is. But he says, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” And then, he launches into chapter 11. Praise God!
We have every reason in the world, looking back at these examples, to know that there is a faithful God. We might find ourselves this year in the same place that David did when he said, “How long, O Lord?”
How many of you have ever been in that place? It’s not only that what I’m facing is difficult, it just doesn’t stop! It goes on and on and on, and I’m crying, and You’re not answering me…it doesn’t feel like You’re answering me. Oh God, what’s going on? How long, oh Lord, am I gonna have to put up with this, and on and on?
I’m so glad that we can find a perfect balance between being reverent and respectful of God, and at the same time, having a hope and a confidence that we can come to Him with an honest heart. I don’t believe that when David said how long, oh Lord, he was being irreverent, but he sure was telling how he felt.
You know, you’re gonna feel that way sometimes. Don’t be dismayed by that. Don’t say, something’s wrong! Look at Brother so-and-so or Sister so-and-so, and they’re just happy, happy. They might have a pasted smile and going through something worse than you are, for all you know. Oh, I’ll tell you, God wants to bring us to a place where we’re willing to fight, and we’re willing to stand up.
So, of course, when you start talking like this, the question naturally arises, okay, I’ve got to find that somewhere. I’ve got to dig down deep and find this ability somehow to persevere. How’s that gonna happen? I’m just a weakling. I’ve failed so many times before. How in the world is this gonna happen? Well, I guess we probably better look at some scripture, hadn’t we?
How about Romans 15? Romans 15. Let’s see. Well, I’ll begin with the first verse, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” That’s a pretty good exhortation, isn’t it? You don’t come to a place where you say, well, man, I’m handling it, What’s the matter with you? We need to help one another along.
If you’re one that the Lord has taught, and you’re experiencing some victory, then you just humbly say, thank You, Lord, and you help and encourage somebody else. God didn’t do that just for you. How many times did Paul say that the things that He has done in me and allowed me to go through where I was in over my head, and all I could do was cry out to God, God did that so I could help you! Everything God does is not just for you, it’s for the entirety of the Body of Christ and His Kingdom. All right?
“Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” Now, he goes back to the scriptures, because this is one of those things. We’re gonna have to go back to the Word of God. It’s not just for correct theology, it’s for God…it’s a vehicle for God to speak to us according to a present need. That’s what I need.
( congregational amens ).
It’s great to be…and to learn about it and to get it in my head and know what’s true and all of that, but oh, there are times that I have a deep need. Anybody else here?
And, I need to be able to go, and I’ll find something, and it’s like God shines a light on that scripture, and suddenly, it jumps off the page, and it feeds me, and it helps me, or it’s an example of somebody who went through something, and God brought them through, and I can learn from that and be encouraged.
So, Paul says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…” Okay, why? What’s that going to accomplish? “So that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” See the place of the Word of God in this thing? The Devil is gonna fill your mind and mine with every lie that we will accept…and God help us to learn how to identify those things, and not just say…but it’s true!
We need to look at what God says, and not live by feelings, not live by past experiences. We talked, Wednesday night, about how we leave things behind. We forget things that are behind, we reach forth for what’s before. It’s a good time to do that, isn’t it? We’re reminded it’s a brand-new year.
You don’t have to carry all those past failures. We need to learn from them. But we need to come to God and say, God, let this be the year when I grow, when this issue…I gain ground and I learn from You. But help me to devour Your Word and lean upon it and learn that this is how You speak to me, oh God.
They’re, “…written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Now, that word endurance, by the way, I believe, is that same word that we’ve been talking about. Okay? But there’s a sense where you’re gonna have to push through, not give up. All right, so, “…encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
All right, here I am again! Lord, I’ve got to have courage, I’ve got to do all this stuff. How do I do that? “May the God who gives endurance….” Ah, now, that puts a different light on it, doesn’t it? He’s not just dumping all this stuff on me and saying, come on, dufus, be strong. What’s the matter with you, you weakling? I’ve called you to fight. Get up off your duff, and fight.
Wait a minute…He’s not calling us to dig deep and find this in the inside. This is a word that is meant to encourage the weakest of the weak, who have put their trust in Christ. My hope does not lie in one single thing that I can find in here. Every time I’ve tried to lean on this and figure I’ve got it handled, I fall like Peter did. It doesn’t work. Of course, even when I do that, the Lord helps me to learn from it.
But listen to these words. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity…” So, it pulls it all together, doesn’t it? “…Among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s where it comes from. Every bit of the ability to do everything we’ve been talking about this morning has got to come from Him. That’s why he says, looking to Jesus.
Now, if you’re like me, when I run into a wall, whether it’s an experience, whether it’s something on the inside or it’s something on the outside, whatever it is, and I run into a spiritual wall, or I’m just worn out, and don’t feel like fighting anymore, where am I looking, typically? Inside.
You see what the Lord wants us to learn to do? Every time we hit the wall…Lord, You’ve allowed me to hit this wall so that I can look up. You have everything that I need. It’s those who wait or those who hope in the Lord who do what? Renew their strength, because we all get weary.
The question is not that we come to a place where we don’t ever get tired, don’t ever get weary, never tempted to feel that way. You will. We all do. The question is, do we give into that and say, well, that’s just the way it is. I’m just a weakling. Poor me.
God, help us to learn to lift up our eyes and to know that there is a God who has more than you can ask or imagine. He longs to show up and lift you up and bring you through something you could never possibly handle in any other way. You don’t have the wisdom. You do not have it in you to love somebody that just really rubs you the wrong way, pushes your buttons, a situation…a thousand and one things that constantly will pull on your old nature and cause you to try to move in that.
God will give us, if we will open our hearts and believe His promise, God will give us what we need to put one foot in front of another and say, God, I’m Yours. I’m going forward. I will not be beat down or defeated by this thing. I don’t know, this has been kind of scattered this morning, but I just feel like this is the Lord’s Word to me. Is it to you?
( congregational amens ).
We are facing another year. We will face many things. Don’t you go into this world or into this year and just say, oh man, this is gonna be a year of great victory and feelings and wonderful…you go to a lot of places, that’s what they’ll tell you.
You’re gonna have a lot of battles. But every battle that God send your way, He has designed so you can experience a victory that you would never experience any other way, and what He wants is to come to the end of the year and be stronger, have a deeper hope, a deeper, more experienced faith than we have right now, looking forward into this year.
God wants us to be able to look back and say, look what He’s done. Thank God! Yeah, there are still battles, there are still battles to fight as long as we’re here, but God has brought me down the road, because when I face those things, I didn’t just look inside. I just didn’t boo-hoo and feel sorry for myself. I looked up, and Jesus gave me His strength, not just His example, but His life and His strength, the only way I could handle it. Anybody here need any of this?
( congregational response ).
Yeah. See, there’s nothing new here this morning, but this is a Word that we need. The world we live in, we need to take an honest look at what the Christian life involves. It is a battle. Some of you may lay down your life, literally for Jesus. Is that worth it? Is there anything here that’s worth rejecting Him so that you can have this? A lot of people think there is.
But I’ll tell you, it’s worth everything to serve Him. There’s no place to grow weary and give up. I mean, we get weary, but there’s no place to give up because of it. There’s always that call from heaven to lay aside the things that we need to lay aside, as God puts His hand upon them, and say, Lord, give me the strength today.
I don’t have to think about next month and all those kinds of things. I can just think of today. Lord, help me today just to put one foot in front of another, and trust You for the strength to be able to do it, and to know that You are faithful. That’s the reason.
That’s what I stand upon. I don’t stand upon my ability to be faithful. Good luck. You don’t have what it takes, and I don’t either. We are in a battle that is way over our heads, but it’s not over His. And He has promised to finish what He has started.
So, let’s go forward into this year with a realistic look at what we face but with a realistic look at the resource that we have to draw upon and where it’s taking us. It’s taking every single one that has put their trust in Him to a better place, and we will look back and have reason to give Him the praise and the glory.
We won’t be able the look in the mirror and say, look what you did. We’ll say, God, in spite of what I am, look at what You did. Praise Your Name! To God be the glory. Praise God!