by Tom McLemore
Perhaps there are changes in your life (family, job, and personal life). Your life is in upheaval, you are shaken up by the experience, and you are feeling betrayed or forsaken. It may be that you have received news that has suddenly turned your world upside down.
Do you find yourself questioning the veracity of beliefs you hold? After the death of Jesus, the disciples’ hopes were dashed (Luke 24:19-21). The epistle to the Hebrews was addressed to Christians who experienced tremendous upheaval in their lives (Hebrews 10:32-35). Upheaval has tested the faith of God’s people throughout history (Hebrews 11:33-38).
Hebrews 12:28-13:16 offers guidance and direction for us in this situation. This passage is filled the theme of constancy and stability. Consider some highlights that speak to times of upheaval.
First, we discover A PRINCIPLE to hold fast and for which to be thankful. We have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken! “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28, 29). No matter what else may crumble under the pressure, the kingdom of God will remain.
Second, there are PERSONS on which we can count to be constant. We can count on God. “[H]e has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’ Hence we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?’" (Hebrews 13:5b-6). (The quotations are from Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; and Psalm 118:6).
He who thus spoke does not change (Malachi 3:6), and this refers to his nature and his honoring of his promises and covenant commitment. Of him we may declare, “And, ‘Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they will perish, but thou remainest; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle thou wilt roll them up, and they will be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years will never end.’” (Psalm 102:25-27).
And thus we may sing, with Henry F. Lyte, “...change and decay in all around I see O Thou Who changest not, abide with me,” and with Jennie Wilson, “...Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand. Trust in Him Who will not leave you Whatsoever years may bring If by earthly friends forsaken, Still more closely to him cling.”
We can also count on leaders who have finished their course still faithful. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7). Their example and our memories of their lives spur us on to the end without wavering.
And we can count on Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). In Hebrews 1:10-12, the words of Psalm 102:25-27 (cited above) are applied to Christ! He is our Advocate at God’s right hand, sympathizing with our weaknesses, and always living to make intercession for us. He, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who conquered sin, death, and the devil and leads us on to victory. He said, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
Third, there is A PLACE which will always be there and to which Christ will take us, if we endure steadfast to the end. “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). That city is in a better country, that is, a heavenly one. It is the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. God has prepared it for us, even as Christ has gone to prepare us room. The world hopes solely in terms of the shadow of the here and now, but the Christian knows what is real...the world to come.
Fourth, in the light of these unchanging, unchangeable things we have considered, there are PRACTICES that must not cease to be ours in the meantime. We must let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1-3). We must honor marriage (Hebrews 13:4). We must be content (Hebrews 13:5). We must take a stand with Jesus (Hebrews 13:13). We must worship (Hebrews 12:28, 29; 13:15). We must serve (Hebrews 13:16).
Yes, there are times of upheaval in our lives. These are the times for us to concentrate on vitally important and lasting realities. Keep your attention on the Lord, the faith, and others. Keep focused on what does not and must not cease, change, etc. Keep on practicing your Christianity.
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