Sunday, August 7, 2016, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Lead Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 13 (ESV). Brotherly Love (vv. 1-6) Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” What is love? Well, if we are speaking of agape love, which is God-like love, then it is giving of ourselves to meet the legitimate needs of others (See: Jn. 3:16). When we love God with this kind of love, which originates with him, we choose to do what pleases him. We prefer what God prefers, we subscribe to his will for our lives, and we choose his choices. We consistently and actively do the will of God in his power and according to his direction (See: Ro. 8:1-14). We don’t live to do what pleases us, thinking God will be pleased by our choices. Loving God means full surrender to his will and to his purposes for our lives. Brotherly love, from what I can ascertain, simply means “friendship love and affection,” and it has to do largely with Christians loving one another, or with humans caring about other humans. It also means “kindness.” I believe it incorporates agape love, as well. And, it is seen in such acts as showing hospitality to strangers, and showing compassion for those in prison and/or for those being mistreated by others. It does no harm to its neighbor, and it does not betray, lie to, and cheat on those to whom it is committed to love, honor and cherish, and this includes by lusting in the mind and looking at pornographic images. When we love God we will not be worshipers of money, and it will not become our god. We won’t live to make lots of money to store away for our future or to spend on our pleasures, but we will put our trust in the Lord for our future, and we will trust in him to meet all our needs. Now, this is not to say that we should not work or make money, for the Bible teaches us that if we do not work, we should not eat. And, this is not to say that we should not have checking and savings accounts. I believe we should have a reasonable supply of money to meet our budget needs so that we don’t have to depend on others, and even a surplus in order that we might be generous in helping to meet the needs of others, if these are feasible. But money should not be our goal or our focus, and it should not consume us. And, what we do have should be considered to belong to God to be used how he chooses. I guess the bottom line in all of this is that we love God with the love he has put within our hearts, which is this agape love, and we live to serve him and to love others. If we are doing this, we can’t go wrong. This means we trust God with our lives and we don’t put our trust in our own abilities and resources. We inquire of him as to where he wants our money to go, and we obey him when he says to give. And, we don’t worry about our lives or what we will do or what might happen to us, for we trust our lives into God’s capable hands. Submission to Leaders (vv. 7-17) Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. If we love God and we love our fellow humans, and we love the body of Christ, his church, we will do what God has commanded us to do, we will live to please him in all things, and we will desire to do good to others and not harm. Our Lord has instructed us here that we should remember our leaders who have spoken the Word of God to us. We should observe their lives closely, and we should imitate their faith. So, does this apply to all those who are leaders within the church? What if they are false shepherds of the people, and what if what they are teaching is a false gospel? And, what if they are not living according to God’s Word, but they are still following after their own flesh? Do you know that well over 50% of pastors here in America have dabbled in or are addicted to pornography? I suspect the percentage is much higher than this, if the truth be told. It is no wonder our churches are on a spiritual decline. So, do we imitate their faith? NO! So, how do we apply this teaching to our lives? I believe we need to be very discerning about this, and we need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Not everyone who says he is a minister of the gospel or a pastor of the people is truly following the Lord Jesus with their lives. Many pastors today are following men more than they are following God, and they spend more time in reading books on marketing schemes than they do in the study of God’s word, and much more time working on the “stage production” than they do on their knees in prayer. So, be careful who you emulate, and make certain that they are following the true God and the true scriptures and that their walk matches their talk. Regarding obeying our leaders, I believe the rule of thumb should be that we obey them unless what they ask us to do is contrary to God’s Word, and if it is against the teachings of Christ and those of his NT apostles, and if it is contrary to God’s divine character and will for our lives. For instance, if the government should come in and force us from our homes, and confiscate our property, I don’t believe we are to physically resist them. I believe, though, that we can make an appeal, if that is allowed, if we believe we have been wronged. But, ultimately we just have to put our lives into God’s hands and trust him to work it all out according to his purposes for our lives. We must remember that this world is not our home, for we are just passing through, and that we are not to lay up treasures here on this earth, but in heaven, and that God will take care of us, and he will supply all that we need. Honorably in All Things (vv. 18-21) Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. In all things, including in all the things we have just mentioned, we are to act honorably. What does that mean, and how are we to do that? Well, to act honorably means to behave uprightly, morally, ethically, decently and honestly. It means to show integrity in all that we do. This means that we don’t lie to people, even if it is socially acceptable. We also don’t cheat on, steal from, or take advantage of other people to get ahead in life or to cover up for other sins we have committed. We, as well, are not to be hypocritical, and we should not talk out of both sides of our mouths. What we say, we should mean. We should stand on what we believe, too. And, we ought not to continually waver back and forth with the opinions of others in order to be accepted by them, either. So, how can this be accomplished? Well, first of all we need to be in relationship with Jesus Christ by faith in him and in what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins. We must be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and be resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). This is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives as we yield control of our lives over to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Then we must walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh that we might live with God for eternity. When we believe in Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we are indwelt and empowered with the Holy Spirit, the third person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus sent him to indwell his followers and to guide, comfort, direct, encourage, teach, rebuke, and exhort them. So, if we want to act honorably in all that we do, we just yield to the control of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives in transforming us and in conforming us to the image of Christ. We say “Yes” to God, and we say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires. And, in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit within us we live godly, upright and self-controlled lives pleasing to God. Jesus, Lead Me / An Original Work / July 22, 2011 Jesus, lead me all the way. Be my hope and be my stay. Gently lead me where I should go, So Your Spirit, I want to know. Open up my heart to You. Fill me with Your love and truth. Make my heart want to obey. Be my Lord today. Gently lead always. Jesus, lover of my soul, Cleanse my heart, and make me whole; Be transformed in my heart today, As I turn from my sin and pray. Make Your will known to my heart. May I not from You depart. How I long to hear You now, As I humbly bow. Jesus, hear me now.