St. Johns
July 2, 2017

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This week in our quest to “Overcome Shame,” we shift our focus to the book of Hebrews. This book is a letter written to the people of the Jewish community, who were enduring persecution because they had believed in Jesus as the Messiah and their Savior. The writer of the letter knows that persecution and hardship test our faith, and it is an opportunity for the “shame attendant” in our lives to tell us that we are worthless and God does not really love us. If God truly loved us, then why are these bad things happening to us? It is an ancient and piercing question that demands our attention during difficult times. Hebrews 12:1-8, speaks directly to this question and helps us to endure suffering. When we are tempted, we read these words as a “pep” talk, just “suck it up” and “fake it till you make it,” but nothing could be further from the truth. In the sermon, “Serve” we begin to recognize a power at work in suffering that gives us the strength of a partnership with Jesus. Will we serve shame, or allow the power to give us hope and strength? Or to ask the question another way, how do we strengthen our grip on service, to overcome the power of shame? As you read Hebrews 12:1-8, notice the path marked out for Jesus ended with great joy, even after great suffering and remember that God is determined to share with us great joy, even amid difficult times! Hebrews 12:1-8: Therefore, 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. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined– and everyone undergoes discipline– then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. (NIV)

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