Confidence Shows

Sermon 1823 Hebrews 13.1-6 September 25, 2022

I have learned a few things over the years. One of them is that confidence shows. You can (almost, because we are only human) tell which children are well-loved. They have a confidence about them, whether they are shy and quiet by nature or the class showoff. They have that, oh, the French call it “je ne sais quoi,” that “it” factor. There is something special about them. They have that firm foundation of love which makes them certain of themselves, no matter what life throws at them.

It is not the same thing as being cocksure or reckless. I have seen some of our non-member VBS kids being real mouthy in class but when they couldn’t get the door to the new bathroom unlocked, they were in tears. Bullies are not well-loved. The greedy and grabbing (I mean, once they get past the age of four) are not well loved. But for those who are well-loved (and I include every child here today, so relax, moms and dads), confidence shows.

As Christians we are well-loved by God.

Confidence Shows

1. The Lord is our helper.

2. What can man do to us?

“God has said,

‘Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you (5).”

What a wonderful promise our Lord has given us. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us! You realize that is no thanks to us.

When I see that word, “forsake,” I think of the old hymn, Abide with Me. If it weren’t used as an evening hymn we’d all have it memorized. “Thou hast not left me oft as I left thee. On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.” But you don’t have to be as old-fashioned as I. We have the same thought in our newer hymns. “Amy Grant’s Thy Word. “I will not forget your love for me and yet, my heart forever is wandering.”

We have forsaken the Lord. We have left the paths he laid out for us. That’s what the old meaning for one of the synonyms for sin means, to err, to stray. The hunter was wounded by an errant bullet. Somebody’s shot went astray.

We don’t have to look farther than the preceding words of our text to see how sinners go astray. The love of money leads people to go astray. They cheat and steal. They drive unfair bargains. And don’t look at the Russian oligarchs, though undoubtedly they are guilty. Look at our own actions if we were the big brother or big sister, cheating our naïve little brother or sister out of something. Or, if you were a little brother or sister, how you hated your older brother or sister for cheating you out of it. How you wished you could get big and cheat someone else!

Sin is forsaking God, as surely as Adam and Eve tried to run away from God in the Garden of Eden when he came looking for them.

We have the firm promise of God he will never forsake us, though we have forsaken him. We have that promise because of Jesus.

We deserved to be forsaken by God. Jesus took our place. Jesus was punished for our erring ways. Jesus was forsaken by God. I know that from Scripture. You know that from what Jesus said on the cross. On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” On the cross he suffered the torments of hell, being separated from all the blessings which come from the presence of a loving God. Only rejection, only isolation, only torment, those were his close companions on the cross.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us, God was so delighted with his Son that he not only raised him from the dead, he also freely forgave you and me, all people, of all the times they strayed. Because of Jesus, God is always with his believers to protect and guide, support and sustain. “Never” admits no exceptions. “Never” has no limitations. “Never” is the strongest word you can use. God the Holy Spirit used the word “never.” Twice.

Because we are so dearly loved our confidence shows.

“So we say with confidence,

‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

What can man do to me (6)?’”

Confidence shows. What can man do to us?

I suppose cowardice results when a person is fearful of losing something. Teenagers in a school hallway may be hesitant to stand up and defend someone being ridiculed by the “in” group because they might become the next target for verbal assaults or worse. I know boys just starting to date are fearful of asking her out for a date because she might say “no.” And she is fearful that he will not ask! We have many examples in history where people stood by and did nothing out of fear, even if it were fear of something so trifling as the fear of being inconvenienced.

When the Lord is our helper, we have nothing to lose. Everything we need, everything we want, it comes from his hands of blessing. “The eyes of all look to you and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hands and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Don’t some of us use that as our table prayer? Every blessing is ours in the way the Lord ordained it to be acquired.

I will go back to the Garden of Eden once more. Look at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. How did that tree function in the life of Adam and Eve? Well, we name a tree by its fruit, by what it produces. That’s why my one orange tree in Riverside was a Navel orange tree and the other was a Valencia orange tree. They looked exactly alike except for their fruit. You name the tree from the fruit it gives you. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was giving Adam and Eve the knowledge of what was good and what was evil. Good was doing what God commanded. Do not eat from that tree. Evil was disobeying what God commanded. It would be evil to eat from that tree, because God commanded them not to eat from it. We need Ten Commandments, one for every finger. Adam and Eve only needed one Commandment to show their thanks to God. And in keeping that command they were blessed with knowing what was good and what was evil.

That’s why Eve at first rebukes the serpent. “We may eat from the trees in the Garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die (Genesis 3.3).’” She agrees with God. She knows what is good. She has even made an application of the Lord’s command to ensure she keeps it. “Don’t even go near that tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” But the serpent, that ancient enemy of ours, the devil, beguiled her. She was misled into thinking that the way to achieve the knowledge of good and evil was to eat of the tree. She already had what the devil was promising to give her. She already knew what was good and evil. And as soon as Adam and Eve ate of that tree, the devil’s lie was exposed. They became strangers to the good. They knew only evil. They hid from each other with clothing of fig leaves. They hid from God behind the bushes.

God wanted to give them the knowledge of good and evil in the way he ordained. Confidence shows. What can man do to us?

Let’s look back at the areas our text suggest.

They say fear of missing out (FOMO) seems to be a bigger thing now with social media. I sort of think human beings have always been afraid of missing out. Junior high kids feared missing out on the party that “in” kid was throwing and invited them to, but mom was highly suspicious. First time homebuyers fear missing out on that home, so they throw ten thousand more dollars into the offer. Those are all normal, natural. We were invited. We need a house. That’s not sin. But what is sin is the fear that we will be nothing unless we have this or that. What is sin is thinking that our worth depends on what we have.

Confidence shows. We are dearly loved children of God. We are heirs of the Lord of all. There is nothing our God can’t give us. And he promises to give us all we need and even more. So we are content with what we have. We enjoy it. That house we maybe paid a little too much for is a perfect place to kick back on the weekends. Look at all the money we save not having to drive or fly to Wyoming or Cali or somewhere else to get away! When your home can double for a weekend getaway you are living like a king. Your apartment with that special room or personally decorated nook can work the same magic.

Confidence shows. If I know the one I am married to has been specially picked out for me by God, when I remember how we were united in marriage by his blessings (and even if we were married before a Justice of the Peace, we still are blessed by God), then I will recognize the blessings God is giving me through marriage. He wants me to be loved. He wants me to have spice and romance in my life. And for many marriages, he wants them to bring the pitter-patter of little feet into the world. Kids—what a hoot! You almost have to reinvent yourself when they grow up and move away. So I am going to continue to find my happiness in the arms of my spouse. That they loved me when I was young and healthy and better looking only increases my love for them now when I am none of those things. Maybe it is because we have shared so much together it is like we have one life, not two. We will keep telling the Mrs. or Mr. our secrets and thoughts. We will respect all the other married people out there as well. God has joined them together with their spouses. Let no one rip that apart. To try to find the blessings God wants to give in marriage outside of marriage always leads to disaster. Unyielding enemies, unrelenting demands, increasing complications--who needs to increase the degree of difficulty in our lives? We are happy with the marriages we have and are willing and determined to work out what few kinks there are in them.

Confidence shows in the hospitality we extend to someone, no matter what their social rank. I know. Trying to visit someone in prison is almost impossible, even for a clergyman. There’s lots of hoops to jump through and I understand that. A lot of things have tightened up over the last twenty years. But once people get out of prison, once they have “paid their debt to society,” those who recognize how much God has pardoned them can give others a break. Give them a job. Befriend them. Forget their past and focus on the people they are now. Be aware of abuse in our society and don’t turn a blind eye to it if you see victims in your circle of friends or neighborhoods. Keep the pressure on our government officials so that the cycle is broken and today’s victim has a better shot at not becoming tomorrow’s victimizer.

Show hospitality to strangers. No, in our setting, I am not suggesting we invite every person we meet on the sidewalk into our home for tea and crumpets. But we can approach people in the street with a sense of trust, a smile, a nod of hello instead of fear and distrust. Amazing how people respond to that.

How about getting to know the new neighbors? How about planning a block party? And I know some will bristle at this, but you do have wonderful homes. Nobody’s home is as spic and span as Martha Stewart’s. And hers isn’t either, not without a staff of dozens to primp and dust, shop and prep for her. To invite someone over for a meal or to play cards or watch the Raiders maybe even win a game means so much in our isolated, atomized society. People who worry about what other people think don’t do those things. People who are confident do.

Confidence Shows

1. The Lord is our helper.

2. What can man do to us?

There’s something about you. Most can’t put their finger on it, but it is there. People like being around you. You make it seem effortless. You are a rare bird. You know who you are. You know why you are here. And since you are sure the God who dearly loves you is looking out for you, you can look out for others. You are the light of the world. It’s your time to shine.

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