P is for Perseverance

October 27, 2013


P is for Perseverance

Hebrews 10:19-25, 32-39



Intro:  I hope that by now that we are 6/8 of the way through spelling out what it means to be a disciple that you understand that it doesn’t just happen.  It takes discipline to be a disciple.  You have to live out the life of discipleship on purpose.  My prayer is that each week you’ve taken up the challenge to be devoted, imitators, mindful of what the sacraments mean (and you get an opportunity today with baptism), committed to community, and intentional.  I pray that this sermons series is encouraging you to go deeper in your walk with Christ.


Maybe, you get charged up in church and say, “Yes!  This is how I want to live this week!” But then Monday happens.  And strive as you might to hang on to even a piece of what was said in the sermon or even what you read in your devotions that morning, the irritating people in your life, the hassle at work, the prospect of balancing your checkbook, or whatever, just gets the best of you and you forget to practice your discipleship.  At least that’s what happens to me way too often.


Just like dieting, there is no quick fix or pill to aid us in our attempt to remain faithful to God.  Do you know what we have instead?  We have the person of Jesus Christ, the High Priest, the Son of God, our Savior.  If we are Christians, we have the ability to be disciples because we have Jesus on our side. So do we quit?  No!  We persevere!  Turn with me to Hebrews 10:19-22.  READ



In this long, run-on sentence we are reminded of what we have because Jesus went to the cross and died for our sins as the final, perfect sacrifice that God required in order for us to be forgiven.  The hard part has been done for us!  Jesus died.  That act, all by itself, has opened the way for us to come to God and be restored to a right relationship with him.


Verse 22:  “. . . let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”  As we witness Jacob being baptized today we can be reminded of the assurance we have through our own baptism of being welcomed into the family of God. Through baptism we have the symbol of our repentance and our cleansing.  Through baptism we are reminded that our confessed sin has no power over us.  We stand clean and pure before God.


Knowing that we are not tied to guilt sets us free to persevere in what is good and God honoring.  Is there something you haven’t confessed to God that is holding you just out of reach of experiencing His grace?  Let it go.  Repent.  Remember your baptism – you have been washed clean.  Persevere in living like it. Never let your past dictate your present relationship with God.  You are welcome to approach him just as you are.




How do we persevere?  We can get a handle on it if we just abide by what these verses say:

  • “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess”  Today we will say together the Apostle’s Creed.  If you don’t know it, you will find it on one of the service cards in your hymnal rack.  It states basically what we believe to be true about God. If we really believe in our hearts what we profess with our tongues about God we can persevere.  Pay attention to what we are saying today as we profess our faith together.
  • “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  Watch out!  This requires that we be involved in one another’s lives.  This means that when I say, “I should really go visit so and so,” whoever hears it should respond with “I would really encourage you to do that.”  We let each other off the hook instead of spurring one another on.  Anyone here ever had a spur on their heel?  It’s used to motivate a horse, right?  Well, there you go!  We are to motivate one another to carry out our good intentions of love and good deeds.  So what if we’re tired, have done so much other good stuff.  (I’m preaching to myself here.)  If God nudges us to do another thing – write a note, pick up the phone, drive to someone’s house – we really ought to do it and be encouraged to do so!
  • “Let us not give up meeting together as is the habit of some, but rather, let us encourage one another . . . “  What does “C” stand for in the word DISCIPLE?  Yeah.  We’re back to that.

How do we persevere? 1) Hold on to what we believe to be true. 2) Encourage one another and submit ourselves to a good spurring from time to time. 3) Keep gathering together.



What do we really know of suffering and persecution for our faith?  Those who received this letter like those who become Christians in Muslim nations, had the potential of losing everything they owned, of being beaten, of being disowned.  And still, then and now, they chose to follow Christ.  What if the political tables turned to such a degree that you were asked to either renounce Christ or lose your home.  What if following Christ meant you were left with no material goods.  What if following Christ meant your family would disown you?  Would you remain a disciple?  Hard for us to even imagine in the land we live in.


It is Reformation Sunday so let me say a bit about Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation. He didn’t see the persecution coming. He had tried to talk to the leaders of the church about things that were going on – 95 things to be exact!  He tried to confront them on all these heresies, but they wouldn’t listen until he unintentionally began a revolution on Oct. 31, 1517.  He had to flee for his life.  He was set to be martyred.  But he didn’t run away and hide.  He got out of Dodge and set to print the Bible in German so that every common man could read it for themselves.  He persevered.


If you are suffering, even a little bit for your faith – experiencing ridicule, joking, or people turning away from you – rejoice!  Persevere!


Concl:  You were made for God.  Cast in His image.  You were bought by the blood of Christ so that you could live in a right relationship with God. Your sins have been forgiven so that you need not be tied to the guilt of past sins.  You have been set free to live for Christ, to hang on to the hope of life in him now and forever.  I think that all sounds pretty good.  It is all a gift.  In order to squeeze out all that gift has to offer, we persevere in walking in the light, encouraging our brothers and sisters in the faith, in practicing community with one another, in keeping our eyes fixed on the hope we have in Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Benediction: Hebrews 12:1-3


since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,

             let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

            And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

                        fixing our eyes on Jesus,

                                     the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

                                                For the joy set before him

                                                            he endured the cross,

                                                            scorning its shame,

                                                            and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

                        Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners,

                                    so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.