Sunday, February 16, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Never, Never" Hebrews 13:1-8

“Never, Never”
Oaxaca Missions Team Commissioning Service
February 16, 2014 :: Hebrews 13:1-8

I’m going to take a break this week from our series in 1 Samuel to preach a message specifically for our Oaxaca Mission Team. We have prayed for them and are sending them on a one week ministry trip starting on Friday.

And I met with the team a few weeks ago and got to do the devotions, and I picked this passage, Hebrews 13:1-8.

Want to know why?

About four years ago, we took a survey of the congregation and asked you all what your favorite or most precious promise was from God’s Word.

Which of God’s promises is your favorite or most precious?

And a number of you put phrases from this passage on your survey sheet.

Specifically this phrase, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Today’s message title?  “Never, Never.”

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

That’s the promise that I gave our OMT during their devotions, and it’s a promise–not just for them–but for all of us who are staying behind, as well.

Did you ever get separated from your parents and get lost?

I remember when I was little, I was following my Mom who was wearing a certain dress. I remember it as a grey woolen dress.  I don’t know if it really was.

But I was following her as she went shopping through the Mall.  Dooty, dooty, dooty, doo.

But being Captain Observant, that’s what my wife calls me sometimes, being Captain Observant, I had not realized that I was following some other lady wearing a grey woolen dress.

And when I did realize it, I realized I was lost.

And alone.

Did you ever do that?

Did you ever feel that way?

Do you kinda feel that way about life right now?

Do you feel alone?

On your own?

Adrift and by yourself?

Hear this word from God.  It’s in verse 5 and the writer to the Hebrews is quoting Deuteronomy 31:6.

Catch that.  This New Testament writer is quoting Old Testament Scripture and applying it to his readers and to us.

And he says, “God said it!” v.5

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”


Isn’t that a great promise?

Isn’t that a precious promise?

That’s what God says.

Never left, never forsaken.

Ok. You can go home now. That’s all I have to say. ☺

If we get this into our minds and into our hearts, it will change everything.

Never left, never forsaken.

Never deserted. Never alone.

Because of this promise, I know that I am never alone.

It may feel like it at times, but I never am.

How comforting. How encouraging. How confidence building!

Never alone.

One time, I deserted my daughter Robin.

I didn’t mean to!

She was really little back when we had 4, count-em 4 car seats, and none of them could unbuckle themselves, we went to the Philipsburg library.

Back when it was on Pine Street.  We parked on the street.

We unbuckled everybody (or so I thought) and got everyone across the road and went into the library.

Mommy and the boys went to the children’s section. I carried little Isaac in his carseat to the children’s section and then went up and down the adult stacks looking for something to read.

And then I circled back and counted my children. 1-2-3.

Where’s Robin?

“Where’s Robin?”

Oh no!

I ran back out across the street and opened the van door, and there was my little girl bawling her eyes out.

She had been left alone. Forsaken. Deserted.

And it hurt.

I apologized and I’m still apologizing for that.

I scooped her up in my arms and carried her into the library and just about never left her side the rest of the day.

God is a much better Daddy than I am.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Sometimes it will feel like it.

This promise does not mean that we will have victory in every endeavor.

It means that God will be with us no matter what happens.

God’s presence.

Never left, never forsaken. Never alone.

There once was a monk called Brother Lawrence.  And he wrote a short little book called, “The Practice of the Presence of God.”

And the whole point of the book is to remind yourself daily and hourly and minutely that the Lord is here.

“God is here.”
“God is here.”
“God is here.”

What can you do to remind yourself of this promise?

You don’t have to do anything for it to be true!

This promise is not contingent on you or me at all. It is. It just IS!

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

But what can you and I do to remind ourselves of that?

Our OMT knows this already. This is not new information.  But we need reminders.

I just preached on this the last Sunday of last year with “Search Me” from Psalm 139.

God is everywhere. We are not alone.

We know that, but we need reminders.

God is here.

How confidence building!  That’s what the author says in the very next verse. V.6

“So we say with confidence (because he never leaves us, never forsakes us), ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Here’s another great and precious promise.


Never leaving, never forsaken and active on my behalf!

Do you see that?

It’s not just that he’s here.

We can say the ground is always here, but that doesn’t mean so much.

You might have a crazy uncle that’s always at the family reunions.

“He’s here. But he don’t amount to much!”

But that’s not how God is here.

He is here to help.

“The Lord is my helper.”

Now that, is an AMAZING statement!

That is a mind-blower.

Is your mind blown?

Are you brains cooking in there trying to get that?

God is not here asking for help.

God doesn’t ask us for help.

God is offering help.  God is a helper.

He serves us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. He stays God.  We remain his servants. The OMT is going to Mexico to serve the Lord.

We submit to Him and not the other way around.

But He calls Himself our helper because He helps us.

He assists us.
He supports us.
He brings us help.

This is also a quote from the Old Testament. It’s Psalm 118, verses 6 and 7.

And God calls himself a helper.


I know that I can do hard things.

What? Stop the car.

Why did I say that?

This is a passage about God’s presence.

Why did I bring up doing hard things?

Because that’s the main point of Hebrews 13.

That’s why the writer hands out these great and precious promises.

To tell us that God will HELP US (He’s our helper) to do hard things.

Like: v.1.  Loving the Brothers.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers.”

That’s not always easy, is it?  We can all be difficult to love sometimes.

I’ll bet that some of our OMT members will have to remind themeslves of that verse at some point in the next two week. “Keep on loving each other as brother.”

Because you might get on each others’ nerves.

But you can because God is with you.

Keep on doing it.

V.2 Entertaining Strangers

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Now, by “entertain,” it means show hospitality, not put on a show.

You don’t have to find a stranger and then do a little song and dance.

It means showing hospitality to strangers.

Our OMT is going to meet a lot of strangers in the next two weeks. And most of them will not even share their language.

But you can do it. Because–Never/Never.

V.3 Visiting Prisoners. It’s getting harder, isn’t it?  “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

That’s really hard.  But the Lord is your helper.

V.4 Honoring Marriage. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

You can do that.  The Lord is your helper.

No pre-marital sex. No living together before marriage. No adultery in marriage. No pornography defiling the marriage bed. Marriage honored.

Is that hard to do? It can be.

Who is your helper?

V.5 Being Content With What I Have.  “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.”

Do you see the connection?

Is it hard to be content with what you have?

Yeah, but God is present.

He won’t leave you. He won’t forsake you.



Because the Lord is my helper, you know that you can do hard things.

You can take risks.

You can hop a plane even if you never have before.

You can go someplace where they don’t speak your language.

You can look at poverty in the face.

Or, if you’re called to stay behind. You can pray and wait and support those who are going.

You know, nearly (if not every) time a promise appears in Scripture there is a command nearby. And vice versa.

Because the commands of God are promise-driven by the great and precious promises of God.

We can do hard things because God is present. Never leaving/never forsaking, offering to help.

What hard things is God calling you to do?

V.7 says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

Maybe the hard thing for you is following church leaders.

Or maybe it’s something completely different.

Maybe it’s telling someone about Jesus.

Not in Mexico but in Pennyslvania.

Does that scare you?

Who is your helper? V.6

“What can man do to me?”

Last promise and then we’re done.


Verse 8.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He is not going to change.

Jesus is not moody and capricious.

Jesus is not a fair weather friend.

Jesus is immutable.

That’s a big word that means unchanging.

Jesus stays the same.

And because of that: I know that I Don’t Have to be Afraid.

We don’t have to worry that Jesus will be here today and gone tomorrow.

Everything else in life changes.

Things fall apart.

But Jesus stays the same.

We don’t have to worry that He’ll fade away.

It might seem at times that He is nowhere near.

He’s like a Daddy leaving us alone strapped in our car seat in the van.

But, no, that’s not how it is.

God is here.

Jesus is here with us through His Holy Spirit.

And He’s not going anywhere.

One more thought.

These promises are only good for believers in and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are not yet a follower of Christ by faith then you can’t take these promises for you.

Yes, God is here but that is not necessarily good news for you.

God is present in Hell, as well.  He is present there only to punish.

These promises are only good news for those who belong to Jesus.

Jesus knows what it means to be forsaken.

Because He was forsaken for us.

On the Cross, He cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

What does that mean?

It means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

And even though He knew the answer, he was living the question.

The answer was: for you and for me.

Jesus was forsaken so that you and I never will be!

Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. He never changes.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!

And that unchanging Savior says, NEVER/NEVER. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”