Hebrews 12:12-17 – Get Up and Get Going!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 13, 2013 AM
Have you ever had one of those days where it is tough to get out of bed? The other day I think my get up got up and went! It was tough to roll out of the covers. Usually, I am happy and singing the moment my feet hit the floor but the other day I thought that someone set off firecrackers and then I realized it was the sound of my bones cracking! I ended up having to claim the verse out of Revelation that states, “And he swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, ‘There will be no more delay!’” (Revelation 10:6 NIV) I had to get up and get going!
The writer of Hebrews now focuses on the fact that his listeners needed to get up and get going with their faith. It was time to stop procrastinating. Perhaps many of them, like many of us, had decided to be more faithful, tomorrow. This was totally unacceptable for the writer. We cannot rest on the faithfulness of others who proved to be faithful. We are accountable to God to be the people He has called us to be in Jesus Christ. It is a matter of priorities in life and a matter of how we live our lives for the Lord. I believe that the church today will not see this nation come to Christ until individual believers decide to get up and get going! Let’s discover how Hebrews encourages us to do just that…
While many authors have written a myriad of books about holiness, it seems that little of it has infected the church today. If we desire to be all that God desires we must get up and get going and…
I. Make holiness a priority in life! (Vv. 12-14)
1. The Apostle Paul reminded his listeners, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV) While the benefit of our faith in Jesus leads to holiness (Romans 6:22) and the result is eternal life, we are also to “be holy” because God who has called us “is holy”! (1 Peter 1:15-16) Hebrews writes, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” It is a call to spiritual vitality. Something the worldly church needs today! He knew the spiritual weakness of his listeners. Well, how does a believer who is already holy in Christ, strengthen themselves spiritually in order to be holy in their life? It is a matter of priority. He first quotes Isaiah 35:5 and then Proverbs 4:26-27 whereby the people are to get rid of anything in their pathway that would cause them to stumble in their righteousness. We forget that while we have been made holy we can also stumble in our walk with Christ. We need to strengthen our weak appendages, and then get rid of anything in our lives that would cause us to stumble into sin! We continually make lame excuses for our disability to walk in the Lord. The fault is no one else’s but our own. Far too often modern-day believers are far more focused on what they get out their faith, than what they bring to their faith. They want churches, preachers, and musicians to make them sprint into the presence of God and forget that if they are not walking with God, no amount of external bandaging will help them to run the race He has already set for them. This is why the writer of Hebrews states that we as individuals are to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy”! Why, because he knew without any doubt that “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” I believe he is making a two-fold admonishment here, one for those who have never been saved to get rid of any hindrances and come to Christ, and for those of us who have accepted Jesus by faith to do the same thing. We are to return to Jesus, and get rid of sin in order to be holy. In order to get up and get going in our faith, we need to make holiness a priority in life!
EXAMPLE: Oswald Chambers writes, “It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do— God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself.” This is what Hebrews meant. Chambers continued, “Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life… I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself.” We need to return to Jesus, and then get rid of any hindrance that causes us to stumble in our faith. Growing faith produces wholly living for the Lord, which produces holiness in life. We need to make holiness a priority in life!
Jesus was full of grace and mercy, and we as His disciples are to be as well. We are to be the reflection of our Master and Savior, “who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV) Hebrews therefore relates that we are to…
II. Make God’s grace your life’s song! (Vv. 15-17)
1. Lest you have forgotten, the preacher of Hebrews has already admonished his listeners over and over to not forget their faith. He began this sermon by saying, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1 NIV) He also told them, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (v. 3:12) and “let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” (v. 4:1) It was of paramount importance to him that his listeners would “See to it that no one misses the grace of God”! God’s glorious unmerited favor towards those who could have cared less, should make all of us wonder at His love for us. When we miss the grace of God and what it means, bitterness can grow in our lives. His desire was “that no bitter root” would grow “to cause trouble and defile many.” That’s what bitterness does; it poisons our lives and the lives of others. Notice the author uses some very graphic terms to describe the results of bitterness: sexual immorality and godlessness. The words he uses are words we derive pornography from and the term for crossing the threshold from grace into utter heathenism. This is what Esau did when he sold his birthright to feed his stomach! We sell our birthright in Jesus when we miss the grace of God in our lives! We can want God to bless our lives, but he cannot, just as Esau could not be blessed, because of our ungodly lifestyle. We might be saved, but we are without God’s graciousness in our daily living. We have deliberately crossed over into sin rather than wanting to be holy. Just like many of us, “He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.” We cry and beg God to bless us and wonder why He won’t when in fact the problem is not with God, but with us! We have drifted away from the Lord, we have forgotten His grace, and we have become embittered and poisoned in our lives. We want God’s blessing without any change in our lives. This is why Paul wrote, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV) and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 NIV) Where there is God’s grace, there is no room for bitterness. Therefore, make God’s grace your life’s song!
EXAMPLE: Some of the first words many of us were taught to say are please and thank you. No one gets quite as excited as a parent does when a toddler first utters those words and makes the connection between asking politely and receiving gratefully. However, as we grow older we become more skilled at saying please than thank you, especially with our heavenly Father. We focus more on our pressing needs than on His previous provisions; we petition more than we praise. And while God invites us to come to Him with all our needs, He urges us to make gratitude a habit as well. In Colossians 3:15, Paul instructed every follower of Jesus Christ to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” Then three times, he reminded us to remain grateful to God: “be thankful” (v.15); sing with gratitude to the Lord (v.16); “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (v.17). Very few things honor and glorify God more than a thankful heart. It is so full of the song of praise there is no room for the bag pipe of bitterness to take root. Make God’s grace your life’s song!
Make holiness a priority in life and make God’s grace your life’s song!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.