Enter – Endure – Encourage (Hebrews 10:19-25)
911 attack in 2001, SARS in 2003, tsunami in 2004, financial meltdown in 2008, etc ..these unprecedented events are still vivid in our minds. And now COVID-19 pandemic that hit us globally, that crippled nations and cause many large, renounced companies to fold. These and more natural or human-induced catastrophes at the turn of the 21th century warn us of the day that is approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
The scripture tells us about this great distress, unequal from the beginning of the world until now that is coming… all these are the beginning of birth pains that we must endure (Matt 24:8;21).
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
Hebrews 10:19–21 briefly summarizes our position in Christ that if we have trusted in the work of Christ we are perfected for all time because God has chosen to place our sins upon His Son. It is because of Christ’s work on our behalf that we can draw near to God.
Based on our spiritual positions in Christ and that we see “the day” approaching, what should be our response? 3 exhortations are listed here:
1. First, Let us draw near to God (v22).
COVID-19 is a wake-up call, a call to repentance, a call to return back to God when our heart has turned cold. In the midst of crisis and great shaking, where do we turn to?
This is a time to draw near to God. A time to be still. A time to sit at his feet to listen to him. To enter into the Holy of Holies. As children of God, we should not be restless, fretful, anxious or fearful. Be still and know that He is God and he is in control.
Draw near to God and God will draw near to you (James 4:8). And as you draw near to him, He will download to you. As you tune in to him, you will begin to hear him.
I believe this is a season of prophetic preparation and transition for ROLC and many of us. God is cleansing our hearts and minds and preparing us to transit into a new season. As we renew our mind, realign to what God’s will and what he is doing, God will reset many areas of our lives that are not pleasing to him. Areas where we have not put him first.
COVID-19 period can be the worst of time or the best time of our lives if we allow God to work in us, to do a deep reset and inner cleansing; to enjoy sweet communion with the Father each day; and to strengthen and prepare us for the new seasons and a “new beginning” ahead.
Let’s enter boldly into his presence …
2. Let us hold fast the faith (v23).
Holding fast speak of keeping a tight grip on the Christian faith, keeping it from slipping away.
The book of Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish Christians to press on in their newfound faith. Their Jewish friends try to persuade these new Christians to turn back to Judaism. Jewish Christians also endured intense persecution, they are ostracized by society, thrown into prisons, fed to lions by the Romans, etc.. We learned from church history that the early Christians endured to the end and were prepare to give their lives as sacrifice to God.
Unlike the early Christians, we do not face persecution. We may face disappointment or discouragement in time like this. But as Christians, we are exhorted to hold fast to our faith and not give in to fear or doubts. We are to be faithful to Christ because He is faithful to us. In the midst of COVID-19 uncertainty when our health and wealth face a severe hit, when we hear about famines and earthquakes, when we hear of wars and rumours of wars ….our faith in God must not waiver because He is faithful. He will not leave or forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Those who are able to hold fast in the faith are those who build their houses on rock, on solid strong foundations. They will overcome and emerge stronger as victors. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew on the house, but it did not fall Matt 7:25.
As such, it is critical to build strong foundation in our faith with our discipleship groups at this moment. We want to be committed disciples of Christ who answer the call, grow deep in relationship with Christ and who make Jesus Lord in our lives. There is no room for superficiality, immaturity and mediocrity which only result in the church losing its salty flavour and having no influence on family and society.
Let’s endure and hold fast to our faith because He is faithful that promised ..
3. Let us consider one another (v24–25).
In the midst of COVID-19, not only must we draw near to God, hold fast to our faith but we need to consider one another. Consider one another is .. to look at one another, think about one another, focus on one another, study one another, let your mind be occupied with one another. The goal of this focus on one another is to think of ways of stimulating one another to love and good deeds.
We ought to provoke our spiritual family members to love and good deeds. This is strong language! Rather than provoking one another to anger, think about how to provoke one another to love and good deeds!
One way is through encouraging one another. Depending on what the situation calls for, encouragement can be a gentle word, a hug, practical help, or a surprise gift to show that we are thinking of them.
In this period, many in our body are discouraged also because of other conflicts. Some face marital conflicts, others have heartaches over rebellious or spiritually indifferent children. Some face demotion or even loss of their jobs, or various health problems. Many are wondering if God truly cares for them. That is why we need encouragers!
We should be asking: “God, who do you want me to encourage today? Who needs a word from you? Who needs my care and concern?” It isn’t about you feeding yourself; it’s about you feeding others. Who have you fed lately? Your presence is needed to encourage someone else.
Visit a DG member, have a “makan” or coffee together, share life and mutual encouragement. Pray for one another, share scripture, verbally affirm, and set an example. Look for any and every way to encourage another believer.
Finally, we are exhorted to gather with other believers: “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.”
In Hebrews 10:32–34, we are informed that these believers were facing severe pressure to turn away from their faith. They suffered persecution, some had been thrown into prison, and others had their property confiscated, others still lost their jobs. These believers were facing a spiritual crisis. From a human perspective, these early believers had a reason to skip out on church.
What about us? What’s our excuse? As we plan and prepare to transit back to church in October, I am not sure how many of us are excited and look forward to it. How many will resist and prefers to stay home?
We may choose not to be back to church for various reasons such as sleeping in late, in-convenience, need to travel, taking care of family or worry about COVID-19 though we continue to go to work, shop and eat out regularly. When we become too comfortable with the world and too casual with our faith, we will inadvertently become casualties.
Yet, the exhortation remains: Do not forsake assembling together.
Interestingly, the word “forsake” is used in Hebrews 13:5 again and the Lord states, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Even though believers may forsake God, He refuses to forsake them. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim 2:13).
Dear brothers and sisters …. As we see the day approaching, let’s enter boldly into his presence, endure and hold fast to our faith, encourage one another and remember not to forsake to meet together in our assemblies ….
13 Sep 2020