Go: Love Each Other

“Keep on loving each other as brothers.” (Hebrews 13:1)

Some people measure Christianity as a collection of “don’t” statements. Even some Christians seem to think that a relationship with God is mostly about what we do NOT do. By that logic, the best Christian would be the one who never does anything at all.

go_350But the writer of Hebrews, after making the case for faith in Jesus as the only way to receive God’s grace, ends his long letter with a command cluster of DO statements. His point is that our faith should compel us to take action – to DO something and not just sit there.

This week, we’ll look at 7 things Jesus followers can go and do – because we are Jesus followers. The first is familiar: Keep loving other Christians like brothers. We are family. Real family, God’s family, loves with the forgiving, patient, understanding, grace-giving, helping hand, showing up, not letting go love of Jesus.

Let’s go and do that today.

Think: Have you ever been tempted to define your relationship with God by what you do NOT do? Why is a don’t list an unhealthy way to measure what it means to follow Jesus?

Pray: Ask God to help you to keep on loving other believers as brothers.

Do: Make a list of 3 specific ways you could show the love of Jesus to some other Christians this week.

Go: Entertain Strangers

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

You could read this verse in a few different ways, but I don’t think the writer was urging Christians to do stand-up comedy routines for strangers in hopes of “entertaining” angels. For most of human history, traveling has been dangerous. Away from home, you never know who to trust. Is the innkeeper a good guy – or is he working with thieves to ambush his unwary house guests?

go_350In that time, especially, Christians could actively show the love of Jesus by offering kindness, hospitality, and protection to travelers. As more and more strangers were given a night’s rest and safe passage by Christians, they would take the message far and wide that Christians are people who do good, even for strangers.

Traveling has changed, but there are still plenty of strangers in need of help, food, and hospitality. We can continue to make Jesus known by helping in His name those we do not know.

Bonus: You might even end up giving a ride, a meal, or a few bucks to an angel.

Think: How often has your family or your church participated in entertaining strangers? Has anyone ever helped you in a moment of need, even though he or she did not know you? How can you be ready to wisely (and safely) help out the next stranger that comes your way?

Pray: Ask God to help you and your family or church group to be available to offer hospitality to strangers in the name of Jesus.

Do: Ask a friend or two about any of their experiences offering and/or receiving hospitality to or from strangers.

Go: Help the Persecuted

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3)

It’s nearly impossible for most of us to imagine having our friends and family members hauled off to prison for believing in Jesus. Sometimes we feel stung by angry words directed towards Christians, especially over hot-button cultural issues like creation, abortion, and homosexual rights. But the fact is that most of us are free to believe what we like and broadcast it to whomever will listen without fear of any serious penalty.

go_350That wasn’t the case in all corners of the Roman empire when Hebrews was written – and it’s not the case in many nations around the world today. As then, Christians are being jailed, persecuted, and killed for acknowledging faith in Jesus.

You don’t have to know someone personally to go and do as today’s verse teaches. There are ways for you to remember those in prison for Christ right now and to help the mistreated. A good place to start is persecution.com, a site run by The Voice of the Martyrs. Stop by to read about persecution happening right now and how you might be able to remember and help.

Think: In most cultures, there’s a lot of shame attached with being sent to prison for any reason – and a fear that if you try to help imprisoned Christians, you could end up jailed, as well. If you were being seriously mistreated for your belief in Jesus, how would you want other Christians to respond?

Pray: Ask God to help those imprisoned around the world for their faith in Christ. Then ask him to help you know how he’d like you to remember them and maybe even help.

Do: If you haven’t, yet, click on over to persecution.com and spend a little time getting to know what’s going on with the persecuted church around the world.

Go: Honor Marriage Today

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)

It’s easy to read this verse and hear, “Don’t have sex until you’re married!” or “Don’t have sex with anyone but your spouse!” I’d guess that many of us read it as a “NO” verse. But really it’s a “GO” verse. It’s a positive command.

go_350We all tend to be so focused on the bottom line of what we can and can’t do – what the rules are – that we can miss what the point is. And the point is that marriage is a huge deal to God. It’s an even bigger deal than sex. He introduced the idea of marriage in the second chapter of the whole Book – with sex as the physical act that seals the lifelong commitment between man and wife.

God will judge sexual sin because it’s how we say, “We don’t care about marriage.” “We don’t care about that promise.” “We don’t care about that living illustration of Jesus’ eternal connection to Christians in the church.”

Let’s go and honor biblical marriage however we can.

Think: Sexual temptation is a demanding battle for most people. Do you tend to think of it as a battle for marriage or a battle against yourself? Does it help to think of it as a battle for something positive, instead of just a constant resisting of a “bad” thing?

Pray: Ask God to give you a passion for marriage, even if you never end up married. Ask him to help you to care about what he cares about enough to build strategies to honor marriage and the “marriage bed.”

Do: Read how marriage is supposed to help us understand the relationship between Christ and the church in Ephesians 5:23-32.

Go: Live Free

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

You don’t have to be rich to be a money-lover. In fact, some of the money-lovingest moments in my life have been times when I was dead broke. I would not have said out loud, “I love money.” But if you’d looked at how I spent my thoughts, time, and emotional energy you might have guessed that I loved it.

go_350Here’s the positive “go” statement in this command: “Stay free from the love of money.” Why did the writer use the word free? Because living for money is a trap. Paul said it this way in 1 Timothy 6:9: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

The funny thing is that we sometimes think getting lots of money is the key to being free. In fact, living for money becomes the very trap we wanted to escape in the first place.

But we all need some money, right? How do we stay out of the trap of making money the point of our lives? How do we live free? Contentment with or without money comes from resting in God and how he has provided for you today. He will never leave or stop taking care of us, even if the bank account runs dry.

Think: Do you sometimes find yourself living for money or the things money can buy? Where’s the line between living for things and living free? Where’s the line between being responsible to earn and spend money wisely and turning money/stuff into the point of life?

Pray: Ask God to help you to keep your life free from the love of money because he is here. Thank him that he promised to never, ever leave you.

Do: Read more about money and contentment in 1 Timothy 6:6-19.

Go: Be Confident in Him

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:6)

I’ve never jumped out of an airplane before, so this is purely a guess. But I’d suppose there is a difference in the level of confidence felt between a first-timer and veteran jumper. Once they leave the plane, both will display trust in the parachute by pulling the ripcord; what else can they do other than plummet to their deaths?

go_350But the newbie will trust the parachute with a thrill of hopeful fear: “Boy, I hope this chute opens! Boy, I hope I don’t die!” The experienced jumper will be much more confident that the chute will open and operate exactly the way parachutes usually work. His faith is not mixed with nearly as much fear about what gravity can do to him.

What’s the confidence level of your faith in God? How convinced are you that the Lord is with you, that he is your helper, that no person can hurt you in any way that will matter in the long run – because you belong to God forever? How much of your faith is mixed with fear?

Let’s choose to be confident in him today and enjoy the ride because he is completely trustworthy.

Think: Is it possible for us to have our full faith in God but for our confidence level to waiver from day to day? Have you experienced a growth in your confidence in the Lord as you’ve seen him provide for you through more difficult days?

Pray: Ask God to help you to become more and more confident that he is with you, helping you, every day. Ask him to help you to trust him so much that you become less and less afraid of anything that might hurt you.

Do: The writer of this verse had read Psalm 118. Take a minute to do the same thing.

Go: Be a Copycat

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:7-8)

The gospel is analog. It can’t be automated. It will never be digitally delivered. Even if someone hears it on the radio or reads it on a web page, the message itself was written down or spoken by a living, breathing human being who heard it from another one – going all the way back to the biblical writers themselves.

go_350That’s one reason we are convinced that the good news of Jesus is true. We can see with our eyes how it has changed the lives of the people who have taught us about God from his Word. We can see it at work in them. Their lives are evidence that this powerful message is real.

If you look at the Christian leaders you admire who are really living what they teach, don’t say to yourself, “That works for them and not for me.” Look at them and say, “This works for them! Look how God works in them!” Then, we’re told, imitate their faith. Copy them. Follow their example.

It’s the same Christ in you that is alive and active in them. Don’t give up.

Think: Who are the people who have spoken the Word of God to you? How has their relationship with God changed their lives over time? How could you imitate their faith?

Pray: Ask God to help you to imitate the faith of the trustworthy Christian leaders in your life who have definitely been changed by him. Thank him that the same Jesus is at work in your heart.

Do: Pick one or two people you would consider Christian role models in your life and ask them how they trust God and how their faith in Christ has changed them over time.