Hebrews – God’s Action in Jesus
What do we take for granted? Running water? Cool air on a hot day? More than enough clothes to wear? Shoes on our feet? Who do we take for granted? A loving spouse? Family and our close friends? A welcoming church where we can go and be blessed by pastoral leadership that leads us to God’s throne to worship and learn EVERY time we meet? There are many things and people for whom we take for granted without really thinking about it. The writer of Hebrews closes his letter with reminders and challenges to “make sure we don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good…”
Many pastors leave their full time positions due to unhealthy stress leading to extreme illnesses in trying to be all things to all people, to financial stress due to low pay, to family issues from pressures from self inflicted expectations from within and from even higher expectations from a congregation of occasional attenders. The faithful typically love and help their pastors, families, and pray for them liberally and often.
Randy and I have been there, done that. Our family was taken for granted in many ways before we realized what was going on and asked God for His help and discernment. One example: Early in our ministry, our daughters and son were expected, rarely asked, to always be in the nursery watching over the toddlers of attenders for worship, meetings and fellowships. We realized the extent of being taken for granted when one parent actually showed anger when my oldest was not available to watch her kids due to her work schedule on a new paying job that was going to help pay her college bills.
You see, the pastor and his/her family members are sometimes considered, (taken for granted) as part of the rest of the environment of the church building and furnishings because of their faithfulness to what God has invited them to be and do. Just as the pews, pulpit and piano are always there…so is the pastor. It is easy to include him/her into the “things” we take for granted. The writer of Hebrews says, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God.” The writer also challenges the congregation to help not hinder the work, “Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. WHY would you want to make things harder for them?” We should not take advantage of our pastors’ kindness, gentleness and patience with us.
There are all kinds of ways to worship to God. God’s particular pleasure is seen in the sacrifice of our very own lives, “that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets”, not taking advantage of anyone or any thing He has placed into our lives. Remember Romans 12:1? “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
I want to do the BEST thing for God, those things in which God takes particular pleasure in seeing me be and do. Don’t you?
Pray first, then write an appreciation note to all the leaders, paid and volunteer, in your house of worship. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Spread it out. Begin with “I see Jesus in you when ________ “and fill in the blank. You will be amazed at the spiritual adrenaline you will pump into the lives of those who serve you each week. You will be amazed when you think about what they do in the name of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.
You see, we can either suck the life from others or pump a burst of fresh, spiritual air into those we encounter each day on this journey. Which do we choose? What do you think will give God particular pleasure? Mm.
Hebrews 13, The Message
16 Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.
17 Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?
18-21 Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we’re doing or why, but it’s hard going and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God. Pray that we may be together soon.
May God, who puts all things together,
makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus,
the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd,
up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together, provide you
with everything you need to please him,
Make us into what gives him most pleasure,
by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and always!
Oh, yes, yes, yes.
22-23 Friends, please take what I’ve written most seriously. I’ve kept this as brief as possible; I haven’t piled on a lot of extras. You’ll be glad to know that Timothy has been let out of prison. If he leaves soon, I’ll come with him and get to see you myself.
24 Say hello to your pastoral leaders and all the congregations. Everyone here in Italy wants to be remembered to you.
25 Grace be with you, every one.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Make me a blessing to everyone I will talk with or meet today. Because of Christ in me, let me live my life as a sacrifice of praise to You. Help me to love others like you love me. Make us into what gives You the most particular pleasure.
In Jesus Name, Amen