I Will Never Leave You Nor Forsake You

6/9/21 • FVC

How many of you remember the first time you experienced turbulence on an airplane? … Was it scary?

Yeah well, if that’s how you felt when a little plane shook for a few seconds, imagine what it will be like when God Shakes the entire earth, and the sun and stars above rattle off track. Even the wildest turbulence is going to feel like a gentle message when the Lord’s shaking comes. Everything that can be destroyed, will be destroyed. That was the topic of last week’s text, and it was designed to stir up your desires for a strong foundation, showing you that Jesus offers a way of escaping destruction, that He offers you an unshakable life, built on Him, or as the text says (Hebrews 12:28) in verse 28, 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.

Tonight’s text follows that up by instructing God’s people how to express their gratitude, or how to offer up acceptable worship. and then it ends with a word of amazing grace, a precious and very potent promise designed to supply the power you need to pour out your praise.

So pay attention. There are riches for you in this text. Listen to it and listen to it again. Wrestle with the text and study it. Think it over and take it to God in prayer until the Word blossoms and yields its fruit. Put in the work, take the word and preach it to yourself.

After all, it’s been said that if you rake the surface, you get leaves. but if you dig down deep, you get diamonds.  

ok then, Listen now to the word of the living God as He speaks to you. (Hebrews 13:1-6)

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?”

The church is inheriting a Kingdom which cannot be shaken and that Unshakable kingdom is being built up out of, the very shaky world that you currently live in.

The way that the unshakable and precious is separated from the shaky and worthless is by violently shaking everything and everyone and letting the worthless crumble while all that is of true lasting value remains.

When the author describes the second and last shaking, it’s the sun and the moon and the stars that quiver and tremble. It’s the very foundations of the earth, the depths of the seas and the mighty mountains. These are pictures of the most stable things. They represent the things that you count on the most, the things that provide for you, that guide you and define you.

The author is writing to the Hebrews to prepare them, for God had already started to shake their world. Things were falling apart for them and the Lord was about to send the Romans to execute His Judgment on Israel. Things were about to turn very violent. Because their people had corrupted the pure religion of their fathers. They exchanged the living God for an image… an outward set of practices.

So the Lord looked down on this corruption and it was time to clean house, to get rid of the filth.

For example, when you’ve played the pig by eating chips and cookies in bed like your mother always told you not to do.  What do you do? (that’s right, you shake the sheets)

You get up and you take those sheets by the corners and you start shaking them violently. The crumbs fall away and what’s left are clean sheets. If you’re in love with the crumbs and the slothfulness, the shaking is a horrible thing, but if you’re in love with a clean bed and sleeping soundly at night then it’s a beautiful thing.

(maybe repeat depending on response)

In a way, the Lord was about to do the same with Israel. He shook away their corruption by destroying the temple and its forms of worship which were unacceptable. The Lord did not have pity even on the sacred temple. he would rather destroy it and put it to shame than have his people continue to defile His name with mere outward behavior. He didn’t care for their empty gifts of gold and goats. He sent evil men to tear it down and loot it, to rid them of that which is not lasting, so that, that which is lasting and pure and precious would remain. And that shaking would leave the nation devastated, physically and psychologically. But God wants His people to be ready for something like that. If their children abandon them, if their brothers forsake them, if they are put in prison, if their property is plundered, ifn they are mistreated and mocked, if their livelihood is snatched away, he doesn’t them to come crashing down along with everything and everyone else.

Church, Your world will shake and if your identity, relationships or accomplishments are built on sinking sand, they will shutter and slide into the sea and never be seen again. He will not spare your marriage or your children or your “Christian” career or your financial stability. Everything will go through the fire and only what is good and unshakable, only what is lovely, and honorable and true, will stand firm.

Why would you build on the sand? Build your house, that is, build your life on the Rock.

It’s just like the three little pigs. (any kids in the audience?) The stupid younger pigs chose to build as quickly and cheaply as possible so that they would have loads of time to play and relax. When the big bad wolf came, He huffed and puffed and blew their silly houses down!

The oldest piglet however was wise and didn’t throw away his future for a few short days of fun and games. Instead, He chose to build his house out of brick and stone! and when the big bad wolf came he huffed and he puffed with all his might, and the house stood proud.

So if you want to be like the oldest piglet, what sort of materials are you going to use to build your house and keep your family safe?

Start with brotherly love.

(Hebrews 13:1) Let brotherly love continue.

In Chapter 12 there was a warning to not be like Esau, who, came home famished from a hunt and smelled his brother’s tasty red stew wafting through the air. He smelled it and he wanted it.

from that moment on, it didn’t matter what the price was, he was going to have his itch scratched.

His brother Jacob said, OK, sell me your birthright and you can have the soup.

you see, being the oldest son, Esau was in line to carry on the future of the family, to receive the promise of the Creator, which was to be their faithful God, to make them exceedingly happy and prosper them richly. And this fool said, “you know, what good is that birthright if I die from hunger right now?”

It’s written (Genesis 25:33,34) So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Esau was a man who built his life out of straw and sticks. He lacked understanding. He chose the present pleasure. He traded a prosperous and permanent future for a bowl of stew and a piece of bread.

Don’t be like Esau. Be wise. Choose this day, to build with unshakable materials. build up your children on a sound foundation, on Jesus, the Chief cornerstone. Build up your brothers and their children and you will be rich and happy in eternity and so will they. Esau is a story of a stupid man who forsook his glorious future for a fleeting fleshly desire. and then hated himself and hated his brother and hated the promises of God because of it.

Men, This speaks so clearly of your sexual passions. Doesn’t it? They just come upon you like the smell of  soup wafting through the air and they lead you astray like Esau.

When you read his story, you think, “that ridiculous. How stupid can you be?!” But isn’t it the same with you and your sexual cravings? They come upon you in much the same way and you just feel the urge and nothing else matters, all your understanding, all the promises of God, you forsake them and say, “I Gotta have it, I got to have it right now. it doesn’t matter.”

Don’t neglect your inheritance. Don’t cast it aside. Don’t treat it like garbage.

And the same goes for those who can’t say no to that piece of chocolate, to that bag of chips, to those who are enticed by the bottle, to those who burst into anger at the drop of a hat.

Lord have mercy. Give us the grace to serve acceptably in your kingdom, to build our homes, to build our lives in reverence and fear, knowing that everything that can be burned away will be burned away.

In the morning, when you are faced with a new day and the path for the rest of your life is open to you, make a choice to not be a son of Esau. decide for yourself, to treasure the promises of God. Resolve to trust your Father.

When it came time for Esau to accept his inheritance, he was denied. He wept and pleaded with his father just as so many who, in this life, cast aside the promises and exchange them for that which rusts and rots, for that which lasts for a minute or two or 10 or a half an hour or 80 years but then crumbles away.

They will face the father on that day and cry and weep and say, “have you no blessing for me?” and He will say no, I gave it all to Jacob.

It’s Such a sad story. don’t make it to your story.

Instead be wise. Serve God acceptably with lasting materials.

Build a beautiful life with the bricks of brotherly love, being glued and cemented together, committed, fortified, united together into a single wall.

No longer individual bricks, but in brotherly love a beautiful and sound wall, giving your strength to one another, your boldness, your time, your resources to one another to build each other up into the house of the Lord where he will live in you forever.

Faith and Victory, praise God, is full of brotherly love. and it’s beautiful. Don’t stop. It must continue. Brotherly love is like a well. To keep it from running dry and from turning sour, what you have to do is actually draw from it often. You must continue in brotherly love.

When one is sick the whole body is sick.

when one is in need the whole body is in need

and when one rejoices let all rejoice with him.

Build with the bricks of brotherly love. They are baked through the heat of this world’s trials when you go through them together and you come out stronger …useful. Don’t you want to be useful? Brothers, you are made for working. Bricks, in a castle wall are mighty and valuable. and remain for centuries. Bricks laying by the wayside are crushed under foot. they are rubble. Be about the business of your Jesus, who loved his brethren with a pure heart.

Brotherly love must continue.

“What is God’s will in my life?” you ask. This is the will of God. This is what he wants you to do. Why? Because the bricks of brotherly love will not be burned away and will not be shaken. if you build with selfishness, envy, desires for personal gain, apathy, towards your brothers’ needs, these are the materials of straw and sticks, which are blown down in a split-second. there’s a shaking coming. be prepared. do not toil away in vain. Let brotherly love continue.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.

It is good to love one another, but let the love of Christ grow in you so much that it flows over to all you meet. when there is a stranger in your midst, a stranger at work, a stranger along the roadside, in the grocery store, at the car parts store, at the hospital, at the coffee shop, be hospitable.

Remember, you are your king’s representative to all the people who cross your path. Yes, even to the crying baby and to the homeless and to the sick and to those who wrong you and to the smelly and funny looking.  

Being a friend because He has befriended you, Helping strangers in their need because while you yourself were a stranger he stooped down to help you in your time of need, This is acceptable worship, much more so than merely being kind because that’s how civilized people behave. This is worship that won’t be washed away. This is worship that will continue to exalt God for thousands of years in the heavenly city. This is worship that calls out loudly, “the Lord is lovely and worthy to be praised!”

Remember the prisoners as if chained with them and those who are mistreated since you yourselves are in the body also.

Use your imaginations to help you choose sympathy for those who are suffering for the sake of Christ.

What if you were in their place? You have wrists do you not? What if they were wrapped in chains? You have hands don’t you? what if they were grabbing the bars of a lonely prison cell?

How precious would a word of encouragement be from a brother? How dear would it be to know that your brother is taking care of your family in your absence? What a comfort to know that your family on the outside is continuing the cause, that they are not shrinking back in fear but boldly furthering the work for which you are in prison?

(Hebrews 13:4) Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

How do you serve the God of heaven acceptably? What is God’s will for your life?

Treasure your marriage. Honor your brother’s marriage. Celebrate the newlywed and cherish the elderly couples. Remain committed to your wife, to your husband. Keep your eyes pure. Guard your hearts. let no person, or image, or word, come between you and your spouse. Guard your thoughts.

This is the work God’s builders busy themselves with. This is how the unshakable Kingdom is constructed. not with carpenters and electricians and masons, but with thankful men and women who labor day and night for a pure marriage, a marriage that shows off to the world, the love of Jesus for his church.

Fornicators and adulterers, God will judge. Meaning, God will tear down your house, he will rip your life apart, to get rid of these sins. He hates them. He will crush them and if you do not rid yourself of them he will crush you in order to get rid of them. and your spouse will suffer and your children will suffer. you will suffer and you may find yourself like Esau a man who took for himself, many wives, in a position, as a grown man, weeping, searching for repentance but it was too late.

So, Love your wife. find pleasure in your wife. And wives, delight yourself in your husband. Strive to be a pleasure to each other, to be attractive to each other, in body and character and spirit. Give the other no reason to look for pleasure in another. Be a delight to one another in public, Be a delight to one another in the home, and in the marriage bed. And above all, be a faithful and loyal friend to each other in every way. For our God is a consuming fire. And the more filth you drag into your marriage bed, the more of your marriage will have to burn in order to keep what is pure.

Now, if like the proud young ruler, you say, “all these commands I have kept since my youth,” how about the final command here…?

(Hebrews 13:5a) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.

Think for a moment about the things you do for money. (good long pause)

Do you seem to always need more?

How much time and energy, how much blood, sweat and tears are poured out to get more?

How much do you like to show yourself as a person that has much? Much beauty? Much wisdom? Much knowledge? Much money? Much respect?

How much of that is built on Jesus? because exactly that much is how much will withstand the Lord’s shaking.

In the end, what will you have purchased with all that energy and all those cares and all the health and strength that you spent? Will it have been worth it?

You just ask yourself. this is a warning and an offer, not a finger wag or a guilt trip. It really isn’t. The Lord Jesus when he came, did not come to condemn. He came to heal to search out and save, to make whole, to reunite men with God, to bring you into the family. Today, He is lovingly and patiently calling you and giving you the time to remember all the great things he has done for you and promised to do for you and your family. He is giving another opportunity to search your heart and decide this day to moor up your foundations before he comes back to Judge.

When God shook, the structure and rituals of the jews came tumbling down. He did this in order that the unshakable, and the incorruptible, or in other words, the pure religion may remain.

And that pure religion is a life lived in thanksgiving to God, overflowing with acts of thanksgiving such as putting the brothers first, pursuing their betterment, doing good deeds as Christ’s images and representatives on earth, coming along side the afflicted, showing hospitality to strangers, remaining faithful to your wife and ruling your family in purity of heart that they might see Jesus in you and be happy with Him.

This is acceptable service, not circumcision, not the slaughtering of goats, not making pilgrimage to the temple. No, in Christ, you offer thankful praise. He has opened the doors of heaven to you, who were once foreigners and enemies, and welcomed you into the riches of his love and care, and BECAUSE of that, You also share your grace and mercy with others, by doing good in every way, from a heart of thanksgiving, you offer up worship that is most pleasing to God.

… from a heart of thanksgiving. Today, you live in a post-Christian society that resembles the post-Abrahamic society of Israel. Those Jews, had by in-large abandoned acceptable worship. True religion had been replaced by outward displays of piety.

Today, you can see much of the same. People in the west adopted the Christian behavior of kindness, generosity, honesty, charity, peace and the like, but once again, they have hollowed out the actions by denying God of all goodness. They deny Jesus but try to carry on in his teachings not even knowing why they continue to do so. That’s how you end up with Pride Month. Lord have mercy!

A worldly religion, which forms a system in which the world can walk is a perversion of Christianity and will be shaken away. Perhaps a time of shaking has begun anew. It feels like the contractions that foretell the coming birth of a child and happening and their intervals are picking up pace. When the time comes, the mother anguishes and screams in pain, sometimes for a short while and sometimes for what seems like endless hours. But don’t dismay, when the baby is born, the trembling ceases and the joy is great. 

And also like giving birth, the practical ways in which you offer acceptable worship, aren’t exactly a walk in the park. When you’re in the act, all the romanticized notions vanish. There’s a lot of grunting and clenching, and squeezing and pushing. Its excruciating and you scream and and it’ messy and you need help. Right, ladies?

Praise God for mothers! and praise God for the grace he gives to be fruitful.

Offering acceptable worship requires difficult choices. It requires inner fortitude. It requires you to put away all laziness. It requires self control and faith and it requires a heart that loves Jesus and hates the sin that deceives and it requires you to turn your back on easy evil ways and say “get behind me, Satan!” special help is needed.

And that is exactly why the author says, let us have Grace by which we may serve God acceptably. We need his grace, his bountiful blessings, his good gifts, his holy help. 

All this he lavishly gives to his beloved children. Praise God, He gave us a very special Helper!

(check in with the body, how are they doing? this last part is the most important. ok? if you know what to do and why, but can’t actually do it, what good is that? sounds like a recipe for guilt. that’s not the point of this sermon ok. stick with me, here is the power.)

Listen church, He himself has said…

He himself has said… if there be anyone, if there be anything that you know for sure will withstand any shaking, is it not your Jesus? … the one who loved truly. Who continuously and faithfully gave and gives himself up for his friends? the one who had true riches but gave them up and took on the state of a lonely man in order to give you the true inheritance, the priceless and pure and lavish inheritance of being a child of God?

No fire can consume your Jesus. No earthquake can swallow Him up. No tsunami could bring him under. No raging wind could toss Him about.

He himself, the very amen of heaven, the sound foundation on which the kingdom of God is built, The earth-creating and life-giving Word of God, He himself, has said I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Many have come into your life and many have turned around and left. Children turn their backs on their parents. Husbands leave their wives and brothers forsake brothers. there’s much faithlessness in this world, but not so with your God. He is the one, the single, the unique One with whom your trust is secure, in whom your hope will not fail.

He himself has said… I will never leave you nor forsake you.

This is the grace of God, the treasure of heaven, to have as your companion and counselor, through thick and thin, the Spirit of Truth and to have Jesus himself, the compassionate and courageous one on your side and to be called A beloved child of the Father, held securely in His caring hand. The healer and sustainer. The freedom fighter. Jesus who forgives sins, who lifts up and sets on a new course, the one who suffered On your behalf who was tempted and showed himself faithful, Jesus who overcame and ascended to the throne in heaven, in whom all power and authority rest. He is yours.  

He does not waver. He does not grow weak. He does not tire of being your shield. He ever lives to intercede on your behalf. No foe is too strong for him, no night too dark and no fire too furious to cause him to flee.

When the world comes against you, when it’s hard to love your brother, when he’s done you wrong, when you have wronged him, when you’re more concerned for your own welfare than his, remember the words of your God. I will never leave you nor forsake you. He is by your side, urging you to continue on in brotherly love, saying, “I gave it all for you. Give a little now for him. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.” do not grieve him by turning your heart away from your wife. Take on Jesus’ strength and follow His example. For you, he did not count equality with the Father something to hold tightly, but rather embraced decades of suffering and poverty. 

When you are tempted to be apathetic toward the suffering, remember your Jesus who himself was in chains and dragged from court to court and accused and convicted falsely and suffered the punishment of a criminal. He himself a prisoner, stands by your side and gives you his word to never leave you nor forsake you. He who  himself was bound for your sake is with you in your time of need. How much more then, you a free man with boundless blessings can come alongside your brothers in their time of need.

When the world temps you with the lust of the flesh and lies to you and perverts The beauty and honor of marriage and shouts pridefully look, look, you can have her, there won’t be any consequences, remember that you are not alone.

Though you are Tempted to believe that no one else sees you, that no one else hears what’s going on in your head, that no one is around to rescue you from those fiery darts, remember He himself has said, I will never leave you and I will never forsake you.

Let these words first be understood this way… When you make the choice to believe such lies and to give yourself over to those weak pleasures that are here for but a moment and then evaporate like a breath on a winter’s morning, Holy Spirit, He is by your side and you are bringing into His presence something that is hideous and filthy. …. Let that thought generate fear, by which you will choose to live acceptably.

Indeed, the Lord is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.

And secondly let these words, I will never leave you nor for sake you be understood as an encouragement.

He is there to lift you out of the pit. He is by your side to rescue you from every temptation. You are not alone. You have a helper. You have a mighty Savior at your side. Run to him. He is with you now, this very moment. Turn to him, He knows this can be a hard word, He is is ready to help you. 

He is not here to condemn you but to rescue.

Choose wisely brothers, for every time you build on the sand, whatever is built will be destroyed. Build your lives on the Rock. For he is a mighty fortress and a strong tower, He would not, could not, will not leave you, will not forget you, will not forsake you. His heart is to bless you with wholeness of mind and body and soul. His desire is to share his birthright with you. He himself has said, “I will never leave you nor for sake you”

Oh but wait, to whom is this sweet vow made?

To the children.

This is an inheritance after all. The promise is for the children of God, For those who choose Jesus over this world, not for those who continue on indulging in selfishness.

But wait, Is Jesus not the one, the Only begotten Son of God? Where have these other children come from? They are children of grace, adopted into the family by the unending, incomprehensible mercy and kindness of the Creator.

And His offer of adoption is being made new tonight, for it was He himself, who at the great feast where all we’re making merry, stood and shouted out, (John 7:37-38) “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

If anyone thirsts. If anyone! you’re all invited to join the family, to drink and drink and be satisfied.

Whoever believes in me. Whoever! Have you ever heard a better word? Whoever. Jesus doesn’t have one of those carnival signs that reads, “You must be this tall to ride this ride.” White, black … brown, yellow… you’re all invited. Whoever believes. Whoever puts their trust in Him. Not a single person, boy or girl, young or old, poor or wealthy, who puts their trust in him will come to shame.

Jesus stands tall and shouts loudly for all to hear. His offer is for all. No glutton, no adulterer, no slanderer is excluded. He shouts loudly for all to hear, If anyone has an inner thirst, an unquenchable dissatisfaction with this world and what it has to offer, if anyone is thirsty let him come to Jesus and drink. Friends, strangers, brothers and sisters, come to him and drink. Drink your fill. Be satisfied. It doesn’t matter who you are, do not leave hear tonight thirsty. Come, let us talk afterward and pray and receive good gifts from God. There will be people up front to help you and pray with you. Don’t leave thirsty!

If you trust him, that he is who he says he is, that he will do what he has promised, if you believe in him, He will fill you with rivers of living water. He will satisfy your soul and you will take that water to others. He will give you peace. He will overjoy your heart and He will be with you. He will send you The Spirit of God himself and He will never forsake you and you can boldly say the Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?

Well, it’s time. If you have kids downstairs, go pick them up and then spend some time with your brothers and sisters. They love you. and then leave here, and go love Jesus. Build your life on the unshakable One and rest assured, He will never leave you nor for sake you. With him at your side, you can build an incorruptible life and spread the kingdom of God on earth.

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